Garbage in, garbage out: Foerster misinterprets the Paracas skulls, again

The paranormalists are all a-buzz right now because Brien Foerster has announced the results of a DNA analysis of the Paracas skulls — the extraordinarily deformed skulls of high caste Peruvians from several thousand years ago. The skulls look weird, warped into conical shapes, so they’ve long been the focus of people like Lloyd Pye, who wants to argue that they’re the remains of extraterrestrials. Or Nephilim, fallen angels. Or ancient hominids from a completely different lineage than Homo sapiens. They aren’t very consistent in their explanations.

Anyway, here’s Foerster announcing the ‘intriguing’ results of having sent off samples from Peruvian skulls to various commercial labs.

I can tell you what part has the fringe groups most excited: Foerster explains that all native american peoples…are of haplogroup A, B, C, and D, but in this set of skulls, the most common haplogroups that showed up were U2, E, and also H, H1a and 2. If you look at where the most prevalent percentage of U2 and the H1s are, it is in between the Black and Caspian seas, as in, the Caucasus Mountains. These people weren’t aliens, or supernatural beings, they were…WHITE PEOPLE. Ta-daa! As we all should know, brown people in South America, or Egypt, or the Mississippi river valley, or anywhere for that matter, could not possibly have developed sophisticated cultures, and white people, or Jews, must have traveled there in ancient times and taught them everything they know.

Man, it’s not surprising at all to discover racism rotting deep in the heart of the ancient astronaut community. He also seems oblivious to the fact that identifying human haplogroups in these skulls tells us that they were fully…human. Not angels, not aliens.

Foerster has a long history of obsession with these skulls.

Brien Foerster managed to persuade Juan Navarro Hierro, director (and owner) of the Paracas History Museum (sic: on the sign outside the museum, the name is given first in English, then, smaller, in Spanish) to part with some tissue samples. He claims that he did this because “[t]he only way to establish the actual age, and possible genetic origins of the Paracas people is through DNA analysis of the skulls themselves”. Dating human tissue by means of DNA analysis is such a new technique that I can find no other use of this remarkable development in any other archaeological investigation. Of course, there is no such dating technique: this is Brien Foerster displaying his ignorance of archaeological dating techniques!

Where did he choose to send the samples? To some prestigious university department, well known for its work on ancient DNA? No. Instead, he chose to send them to Lloyd Pye (1946-2013), a crank who believed in ancient astronauts, the extraterrestrial origins of humanity and, worst of all, touted the “Starchild Skull” as an alien/human hybrid. Why? This suggests that, far from being a dispassionate researcher, Brien Foerster has a preconceived agenda and it’s one that involves aliens. Although his original page lists his affiliation as “University of Victoria, Biological Sciences, Department Member”, his association with the university is as a graduate, not a member of faculty. [Update 11 April 2015: he has a new page that more honestly describes him as an undergraduate.]

That’s from a few years ago. I guess the accusation that his DNA analysis was done by a crank stung a bit, because these latest results were obtained by sending samples to professional, commercial labs. He mentions that one lab refused to send him results, which he attributes to malign motivations, but more than likely it’s because his samples were crap.

In 2016, Jennifer Raff gave a talk on the sloppy methodology of these pseudogenetics researchers, and specifically discussed the poor technique used by these cranks.

As you can see from the image, the individuals attempting to sample DNA from this mummy made some attempt to cover themselves, but it’s entirely inadequate for ancient DNA work. There is exposed skin on every individual in the room, the gentleman’s beard and hair are uncovered, and at one point they start squirting water all over the mummy, claiming that because it’s distilled, it won’t introduce contamination. Wrong. All water used in ancient DNA work has to be purchased from vendors who guarantee that it’s certified DNA free. Distilled water has lots of DNA present in it. Any one of these things could have (and probably did) introduced contamination to the sample they tested.

Yeah, so Foerster’s results are meaningless garbage, tainted with contamination from, no doubt, “Caucasian” investigators who slobbered all over the skulls. None of that will stop Foerster, or his ignorant followers. He promises to publish the results in a book with none other than LA Marzulli, another notorious crackpot. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this on the History Channel in the near future.


  1. Big Boppa says

    If he wanted accurate results he should have sent samples to Maury Povich. How else would we know whether he is or is not the father?

  2. Ed Seedhouse says

    First nation communities in British Columbia (and I believe Washington) practiced “head binding” for this purpose and many years ago I visited our old provincial museum where dozens of these skulls were on display, albeit in the basement (We “civilized”Europeans did not mind robbing graves for such a “scientific” purpose) . They made quite an impression.

    Bindings of various types were not confined to original people in America, of course – think of foot binding in China.

    If this was all initiated by aliens one wonders what their criteria for revealing this “advanced” technology were…

    I think binding body parts is pretty stupid, but then I look around and see all these piercings and wonder how far we’ve actually come.

    The first nations of America managed to survive and thrive here for many thousands of years without trashing the environment beyond repair. I wonder if we of European descent will do as well, OK, I’m actually fairly sure that we won’t.

  3. Tethys says

    I have done some reading on these skulls, though it is hard to wade through all the search results from crcakpots with alien fetishes. The science on them was not conclusive, but the researches did not find good evidence that this shape was produced by head binding. They proposed that it could be a form of a genetic, autosomal disorder such as Antley-Bixler, similar to the conehead pharohs of ancient Egypt. Such disorders would be far more common in small isolated populations with limited geneflow.

  4. militantagnostic says

    These people weren’t aliens, or supernatural beings, they were…WHITE PEOPLE. Ta-daa! As we all should know, brown people in South America, or Egypt, or the Mississippi river valley, or anywhere for that matter, could not possibly have developed sophisticated cultures, and white people, or Jews, must have traveled there in ancient times and taught them everything they know.

    What I would take away from that analysis would be that only white people are stupid enough to deliberately deform their skulls.

  5. militantagnostic says

    Marcus Ranum

    I learned today that there is a thing called DNA free water.

    That’s nothing – there are plenty places that sell chemical free water. I assume this is bottled dark matter.

  6. David C Brayton says

    I’ve always wondered how DNA of interest is isolated. For example, a swab from my inner cheek contains not only my DNA but DNA from the steak I ate for dinner as well as DNA from my salad and baked potato. And my mouth is a haven for bacteria and viruses. Can someone point me to a resource that could answer this question?

  7. Tethys says

    David Brayton, did you click the link in the OP that is to Jennifer Raffs article? It’s all about how to extract ancient DNA and account for cross contamination. Researches and technicians are all typed and sequenced so as to eliminate their contributions.

  8. Tethys says

    richardelguru, I noticed it just after I hit usual. Thanks for the clever latin pun. Regia typos! It was sorely needed after my day spent going round and round with people who are under the impression that the 2nd amendment means that the government isn’t allowed to regulate guns.

  9. blf says

    Above chemical free water was mentioned. After picking myself up from the floor, still laughing and slightly concussed (the dent in the floor will take a bit of repairing), a quick search found a load of such nonsense. One of the early hits (which I won’t link to) found:

    This magnetic water conditioner is easy to use, contains no batteries or moving parts, and does not require plumbing or maintenance.

    The device unclips and opens into two halves. Simply place the two halves around your cold water inlet pipe and clip them together. […] As water with scale-forming minerals (hard water) flows through the magnetic field created by high-powered ferrite magnets, it becomes electrically charged, which polarizes and suspends salt molecules to prevent minerals from clinging to the inside of pipes and appliances.

    It’s Guaranteed for 10 years minimum.

    Yeah, sure. Even if it does something other than empty your wallet, one wonders just what happens to the 10 years-worth of suspended salt molecules and magically-disappearing minerals. I suppose, being electrically charged, they quantum vibrate into the aether, probably energizing your aura in the process. Can also be used as a tinfoil hat.