Just yesterday, to one of my previous entries entitled The Etruscan verb root slic- in TLE 131, a person of mystery known only under a cute, ursine name without any associated profile had posted a comment with a lone link to a New York Times article entitled Hittite Seal in Italy - Discovery at Vicenza Reveals Hittite Origin of Etruscans without any futher explanation. I do hope that his aim was something other than to push a dead theory (ie. that Etruscan is an Indo-European language). I decided to excise it from the entry's commentbox anyway because it didn't have that much relevance to the topic there. Afterall, in that entry I was only suggesting Hittite loanwords in a Pre-Etruscan stage, *not* a genetic relationship between the two at all. No academic concerned about his reputation or sanity dares endorse such an absurd and fully disproven theory in this day and age. It also seems that the reader didn't notice that his linked article is now almost 102 years old. Oh dear.
However, more constructively, this century-old article is still interesting to examine, in the right frame of thought, for many reasons. It certainly can't be used as a source of relevant information on Etruscan origins but it has historical merit pertaining more to modern culture and the uses/abuses of media. It's also instructive to learn how a field of study has progressed over the decades. Personally, I look at this NY Times article as a case study of how mass media (in this case, print) can lure the naive, general public into sensationalist beliefs about obscure subjects documented by authors who are fundamentally uninterested in it. Most of these writers of newspaper articles aren't simply unqualified to treat these special topics with educated balance, but are additionally handicapped by a deleterious devotion to rhetoric and fantasy in order to sell a product (in this case, a newspaper) rather than selflessly commit to the careful but comparatively unentertaining discipline of logical sequitur.
So as we read in this centenarian article, a cylindrical seal lead to the leap of logic that it somehow revealed the "Hittite origins of Etruscans" (planted right in the article's title), as if to suggest that Etruscans were Hittite. Egad. Now back to modern times, are we so certain that we aren't reading similarly sensationalist and deceptive things in the paper, taking advantage of the layman's laziness to verify facts for themselves, that are leading us to false conclusions about the world around us? Caveat lector.