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Could this show work today?

The Penn Museum has YouTubed a classic '50s TV show, produced in Philadelphia, entitled "What In The World?" The premise: a rotating cast of archaeologists and anthropologists is presented with an artifact they have not seen before and is challenged to identify its function and place and time of origin. The star in these episodes is Carleton S. Coon (1904-81), the U.S. anthropologist, OSS gunrunner, and racial-type theorist. He is sort of considered a Satan of his profession nowadays, or at least an enduring symbol of its bad conscience, but one cannot fail to be impressed by his knowledge (assuming, of course, that the show was not rigged). Fascinating stuff. (þ: Dienekes)


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Comments (4)


Every now and then, I am shocked by your awesomeness.



Physical anthropologists and archaeologists truly are God's Chosen People.

And Vincent Price! Don't forget him.

Coon was the kind of two-fisted anthropologist (he got in a lot more fistfights than is the Ivy League norm) who is very popular with his more savage subjects. As a cultural anthropologist, his specialty was "the wilder whites," mountain tribesmen in places like Albania and Morocco. In the OSS in WWII, his main assignment was to be ready, in case Franco let the German Army cross Spain and attack the Americans fighting Rommel in North Africa from behind, to become "Lawrence of Morocco:" to disappear into the Atlas Mountains and rally the Berber tribes to fight an irregular war against the German Army.


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