PaleoBabble BS Detector

What sifts the chaff of paleobabble from the wheat of coherent writing on the ancient world more readily than anything else? That would be peer review.

I’ve blogged before here about the importance of peer review. Tom Verenna (yes, he’s published under peer review) recently wrote a piece related to that very subject entitled, “On Scholars and Kooks: A Few Simple Guidelines for Journalists in Popular Media.” It’s well worth the time. Here’s a taste:

. . . [A] layperson who self-publishes a book on something isn’t an ‘expert’.  They may be considered an enthusiast, an amateur, a hobbyist, a thrill-seeker.  These are polite titles.  More often than not, however, people who only self-publish do so because they do not want to have their ideas vetted by pesky things like editors, peers, or actual experts. . . .

. . . The purpose of peer review, of academic vetting, is to determine how well an argument or hypothesis can withstand criticism.  If the author of this book does not bother to go through this process, even unofficially, by having his book examined by experts prior to publication, then s/he does not have any grounds to claim that it is anything spectacular. That isn’t to say that an uncredentialed person cannot produce a solid book on a subject.  It may actually be ground-breaking, it may be earth-shattering, but if it hasn’t been vetted by other people with credentials then there is no means by which one can claim that it is.

Lead Codices Update

Here’s a post from the Bible Places blog that offers a couple links summarizing the lead codices fraud.  Here’s a paragraph:

Let’s take stock. The Greek is lifted nonsensically from an inscription published in 1958. The forger couldn’t tell the difference between the Greek letters alpha and lambda. The Hebrew script is taken from the same inscription. The Hebrew text is in “code,” i.e., is gibberish. The “Jesus” face is taken from a well-known mosaic. The charioteer is taken from a fake coin. The crocodile has a suspicious resemblance to a plastic toy.

It also has some links to material that gives the media a spanking for perpetuating its own blather without apology. Another paragraph:

The only other noteworthy news is the lack of it. Trust me, the mainstream media have been informed about the true status of the fake codices. The lack of coverage is not due to ignorance, it’s due to unprofessional indifference. Think about that. When the media report a sensationalist story and it proves to be bogus, they feel no responsibility to inform their readers of the truth. I suppose they might if they think they can get another sensation out of the correct story, but if not, they can’t be bothered. Journalists used to feel a professional obligation to their audience. No more.

Davila is actually too kind there.

Todd Bolen on Problems with the Early Christian Lead Books Discovery

Todd Bolen has a sweet post over at his Bible Places blog.  I highly recommend it. Here’s one paragraph:

In a nutshell, the problems with this discovery include the facts that (1) we don’t know who owns the artifacts; (2) we don’t know where they were found; (3) the artifacts were not excavated by archaeologists but stolen by thieves; (4) nearly all information about the discovery so far has come from a single source of dubious reliability; (5) claims have been made that this find is more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls; (6) the source of information appears to be positioning himself for fame and fortune.

Lead Tablet Discovery: Let the Archaeology Presstitution Begin

Well, you know it’s going to happen. This sort of discovery, if valid, will introduce a new wave of archaeo-porn for archaeo-media presstitutes everywhere — and of course their mystic “researchers” across cyberspace who are just waiting for the next piece of antiquity news to twist into yet more revisionist mytho-history about Jesus and the early Christians. What fun!

Here’s a very nice posting (“Lead Codices Silliness“) that sketches the already-encroaching silliness factor. Now Robert Feather has weighed in — the guy who believes the Copper Scroll from Qumran is related to Akhenaten and his Aten-worship. Feather thinks the lead codices have Kabbalah written all over them. No kidding. All that from some pictures on the web. Now that’s scholarship. Is his last name an abbreviation of “feather-brain”? No doubt it will get even wackier (and yes, it can).

I wonder when the likes of Michael Baigent, Christopher Knight, Robert Lomas, and Lynn Picknett will get involved. Then we’ll have a non-sequitur Battle Royal on our hands.