Paleovirology is one of my favorite topics to read about. Whether its bringing extinct viruses back to life, or finding ancient HIV-1 integration sites, or finding millions of year old viruses in genomes, or studying the modern side-effects of ancient viral infections, I love old viruses just about as much as modern ones.
Its all a bit of fun paleovirology!
Whats not fun? This lolcrap (via Tara):
This could have been a good bit of fun. I dont believe any story in the Bible any more than I believe any of Aesops fables or Greek mythology, but even I think it could be fun to hypothesize on what the authors of the Bible ‘meant’, in their own primitive way, when a character “lay sick” with some kind of fever.
According to Mark 1:29 to 33 and Matthew 8:14-15, the mother-in-law of Simon Peter “lay sick” with a febrile illness. When Jesus took her by the hand and lifted her up, the fever immediately left. The lady began to serve the household and probably prepared a meal. The case is also described in the gospel by Luke (Luke 4:38-39), who was a physician in his days and he specifically mentioned that the fever was high.
This paper fails (that is, of the many reasons why this paper fails, this is one) because these authors literally believe this event happened and are treating it as a literal “case study”. Not a fun game. Its like, the authors arent hypothesizing to the genetic and physiological mechanisms by which Heracles could have been born stronger than the average man as a mental game. They literally believe Heracles existed and was stronger than the average man, and here is why. They treat this event like a plague in Athens that really, historically happened… and then back it up with no history or real science.
Its an apologetics paper.
Contaminating science with religion. Creating an abominable vanilla-chocolate twisty ice-cream cone of an actual fun thing, a real thing we do in science, hypothesizing on historic or fictional stories:
The Bible does not describe if any members of the family including Andrew and Simon developed febrile illness, before or subsequent to her febrile illness. The characteristic features of seasonal influenza include abrupt onset of fever, chills, non-productive cough, myalgias, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, and fatigue. The diagnosis is mainly clinical. Seasonal influenza would be less likely if no members of the family were affected. Avian influenza and other respiratory viruses may cause isolated infection without efficient human-to-human transmission. In any case, influenza-like illness due to a respiratroy virus would explain her symptomatology and clincial course.
… with religion.
One final consideration that one might have is whether the illness was inflicted by a demon or devil.
It was probably accepted on the terms that it was a fun game: Hey, what illness could this character in the Bible have had? What poison might this Shakespearean character have used? What kind of mental illness could have inspired the ‘madness’ of Dionysus?
But the authors didnt treat it as ‘fun’. They treated it as reality, and its stupid. And the reviewers should have noted that just by reading the first sentence of the goddamn abstract:
The Bible describes the case of a woman with high fever cured by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Its been retracted. Cue Christian persecution in science in 3… 2… 1…