Water on Black Mesa

Criminy crickets, I’ve been meaning to post this since Tuesday; lost it once in a browser-closure, and all the other times have had absolutely nothing to do with a certain promising game of Nethack, not at all. At any rate, an article in the L.A. Times last Sunday looked at ground water squabbles between the Navajo, the Hopi, and a coal mine; read it fast before it vanishes into the money-charging archives.

The story is chock full of quotes about connections between the earth and the sky and our toes, which fit very well into the popular “Indian sheds a single tear for your litterbug ways!” model of a monolithic Native American culture but don’t yield much insight into the technical or political issues involved, and the political issues are fascinating. The technical issues are fascinating too, but of course this is exactly my line of work, so who knows what the general public would think. Nevertheless, I’m surprised that there were no statements from the activist with “a Master’s degree” on the scientific merits and demerits of the coal mine’s technical report.

Not that I’d accuse anyone of allowing a healthy interest in the spiritual relationship between a land and its native peoples to degrade a piece of journalism; I’m just sayin’.


  1. des wrote:

    “In Western science they will tell you everything is disconnected in neat little compartments. In telling you the water [on the surface] is not connected to the aquifer, they are telling you your thumb is not connected to your toes. The Hopi [and Navajo] are saying that it doesn’t work that way. In our science, we know everything is interconnected. Everything is universally together, each part to make the other work.”
    I have a pet TV project called “Epistemology Challenge” with your hosts Mr Smith and Ms Weston.
    Each week, a critic of Eurocentrique science will be tied to a chair, with a gun pointed at their temple, and have twenty (20) minutes to refute the hosts’ theory that their brains will be outblown by the clever mechanisme fixed to the trigger when the timer has run down.
    What fun!

  2. yami wrote:

    I would actually prefer Epistemology Challenge II: Media Edition. Each week, a journalist who gives “equal time” to science and empirically refutable nonsense must navigate a mine field. For the first half, contestants are given maps, compasses, metal detectors and a handheld GPS. For the second half, they get tea leaves, peyote, the earnest prayers of a woman in Missouri, and a cell phone with the psychic hotline on speed dial.

  3. des wrote:

    Mmmm, peyote! If you can fit your minefield segment to 20-mumble minutes we could have an hour-long programme (”program”) combining both…

  4. yami wrote:

    Maybe in the UK we could, but here in the FDRUSA we need more commercials than that.

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