The Daily Mail (TDM) is a rag. This should come as a surprise to no one. TDM loves to spew forth articles about aliens, UFO’s, crop circles, ghosts, and all other sorts of fantasies that impress most children and far too many adults. This as well should come as a surprise to almost no one (certainly no one in the active skeptical community.)
But today I came across this article in TDM which, ‘lo and behold, offers some actual skepticism towards the article’s subject. I literally had to do a double-take to make sure I wan’t imagining it.
The headline reads:
Is this an alien skull? Mystery of giant-headed mummy found in Peru
Typical TDM garbage, right? Yep, but if you have the patience to stop for 30 seconds and read it, you will find a diamond in the rough. But in order to do so, you have to get through sentences such as:
Davila Riquelme said three anthropologists, from Spain and Russia, arrived at the museum last week to investigate the findings and agreed it was ‘not a human being’ and would conduct further studies.
And this gem …
The remains bear a striking resemblance to the triangular crystal skull in the 2008 Indiana Jones film Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – which turned out to be of alien origin and have supernatural powers.
But then something amazing happens. Dare I say “miraculous”. TDM offers an entirely different possibility, one rooted in reason and history without having to rely on assumptions.
The alternative explanation for the bizarre discovery is that the skull was artificially deformed as part of a tribal ritual. The practice of skull elongation – to signify group affiliation or social status – dates back 9,000 years. Common in various tribal cultures around the world (such as Mayans, North American natives and Australian Aborigines), the head moulding styles fell into three groups: flat, round or conical. To achieve the desired shape, the head was wrapped in tight cloth. In the case of cranial flattening, the head was placed between two pieces of wood. The technique would usually be carried out on an infant, when the skull is at its most pliable. The cloth would be applied from a month after birth and be held in place for about six months.
As we know, the option requiring the fewest assumptions is the most likely to be true. But is TDM really helping make this skeptical point? Whether they know it or not, they are doing just that, and they should be credited for it accordingly.
If offering legitimate opposing options when reporting on paranormal crap became a habit for TDM, then I might one day have to add them to my regular reading list.