Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Kevin Henke tackles John Woodmorappe’s TAB flood sorting mechanism

itsdemtitans
itsdemtitans
Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:42 pm by itsdemtitans

Hey people,

Two blogs in one month, eh? I’ve got a treat for you today. Back in 1983 creationist John Woodmorappe came up with a hypothetical flood sorting mechanism known as Tectonically-Associated Bioprovidences. It was set to explain problems with original ecological zonation hypothesis. In 1998, Geologist Kevin Henke tackled the paper. It reveals better than anything else how incompetent creation “geologists” are. However, it was hidden away in the archive of the Talkorigins newsgroup. After cleaning it up to better fit the format of this forum, I gained permission from Kevin to repost it here. Thanks, Kevin!

It’s a little hard to read without Woodmorappe’s figures in front of you, but there’s still plenty of Gold in it. Enjoy the read!

~Itsdemtitans

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Response to Woodmorappe’s Claims in his Paper: “A Diluviological Treatise on the Stratigraphic Separation of Fossils”

Kevin R. Henke, August 8, 1998

Note to reader: To fully understand my critique, you will have to obtain a copy of Woodmorappe’s paper and refer to the figures and tables in it.

John Woodmorappe (not his real name) first presented his TAB (Tectonically Associated Biological Provinces) concept in “A Diluviological Treatise on the Stratigraphic Separation of Fossils,” which appeared in the December, 1983 issue of the Creation Research Society Quarterly (CRSQ). The article was reprinted in his 1993 book, “Studies in Flood Geology.” Woodmorappe attempts to disprove the reliability of index fossils and explain away the geologic time table by evaluating the relationships between 34 groups of index fossils.

First of all, he can’t even get the time ranges of many of the index fossils correct. I randomly checked some of them in his Table 2 and found many errors and improper uses of index fossils: For example, he lists Monograptus with the Ordovician graptolites. However, Monograptus never lived during the Ordovician. It’s a Silurian index fossil! See Shimer and Shrock’s “Index Fossils of North America” (1987, 13th printing) p. 75, 77 or Moore, Lalicker and Fischer’s “Invertebrate Fossils,” McGraw-Hill, 1952, p. 731. As another example, Xenodiscus is a lower Triassic ammonoid(Shimer and Shrock, p. 569). Yet, Woodmorappe lists this fossil with the Permian ammonoids in Table 2. Also Dictyonema is not a suitable index fossil for the Ordovician, because it lived from the Upper Cambrian to the Lower Mississippian (Shimer and Shrock, p. 65).

I could go on.

Everyone makes mistakes, but Woodmorappe’s errors in Table 2 and elsewhere in this paper are too common for him to be a competent geologist. When I pointed this out to Woodmorappe in January 1998, all he could do was to say that he would recheck his references. It’s a little late. This rechecking should have been done in 1983, as part of “peer review” process of CRSQ. Woodmorappe also inappropriately uses rare vertebrate index fossils, such as Dimetrodon and dinosaurs, like Stegosaurus. These vertebrate fossils are very valuable and WHEN they’re found, they are useful. However, Woodmorappe must realize that two of the properties of a truly useful and relevant index fossil are widespread occurrence and frequent preservation.

It’s obvious that he did not consult tables, like the one in Mintz, Leigh W., 1977, “Historical Geology: The Science of a Dynamic Earth”, 2nd ed., Charles E. Merrill Publishing, Columbus, OH, p. 212, before he selected his 34 groups of index fossils. This table does not even recommend using vertebrates, since vertebrates are so rarely preserved. Forams, radiolarians, and other microfossils are much more useful than a large dinosaur that has little chance of being preserved and becoming a fossil. Also forams are found in more diverse aquatic environments than dinosaurs. Forams and other microfossils have a relatively good chance of being preserved, because of their diversity and small size. Dinosaurs are clearly inferior index fossils. Geologists learn all of this in second semester freshman Historical Geology 102 or related intro classes. It’s a wonder that Woodmorappe can draw any conclusions at all from his work because Table 2 indicates that he can’t read the contents of a simple paleontology book.

Woodmorappe responded to this paragraph through private email to Karl Crawford and me by simply stating:

“His [Henke’s] claim that I use ‘bad’ index fossils such as dinosaurs shows that he [Henke] does not know what he is talking about, or else he is deliberately trying to snow-job you. Everyone knows that dinosaurs can be used as index fossils if they are found.”

As shown above, I NEVER said that dinosaurs were “bad” index fossils. I called them inferior to invertebrates because they are not as well preserved. They are very good index fossils, WHEN they’re found. Also, Woodmorappe largely ignores ocean sediments and continental well cores in this study. Why does he do this? He emailed Karl and me and told us that ocean and well core (borehole) data were largely unavailable when he wrote this article in the early 1980’s. However, continental well core data for the Williston Basin and most other petroleum-producing areas have been available since at least the 1950’s or 1960’s. Useful information on ocean sediments has been available since at least the late 1960’s. Woodmorappe could have updated his article with ocean and continental well core data before it was reprinted in 1993. Ocean sediments are relatively complete back through the Cretaceous and better support evolution and the geologic time table than the largely eroded and nonpreserved continental rocks and sediments for the same time span. If Woodmorappe really wanted to study the validity of the geologic time scale, he should have looked at ocean sediments. Chapter 7 “Fossil Distribution and the ‘Ecological Zonation’ Hypothesis” in “Neglect of Geologic Data: Sedimentary Strata Compared with Young-Earth Creationist Writings” by old-Earth creationist Daniel E. Wonderly (Interdisciplinary Biblical Institute, 1987) talks about the problems that forams and radiolaria in ocean sediments present for advocates of “Flood Geology.” Wonderly’s chapter not only demolishes creationist claims about “ecological zonations,” but it also would put to death Woodmorappe’s TAB concept.

Well cores and fence diagrams are essential to obtain a 3-D view of the geology of an area. By largely ignoring these data and only looking at surface outcrops, Woodmorappe is certainly not going to find very many cases of index fossils from different periods in one locality, especially since he is only working with 34 groups and many of them are rare vertebrates. Woodmorappe is correct when he says that it is rare to have outcrops in one location that contain more than two geologic periods. This is because most rocks from a given period are very thick, often thousands of feet thick. Except for the Grand Canyon and relatively few other places, you have to drill deep within a site to reach the rocks of another period beneath the one or two on the surface. This is not surprising since the rocks of each geologic period often represent millions of years of net accumulation. In the oil-producing Williston Basin of western North Dakota, for example, it is not uncommon to go to a site with dinosaur fossils, index mollusk fossils, or turtle fossils on the surface ARRANGED IN THEIR EXPECTED GEOLOGICAL ORDER and drill down through hundreds or thousands of feet of rock containing numerous index fossils of different mollusks, brachiopods, etc. from at least SEVEN different geologic periods.

As an example, there are outcrops near the border between Slope and Bowman counties in western North Dakota (Township 135N, Range 106W). In that area, Champsosaurus is located in the Huff Member. Both just above (in the Tullock Formation) and below (in the Pretty Butte Member) are specimens of the index fossil, Viviparus, a snail. (For details, see: Frye, Charles I., 1967, “The Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.) So how did the Champsosaurus get sandwiched between layers with these snails? The outcrops include well-layered bentonite beds, which are weathered volcanic ash deposits. Also, the Huff Member typically contains very water soluble gypsum crystals. How did the ash beds settle and form extensively lateral layers during a violent Flood? Why weren’t the gypsum crystals dissolved and washed away by the Flood waters? Oil wells throughout the two counties go down into the Paleozoic, where brachiopods, trilobites and other marine invertebrates, many of them as index fossils, are present. You can see the intact fossils in the miles of drill cores from the Basin that are stored in Grand Forks, ND. It’s easy for Woodmorappe to draw false conclusions when he’s only working in one or two dimensions by studying outcrops (i.e., the surface) rather than working in three dimensions by studying well cores or using fence diagrams. If he was thinking in 3-D and using a larger number of index fossils with the correct time ranges, he wouldn’t be drawing such bad conclusions, such as: “index fossils shun each other geographically” (p. 154).

There’s no shunning in at least the Upper Midwest. I browsed through Shimer and Shrock’s list of gastropod index fossils and I easily found EIGHT index fossil species that are useful in the Fort Union and Lance Formations of western North Dakota and Montana. AGAIN, I was ONLY looking at GASTROPOD (“snail”) index fossils from ONE book and I was able to find: Viviparus raynoldsianus, Lunatia subcrassa, Campelona multistriatum, Valvata subumbilicata, Drepanochilus americanum, Pleurolimnaea tenuicostata, Planorbis planoconvexus, and Cylichna scitula. Woodmorappe incorrectly suggests in his article that index fossils are too spread out from each other to be reliable. Well, that might be true IF you’re only looking at a few of them and many of them are poorly preserved (i.e., rare) vertebrates! But, if you use common sense, as many INVERTEBRATES as possible (including down to the species level), and ocean and continental well cores, Woodmorappe’s assault on the geologic column crumbles.

Figure 1 on p. 135 is a bar graph that shows the percentages of fossil families and genera that are found in only one geologic period, just two periods and so on all the way up to the percentage of families and genera found in all 11 Phanerozoic periods. The bar graph shows that about 80% of some 19,805 fossil genera evaluated by Woodmorappe and over 30% of some 2,617 fossil families evaluated by Woodmorappe are restricted to one geologic period. That’s a lot of potential index fossils! Less than 7% of the genera and about 30% have life spans that include three or more periods. The immediate question that I have is how such a violent world-wide Flood could manage to so segregate or keep the fossils segregated. Why aren’t the vast majority of fossil families and genus found in 8 or more geologic periods? Woodmorappe attempts to deal with this creationist problem in this paper, but fails in my opinion through special pleading and the use of straw people arguments.

Woodmorappe also warns his readers that the genera and family results in Figure 1 may be biased because of subjective and inconsistent genera and family classifications and “circular reasoning” (p. 135-136). Even if minor adjustments are needed in taxonomic classifications or if the often touted and rarely supported creationist claims of “circular reasoning” are real in a few cases, the data in Figure 1 are clearly consistent with the geologic column. The fossil groups are segregated because they lived and died at different times, and they EVOLVED!

Woodmorappe notes that further exploration sometimes leads to the expansion of the life span of an index fossil. An example may be found in Mintz, 1977, p. 211, which states that the bryozoan Archimedes was once thought to only have lived during the Mississippian period. However, it’s now known to occasionally occur in Pennsylvanian and Permian rocks. Therefore, Woodmorappe (p. 136) argues that the results in Figure 1 may not be final.

Paleontologists are very familiar with this problem. This is why they look for fossil assemblages in previously unexplored regions rather than just relying on single index fossils. Geologists argue that using just one index fossil for a previously unexplored outcrop is unwise because there is a chance that the fossil may have lived earlier or later in this area than in other areas of the world. This could result in the improper dating of newly discovered sedimentary rocks (see Mintz, 1977, p. 210-217). This is why geologists use fossil assemblages of 5, 10, 24 or even more fossils. The chances that ALL 10, 24 or whatever number of members of a fossil assemblage lived in an unexplored area before or after they lived everywhere else in the world are remote. It does not surprise me that Woodmorappe doesn’t talk extensively about REAL WORLD fossil assemblages in this paper, because in the hands of early 19th century geologists, fossil assemblages were important in killing Flood Geology.

On Map 36, Woodmorappe plots “localized occurrences” of Jurassic ammonoids, Lower Carboniferous corals, Silurian brachiopods and graptolites and Cambrian trilobites on maps of Nevada, Utah, and Great Britain. He states (p. 150) that there are very few localities in these areas where three out of the four fossil groups occur within a few 10’s of miles of each other. But, why would any geologist expect to find locations that have three or four of these groups, since they don’t even have consecutive ages?!

For map 36, Woodmorappe includes Cambrian trilobites, skips the Ordovician, includes Silurian brachiopods and graptolites, skips the Devonian, includes Lower Carboniferous corals, skips the Upper Carboniferous, Permian and Triassic and includes Jurassic ammonoids. Why all the skipping? Woodmorappe’s larger maps (p. 140-146) indicate that Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, and Triassic index fossils are at least present in parts of Great Britain. What would these maps have looked like if Woodmorappe had included a thorough representation of index fossils from four consecutive periods, such as Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian? For creationists, would the results have been too good in illustrating the reliability and usefulness of index fossils?

Woodmorappe constructs some hypothetical examples of his TAB concept in Figure 4. Immediately, I wonder why he is using a hypothetical example rather than a reconstruction of an actual field location, like the Michigan Basin or the Williston Basin. Geologists have derived reliable paleogeographic maps that are useful in oil exploration. Creationists could try reconstructions as well. By not using a real world example, Woodmorappe is not allowing scientists to really evaluate his TAB concept and his claims against orthodox geology. He is being like William Morris Davis, who sat at a desk rather in the field and derived a “cycle of erosion” for landscapes. The “cycle of erosion” proved to have no extensive field support.

Initially, Woodmorappe (p. 158) divides the Phanerozoic into four divisions, I, II, III, and IV, (where, I = Lower Paleozoic, II = Upper Paleozoic, III = Mesozoic, and IV= Cenozoic). The Precambrian is included in I (p. 160). For Woodmorappe’s TAB concept to work, biogeographic zones must be strongly associated with certain tectonic provinces, thus the name: Tectonically Associated Biological [TAB] Provinces. Specifically, he argues (p. 158) that Lower Paleozoic strata would be associated with the most tectonically active areas. The Cenozoic deposits would be least affected by tectonic forces (e.g., Figure 5). Of course, there is no geologic evidence to support such a link. He attempts to argue for a link from information in Table 3 (p. 152-153, 158), but this “link”, if it really exists, could be explained as nothing more than erosional effects.

To argue that Cenozoic-Mesozoic deposits experienced less tectonic activity than Paleozoic deposits, Woodmorappe (p.158) claims that 57.4% of the total volume of Phanerozoic platform sediments are Cenozoic-Mesozoic and only 41.3% of the more tectonically influenced geosynclinal sediments belong to these two Eras. However, these percentages may have no statistical significance for Woodmorappe, since the Paleozoic lasted for about 375 million years and the combined Cenozoic-Mesozoic Eras represent only 225 million years.

Woodmorappe (p. 158) talks about how submarine topography and volcanic activity could affect biogeography. However, according to Woodmorappe’s claims, the Lower Paleozoic strata of Indiana or Iowa should have experienced more tectonic activity than the Cenozoic deposits of California, Oregon and Washington State. No way. For Woodmorappe’s TAB concept to stand even a slight chance of working, areas with rocks containing Lower Paleozoic fossils MUST ALWAYS have sunk further into the Earth’s crust than adjacent areas with rocks with Upper Paleozoic or younger fossils (see Woodmorappe’s paper, p. 155 and following). But, there is no basis to believe that this occurred.

Woodmorappe finally states (p. 158): “It should be emphasized that TAB’s did not arise from trial-and-error migrations [of organisms from one biogeographic province to another] but were present since the Creation and were based on teleological design.” When there’s inadequate scientific evidence, Woodmorappe invokes miracles to prop up his TABs. By comparing Woodmorappe’s Figure 6 with Figure 4, numerous contradictions become apparent. Notice that in Figure 6, Woodmorappe claims that IV/III/II/I is the most abundant TAB with about 28% of the Earth’s land surface. IV/III/II/I in Figure 6 is represented by TAB 3 in Figure 4.

However, his maps in Figure 4 show that this TAB would be relatively rare when compared with TABs 7 (I only), 10 (II only), 14 (IV only), or 5 (III only), since TAB 3 only occurs at the junction where IV, III, II, and I (TABs 7, 10, 5 and 14) meet (Woodmorappe admits that TABs like 3 form at junctions, see p. 162). Geometry 101 dictates that the intersection point of I, II, III, and IV polygons in Figure 4 will be smaller (i.e., a point) than the areas of each of the polygons that are part of the intersection. Therefore, Figure 4 or any other TAB maps that Woodmorappe could cook up dictate that TABs 7, 10, 14, and 5 should cover larger areas than their intersection point 3 or IV/III/II/I. However, Figure 6 indicates that 3 actually has a higher percent of the Earth’s land surface area than 7, 10, 14, or 5. By trying to expand TAB 3 and shrink TABs 7, 10, 14 and 5 to try to make Figures 4 and 6 consistent, Woodmorappe risks producing abundant false TABs like IV/II/III/I, which he admits are nonexistent to rare.

Look carefully at the cross sections in Figure 5 and you will see how currents could easily produce a false TAB of III/IV II in the center of basin II by depositing IV from the left before III from the right. It is only by special pleading and doctoring of the diagram could Woodmorappe eliminate this problem. But, all things are possible when you use imaginary cross sections instead of real ones. In Figure 5, Woodmorappe claims that rocks II and III are separated by a few 10’s of kilometers. Such distances are too short to be effective barriers to many organisms. If erosion did not purge the barriers, the migration of sea birds and terrestrial animals between the two marine environments could easily carry invertebrate eggs, forams, seeds, and other organisms that would cause Permian forams to noticeably mix with Cretaceous clams, like Inoceramus, for example. Thus, the migration of organisms in Figure 5 could also create many false TABs. (See Raup and Stanley, 1978, “Principles of Paleontology,” p. 404f, for discussions on the creative ways in which organisms may cross geographic barriers.)

As a real world example, I have asked Woodmorappe and/or Karl Crawford to apply the TAB concept to the Williston Basin of North Dakota. The Williston Basin contains abundant Late Paleozoic evaporites, which indicate dry climates that are completely incompatible with a raging Flood. Some creationists, like Nutting in his ICR,”Graduate School Thesis,” have,attempted to argue that the evaporites had a hydrothermal origin that was related to volcanism. But, except may be for wind-blown volcanic ash beds, there is no evidence of igneous or metamorphic deposits in the Late Paleozoic rocks of the Williston Basin. Woodmorappe makes more errors with his fictional examples in Figures 7 and 8, which deal with biostratigraphic distributions. In Figure 8, Woodmorappe attempts to show that index fossils are “incompatible” or, in other words, index fossils don’t tend to overlap at field sites. Since he is not basing his arguments on any real world examples in Figures 7 and 8, his arguments are nothing more than invalid straw people. But what makes the situation even worse for him is that he can’t even read his own figures. For example, in Figure 8, Woodmorappe claims that E1, I20; E3, I18; and E20, J14 are “compatible” or overlap stratigraphically. But Figure 7 shows that they don’t!

CONCLUSIONS:

The conclusions in Woodmorappe’s article are based on the improper use of index fossils, too few fossil groups, other fundamental errors and numerous contradictions between his imaginary figures. Because of these errors and a lack of real world examples in Figure 4, his TAB concept is geologically worthless. Woodmorappe needs to read some Geology 101 and 102 textbooks before he tries to apply his ideas to real geological features, such as the Williston Basin of western North Dakota. If he does, he will probably discover, as geologists did 150-200 years ago, that Flood Geology is crap.

Buried rivers kill Noah’s Flood

itsdemtitans
itsdemtitans
Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:43 am by itsdemtitans

How often do you hear creationists say that there’s no evidence for erosion in the geologic record? Well, unfortunately for them, there is, and it’s not just something they can hand-wave away as some product of the Flood. Here, I’m going to show several examples of paleorivers (all images from Glenn Morton’s archived essays, save the last two). These are found everywhere throughout the rock record, at so many levels that it rules out the Phanerozoic as having been produced by a single event, and therefore, falsifies Flood Geology.

Paleorivers are exactly what they sound like; river channels that have been buried and preserved in the rock record. They often show slow meanders and which negate them having formed rapidly on unconsolidated flood sediment.

Here are several images of paleorivers. The name of the strata they’re found in will be listed above each one.

Carboniferous:

Paleoriver in limestone

This is a paleoriver from the Breckenridge limestone in Texas. Oil wells drilled outside of the channel find limestone at this level, but wells drilled into the channel fail to find any limestone here but instead find the sands and shales deposited by the river. As you can see it meanders tightly and extends for several miles, just as modern rivers do.

Carboniferous:

Coal paleoriver
erous:
Above is a channel in the Harrisburg No. 5 coal in Illinois. The two maps show where the meandering sandstone channel is in two different counties. Here is what the authors have to say about it:

“Figure 4 (modified from a map by Trescott) shows that the No. 5 coal underlies all of the area except for the locality of a meandering channel averaging about three-quarters of a mile in width in the main alluvial valley. ~-Harold R. Wanless, James R. Baroffio, and Peter C. Trescott,”Conditions of Deposition of Pennsylvanian Coal Beds,” Geol. Soc. America Spec. Paper 114 pp 105-142 (1969), p. 115-116, in Charles A. Ross and June R. P. Ross, Geology of Coal, (New York: Hutchinson Ross Publishing Co., 1984, p. 95-96

This once again reflects a meandering channel covering a long distance, just as we see on the surface today. It also sinks the “Floating Forest” theory YECs have for explaining coal seams. If that were true then such channels would not exist, as catastrophic burial of a floating forest or veggimat will not form a gentle meandering channel over such a vast distance.

Cenezoic:

Above view

Forward view

These two images come from this paper here. They show not just paleorivers, but an entire ancient landscape, dating to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. This deeply incised landscape is cut into the 58.5–56-Myr-old Lamba formation, which consists of marine deltaic deposits whose flat topset units were deposited at sea level . This formation is largely unreflective and consists of mudstones and siltstones with occasional thin sandy layers. The eroded landscape has been infilled by the 2 56–54.5 Myr Flett and Balder formations. I think the pictures speak for themselves. Ancient river drainage basins, which look exactly like the ones on the surface today, will not form under catastrophic conditions enacted on still-unconsolidated flood sediment. But according to YECs the flood sediments were still soft after the Flood to allow the rapid carving of the Grand Canyon. So obviously this feature could not have formed, but here it is.

Implications:

So, there’s several examples of paleorivers, and this is but a small sample of what’s out there. Paleorivers are found at a wide range of stratigraphic levels. I think the implications of these features are clear. These are surface features, buried under tons of sediment. Why are these such a problem for Flood Geology? Because creationists themselves list a claimed lack of erosion and surface features between layers as one of their top six evidences for a Global Flood. Obviously then, they know things like paleorivers cannot form in their Flood. But there they are. Thus, we’ve falsified Flood Geology yet again.

Comments and criticisms welcome! :)

A Quest For The Historical Jesus Part 2: A Review of Richard Carrier’s On The Historicity Of Jesus

Laurens
Laurens
Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:13 pm by Laurens

In my last post in this series I described how in my opinion the best argument I had heard for the historicity of Jesus did not stand up to scrutiny. The next step in my quest I had decided was to read what has been hailed to be the best case for mythicism that has so far been put out there, to see whether it was convincing. That case being On the Historicity of Jesus by Dr. Richard Carrier. In this post I shall review his book and summarize where I now stand on the issue of whether or not Jesus was a historical being after having read it.

On the Historicity of Jesus is a peer reviewed scholarly work with extensive footnotes and references to the latest literature. Do not let that put you off however, I had little to no prior knowledge of the subjects covered before starting and I found it easy to follow. That being said this is not a casual bedtime read, it requires concentration, but no more so than any book containing lots of information.

Carrier begins by positing a hypothesis of minimal historicity and a hypothesis of minimal myth. ‘Minimal’ meaning the basic tenets that if shown to be false would collapse the entire hypothesis. Minimal historicity is that there was a man named Jesus who gained devout followers during his life, these followers continued to expound his teachings and theology beyond Jesus’s execution at the hands of the authorities. Eventually some of his followers began to worship Jesus as a God. Minimal myth posits that Jesus began as a celestial entity who endured incarnation, suffering and death in a supernatural realm (as did the gods of many pagan mystery cults at the time). Jesus communicated with his followers via visions, dreams etc. At some point Christians began to create allegorical myths about Jesus as a historical entity. These were eventually believed to be accounts of a real earthly person.

The remainder of the book sets out to use Bayes Theorem (described in his previous book Proving History) as a method to analyse the background knowledge and evidence in terms of its likelihood to exist on each hypothesis. This is done first by analysing the background evidence, that is; all of the cultural, religious, political knowledge that pertains to the origins of Christianity. In these sections we learn about the dying and rising saviour gods that were prevalent in many cultures around the time that Christianity emerged. We also learn that a suffering Messiah was not actually anathema to the Jews, and that Christianity was a perfect response to the Roman occupation of Judea and the corruption of the Jewish temple cult. There is a heck of a lot of information in these sections, all of it fascinating and enlightening. The information is divided into numbered elements which make for easy reference when anything is bought up later on in the book, something that made it very easy for me to follow.

The analysis of the background data concludes with an unusual fact, that Jesus scores very highly on the Rank-Raglan list. This is essentially a list of qualities that were common to a lot of mythical entities. Carrier notes that there are no known historical people who score over half of the items on the list, Jesus scores 20 out of 22. The odds that a historical person would also be a Rank-Raglan hero are therefore very low.

We are then taken on a tour of the evidence in the following order. Extra-Biblical evidence – of which there is nothing that confirms Jesus as a historical figure (excluding interpolations such as those in Josephus), at best the mentions of Jesus in extra-Biblical sources are not independent of the Gospels and are therefore not usable evidence. Acts – which is shown to be largely historical fiction, with some oddities that may be better explained on mythicism than historicism. The Gospels – which are repeatedly shown to be allegorical fiction and therefore we are unable to derive any useful historical information from them even if there is any contained therein. Then finally the Epistles – which are curiously lacking in any historical details about Jesus as an earthly person.

All throughout his analysis Carrier is granting as favourable odds towards historicism as he feels able. Arguing a fortiori as he calls it. Even given this overly generous approach historicism does not come out well when the figures are punched in to the Bayes equation.

This method, of arguing a fortiori is what sealed the deal for me. Even if we bend over backwards to allow for extremely generous odds in favour of historicism, it still doesn’t come out on top. I can safely say that this book has pushed me from the agnostic camp to the mythicist. That being said, I am not in a position to check all of Carrier’s source material, or look up any of the scholarship that might argue against his points. What this book desperately needs is a rebuttal, with the best case for historicism yet. Preferably in a similar accessible style so lay people can assess both. As things stand though On The Historicity Of Jesus is pretty damning of any case for the existence of a historical Jesus. Until such a time comes that someone puts out a sound rebuttal to it, I must say I am firmly with Carrier in his conclusion: Jesus probably did not exist.

On the Historicity of Jesus is precisely what mythicism needed in order to be taken seriously. One can only hope that it will be treated with the respect that it truly deserves. When I dived into the book I was expecting, or hoping to find some weak links in his case, but I really didn’t. The only arguments that I was unsure about were treated in favour of historicity as far as the probabilities went (this being the possibility that the Epistles mentioned Jesus’s brother), and the case for historicity did not triumph because of it. All in all, whether you are a staunch historicist, an agnostic on the matter, or a curious mythicist I would definitely recommend this book.

I really cannot fault this book, and therefore score it:

5/5

 

Why Atheism Should Be Taught In Religious Studies

Laurens
Laurens
Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:44 am by Laurens

This week we had news that secular views being left out of GSCE Religious Studies was a mistake. Of course this has got some conservative commentators backs up. Why should we teach non-religion in classes about religion? To answer that first we should ask why we are teaching children about religions in the first place. Clearly, or at least hopefully we don’t teach Religious Studies in order that children can decide which is the right one, or be told what to believe. We do it to encourage harmony and understanding. So we don’t remain ignorant and all become massive Islamophobes (although I’m not sure that is working out so well).

In light of this, it is very important to educate people about those who have no religion at all. To complete our set of understanding. No one is advocating that Religious Studies classes teach kids that God is imaginary, just that people are made aware of what atheists are all about and why. To neglect this is to leave people open to all sorts of nonsense that gets said about atheists by the religious. That atheists have no morals for example, or that atheists believe in nothing. The only way to counter such misinformation is to educate people. If Religious Studies has a purpose at all, it is to nurture understanding between faiths and beyond to the irreligious. Otherwise there is really no use in teaching it.

I also think that it should not be called Religious Studies, but rather Philosophy and Ethics or some more inclusive title. Again not to marginalize religion, but to encourage an understanding of world views that extend beyond religion and the broader context in which religions and philosophies interplay and relate to each other. Just teaching kids what each different religion believes is not truly insightful. It would serve us all well to learn about the cultural context in which these beliefs evolved. It doesn’t undermine belief in Christianity to learn about Jewish Messianism and the Roman occupation of Judea (and subsequent corruption or perceived corruption of the Jewish temple authorities), but it surely teaches us something about humanity, our history and how we cope with change. We would all do better if we were educated on all different kinds of Philosophies and their cultural and historical heritage, a vital part of that is those who have rejected religious belief in favour of a rational and empirical world view.

This is not a case of sneering liberals wanting to turn your children into God-hating communists. Its about giving the next generation the best possible understanding of what it is to be human, our struggles, and cultural heritage in the hope that it will iron out any prejudice and tribalism. Really, including atheism in Religious Studies should be the first in a step towards teaching a broader humanities subject. Not because we want to remove religion from your children’s lives, but because religion doesn’t have the monopoly on things humans believe and should therefore only comprise a part of their education on the subject.

UPDATE 04/12/2015 – It has been pointed out to me that I was perhaps unclear about my usage of the term atheism. To be clear I do refer to the wider definition that is probably better defined as Secular Humanism that simply atheism—which could apply to religions such as Buddhism. So whenever I use the term atheism in the context of it being taught as part of a Religious Studies syllabus, I mean Secular Humanist views, not just lack of belief in God.

The Quest for the Historical Jesus Part 1: Awkward Facts or Overambitious Tales?

Laurens
Laurens
Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:42 pm by Laurens

Several months ago, before I really cared that much about the issue I would have conceded that there more than likely was a historical figure behind Christianity. Recently though, in one of those YouTube suggested video clicking journeys I winded up on a talk by Richard Carrier* who rather eloquently put forth the argument that Jesus was a mythical figure who was later written into history (euhemerism). I originally dismissed this idea because the field is so fully of quackery and conspiracy (see Zeitgeist), but Carrier highlighted another more scholarly and well reasoned side of the movement. I am far from having made my mind up on the issue, and I have a lot of reading to do, but something about the question has piqued my interest and I wanted to share with you my findings on the quest for the historical Jesus as they arise and the conclusions that I draw from them in a series of blog posts on the subject.

 

If you were to have asked me previously why I thought that Jesus was a historical figure I would have probably paraphrased the argument that the late Christopher Hitchens made in God Is Not Great:

“[…] the jumbled “Old” Testament prophecies indicate that the Messiah will be born in the city of David, which seems indeed to have been Bethlehem. However, Jesus’s parents were apparently from Nazareth and if they had a child he was most probably delivered in that town. Thus a huge amount of fabrication—concerning Augustus, Herod, and Quirinius—is involved in confecting the census tale and moving the nativity scene to Bethlehem (where, by the way, no “stable” is ever mentioned). But why do this at all, since a much easier fabrication would have had him born in Bethlehem in the first place, without any needless to-do? The very attempts to bend and stretch the story may be inverse proof that someone of later significance was indeed born, so that in retrospect, and to fulfil the prophecies, the evidence had to be massaged to some extent.”

God Is Not Great page 114-115

This does at first glance seem rather convincing. Why on Earth would both Matthew and Luke go to great lengths to get Jesus of Nazareth to Bethlehem? A plausible explanation is that it was a response to criticism, that people looked at the scriptures and noted that if Jesus—a known Nazarene—was the Messiah he would have been born in Bethlehem not Nazareth. From this we can derive the conclusion that Jesus was a historical individual. For the interests of clarity I shall henceforth refer to this as the Nazarene argument. 

Before discussing this further let us establish some facts that pertain to this argument. With one fact in particular that impacts how we perceive the conclusion of the argument.

Matthew refers to a prophecy about Nazareth

Matthew 2:23 states:

 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

 

Scholars are unsure as to which prophecy this refers

Though there are plausible contenders (of which one I shall posit is a likely explanation) there is no definitive agreement as to which (if any) prophecy the above verse refers.

Matthew mentions a prophecy with regards to Jesus being a Nazarene, but we have no idea to what he is referring, though there are some candidates. This is all we can legitimately say that we know with regards to the term being applied to Jesus in the notoriously unreliable Gospels. Although the term is used in Mark which pre-dates Matthew, Matthew is heavily derivative of Mark and it could be that Mark used to term assuming that the reader already knew the prophecy to which Matthew refers.

 

Let’s now look at hypotheses as to why Matthew refers to a prophecy about Nazareth in light of the fact that people can’t seem to agree on what he is referring to:

1. Matthew could simply be fraudulently claiming there to be a prophecy that did not exist.

This is plausible, but it is unlikely considering the motive ascribed by the Nazarene argument. If the author of Matthew was addressing criticism about a Messiah claim not fulfilling prophecy, this critique is likely to have been delivered by people who were aware of scripture and prophecy. Thus we are required to believe that Matthew boldly claimed there was a prophecy when his critics would easily have retorted that there wasn’t. If there was no prophecy and Matthew knew this, there is no motive for making it up (at least in the context of addressing a criticism) he might simply have said “he was born in Bethlehem as spoken by the prophets, then he lived in a town called Nazareth which is why he is known as a Nazarene.” I don’t think this completely rules out this possibility, Matthew may have been extremely bold, or fabricated it with a different motive. However, I find this an unconvincing hypothesis as any criticism would be sufficiently addressed by the narrative without a fabricated prophecy, if anything a fabricated prophecy would make his case weaker (if we assume that the Nazarene argument is true).

This hypothesis explains the lack of consensus as to where this supposed prophecy lies, but it ignores the complications associated with positing a fraudulent claim.

2. Matthew was referring to a known prophecy

As mentioned previously there are possible candidates for verses that were interpreted as a prophecy about Nazareth. He may have been referencing a line in Isaiah 11:1 which in English reads as:

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”

In Hebrew the word for branch is ne-tzer . Hebrew, being a consonantal language—with vowels not being indicated in ancient text—it may have been possible to read this word in Greek as Nazarene. The significance of this being that the branch (Nazarene) was symbolic of being descended from Jesse, father of David. Indeed the prophecy was popular in the New Testament era, being referenced by both Romans 15:12 and Revelation 5:5. We also know that it was popular for Jews to look for hidden messages and prophecy in their texts in this manner, so it is not beyond question that at the time the author of Matthew was writing this passage in Isaiah was interpreted as a prophecy.

Given the aforementioned popularity of the Isaiah verse, and the propensity in Jewish culture to look in their texts for coded messages, I think that this is a very plausible candidate for the prophecy that Matthew was referring to. Not only does it hint at a geographical location, but it also hints towards a lineage that goes back to David, a double whammy that I can imagine would have been viewed as being significant.

I cannot see any other relevant reasons as to why Matthew would refer to a prophecy in the text, although I am open to suggestions in the comments, and will amend this article accordingly. I sincerely apologise if it seems that I am positing a false dilemma.

 

I would posit, given the facts that 1 is less likely that 2, but neither is entirely conclusive. Thus we are led to more than one possible outcome. Either the Nazarene argument is true and there was a historical Jesus and the Gospels contrive a story to fix fact with prophecy. Matthew either conveniently discovered that Jesus was actually from one of the places mentioned by the prophets (unlikely), or he fabricated a prophecy to make his case seem a bit more legit (plausible, but questionable). It is either that or Matthew was not drawing on a historical figure at all (or if he was the actual historical facts did not factor into the story), and was simply contriving a mythical story that would hit as many prophecies as possible. This is supported by the fact that Matthew has Jesus et al go to Egypt until Herod died (Matt 2:15) (to avoid a massacre that never happened) just to get another ding on the prophecy-o-meter. In fact the whole first couple of chapters in Matthew read very much in this fashion with prophecies being reeled off here there and everywhere.

In this instance I have to say that I changed my mind. I am no longer convinced that the Nazarene argument provides a convincing case for the historicity of Jesus. The idea of Nazarene being symbolic of a descendent of David and also interpreted as a reference to a Galilean town seems plausible to me. If the Gospels are allegorical myths, full of references to the Old Testament, this is exactly the kind of multi-layered reference we would expect to find.  This makes sense when you look at the parallels that Matthew so clearly makes to Exodus with the slaughter of the innocents in his nativity story. It works when you look at it like that. It might not make narrative sense, and it may seem highly contrived, but that’s kind of the point; it is.

On the other hand the Nazarene argument would have us believe that either Matthew fabricated a prophecy—when it didn’t make a great deal of sense to do so—to bolster the claim that it was totally fine for the Messiah to be from Nazareth and Bethlehem. Or Jesus was actually born in a town that happened to possibly be the subject of a multi-layered prophetic reference to his Davidic heritage and Matthew capitalized on this, but decided it wasn’t enough and wanted him to get to Bethlehem as well.  The latter seems highly improbable, and the former is plausible, but in my opinion doesn’t work as well because it raises questions as to what his motives for lying were.

 

I couldn’t say with certainty that this is evidence of a mythical Jesus, but I do not see it as evidence for a historical Jesus. It might be the case that the Gospels were heavily mythologised but there still was a figurehead behind it all—about whom very little in the gospels accurately portrays. It may also be the case that the Nazarene argument is true, but I believe it would require some corroborative evidence to back it up.

 

* Note: I apologize, but I forget the exact video that I saw, however I can recommend searching his name in YouTube as much of his talks cover the same topics and are all equally fascinating.

School reality in Austria

Inferno
Inferno
Sat Mar 08, 2014 12:00 am by Inferno

I’ve been meaning to write this for quite some time now but I never got around to it. I wanted to continue my politics series, but atm Austrian politics really sucks and I’d rather not talk about it.

In my last post on education, I briefly brushed on one astounding fact: Education is hereditary. I stated that “between 60-80% of learning achievement can be predicted by looking at the background of children”.

I won’t delve into why that is too much, but I want to explain how that creates problems for teachers.

I am currently teaching at a school in Vienna. It’s not a bad school at all, in fact I’m quite happy about the school’s infrastructure, the colleagues there, the children and of course the parents. All in all, I’m satisfied.

Could things be better? Of course they could. Our computers and printers are slow and old, our projectors hardly work at all and we’ve barely got enough space to work on. (About the size of an average computer screen, 1.5 if you’re lucky.)
Compared to Nordic countries, that’s nothing! In Sweden, I had my own desk and two cupboards. That’s about as much as our head mistress gets!

All that aside, there’s a much deeper problem with our education, one that can’t easily be fixed.

 

Let’s back up a little. A few decades ago, kids were still beaten. Kids were scared to go to school, but they went anyway. Kids had suffered through a damn lot.

And yet, they got good grades, learned a lot and essentially built what we have today: A (more or less) functional society with (more or less) good morals and a (more or less) slowly closing gender gap, with (more or less) little discrimination against people due to whatever reason… All in all it’s a good society, though of course there are still things we can improve.

However, kids were more polite, though that is of course not due to any innate quality of generations past, but rather because they feared the rod. In any case, teachers in those days had it much easier but used inadequate methods to teach.

Nowadays, we have the exact opposite. Teachers have the benefit of smartboards, neuroscience, excellent teacher training, readily available teaching materials and so on and so forth.

And yet, teaching is more difficult than ever. You have to make your subject not only more interesting than the other subjects, but you actually have to compete with video games, movies, taking drugs, drinking and even sex. Try doing that, making your subject more interesting than sex: Good fucking luck.

 

If that were the only problem, we’d be in trouble, but we would be able to fix it: Appeal to the parents, make them work a bit.

Here’s the real problem: Many parents, at least in Austria, think they know better than the teachers. I’ll give you an example. Last week, we talked about “animals” in class: Basic vocabulary, talking about them, etc. Possibly the easiest animal for a German kid to remember is “rat”. So I was surprised to see that a boy had written “ret”. While my colleague was teaching, I went up to him and asked him about that. Here’s the short discussion that ensued:

Kid: “My mom told me you spell it like that.”

Me: “Well that’s a problem then because that’s not the way it’s spelled. I studied English for a reason, did your mom? Look, here’s the book spelling it “rat”, here’s the dictionary, here’s…”

Kid: “I don’t care. My mom told me you guys suck anyway, so I don’t have to listen to you.”

Now this might be an isolated incident, but it’s still representative of the mentality many parents hold: Teachers are lazy, get paid too much and they know absolutely nothing. Here’s another example. We’re currently re-structuring the curricula at my teachers university college (PH Wien) and I volunteered to help. Needless to say we have no power to do anything at all, but we still meet regularly. During the first meeting, one of the participants (parents association representative) asked, and I paraphrase his long question: “How come, after all this training, there are still bad teachers?”

Now this, of course, betrays a wild ignorance of Gaussian distribution: Some people are very good, a lot are medium and some are very bad. Teachers training doesn’t get rid of the bottom percent, it just moves the whole curve a bit to the right, aka. towards the “better” part of the curve. However, there is a deeper message: Teachers need to be controlled, they need to be supervised, they need to be watched over.

On the whole, of course, I agree: Teachers should do their absolute best, just as doctors and firefighters and … should do their absolute best. No questions asked. However, that’s not possible without public support (aka money) and public support (aka supporting parents and society).

 

The third problem, and I’ll be sure to confuse you with this sentence, is migration.

“Wahhh, right wing scum.”

No, don’t get me wrong. The problem isn’t with migrants, it’s with how we accept migrants. This may be different in other countries, but migrants in generally aren’t welcomed in Austria: There’s a strong anti-immigration strain-of-thought, especially in large cities. If the only thing you tell migrants is that they’re lazy and that their language isn’t worth a damn, then we’ll have a society of people who think just that. If we tell people that only our language is important, then not only will migrant children lose their identity, but we’ll lose the ability (or willingness) to adapt to new cultures.

This may have something to do with our history: We’ve had a long-standing feud with the Ottoman Empire (aka the Turks) and we’ve been invaded more often than possibly any country on earth. (This may or may not be a slight exaggeration) We were once a mighty empire with loads of cultures where we didn’t have to fear diversity, now we’re a tiny country with no say in any matter. However, fear of diversity will kill this small country: Only through increased diversity and increased acceptance of it will we be able to hold our place.

Finally, it is exactly the wrong approach to tell children that their language isn’t worth anything: We must encourage them to learn their mother tongue, if only because mastery of one language will make mastery of a second language more probable. The earlier, the better; the more, the better. In short: If, as a foreigner, you want your kid to learn English, teach it your mother tongue first.

 

Jumping back to the beginning, I think I’ve identified a few problems with schools as they’re currently run:

1) School needs to be exciting, but schools nowadays are boring.

2) Society neither trusts teachers, nor are they seen as authority figures. Where respect and mutual aid used to be the norm, distrust and low-profile conflict are now much more common. Parents tell their kids not to trust their teachers because “those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach”. Parents think they’re experts in education, simply because they have a kid and have read a few books on the subject.

3) Education isn’t as “interesting” a political topic any more. Screw what they said in “House of Cards”: Education isn’t anything that will capture votes. Or maybe it will, but after that we won’t do anything useful. I’ll have an entire post about that soon. *

4) Cultural identity and the benefits from it aren’t recognised as worth protecting, instead we want people to assimilate in a way that’s comfortable for us. Never mind what’s best for the kid, let’s think about what’s best for me.

These are just a few of the problems teachers in Austria (and probably also in other countries) face. I’m not saying that teachers are saints, of course not. Neither am I saying that they’re purely victims. I’m saying that we should be realistic about the challenges of teaching, that parents should support a child’s learning and that schools can’t work miracles. When in doubt, talk to your child’s teacher once in a while and formulate a plan how you can best support your child.

*There are many things I could talk about, but I think this will be the most interesting. I’ll be talking about current problems in schools (due to the system), current scientific investigations into the topics including possible solutions, and I’ll talk about how the state is trying to fix it: By doing the opposite of what experts are telling them, I might add.

If you have any questions regarding schools, school reforms, teaching practices, etc. I’ll be happy to answer.

“What about this document?” Holocaust deniers make me sick!

theyounghistorian77
theyounghistorian77
Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:43 am by theyounghistorian77

So, in the space of less than a week, I have caught out twice two different Neo-Nazi holocaust deniers on Twitter trying to use (or rather abuse) this ITS B.A.D Arolsen file against me (at the bottom of the post) in their mad claims that the true total of Jewish deaths is lower than the approx 6 million figure that I and every other scholar who is not a Nazi or a racist accepts as the truth (on a range of various sources; see Lucy Dawidowicz, “The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945″; Raul Hilberg, “The Destruction of the European Jews”; Peter Longerich, “Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews”; and Arno J Mayer, “Why did the Heavens not Darken?” among many many other excellent titles).

For those who do not know, the ITS B.A.D Arolsen is, as it says on its website, “a centre for documentation, information and research on Nazi persecution, forced labour and the Holocaust.” It’s an excellent service and I would recommend in the same vain “The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names” by the Yad Vesham Center which has painstakingly compiled “the biographical details of two thirds of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices.” For those who do not know too much about the Holocaust, I would highly consider you visit both websites together and fully digest them, so that one may begin to get an understanding of the actual vast scale of the tragedy of the Holocaust, for both document it. Unsurprisingly, no Neo-Nazi I have ever had the unfortunate luck to to run into has ever admitted to liking full documentation. It proves too much truth. Take for example the following written by General Commissioner Wilhelm Kube on 31 July 1942, which is arguably one of the most explicit documents about the Nazi mass extermination. No denier has ever managed to explain this one away to me, and I don’t expect any to. Thus far I have quoted it in all debates I have ever had with Neo-nazis, even on this very forum.

“In every encounter with partisans in White Ruthenia, it has been established that in the former Soviet part of the district general as well as in the former Polish part the Jews together with the Polish Resistance Movement in the East and the Red Army men of Moscow are the mainstay of the partisan movement. As a result of this, and in view of the danger to the whole economy, the treatment of the Jews in White Ruthenia is a predominantly political matter which, therefore, should not be solved according to economic but political angles. During detailed consultations with the SS Brigadefuehrer Zenner and the extremely capable Chief of the SD, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. jur. Strauch, we found that we had liquidated approximately 55,000 Jews in White Ruthenia during the last 10 weeks. In the Minsk-Land area, the Jewry was completely exterminated, without endangering the allocation of labor in any way. In the prevailing Polish Lida area, 16,000 Jews, in Slonim 8,000 Jews, etc., were liquidated. The preparations for the liquidation of the Jews in the Glebokie area were completely disrupted by the arbitrary action by the rear army area, which has already been reported to your office. In the rear army area , I was not contacted , 10,000 Jews were liquidated who were scheduled for extermination by us anyway. In the city of Minsk about 10,000 Jews were liquidated on 28 and 29 July, 6,500 of whom were Russian Jews , mainly old people, women, and children , the remainder consisted of Jews unfit for work, most of whom had been sent to Minsk from Vienna, Brno, Bremen, and Berlin in November of the previous year at the Fuehrer’s orders.

The Slutsk area was also ridded of several thousand Jews. The same applies to Novogrudok and Vileika. Radical measures still remain to be taken for Baranovichi and Hanzevichi. In Baranovichi, about 10,000 Jews are still living in the town alone, 9,000 of whom will be liquidated next month. In the town of Minsk, 2,600 Jews from Germany have been left over. Besides, all the 6,000 Jews and Jewesses are still alive who have been working, during the action, with the units who had employed them previously. Even in the future the largest Jewish labor force will be in Minsk, since the centralization of armament industries and the burden on the railways makes this necessary for the time being. In all other areas the number of Jews utilized for labor by the SD and myself will be fixed at 800 at the outside but at 500 if possible so that after the completion of the action 8,600 Jews will remain in Minsk and approximately 7,000 in the 10 remaining territories, including the territory Minsk-Land, which is already free from Jews. The danger that the partisans will, in future, derive any important support from the Jews will then have ceased to exist. I myself and the SD would certainly much prefer that the Jewish population in the district general of White Ruthenia should be eliminated once and for all when the economic requirements of the Wehrmacht have fallen off. For the time being, the necessary requirements of the Wehrmacht who is the main employer of the Jewish population are still being considered. The clear anti-Jewish attitude of the SD and the difficult task of the units in White Ruthenia to deliver again and again new Jewish transports from the Reich to their destination, both put an undue strain on the physical and spiritual strength of men of the SD and diverts them from their real purpose, which lies in the White Ruthenian region itself.

I should therefore be grateful if the Reich Commissioner could see his way to stop further Jewish transports until the partisan threat has finally been overcome. I must make 100 percent use of the SD against partisans and against the Polish Resistance Movement, both of which demand the use of the full strength of the SD units, which are none too strong as it is.

After the conclusion of the anti-Jewish action in Minsk, Dr. Strauch, SS Lieutenant Colonel, reported to me tonight, with justifiable wrath, that without any order from the Reich Leader SS and without notification of the commissioner, a transport of 1,000 Jews has suddenly arrived from Warsaw for use in this air fleet area.

I should like to ask the Reich Commissioner (who has already been advised by teletype), in his capacity as the highest authority in the Ostland, to stop such transports. The Polish Jew is, exactly like the Russian Jew, an enemy of all that is German. He represents a politically dangerous factor, the political danger of which exceeds by far his value as a specialized worker. Under no conditions must Wehrmacht agencies of the army or the Luftwaffe, be allowed to import, without the approval of the Reich Commissioner, into an area under civil administration, Jews from the General Government who might endanger the entire political work and security of the district general. I am in full agreement with the commander of the SD in White Ruthenia, that we are to liquidate every Jewish transport which has not been ordered or announced by our superior officers, so as to avoid further unrest in White Ruthenia.” – Source

so they always turn to tidbits, lunatics and distortions to make their case, tactics that are of course very familar to the Creationists on this forum and they easily belong in the same category of stupid (even if somewhat more offensive perhaps). This is what brings me to the following document you see now:

What do we have here? Although I will not say I am 100% sure on this namely because actually up until this week i hadn’t seen it, but I’ll take my cue from this which is another excellent website on Holocaust education and specialises in refuting denier arguments. From that I am inclined to believe we have a 1979 document taken out of context by the deniers that, in actuality, represents figures for applications to death certificates made by family members and relatives of the victims. Of course, if an entire family had died in the holocaust, there would be no one around left to make an application. Remember, this document comes from 1979, so it’s one thing the figures seen would be incomplete even in that department anyway by modern standards, families since would have made claims. It’s entirely something else that the figures within cannot describe final numbers of Holocaust dead like in the way the deniers are spinning this document.

In short Holocaust deniers makes me sick!

The Lord Kitchener Poster myth?

theyounghistorian77
theyounghistorian77
Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:09 pm by theyounghistorian77

One could perhaps expect something of an increase in news-stories about the first World war to pop-up in the run into it’s 100th anniversary. There will be the very human stories such as this from the Birmingham Mail about a Private Henry Tandey who could well have killed a wounded Hitler (and thus could have produced a very different 20th century) or this from the Daily Mail about a “Captain Robert Campbell” who was a POW in a German camp and how he was let out by the Kaiser to go see his dying mother. All very touching and interesting to read if i might add. And in addition to all that there will be the stories about individual historians that are trying their utmost (rightly or wrongly) to challenge a national consensus, for example the stories of Max Hastings’ new book which i touched upon in my last blog post which the things i said there will be subject to a critique by myself in the near future.

The following as reported by the Daily Telegraph certainly belongs in the latter camp, and there’s very little to say about it other than to point out the sheer sensationalism of the article and of the historian being reported upon here. Because according to it the Lord Kitchener poster, perhaps arguably the single most iconic army recruitment poster of either World war …. “never existed”!?

“..[N]ew research has found that no such poster was actually produced during the war and that the image was never used for official recruitment purposes. In fact, it only became popular and widely-used after the conflict ended. […] As part of his research, he [James Taylor] studied the official records of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, the body responsible for recruitment posters, in the National Archives at Kew. These documents provided details of the production of almost 200 official recruitment posters produced during the war and indicated which ones were deemed popular. The so-called ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster is absent. He also analysed thousands of photographs of street scenes and recruitment offices from the period in search of the image, again, without finding it.”

But is that true?

“Mr Taylor’s book shows how the Kitchener image did inspire similar posters, which were used, including one, which was produced by LO [London Opinion], with the word BRITONS, above the same picture of the Field Marshal pointing, with the words “wants YOU – Join Your Country’s Army!”, beneath, and the words ‘God Save The King’ printed along the bottom.”

To properly understand this one needs to have a look at both versions described in the paragraph side by side. The one on the left is the version being derided as being mythical, the one on the Right is the Kitchener poster being conceded as genuine.

Of course the way to prove that the poster on the left is a genuine poster is to find it within any old photo taken during the war but on the Internet that is not as easy to do as it sounds. Because of the modern popularity of the “poster” a “Google images” search will only turn out either with replicas such as a recent “Colman’s Mustard” advertising campaign or digitisations which is what you see on both cases above without substantial indications that what you’re looking it are taken from photos of originals. That being said i know of 2, and only 2, potential examples of the left poster. This and something akin to it appearing right at the beginning of this 1959 doc about the Great War here. I have to give credit to a good friend of mine for alerting me to these examples.

If you have any more examples of the left poster (as opposed to the Right one) in old photos, please feel free to share them. As for the rest of the Telegraph article it conveys truths that have already long been known about. The poster failed to halt a relative decline in recruitment in late 1914, and those who have seen my old poster collection thread will know the poster was later adapted by the Nazis, the Soviets, and indeed Churchill (among others) for their own propaganda purposes. So i don’t think i really have much more to say on the matter.

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