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The Great Paleolithic WarHow Science Forged an Understanding of America's Ice Age Past$
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David J. Meltzer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226293226

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226293363.001.0001

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Controversy and Its Resolution

Controversy and Its Resolution

(p.409) Chapter Ten Controversy and Its Resolution
The Great Paleolithic War

David J. Meltzer

University of Chicago Press

This final chapter explores the overarching themes and underlying dimensions that help explain why controversy developed, so long defied solution, was so often bitter, and yet ultimately was resolved. Organized thematically rather than chronologically, it begins with the core empirical and conceptual issues that drove dispute such as the relationship of form (artifacts and skeletal remains) to antiquity, the challenges of resolving context and chronology, how change was perceived, why conflict arose between and within disciplines, and addresses the paradox of why thoroughgoing evolutionists denied change over time and viewed the past as flat. It then moves outward to consider broader non-epistemic influences and context, for at the outset of controversy the field was broadly defined, open and inclusive, centered in museums and local scientific societies, and largely the purview of amateurs. By the first decades of the 20th century it had become a highly focused, closed and exclusive professional discipline, one rooted in universities, and with sharply defined boundaries of scientific status. This process led to clashes, as those on both sides of the controversy sought to establish their relative status and authority over the issues in dispute, but ultimately provided the means by which controversy could be resolved.

Keywords:   relationship of form to age, archaeological context, resolving chronology, evolution, flat past, professionalization, scientific status, institutional change

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