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FERAL ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE ATLANTIS PROBLEM: THE 'HOAX' TRICK AS DISCURSIVE PATHOLOGY

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This article uses a case study of a TV programme, Atlantis Uncovered, an archaeological programme debunking popular ideas of Atlantis and the ancient past, as an instance of a discursive paradox, or discursive pathology, in which defenders of traditional canons of scholarship (science and rationality) decide they must go feral, fighting fire with fire, using the illogical and irrational methods of thought they attribute to what they perceive as the enemies of reason in order to defeat them. The devices used in the archaeological programme are compared with the devices used in a more famous and influential 'hoax', Sokal's so-called 'spoof' of postmodernism published in the journal Social Text, used to discredit 'postmodernism' and cultural studies. The two episodes, with all their differences, suggest that whether these tactics are successful or not, they contradict the core beliefs in rationality and science of their protagonists, illustrating instead the 'postmodern' decline in intellectual values that they claim to deplore.
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Keywords: ATLANTIS; DISCURSIVE PATHOLOGY; HOAX; POPULAR ARCHAEOLOGY; SOKAL

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2002

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