Pseudo-paleovirology

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.

I even like wild guessing concerning ancient viruses, like this pic from Ancient Egypt:
We *think* this fellow has a bum leg and a cane because of polio!

And there were several ‘plagues’ that ravaged Ancient Greece. Scientists and scholars have proposed various pathogens, including viruses, could have been the causes of these plagues.

Its all a bit of fun paleovirology!

Whats not fun? This lolcrap (via Tara):

Influenza or not influenza: Analysis of a case of high fever that happened 2000 years ago in Biblical time

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.

Ugh, gross.

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…

Comments

  1. #1 Brian
    August 11, 2010

    Yeah, seeing “our lord Jesus Christ” dropped in the first sentence of an abstract is a little weird.

    Cool stele, though; I’ve never seen that before.

  2. #2 Havok
    August 11, 2010

    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.

    For a start, even if we take the story to be historical, Luke wasn’t there, how could his supposed medical expertise have had any bearing on the issue?
    It’s also my understanding that the claims of Luke being a physician were long ago laid to rest. From here

    “The thesis that the vocabulary of Luke-Acts is special to a physician was deflated by H. J. Cadbury in his dissertation The Style and Literary Method of Luke (the saying goes that Cadbury earned his doctorate by depriving Luke of his!).”

  3. #3 jim
    August 12, 2010

    I think this speaks to the current sad state of peer review. You typically have only 2 weeks to return your review. This is no way sufficient to properly scrutinize a paper.

    By the comments, it seems the editorial staff were, as typical, busy and not paying attention. If the handling editor just selected from the “recommended reviewers” in the cover letter, you can see this sort of crap falling on friendly ears, and leading to a published manuscript without anyone really noticing.

  4. #4 James W
    August 12, 2010

    ERV:

    Creating an abominable vanilla-chocolate twisty ice-cream cone

    Are you implying something is wrong with vanilla-chocolate twisty ice-cream cones?

    Shame on you!

  5. #5 Phillip IV
    August 12, 2010

    Quite an embarrassment, the editorial meeting can’t have been much fun.

    Editor: “We thought it would add a little bit of levity to the journal, some harmless fun.”

    Editor-in-Chief: “Our Journal has just published the first paper since around 1550 that entertains the notion of potential demonic possession as the root cause of influenza. I’m seriously not amused.”

  6. #6 Emerson White
    August 12, 2010

    I love how the moral of the story is that she can’t be sick, she has to get up and make Jesus a sandwich. That being said it wouldn’t take two flipping weeks to see that this paper doesn’t meet muster. I wonder if more shenanigans went on, maybe an editor reviewed it themselves, like that paper that F’tard slipped into the stack in one of the Smithsonian journals?

  7. #7 Mu
    August 12, 2010

    Any one notice the change in editorial staff in between the “it was peer reviewed” and the “it’s been retracted” comments?

    Robert Garry (11 August 2010) Tulane University Health Sciences Center email


    Competing interests

    I am an Editor of Virology Journal.

    Article Retraction

    Robert Garry (11 August 2010) Tulane University Health Sciences Center email

    Competing interests

    I am Editor-in-Chief of Virology Journal.

    Looks like whoever was the editor in chief that allowed the paper through was doing it as a good-bye joke.

  8. #8 ErkLR
    August 12, 2010

    And now for something completely different… (ie off topic) It seems to me that Abby is posting a lot more since the Pepsi nonsense. Yay.

  9. #9 Orakio
    August 12, 2010

    @6:

    Jebus@Reality$ sudo ./make_me_a_sammich_bitch ?

    While it could be interesting to trawl through the literature to see what made an impression on folks in the past, all we can really learn from the babble is that fever sucks. That’s not much, and baaw, but Jebus!

  10. #10 Prometheus
    August 12, 2010

    I’m with Brian that is a very cool stele.

    That particular Pharaoh was in power during the beginning of the Trojan war and his mummy was in the big cache.

    Siptah is pretty messed up and Cairo is crazy back logged but there has always been a grand plan to submit him to MRI and determine if it was polio, cerebral palsy, CTEV or a funky bone infection.

    Ancient Egyptians had a lot of funky bone infections.

    Here’s his foot:

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Siptah_left_leg.png

    As regards the lolcrap paper, even if they were not thinly veiling their dumbass evangelism how does scholarship that weak and slipshod get published?

  11. #11 jim
    August 12, 2010

    @Prometheus

    As regards the lolcrap paper, even if they were not thinly veiling their dumbass evangelism how does scholarship that weak and slipshod get published?

    Friendly reviewers. The editors never read it. If there are 2 OK reviews, it’s in.

    @Emerson White

    That being said it wouldn’t take two flipping weeks to see that this paper doesn’t meet muster.

    2nd paragraph. Friendly reviewers. In some cases it just gets your weird little idea published, like the velvet-worm-sperms-on-insect-to-make-butterfly paper in PNAS. Other times, it leads to peer-review papers trying to state biblical stories as fact.

    Now imagine if the names of the reviewers were published with the paper…

  12. #12 WLU
    August 13, 2010

    Peer review, science in general and ultimately society is based on people having honest intentions. It’s not set up to flag 100% of all cheaters. We can’t check the raw data for everything, most times we just have to trust people and most times it works. There’s a reason serial killers and random acts of violence are hard for police to deal with – because usually it’s the husband. You trust peer reviewers to be professional and honest, but when there’s collusion to bypass a check on a system, there’s normally not much you can do. Except flag the cheaters and do what humans do best – badmouth, gossip, denigrate, and invoke the intellectually lazy but very efficient ad hominem. Yep, it’s a logical fallacy but god damn it does save you time when a William Dembski or Michael Behe opens their gob.

  13. #13 Prometheus
    August 13, 2010

    I get all of that but just look at that P.O.S.. It has nine citations.

    1. King James

    2-9. The authors previous freekin publications.

    I understand that when a little deviousness confronts a little laziness, bad crap happens but this shouldn’t have gotten past a teaching assistant in a freshman cow college intro history class.

  14. #14 MattW
    August 15, 2010

    Hi all:
    This stele is truly interesting, indeed.

    First, however, it represents a priest named Ruma, not the pharoah Siptah (although there is at least one website that states that). Here is a decent web reference:

    http://web.mac.com/ldokc/iWeb/PSOA%20Website/Famous%20Survivors.html

    And here is the museum online catalog entry:
    http://www.glyptoteket.dk/13743415-E247-499E-8E01-C1468A5FCFD4.W5Doc?frames=no&ItemID=54778&ItemIDs=undefined

    I am looking now for the official publication. It is housed at the NY Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen and appears to be dated there to the later 18th dynasty – reign of Amenhotep III.

    The rest of this post is (even more) OT – it is pure egyptology for the fun of it!

    The stele represents “The Door Keeper of Astarte of Syria, Ruma”
    [in transliteration - (iry)-aA pr a-s-t-r-(t?) x-r r-m]

    Also shown is his wife “Lady of the House Tima, the asiatic” [nbt pr t-i-m iAm] ( I am diverging here from the link above where she is called Ama – it ignores a glyph in the inscription).

    Their son, Ptahemheb, is there as well and is the only member of the family with an actual egyptian name.

    One thing that is neat is that these folks come from Syria/Palestine – The names Ruma, Tima, Astarte, and Syria (Kher) all are spelled using a means of writing foreign words called Group Writing. It looks like cultural assimilation was reasonably fast, however, since their son is given an egyptian name and they are all dressed as egyptians.
    That said, I do not believe there are many funerary stelae that show people with abnormalities, injuries, or in states of extreme old age. It would be a very cool project to compare stelae for these features taking into account the cultural origins of the people represented.

  15. #15 Prometheus
    August 16, 2010

    So that is not Siptah (cool) but we know Siptah (see foot) had a similar disability aaaaaand there is a lot of talk of the Louvre E 26901 inscription and Siptah’s mom (Canaanite). So we have a Syrian priest and a Syrianish Pharaoh with gammy legs.

    We also have Jacob in the land of Caanan crippled after wrestling with a divine messenger (old testament is not my bag so double check) and the first (and only) description of Hephaestus in book 18 of the Iliad where his lameness is attributed to a childhood illness. The events described are in the same time and Homer keeps using a catchall of Anatolian peoples for the mixed Hittite bag.

    That’s an interesting little triangulation with Syria at the epicenter.

    “That said, I do not believe there are many funerary stelae that show people with abnormalities, injuries, or in states of extreme old age.”

    Probably true due to religious concerns. If the symbol may become the thing why continue to saddle them with the disability in the afterlife? However works from life can occasionally be warts and all. The Shrine stela of Amenhotep III depicts pharaoh with a pot belly and moobs and the bust of Queen Tiye at Berlin has some serious worry lines.

  16. #16 Rhology
    August 16, 2010

    This is not a scientific blogpost. You have no means of going back in time to observe once, let alone multiple repeated times, what was going on.
    You can’t prove the negative that the woman WASN’T healed by Jesus. Or that she was possessed by demons.
    You can’t even make a reasonably sure statement that such things don’t occur TODAY. You can’t observe what happens all over the world.

    So…thanks for the op-ed. It’s a bit disingenuous to spice it up with big science-y words, so as to give the impression that this is actually science at work.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  17. #17 Hanspeter
    August 16, 2010

    Shorter Rhology: You wrote something which doesn’t fit with what I think your blog subject should be. Therefore I’ll try to mock you with false equivalence, and only succeed at showing that I’m the one who doesn’t understand case study articles.

  18. #18 MattW
    August 16, 2010

    Hey Prometheus:
    Thanks for the thoughts and points on some of the other representations in the corpus and on Siptah.
    It is an interestng triangulation you make too. I guess we dont have enough data to really tie the geographic and temporal patterns down for Polio that far back in time.
    I really made the post (my first on erv) because I was just jazzed that the Stela showed up here and used it as an opportunity to work at the hieroglyphic text. Thanks to Abby for the post.

    I agree on the religious concerns motivating against saddling folks with deformities during the afterlife.
    As for the Shrine Stela, it is an Amarna piece (non-funerary), with all the hyper- sur- anti- realism of Amarna art. Though the thought has crossed my mind that the Polio Stela, while not explicitly Amarna in style, is dated (Im not sure how confidently) to the late 18th Dynasty and to the reign of Amenhotep III or thereabouts. So maybe Amarna stylistic elements could already be showing up?

    And with that, maybe I should allow the thread to return to its proper topic.

  19. #19 Prometheus
    August 16, 2010

    “So maybe Amarna stylistic elements could already be showing up?”

    A little aesthetic trend before Akhenaten’s increasingly elongated style would be a relief over the king of Castillo lisp theory, art historians bandy about.

    “And with that, maybe I should allow the thread to return to its proper topic.”

    Not so fast my egyptological pal….

    Giftoid:

    http://www.edoj.org.eg/vol001/00102/07/quine%20punt.htm

    And wax hieroglyphic on the mystery of Sa please.

    Long described as a mini-tent or a life preserver but seen most frequently as a support for Taweret, I think what we are looking at is a crutch. Specifically a birthing crutch, when used in pairs, as the unlovely Taweret is wont to do.

    opinion?

    Then there is Bes….can we attribute the frequency with which dwarfism is portrayed to his incorporation in the pantheon or is he incorporated in the pantheon ’cause….see where I am going?

    I know Hatsheput loved the little guys and gals and the granite coffin of Dwarf Djeho is ammmmaaaazing.

  20. #20 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 16, 2010

    Ah, Rho’s back from vacation. I see he still hasn’t learned how to read for comprehension: to whit, this blogpost was pointing out that the paper in question wasn’t scientific, for the very reasons Rho mentions.

    I wonder: How long until Limp Willy regenerates the eyeballs he gouged out after I exposed the gloriousness of my man-titties?

  21. #21 Prometheus
    August 16, 2010

    “Ah, Rho’s back from vacation.”

    Vacation implies gainful employment.

    Assumes facts not in evidence.

    Griffindor loses one point.

    Sorry Vicklund.

    Been missing you, How’s fighting good fight BTW?

  22. #22 Stephen Wells
    August 17, 2010

    “You can’t prove the negative that the woman WASN’T healed by Jesus. Or that she was possessed by demons.”

    You also can’t prove the negative that Eowyn WASN’T healed by Aragorn when she suffered the deadly chill of striking down the king of the Nazgul.

  23. #23 Rhology
    August 17, 2010

    W Kevin Vicklund,

    this blogpost was pointing out that the paper in question wasn’t scientific, for the very reasons Rho mentions.

    Let’s say I grant that (and I don’t see a reason to deny that proposition, really). That does not make this blogpost scientific, and so it is not relevant to my comment. Two wrongs don’t make a right, you know.

    Stephen Wells,
    You also can’t prove the negative that Eowyn WASN’T healed by Aragorn

    Sure I can, but not scientifically. So, did you actually read my comment? Would you kindly consider actually interacting with it?

    Peace,
    Rhology

  24. #24 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 17, 2010

    So according to Rho, we can’t use big science-y words to explain why something isn’t scientific? That’s just moronic.

    Blogger: This paper is unscientific because it failed to advance a hypothesis, present useful data, or support its conclusion.

    Rho: Foul! You used the words ‘paper,’ ‘advance,’ ‘hypothesis,’ ‘present,’ ‘data,’ ‘support,’ and ‘conclusion.’

    Blogger: … [calls the mental hospital] (did one of your patients escape?)

  25. #25 Rhology
    August 17, 2010

    WKV,

    Oh, is that what I said? Forget big science-y words – you need to work on your simpler-word reading comprehension.
    Thanks for an empty comment!

  26. #26 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 17, 2010

    Okay, Rho, I’ve taken two stabs at it. What the fuck does:

    It’s a bit disingenuous to spice it up with big science-y words, so as to give the impression that this is actually science at work.

    mean, anyway?

  27. #27 Rhology
    August 17, 2010

    Bravo, you actually asked me for clarification, like a grownup.
    Side note – I have trouble believing you took honest for-real stabs at it, but whatever. You said it.

    The point – ERV criticises the paper for being unscientific. I gave reasons why the criticism itself and other claims it makes and implies are just as unscientific. So it’s a pot-kettle thing, but the reason the post is disingenuous is b/c ERV implies in the post that the post is itself science whereas the paper is not-science.
    Claims about deep history and assuming the supernatural has never been at work, whatever, is not science. It is materialistic naturalism, a philosophy. And there can be no evidence in m.n.’s favor, so it boils down to faith.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  28. #28 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 17, 2010

    ERV implies in the post that the post is itself science

    Where does she do that?

  29. #29 bossmanham
    August 17, 2010

    For someone who seems to be so enamored with empirical evidence as the only means of truth, you sure are ignoring a lot of it (not to mention both Christian and secular scholarship) that is corroborative of many of the Biblical accounts. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising on scienceblogs, what with the unjustified methodological naturalism. You totally dismiss an entire paper because it is examining an historical account of someone’s sickness? That’s pretty intellectually weak.

    From an historical account, couldn’t one examine the symptoms of a sickness and come away with a reasonable scientific hypothesis as to what the illness that is being described could be? Why not?

    “The Bible said it therefore it’s false” is a non sequitur par excellence.

  30. #30 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 17, 2010

    Bossmanham, did you even read the post? Here’s the relevant quote for why she dismissed this “historical account:”

    They treat this event like a plague in Athens that really, historically happened… and then back it up with no history or real science.

    It’s the authors’ job to provide references to the empirical evidence, Christian scholarship, and secular scholarship that corroborates this particular account. They didn’t do that. If they had, Abbie appears to have been willing to treat this paper seriously. Well, except for the demon-inflicted illness part (Demons? Seriously, wtf?)

    Look at what she wrote, dude!

    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.

    There as much empirical evidence for Greek mythology as for the Bible (they found Troy, remember). Should we just assume that because we found Troy, all of Greek mythology is true, or should we require additional corroboration first?

  31. #31 bossmanham
    August 18, 2010

    WKV,

    I skimmed it, as my time is somewhat constrained, and it seemed to me that they were identifying an illness in an historical document (which they seemed to think is reliable) and trying to postulate what it was. Don’t other scientists do that with other ancient documents? But because it’s the Bible, it’s all of a sudden inappropriate? Why?

    And most historians think much of the gospels are historical. I’m not sure what they’d say about this particular sickness, but it doesn’t really seem relevant.

    There as much empirical evidence for Greek mythology as for the Bible

    Um, no there isn’t. We found much more than just Bethlehem in archaeological digs. No one says archaeology PROVES the Bible, but it does corroborate much of its historicity.

    PS, we also have been to the top of Mt. Olympus. That’s a big reason why we reject Greek mythology.

  32. #32 bossmanham
    August 18, 2010

    BTW, I’m not saying the paper IS certainly scientific. My main commentary is on the dismissal of it due to it being in the Bible. I’m also genuinely curious as to why we shouldn’t consider it as Scientific.

  33. #33 zilch
    August 18, 2010

    Uh, bossmanham, I personally have been to the top of Mt. Olympus, unlike you I bet, and I can report that Mt. Olympus is a massif, that is, a very wide and not very steep mountain, easily climbable by even a couch potato, so I doubt very much that the ancient Greeks weren’t up there too. So you’ll have to look for another reason to reject Greek mythology. My reason, fwiw, is the same as my reason for rejecting Christian mythology: no evidence.

  34. #34 Rhology
    August 18, 2010

    WKV,

    There as much empirical evidence for Greek mythology as for the Bible (they found Troy, remember).

    Ignorant statement. For 1 thing, it begs the question to disregard the Bible when looking for “corroborative evidence”.

    Where does she do that?

    1) Oh, so despite the URL saying “scienceblogs/erv”, I should just ignore that? Hahaha, OK.
    2) –“Its all a bit of fun paleovirology!
    Whats not fun? This lolcrap (via Tara):”

    –“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”.”

    –“They treat this event like a plague in Athens that really, historically happened… and then back it up with no history or **real science**. ”

    –“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:”

    It’s also a good sign of her tunnel-vision ignorance when she implicitly equates history and science.

    zilch,

    unlike you I bet, and I can report that Mt. Olympus is a massif, that is, a very wide and not very steep mountain, easily climbable by even a couch potato, so I doubt very much that the ancient Greeks weren’t up there too.

    Thank you. An even better reason to reject their mythology – if that actually happened, they were intellectually dishonest.
    But those of, say, Jesus’ time claimed to have walked and talked with the guy. Then died for a resurrection they would’ve known was a lie (which is totally different from, say, a jihadi today).

    My reason, fwiw, is the same as my reason for rejecting Christian mythology: no evidence.

    There’s no evidence that “it is best to reject things for which there is no evidence” is true, but you believe it all the same. I find it hard to blv you’ve ever actually wrestled with how question-begging and arbitrary this kind of position is. But I pray one day you will.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  35. #35 Prometheus
    August 18, 2010

    Sigh.

    People will insist on moving that rock.

    The paper advances the theories of influenza and demonic possession as possible causes of the illness of Simon Peter’s Mother-in-law.

    The new testament graphically describes the driving out of demons by Christ and that “procedure” is completely distinguishable from the instance considered.

    Source Document Fail

    The first century historian Josephus is so essential in understanding the time and region that if he is not referenced, most historians and biblical scholars will explain why. Josephus describes a number of individual illnesses that could have been and should have been used to contrast or expound upon the nature of the illness that is the subject of the paper.

    Reference Fail.

    Since the the illness of Simon Peter’s Mother-in-law is distinguishable from demonic possession and since first century fevers in Judea were most often caused by MALARIA. It was the affirmative obligation of the authors to distinguish the case and explain the basis of their conjecture of influenza with supporting evidence other than 4 papers the lead author had previously written.

    Science Fail.

    Scholarship Fail.

    Academic Standards Fail.

    You and your little lamb need to start picking your battles because the authors of that paper do as much damage to the laughable proposition of “Biblical Archeology” and evangelism as they do history and science.

    Christ is described as driving out demons making the blind see and lame walk but what if he had the capacity to cure malarial infection and it’s debilitating consequences that are barely phased by the powers of 21st century science as it kills 3 million people a year.

    Won’t you join with Abbie in condemning the paper as it fails to give HIM full credit for HIS glory?

    Then you can get on with the important business if handing out ham sandwiches to the children of Islam before sunset….Ramadan you know, don’t miss an opportunity to spread good news and miracle whip.

  36. #36 Rhology
    August 18, 2010

    Prometheus presents: Adventures in missing the point!

    The paper advances the theories of influenza and demonic possession as possible causes of the illness of Simon Peter’s Mother-in-law.

    Let’s not forget that the 2 are not mutually exclusive.

    The new testament graphically describes the driving out of demons by Christ

    Correct, but
    1) not in every scenario. Many healings occur with no mention of demonic activity.
    2) like I said, there’s no reason to think that demons can’t cause physical illness, so driving out the demon would also take care of the illness, if it’s demon-caused. Christ, being omniscient, would know the difference.

    need to start picking your battles

    Oh, I missed where I’ve defended the paper. Rather, I’ve been critiquing this post by ERV. Do try to remember what’s gone before.

    what if he had the capacity to cure malarial infection and it’s debilitating consequences that are barely phased by the powers of 21st century science as it kills 3 million people a year.

    He does have that power. Doesn’t mean He is going to instantaneously cure everyone 0.1 seconds after they contract malaria.

    Won’t you join with Abbie in condemning the paper as it fails to give HIM full credit for HIS glory?

    Probably would, but obviously for different reasons. My reasons are consistent with my stated position. ERV’s misrepresents what science is and thus violates her own stated position.
    Besides, it changes nothing about my critique of ERV’s post here.

  37. #37 Prometheus
    August 18, 2010

    Rho presents: Adventures in failing to read for comprehension!

    Let’s go slow:

    Entire paper big fat contextomy.

    Contextomy science fail.

    Abbie say contextomy science fail.

    You stupid.

    Cue tl:dr floral mincing so unctuous it slides off the screen and onto the desk in a greasy puddle.

  38. #38 Tommykey
    August 18, 2010

    Reading the Gospels, you get the impression that the Galilee was the leprosy and demon possession capital of the world. Jesus couldn’t go anywhere without bumping into some poor sap who was either a leper or allegedly demon possessed.

  39. #39 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 18, 2010
    There as much empirical evidence for Greek mythology as for the Bible (they found Troy, remember).

    Ignorant statement. For 1 thing, it begs the question to disregard the Bible when looking for “corroborative evidence”.

    Non-sequitur. You second sentence in no way addresses my assertion. Furthermore, you’ve got it backwards. It is begging the question to assert that a Bible story is true without corroborating evidence. All Abbie was asking for was for them to provide corroborating evidence, just like we would demand for any other ancient document.

    In response to my query about where does Abbie imply that she is doing science, Rho gave the following responses:

    1) Oh, so despite the URL saying “scienceblogs/erv”, I should just ignore that? Hahaha, OK.

    How dare she blog about science on ScienceJournals! [cohost whispers in ear] Oh, now that’s different. Neeeevermind!

    2) –“Its all a bit of fun paleovirology!
    Whats not fun? This lolcrap (via Tara):”

    –“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”.”

    –“They treat this event like a plague in Athens that really, historically happened… and then back it up with no history or **real science**. ”

    –“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:”

    It’s also a good sign of her tunnel-vision ignorance when she implicitly equates history and science.

    Dude, she explicitly separated history from science. Again, how does pointing out what would be required for the paper to be scientific imply that she is “doing science?”

    Rhology and bossmanham –

    You seem to have somehow gotten the impression that she is dismissing this simply because it refers to the Bible. You are wrong. She is pointing out that the Bible reference by itself is not sufficient for the degree of historicity the authors assign, and points out the treatment (see discussion of Heracles) that this paper would normally receive had it been any other source.

    In short, you are demanding that the Bible receive a deference that no other ancient document could expect to receive from serious scholars.

    One last time:

    All Abbie is asking is that the Bible get treated the same as any other ancient document.

  40. #40 bossmanham
    August 18, 2010

    WKV,

    Why should the authors need to verify the historicity of the document if that is not the purpose of their paper?

    In short, you are demanding that the Bible receive a deference that no other ancient document could expect to receive from serious scholars

    No, actually I wish that the Bible would quit being summarily dismissed as an historical source simply for being the Bible, especially since 1) it is the most widely attested ancient document we have, period; and 2) no one does that with the writings of Plato or Aristotle, which enjoy far less manuscript support. You seem to be in the dark about the way higher critics treat the Biblical texts because of their methodological naturalism.

    But I think Rho’s main point, that this is not a scientific blog post yet is on “Scienceblogs” still has gone unanswered.

  41. #41 Rhology
    August 18, 2010

    You seem to have somehow gotten the impression that she is dismissing this simply because it refers to the Bible. You are wrong.

    I don’t care why she dismissed it. I’ve made a very focused point that her article isn’t science either. That’s all.

  42. #42 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 18, 2010

    What, Abbie isn’t allowed to blog about science? All articles on ScienceBLOGS have to be journal entries? For fuck’s sake, click and read the “About ScienceBlogs” link at the bottom of (near as I can tell) every page on ScienceBlogs. How many times to they mention “dialog” or “discussion” or some such word? This is a blog post about science. It doesn’t have to be “doing science” at all. Abbie is very clearly “discussing science” just like the “About…” page says is the purpose of ScienceBlogs.

    This… is… SCIENCEBLOGS!!![kicks Rho into really deep round hole that I really hope isn't the well]

  43. #43 Dave
    August 18, 2010

    But I think Rho’s main point, that this is not a scientific blog post yet is on “Scienceblogs” still has gone unanswered.

    So a few of the crazier cat ladies leave over Pepsigate and suddenly SB is supposed to look like PNAS?

    Elsewhere on SB there are whinges about gambling laws, shoe pr0n, bad poetry about zucchini, fawning over photography and quite a bit of the usual whinging about the coverage of science in the media. Nevermind whats going on in the hellhole of cracker descration.

    But Abbie takes a couple of pot-shots at a bad paper looking to up the authors’ cite-count and suddenly the sky is falling.

  44. #44 Stephen Wells
    August 19, 2010

    Imagine you go to a gourmet restaurant and they serve you a platter of raw bullshit.

    You complain “This isn’t gourmet food, this is a platter of raw bullshit”.

    Rhology pops up to say “Your objection is also not gourmet food! Hah!”

  45. #45 Rhology
    August 19, 2010

    WKV,

    Abbie isn’t allowed to blog about science? All articles on ScienceBLOGS have to be journal entries

    Sure she is. Dressing up personal statements of bare opinion and assertion with “big science-y words”, as I said, and also critiquing sthg else as not-science is misleading.

    I admit, however, that my larger-scale frustration with “SCIENCEblogs” is spilling over a bit here. ERV blogs very often about not-science things and her personal opinions, even calling down profane atheistic “anathemas” on evil Christians and the devil herself – Sally Kern – from her science-y position as a “scientist”. And don’t get me started on PZ Myers.
    Like I said, it’s misleading and far below the standards that scientismists like to talk like they hold to – pure, unadulterated, self-correcting science. That claim is a sham.
    (BTW, that should answer Dave #43 as well.)

    This… is… SCIENCEBLOGS!!![kicks Rho into really deep round hole that I really hope isn’t the well

    Haha, nice. Will I find plenty of earth and water down there?

    Stephen Wells #44,

    I doubt the gourmet restau trumpets far and wide that its gourmet food is the only way to arrive at certain truth. Good try, though.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  46. #46 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 19, 2010

    So according to Rho, we can’t use big science-y words to explain why something isn’t scientific? That’s just moronic.

    Blogger: This paper is unscientific because it failed to advance a hypothesis, present useful data, or support its conclusion.

    Rho: Foul! You used the words ‘paper,’ ‘advance,’ ‘hypothesis,’ ‘present,’ ‘data,’ ‘support,’ and ‘conclusion.’

    Blogger: … [calls the mental hospital] (did one of your patients escape?)

  47. #47 Prometheus
    August 19, 2010

    “I doubt the gourmet restau trumpets far and wide that its gourmet food is the only way to arrive at certain truth. Good try, though.”

    No. Touchdown you tiresome git.

    Quit retroactively moving goal posts and shouting that Wells missed.

    You walked into grand central oyster bar and threw a deranged petulant fit because in addition to oysters they served pan seared Barramundi.

    Nobody is false advertising, Barramundi and oysters aren’t mutually exclusive so just eat your dozen malepeques on the half shell and shut the hell up.

  48. #48 Rhology
    August 19, 2010

    Prometheus,
    I’m sure I’d’ve enjoyed that comment more deeply if
    1) I had any idea what you’re talking about; and
    2) you’d actually made an argument.

  49. #49 Prometheus
    August 19, 2010

    Well then, I guess I failed in my personal mission of providing you with deep enjoyment.

  50. #50 Tommykey
    August 19, 2010

    Then again, I’m still trying to figure out how Casaubon’s Book ended up on Science Blogs.

  51. #51 ERV
    August 19, 2010

    Tommykey– *hands on the air* I had no more to do with the hiring of that blog than I did the Pepsi blog. And I think Pepsi blog would have been more a) science, b) education.

    It like if they gave my mom a blog. But less funny. And less educational. And more advertisements.

  52. #52 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 19, 2010

    I’m going to stop playing with Chi-boy for a moment and address something bossmanham brought up. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that we didn’t need additional corroboration for biblical stories, that we could simply incorporate without reference biblical scholarship. There’s still a major problem with this paper. They treat the authors of the three referenced gospels as if they were actually present at the event. But biblical scholarship has established that the authors of the gospels are not the actual apostles. Rather, these are second-hand accounts written decades later by persons not present at the events recorded. Further, there’s no discussion of the scholarship establishing that John was not actually a physician, which seriously undermines one of their main points.

    Any way you slice it, the authors of the paper did not engage in the type of scholarship we expect in a scientific article.

  53. #53 Billy
    August 19, 2010

    I’m sure I’d’ve enjoyed that comment more deeply if 1) I had any idea what you’re talking about; and 2) you’d actually made an argument

    If you ignore the second part of that sentence, Rhology has just summed up his basic problem.

    Rhology, how do you know that he didn’t make an argument if you don’t have any idea what he’s talking about?

  54. #54 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 19, 2010

    Story-time:

    My wife is working on a dissertation for a PhD in anthropology. On one of her early drafts of her research proposal (which in her program was the equivalent of a master’s thesis), she used a certain word.

    It turns out, unbeknownst to her, that that word has a very specific meaning in sociology, nearly to the point of being a sub-disipline. Her advisors ripped into her, wondering where were all the refences to the literature on that topic. (As it turns out, even though the use of that word did not intentionally invoke the sociological meaning, it was what she was arguing. So she had to spent several months of research (ie, reading textbooks) to incorporate that one word into her proposal.)

    I wonder if Abbie somehow included such a word or phrase into the post, something that means something more to P-word and Bigwig Pig than it does to a layman. Because I just don’t see what they (especially P-logy) are complaining about.

  55. #55 Prometheus
    August 19, 2010

    W. Kevin Vicklund

    “It turns out, unbeknownst to her, that that word has a very specific meaning in sociology..”

    I wasn’t aware that any words had meaning in sociology.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX5II-BJ8hI

    I had a devil of a time getting history majors to refrain from the use of the word ‘sadistic’ when they meant cruel, malicious or indifferent to suffering.

    It is agonizing to look a 19 year old girl in the face and explain that unless they meant that Stalin was quite literally aroused by purges that a re-write was in order.

    I don’t miss academia.

  56. #56 W. Kevin Vicklund
    August 19, 2010

    Ha! I just played that for my wife. Very interesting range of expressions. Too bad I didn’t have a webcam.

  57. #57 Tommykey
    August 19, 2010

    Rhology, how do you know that he didn’t make an argument if you don’t have any idea what he’s talking about?

    Cut the kid some slack, Billy. It’s not easy doing the Lord’s work! LOL!

  58. #58 zilch
    August 20, 2010

    Rho says:
    But those of, say, Jesus’ time claimed to have walked and talked with the guy. Then died for a resurrection they would’ve known was a lie.

    People die all the time for what they believe; that’s no proof that their belief is correct. And there’s no evidence outside of the Bible that anyone died for a resurrection in Jesus’ time; and since the Bible has talking snakes and donkeys in it, I’m inclined to be skeptical.

    There’s no evidence that “it is best to reject things for which there is no evidence” is true, but you believe it all the same. I find it hard to blv you’ve ever actually wrestled with how question-begging and arbitrary this kind of position is. But I pray one day you will.

    Then I guess you don’t reject leprechauns or mermaids, Rho- or do you? No, there’s no “evidence” that “it is best to reject things for which there is no evidence” is true; it’s simply a default position which helps keep one from spending their whole life chasing unicorns and trolls. And you may call this position question-begging and arbitrary, but I do have a real life to live, and your position has its own share of question-begging and arbitrariness, plus no evidence for its truth.

    cheers from crickety Vienna, zilch

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.