[RML] SPAM fwd Scott Williams who digs things out of his backyard and ...

Monty Newman (monty at effect.net.au)
Fri, 6 Aug 1999 16:13:44 +1000

> The story behind the letter below is that there is this nutball in
> Newport, named Scott Williams who digs things out of his backyard and
> sends the stuff he finds to the Smithsonian Institute, labelling them with
> scientific names, insisting that they are actual archaeological finds.
> This guy really exists and does this in his spare time! Anyway...here's
> the actual response from the Smithsonian Institution. Bear this in mind
> next time you think you are challenged in your duty to respond to a
> difficult situation in writing.
> Smithsonian Institute
> 207 Pennsylvania Avenue
> Washington, DC 20078
> Dear Mr. Williams:
> Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labelled "93211-D,
> layer seven, next to the clothesline post...Hominid skull." We have given
> this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you
> that we disagree with your theory that it represents conclusive proof of
> the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago.
> Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll,
> of the variety that one of our staff, who has small children, believes to
> be "Malibu Barbie." It is evident that you have given a great deal of
> thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain
> that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were
> loathe to come to contradiction with your findings.
> However, we do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the
> specimen which might have tipped you off to its modern origin:
> 1. The material is moulded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are
> typically fossilised bone.
> 2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic
> centimetres, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified
> proto-homonids.
> 3. The dentition pattern evident on the skull is more consistent with
> the common domesticated dog than it is with the ravenous man-eating
> Pliocene clams you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time.
> This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypotheses you
> have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence
> seems to weigh rather heavily against it. Without going into too much
> detail, let us say that:
> 1. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has
> chewed on.
> 2. Clams don't have teeth.
> It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must deny your request
> to have the specimen carbon-dated. This is partially due to the heavy load
> our lab must bear in its normal operation, and partly due to
> carbon-dating's notorious inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic record.
> To the best of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior to 1956
> AD, and carbon-dating is likely to produce wildly inaccurate results.
> Sadly, we must also deny your request that we approach the National
> Science Foundation Phylogeny Department with the concept of assigning your
> specimen the scientific name Australopithecus spiff-arino.
> Speaking personally, I, for one, fought tenaciously for the acceptance of
> your proposed taxonomy, but was ultimately voted down because the species
> name you selected was hyphenated, and didn't really sound like it might be
> Latin.
> However, we gladly accept your generous donation of this fascinating
> specimen to the museum. While it is undoubtedly not a Hominid fossil, it
> is, nonetheless, yet another riveting example of the great body of work
> you seem to accumulate here so effortlessly. You should know that our
> Director has reserved a special shelf in his own office for the display of
> the specimens you have previously submitted to the Institution, and the
> entire staff speculates daily on what you will happen upon next in your
> digs at the site you have discovered in your Newport back yard.
> We eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation's capital that you proposed
> in your last letter, and several of us are pressing the Director to pay
> for it.
> We are particularly interested in hearing you expand on your theories
> surrounding the trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous ions in a
> structural matrix that makes the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex
> femur you recently discovered take on the deceptive appearance of a rusty
> 9-mm Sears Craftsman automotive crescent wrench.
> Yours in Science,
> Harvey Rowe
> Chief Curator-Antiquities
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