A story behind Manis

A couple of weeks ago, I pointed to new research dating a mastodon kill site from Manis, Washington, to around 13,800 years ago (“Bone of the victim mastodon”). Today I ran across an interesting article in the Seattle Times that profiles the archaeologist who discovered the site, Carl Gustafson, and discusses why the Manis site became a focus of academic debate: “WSU prof was right: Mastodon weapon was older than thought, scientists say”.

What sets the story apart from the typical “maverick scientist against the establishment” theme is the candid admission that disseminating results is the standard by which we have to judge archaeology.

Quentin Mackie, at the University of Victoria's Department of Anthropology, agreed the Clovis-first model most likely subjected Gustafson's site to unfair critiques. But over the years Gustafson, too, didn't share his results in a great number of high-profile journals.
"I just think Carl was hiding his light under a bushel," Mackie said. "I respect what Carl did. He poured countless hours into documenting the site. But for the rest of us, we rely on publication of results in peer-reviewed journals, and I don't think his evidence was presented in a way that was persuasive enough. And I hate to say that."
Gustafson concedes his output could have been greater.
"I probably should have published more," Gustafson said. "But I had so much. I didn't know how to take all this information and make a story out of it."

If you want your science to make an impact, you have to write more and write promptly. Science needs the details to get in front of more eyes.