I like to point out when news stories or the people quoted in them make claims that actually aren’t true. It’s a good exercise in being able to spot what is now being called “fake news” but what for the last 30 years at least has just been “news”.
Fake news comes in several flavors: intentional, biased, and ignorant.
This one is ignorant on the part of the author and biased on the part of the researcher. While it is very likely that the conclusion this scientist has made is correct his language used in describing something scientific is sloppy. It’s that kind of sloppy language that produces absolute fact where, in fact, none exists.
The researcher says this, “It is irrefutable, cannibalism was practised here…” can you spot the flaw in his absolute statement?
First off, this is an event that occurred around 40,000 years ago and he’s speaking of it with absolute certainty. His evidence is compelling and enough to fully support a statement like, “Based on the evidence I feel confident in saying cannibalism was practiced here.” What’s wrong with the other? Cannibalism isn’t the act of butchering it’s the act of consuming. There is no evidence of consumption, only of butchering. It is possible that the butchering was ritualistic, ceremonial in nature, or perhaps a way to dispose of the body without burial, or perhaps the flesh was fed to animals to lure them, or in an attempt to domesticate wolves that eventually led to them becoming dogs, or perhaps they wanted the tools made from bones, a memento.
The actual fact is that we don’t know and it’s poor science to say the evidence they have, though consistent with actual cannibalism in modern man such as those in New Guinea, it is not “irrefutable” since I just refuted it in a few moments even allowing all the evidence it’s the absolute conclusion that should not have been made.
Why would he make such a statement? I can only guess of course, but I think it’s his desire to be first. To have found something unique and have his name attached to it. The article is clear that this would be a new discovery for that region of the world where cannibalism in neanderthals had not been seen before. It’s his “look at me” moment and only if his conclusion stands does he get the limelight. So he has to say that it’s “irrefutable” so that anyone who tries looks like the dumb one who should have known better. It’s established fact he says.
Deep in the caves of Goyet in Belgium researchers have found the grisly evidence that the Neanderthals did not just feast on horses or reindeer, but also on each other.