CBC’s science show The Nature of Things is set to air a documentary that purports to prove the first humans in the New World came across the ocean from Europe and not, as most scientists think, via a land bridge from Asia.
A geneticist of ancient humans calls it “extremely irresponsible” to promote this theory, not just because it is widely rejected and unsupported by evidence, but also because it is a favourite piece of propaganda among white supremacists, who use it to argue Europeans colonized North America before Native Americans, and therefore have the original claim to the land.
Promotional material for the documentary Ice Bridge calls it an “explosive new theory”: that an ancient race of highly sophisticated Ice Age humans called Solutreans migrated across sea ice from their ancestral homelands in Spain and France 20,000 years ago, bringing with them an advanced tool making technology. The documentary dramatizes that journey as it discusses the theory.
The Solutrean Hypothesis, as it is known, is so toxic, and so discredited among mainstream researchers that documentary director Robin Bicknell said she could barely find anyone willing to go on camera even just to say it was wrong.
“That’s how repellent the term ‘Solutrean Hypothesis’ is,” Bicknell said. The common view was that this theory has already been debunked, she said. The final product includes two academic skeptics.
“Who were the first North Americans?” says Suzuki as the film opens.
That question has a “huge political component” that can overshadow the science, said José Victor Moreno-Mayar of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen.
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