“this experience added to my skepticism about the evidence for alleged links between orientations of ancient monuments and astronomical phenomena, for confirming alignments will pleasingly lock right into place if the desired answer is already known.” [1]

11/01/2012 § Leave a comment

chris engman, two squares (2007)

shannon ebner, ampersand (2009)

zander olsen, no mans land (2004)

 

when mappings become evidence, questions of validity promptly arise.  even the simple registration of a mapping in relation to an image may be dubious, a result of alignment-to-please.  i once noticed this effect vividly when trying to align the edge of a large plate for a landscape sculpture toward a due-north marker some distance away.  it was easy to attain exact alignment simply by tilting my head one way or another, a method of instantaneous adjustment of +/- 3 degrees without ever having to move the big heavy plate.  similar parallax effects occur in reading analog gauges.  this experience added to my skepticism about the evidence for alleged links between orientations of ancient monuments and astronomical phenomena, for confirming alignments will pleasingly lock right into place if the desired answer is already known.   even professional land surveyors, in mapping the same piece of land, sometimes produce divergent results depending upon their client’s interests.  mappings become more credible if constructed independently of a favored result.  not all clients, however, wish to finance disinterested measurements and mappings.

– edward tufte [2]

 

astronomical accidents

a young hare

 

 

notes:

[1]     tufte, edward r. beautiful evidence. cheshire, ct: graphics press, 2006. 29. print.

[2]     ibid

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