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Paleobabble

Your antidote to cyber-twaddle and misguided research about the ancient world. Lots of people do research on the mysteries of antiquity. Some insights are valuable; others are insanely stupid. PaleoBabble exists because insisting that conclusions be drawn from data is a coherent idea, because conjecture isn’t evidence, and because appealing to conspiracy to validate ideas is intellectually lazy.

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Distinguished Editor of Lancet Medical Journal: Much of Peer-Reviewed Content is Bogus

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in archaeology, Bogus History, Conspiracy Theory, Cult Archaeology, _Paleobabble | 7 comments

This pronouncement will no doubt cause a firestorm.Here’s the pull quote:

“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

To be honest, I don’t have trouble believing the source — for the hard sciences anyway, not the humanities. Why? Pretty simple: money and logistics.

Science publication is invariably and inextricably tied to big money: research grants, medical and drug products (including consumer items), military applications, that sort of thing. There’s tremendous cash incentive to publish research, even if it’s in progress (which is a major target of this editor’s criticism). A professor or research scientist needs those credits for the next grant application or for his/her university’s bid for a military or big pharma contract. And then there’s money from federal programs (this is how the global warming industry works — politicized science). Consequently, there are dozens of science journals that produce hundreds of pages per week of journal literature. It’s staggering.

The humanities are nowhere close to that. The “busiest” journals produce 4-6 issues per year (and are nearly always under 250 pages, by design – to control printing and shipping costs). Humanities research just doesn’t produce anything that has the potential for consumer products or military application. Archaeologists, historians, and biblical scholars don’t cure cancer (or acne), produce fad diets,  upgrade weapons systems, or help the government spy on people. I’m not saying that humanities journals never publish anything they shouldn’t. I’m saying that, if you think the above headline justifies snubbing what the peer-review process produces in humanities field, you just don’t understand the fields or the problem.

Good Summary of Roswell “Alien” Slide

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Ancient Astronauts, UFO Religions, UFO Research, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 7 comments

Hat tip to Terry the Censor for tweeting this link. Highly recommended.

Scientology: Not a Religion, a Crime Syndicate

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Ancient Astronauts, UFO Religions, UFOs and Hollywood, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 2 comments

So says Peter Griffiths, a former Scientology member. You can listen to Natalina’s fascinating interview of Mr. Griffiths here.

The Real Mystery of the Shemitah: How Did Christians Become so Biblically Ignorant?

Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Book Review, Book Reviews, Eschatology (End Times), Wacky Bible Interpretation, _NakedBible, _Paleobabble | 27 comments

Back in 2012 I wrote a short response piece to Jonathan Cahn’s inept handling of Scripture known as The Harbinger. I ended with this line:

“A Christian enthralled by this twaddle deserves the label of biblical illiterate.”

I haven’t changed my mind. But Cahn of course returned with more twaddle, a new book called The Mystery of the Shemitah. No, I don’t plan to waste my time reading it. Would a doctor read a book on why giving yourself an appendectomy is a bad idea? Would an astronomer read a book on the evidence for a flat earth? Would a computer programmer pour through a manual on MS-DOS? People who have a serious grasp of any given field don’t waste their valuable time on reading material that is utter nonsense and cannot result in learning anything of value. I’m a biblical scholar. I already know anything Cahn writes is bunk.

But I do get questions about The Shemitah and the way Christian “leaders” promote it. Let me be clear: Many Christian leaders — pastors, talk show hosts, televangelists, “Bible teachers” — are truly ignorant when it comes to handling Scripture. Anyone who could read Isaiah 9:8-12, the passage on which The Harbinger was based, and conclude it’s about America, is simply biblically illiterate:

8 The Lord has sent a word against Jacob,
and it will fall on Israel;
9 and all the people will know,
Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,
who say in pride and in arrogance of heart:
10 The bricks have fallen,
but we will build with dressed stones;
the sycamores have been cut down,
but we will put cedars in their place.
11 But the Lord raises the adversaries of Rezin against him,
and stirs up his enemies.
12 The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west
devour Israel with open mouth.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.

There are seven clear, unambiguous points in this brief passage that tell us who it’s for and what time in history it was situated, and yet “Christian leaders” across the US thought Cahn was on target by telling us the passage was against the US and verses 10-11 prophesied the fall of the twin towers on 9-11. This is sheer, brute force ignorance. Why even look at the words of the text? It’s as though a mass exegetical lobotomy was performed on Christians throughout the land. (And these same believers will tell you that you need to interpret the Bible “in context” when they don’t share a view you might have about a passage).

The Mystery of the Shemitah is the same sort of bilge. If you’ve recently endured the pain of someone in Church who desperately wants to share the thrill of Obi-Cahn’s mystery with you, I suggest you read this lengthy critique, and then share the thrill of your own discovery with the person who asked.

2015 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Announcement, _NakedBible, _Paleobabble | 3 comments

This is a nice follow-up to my recent post of the review on the Secret Mark book. If you are in or near Toronto, this is for you!

Review of Recent Symposium Volume on the Debate over “Secret Mark”

Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Ancient Texts, Apocryphal Literature, Book Review, Book Reviews, Jesus, Manuscripts and Textual criticism, _NakedBible, _Paleobabble | 6 comments

Secret Mark (not to be confused with “Archaic Mark”) is an alleged ancient text that a number of modern scholars consider a forged hoax. (See the description of the document below). Recently a group of scholars with expertise in the pertinent matters met to discuss and debate the text and its controversy. The papers from that event have been published under the title: Ancient Gospel or Modern Forgery?: The Secret Gospel of Mark in Debate: Proceedings from the 2011 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium (Burke, Tony, editor)

Here’s a description of the volume:

In 1958, American historian of religion Morton Smith made an astounding discovery in the Mar Saba monastery in Jerusalem. Copied into the back of a seventeenth-century book was a lost letter attributed to Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-215 CE) that contained excerpts from a longer version of the Gospel of Mark written by Mark himself and circulating in Alexandria, Egypt. More than fifty years after its discovery, the origins of this Secret Gospel of Mark remain contentious. Some consider it an authentic witness to an early form of Mark, perhaps even predating canonical Mark. Some claim it is a medieval or premodern forgery created by a monastic scribe. And others argue it is a forgery created by Morton Smith himself. All these positions are addressed in the papers contained in this volume. Nine North American scholars, internationally recognized for their contributions to the study of Secret Mark, met at York University in Toronto, Canada, in April 2011 to examine recent developments in scholarship on the gospel and the letter in which it is found. Their results represent a substantial step forward in determining the origins of this mysterious and controversial text.

James McGrath’s excellent review of this volume can be read here. The book is a must-have for anyone interested in this debate and, more broadly, analysis of ancient texts for forgery.

Roswell Alien Kodachrome Slide Fraud Put To Rest

Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Ancient Astronauts, ExoPolitics, UFO Religions, UFO Research, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 19 comments

Yes, the pun is intended.

As I (and of course others) suspected as soon as we saw the picture, the alleged alien is a mummy. OpenMinds TV has an expose here. Good work by Alejandro Rojas and, in particular, Isaac Koi.

Make sure you download the Anthronotes study of the mummy, linked in the above post. And yes, there was a number on the skull.

So what have we learned? Here are some thoughts:

1. Jaime Maussan should no longer be considered a reliable researcher in ufology. To be honest, I’ve thought for some years now that he’s amazingly gullible. If you didn’t think he jumped the shark before, he’s in orbit now.

2. Ditto the above for anyone who promoted this “discovery”. You might think it harsh, but deal with it. This is precisely the sort of thing that gives serious researchers in this strangeness field (and others) a black eye. People who are this gullible and so prone to uncritical thinking shouldn’t be given any air time for their pseudo-research.

3. People who donated money to this cause ought to contact lawyers and sue. Maybe if that happened we’d see less of this BS.

Gosh – I wonder if Edgar Mitchell’s looking for a TV camera now. He was an astronaut, you know.

 

Roswell “Alien” Slide – Black Vault Initial Analysis

Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Ancient Egypt, archaeology, UFO Religions, UFO Research, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 0 comments

For those interested, the Black Vault posted a good summary of the suspicious aspects of this “smoking gun” evidence for proof of an alien body from Roswell. I especially wonder (with the Black Vault) why the card at the leg of the “alien” wasn’t enhanced along with the rest of the photo. Probably because that would tell us what it is — a mummy — and what museum it’s in.

I left a comment at the Black Vault site that contains the following about the “alien”:

Notice that there appears to be a number between the eyes, just above the left eye socket. Numbering skulls is no uncommon for Egyptian (and other) mummies. I’ve sent the photo to several Egyptologists who specialize in mummies for opinion – and, hopefully, for leads. I’m hoping that they have access to database information that has such numbers in record. We’ll see.

Someone in the Egyptology community will know if such records exist. The problem, of course, is accessibility. A lot of this stuff isn’t digitized — it still lives in card catalogs or cardboard boxes in museum cellars.

 

 

Alleged Slides Proving Roswell Aliens to be Released Today (Sigh)

Posted by on May 5, 2015 in Ancient Astronauts, ExoPolitics, UFO Religions, UFO Research, _Paleobabble, _UFOreligions | 7 comments

Here’s the news item. This was teased at IUFO.

I’ve seen the Kodachrome slide. I thought immediately it was a child mummy (it’s in some sort of display case). I’ve shown the photo to several Egyptologists. They said the same thing. You can see why when you juxtapose the “alien” photo (on the right) with a child mummy photograph. Funny how they both have the tell-tale body cavity opening:

mummychild

Tracking down which museum specimen it is would be quite difficult, though, if indeed (and I see no reason to doubt this part) that it’s a genuine Kodachrome image from 1947.

The above link also has those touting this image as an alien “analyzing” the shape of the eye sockets. Honestly, big deal. Big eye sockets in skulls are familiar — like with these “alien” specimens:

fetal20

fetalskull21

 

 

infantskull

These specimens are human. The first two are fetal skulls at, respectively, 20 and 21 weeks. The last is a one-year old. They all come from the same site – a medical supply company that specializes in osteological reproductions. Hey, they even have elongated skulls models (like you’ve seen at UFO conferences I bet):

skullreplica

The point with offering these skulls is that the “features” that folks will say point to alien origin (in a slide no less!) are not unusual — especially if the specimen is a child mummy. None of the skull shenanigans put out on the web by ancient alien theorists are unknown. Anthropologists and medical specialists have been all over that stuff for years.

Prepare for the defense of this to get goofy. The above link already has this comment from from Anthony Bragalia:

‘What is depicted is really there, accurately reflected in the emulsion as an actual moment in time in 1947. Science has weighed in and has determined that these are real slides that are really from 1947.’ ‘

The Only Conclusion: This humanoid is not a deformed person, mummy, dummy, simian or dead serviceman.’

The Only conclusion? Play the goofy music now.

Pardon me, but child mummies were displayed in museums in 1947. And people using Kodachrome photography could have (and of course did) take pictures of them. Such photos were also real-time moments in 1947 (unless we’re in a Fringe episode now). Maybe Edgar Mitchell knows that no one took photos of child mummies in Kodachrome that year.

I can’t wait to see the data that rules out a mummy or the other options. If the “evidence” for ruling those out is “hey, the slide dates from 1947″ that doesn’t cut it – by a light year. If I sound jaded, it’s because I am. I’d love to see actual physical evidence for intelligent alien life. But after nearly two decades of engagement with those who do such research (and much of it is hardly careful — but there are exceptions), all such stories, leads, and breakthroughs have come up with nothing — and too many are just a hybrid (another pun) between speculation and bunk.

 

More Mesopotamian Enuma Elish Scholarship for Ancient Astronaut Theorists to Ignore

Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Ancient Legends, Ancient Texts, Book Review, _NakedBible, _Paleobabble | 0 comments

Though I know ancient astronaut theorists aren’t actually interested in serious scholarship in primary texts (it would kill their agenda), PaleoBabble readers who are should know about Lambert’s Babylonian Creation Myths. Here’s an enthusiastic scholarly review of this posthumous magnum opus on this important Sumerian-Akkadian epic.