How do you get taken seriously?


Debi raises an inter­est­ing prob­lem. Her father has found foot­prints and archae­olo­gists are dis­missive. Why are archae­olo­gists dis­missive and, if you have found some­thing mind-bogglingly weird, how would you get someone to take you seriously?

One of my super­visors is, as far as I know, the world’s only pro­fessor of Archaeoastronomy, and one of the very few archae­oastro­nomers in an archae­ology depart­ment. As a res­ult he’s very busy. So busy that when he’s away occa­sion­ally I’ll be asked to answer the phone for him. Usually what hap­pens is that someone will phone up with some­thing urgent to dis­cuss, and the depart­ment won’t be able to con­tact my super­visor because he’s in Armenia or Peru or Hawaii. He also organ­ises and par­ti­cip­ates in a few con­fer­ences, there are TV crews ask­ing his advice, he’s a busy man, and so urgent phone calls are a fre­quent occur­rence. What then hap­pens is I answer the phone to talk to someone who hasn’t found Atlantis, they’re always very clear on that, but have found evid­ence of ancient astro­nomy in some­where that recently fea­tured on the Discovery Channel.

Some of these people might have found some­thing genu­ine. An awful lot haven’t and very few people have any idea of how to present their thoughts. The res­ult is a long ram­bling phone call with no clear pur­pose and it’s not till an hour in when they may start tak­ing about an ice-free Antarctica that you know whether they’re mad or just enthu­si­astic. I have a lim­ited num­ber of heart­beats in my life and usu­ally answer­ing the phone for Clive is a good way to spend scores of them on con­ver­sa­tions that go nowhere. So if now if I’m asked to take a call for Clive, I ask the sec­ret­ar­ies to tell them I’m busy (though I’m rarely in the depart­ment to answer the phone any­way) and I’ll phone them back. It’s the simplest way to ignore someone.

How do you get around this?
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