Sunday, 18 January 2015

Our group of physicists will refute all blog posts that... Whatevs

A new comment on the post "How much is climate change going to cost us?"

http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2015/01/17/how-much-is-climate-change-going-to-cost-us/



Author : Planetary Physics (IP: 121.218.207.188 , CPE-121-218-207-188.lnse4.cht.bigpond.net.au)

E-mail : its.not.C02@gmail.com

URL    :

Whois  : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/121.218.207.188

Comment:

OPEN LETTER TO ANTHONY WATTS at WATTSUPWITHTHAT



Our group of physicists will refute all blog posts that continue to promote the false IPCC radiative forcing conjecture.



Anthony



See what our growing group of physicists (who all agree with me) does to the reputation of your blog site that continues to promulgate the false IPCC physics that IR-active gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane etc) cause surface warming.  Clearly water vapor reduces the temperature gradient.  How could it possibly raise the surface end of the temperature profile at the same time, thus leading to enormous imbalance in net radiative flux at TOA? You have no understanding of the relevant physics Anthony, and you certainly are in no position to judge my physics in which I have qualifications and decades of experience, like John Turner who reviewed my book as below ...



Review of Amazon book: "Why It's Not Carbon Dioxide After All"



"Doug Cotton shows how simple thermodynamic physics implies that the gravitational field of a planet will establish a thermal gradient in its atmosphere. The thermal gradient, a basic property of a planet, can be used to determine the temperatures of its atmosphere, surface and sub-surface regions. The interesting concept of "heat creep" applied to diagrams of the thermal gradient is used to explain the effect of solar radiation on the temperature of a planet. The thermal gradient shows that the observed temperatures of the Earth are determined by natural processes and not by back radiation warming from greenhouse gases. Evidence is presented to show that greenhouse gases cool the Earth and do not warm it."



John Turner B.Sc.;Dip.Ed.;M.Ed.(Hons);Grad.Dip.Ed.Studies (retired physics educator)



Others in our group will be posting plenty until you get it right about the gravitationally-induced temperature gradient and the convective heat transfers which (in accord with the Second Law) are establishing thermodynamic equilibrium with maximum entropy.



Doug

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Confess, clown!

Author : kai 
Comment:

did you always pay all your invoices in the austrian hut's, you AGW clown? confess, clown!

You can see all comments on this post here:

http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2014/12/30/ruderhofspitze-fail/#comments

Friday, 12 December 2014

Comments on: Let's be nice to bad science now

Let's be nice to bad science now was by P Z Myers. Somehow, presumably in the SCienceBlogs migrations, the comment threads got lost. Happily, Carl Drews kept a copy, and now I have them, so I'll post them here.

See-also my Between Migdol and the Sea.


Comments
#1
Posted by: Richard Eis Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 3:48 AM
This is what you get for taking these people seriously. It's like taking your child's scribblings to an art gallery then getting all huffy when the owner doesn't want to put up your gorgeous infant's first attempt.
..and of course now you have been all strident.
Naughty you.... ;)
#2
Posted by: SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 3:53 AM
Off topic but: I can't wait to hear your take on this, PZ:
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/28/dont-know-much-about-religion-youre-not-alone-study-finds/?hpt=C1
A survey reveals that evangelical Christians and Catholics are least likely to know basic facts about not just other religions, but also their own! Atheists and agnostics did best. But the best predictor of accurate knowledge about religions is education.
#3
Posted by: Aliasalpha Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 3:54 AM
I once parted a sea of people with some fortuitous wind and did I become hailed as a prophet? Nooooo they looked upon me with disgust and wondered what on earth I'd been eating. I could have been tax exempt by now damnit!

"Closing our eyes to it all is the best response to bad science, I understand now."
Nah the best response to bad science is to gather all the good science together and develop a way to rapidly teraform and travel to mars so we sensible folk can get the fuck out of here before earth disappears up its own arse
#4
Posted by: alex.asolis.net Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 4:02 AM
I agree; that definitely deserved to be criticized, especially because people were trying to make it out as though it was someone evidence that science and religion can "work together." I don't think harassing the guy who did the paper is a good solution, though.
#5
Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 4:04 AM
It's by Stuart Pivar
head
fucking
desk
#6
Posted by: Pogsurf Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 4:05 AM
Here's an interesting challenge for God. Nietzsche once famously claimed that 'God is Dead'. Is it possible that God in fact faked his own Death, thereby avoiding inheritance tax?
That should keep you readers busy, whilst I nip back to my hotel in time for breakfast by 9.30.
#7
Posted by: Aquaria Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 4:16 AM
#6:
I think you've taken one too many hits off the bong.
Sleep it off.
#8
Posted by: Anubis Bloodsin the third Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 4:21 AM
Stuart Pivar & William M. Connolley might consider learning first hand what being 'Strident' actually means...
They might be surprised at just how fucking 'strident' an aggressive atheist can be...given the right meteorological conditions of course!
#9
Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 4:25 AM
You're just being hostile because you're stuck within a particular paradigm and rabidly defending that against those who are proposing an alternate one. Without getting into the paradigm the new paper(s) is proposing, you could hardly be said to be engaging in legitimate criticism. Indeed you're just taking that your paradigm is true and theirs false as an article of faith, a faith taught to you by textbooks and proponents of the paradigm view. And since there's no algorithm for comparing paradigms because no facts exist independently of theory, the hostility you give can only be taken as a defence of ideas rather than towards any form of objectivity.

;)
#10
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 4:26 AM
PZ, I think you are not addressing Williams objections to your initial criticism of the paper. I posed a number of points on that thread on 'Stoat' and got the impression that William thinks the paper is simply about hydrodynamic computer modeling. He disagrees with the notion that it has an archaeological element that requires scrutiny.
If one views the paper in that way then the only people who can tell whether it is a good or bad paper are those who are experts in hydrodynamic computer modeling.
I disagreed with William about the archaeological aspect (why else use the location, timeline and even predictions for where the debris from the Pharaohs army will be located!) but I guess the reviewers took a similar view to William.
It looks like a failure of the editorial board of PLoS One to consider whether the paper made wider claims than simply whether a strong wind can uncover a mudflat in a river delta (for instance can 2 million people, walking directly into violent gale force winds, cover the 4 or 5 kilometers mudflats in several hours before the wind drops or changes direction?)
#11
Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 4:38 AM
If one views the paper in that way then the only people who can tell whether it is a good or bad paper are those who are experts in hydrodynamic computer modeling.
frankly if the paper JUST stuck to hydrodynamic modeling, it would have been a coherent, if relatively unenlightening paper.
the point is, it didn't, and the motivations for it are entirely suspect, as well as the overall conclusions.
you can't make this paper something it is not.

#12
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 5:00 AM
Sigmund, why don't you read the entire previous thread here on this and then come back?
I posed a number of points on that thread on 'Stoat' and got the impression that William thinks the paper is simply about hydrodynamic computer modeling.
What could possibly give him that bizarre impression? Where do the authors suggest that it's about hydrodynamic computer modeling, or that the paper contributes anything to hydrodynamic computer modeling? What is this contribution? They're plugging derived values into a simulation to "investigate" an imaginary religious belief. This doesn't make the paper 'about' modeling any more than using a microscope makes a paper 'about' microscopy.
He disagrees with the notion that it has an archaeological element that requires scrutiny.
Well, it doesn't have an archaeological element. It has a religious-mythical element that is in contradiction to existing archaeological evidence. That's rather a major problem.
If one views the paper in that way
There is no reason to view the paper in that way, and many not to.
then the only people who can tell whether it is a good or bad paper are those who are experts in hydrodynamic computer modeling.
If so, then they should have been reviewing the paper, and at the very least insisted that the authors explicitly describe, in the paper, the scientific justification and contribution as concerns modeling. If such exist, they should be the explicit basis of the article; and yet they don't even seem to appear in it, or anywhere else that I've seen.
#13
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 5:08 AM
Sorry:
It has a religious-mythical element rationale
#14
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 5:25 AM
From the paper:
A suite of model experiments are performed to demonstrate a new hydrodynamic mechanism...
This is very weasely, as far as I can tell. Of course, if the reviewers were from the appropriate fields, they would know that.
#15
Posted by: El Bastardo Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 5:39 AM
Since there are certain groups insisting on referring to atheists as "New" can this then be referred to as "New Accommodationism"?
Everyone should just bury their heads in the sand and ignore what anyone else is up to, that way we'll all just get along. Ignorance is bliss.
Of course , they are also ignorant to the fact that sticking your head int he sand leaves you prone to being F'ed in the A at any time, but you can remain ignorant of that too, cause hey, I'm sure that's someones right and sacred tradition.
ARGH!
#16
Posted by: El Bastardo Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 5:42 AM
Apologies for the typo, one day I'll learn.
#18
Posted by: MadScientist Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 6:19 AM
Oooh! A peer reviewed paper on evolution of balloon animals! I guess Pivar has a cult following willing to approve his papers for publication. Next thing you know ol' Rupe Sheldrake will have his innovative work published as well. Sometimes I wonder if one day I'll be the sole referee who writes things like "this is a load of crap and not worth any further consideration". Whenever I think nothing worse can be published, I'm always proven wrong.
#19
Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 6:36 AM
Since there are certain groups insisting on referring to atheists as "New" can this then be referred to as "New Accommodationism"?
I think it should be called "advocates for small science", the kind of people who are afraid of science having any implications beyond its narrow discipline so that no fact or theory should be critiqued or even considered beyond the limited scope of its discipline.
#20
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 6:37 AM
The intentions of the authors of this manuscript should not be our concern. What should be our concern - and the concern of the supposed reviewers - is whether the evidence presented in the paper justify the claims. In this instance the claim is that the authors want to model "Moses crossing the Red Sea". Unless you clearly define that "Moses crossing the Red Sea" means then it is likely that anyone reading the paper will assume you mean the scenario presented in Exodus (and this seems to be exactly how it has been presented in every single mainstream news report about this study I have seen). There's plenty of people on the Stoat thread claiming that the author didn't really mean the Exodus account - that he actually meant a real historical event involving much smaller numbers of people crossing a temporary land bridge that was later embellished into the Exodus tale. Unfortunately that is not how the paper is worded. It is remarkably vague about the numbers involved, simply mentioning a "mixed group of people" or a "company" of people rather than pointing out whether the model can support the numbers referred to in Exodus (approximately 2 million). This makes a huge difference to whether the model is viable. That three or four people might make it across 4 km of mudflats heading into a strong gale is not proof of "Moses crossing the Red Sea". Indeed if we insist on the numbers mentioned in Exodus the model could be used to prove that the crossing account is false! - it would be impossible for the Israelites to escape in this way.
#21
Posted by: jcwelch Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:03 AM
$DEITY, he does that stupid thing where he answers comments by shoving his stuff inside of other comments. He also modifies comments he doesn't like
That right there makes him of little value along with his blog. if you're going to do that, just disallow comments entirely.
#22
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:05 AM
The intentions of the authors of this manuscript should not be our concern.
Of course they should, but their intentions aren't the reason the paper has no place in a scientific journal.
What should be our concern - and the concern of the supposed reviewers - is whether the evidence presented in the paper justify the claims.
No, their concern should be that expressed by PZ in this post and the previous and mine and others' on the previous thread. There are reasonable criteria for scientific value, and this doesn't come close to fulfilling them.
In this instance the claim is that the authors want to model "Moses crossing the Red Sea". Unless you clearly define that "Moses crossing the Red Sea" means then it is likely that anyone reading the paper will assume you mean the scenario presented in Exodus (and this seems to be exactly how it has been presented in every single mainstream news report about this study I have seen).
Yes. And it didn't happen.
There's plenty of people on the Stoat thread claiming that the author didn't really mean the Exodus account - that he actually meant a real historical event involving much smaller numbers of people crossing a temporary land bridge that was later embellished into the Exodus tale.
Read the comments about this defense on the previous thread. Even if it were true, it wouldn't make the paper any less useless.
Unfortunately that is not how the paper is worded. It is remarkably vague about the numbers involved, simply mentioning a "mixed group of people" or a "company" of people rather than pointing out whether the model can support the numbers referred to in Exodus (approximately 2 million). This makes a huge difference to whether the model is viable. That three or four people might make it across 4 km of mudflats heading into a strong gale is not proof of "Moses crossing the Red Sea". Indeed if we insist on the numbers mentioned in Exodus the model could be used to prove that the crossing account is false! - it would be impossible for the Israelites to escape in this way.
The story isn't true. The whole enterprise is ludicrous. This paper contributes nothing to scientific knowledge and has no business in a science journal.
#23
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:10 AM
$DEITY, he does that stupid thing where he answers comments by shoving his stuff inside of other comments. He also modifies comments he doesn't like
That's why I didn't bother to comment there after reading the beginning of the thread.
#24
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:14 AM
What should be our concern - and the concern of the supposed reviewers - is whether the evidence presented in the paper justify the claims.
This is providing the claims are not involving imaginary deities or mythical/fictional holy books. Which makes the paper totally and utterly unscientific. Toss out those claims, and the paper can stand. What part of that do you have trouble with? Only inane apologists, usually philosophical (not scientific) types think otherwise. It is all about honesty and trust. Science loses trust when it loses its integrity by not following its own rules. Which happened with that paper.
#25
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:16 AM
I'm heading overseas shortly, so I will not be able to engage comments, unfortunately.
But my vote is that you are comparing apples and oranges. The Pivar paper is, apparently, nonsense on its face. The issues with the other paper are secondary considerations about intent, about whether it is supporting a myth, about who might use it, about why it was written, etc.
To be comparable, you have to say that the conclusions of the paper on winds and water are incorrect. But I don't think anyone is suggesting that, so the two cases are wildly different.
The paper DOESN'T speak of millions crossing the land bridge, and the times it DOES speak of make such numbers impossible. There's no reason to think the authors thought that the Exodus numbers are literally true either. It's not particularly unusual for Christians to think that the Exodus occurred but that the Exodus account is not literally true in all details, such as the inflated numbers. But in any case, this is simply not even considered in the paper.
The rule is not to be nice to bad science. It is to address ANY paper like a scientist. You haven't done that, in my opinion. You've addressed like someone with an axe to grind on religion, which overwhelms what a genuine reviewer OUGHT to be looking at.
This is not saying the paper is good, or bad.
#26
Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:21 AM
This is not saying the paper is good, or bad.
Indeed, yet when there were media reports about the paper they all referred to the story from Exodus. How is it anything other than relevant to comment on the implications of the paper in that respect when that's how it's being taken by journalist and layperson alike?
#27
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:27 AM
I'm heading overseas shortly, so I will not be able to engage comments, unfortunately.
What was your excuse before?
The issues with the other paper are secondary considerations about intent, about whether it is supporting a myth, about who might use it, about why it was written, etc.
No.
To be comparable, you have to say that the conclusions of the paper on winds and water are incorrect.
It has no conclusions on winds and water. It plugs derived conditions into a model in order to "account for" an "event" for which there's no evidence. It contributes nothing to scientific knowledge on winds and water.
But I don't think anyone is suggesting that, so the two cases are wildly different.
No, neither paper belongs in a science journal.
It is to address ANY paper like a scientist. You haven't done that, in my opinion. You've addressed like someone with an axe to grind on religion, which overwhelms what a genuine reviewer OUGHT to be looking at.
Your opinion is worthless - you've simply repeated the incorrect arguments you made on the previous thread and ignored the responses. And now you're conveniently skipping out again, it appears.
#28
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:34 AM
Chris said:
"The paper DOESN'T speak of millions crossing the land bridge, and the times it DOES speak of make such numbers impossible. There's no reason to think the authors thought that the Exodus numbers are literally true either."
The author explicitly states "Previous researchers have suggested wind setdown as a possible hydrodynamic explanation for Moses crossing the Red Sea, as described in Exodus 14...
This study analyzes the hydrodynamic mechanism proposed by earlier studies, focusing on the time needed to reach a steady-state solution."
While I agree that no actual numbers of people are mentioned in the paper we are left with the phrase "Moses crossing the Red Sea" to indicate what the model seeks to explain. If you think the authors meant something other than the Exodus account then why are they not explicit about that?
We are left with a rather obvious conclusion that they DID mean the Exodus account and that IS how every single news agency has interpreted the story.
As for some of the objections to the paper, I agree, it comes across as people with an axe to grind. If we forget about the Exodus side of things I can imagine that there might be some novel weather condition modeling involved in the paper that advance the field of hydrodynamics (although I suspect the novelty or value will be rather limited - although I am not qualified to give a verdict on that).
As for those that suggest that a fictional or mythological event cannot be used in useful science I disagree - there have been various papers on modeling zombie or vampire scenarios that are useful in the field of epidemiology and even completely fictitious events (Dorothy's house flying off in the Tornado) may be useful for some kind of mathematical modeling - for instance to improve special effects for computer games or movies.
#29
Posted by: Aliasalpha Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:36 AM
Especially when the media have a notable tendency to parrot press releases provided to them rather than actually read the source material and write something based on their own understanding
#30
Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:39 AM
Chris Ho-Stuart, are you honestly saying that you can see this paper as existing for anything other than religious reasons and that it should be treated in an ideological / political vacuum even though people are taking it as validation for Biblical truth? Because if you are, I'm not sure if you're just incredibly naive or playing the part for some idealism about how science ought to be done.
I really can't think that anyone would actually defend such a paper as existing in a vacuum. It clearly isn't, and the agenda of the paper is really obvious. But I make this mistake a lot, sometimes I think that the "Only A Theory" label is an underhanded creationist attempt to undermine the scientific validity of evolution to high school students when really all it's doing is making sure that students are aware that evolution is a theory which is an accurate assessment of what is a theory and what isn't...
#31
Posted by: davem Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:44 AM
Wow, that William Connelly character is a real control freak. He doesn't seem to know the purpose of comments on a blog - it's not all about him. Not going back there in a hurry.
#32
Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:47 AM
Sigmund:
As for those that suggest that a fictional or mythological event cannot be used in useful science I disagree - there have been various papers on modeling zombie or vampire scenarios that are useful in the field of epidemiology and even completely fictitious events (Dorothy's house flying off in the Tornado) may be useful for some kind of mathematical modeling - for instance to improve special effects for computer games or movies.

Citations, please — because I very much suspect they don't imply zombies, vampires or Dorothy's house flying off in the Tornado were real (or even possible) occurrences.
(This paper just takes that event as a given.)
#33
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:48 AM
The issues with the other paper are secondary considerations about intent, a
No, they are primary concerns about unnecessary biblical references. Why can't you acknowledge that truth. And those references make it unscientific. End of story.
so the two cases are wildly different.
Only in your delusional opinion. Both are unscientific twaddle. One can be fixed with minor repairs that the reviewers should have demanded--if they were doing their jobs.
There's no reason to think the authors thought that the Exodus numbers are literally true either.
That doesn't matter. There was no need to bring exodus into the paper in the first place. Why are you being so perversely dense? What is your real objective?
It is to address ANY paper like a scientist. You haven't done that, in my opinion.
Two things. We have addressed the paper from the scientific perspective, and found it wanting. You ignore this, and lie about it. The paper as it stands isn't scientific. It could be with revisions. And you have shown conclusive evidence with your sophistry that your opinion isn't worth the electrons required to post it.
You've addressed like someone with an axe to grind on religion, which overwhelms what a genuine reviewer OUGHT to be looking at.
Sorry fuckwit, religion has no place whatsoever in a scientific paper. What part of that don't you understand?????
#34
Posted by: Philip Legge Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:53 AM
To be brutally honest, the computer simulation of hydrodynamic phenomena is the only thing of merit in this report: the justification for the research is specious (a point I will return to); there is no consideration of the meteorological conditions that could give rise to the phenomenon in either the extreme form of the models or the deformation of the body of water described in 1883, except to mention that persistent hurricane-strength winds would be required; there is a complete failure to take account of existing archaeological and historical study into the site, and in fact the report imputes predictions of where archaeological remains would be found! (The absence of evidence is of course, not particular remarkable when the whole story in Exodus is very likely a confabulation, but it does signify delusionary thinking that has not been eliminated from the paper.)
Basically, the pathetically weak religious justification for this paper doesn’t elevate it very far above the equally specious drivel that is published in “journals” like Creation Ex Nihilo or Answers in Genesis where similarly misguided attempts are made to “prove” unsubstantiated stories from an ancient, ambiguous, and unreliable written source – this is just a slightly higher-quality form of the same mushy pap.
#35
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:00 AM
As for some of the objections to the paper['s being published in a reputable science journal and possibly funded by government agencies], I agree, it comes across as people with an axe to grind.
Yes, if you ignore the content of those objections entirely.
If we forget about the Exodus side of things I can imagine that there might be some novel weather condition modeling involved in the paper that advance the field of hydrodynamics (although I suspect the novelty or value will be rather limited - although I am not qualified to give a verdict on that).
If there were, don't you think the authors would have mentioned it? Don't you think it would be explicitly the point of the paper, given that it would be its only real justification? Listen to what you're saying: "Something might be in there somewhere, or someone can find a way to bootstrap it, but even if it's of limited novelty or value it would make the paper's publication worthwhile." This is nonsense.
As for those that suggest that a fictional or mythological event cannot be used in useful science I disagree - ...
So you haven't read the previous thread, I guess. This statement is completely vague and useless. If a fictional or mythological event is being looked at in a useful scientific way, the authors should be able to show and explain how. That is not what's going on with this paper. The authors don't even try to claim that it is.
#36
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:08 AM
Something tells me that Chris Ho-Stuart and Sigmund are more comfortable with Behe's attempt to redefine science in Kitzmiller v. Dover, than with the present rules of science presented by the other side. They are trying to dilute the integrity and honesty of science, and allow inane twaddle in publications.
Oh, and Chris, science isn't hostile to religion. It is indifferent to it, and ignores it, if the science is done right. Sounds like you are the one with the problem.
#37
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:08 AM
Here's a citation for the zombies study.
http://mysite.science.uottawa.ca/rsmith43/Zombies.pdf
And no, of course they don't imply that zombies are real. The authors of the current paper do imply that the event was real and that should have been addressed by the reviewers who I suspect only examined the computer modeling.
#38
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:26 AM
"Something tells me that Chris Ho-Stuart and Sigmund are more comfortable with Behe's attempt to redefine science in Kitzmiller v. Dover, than with the present rules of science presented by the other side. They are trying to dilute the integrity and honesty of science, and allow inane twaddle in publications."
And something tells me that you are too much of an obstinate fuckwit to actually read what other people are reading. Because if you had you might just have noticed that I have been arguing against the acceptance of this paper because of serious flaws in one aspect of the study - specifically the fact that it is implying, contrary to all the physical evidence found to date, that the Exodus account of Moses crossing the Red Sea is scientifically plausible.
The hydrodynamical modeling 'might' be good science and they do, albeit briefly, provide some sort of justification for it (they suggest it might be useful in terms of understanding navigation difficulties for boats when a strong wind blows offshore) but that aspect, while mentioned right at the beginning of the paper is abandoned in favor of explanations of ways the fleeing Israelites could have crossed the sea, all the while implying that an actual fleeing event occurred (hence the predictions for where we could find battle debris from the Pharaohs army). It is the job of good reviewers and editors to catch these sorts of flaws with papers and there has been a serious error with the way this one has fallen through the gaps.
#39
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:26 AM
The authors of the current paper do imply that the event was real and that should have been addressed by the reviewers who I suspect only examined the computer modeling.
Addressed?! Not only do they imply it, it's the whole rationale for the paper. Even if this weren't patently obvious, and it is, the reviewers would need to explain what about this simulation (based on conditions entered that were derived from other - some shaky - evidence concerning this period) justified publication of the paper. It's not enough to say that the modeling was done competently, even if that's the case. Who gives a hoot? Do they publish astronomy papers simply because the researchers know how to use a telescope?
#40
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:32 AM
Because if you had you might just have noticed that I have been arguing against the acceptance of this paper
Where?
The hydrodynamical modeling 'might' be good science and they do, albeit briefly, provide some sort of justification for it (they suggest it might be useful in terms of understanding navigation difficulties for boats when a strong wind blows offshore)
No one is arguing that hydrdynamic modeling is invalid or useless, FFS. They didn't invent it for the purpose of this paper.
#41
Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:44 AM
Thanks for the link, Sigmund.
(As I suspected, the authors are demonstrating how to set up a model scenario and how to determine a successful strategy for achieving an end goal given certain assumptions.)
So, yeah, clearly a fictional or mythological event can be used in as a basis for useful science.
You consider this example achieves that?
--
PS [Exodus 14:29]
But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
This is what the paper explains? Two walls of water on either side, and dry ground beneath?
#42
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:45 AM
SC said: "Where?" In my very first comment in this thread, #10, I mentioned my disagreement with William on the archaeological aspect of the paper.
Look at comment #30 of Williams thread for details
http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/09/strange_stuff_from_pharyngula.php
I have nowhere argued that this paper is appropriate in its current form. As Ichthyc mentions above, once you strip the implications about Exodus from the story then I suspect it becomes a rather unremarkable effort. In that form it might be publishable but not in a higher impact journal like PLoS One.
#43
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:57 AM
John Morales asked:
"So, yeah, clearly a fictional or mythological event can be used in as a basis for useful science.
You consider this example achieves that?"
Only in the sense that it provides a mathematical model for a historical weather phenomenon - the exposure of the Nile delta mudflats in the storm of 1895 (or at least published about in 1895).
I suppose you could call that "useful science" although it is rather obscure. The biblical part of the paper is, however, nonsense.
#44
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:00 AM
In my very first comment in this thread, #10, I mentioned my disagreement with William on the archaeological aspect of the paper.
That comment does not remotely constitute having "been arguing against the acceptance of this paper," and nor do your others. To the extent that you've been questioning it, you've been missing the point.
I have nowhere argued that this paper is appropriate in its current form.
Not having positively argued that it's appropriate in its current form is not the same as arguing against its publication. (Not least of which because your comments have seemed to suggest that it would be acceptable with some more minor changes.)
As Ichthyc mentions above, once you strip the implications about Exodus from the story then I suspect it becomes a rather unremarkable effort. In that form it might be publishable but not in a higher impact journal like PLoS One.
What does it contribute to scientific knowledge? What about it would be compelling to a journal? Seriously. Imagine it without the mythological basis. Why would anyone do this, and why would anyone care?
#45
Posted by: bhushan.rd Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:00 AM
At the above, who were railing on and on about William's comment policy: His official one says the following: "this is my site, and one of the facilities I provide is a signal to noise ratio. You want unmoderated discussion? Go and drown in usenet, which I abandoned years ago.
If you have things to say, especially off topic things, then get your own blog and post a link somewhere. The world will either love you or (more likely) ignore you. Or you can go post over at Hot Topic, which has a much broader comment policy. But then, he's nicer than me."
If you don't like it, that's your problem, but if he puts in the time to write the blog entries, he doesn't have to listen to flaming and nonsense. He isn't deleting stuff based on whether he agrees with it or not (many people who agree with PZ have posted there, and their words are still up), but based on how it's worded. That's fair.
#46
Posted by: Tom Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:01 AM
Surely the point is that the bible is wrong yet again.
God didn't part the red sea: it wasn't the red sea and its was a gentle scientifically explainable breeze. Another natural phenomenon held up by the loonies and hailed as an act of god by a bunch of fuckwits desperate for some proof of their own stupidity.
#47
Posted by: catchling Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:02 AM
Surely, if a dude wrote down a thing at some point, then it should be reasonable to publish a scientific-sounding model to boost that thing's plausibility?
Especially if the scientific paper makes repeated citations from the dude in question?
I mean, a dude wrote a thing. That should settle this.
I'd also add that this paper was remarkably widely publicized by the media everywhere, far more so than your typical obscure bit of part-time climate modeling work.
No it wasn't! No it wasn't! [Keeps hands firmly over ears]
Now, to be fair, the media has a habit of sensationalizing the Pythagorean Theorum to mean that Chinese Mayans may have* predicted the end of the world. That's not an excuse to publish something that's sensationalistic and dumb to start with.
*"I mean gosh who's to say really?"
#48
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:06 AM
At the above, who were railing on and on about William's comment policy
Railing on and on? Surely you're joking.
If you don't like it, that's your problem,
It's not a problem at all. I can post here where it will be read by significantly more people, to understate the matter, and I have my own blog. Connolley deals with comments in an annoying way that does seem to indicate control issues.
#49
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:13 AM
"Imagine it without the mythological basis. Why would anyone do this, and why would anyone care? "
You seem to have exactly the opposite viewpoint to William - that the hydrodynamic aspect is unimportant and the religious one that is critical.
Stripped of the religious stories then it is a paper that models wind set-down events in shallow water conditions.
It's not something in which I am interested but I am not so arrogant as to assume that NOBODY would be interested in it or that there aren't people who specialize in this subject and actually do science!
Williams objection to PZ was that he considered the hydrodynamic modeling in the paper to be real science and that the religious aspect was unimportant. My objection to William was that the Exodus justifications WERE critical to the paper (it makes up the bulk of the text) and therefore the reviewers should have ensured that the conclusions or implications of their proposed model were supported - and they clearly are not.
#50
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:18 AM
Only in the sense that it provides a mathematical model for a historical weather phenomenon - the exposure of the Nile delta mudflats in the storm of 1895 (or at least published about in 1895).I suppose you could call that "useful science" although it is rather obscure.
No, you couldn't, because the numbers they entered into the model* were for thousands of years ago - not the late 19th century. They could be completely random for all that they're of use in understanding recent history.
*which, again, predated this research and was used by it
#51
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:26 AM
You seem to have exactly the opposite viewpoint to William - that the hydrodynamic aspect is unimportant and the religious one that is critical. Stripped of the religious stories then it is a paper that models wind set-down events in shallow water conditions.
Gah! No! It is a paper that applies existing models to artificially-reconstructed conditions. Do you understand the difference? It's not even a case study (which would still have to be justified in some way). No one has been able to show that it offers anything to the understanding of wind setdown, and the authors themselves don't argue that it does because they know what the paper is about.
#52
Posted by: Birger Johansson Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:30 AM
Although computer models should be taken with a grain of salt, the Nile delta wind stuff at least has some connection with reality.
Stuart Pivar´s stuff does not fit that criterion.
That said, I do not care enough to nuke Pivar -it is more important to keep an eye on people with real power, like politicians ans lobbyists.
#53
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:31 AM
It's not something in which I am interested but I am not so arrogant as to assume that NOBODY would be interested in it or that there aren't people who specialize in this subject and actually do science!
What a stupid fucking thing to say.
#54
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:36 AM
. Because if you had you might just have noticed that I have been arguing against the acceptance of this paper because of serious flaws in one aspect of the study - specifically the fact that it is implying, contrary to all the physical evidence found to date, that the Exodus account of Moses crossing the Red Sea is scientifically plausible.
Then you would have shut the fuck up days ago, as you were in agreement with most of us that it was a bad paper. So, you are either picking nits or trolling. Which is it??? Otherwise, there is no reason to keep yapping about it.
#55
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:36 AM
The reviewers allowed the authors to claim:
"A suite of model experiments are performed to demonstrate a new hydrodynamic mechanism that can cause an angular body of water to divide under wind stress,"
Presumably that means the reviews were satisfied that a "new hydrodynamic mechanism" was mathematically modeled.
They also allowed them to claim some sort of justification.
"Model results indicate that navigation in shallow-water harbors can be significantly curtailed by wind setdown when strong winds blow offshore."
The reviewers were happy with this. I certainly wouldn't be and my primary objection is with the reviewers. There will always be kooks or religiously motivated people sending in papers and it is up to the editorial board to do their job properly to make sure the science is of a good standard and they failed in this instance.
By the way, I actually agree with your point about using the timeline they chose for this study - it is not justified given the rest of the contents - so that's one more thing I would ask them to correct before it is publishable.
I would still like to hear from a real hydrodynamic modeler as to whether that aspect of the science is good.
#56
Posted by: William M. Connolley Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:37 AM
I've been noticed, oh joy. Replies (this largely repeats what I said on my blog. Sorry for that, but this is at least condensed):
If this is a bad paper, then your principle beef is against the editors of Plos, not the authors. The editorial standards of their journal are theirs to maintain.
What use the paper is made of is largely irrelevant. Attempts to criticise, say, Einstein for having written papers leading to nuclear weapons are rightly rejected as spurious.
You have ignored two important arguments: for academic freedom, and for "playful" science.
If you read the paper, it is clear that the vast bulk of it is devoted to modelling. The "myth" stuff is stuck on to grab headlines, which has worked very well, but that it the meeja's fault. I'd never have heard of it if PZ hadn't blogged it.
As to the comment policy: I think the thread here, and indeed the original, are a clear advert *for* a stricter comment policy.
PZ's main complain seems to be that (a) the paper was bad, and (b) its worse because it can be used by the theists. "Somebody should be countering this sloppy and contrived nonsense" about sums his position up, I think. My answers to that would be (a) is not demonstrated, or even particularly believeable. As modelling, it appears unobjectionable. If you want to complain about the (minor) archaology, then you can, but I'm not very interested. (b) Maybe. Certainly, I get annoyed when the septics manage to publish junk in climate. this isn't comparable. But I've not even convinced this *is* usable by the theists: as several people have pointed out, this paper argues as much against their traditional position as for it.
And since I'm here, I'll say again: the how-dare-they-do-this style in the comments here is eerily reminiscent of the anti-science stuff you'll see in the comments of Watts up with that.
#57
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:50 AM
"A suite of model experiments are performed to demonstrate a new hydrodynamic mechanism that can cause an angular body of water to divide under wind stress," Presumably that means the reviews were satisfied that a "new hydrodynamic mechanism" was mathematically modeled.
It has not been established that the reviewers reviewed this intelligently - quite the contrary. That's the criticism, and when people are criticizing the journal's decision, it's silly to put forth the journal's decision as evidence in its defense. I quoted that above because it shows how weasely the authors are: they appear to mean "new" in the sense of a "new" "explanation" for the fictional Bible story, not that wind setdown is a novel idea they're demonstrating in the paper. If there is indeed a hydrodynamic mechanism that is new to science, what is it? You'd think it would be the centerpiece of the paper. That wouldn't even make sense: given that they want to use existing models to demonstrate something about Exodus, they wouldn't be throwing in new notions about hydrodynamics or fooling around much with the models.
#58
Posted by: El Bastardo Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:56 AM
What use the paper is made of is largely irrelevant. Attempts to criticise, say, Einstein for having written papers leading to nuclear weapons are rightly rejected as spurious.
Ah, but it was not his intention to make weapons. However, it was clearly the intent of the authours to try and prop up religious beliefs with flimsy science.
You say
PZ's main complain seems to be that (a) the paper was bad, and (b) its worse because it can be used by the theists.

have you not read the post, even in Prof Myers own words posted above
The point of this paper was very simple: to allow creationists to make the claim that science supports the truth of the Bible.
The main complaint was NOT that it was bad (though it was) but the fact it is another "Hey science backs up this small part of the bible so every word if it must be true" fallacy.
#59
Posted by: bhushan.rd Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:56 AM
"At the above, who were railing on and on about William's comment policy"
Not directed at you, more directed at comments #21 and #31.
#60
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:00 AM
I think a plausible explanation for what happened is that the authors submitted the paper to a subeditor who is a hydrodynamic modeler who then assigned the paper to be reviewed by other hydrodynamic modelers. I suspect that all of these individuals looked at the paper purely in terms of abstract mathematics involved. They, like William above, did not consider the archaeology to be important and so disregarded all the historical points. That is no excuse but I think it is most likely whats happened.
#61
Posted by: PZ Myers Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:07 AM
I think you ignore my opening comments. There is more to writing a good paper than collecting random data and analyzing it. You will even find it enshrined in the instructions to authors in most journals: show that the work addresses a significant question. It's grounds for rejecting a paper, if the question is trivial. This paper does not address a real question. It is bad on those grounds alone. But it's also a bad paper because it is built on a contrived scenario with no reason to think it ever happened, other than the proddings of an ancient and unbelievable myth.
You don't think this is comparable to the junk published in climate research? Thank you for the admission that your real gripe here is that it isn't your ox being gored.
It certainly is usable by the theists! Again, you reveal a lack of familiarity with their tactics. When you think about it, finding natural causes for miracles seems to undermine their beliefs, but they don't think about it. The only message they will take away from this is that science shows the Bible is true. You ought to visit the Creation "Museum" sometime, throughout, they lean on the credibility of science by telling part of the story and ignoring the science that refutes their nonsense.
Pointing out that science journals ought to exhibit some rigor in what they publish is not an anti-scientific attitude.
#62
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:13 AM
Yawn Sigmund, what is your point of continuing this nonsense? The paper was published. We cricized it soundly. You must have an obscure purpose to keep going on about it.
#63
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:16 AM
(this largely repeats what I said on my blog.
Yes, because you haven't read or understood the arguments.
If this is a bad paper,
It's ludicrous.
then your principle beef is against the editors of Plos, not the authors. The editorial standards of their journal are theirs to maintain.
It's with both. If their editorial standards allow for this dreck, they should not be as respected as they are, and are well deserving of public criticism.
What use the paper is made of is largely irrelevant.
It isn't irrelevant to the larger discussion, and you're naive if you think it is.
Attempts to criticise, say, Einstein for having written papers leading to nuclear weapons are rightly rejected as spurious.
Could you misunderstand the criticisms any more?
You have ignored two important arguments: for academic freedom, and for "playful" science.
This has nothing to do with academic freedom. No one is stopping them from writing it. (It should not have received government funding, however; nor is it worthy of publication in a science journal.) People can do "playful" science, whatever you mean by that (I think most science is playful), at any time. They aren't entitled to funding by agencies if the research doesn't meet their criteria, and they aren't entitled to publication in otherwise solid journals if the work is scientifically baseless and adds nothing. You have ignored every reason that has been adduced concerning why they should not have published this, and not yet produced one thing justifying its publication in a science journal.
If you read the paper, it is clear that the vast bulk of it is devoted to modelling. The "myth" stuff is stuck on to grab headlines,
It's devoted to using existing models to "account for" a mythical fictional event. It contributes essentially nothing to scientific knowledge.
which has worked very well, but that it the meeja's fault. I'd never have heard of it if PZ hadn't blogged it.
Who cares? I linked above to a story about it on NPR. It's all over, and PZ didn't bring that about.
As to the comment policy: I think the thread here, and indeed the original, are a clear advert *for* a stricter comment policy.
Oh, yes, you certainly need to crack down!
PZ's main complain seems to be that (a) the paper was bad, and (b) its worse because it can be used by the theists. "Somebody should be countering this sloppy and contrived nonsense" about sums his position up, I think. My answers to that would be (a) is not demonstrated, or even particularly believeable.
Have you read any of the comments on these two threads?
As modelling, it appears unobjectionable.
Quite a ringing endorsement. By all means, publish away. What scientific question is it asking, and what is that question's importance? What does it contribute to knowledge in the relevant fields warranting publication?
If you want to complain about the (minor) archaology, then you can, but I'm not very interested.
There's no archaeology.
(
b) Maybe. Certainly, I get annoyed when the septics manage to publish junk in climate. this isn't comparable. But I've not even convinced this *is* usable by the theists: as several people have pointed out, this paper argues as much against their traditional position as for it.

(It was pointed out by PZ in his first post.) This really doesn't matter, since the political use of it works differently.
And since I'm here, I'll say again: the how-dare-they-do-this style in the comments here is eerily reminiscent of the anti-science stuff you'll see in the comments of Watts up with that.
You can say it as many times as you like. It remains inane.
#64
Posted by: William M. Connolley Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:19 AM
> There is more to writing a good paper than collecting random data and analyzing it.
Certainly. And this paper does that. You think their question is trivial and uninteresting (well, trivial. Clearly it isn't uninteresting). Others may well disagree.
> You don't think this is comparable to the junk
> published in climate research? Thank you for
> the admission that your real gripe here is that > it isn't your ox being gored.
Certainly I care less because of that. You can't care about everything. In this case I think you're caring too much.
But you have misunderstood what I meant by not-comparable. The "junk" papers by septics are junk because they have clear flaws within the actual research element (Loehe, or Soon+Baliunas, say). As far as anyone has said, the modelling in this paper isn't flawed.
> Pointing out that science journals ought to
> exhibit some rigor in what they publish
Yes, I have no problem with that. But from yuor original post I took it that most of your ire was directed at the authors. I think that your beef is with the journal.
#65
Posted by: brembs.net Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:27 AM
I can tell you that the responsible editor is currently taking some flack for publishing this paper. I'm obviously not allowed to divulge any details, other than there is an intense discussion going on among PLoS One editors.
I volunteer time as PLoS One Academic Editor besides my own, neurobiological research. As I interpret PLoS One guidelines, the only things missing in the paper to make it publishable, were a proper reference to what passage in what version of which Bible, together with another reference or two for the lack of archaeological evidence of any diaspora or exodus. If the paper is published thus with the explicit caveat that the exodus probably never took place, emphasizing, for those who nevertheless believe in it (as absence of evidence is not evidence of absence), that involving a deity is not necessary, it would fit the criteria at PLoS One as I interpret them. Given that the number of people who don't know that there is no evidence for any exodus is probably considerable, there's good justification to publish such an analysis, as long as it's made explicit that there is very little actual evidence the phenomenon ever took place.
Here's the comment I posted on the paper itself:
http://www.plosone.org/annotation/listThread.action?inReplyTo=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fannotation%2Fdf6a91b2-c1ba-475b-ad71-134b231fc3f5&root=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fannotation%2Fdf6a91b2-c1ba-475b-ad71-134b231fc3f5
First, the positive: this paper presents a reasonable scientific explanation for a documented event that some people for some time too for a religious miracle. Hurray for science!
The negative: there is scant, if any, evidence that the documented event ever took place, as there appears to be little archaeological evidence of any Jewish habitation in Egypt, nor, hence, any exodus. Clearly, scientific phenomena cannot be defined merely in some bestseller, or we'd be reviewing heaps of vampire and alien studies. Which, in this case, leaves us with a paper that explains a phenomenon that most likely never existed. This is clearly not as positive as a disproved miracle. Alas, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence...
There is a simple means to rectify this error and justify the publication of this paper in a peer-reviewed scientific journal such as PLoS One. One of the many values of science is to educate the public that supernatural explanations of observable or documented phenomena are not necessary. Thus, where this paper has failed is not in its reference to some religious text. It did fail to mention that there is little if any evidence to support the phenomenon described in the religious text. The paper thus fails to emphasize that even if that event had taken place, it would not have required a deity and that whoever attributed it to a deity was either gullible or a con-artist.
In contrast to bestsellers featuring vampires or aliens, religious bestsellers seem to enjoy a readership that fails to recognize the fiction in these books. I am of the opinion that it is one of the tasks of science to clear up such misconceptions, especially if they are as widespread as in some major world religions. This paper could have dealt a double, rather than just a single blow to religious superstition: the exodus never happened and even if it happened, it wouldn't have required a deity.
I am a biologist who grew up with a Christian background and did, until the coverage of this paper, did not know there was no evidence backing the Jewish exodus story up (I obviously never believed in miracles). Mentioning this important fact would give this paper a passing grade in my books, mainly because the belief in this particular myth is so widespread.
#66
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:30 AM
I suspect that all of these individuals looked at the paper purely in terms of abstract mathematics involved. They, like William above, did not consider the archaeology [sic] to be important and so disregarded all the historical points.
Honestly? You really believe that? First, it seems highly implausible that science reviewers would ignore the fact that what is to be "accounted for" is a religious myth for which no evidence is offered. Second, again, that the technical work is performed competently is a bare minimum for publication; it certainly isn't a reason to publish, so if technical competency (at one stage - the lack of an archeological foundation is a huge strike) were all it had going for it, it shouldn't have made the cut at P1. There's no nontrivial scientific question being asked or answered. How many times does this need to be repeated?
#67
Posted by: brembs.net Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:34 AM
...and it of course should say 'took' not 'too' in my comment above on the paper.
#68
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:34 AM
Others may well disagree.
On what basis? What question of scientific significance is being investigated? What of significance does this contribute to scientific knowledge in their or relevant fields?
#69
Posted by: Anubis Bloodsin the third Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:40 AM
#25
It's not particularly unusual for Christians to think that the Exodus occurred

They believe in sky fairies...a ramble in the desert over 2000 years ago is not a stretch
but that the Exodus account is not literally true in all details
Actually in any details.
Not one scrap of evidence either archaeological or indeed in collaborating documentation has ever come to light, and it has been rigorously searched for.
And in the numbers boasted about that is not only unusual but fucking impossible. Simple like so!

#70
Posted by: windy Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:41 AM
Second, again, that the technical work is performed competently is a bare minimum for publication; it certainly isn't a reason to publish
Normally it isn't, but PLoS1 explicitly promises to publish "all papers that are judged to be technically sound".
#71
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:42 AM
I said I will not have time to engage comments, but I have time for some quick responses before I "skip out" again. Quotes are from numbered comments.
#27: "What was your excuse before?".
The same. I'm busy getting ready for a trip, and don't have time for long exchanges. That's all.
#28: [in response to my observing that the paper makes no attempt to match literal numbers of people from Genesis] The author explicitly states "Previous researchers have suggested wind setdown as a possible hydrodynamic explanation for Moses crossing the Red Sea, as described in Exodus 14...
That's right... and as I said, there's nothing about numbers of people. The paper explicitly notes that story from Exodus is interesting and of uncertain origin. It does not treat it as a straight literal account, as I said.
#28: If you think the authors meant something other than the Exodus account then why are they not explicit about that?

I don't think the authors meant anything else. Of course it is directly linked to Exodus; they say so in the paper. I'm just noting that they don't take up literalistic interpretations. This paper is, at best, a look at whether there is a physical possibility for a naturally occurring land bridge where it might be part of some event on which the story was later based. There's nothing wrong with using naturalistic physical science to look at a potential occurrence of an aspect of a story in the bible. The bible is not off limits to scientists.
#30: Chris Ho-Stuart, are you honestly saying that you can see this paper as existing for anything other than religious reasons and that it should be treated in an ideological / political vacuum even though people are taking it as validation for Biblical truth? Because if you are, I'm not sure if you're just incredibly naive or playing the part for some idealism about how science ought to be done.
I am honestly saying that it doesn't matter at all what reasons there were for writing the paper, and that the science in it (which is thin; but not totally absent) ought to be examined on its own merits only and not varied because of the ideological / political / religious context. Leave that to the creationists. Scientists ought do better. That IS the ideal, and I’m not playing about that.
So what if people are taking it as validation for biblical truth? I haven't seen that, myself; you guys seem to be beating the literalists to the punch here. No problem with that ... as long as you DON'T try to subvert the proper evaluation of the paper as a science paper simply because of your political or religious concerns. Feel free to point out that it does nothing to support the bible as accurate history. It's not claiming to do that; and if others try to take that extra step then you are ready for them.
But to say the paper should not be published, you need to look at the science content in the published paper; and not your concerns about how creationists or other might use it.
Some folks have done that - though not as yet with much detail. That's ok... what I object to is special treatment for work with some potential religious application. That ought not matter. It's not a free pass to paper, nor a reason to reject a paper.
#33 No, they are primary concerns about unnecessary biblical references. Why can't you acknowledge that truth. And those references make it unscientific. End of story.
Because it isn't true. It's perfectly fine to reference a biblical story in a paper which is looking at possible natural physical occurrences for aspects of that story. Same for other myths. Scientists are at perfect liberty to look at such things, if they have an interest; and in doing so they SHOULD give a reference. The paper IS looking at possible naturalistic events related specifically to the story in Exodus.
#33: Sorry fuckwit, religion has no place whatsoever in a scientific paper. What part of that don't you understand?????
I cordially disagree. I don't accept the idea that religion and science are two different things that have no overlap, and I have no problem with scientists looking at religion and religious stories. It's part of academic freedom. And that freedom does far more damage to religion than support!
I don't judge papers by whether or not there is some religious motive behind them, and definitely don't rule religion as off limits to science! THAT'S the proper scientific and rational approach. And it is an approach in which religion doesn't hold up well.
#36: Something tells me that Chris Ho-Stuart and Sigmund are more comfortable with Behe's attempt to redefine science in Kitzmiller v. Dover, than with the present rules of science presented by the other side....
You'd be wrong. Ask PZ. He knows me; we've known each other online for a long long time now, particularly from the talk.origins days. We agree on a lot, and disagree on a bit, and have mutual respect. When he’s disagreeing with me, he can be uncompromising, but with good humour, which I return.
Behe is a nut, he was totally demolished in the Kitzmiller v Dover trial. He was exposed as a nitwit in his consideration of science. I’ve written a heck of a lot more about Behe than about standing up for the possibility of a scientist to look at a bible story.
IMO, I am the one upholding the normal rules of science here. Those rules don't make special exceptions for religion. We don't extend the definition of science to admit faith arguments, and we don't restrict the definition of science to forbid consideration of natural events involved in a religious story. Applying the normal rules of science - as described by the plaintiffs representing Kitzmiller - is all I am wanting.
Cheers all - Chris Ho-Stuart
#72
Posted by: William M. Connolley Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:46 AM
brembs.net wrote:
If the paper is published thus with the explicit caveat that the exodus probably never took place, emphasizing, for those who nevertheless believe in it (as absence of evidence is not evidence of absence), that involving a deity is not necessary, it would fit the criteria at PLoS One as I interpret them
(look, I've learnt how to do blockquotes).
Rather amusingly, there are parallels to Galileo and Copernicus in here. Copernicus published his stuff with a disclaimer saying "but it is only a hypothesis". Galileo was had up in front of the church, not for saying that it was possible that the earth went round the sun - you were allowed to say that - but for asserting that it was physically true.
#73
Posted by: Sven DiMilo Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:47 AM
SC has this fort held securely, I think, but:
A suite of model experiments are performed to demonstrate a new hydrodynamic mechanism that can cause an angular body of water to divide under wind stress
Look, I haven't read the article and nor will I (being entirely uninterested in hydrodynamics, mathematical modelling, and ancient Israelites), but to me, this is only half of science; the less interesting half. This is merely setting up a (elaborate and quantitative-y) hypothesis.
If you're not testing your hypothesis in a logically rigorous way with empirical data then it ain't worth publishing as science, IMO. Go ahead and publish it as fun mathematics, or hardcore modelled-hydrodynamics wanking, whatever, but PLoS ONE is supposed to be (pay-to-play) 'science.'
Needs moar datumz.
your principle beef is against the editors of Plos, not the authors
I got a few beefs here, enough for everybody.
I think the thread here, and indeed the original, are a clear advert *for* a stricter comment policy
Your concern is noted.
As modelling, it appears unobjectionable.
? Does this mean all the symbols are lined up right?
What question was being addressed by this research?
AFAICT, it's not even "What can farting around with hydrodynamics models tell us about possible interactions between high winds and water bodies?"
Rather, the question addressed and asked at the outset was explicitly and specifically about Exodus. I don't see how this conclusion is avoidable.
Issues of academic freedom are entirely irrelevant.
It's ludicrous.
It's far more ludicrous, as science, than the notoriously "ludicrous vervet study."
#74
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:47 AM
SC said:
"Honestly? You really believe that? First, it seems highly implausible that science reviewers would ignore the fact that what is to be "accounted for" is a religious myth for which no evidence is offered."
The sub-editor was based in Spain and probably sent the paper for review to other people he knew - perhaps also in Spain or close by in Europe. I don't find it hard to believe that there are plenty of such scientists who simply don't care about the religious motives involved or the possible fallout that publication will cause - look at William for an living breathing example!
Creationism is not a problem to most scientists since most of us do not live in the US.
#75
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:48 AM
together with another reference or two for the lack of archaeological evidence of any diaspora or exodus. If the paper is published thus with the explicit caveat that the exodus probably never took place, emphasizing, for those who nevertheless believe in it (as absence of evidence is not evidence of absence),
Ye, here it pretty much is. Competent archaeologists who have investigated this do not think it happened.
that involving a deity is not necessary, it would fit the criteria at PLoS One as I interpret them.
Same questions to you about its scientific value.
Given that the number of people who don't know that there is no evidence for any exodus is probably considerable, there's good justification to publish such an analysis, as long as it's made explicit that there is very little actual evidence the phenomenon ever took place.
What?! Look, there's no reason to publish "accounts for" fictions.
First, the positive: this paper presents a reasonable scientific explanation for a documented event
It is no such thing. It is a myth. There's a need to produce naturalistic explanations of real phenomena, not of myths.
I am of the opinion that it is one of the tasks of science to clear up such misconceptions, especially if they are as widespread as in some major world religions.
Yes, and that's why there a large number of books by archaeologists doing just that. What you're suggesting is absurd*, and frankly if this is the quality of thought that goes into paper reviews at P1 I can see the problem.
*And of course, these authors wouldn't do it because that would destroy the whole rationale for their propaganda-research.
#76
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:55 AM
The sub-editor was based in Spain and probably sent the paper for review to other people he knew - perhaps also in Spain or close by in Europe.
OK, this is wild speculation.
I don't find it hard to believe that there are plenty of such scientists who simply don't care about the religious motives involved or the possible fallout that publication will cause - look at William for an living breathing example!
William has an agenda. And this isn't about their motives or possible fallout. We're talking about scientists reviewing a paper in which there is no evidence for what the authors are purporting to "explain."The unsupported Chritian myth is the entire rationale for the paper, and there's no justification for the modeling without it.
#77
Posted by: Sigmund Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:00 AM
"William has an agenda"
What is his agenda?
#78
Posted by: daniel.lavine83 Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:01 AM
And since I'm here, I'll say again: the how-dare-they-do-this style in the comments here is eerily reminiscent of the anti-science stuff you'll see in the comments of Watts up with that.
Came here to make friends, huh?
Let me clue you in to something -- when I followed PZ's link to your post, the first impression I got from the comments (well, your post too):
"How dare they criticize this paper that (if you ignore the bulk of the content as well as the thesis) wasn't actually that bad?!" Eerily reminiscent of both the anti-science stuff I see everywhere and the pro-science stuff I see everywhere. In fact, it looks like just about every other blog comment section I've ever seen -- people vehemently agreeing with the OP and piling on anyone who disagrees. In that respect, the only difference between your blog and this one is that you get much less traffic.
#79
Posted by: Ing: Od Wet Rust Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:06 AM
Can I read a paper about the climate modeling for the thunder storm that caused the Roswell incident? Or the earthquake that sank Atlantis?
#80
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:09 AM
Aaaaaaand Chris Ho-Stuart continues to ignore my substantive points.
Normally it isn't, but PLoS1 explicitly promises to publish "all papers that are judged to be technically sound".
Yeah, that. Well, the ones they find interesting and think will bring in readership. As Jerry Coyne pointed out, their standards are strange, and given them I question the respect accorded them as a peer-reviewed science journal. But it's true - their standards do appear to allow for this, and the result is becoming increasingly evident.
It's far more ludicrous, as science, than the notoriously "ludicrous vervet study."
Nope, just in a different way. :P
#81
Posted by: Anubis Bloodsin the third Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:14 AM
# 71
I cordially disagree. I don't accept the idea that religion and science are two different things that have no overlap
And that is a contributing problem.
Accommodationism is not a position it is seemingly a calling.
Invoked without mercy on any criticism of the religion or religionist and always to the detriment of the science.
#82
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:16 AM
What is his agenda?
To present PZ as a strident Gnu Atheist whose criticisms are wholly political-ideological and unscientific and who wants to stifle research that he doesn't agree with. That's what it seems to me. Because the point of this paper and its unworthiness for a respected scientific journal are glaringly obvious.
#83
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:16 AM
There's nothing wrong with using naturalistic physical science to look at a potential occurrence of an aspect of a story in the bible. The bible is not off limits to scientists.
As a reference work for anything, yes, the bible is off limits, like any other holy book. Science ignores these holy books. Period, end of story. That is why you keep sounding like an idjit, for not understanding this basic scientific principle. That makes your whole argument beyond that point irrelevant. As we keep telling you.
Scientists ought do better.
And we do. By cricizing the paper, and criticizing you for defending the paper. We are doing better, but you aren't. You are merely trolling.
But to say the paper should not be published, you need to look at the science content in the published paper;
But if that paper address holy books, it isn't scientific by definition. That is what you keep missing. On purpose for sure. You certainly sound like a IDiot or creobot.
I cordially disagree. I don't accept the idea that religion and science are two different things that have no overlap, and I have no problem with scientists looking at religion and religious stories. It's part of academic freedom.
That you disagree shows your unscientific background and thinking. That has been obvious all along. And fuckwit, this has nothing to do with academic freedom, as nobody is saying the authors should be disciplined for fired by their institutions for crossing a line. We are criticizing their paper, which is utterly and totally expected in the crucible of science.
IMO, I am the one upholding the normal rules of science here.
Only in your delusional and twisted mind. There was no need to cite the babble story. There is no academic freedom at stake here. Your opinions are not cogent, nor scientific. Just inane, trying to justify something that isn't justifiable.
#84
Posted by: William M. Connolley Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:19 AM
>> "William has an agenda"
> What is his agenda?
I was wondering that, too.
#85
Posted by: Rey Fox, Bird Caller Guy Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:28 AM
I'm having a hard time believing that anyone can use the word "strident" unironically around here.
#86
Posted by: windy Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:29 AM
SC:
Yeah, that. Well, the ones they find interesting and think will bring in readership.

Check the statement again- They're saying they won't take those things into account.
As Jerry Coyne pointed out, their standards are strange, and given them I question the respect accorded them as a peer-reviewed science journal.
PLoS1 is an experiment. There's a risk it will become a haven for kookery, but that risk exists with certain conventional journals as well.
#87
Posted by: Ken Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:30 AM
PZ -- you're likely missing an key underlying facet to this.
Recall Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover (the "Dover case"; Case No. 04cv2688) where, in 2005, a US District Court ruled that Intel Design (ID) is the same as creationism. As part of the 139 page ruling Judge John E. Jones III found that in reference to whether Intelligent Design is science Judge Jones wrote ID
“is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community”.
Thus, to gain some traction & to bypass the constraints of this ("Dover Case") legal precedent ID'ers/Creationists will be working to get more papers published to "prove" their view is science.
Expect more of such papers. And other tactics designed to subvert the court's ruling.
It would help to note this in future blog entries to call the perpetraters out for pursuing such tactics (often with sympathetic supporters elsewhere).
#88
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:31 AM
Not directed at you, more directed at comments #21 and #31.
Seven (reasonable) sentences total. Railing on and on?
Rather amusingly, there are parallels to Galileo and Copernicus in here.
Amusing is one word for what you're shoveling.
This paper is, at best, a look at whether there is a physical possibility for a naturally occurring land bridge where it might be part of some event on which the story was later based.
It isn't that at best, because it isn't that at all, and I and someone else addressed this disingenuous claim in the previous thread, which you decided to ignore.
But to say the paper should not be published, you need to look at the science content in the published paper; and not your concerns about how creationists or other might use it.Some folks have done that - though not as yet with much detail.
Wow. Just wow. You have some nerve.
But it's true - their standards do appear to allow for this,
But to reiterate: it really isn't technically sound in that it ignores all of the evidence from relevant fields - history and archaeology.
#89
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:41 AM
I was wondering that, too.
Wonder no longer. I answered it above. Now how about you responding to my questions about the paper?
Check the statement again- They're saying they won't take those things into account.
You're right! So they publish anything technically competent.
*goes to write 10 or 20 papers to send to P1*
PLoS1 is an experiment. There's a risk it will become a haven for kookery, but that risk exists with certain conventional journals as well.
I think it's already happening, and that they need better guidelines (especially judging from the comment above).
#90
Posted by: Antagonizer Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:44 AM
What is his agenda?
William Connelley's agenda is to apologize for Christian bible science freaks. Barton Paul Levensen and Hank Roberts and even Eli Rabett are his co-conspirators. You can find them regularly apologizing for Christians over at RealClimate.
Other than their foible of apologizing for idiotic Christians, they seem reasonable and genial enough.
#91
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:50 AM
For example, this and this.
You don't think this is comparable to the junk published in climate research? Thank you for the admission that your real gripe here is that it isn't your ox being gored.
This.
#92
Posted by: windy Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:50 AM
*goes to write 10 or 20 papers to send to P1*
Don't forget about the publication fees ;)
#93
Posted by: aviazn Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:57 AM
As a reference work for anything, yes, the bible is off limits, like any other holy book. Science ignores these holy books.
But the Bible isn't being used as a scientific reference here—it's just the origin of the story that he's examining.
I don't see why religious folk using the results to give credence to their religion should be counted against any study. Religious folk have used On the Origin of Species for 150 years to give credence to their religion by saying it explains the natural mechanisms by which God manifested his creation. If you include reason and science in your religion, then every scientific result can be taken as a manifestation of the glory of God and the gift of intellect that he has given you.
#94
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 12:03 PM
Don't forget about the publication fees ;)
$1350!!!
*reads on*
We offer a complete or partial fee waiver for authors who do not have funds to cover publication fees.
I qualify! :) ...or, I should say, :(. 
#95
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 12:13 PM
But the Bible isn't being used as a scientific reference here—
Yes, it is. In fact, it's the only reference they use concerning this "event."
it's just the origin of the story that he's examining.
The story is a Biblical myth, which the research treats as real despite the overwhelming lack of evidence for it. They're not examining a story. They're seeking to "explain" an event which didn't happen.
#96
Posted by: MrFire Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 12:19 PM
I would imagine that calculating the hydrodynamics relating to an improbable, and in any case fictitious, flooding event is about as useful to scientific knowledge as would be calculating the bone density in the legs of angels that are small enough to dance on the head of a pin.
It seems like a sexed-up version of the Courtier's Reply.
#97
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 12:29 PM
There are venues for publishing work looking at biblical fables. For example, skeptic magazines like Skeptical Inquirer. These magazines are scholarly, in that they give references and explain what they did and why. Looks like a regular scholarly paper, despite the topic, and it would probably be considered favorably at P&T time. But they aren't part of the peer reviewed scientific literature, and don't claim to be. Nobody would be saying anything if the paper was published there.
#98
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 12:52 PM
Rather amusingly, there are parallels to Galileo and Copernicus in here.
And we sound like the commenters at WUWT?
#99
Posted by: aviazn Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 12:52 PM
Yes, it is. [. . .] They're seeking to "explain" an event which didn't happen.
No, it's not. If by "explain", you mean "to demonstrate that it actually happened", it's worth noting that the paper makes no claim that it actually happened—just the opposite: "The present study treats the Exodus 14 narrative as an interesting and ancient story of uncertain origin."If by "explain", you mean to demonstrate that it was merely feasible, then yes, I agree that's what they're doing, and I can imagine that there might be value in it. I can see how it might give foklorists and scholars insight into the origin of the myth—as one commenter in the previous thread put it, superheroes throw cars because they're a useful, familiar reference; wind setdown at the Nile delta could be car that serves as the reference by which God's exaggerated powers are depicted. Now, I'm no ancient Egyptian scholar and not qualified to make that judgment. If the hydrodynamic work remains unpublished, though, it's hard for those who are to make that call.
Let's turn this around. Say the authors of the paper had examined this ancient story of uncertain origin and demonstrated from their hydrodynamic modeling that wind setdown was not a feasible mechanism for exposing the bed of the Nile delta. Would we still be criticizing it for being published or using the Bible as a scientific reference?
#100
Posted by: Vicki, Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 1:05 PM
William @56:
No, the emphasis on the tie-in to the bible is not primarily the media's fault.
Not unless you define "media" (or "meeja," as you apparently think it's cute to spell it) as "anyone who puts words on paper, including the authors of the article and the press office that wrote and sent out the release about the paper."
The authors chose to write and submit a paper with this religious slant. The press release talked about the exodus myth.
If the authors had just said "hydrodynamical modeling, for a postulated group of n adults and m children, traveling on foot," maybe it would have been different. But they didn't.
If the press office hadn't thought "exodus" and sent this paper to everyone in sight, the media wouldn't have been promoting it.
When a bunch of people start telling a story, the blame does not lie only with the random person who says "Hey, did you hear what Mike told me?" or the newspaper that publishes the article someone else wrote. Yes, the press should do more investigation: but they did not invent this mess.
If I slandered someone in a phone call, I wouldn't be able to excuse myself by blaming Verizon. If a radio host spreads lies or hatred, he may or may not get away with it: but if he does, it's not going to be because everyone agrees that it was a horrible thing, but Rush Windbag didn't spread the story, WXYZ radio did.
#101
Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 1:24 PM
I can see how it might give foklorists and scholars insight into the origin of the myth—as one commenter in the previous thread put it, superheroes throw cars because they're a useful, familiar reference; wind setdown at the Nile delta could be car that serves as the reference by which God's exaggerated powers are depicted.
But the whole point of the superhero throwing the car, or the point of depicting it as an example of his or her fantastic abilities, is that cars don't spontaneously fly through the air. The paper, by analogy, is saying: look, sometimes tornadoes pick up cars, so maybe there's a kernel of truth in all those stories about Superman.
It's vapid, because we know the stories about Superman are just that. Imaginative narratives with no resemblance to real events or persons, living or dead. There's no reason to think otherwise about Exodus, and plenty of reasons to so think, as SC keeps saying.
The origin of myths is the human imagination. Looking for inspiration in real or possible events is apologetics, not science. Moreover, it's lousy apologetics: it makes a hash out of the stories as they were intended to be read. The whole point of the narrative (the Exodus from Egypt, not just the parting of the sea) is that it can't happen without the direct and miraculous intervention of god. I fail to see how any of this is so hard to understand.
#102
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 1:30 PM
No, it's not. If by "explain", you mean "to demonstrate that it actually happened",
Of course I don't. It didn't happen, and they make no attempt to demonstrate that it did other than referring to the Bible.
it's worth noting that the paper makes no claim that it actually happened—just the opposite: "The present study treats the Exodus 14 narrative as an interesting and ancient story of uncertain origin."
Read the actual paper (and PZ's first post). Its entire basis is the acceptance of the reality of the myth.
If by "explain", you mean to demonstrate that it
There is no evidence for 'it' and much against 'it'.
was merely feasible,
"Merely"? The question of whether it was "feasible" makes no sense since it didn't happen. I honestly can't believe people are dismissing this fundamental fact. It did not happen.
then yes, I agree that's what they're doing, and I can imagine that there might be value in it.
Not for a science journal.
I can see how it might give foklorists and scholars insight into the origin of the myth—
How does this make sense? Are you speaking now about a wind setdown event or the Exodus?
These people are not experts in myth-formation, and are not competent to proclaim on the subject to folklorists and scholars in this field, who are experts. But this would be a folklore or Bible studies paper (they would likely reject this paper because it engages not at all with any archaeological evidence or with anthropology) and not a hydrology or modeling paper.
A paper could be saying: "This is the myth of the Exodus in historical context [references]. As with much of this mythology, there is no evidence for the alleged event, and the conclusion of scholars in the field is that it didn't happen [references to reputable scholars]. This is the evidence and these the explanations offered for how the myth developed [references and discussion]. We investigate whether it's possible for there to have been a natural occurrence in the form of a wind setdown event in the area during this period under the conditions present [discussion below of about how these are reconstructed based on limited and conflicting data]. We speculate that such an event, if it happened, could have formed the basis for the myth [references? any basis for this?]. Of course, we are not providing any evidence that any such setdown event of any form occurred or was witnessed, which is not possible with our methods. We can only posit whether a wind setdown event could possibly have occurred given the conditions we specify for the model."
Whether such a paper would belong in P1 (and how it would be categorized) would remain to be seen, but it would be a very different paper from the one under discussion here. It is totally disingenuous for people to keep describing this paper as something that it plainly is not.
Now, I'm no ancient Egyptian scholar and not qualified to make that judgment.
Neither are they.
If the hydrodynamic work remains unpublished, though, it's hard for those who are to make that call.
It could be submitted to appropriate journals/reviewers with appropriate citations and clarifications.
Let's turn this around. Say the authors of the paper had examined this ancient story of uncertain origin and demonstrated from their hydrodynamic modeling that wind setdown was not a feasible mechanism for exposing the bed of the Nile delta. Would we still be criticizing it for being published or using the Bible as a scientific reference?
Yes. Why do people keep asking this? Their "findings" are not the problem.
#103
Posted by: natural cynic Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 1:51 PM
What we really need is for this kind of thing to go int a special journal. I'll suggest a title:
Semi-Serious Scientific Scriptural Speculations
#104
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 1:57 PM
Say the authors of the paper had examined this ancient story of uncertain origin and demonstrated from their hydrodynamic modeling that wind setdown was not a feasible mechanism for exposing the bed of the Nile delta. Would we still be criticizing it for being published or using the Bible as a scientific reference?
This is such a strange question. It misunderstands both the criticism of the paper's funding (it it was) and publication and the concern about its propaganda value. The research/paper should be rejected by science funders and journals because it ignores relevant science, doesn't ask any significant research question (and asks one that doesn't make sense scientifically), and offers nothing of value to scientific knowledge in the authors' fields. The political use doesn't matter here except insofar as people should be aware of how weasely authors on certain subjects can be given the stakes involved.
Its propaganda value isn't in its particular findings. As PZ and others have noted, it's a miracle story; finding a natural "explanation" for the myth is strange apologetics - they would be better off, it would seem, finding what you offer here or not doing the research at all. But their interest is what Ken described @ #87 (I disagree that PZ is missing it; he obviously isn't). For them, it's a citation in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. That's what matters.
#105
Posted by: aviazn Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 2:25 PM
The paper, by analogy, is saying: look, sometimes tornadoes pick up cars, so maybe there's a kernel of truth in all those stories about Superman.
No, by analogy, the paper is simply saying that tornadoes (which in this analogy happen to be a usually benign natural phenomenon less well-known and studied than its more destructive brethren), and by modeling this less–well-known phenomenon with hydrodynamic code, we can show that it could have picked up a car of this particular make and model, which hadn't been previously demonstrated.If it were trying to go a step further and say that maybe there's truth in Superman (which is undoubtedly the author's personal belief, and what he's saying in other media), I would be totally against it ever being published. But the author states plainly in the paper that "[t]he present study treats the Exodus 14 narrative as an interesting and ancient story of uncertain origin."
If that's not reflected or discussed in the text (which I don't think it is), then that's something to be criticized. And as #97 suggests, if the hydrodynamic techniques are not particularly novel, then maybe there's a better venue for this kind of work to be published. But I disagree that examining the Bible in this context is "not science" or that it's without merit.
The origin of myths is the human imagination. Looking for inspiration in real or possible events is apologetics, not science.
Really? Myths are not created in a vacuum—the human imagination is stimulated by real events all the time, and many myths are attempts to explain real-world phenomenon.I mean, I find theories that try to explain the ubiquity of flood myths in ancient culture fascinating—the draining of Lake Agassiz, the Burckle impact. Sure, none of them are scientific consensus, but that doesn't mean that science isn't being done, or that historical readings of myths can't inform science.
#106
Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 2:53 PM
Really? Myths are not created in a vacuum—the human imagination is stimulated by real events all the time, and many myths are attempts to explain real-world phenomenon.
No, they aren't created in a vacuum, but they also aren't that often based on "a kernel of truth" as seems to be the popular imagination's conception. They are frequently created in a literary context, in conversation primarily with other texts and not concerned with the real world at all. The influence of a presumed oral tradition behind the literary myths of the ancient Near East is greatly overstated, usually by apologists like our author here who want some, any, kind of older and presumably at least partly authentic tradition to have underpinned their cherished fables.
Some myths are indeed what is called etiological, but that's exactly the reverse of the phenomenon here. If the Red Sea had, in the author's day, a prominent shallows or a big sandbar or something, and the upshot of the story were that it exists because god parted the sea for Moses and it remains parted to this time, that would be an etiology. It should also be noted that ancient people were perfectly capable of understanding the purpose of a story, and that etiologies were entertaining but not generally believed, the genre of Greco-Roman "Metamorposes" being a prime example. There are of course plenty of etiologies in the Bible, even some very interesting "double etiologies" where a later author appears to be toying with the reader's expectations about such staries in a quite self-consciously literary way. The parting of the sea narrative isn't one of them, so the point is irrelevant.
And for this to be a credible instance of the human imagination being stimulated by real events, we would have to imagine the author of this literary fiction sitting around near a shallow body of water one day, waiting for inspiration:
Hmm. Okay, so Moses and the Israelites are out of Egypt, they're on the run... need some suspense... okay, the Pharaoh's army! Great, coming up behind, what now? The Israelites are trapped! By what? *gazes out to sea as the wind picks up* Okay, by the edge of the sea, and would you look at that? This gale-force wind seems to be... parting the Sea! That's it! I only want to include this miracle because now I've seen it can actually happen.
It's incoherent, and at odds with everything we know about literary invention. It's a deeply stupid paper on all analyses.
#107
Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 3:08 PM
I mean, I find theories that try to explain the ubiquity of flood myths in ancient culture fascinating—the draining of Lake Agassiz, the Burckle impact. Sure, none of them are scientific consensus, but that doesn't mean that science isn't being done, or that historical readings of myths can't inform science.
You're conflating two kinds of inspiration from real events. The ubiquity of flood myths in the ancient world is easy to understand. Most communities of any size were situated alongside waterways. Then, as now, floods were common occurences, and locally catastrophic floods were not uncommon. The fear of a locally catastrophic flood was a powerful, widely felt, emotional reaction to something that was known to occur. Positing inspiration from a single, actual flood, of any size, is just completely unnecessary in this context. The very fact that floods occur and sometimes fuck shit up pretty bad is plenty sufficient to understand why myths about floods had power in the popular and literary imagination and endured in various forms.
The great majority of myths have no "historical reading" in the way you mean. The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is one of them.
#108
Posted by: irenedelse Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 3:30 PM
Ken, #87:
Recall Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover (the "Dover case"; Case No. 04cv2688) where, in 2005, a US District Court ruled that Intel Design (ID) is the same as creationism. As part of the 139 page ruling Judge John E. Jones III found that in reference to whether Intelligent Design is science Judge Jones wrote ID“is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community”.
Thus, to gain some traction & to bypass the constraints of this ("Dover Case") legal precedent ID'ers/Creationists will be working to get more papers published to "prove" their view is science.
Expect more of such papers. And other tactics designed to subvert the court's ruling.
QFT. And this is why such "innocuous", "playful" papers about Bible stories (it's never about Chinese, African or Native American myths, noticed that?) are not so innocuous, and deserve to be called out for what they are: Trojan Horses for "Creation Science".
#109
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 3:31 PM
[If there were a way to make it a requirement to read the entire previous thread and all of this one (and Coyne's) before posting here, I would do it.]
and by modeling this less–well-known phenomenon with hydrodynamic code, we can show that it could have picked up a car of this particular make and model, which hadn't been previously demonstrated.
Was any scientist in the field questioning it? If so, why? The models have been developed to have data entered into them. Wind setdown is apparently well-enough understood to model it. It may (though it's not responsible for the damage caused by other phenomena, and so would be a lesser priority) be useful to study it under particular conditions for which we have data to test, improve upon, and refine the models, to make better predictions, or to better understand a real, empirically-demonstrated event. I don't know. This research does none of that, and doesn't claim to. It applies existing models to a location in the distant past, relying for the entered values on incomplete and shifty data. It's not even a case study. It offers nothing to science. You can plug different values with no real referents into the models to see what would happen in different conditions. This is trivial.
If that's not reflected or discussed in the text (which I don't think it is), then that's something to be criticized.
Look, they have that one sentence, and the whole basis of the paper is to use modeling to attempt to "explain" something that didn't happen and therefore quite obviously requires no explanation.
And as #97 suggests, if the hydrodynamic techniques are not particularly novel,
There's no evidence that they're novel in any way. Stop suggesting that they are. They are applying existing models to a reconstructed scenario with no nontrivial findings relevant to science. If you have knowledge to the contrary, present it.
then maybe there's a better venue for this kind of work to be published.
It shouldn't be published in a science journal.
But I disagree that examining the Bible in this context is "not science" or that it's without merit.
But you've made no argument for that position, and are failing to address those that have been made. And you're joining the others with these vague arguments about "examining the Bible in this context." Talk about this paper, as it exists. Science is not concerned with explaining fictional events as though they were real.
Really? Myths are not created in a vacuum—the human imagination is stimulated by real events all the time, and many myths are attempts to explain real-world phenomenon [sic].
So some myths have their origin in natural events (in part or in whole). But they certainly don't have to, and many don't. But the paper under discussion isn't an investigation of that. It doesn't acknowledge the archaeological evidence, is based on the myth being real, and doesn't discuss things in these terms at all. It doesn't discuss the myth as myth.
It cannot discover if such an event ever occurred there and then using computer models (and where there and then are is at issue - note that the authors pick a spot because they think the event, which did not happen, happened there; if they were just talking about a general origin of a myth the location and date wouldn't be so important). Even if they had written a decent paper, they could only have suggested that a wind setdown event could have happened (under their reconstructed conditions) in that general time frame. I don't think anyone would challenge this if they accept the values and models used. This hypothetical paper would at best offer a possibility that could potentially be of use to scholars of history/mythology, or very possibly not. These scholars may have other evidence that would make the wind-setdown-as-origin idea problematic. But we don't know because this isn't that paper and these authors don't engage with the myth as myth or therefore with this scholarship - they take the myth as factual, when it isn't. So much for their vaunted technical competence.
I mean, I find theories that try to explain the ubiquity of flood myths in ancient culture fascinating—the draining of Lake Agassiz, the Burckle impact. Sure, none of them are scientific consensus, but that doesn't mean that science isn't being done, or that historical readings of myths can't inform science.
Read the previous thread.
#110
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 3:48 PM
CJO @ #106 and #107 offers a great example of the issues the hypothetical myth-origin version of this paper would have to address if were presented to scholars in the field who understand the development of these stories. But it doesn't really matter because this isn't that paper.
#111
Posted by: Antagonizer Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 4:41 PM
the draining of Lake Agassiz, the Burckle impact.
Dude, a mythical wind in an obscure mud flat does not compare in any way to geomorphologically well substantiated ice sheet collapses with its associated mega flooding events, and impact generated mega tsunamis. To suggest that is so, is misleading at best, and disingenuous at worst.
#112
Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 5:15 PM
parting shot:
for those who think motivations are unimportant in science, i give you a name:
Jonathan Wells.
now go chew on that.
#113
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 5:41 PM
Nerd writes in comment #83:
Science ignores these holy books. Period, end of story.
Science is about a method, not a topic. Questions considered using science might come from anywhere. As long as you can look at a question empirically and using good old falsifiable empirical methods, it is within the scope of science.
It follows that religious stories, religious books, religious ideas, and religion itself are not off limits for science.
I don't agree with the idea that there are two sets of questions, one for science and one for religion. The scientific method is not limited in this way; you can look at ANY question with science, as long as the methods of science apply.
Heck, it is precisely BECAUSE you CAN look at the bible using science that we know the Exodus did not occur as described in the bible; a point on which are all here agreed.
But if that paper address holy books, it isn't scientific by definition. That is what you keep missing. On purpose for sure. You certainly sound like a IDiot or creobot.
This is not in any real definition of science I have ever heard of. Science is a method, not a topic. Questions considered by scientists might come from anywhere. As long as you can look at a question empirically and using good old falsifiable empirical methods, it is in the scope of science, and let the chips fall where they may.
I'm not missing things, or trolling. I am disagreeing with you, and saying why. Try and relax a bit here, if possible. Not all disagreement is trolling.
If it helps any, I have a long history of fighting against nonsense from creationists and IDiots. The methods of science can be applied to their claims and show where they fail. Religion and religious claims are within the scope of science.
Also (and this is the great strength of science!) you DON'T prejudge a paper on a religion related topic by whether it might support or refute a faith based idea. You judge it on the empirical scientific content. Not on the topic. Not on the beliefs of the author. Not on the reasons for writing it. Not on how it might be used.
It is by sticking to this that science is so effective at showing just how hopeless creationism is -- and that includes the intelligent design movement.
And fuckwit, this has nothing to do with academic freedom, as nobody is saying the authors should be disciplined for fired by their institutions for crossing a line.
The name is "Chris", please.
Some folks have been accusing the authors of misconduct or wanting to audit them in some way. There's been a whole series of various contributions in the comments, and the academic freedom issue applies to some responses that go beyond merely criticism of the paper in such ways.
A good suggestion was made in comments above, that the paper would be better with a paragraph (and a citation) to confirm that the story as told in Exodus is amply refuted as history. Be that as it may, there's still a basis for some folks to be interested in whether or not some kind of land bridge could occur by natural means in the region, and it is a question to which methods of science apply. Even if you are not interested, I am, and so are others. (I have a long standing interest in the bible and how it developed, as an atheist interested in the phenomenon of religion.) It is not a question off limits to science.
Whether the paper really merits publication is a fair question, and I have no objection to it, nor to valid objections based on its novelty or significance. But to rule it unpublishable because of the topic is not scientific at all.
Cheers -- Chris
#114
Posted by: nonexistentpuppies Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 5:47 PM
Assuming there is a 'kernal' of naturalistic truth to biblical miracles is a dubious idea, one that continues to plague biblical scholarship today, even though someone like David Strauss effectively critiqued it in the 19th century. Scholars still think that one can scrape away the myth of Old and New Testament stories and find the historical kernel, whether it be the Exodus, David, Soloman or Jesus. Such a process is circular as it assumes its conclusion; that the Bible stories portray some kind of events that actually happened, rather than relying on external evidence to provide authentication (mainly because there isn't any). This sort of methodology simply doesn't appreciate the nature of the stories: they are etiological tall tales. Mythic to the core. Remove the supernatural elements from these narratives in order to make them more 'realistic', and you completely destroy their nature. Likewise, trying to make out that the Exodus only consisted of a few thousand individuals rather than 603,550 men plus women and children (Numbers 1.46) does an enormous violence to the text. It completely changes its nature and becomes basically a new story. It MAY have happened like that, but there's no real good reason to think so. The same with most Bible stories.
Beware the rationalistic paraphrase of the Bible. It does no justice whatsoever to what its authors intended.
#116
Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 6:15 PM
Be that as it may, there's still a basis for some folks to be interested in whether or not some kind of land bridge could occur by natural means in the region, and it is a question to which methods of science apply. Even if you are not interested, I am, and so are others. (I have a long standing interest in the bible and how it developed, as an atheist interested in the phenomenon of religion.)
I too have such a long-standing interest, and in its pusuit what I have learned about the bible tells me that actually there is no basis on which to imagine that land bridges occurred in the region, any more than there is to wonder if some strange thermodynamic phenomenon were behind the burning bush or if some preternatural health care regimen allowed Methuselah to acheive great age.
Stories are stories, and bible stories are no different. The Exodus narrative in particular is a late composition intended to manufacture and justify a unified elite identity out of the chaos of imperial incursion into what had been distinct 'Canaanite' groups in the Levant. It's about exile and return and resistance against empire and taking what's "yours" when it's actually not; it's not a travel guide to the Sinai and it shares no interests with such a production.
#117
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 6:38 PM
I believe my comments must be invisible to Chris Ho-Stuart.
Science is about a method, not a topic. Questions considered using science might come from anywhere. As long as you can look at a question empirically and using good old falsifiable empirical methods, it is within the scope of science.
These authors are trying to explain a mythical event for which there's no evidence. The research into whether this occurred took place for more than a century. There isn't any. It didn't happen. Talk about this paper and not some vague ideas about all of the potential origins of scientific inquiry.
I'm simply not going to repeat the problems with this paper as science again, since I have probably 20 times and you never respond.
It follows that religious stories, religious books, religious ideas, and religion itself are not off limits for science.
Again with the vague, meaningless platitudes. If we divorce the question of the possibility of a wind setdown event from the Biblical myth, which we have to because this didn't happen, there is no justification for the investigation or for any scientific interest in it.
I don't agree with the idea that there are two sets of questions, one for science and one for religion.
And again with the vague blather.
The scientific method is not limited in this way; you can look at ANY question with science, as long as the methods of science apply.
And again. The methods of scientific explanation do not apply to imaginary things. This event is one of those. There is no evidence for it.
Heck, it is precisely BECAUSE you CAN look at the bible using science that we know the Exodus did not occur as described in the bible; a point on which are all here agreed.
Good. Grief. We are not talking about Biblical archaeology here. Talk about this paper and not any interaction between scientific research and religious belief.
Questions considered by scientists might come from anywhere. As long as you can look at a question empirically and using good old falsifiable empirical methods, it is in the scope of science, and let the chips fall where they may.
And again.
The methods of science can be applied to their claims and show where they fail.
This claim has failed. These authors aren't investigating it or acknowledging its failure. TThey are positing its reality. They are trying to "explain" the failed, imaginary story.
Religion and religious claims are within the scope of science.
And again. (No kidding.)
Also (and this is the great strength of science!) you DON'T prejudge a paper on a religion related topic by whether it might support or refute a faith based idea.
People are not doing that. Read what we're saying.
You judge it on the empirical scientific content.
This paper has no worthwhile, nontrivial scientific content. If you think it meets the criteria we've set out several times above, explain how. You've tried and failed to do so for the past two days.
Not on the topic.
Scientific research does not seek to "explain" things for which there is no evidence.
Not on the beliefs of the author. Not on the reasons for writing it. Not on how it might be used.
Can you read? What is wrong with you? Why don't you respond to anyone other than Nerd?
Some folks have been accusing the authors of misconduct or wanting to audit them in some way. There's been a whole series of various contributions in the comments, and the academic freedom issue applies to some responses that go beyond merely criticism of the paper in such ways.
No, it doesn't, and I don't think you understand what academic freedom means. If this was funded with public money, there would appear to be a problem. I cannot imagine that it fulfills the criteria of any of those granting agencies, and they're listed under Funding and I think featured in the videos. It may well be a violation of the separation of church and state. No one has said they shouldn't be able to study or write or speak about whatever they want, but government funding is a separate issue and demands transparency. Are you going to address any of this, or just repeat the same simplistic assertions?
A good suggestion was made in comments above, that the paper would be better with a paragraph (and a citation) to confirm that the story as told in Exodus is amply refuted as history.
That would eliminate the entire rationale for the paper. "This didn't happen but we're going to explain how it might have happened." Of course it would be better if it did, but it wouldn't be enough and it wouldn't make it meet the criteria for worthwhile science. It would also be a different paper. It isn't the paper that was published.
Be that as it may, there's still a basis for some folks to be interested in whether or not some kind of land bridge could occur by natural means in the region,
Oh, there is not - certainly not three thousand years ago. That's not a scientific question of any interest whatsoever.
and it is a question to which methods of science apply. Even if you are not interested, I am, and so are others. (I have a long standing interest in the bible and how it developed, as an atheist interested in the phenomenon of religion.)
This modeling doesn't tell you anything about the Bible and how it developed. It doesn't tell you anything about religion, and these authors have no expertise in those fields. If you think it would, what is it? What scientific field would it fall in?
It is not a question off limits to science.
And again.
Whether the paper really merits publication is a fair question,
It's a central question, which you have not addressed.
and I have no objection to it,
Sure, you don't. You aren't reading anything anyone is writing.
nor to valid objections based on its novelty or significance.
Or sense. It has none of these. Neither you nor anyone else has offered any justification for the publication of this paper as a scientific work in a science journal. You have tried and failed.
#118
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 6:38 PM
CJO, that is pretty much exactly my position on the bible stories, and of the Exodus especially. Still really really interesting in its own right. The books by Robert B Coote and David Ord describe in some detail this notion of the development of the invented prehistory of the "Israelites" at the time of new monarchy.
This is not discussed in the paper -- nor should it be; at least not at any length. A brief mention of problems with the very notion of the Exodus as any kind of history would be a useful addition in context.
The detail of a wind all night in the story is, however, very suggestive, especially in the context of a physical account of whether such a wind could expose a land bridge. It's still credible that formation of such a land bridge in reality can have a role in the development of the story -- even an invented story constructed for political reasons.
The author's motive for looking at the physics of such an event are not basis for rejecting a paper.
Cheers -- Chris
#119
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 6:50 PM
It's still credible that formation of such a land bridge in reality can have a role in the development of the story -- even an invented story constructed for political reasons.
a) This research did not and cannot demonstrate the occurrence of any such formation. Do you get this?
b) Even if it could, the paper offers nothing about any role of any wind setdown event, whatever its plausibility, in the development of the story. It doesn't treat this as a story in anything but that one disingenuous sentence, and in any case the authors aren't qualified to talk about that.
The author's motive for looking at the physics of such an event
There is no event.
#120
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 6:55 PM
SCOM (#117), I think you miss my point here. I can't respond to all the comments, and your comments have not leapt out as an issue for my input.
I am not concerned to defend the paper in general. I am trying to uphold standards by which scientists should be judging a paper.
Hence I have no special motive to respond to all objections to the paper. In particular, if the objections are based on the merits or significance of the empirical content; then fine.
What I am concerned about is the idea a paper should be rejected because of the author's motives, or because it refers to religion, or because it could be used by others to argue for the literal truth of the bible, or other such distractions.
I have NOT tried to justify the paper as a publishable scientific work. I don't know that. It seems pretty thin, but it doesn't immediately strike me as worthless. I'd be looking for a comment from someone involved in the physics of water and wind movements in other contexts for useful input on its significance.
#121
Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 6:59 PM
The detail of a wind all night in the story is, however, very suggestive...
Then why aren't the angel of the lord going with the Israelites, and the pillar of cloud, and the light at night that kept the Pharaoh's host away suggestive? Or if those are too, what are they suggestive of? Why don't we cock up a paper about the Mediterranean diet and the lifespans of the patriarchs?
To me, the wind is just how this Yahwehist author conceived of the embodiment of God's power over water and storms, every bit as mythical and unconcerned with physical plausibility as the (twice repeated) "waters like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left."
#122
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:01 PM
Questions considered by scientists might come from anywhere.
Yes, but they have to be scientific questions. "How might we explain the occurrence of this event which didn't occur?" is not a scientific question. "Could a large wind setdown event have occurred in some area three thousand years ago?" is a scientific question, but it's one of utterly trivial scientific interest and answering it adds essentially nothing to scientific knowledge - certainly nothing worthy of publication in P1.
#123
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:17 PM
There are true scientific questions. Then there are questions about scientifically proving/disproving religion/new age/psi. Then there are inane questions that might be looked at scientifically, but aren't work the effort or expense. They are published in three different places. True science in the peer reviewed literature. New Age/Religion/Psi in skeptical journals, or pseudo science like New Scientist. The latter belongs nowhere or the circular file. The paper under discussion should not be a peer reviewed journal.
#124
Posted by: windy Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:19 PM
"Could a large wind setdown event have occurred in some area three thousand years ago?" is a scientific question, but it's one of utterly trivial scientific interest and answering it adds essentially nothing to scientific knowledge - certainly nothing worthy of publication in P1.
But again, according to P1's current policy they are not supposed to reject something because it's "trivial". I think Sigmund's criticism is more productive than arguing whether this paper is "worthy" of PLoS ONE.
#125
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:22 PM
What I am concerned about is the idea a paper should be rejected because of the author's motives, or because it refers to religion, or because it could be used by others to argue for the literal truth of the bible, or other such distractions.
They're distractions that you're raising repeatedly. They aren't the objections to its publication that have been raised by most on this thread. (For being concerned about its publication is another thing.) Are you just responding to one person?
I have NOT tried to justify the paper as a publishable scientific work. I don't know that. It seems pretty thin, but it doesn't immediately strike me as worthless.
It's more than pretty thin. So to be clear - you're not disagreeing with anyone who is arguing that scientifically it is not worthy of publication?
I'd be looking for a comment from someone involved in the physics of water and wind movements in other contexts for useful input on its significance.
I've asked this several times and have yet to receive an answer: If they are contributing to knowledge of the physics of water and wind movements, don't you think they would have mentioned it? Don't you think the reviewers would have encouraged - required them to do so? Why would you assume any such contribution if it isn't stated? (And if it were discovered that somehow inadvertantly they had found something of worth, would that after the fact justify its publication?)
#126
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:31 PM
But again, according to P1's current policy they are not supposed to reject something because it's "trivial".
This just pushes the question back. (Aside from the fact that it is not technically competent in that it ignores piles of research in order to present an event as real and thus attempt to "explain" it.) If it meets their standards, then I say that P1 isn't worthy of its reputation. Not to mention that, again, those government agencies are supposed to reject something because it's trivial.
I think Sigmund's criticism is more productive
What was that?
#127
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:35 PM
"How might we explain the occurrence of this event which didn't occur?" is their primary question, and its formulation is not technically competent.
#128
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:44 PM
SCOM, let's take for granted that the Israelites have no association with Egypt and no origin as escaped slaves. Let's take for granted that these stories were invented as part of a deliberate construction of a national cult to help cement a new monarchy; and later reworked some more in support of certain parties in times of chaos and war from Assyria and Babylon into Canaan. That's what I consider most likely.
Even given this, it is still of some interest whether or not a land bridge can form; such events can still plausibly be taken up and worked into stories from the past; stories of a history which never occurred. Whether a naturally occuring land bridge can occur in this region, associated with a strong and extended wind may be worth knowing for people interested in how the stories of the Exodus were developed and marketed in the first place. It is also an empirical scientific question; independent of the reasons people might be interested in it.
The authors probably don't take this fairly standard line in biblical archaeology. They probably do take a stronger historical linkage to an actual Exodus. But they don't make that claim in the paper, and the paper isn't judged on the basis of their religious beliefs.
#129
Posted by: windy Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:53 PM
What was that?
this from Stoat, which he alluded to here:
"In conclusion I would suggest that it is wrong to consider this as being an average paper on hydrodynamic modeling. It should be considered a bad archaeology paper that happens to use good hydrodynamic data to make an insufficiently supported archaeological claim and as such it should not have been accepted in PLoS One."
I think your hostility to Sigmund's initial mention of an "archaeological element" was unfair since you've argued more or less the same thing later on in this thread. It ignores the evidence from archaeology, yes, but it makes archaeological claims- perhaps it could be called pseudoarchaeological.
#130
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 7:55 PM
Connolley:
in which I take PZ to task for getting too carried away over some harmless minor piece of hydrodynamics.
Wrong.
1. As several people have pointed out in the comments over at PZ, there is a disconnect in how this issue is seen between the USA and... well, the rest of the wrold. ...So perhaps PZ is right to say that (from a we-are-wacky-USA perpsective), that I don't care enough about Creationism. But it would be nice to see, in return, some realisation from him that the USA isn't the whole world.
Why would that be expected? PZ is in the US and so are the authors of the paper. He's not at fault for your ignorance.
Point 2 is that PZ purports to care about this paper because it is bad science. And he advances a number of reasons why this paper fails that test: stuff like one of the results of researching a topic should be the discovery of genuine problems that warrant deeper analysis. A science paper is a story, and it always begins with a good question. But actually, none of that is the real problem.
Yes. Yes, it is (and more).
There are any number of science papers that fail this test: that cover trivial problems, that repeat existing literature, that don't do deeper analysis; and PZ cares about none of them enough to blog.
He just blogged about another one today! He does all of the time!
Heavens, by those standards papers that are primarily about observations would be doomed.
What?
The reason PZ dislikes the paper is the religion he sees in it. I think it would have been better (clearer, more honest) to simply say that, and drop the mask of condeming it as bad science because (oh no, not again) the modelling part is unexceptionable.
More of the tu quoque consistency bull. When you get there you know your argument is spent. This is like saying that Orac just dislikes the acupuncture papers because of the CAM he sees in them, or that Connolley just dislikes bad climate research because of the AGW-denialism he sees in it. Everyone has areas of particular concern, and if a paper is bad it's bad. But I'm glad Connolley seems to admit that this one is bad.
#131
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:12 PM
"In conclusion I would suggest that it is wrong to consider this as being an average paper on hydrodynamic modeling. It should be considered a bad archaeology paper that happens to use good hydrodynamic data to make an insufficiently supported archaeological claim and as such it should not have been accepted in PLoS One."
This is largely a rephrasing of what I was arguing to him, though it's kind of confused. It doesn't really use hydrodynamic data - it applies a model to a reconstructed conditions, and I have no idea what the quality is of the reconstruction. And actually, it doesn't make an archaeological claim; it attempts an explanation for a fictional event. It's a Biblical claim.
I think your hostility to Sigmund's initial mention of an "archaeological element" was unfair since you've argued more or less the same thing later on in this thread. It ignores the evidence from archaeology, yes, but it makes archaeological claims- perhaps it could be called pseudoarchaeological.
It wasn't unfair to suggest that it's not archaeology. They're not archaeologists, they don't do any archaeology, there isn't really an archaeological claim, and he could have clarified. Moreover, I made the point yesterday on the previous thread @ #166, #178, and probably more. This is why I was annoyed that it didn't appear that Sigmund had read that discussion.
#132
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:19 PM
So to be clear - you're not disagreeing with anyone who is arguing that scientifically it is not worthy of publication?
If they really are arguing scientifically, I have no problem. I'm not sure whether I actually agree or not; but I have no problem with that argument.
I have a problem with people arguing unscientifically and calling it science. That's my concern.
By the way, this paper isn't doing anything new in hydrology. Its merit stands or falls on the application of known methods to a certain situation in which some people are interested. That's why it looks to me like a scientifically thin, but publishable, paper.
#133
Posted by: windy Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:24 PM
Drews has responded to some of the comments
The historicity of the Exodus is beyond the scope of this "Dynamics of Wind Setdown..." paper. The paper deals with scenarios of wind setdown that would cause a division in a body of water, as studied and reported by previous researchers. We addressed Egyptian history in the context of reconstructing the likely topography of the eastern Nile delta circa 1250 BC.
Right... if they're not addressing the historicity of an event, why pick this date?
#134
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:30 PM
SCOM, let's take for granted that the Israelites have no association with Egypt and no origin as escaped slaves. Let's take for granted that these stories were invented as part of a deliberate construction of a national cult to help cement a new monarchy; and later reworked some more in support of certain parties in times of chaos and war from Assyria and Babylon into Canaan. That's what I consider most likely.Even given this, it is still of some interest whether or not a land bridge can form;
In general? Is there a controversy about this? Can it be answered with contemporary data? (Note that Coyne argues that their findings concerning a plausible wind setdown are not consistent with the Biblical account they're seeking to "explain.") If their question is "Can a land bridge form?" they need to show the scientific value of this question, that it hasn't been answered, that this is a good way to answer it (I can't see it), and so on. But that wasn't their question. They were asking whether a land bridge could have formed in a place and time (chosen on the basis of a myth) under these reconstructed conditions. They were doing this to "explain" a fictional event (not the origin of the myth of one - the event itself; to claim otherwise is disingenuous).
such events can still plausibly be taken up and worked into stories from the past; stories of a history which never occurred.
Sure they can (if they happened, which this paper can't show). If you want to write about how that is even plausible in this case you need to gain some knowledge of the era and deal with the existing historical and archaeological scholarship. Did you read mine and CJO's posts above? This paper isn't talking about that at all. (Please read my posts above. I'm very tired of repeating myself.)
Whether a naturally occuring land bridge can occur in this region, associated with a strong and extended wind may be worth knowing for people interested in how the stories of the Exodus were developed and marketed in the first place.
I dealt with this explicitly just above. (And it isn't "can occur" - it's "could occur,")
It is also an empirical scientific question; independent of the reasons people might be interested in it.
I said this above. It is utterly trivial.
The authors probably don't take this fairly standard line in biblical archaeology. They probably do take a stronger historical linkage to an actual Exodus.But they don't make that claim in the paper, and the paper isn't judged on the basis of their religious beliefs.
That's it. I apologize to everyone who can read for repeating myself so many times here, but people like Chris seem incapable of reading. I'm not going to say the same thing I've already said multiple times, but be aware, Chris, that you're not making any point that hasn't been made and addressed above or in the previous thread.
#135
Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:39 PM
Be that as it may, there's still a basis for some folks to be interested in whether or not some kind of land bridge could occur by natural means in the region
but if the motivations for the paper don't matter, Chris, neither does that.
besides which....
that's REALLY reaching.
suffice it say that ideally the motivations for a paper shouldn't poison the well, yet, empirically we have much evidence to suggest that indeed motivations have played a significant role in malfeasance and dishonesty, including within the realm of science.
you're not being realistic, and you're entirely ignoring the vast body of evidence that contradicts your point.

#136
Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:42 PM
By the way, this paper isn't doing anything new in hydrology.
which, of course, is exactly how I described it in my first post.
it is an entirely un-noteworthy paper, other than what the potential motives might be for trying to get it published.
you can stick your head in the sand on this one, Chris.
we'll sniff out the rats for you.
#137
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 8:42 PM
By the way, this paper isn't doing anything new in hydrology.
You don't say. :)
Its merit stands or falls on the application of known methods to a certain situation in which some people are interested. That's why it looks to me like a scientifically thin, but publishable, paper.
It has essentially zero scientific interest. Some people are interested because of a religious myth, but this paper doesn't address it as myth and wouldn't likely be (justifiably) publishable in a more appropriate journal. It has the fundamental flaw of accepting as real and seeking to "explain" a fictional event.
Right... if they're not addressing the historicity of an event, why pick this date?
And we come full circle. It's just ludicrous. :)
#138
Posted by: windy Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:16 PM
Whether a naturally occuring land bridge can occur in this region, associated with a strong and extended wind may be worth knowing for people interested in how the stories of the Exodus were developed and marketed in the first place.
Then wouldn't I be interested in the time period when the stories were developed, complete with some references as to why that time period was used?
#139
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:18 PM
SCOM #134:
Sure they can (if they happened, which this paper can't show). If you want to write about how that is even plausible in this case you need to gain some knowledge of the era and deal with the existing historical and archaeological scholarship. Did you read mine and CJO's posts above? This paper isn't talking about that at all. (Please read my posts above. I'm very tired of repeating myself.)

I read the comments, and commented myself on one of CJO's most important (IMO) comments at #116; he and I probably have a very similar view on the how the Exodus story developed. It doesn't involve any historical exodus.
And the paper ISN'T talking about that at all. It's main content and bulk is all taken up with the physics of water and wind in various geographical contexts; not with historicity of the Exodus at all. The motive for interest in this is bible story, of course; but the scientific worth of the paper stands or falls on the application of hydrological physics.
The difference between Drews' paper and papers like Pivar's or with climate denial or creationist work, is that the concerns with Drews' paper are related to relevance and interest and significance of the work; not with errors in the work.
BTW: The paper does claim to apply -- as best can be done -- geography from the past and not the contemporary geography.
My main concern isn't objections properly focused on the worth of the empirical content.
My major concern has been with comments to the effect that a science paper mustn't address a question arising out of a biblical story, or that the motives of the author matter to a reviewer, or other such distortions of proper scientific review. Also I wanted to note the apples and oranges comparison in PZ's original paper of papers that are physically wrong, and papers which are physically correct but of dubious interest.
I haven't really been worried about trying to tackle ALL criticisms, because I not really worried to defend the paper.
I've responded to you a couple of times now, as you seemed to be requesting this; but I don't think you are the major person I have issues with here.
Icthyic says (#135)
if the motivations for the paper don't matter, Chris, neither does that. [the basis for some people to be interested in the question]

...
suffice it say that ideally the motivations for a paper shouldn't poison the well, yet, empirically we have much evidence to suggest that indeed motivations have played a significant role in malfeasance and dishonesty, including within the realm of science.
you're not being realistic, and you're entirely ignoring the vast body of evidence that contradicts your point.
I don't follow this. Yeah; the motivations don't matter; or ought not matter if we are being pure as scientists. That's my point.
Motivations have driven all kinds of dishonesty, yes. This has driven all kinds of distortions and lies about data and science in nonsense publications in creationism and global warming denial, for example. What should kill a paper are distortions, lies or errors in that paper.
My claim, consistently now for many many years, is that creationist nonsense or (more recently) climate related nonsense, can and should be addressed case by case by case. Talkorigins did it for creationism, John Cook's "skeptical science" site (to which I have contributed) is doing something similar for climate. It is BECAUSE we can do this that science has its value. We don't reject creationism, or AGW denial, because of some personal commitment to evolution or to AGW. We reject it because it's scientific nonsense on its own merits -- no matter what motivates people to make such a hash of it.
What point of mine do you think has been contradicted here? Seriously.
Cheers -- Chris
#140
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:47 PM
And the paper ISN'T talking about that at all.
You're confused. It isn't talking about the story as myth or its possible origins and development as myth. It is based on the story in its entirety.
It's main content and bulk is all taken up with the physics of water and wind in various geographical contexts; not with historicity of the Exodus at all.The motive for interest in this is bible story, of course; but the scientific worth of the paper stands or falls on the application of hydrological physics.
Look, no. This simply isn't true. Here's the beginning of the paper:
Wind setdown is the drop in water level caused by wind stress acting on the surface of a body of water for an extended period of time. As the wind blows, water recedes from the upwind shore and exposes terrain that was formerly underwater. 1Previous researchers have suggested wind setdown as a possible hydrodynamic explanation for Moses crossing the Red Sea, as described in Exodus 14.Methodology/Principal Findings
This study analyzes the hydrodynamic mechanism proposed by earlier studies, focusing on the time needed to reach a steady-state solution. In addition, the authors investigate a site in the eastern Nile delta, where the ancient Pelusiac branch of the Nile once flowed into a coastal lagoon then known as the Lake of Tanis. We conduct a satellite and modeling survey to analyze this location, using geological evidence of the ancient bathymetry and a historical description of a strong wind event in 1882. A suite of model experiments are performed to demonstrate a new hydrodynamic mechanism that can cause an angular body of water to divide under wind stress, and to test the behavior of our study location and reconstructed topography.
They are seeking to "explain" "Moses crossing the Red Sea," and this is the literature (for lack of a better word) in which they situate the work. This is what the paper is about, it is clear throughout, and the modeling is in service of this absurd end. There's no way you can honestly just ignore this and say that the paper stands and falls on the applied physics.
The difference between Drews' paper and papers like Pivar's or with climate denial or creationist work, is that the concerns with Drews' paper are related to relevance and interest and significance of the work; not with errors in the work.
They're related, primarily, to the fact that it is a published paper seeking to "explain" a (in this case, religious) fiction and to call it science.
BTW: The paper does claim to apply -- as best can be done -- geography from the past and not the contemporary geography.
Why do you keep repeating back to me what I've said several times above?
My major concern has been with comments to the effect that a science paper mustn't address a question arising out of a biblical story, or that the motives of the author matter to a reviewer, or other such distortions of proper scientific review.
I've seen few comments of that sort. I think you're misunderstanding the arguments.
Also I wanted to note the apples and oranges comparison in PZ's original paper of papers that are physically wrong, and papers which are physically correct but of dubious interest.
It is not physically correct. Its basis, the thing it attempts to explain, is a fiction.
#141
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:55 PM
We reject it because it's scientific nonsense on its own merits -- no matter what motivates people to make such a hash of it.
A paper whose explicit rationale is to "explain" a fiction of any sort should not be published in a scientific journal. They can be motivated by anything,* but that which is to be explained has to be real. If not, it is a hash.
*This is not to say wariness isn't called for.
#142
Posted by: DLC Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 9:58 PM
I've also seen stories on papers concerning the possibility of a deluge in the black sea due to a land slip. I don't recall now if the authors mentioned any biblical flood, but I'm sure it came up elsewhere. Also, the "wind caused the parting of the red sea" thing has been tossed around by apologists for quit a while.I remember seeing it put forth in a documentary on the history channel, complete with computer simulations of what it might have looked like, back in 2006 or so.
As for there being no place in Science for religion -- well, we all know that Sociology is one of the "soft" sciences, but still it does make an attempt at some kind of scientific rigor, and they do study religions there. But no, there's really no room for Yahweh/Zeus/Odin/Ra in climatology.
#143
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:08 PM
This is what the paper is about, it is clear throughout, and the modeling is in service of this absurd end.
And no one would undertake or care about this specific research if they didn't believe the myth, which is not factual. The reasons you suggested don't hold up. There is no nonlaughable justification for modeling hypothetical hydrodynamic events in the eastern Nile delta circa 1250 BC if you don't believe the myth.
#144
Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:13 PM
I don't follow this. Yeah; the motivations don't matter; or ought not matter if we are being pure as scientists. That's my point.
yes, i see you don't follow.
I was pointing out that you yourself were trying to justify the paper by assuming it was motivated by an interest you basically just made up on the spot.
as for idealism... you seem to have missed that point entirely as well.
I know you're smarter than this, Chris.
The motive for interest in this is bible story, of course; but the scientific worth of the paper stands or falls on the application of hydrological physics.
but since it's entirely an uninteresting paper, introduces nothing wrt to hydrology, then why bother to publish it?
no, you've got your head in the sand here, Chris.
#145
Posted by: aviazn Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:13 PM
CJO,
Some myths are indeed what is called etiological [. . .]
And for this to be a credible instance of the human imagination being stimulated by real events, we would have to imagine the author of this literary fiction sitting around near a shallow body of water one day, waiting for inspiration:
You're conflating two kinds of inspiration from real events. The ubiquity of flood myths in the ancient world is easy to understand.

So what you're saying is that I'm conflating myths as explanations of natural phenomena (thanks SC OM! :) ) with natural phenomena as inspiration for dramatic devices within myths (e.g. the flood myths)? I guess I didn't make it clear—I'm considering the Red Sea crossing to be (potentially, hypothetically) one of the latter.
Hmm. Okay, so Moses and the Israelites are out of Egypt, they're on the run... need some suspense... okay, the Pharaoh's army! Great, coming up behind, what now? The Israelites are trapped! By what? *gazes out to sea as the wind picks up* Okay, by the edge of the sea, and would you look at that? This gale-force wind seems to be... parting the Sea! That's it! I only want to include this miracle because now I've seen it can actually happen. [. . .]

That's exactly how I pictured it! :-D Or, at least, that someone would have seen it, told others, and it would have eventually made it into the myth. Again, I have no idea if that sort of literary tradition has a historical basis for the Israelites, but if I had hydrodynamic code lying around and knew how to use it, I think it'd be fun to try—unless I could search the literature and see if someone had already done it and save myself the time (or allow me to further refine the existing work instead of starting from scratch) which is now the case, thanks to its having been published!
It's incoherent, and at odds with everything we know about literary invention.

Really? I mean, stories are written all the time to incorporate cool things we see in nature as purely dramatic devices (as in the Red Sea crossing)—Dorothy and the twister, Captain Nemo and the giant squid, Jaws, Megashark vs Giant Octopus, etc.
Positing inspiration from a single, actual flood, of any size, is just completely unnecessary in this context. The very fact that floods occur and sometimes fuck shit up pretty bad is plenty sufficient to understand why myths about floods had power in the popular and literary imagination and endured in various forms.

Perhaps it is, but we shouldn't rule out strongly-correlated evidence that carries greater explanatory power, either.
#146
Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:15 PM
I think Google shows that the study has achieved its true aim, at least in the short term: moses red sea crossing evidence.
#147
Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:18 PM
Erratum: evidence → science above.
#148
Posted by: aviazn Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:24 PM
SC OM,
Apologies, as many of these are perhaps repeating answers subsequently given by others...
[If there were a way to make it a requirement to read the entire previous thread and all of this one (and Coyne's) before posting here, I would do it.] [. . .] Read the previous thread.
Again, my apologies. I certainly won't be offended if you don't respond to me.
Read the actual paper (and PZ's first post). Its entire basis is the acceptance of the reality of the myth.
I did, and I disagree. It calls it a "narrative" and a "story" and only "accepts the reality" in the superficial sense in that it treats it as an example for their hydrodynamic models.
These people are not experts in myth-formation, and are not competent to proclaim on the subject to folklorists and scholars in this field, who are experts. But this would be a folklore or Bible studies paper (they would likely reject this paper because it engages not at all with any archaeological evidence or with anthropology) and not a hydrology or modeling paper.
That's just my point. If you want to draw conclusions, you need a multi-disciplinary approach. You need someone to do the hydrodynamics and find out if such a natural event is possible (wind setdown, exposed reef, or whatever), and then someone who knows the archaeology to compare what's feasible to what is known in the historical record, the literary record, whether there is a plausible connection. These guys aren't archeologists, but, by and large, archeologists aren't hydrodynamicists. You need both, and you need both to be published—somewhere. In a later post, you said:
It shouldn't be published in a science journal. [. . .] It offers nothing to science. You can plug different values with no real referents into the models to see what would happen in different conditions. This is trivial.
Fine by me—each journal will have its own editorial policy. I do think it ought to be part of the scientific record, wherever that may be—journals or otherwise. It ought to be somewhere where historians and archaeologists who wonder if any scientific studies have been done on the topic can reference it. It's not trivial, what they did—in the sense of getting the topological data, adapting it to historical sources in an attempt to reconstruct the topology of the period, running the simulations, producing the animations. My guess it's not hard for a hydrodynamicist—I don't know. But I would also guess that not many archeologists or historians would have the resources or working knowledge to do it.
A paper could be saying: [. . .]
Yes! I agree. Such a disclaimer in the intro would have made their scientific motivations much clearer. But as for...
Whether such a paper would belong in P1 (and how it would be categorized) would remain to be seen, but it would be a very different paper from the one under discussion here.
...I disagree; I think the hydrodynamic sims are scientifically valid for publishing. Adding extensive historical and archeological discussion would make it a very different paper, but as that is outside of the scientific discipline. Adding the text that you have written is simply changing the framing of the results and distancing themselves further from any claims that the myth actually happened (on top of the fact that they never make any in the paper and issue an explicit denial)—highly advisable, given the controversy it generated, but not changing the substance of the conclusions.
[. . .] Yes.
I think we're talking past each other. I don't see how a paper that challenges the historical accuracy of the Bible could be criticized for using the Bible as a scientific reference; to me the Bible is an inherently unscientific source in need of scrutiny.
This is such a strange question. [. . .]
I agree that it's not the findings that are the issue, by the way. My point, though, was that I believe that if it had debunked the account, it would have been more likely to be seen and accepted as a scientific study whose purpose was historical in nature (which is exactly how I see it, albeit lacking in discussion of that nature). As for the "propaganda value", from a standpoint of principle, I don't think science journals ought to consider the propaganda value of anything as long as the science is sound and noteworthy according to their editorial policy. From a standpoint of efficacy, I worry about the consequences of giving scientists with anti-scientific agendas feathers in their cap, but also wonder if a peeved scientist who feels the world is out to suppress his papers could cause a much greater ruckus than the articles.
There's no evidence that they're novel in any way. Stop suggesting that they are.
I never did. I'm not a hydrodynamicist and made no claims as to their novelty—and if I mistakenly did, I retract them in shame!
But you've made no argument for that position, and are failing to address those that have been made.
Failing to address the arguments that this paper is lacking in historical and anthropological context? That's because I agree. But I do think the paper is science, and it ought to be on the scientific record.
And you're joining the others with these vague arguments about "examining the Bible in this context." Talk about this paper, as it exists. Science is not concerned with explaining fictional events as though they were real.
This paper, as it exists, lacks historical and anthropological context, and while the authors are not experts in those fields, could at least provide a summary to make it clear that their paper, as stated in the "Competing Interests" section, "treats the Exodus 14 narrative as an interesting and ancient story of uncertain origin." Science is how we explore the the natural world, is it not? The authors had a hypothesis, they tested it, they drew conclusions, and then they told other people about it. That's science. Whether or not something is fiction is not something we can determine immediately. It often requires science to help determine it. Sailors came back with tales of the kraken, but we needed science to find us some giant squid and figure out what on earth they were talking about. In the case of the Red Sea crossing, maybe this guy is behind the curve and the issue settled. I still think it ought to be available for historians and scholars, as do you.
It doesn't acknowledge the archaeological evidence, is based on the myth being real, and doesn't discuss things in these terms at all. It doesn't discuss the myth as myth. It cannot discover if such an event ever occurred there and then using computer models (and where there and then are is at issue - note that the authors pick a spot because they think the event, which did not happen, happened there; if they were just talking about a general origin of a myth the location and date wouldn't be so important).
But if you want to find out if it could have happened at that time, it would make sense to put it there, especially given the time-sensitive nature of the topology of the region.
Even if they had written a decent paper, they could only have suggested that a wind setdown event could have happened (under their reconstructed conditions) in that general time frame.
See, to me, that's exactly what the paper says. They're choosing specific times and locations to make their simulation reflect the purported conditions of the myth as accurately as possible, not because the myth is the truth. Even though that's what the author clearly believes given his other writings, I don't get that impression reading the paper.
I don't think anyone would challenge this if they accept the values and models used. This hypothetical paper would at best offer a possibility that could potentially be of use to scholars of history/mythology, or very possibly not. These scholars may have other evidence that would make the wind-setdown-as-origin idea problematic. But we don't know because this isn't that paper and these authors don't engage with the myth as myth or therefore with this scholarship - they take the myth as factual, when it isn't. So much for their vaunted technical competence.
I do agree that the author's don't engage with the myth as myth from a historical standpoint, but I also feel that would be inappropriate for them to do so outside of their discipline. The bottom line for me is, it's the results of scientific, computational simulations of a natural phenomenon. Take it or leave it (and it's clear you do the latter), we both agree that the results of those sims are worth being on some sort of record for scholars of history and mythology.
#149
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:35 PM
I did, and I disagree. It calls it a "narrative" and a "story" and only "accepts the reality" in the superficial sense in that it treats it as an example for their hydrodynamic models.
Already. Were you writing this when I was posting #140? Have you read the paper at all?
#150
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 10:40 PM
no, you've got your head in the sand here, Chris.
QFT.I'm still waiting for the solid scientific reasoning (which excludes imaginary deities and mythical/fictional holy) on why this paper should have been published as is.

*crickets chirring?*
#151
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:17 PM
Ichyth #144

I was pointing out that you yourself were trying to justify the paper by assuming it was motivated by an interest you basically just made up on the spot.

?? I don't assume anything about what interests motivate the paper.
It is clear that there IS interest in natural events which might give a land bridge in the red sea area around the putative time of Moses. This is not news, surely; nor an assumption. There is, after all, previous published work, also in conventional physical science literature, on such things, cited in Drews paper.
My point is that the author's motivations DON'T MATTER. My own basis for interest is not made up on the spot.
but since it's entirely an uninteresting paper, introduces nothing wrt to hydrology, then why bother to publish it?
Uh, it ISN'T entirely uninteresting. The subject matter has wide interest, it has previous publications, and some folks care about the kinds of natural forces that could give this kind of land bridge.
Science is a method for looking at questions, not a limit on questions. It is published, I guess, because it is a subject of interest, and the paper passes muster on the science applied.
It would have been better, IMO, to be quite definite that the paper is not proposing a literal Exodus, but is applying conventional hydrology to the idea of a land bridge which appears in the story, to test if such a bridge is physically plausible.
This was done in previous papers. For example, in Nof and Paldor (1994), one of the major references used, and published in J. of Applied Meteorology, the authors there say at the outset:
The purpose of our eearlier study and the present one is not to prove (or disprove) that a crossing and exodus did in fact occur, but rather to examine whether or not a crossing phenomenon is plausible from a physical point of view. Similarly, our aim is not to address all the details of the biblical description, because some aspects of the Exodus story are clearly impossible from a natural point of view.

(Copied from preprint at Professor Nof's website.)
The contribution of Drews' paper is not in any new physics of hydrology, but specifically in the application of natural physics to the matter of a land bridge as described in a biblical myth. This question is not off limits to science. No question is off limits.
It might be odd that there's interest in such things, but hey. Claims that paper is "wrong" because the story is not historical are frankly idiotic. Claims that science has no interest in religion fails to understand the nature of science as method.
The paper is not claiming the story is historical.
#152
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:38 PM
That's just my point. If you want to draw conclusions, you need a multi-disciplinary approach. You need someone to do the hydrodynamics and find out if such a natural event is possible (wind setdown, exposed reef, or whatever), and then someone who knows the archaeology to compare what's feasible to what is known in the historical record, the literary record, whether there is a plausible connection.
No, no "and then." There's a vast body of evidence concerning the development of the mythology in context. This is likely useless for people studying the myth for all of the reasons we have discussed above. FFS, see windy @ #138. There's no point in talking about this mythical "you" of the future. For funding and publication, the value of research has to be demonstrated in the present. If it's of use to historians or archaeologists, they can fund and publish it.
Fine by me—each journal will have its own editorial policy. I do think it ought to be part of the scientific record, wherever that may be—journals or otherwise.
Only in the sense that there's little point in discarding it. It could be in a bad journal or an unpublished manuscript online.
It ought to be somewhere where historians and archaeologists who wonder if any scientific studies have been done on the topic can reference it.
Do you realize how silly this is? This would be true of any competent research (let's leave aside the fatal flaw in this paper) that enyone's ever done. Research needs a specific demonstrable justification for funding and publication in good journals. But these people are completely hypothetical scholars OF THE FUTURE! at this point. There's no indication anyone in these fields considers it of value.
It's not trivial,
Yes, it is. The story is not true.
what they did—in the sense of getting the topological data, adapting it to historical sources in an attempt to reconstruct the topology of the period, running the simulations, producing the animations. My guess it's not hard for a hydrodynamicist—I don't know. But I would also guess that not many archeologists or historians would have the resources or working knowledge to do it.
See directly above. No reason has been shown for why archaeologists or historians would want to do that specific modeling or have any interest in it. It's possible that people in any field might have use for it under some circumstances yet to be seen, but this isn't an argument for funding or publication in the present.
Failing to address the arguments that this paper is lacking in historical and anthropological context? That's because I agree. But I do think the paper is science, and it ought to be on the scientific record.
It central purpose is not science, and the modeling done in service of it offers essentially nothing to science.
This paper, as it exists, lacks historical and anthropological context,
That, and it purports to explain an event that did not happen.
and while the authors are not experts in those fields, could at least provide a summary to make it clear that their paper, as stated in the "Competing Interests" section, "treats the Exodus 14 narrative as an interesting and ancient story of uncertain origin."
I'm not dealing with this again. That is a disingenuous statement, as every aspect of the paper makes clear. But that's the only current relevance offered for it.
Science is how we explore the the natural world, is it not?
Yes. This paper is exploring a myth by running a simulation.
The authors had a hypothesis, they tested it, they drew conclusions, and then they told other people about it. That's science.
Their "hypothesis" was about an event that did not happen. That's not science. In the real world, they entered values and ran a simulation concerning the possibility for a rare weather event at a random time and place in the distant past. For no reason.
Whether or not something is fiction is not something we can determine immediately.
It has been determined by experts working in this area for more than a century. It is fiction. These authors treat it as fact.
It often requires science to help determine it.
That has happened, and in any event the paper doesn't seek to determine whether the parting happened, it seeks to "explain" this nonevent.
Sailors came back with tales of the kraken, but we needed science to find us some giant squid and figure out what on earth they were talking about.
Research on the Exodus has been done.
In the case of the Red Sea crossing, maybe this guy is behind the curve and the issue settled.
No maybe about it. But the authors have to provide evidence for what they purport to explain. You have it backwards.
I still think it ought to be available for historians and scholars, as do you.
What should? This paper? I couldn't care less if it's available. It shouldn't be in a science journal or funded by government science agencies.

But if you want to find out if it could have happened at that time,

If what could? The Exodus did not. It is dishonest to continue talking about how it could have happened when it did not happen.
it would make sense to put it there, especially given the time-sensitive nature of the topology of the region.
What?
See, to me, that's exactly what the paper says.
You're not reading it.
They're choosing specific times and locations to make their simulation reflect the purported conditions of the myth as accurately as possible,
But the event didn't happen.
not because the myth is the truth.
Because he believes it's the truth, yes. That's the reason for the choice of time and place.
Even though that's what the author clearly believes given his other writings, I don't get that impression reading the paper.
Then you're not reading the paper.

I do agree that the author's don't engage with the myth as myth from a historical standpoint, but I also feel that would be inappropriate for them to do so outside of their discipline.

Oh, but it's not to treat it as fact. There is zero justification for this as a hydrology paper, and it isn't an archaeological work. A work that addressed it as myth would have to justify itself (and the chosen place and time) on that basis, to experts in the relevant fields.
The bottom line for me is, it's the results of scientific, computational simulations of a natural phenomenon.
That isn't the bottom line, because it ignores the facts about the content of the paper and its purpose. But even if you falsely reduce it to the simulations, you can't just say, "Oh, well, it offers some simulations. Those might be useful to someone somewhere for some reason at some point in the future so it deserves to be published." Who cares? Let them submit it to the appropriate sorts of journals, and if historians or archaeologists think the simulations are of use they can publish them. This paper as is has no business in a science or empirically-oriented journal.
Take it or leave it (and it's clear you do the latter), we both agree that the results of those sims are worth being on some sort of record for scholars of history and mythology.
No, we don't agree on that. The only justification for having them "on record" - whatever that means - is that it's information that could in some way be of use to someone in the future. This says nothing about them that would warrant publication in a good journal. Absolutely every bit of information ever produced could be defended in that way (and I probably would since I do research in archives - I'm for saving everything). I don't think it should be destroyed or repressed, but no scientific value has been adduced for this paper and its purpose is contrary to science.
#153
Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:39 PM
Chris, nice quote.
How's this one? (My emphasis)
"The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus," says Carl Drews of NCAR, the lead author. "The parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics. The wind moves the water in a way that's in accordance with physical laws, creating a safe passage with water on two sides and then abruptly allowing the water to rush back in."
#154
Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | September 28, 2010 11:49 PM
This is not news, surely; nor an assumption. There is, after all, previous published work, also in conventional physical science literature, on such things, cited in Drews paper.
you can't see this is circular, can you.
#156
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 12:18 AM
Ichthyic, I'm establishing that there is interest in the questions addressed in the paper, because that interest in demonstrated by other people writing papers on it. Which, by the way, attracted interest back at the time as well.
It ISN'T circular. I'm not judging the worth of the interest people have in this subject; just showing that there is interest.
I find it weird I even need to point this out.
What are you thinking I'm doing that could be circular?
#157
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 12:25 AM
Uh, it ISN'T entirely uninteresting. The subject matter has wide interest, it has previous publications, and some folks care about the kinds of natural forces that could give this kind of land bridge.
The only "folks" who care about the possibility of a land bridge forming in that place and time are those who believe the myth and those who are ignorant. "The kinds of natural forces that could give this kind of land bridge" is not the subject of this paper.
Science is a method for looking at questions, not a limit on questions.
Scientific explanations seek to account for real phenomena. How the Exodus occurred is not a scientific question, since it did not occur.
It is published, I guess, because it is a subject of interest, and the paper passes muster on the science applied.
Apparently it was published because it was deemed technically competent, even though it isn't.
It would have been better, IMO, to be quite definite that the paper is not proposing a literal Exodus, but is applying conventional hydrology to the idea of a land bridge which appears in the story, to test if such a bridge is physically plausible.
You're right - it isn't proposing a literal Exodus. It is stating it as fact and seeking to "explain" it. If it were proposing and investigating whether it happened that would be fine, as long as they addressed the existing scholarship showing that it didn't and had something new to say. (That isn't what this paper's doing.
This was done in previous papers. For example, in Nof and Paldor (1994), one of the major references used, and published in J. of Applied Meteorology, the authors there say at the outset:
Yes - that's a completely different paper. And that disclaimer doesn't appear to go far enough - it doesn't adequately represent the state of the scholarship. They should make people fully aware of the state of knowledge and the historical-archaeological verdict. It's strange and a waste of money and time to investigate the physical plausibility of a random mythical event that did not happen. This would be much more apparent if they were open and honest about the scholarship. But Drews has no interest in this. Read the interviews.
The contribution of Drews' paper is not in any new physics of hydrology, but specifically in the application of natural physics to the matter of a land bridge as described in a biblical myth.
There's no such matter because this didn't happen. It's a waste of time and resources.
This question is not off limits to science. No question is off limits.
*eyeroll*
It might be odd that there's interest in such things, but hey.
It isn't odd. It's due to the fact that people believe a myth that isn't true and others confusedly contribute to this. The paper offers nothing of value to science.
Claims that paper is "wrong" because the story is not historical are frankly idiotic.
The story they're explicitly trying to "explain" didn't happen. Therefore it doesn't admit of an explanation. This isn't science. Look at the simulations alone (which are merely the means, so you shouldn't do this) and they offer nothing of interest in the world of reality (or nothing better than any simulation of wind setdown at any other randomly chosen time and place...so essentially nothing) - nor do they claim to.
Claims that science has no interest in religion fails to understand the nature of science as method.
Why do you keep doing this silly thing?
The paper is not claiming the story is historical.
It sure is.
#158
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 12:30 AM
SCOM, you often direct people to read the paper. How about you QUOTE the paper to any claim that the story is historical? It isn't there.
#159
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 12:46 AM
It's strange and a waste of money and time to investigate the physical plausibility of a random mythical event that did not happen.
Even more so because this story is considered a miracle, so physical "explanations" and plausibility aren't relevant anyway.
SCOM, you often direct people to read the paper. How about you QUOTE the paper to any claim that the story is historical? It isn't there.
I quoted the opening paragraphs @ #140. They speak of explanations for "Moses crossing the [Red] Sea." Then they state that they look at existing explanations and develop their own. It's what the whole paper is about, as Drews has made abundantly clear, not that there was any doubt, in interviews.
#160
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 1:09 AM
That isn't a claim that the story is historical. Your quote is at #140. That has a sentence about previous researchers:
Previous researchers have suggested wind setdown as a possible hydrodynamic explanation for Moses crossing the Red Sea, as described in Exodus 14.

And this is true. It isn't a claim that the story is historical. It is a brief comment about previous researchers. Whether Drews himself thinks that the story, or any element of it, is historical, is immaterial and not stated in the paper.
From other interviews it is clear Drews thinks there is likely to be some historical event from which the story is derived. I think that highly unlikely; but I do think it is possible for a land bridge event to have occurred and have been adopted into the story... the detail of wind and of the length of time in the story (all night) that it took the water to part suggests this.
But historicity is beyond the scope of the paper and the claims of the paper. The paper is looking at the hydrology of how wind might form a land bridge, as proposed by Nof in particular.
As I said, the paper has no claim that the exodus is historical, and specifically states that it is not attempting to deal with historicity.
I emphasize also... even given that the story has no historical basis at all; it remains intriguing that in that region winds might make a land bridge, and strike me as a plausible foundation on which the fictional story of a miraculous crossing was developed.
#161
Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 1:20 AM
Chris:
[...] and strike me as a plausible foundation on which the fictional story of a miraculous crossing was developed.

That you consider that "the fictional story of a miraculous crossing was developed" upon "a plausible foundation" is the entire point of this little exercise.
More plausible still, I submit, is that (noting that it's but a detail in an epic story) it was pure literary license on the part of the myth-makers, with no basis on reality.
#162
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 1:52 AM
That isn't a claim that the story is historical.
It's an acceptance of it as fact.
Your quote is at #140.
I'm aware of that.
And this is true.
Explanations aren't required for fictional events, and it doesn't make sense to speak of them when discussing fictional events or those for which there isn't evidence. Only real events need to be or can be explained.
It isn't a claim that the story is historical. It is a brief comment about previous researchers. Whether Drews himself thinks that the story, or any element of it, is historical, is immaterial and not stated in the paper.
It is not simply a brief comment about that. It is the central point of the paper. "These are the explanations for this event. We're going to examine them and develop our own." It is presented as an event in the paper, not a story. If it were just a story it wouldn't admit to explanations and they wouldn't be choosing this place and time (not to mention talking about people - "the Israelites" - moving through it). There is no scientific rationale for this study. It's pure Bible-as-reality. Any comments about its being a story (show where in the actual paper it's treated as a story) and claims about the paper not being concerned with historicity in the face of criticism are totally disingenuous.
I can't believe you would even be trying to make that argument given the paper and how he's presented it in subsequent interviews. You can't possibly be that naive.
But historicity is beyond the scope of the paper and the claims of the paper.
No, that claim is an obvious ploy.
The paper is looking at the hydrology of how wind might form a land bridge, as proposed by Nof in particular.
It's looking at possible explanations for Moses crossing the Red Sea, as they state very plainly.
As I said, the paper has no claim that the exodus is historical, and specifically states that it is not attempting to deal with historicity.
You don't know how to read.
I emphasize also... even given that the story has no historical basis at all; it remains intriguing that in that region winds might make a land bridge,
Why? Because of a story that didn't happen. It's not intriguing at all. That possibility has probably existed throughout history in many times and places.
but I do think it is possible for a land bridge event to have occurred and have been adopted into the story...
and strike me as a plausible foundation on which the fictional story of a miraculous crossing was developed.
But you haven't shown that you know enough about it to make such an assertion, so who cares? If you come up with anything to base this on, you then need to address everything that's been discussed above.
We're not getting anywhere. You're trying to defend a study the entire rationale for which is "explaining" a story that didn't happen. That is a fatal problem (and it doesn't matter what they could have done better, even if they had wanted to, because they didn't and the damage is done), but even if the "clarifications" were made the simulations alone have no nontrivial independent scientific value or interest. You haven't shown that they do.
#163
Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 2:04 AM
We're not getting anywhere.
Chris must feel he's making headway trying to ram a non-existent point down our throats.
Chris, give it up.
stop playing Quixote. You're championing an inane point, and using this piece of crap paper to do it with.
it's become sad.
#164
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 2:41 AM
Has anyone linked to this yet?:
Since the paper is about dynamics instead of biblical history, the contents focus on fluid mechanics instead of on Moses and the Hebrew refugees. But for those readers who are interested in the Exodus, Point B in Figure 8 is Pi-hahiroth. The famous crossing is from Point B across to Tell Kedua. My Tanis hypothesis suggests where and how Moses crossed the yam sufWhen remains a thorny issue.
The “Dynamics of Wind Setdown” article is of general interest. I want oceanographers to read it, I want journalists to read it, I want high school students to read it. I want teachers, gardeners, Norwegians, mechanics, historians, kids, pastors, marketing directors, software engineers, physicists, Australians, poor people, airline pilots, retired people, shepherds, and checkout clerks to read it. I want you to read about the parting of the Red Sea.
(The abstract for his Master's thesis sounds interesting as well....)
OK - must try to sleep.
#165
Posted by: Philip Legge Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 2:54 AM
Chris,
you are not seeing the wood for the trees:
That isn't a claim that the story is historical. Your quote is at #140. That has a sentence about previous researchers:
Previous researchers have suggested wind setdown as a possible hydrodynamic explanation for Moses crossing the Red Sea, as described in Exodus 14.
And this is true. It isn't a claim that the story is historical. It is a brief comment about previous researchers. Whether Drews himself thinks that the story, or any element of it, is historical, is immaterial and not stated in the paper.
What Drews thinks about the story is irrelevant, I agree. The problem is that the clear reading of the sentence in context is that researchers have invoked real-world phenomena as explanations because it is regarded as a historical event, with the source for the event documented; and it is one of the major failings of the paper that it does not point out this deception, even as obiter dictum.
Try actually reading the paper.
#166
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 4:01 AM
Pope, I have read the paper.
I agree that it would be an improvement to state plainly that the Exodus is not historical; and have said so several times in this thread.
As you say: it is entirely true that some researchers have invoked real world events for the story, because they regard it as historical.
I am unsurprised that Drews considers the story historical, I'v said already that this is likely. He can't claim that in the paper and hope to get past any kind of competant review; because he gives no evidence for such a claim. Had he tried it would have slipped over the line from quaint to flatly wrong.
As it stands he does not make claims beyond the scope of his investigation, and the limited claims that are in the paper are reasonable and backed up in the work done. It is entirely possible that some reviewer comments helped remove improper and unfounded claims; or perhaps Drews is well aware from the start of the proper distinction between claims for which he actually gives empirical support, and claims for which he does not.
You suggest I miss the wood for the trees. I don't think so.
One way of looking at this exchange is that I'm failing to stand up for keeping a clean house for real science by failing to look at the motives, beliefs, allusions, usage, etc of the paper.
Another way is that I'm standing up for keeping a clean house for real science by arging that we ought not get distracted by motives, beliefs, allusions, usage. etc of the paper.
It's not as if I am unfamiliar with pseudoscience, or inactive in dealing with it, or unfamiliar with situations where science and religion share turf.
The trees to keep in sight here, in my view, are the proper role of science as a method to look at questions -- ANY questions; and it is especially important to keep the big picture in mind when one might be tempted to toss out a paper like this one -- or a journal which decides that it has sufficient merit to be worth publishing -- simply because of spurious non-scientific considerations rather than a evaluation of the science on its merits.
I am due to leave in a few hours, so if say anything more it will not be much.
Cheers all -- Chris
#167
Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 4:24 AM
Another way is that I'm standing up for keeping a clean house for real science by arging that we ought not get distracted by motives, beliefs, allusions, usage. etc of the paper.
that would be the way where you act the idealistic idiot.
go get em, Don Q.
#168
Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 4:35 AM
It's not as if I am unfamiliar with pseudoscience, or inactive in dealing with it, or unfamiliar with situations where science and religion share turf.
Yet you have no problem contending that those who are scientists should just ignore this problem even though scientists aren't just practitioners of their field and science does have cultural implications...
#169
Posted by: windy Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 5:46 AM
it is especially important to keep the big picture in mind when one might be tempted to toss out a paper like this one - ... - simply because of spurious non-scientific considerations rather than a evaluation of the science on its merits.
OK, compare it to a non-religious case.
"Previous researchers have suggested that the Americas were populated via a land route. Here's our model of a possible land bridge in Beringia ca. 50,000 BP."
Don't you think the reviewers would address the fact that there's no justification for picking that date apart from some fringe theories?
#170
Posted by: cnocspeireag Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 5:53 AM
Sorry, 'pollish a turd', of course. That teaches me to rely on the spell checker.
#171
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 5:59 AM
Well, thanks for the discussion guys.
I'm not the one here who is out to make some kind of implausible change to things (which would make the tilting at windwills allusion more appropriate). I'm suggesting the matter was handled okay as it stands.
The paper was accepted, evidently with some changes on the basis of review comments. I don't think that's going to present a problem for the journal, nor is it indicative of a problem at the journal. Others may disparage the journal for accepting this paper, or for failing to take proper account of cultural implications or something.
I have no problem at all suggesting that scientists ought not use motives or cultural implications or such considerations to reject a paper.
I also think that the unique effectiveness of science arises in no small part from the fact that it doesn't let cultural implications be a basis for rejecting papers or ideas (ideally).
Cheers -- Chris
#172
Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 6:16 AM
I also think that the unique effectiveness of science arises in no small part from the fact that it doesn't let cultural implications be a basis for rejecting papers or ideas (ideally).
Somehow I don't think this is quite correct. Since there is no such thing as facts being separate from theory, scientists are always in part working towards a particular paradigm. This means not only problem solving within said paradigm, but the determination of what kind of puzzles are worth solving. In other words, being a scientist means in part operating around the ideas that are worth exploring.It's pretty obvious that a paper such as this one serves not to add anything to the scientific body of knowledge but to bring scientific validity to religious ideas. Why shouldn't scientists have that discretion over what constitutes science?
#173
Posted by: KG Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 6:25 AM
One way of looking at this exchange is that I'm failing to stand up for keeping a clean house for real science by failing to look at the motives, beliefs, allusions, usage, etc of the paper. - Chris Ho-Stuart
That is not the problem: the problem is that this paper does not address any question of any scientific interest, and therefore should not have been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It really is that simple.
#174
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 6:40 AM
Another way is that I'm standing up for keeping a clean house for real science by arging that we ought not get distracted by motives, beliefs, allusions, usage. etc of the paper.
If you were really keeping a clean house for science, you would be condemning the paper for invoking a book of mythology for its example. That is unscientific, and shouldn't be published in the peer reviewed literature. You fail repeatedly to see and acknowledge this truth. Makes your judgment totally unreliable, and your opinions on the whole subject worthless. Science must maintain its integrity. This paper failed to do that.Time to call it quits Chris. You are futile in your defense.
#175
Posted by: Chris Ho-Stuart Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 7:09 AM
Kel, selection of the kinds of of problems worth solving is fair enough. Selection of the kinds of problems OTHERS ought to be working on is a bit different.
Rejecting a paper because there is no motivation for the problem being considered is okay. But I don't think that applies here. There's prior scientific literature on the proposal, and a long history for the idea.
Windy suggests a comparison with a non-religious case, a land bridge in Beringa ~ 50,000 BCE motivated by fringe ideas about populating the Americas at that time.
If there is existing scientific work on the notion of the bridge at that time and if there's a substantial degree of interest in the bridge at that time (even if for silly reasons) then I don't think lack of significance is a problem for a technically sound paper on the potential of a the bridge.
Nerd, we disagree on "this truth" you assert. I don't think your statement is true at all. I don't expect you to change your mind; but I find it worth keeping answering as long as folks have an interest.
My claim is that science is method, and applies for questions raised by anyone, even questions by those interested in a book of mythology. I really am wanting to keep a clean house for science, and frankly I don't think I need to do anything special, because science is managing just fine as it is. It will continue to be applied to all kinds of questions, without some limit of scope to what questions are worth answering or by some notion of proper topics for science. Science isn't limited in scope in that way.
I am calling it quits; I leave in 20 minutes. I don't think PLoS ONE needs my defense. It may be futile to persuade you that they made a legitimate call here, but I'm content to have the two views on what a journal should or should not publish here for any readers to think on.
Adios all -- Chris
#176
Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 7:17 AM
If there is existing scientific work on the notion of the bridge at that time and if there's a substantial degree of interest in the bridge at that time (even if for silly reasons) then I don't think lack of significance is a problem for a technically sound paper on the potential of a the bridge.
Yet is there evidence that makes looking sometime over 3000 years ago in that particular spot worth looking at for anything other than biblical consideration? Even if you think there might be some validity to the study, surely you can appreciate why scientists would be quick to be dismissive of it.
#177
Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 7:32 AM
I don't think your statement is true at all. I don't expect you to change your mind; but I find it worth keeping answering as long as folks have an interest.
Ah, playing the last word, an inane game. I don't care what unscientific folks like you think either. In order to change my mind, get off the philosophical meanderings, and acknowledge the facts. The facts are the paper is unscientific as written, and shouldn't be in the peer reviewed literature. It could find home a number of other places not in the peer reviewed literature. Skeptical magazines, more general science new magazines like New Scientist.If you want your opinions respected, start showing proper respect for ours, including the fact that you shouldn't bully us into agreeing with you. I expect no response from you, just as the others really don't, since you have nothing new to offer the discussion. You are repeating your previously refuted nonsense. Time to fade into the bandwidth.
#178
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 11:19 AM
Kel, selection of the kinds of of problems worth solving is fair enough. Selection of the kinds of problems OTHERS ought to be working on is a bit different.
This is getting a bit slimy, Chris. No one is arguing that people should not be able to work on what they want, within bounds of ethics and safety. The (one major) job of science funding agencies and journals should be to determine whether a proposal or paper tackles a legitimate scientific question of scientific interest. Stop talking like this is about academic freedom. It is not.
Rejecting a paper because there is no motivation for the problem being considered is okay.
Then you agree that this should be rejected, because scientifically, in the world of reality, there is none.
But I don't think that applies here. There's prior scientific literature on the proposal, and a long history for the idea.
There's prior scientific literature in history and archaeology. It has concluded that the event didn't happen. There's zero evidence for a "land bridge" at this time and place. The only reason anyone is interested in it is because of the story, but the story didn't happen. Other physical studies may have been published somewhere, but they shouldn't have been published in peer-reviewed science journals (if they were, in the past several decades), and the fact that they exist doesn't provide a justification for publishing this one. The "proposal" is a religious idea. It is not a question of scientific interest or importance.
Windy suggests a comparison with a non-religious case, a land bridge in Beringa ~ 50,000 BCE motivated by fringe ideas about populating the Americas at that time.If there is existing scientific work on the notion of the bridge at that time and if there's a substantial degree of interest in the bridge at that time (even if for silly reasons) then I don't think lack of significance is a problem for a technically sound paper on the potential of a the bridge.
There's interest in and existing scientific work on all manner of notions (in medicine, in physics, in biology, in history, in anthropology,...) that have now been rejected or dismissed for insufficient evidence. This is one of them. There is in fact no scientific literature on an actual land bridge. There is no evidence of a land bridge. None. Both the interest and the existence of work on "possibilities" for the parting are due to the same silly reasons; they justify the research scientifically in no way. In 2010, the notion is of no legitimate interest to scienceIt's of crank interest. Why is this hard for you to understand?
#179
Posted by: windy Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 11:44 AM
Windy suggests a comparison with a non-religious case, a land bridge in Beringa ~ 50,000 BCE motivated by fringe ideas about populating the Americas at that time.

If there is existing scientific work on the notion of the bridge at that time and if there's a substantial degree of interest in the bridge at that time (even if for silly reasons) then I don't think lack of significance is a problem for a technically sound paper on the potential of a the bridge.
But do you understand why someone might have a legitimate gripe with that kind of paper?
And isn't science supposed to be self-correcting? If there's "existing scientific work" that takes some mythical event as granted, isn't that all the more reason to look at it critically?
#180
Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 11:52 AM
It's of crank interest. Why is this hard for you to understand?
Bah! That's what they said about my study of cheese-filled sneakers, too. "There's very little scientific interest," they said. "You're a cheese-obsessed lunatic crank," they said. "What the fuck are you trying to prove?" they said.
But I showed them. My article in CRQ* was extremely well-received, and spawned a whole new field of food-stuffed footwear research.

Crank Research Quarterly, not the Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire
#181
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 12:18 PM
:D
#182
Posted by: aviazn Author Profile Page | September 29, 2010 1:52 PM
SC OM:
Already. Were you writing this when I was posting #140? Have you read the paper at all?

Yes, and yes.
This is likely useless for people studying the myth for all of the reasons we have discussed above. FFS, see windy @ #138.
Yes, I would be interested in that time period, and would probably make comments to that effect if I were reviewing it.One of your frequent assertions is that the paper is trying to "explain" the event, and that they "treat it as fact". It does not. Half the paper is refuting previous work in the literature suggesting that the crossing could have been possible at an exposed reef. The Lake of Tanis–wind setdown half is described as an interesting hydrodynamic event, not a case of a historical event. The lone reference to the purported historicity of the event is a refuting one—noting that "these stronger winds may render walking too difficult for a mixed group of people." (Although as has already been noted at P1, it seems out of context.) The only difference between the paper you say is acceptable and the paper as it exists is a series of disclaimers, which I would advocate including, but which change substantially neither the contents nor the purpose of the paper (a point you didn't address in your last post, so apologies for repeating myself).
Their "hypothesis" was about an event that did not happen. That's not science.
So if we apply the scientific method to exploring the claim that the moon landings were hoaxes filmed on a sound stage—an event whose non-happening has long been settled—that's not science? Or to exploring the claim that homeopathy cured a patient—another event that surely didn't happen? I am prepared to accept that it is not the sort of thing a "good journal" would care to publish, or that it is not relevant to advancing whatever field has been used to explore it. But if that's not science, or has a "purpose contrary to science", then we have different working definitions of what science is.If science is only that research that advances its own field and is interesting to its own field, then this is not science. If science is a method by which to explore the natural world, then this is science (for the reasons I gave above). I agree with Chris that no question is off limits for science. What is worth publishing is another matter...
Do you realize how silly this is? This would be true of any competent research (let's leave aside the fatal flaw in this paper) that enyone's ever done.
And it is true—that it should be available. I'm for saving everything, too.
Research needs a specific demonstrable justification for funding and publication in good journals. But these people are completely hypothetical scholars OF THE FUTURE! at this point. There's no indication anyone in these fields considers it of value.
Let's not dismiss the scholars of the future out of hand. There will be far more of them than there are scholars of the present, and we cannot know what they will consider of value.Obviously, every journal has to draw the line somewhere. And if you want to argue that it shouldn't have been published in "good" journals, I've got no problem with that. I can see many "good journals" turning down the zombie paper. Half of its claim to relevance was a reference to political party allegiance, entirely beyond the field of infectious diseases. The other half was dormant infections; both claims were explored with the grand total of one sentence, essentially the same as this one ("The Kedua Gap and its environs present an interesting hydrodynamic phenomenon for those interested in the history and geography of the eastern Nile delta."). At least this one responds to and refutes previous work in the literature.
Let them submit it to the appropriate sorts of journals, and if historians or archaeologists think the simulations are of use they can publish them. This paper as is has no business in a science or empirically-oriented journal.
Of course, many people would consider archeology a science—it is certainly empirical.
#183
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | September 30, 2010 1:10 AM
Yes, I would be interested in that time period, and would probably make comments to that effect if I were reviewing it.
What does this mean? Why would you be reviewing it? Why would you be interested in it? Who are you to say what you would be interested in? What is your field of expertise?

One of your frequent assertions is that the paper is trying to "explain" the event, and that they "treat it as fact". It does not.

Yes, it is and it does. This is very clear in the paper itself, and completely supported by Drews' blog post about it and the abstract of this thesis. It's unsupportable at this point to suggest that this isn't the case.
Half the paper is refuting previous work in the literature suggesting that the crossing could have been possible at an exposed reef.
FFS. The "literature" on "the crossing." It's suggesting an alternative "explanation" for "the crossing," which did not happenThere was no crossing. (The fact that you refer to it as "the crossing" is quite telling. "Land bridge" is problematic enough.)
The Lake of Tanis–wind setdown half is described as an interesting hydrodynamic event,
Not an event. Didn't happen. Events by definition are things that happened.
not a case of a historical event.
WTF?
The lone reference to the purported historicity of the event is a refuting one—noting that "these stronger winds may render walking too difficult for a mixed group of people." (Although as has already been noted at P1, it seems out of context.)
It isn't out of context at all. The authors are seeking to "explain" how "the crossing," a fictional event, "happened." That's the point of the paper.
The only difference between the paper you say is acceptable
Where? To whom?
and the paper as it exists is a series of disclaimers,
No. You're not reading me correctly. But it doesn't matter, since the paper doesn't contain a series of disclaimers.
which I would advocate including, but which change substantially neither the contents nor the purpose of the paper (a point you didn't address in your last post, so apologies for repeating myself).
Look, you're not getting it. This isn't about disclaimers. This paper has essentially no scientific value. It's crankery.
So if we apply the scientific method to exploring the claim that the moon landings were hoaxes filmed on a sound stage—an event whose non-happening has long been settled—that's not science?
Excellent! I was looking for a semi-analogous example and you've provided one. "[A]pply the scientific method to exploring the claim that the moon landings were hoaxes filmed on a sound stage" is not specific enough. Exploring the history of that claim would be a valid historical (and therefore scientific in an important sense) endeavor. A paper analogous to this one exploring the ways that the moon-landing hoax could have been done would not, because there's no evidence of any such hoax. Didn't happen. No basis in reality for the investigation. Science investigates reality.
Or to exploring the claim that homeopathy cured a patient—another event that surely didn't happen?
Perfect example (not perfectly analogous, but close enough). No. Not science. Crankery. The placebo effect? Known. A claim of an actual cure? Crazy. Homeopathy not only has been investigated for decades and decades, it violates the laws of physics. It is impossible. A study of its effectiveness in producing anything but placebo "cures" is pure crank. Not science.
I am prepared to accept that it is not the sort of thing a "good journal" would care to publish,
It's not science. I think part of the problem is that some people misunderstand not only theory but scientific question and hypothesis. These are based on existing knowledge - about reality - or theory, investigate reality, and need to be coherent. Not anything anyone believes in or finds interesting for any reason at all. Science investigates scientific questions about the real (natural) world.
or that it is not relevant to advancing whatever field has been used to explore it.
Scientific researchers have to make a case - to potential funders or publishers - that theirs is a question of interest to or advancing some field of science. This paper does not.
But if that's not science, or has a "purpose contrary to science",
It does.
then we have different working definitions of what science is.
Indeed. Yours is incomplete and wrong.

If science is only that research that advances its own field and is interesting to its own field, then this is not science.

This has no relationship to anything anyone's arguing.
If science is a method by which to explore the natural world, then this is science (for the reasons I gave above).
It is that. The natural world. Scientific questions and hypotheses are derived from the investigation of the natural world.
I agree with Chris that no question is off limits for science.
Some questions are not scientific.
And it is true—that it should be available.
To the extent that my toothpaste tube should. Doesn't make it science.
I'm for saving everything, too.
And everything isn't science.
Let's not dismiss the [hypothetical] scholars of the future out of hand.
No, let's.
There will be far more of them than there are scholars of the present, and we cannot know what they will consider of value.
Right, so anything at all is potentially of value. Doesn't make any of it science or of scientific value. You're extremely arrogant to presume that you know that this is more valuable than a peanut butter jar.

Obviously, every journal has to draw the line somewhere. And if you want to argue that it shouldn't have been published in "good" journals, I've got no problem with that.

Then what are you arguing about? It shouldn't be published in P1.
I can see many "good journals" turning down the zombie paper. Half of its claim to relevance was a reference to political party allegiance, entirely beyond the field of infectious diseases. The other half was dormant infections; both claims were explored with the grand total of one sentence, essentially the same as this one ("The Kedua Gap and its environs present an interesting hydrodynamic phenomenon for those interested in the history and geography of the eastern Nile delta.").
I don't know anything about this paper, and don't see its relevance to this discussion.
At least this one responds to and refutes previous work in the literature.
"The literature" on the Exodus, aside from the solid historical and archaeological work, which has shown that it didn't happen, is silly crankery.
Of course, many people would consider archeology a science—it is certainly empirical.
That may have been unclear to the ungenerous reader. The paper has no place in a scientific journal, as far as I can tell. I am not an archaeologist or Biblical scholar, so I can't speak for them, but since it doesn't address or engage with these fields, I do not believe that good journals within them would publish it as is.
#184
Posted by: aviazn Author Profile Page | September 30, 2010 4:59 AM
SC OM:
What does this mean? Why would you be reviewing it?

I'm not...I...I guess I have an arrogant imagination. Forgive me for being presumptuous.
Why would you be interested in it? Who are you to say what you would be interested in?
No one, I guess.
What is your field of expertise?
Astronomy. Pleased to meet you! :)
Yes, it is and it does. This is very clear in the paper itself, and completely supported by Drews' blog post about it
It doesn't matter what he says in his blog post, though.Well, ok, of course it matters—but not to whether or not the paper is science.
and the abstract of this thesis.
Like Chris said—that's a factually correct statement: previous researchers did try to explain it.
There was no crossing.(The fact that you refer to it as "the crossing" is quite telling.
I suppose so. I also have a tendency to refer to the Millennium Falcon as "the Millennium Falcon", and not "the fictional Millennium Falcon that did not exist". ;)
Not an event. Didn't happen.
The "event" in question being a wind setdown event causing the eastern Nile delta bed to be exposed, it did happen—it was documented in 1882.
Events by definition are things that happened.
In the statement, "In the event of this happening..." has the event by definition happened? Surely, "event" can refer to a case, an occurrence or set of circumstances that may or may not have yet been observed? I'm not referring to any specific crossing (which, lest I forget, didn't happen!), but as Wikipedia defines it: "Event: A phenomenon, any observable occurrence, or an extraordinary occurrence".
It isn't out of context at all. The authors are seeking to "explain" how "the crossing," a fictional event, "happened." That's the point of the paper.
We're clearly not going to agree here. I think they've done enough to distance themselves from claims of "This explains how the crossing happened," and are saying "Here's what you have to do in order to recreate it in our model, and how it does and doesn't fit the myth" but they could have made it clearer.
"The only difference between the paper you say is acceptable"
Where? To whom? #102, #109, to me.
No. You're not reading me correctly. But it doesn't matter, since the paper doesn't contain a series of disclaimers.
That doesn't matter because those disclaimers substantially change neither the content nor the purpose of the paper.
Excellent! I was looking for a semi-analogous example and you've provided one. "[A]pply the scientific method to exploring the claim that the moon landings were hoaxes filmed on a sound stage" is not specific enough. Exploring the history of that claim would be a valid historical (and therefore scientific in an important sense) endeavor. A paper analogous to this one exploring the ways that the moon-landing hoax could have been done would not, because there's no evidence of any such hoax.
This is absurd. There is no hoax, but the presupposition of the alleged hoax makes claims about reality that can be scientifically tested. This is like saying that a supernatural God who supposedly does things like part the Red Sea and turn water into wine cannot fall under the scrutiny of science because there's no evidence of any such god. The reason that there is no evidence for it is precisely why science can and should be brought to bear on the nonexistent subject in question.
Homeopathy not only has been investigated for decades and decades
Would you say that over the course of these decades it has been investigated scientifically? Or is the method by which we come to establish the reality that homeopathy does not work something other than science? I would be curious to find out more about this other way of knowing.If it is indeed science that investigates these false, unnatural claims, then when does investigating these claims stop being science? When it's "known"? Who decides that? When something is "known" should we stop investigating it? It seems to me that you're stripping science of the use of its self-correcting mechanisms. I'm down with saying that a study on whether homeopathy works is redundant and of little marginal value on top of the thousands of others that have been done—but mostly useless science is still science.
, it violates the laws of physics.
By this assertion, relativity and quantum mechanics would not have been counted as science because those postulates violated the known "laws of physics".
I think part of the problem is that some people misunderstand not only theory but scientific question and hypothesis. These are based on existing knowledge - about reality - or theory, investigate reality, and need to be coherent. Not anything anyone believes in or finds interesting for any reason at all.
Out of curiosity... Let's say a kid decides to do a science project testing ESP with subjects guessing numbers that other people choose. It's long settled in the scientific discourse that no such thing exists, but this kid doesn't know about all that—and above all, she just wants to find out for herself. She has a hypothesis—that there will be no statistically significant signal in the noise of random guesses; or maybe her hypothesis is the opposite (doesn't matter, right?)—and she tests it and draws a conclusion. In your opinion, is that science, or is it rendered non-science by the fact that it doesn't take into account the existing knowledge of the literature? To me, it's still science—she used the scientific method to investigate the possibility of a natural phenomenon—but given the definition you've stated, I can see why you'd say no.
Science investigates scientific questions
This is circular.
Scientific researchers have to make a case - to potential funders or publishers - that theirs is a question of interest to or advancing some field of science.
...in order to be published, or in order to be considered science? I'm not sure which one you're saying.
Indeed. Your [definition of science] is incomplete and wrong.
Yours is circular, for our understanding of what reality is hinges upon science. We need science to tell us that homeopathy doesn't work, or that ESP doesn't exist. To say that science investigates reality is incomplete; science also investigates what is our reality by modeling it, and compares the predictions of the model to our observations of reality.

"Let's not dismiss the [hypothetical] scholars of the future out of hand."
No, let's.

But think of the children! ;)
You're extremely arrogant to presume that you know that this is more valuable than a peanut butter jar.
Did I say that? My apologies if I did.

"Obviously, every journal has to draw the line somewhere. And if you want to argue that it shouldn't have been published in "good" journals, I've got no problem with that." Then what are you arguing about? It shouldn't be published in P1.
You're not just making claims about the publishibility, you're making claims about the very nature of science itself. Fight to keep this out of P1 and the good journals all you want, but to say that this is not science at all—that's what I'm arguing about.
I don't know anything about this [zombie] paper, and don't see its relevance to this discussion.
Ahh, well it's been mentioned in this and the previous thread a few times. (You read it, right? =P) Here's the link again: http://mysite.science.uottawa.ca/rsmith43/Zombies.pdfI find it relevant in that it also applies a model in (what appears to my inexpert eye) a rather straightforward way to a completely fictitious, unreal scenario. Like modeling of a wind setdown event, modeling of a zombie apocalypse could be applied to contemporary real life scenarios, but half of them are outside its discipline and it makes no attempt to consider any of them.
But maybe some better examples would be things like work being done exploring whether or not a tectonic plate event could have sunk a subcontinent in the manner of the myth of Atlantis, or studies regarding whether or not Loch Ness could sustain an ecosystem of plesiosaurs. Those would, I think, fit your definition of silly crankery—there's little to no evidence to support the reality of the premise—yet, if the studies were technically sound, I would defend both of those cases as science for applying the scientific method to investigate claims of reality.
I do not believe that good journals within them would publish it as is
And I agree with you! But always this emphasis on good journals! I think there's room enough in the world for bad journals too. ;) I think I'm with Coyne on this one:
Sometimes data that are good but not earthshaking need a home [. . .] there are plenty of second- to fifth-rate journals that will publish nearly anything, including the kind of paper that PLoS ONE handles [. . .]
...and I'm ok with that. :)
#185
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | October 1, 2010 7:29 PM
I'm not...I...I guess I have an arrogant imagination. Forgive me for being presumptuous.
But that's part of the point.
No one, I guess....Astronomy. Pleased to meet you! :)
And so you wouldn't have any business deciding on this paper for a science journal. So any interest you have in it as a nonscientist in the relevant fields is not relevant. This is what Chris is trying to mix up when he talks about there being "interest" in it. It's not scientific interest, because it doesn't have real value scientifically.
It doesn't matter what he says in his blog post, though.Well, ok, of course it matters—but not to whether or not the paper is science.
It helps us to read it with a more critical eye. Of course, this isn't necessary because it's clear from the paper itself, but his blog post, interviews, and other work bash you over the head with it.
Like Chris said—that's a factually correct statement: previous researchers did try to explain it.
First, you're confused again. I was talking about the abstract of his Master's thesis, which I mentioned above. Here it is:
Storm surge occurs in low-lying coastal areas when strong winds blow the sea surface up onto the land. The resulting inundation can pose a great danger to lives and property. This study uses an Ocean General Circulation Model and the results from a mesoscale atmospheric model to simulate storm surge and wind setdown. Two case studies are presented. A reconstruction of the crossing of the Red Sea by Moses and the Israelites, as described in Exodus 14, shows that the eastern Nile delta of Egypt matches the Biblical narrative and provides a hydrodynamic mechanism for water to remain on both sides of the dry passage. The vulnerability of Manila Bay and the surrounding areas to a Category 3 typhoon is evaluated and shows that the simulated surge heights depend heavily on the wind direction and the coastal topography. iv
He very obviously considers it a real historical event, presents it as such, and is using these simulations to push a literalist Biblical line. Second, there is no "it" to explain. No parting, no crossing, no event. No "it."

I suppose so. I also have a tendency to refer to the Millennium Falcon as "the Millennium Falcon", and not "the fictional Millennium Falcon that did not exist". ;)

This isn't funny. If that fictional story were set in the past, a paper purporting to "explain" some aspect of it as though it had happened would not be science.
Not an event. Didn't happen. The "event" in question being a wind setdown event causing the eastern Nile delta bed to be exposed, it did happen—it was documented in 1882.
Well, described by a general, I think. But 1882 is not 1250 BC. Completely different conditions, and no evidence of any such event in 1250 BC, when there were completely different conditions. Didn't happen.

In the statement, "In the event of this happening..." has the event by definition happened? Surely, "event" can refer to a case, an occurrence or set of circumstances that may or may not have yet been observed?

Give me a break. You're playing word games with the future tense, and this has nothing to do with science. You could also describe an event in a work of historical fiction, but a paper trying to explain it would not be science. (Other than under some strange circumstances in which it's made clear that it's fictional and being used to develop some new idea unrelated to its reality or something.)
I'm not referring to any specific crossing (which, lest I forget, didn't happen!)
The authors of this paper are. And to a wind setdown event which didn't happen.
but as Wikipedia defines it: "Event: A phenomenon, any observable occurrence, or an extraordinary occurrence".
How is it defined in the scientific fields in question? I really think you're playing games here, and it's not coming across as honest.
We're clearly not going to agree here. I think they've done enough to distance themselves from claims of "This explains how the crossing happened,"
Pure bullshit. The parts of the paper I quoted above are enough to show that to be wrong. They refer to the crossing, they engage with existing "explanations" of this "event," and they develop their own.
and are saying "Here's what you have to do in order to recreate it in our model, and how it does and doesn't fit the myth" but they could have made it clearer.
There is no it to recreate. None.

"The only difference between the paper you say is acceptable"
Where? To whom? #102, #109, to me.

*long sigh* I meant where and to whom did I say it was acceptable. But you're having difficulty reading, because I never said any alternate version would be acceptable to me or anyone else. I was saying that it was wrong to talk about this paper as though it were something it isn't. But a different paper would still have to be submitted and reviewed by the appropriate people. Do you see the difference between your mischaracterization of what I was saying and what I was saying?

That doesn't matter because those disclaimers substantially change neither the content nor the purpose of the paper.

They don't exist, but I agree that they would do little in this case, because they would just be tacked on. The paper seeks to "explain" an "event" that didn't happen. This isn't science.

This is absurd. There is no hoax, but the presupposition of the alleged hoax makes claims about reality that can be scientifically tested.

No, this is absurd. What does it even mean? The presupposition of the hoax is itself a claim about reality, and one that is false. What's to investigate? Didn't happen.
This is like saying that a supernatural God who supposedly does things like part the Red Sea and turn water into wine cannot fall under the scrutiny of science because there's no evidence of any such god.
This is so mixed up. The existence of a supernatural god or the supernatural in the first place is a fact claim. In order for it not to be dismissed by science it has to be given a coherent definition and some empirical basis on which the claim can be tested. Leaving aside the lack of coherence, it could be argued that these miracles are evidence of some vague deity. Then the test would become whether they occurred, and if so (note this - it's important) if there are alternative explanations. In this case, the experts have concluded that the story isn't true and can't have been true. If it didn't happen, scientists should dismiss investigations into how it happened or could have happened. They aren't science.
Would you say that over the course of these decades [homeopathy] has been investigated scientifically?
Yes, frequently. Enough to show it to be bogus. Moreover, scientific investigation in other fields has shown it to be impossible.
Or is the method by which we come to establish the reality that homeopathy does not work something other than science?
No. What a dumb question.
I would be curious to find out more about this other way of knowing.
WTF?

If it is indeed science that investigates these false, unnatural claims, then when does investigating these claims stop being science?

In the case of homeopathy, when no solid research over the course of decades could show that it worked, and physicists demonstrated that it was impossible. When do you think it stops being science to investigate the process of construction of canals on Mars? In your view, does anything ever become crankery? Vitamin C as a cure for AIDS? Holocaust denial?
When it's "known"? Who decides that?
Who do you think? I'm serious.
When something is "known" should we stop investigating it?
I don't know what you mean by "something" here, but in many cases, yes. But in this case, there is no "it." A scientific paper explaining an event needs to show that it is/was real. If you can't demonstrate the reality of something, explaining it is not science.
It seems to me that you're stripping science of the use of its self-correcting mechanisms.
It seems to me that you're cranktastic.
I'm down with saying that a study on whether homeopathy works is redundant and of little marginal value on top of the thousands of others that have been done—but mostly useless science is still science.
No, it's crankery. There is a process of hypothesis development in science, and it's based in reality.
it violates the laws of physics. By this assertion, relativity and quantum mechanics would not have been counted as science because those postulates violated the known "laws of physics".
False. His work was about the laws of physics, and was firmly grounded in existing knowledge. And, as should be the case, it was greeted critically and with the presumption that it required empirical confirmation, but rather well in general. And how dare you equate this shlock to Einstein? Seriously. How dare you? This is a paper seeking to "explain" an "event" for which no evidence is offered and there is evidence against. That is not in the same scholarly universe as Einstein.
Out of curiosity... Let's say a kid decides to do a science project testing ESP with subjects guessing numbers that other people choose. It's long settled in the scientific discourse that no such thing exists, but this kid doesn't know about all that—and above all, she just wants to find out for herself. She has a hypothesis—that there will be no statistically significant signal in the noise of random guesses; or maybe her hypothesis is the opposite (doesn't matter, right?)—and she tests it and draws a conclusion. In your opinion, is that science, or is it rendered non-science by the fact that it doesn't take into account the existing knowledge of the literature?
No, it isn't science. I think the standards for science projects probably include projects that merely recapitulate existing knowledge (and so don't do science), since the purpose is to teach students and get them using the methods, with the expectation that they (you must have been absent that week) later learn what a real scientific question and hypothesis are. I don't think this is a great idea (and not just because I didn't care for doing chemistry experiments that weren't going to show anything new); it would be much better to have them working on real research as soon as possible, AFAI'mC. And it allows them to fundamentally misunderstand what a hypothesis is. (On this note - Some of Mythbusters is science, some is borderline, some is demonstration, all is entertaining.)
To me, it's still science—she used the scientific method to investigate the possibility of a natural phenomenon—
It's practice using some research methods.
but given the definition you've stated, I can see why you'd say no.
It isn't science. And in this case, I would probably be opposed to it, because putting it in a science fair would be encouraging a bad epistemology.
Science investigates scientific questions This is circular.
It isn't if you understand what a scientific question is.
...in order to be published, or in order to be considered science?
In order to be funded/published, as I said. I thought we were discussing the fate of this paper.
Yours is circular,
Crank.
f
or our understanding of what reality is hinges upon science.

Yes, and many studies of "what reality is" are science. People can change the understanding of what reality is through scientific research, but no one can define what reality - including historical - is by fiat, without evidence or theory and ignoring and in contradiction to what is known. That's crankery.
We need science to tell us that homeopathy doesn't work, or that ESP doesn't exist.
And it has, fairly long ago.
To say that science investigates reality is incomplete; science also investigates what is our reality by modeling it, and compares the predictions of the model to our observations of reality.
Explain the meaning of this in terms of the Exodus story, homeopathy, and the Moon-landing hoax idea.
You're extremely arrogant to presume that you know that this is more valuable than a peanut butter jar. Did I say that? My apologies if I did.
Yes. You presumed that it should be Saved for Posterity, but this distinguishes it from no item at all.

You're not just making claims about the publishibility, you're making claims about the very nature of science itself.

No kidding.
Fight to keep this out of P1 and the good journals all you want, but to say that this is not science at all—that's what I'm arguing about.
Look, I'm arguing that this study is not science. I'm also arguing, obviously, that it has no place in P1.
Here's the link again: http://mysite.science.uottawa.ca/rsmith43/Zombies.pdf I find it relevant in that it also applies a model in (what appears to my inexpert eye) a rather straightforward way to a completely fictitious, unreal scenario.
I'll read it sometime, maybe now. Summarize it here. What was the research question?
But maybe some better examples would be things like work being done exploring whether or not a tectonic plate event could have sunk a subcontinent in the manner of the myth of Atlantis,
This is all too broad, and my knowledge too limited. Give some examples.
or studies regarding whether or not Loch Ness could sustain an ecosystem of plesiosaurs.
Crankery.
Those would, I think, fit your definition of silly crankery—there's little to no evidence to support the reality of the premise—yet, if the studies were technically sound, I would defend both of those cases as science for applying the scientific method to investigate claims of reality.
No, science investigates reality. People can make all sorts of claims about reality, and science can investigate whether or not they're true. That's how it arrives at answers about reality, that are then built on. You think science investigates claims that have no coherence or basis, have been shown to be wrong, or are impossible. No. Science is a method, a method for investigating the natural world, i.e., reality.
And I agree with you! But always this emphasis on good journals!
Well, if P1 wants to continue to be considered one, it should keep this in mind.
I think there's room enough in the world for bad journals too. ;) I think I'm with Coyne on this one: Sometimes data that are good but not earthshaking need a home [. . .] there are plenty of second- to fifth-rate journals that will publish nearly anything, including the kind of paper that PLoS ONE handles [. . .] ...and I'm ok with that. :)
The data can't be divorced from the context - the study itself. As is, this paper doesn't belong in a reputable journal regardless of the quality of the simulations. In this case, I don't know how good the reconstructed values or the simulations are. If they're OK, a paper the possibilities for wind setdown events in the area of the Nile Delta ca. 1250 BC - which would be a very different paper that wouldn't engage with the same literatures - might be accepted by some low-tier hydrology or modeling journal for some reason. I don't know and don't care.
#186
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | October 1, 2010 7:56 PM
She has a hypothesis—that there will be no statistically significant signal in the noise of random guesses; or maybe her hypothesis is the opposite (doesn't matter, right?)
FFS. When did I say that? No. I said something almost diametrically opposed: if a study has no scientific basis (a research question and hypothesis rooted in reality), it isn't science. Its "findings" one way or another don't matter.
A "doesn't matter" attitude toward the question and hypothesis that ignores existing knowledge - which is yours, not mine - is the problem here.
#187
Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | October 1, 2010 8:00 PM
If they're OK, a paper the possibilities for wind setdown events in the area of the Nile Delta ca. 1250 BC - which would be a very different paper that wouldn't engage with the same literatures - might be accepted by some low-tier hydrology or modeling journal for some reason.
...although I can't at the moment see how it would get past the initial "Who gives a shit?" hurdle.
#188
Posted by: aviazn Author Profile Page | October 5, 2010 1:01 AM
SC OM:
And so you wouldn't have any business deciding on this paper for a science journal. So any interest you have in it as a nonscientist in the relevant fields is not relevant.

You're falling back on the argument that science is only that research that advances its own field and is interesting to its own field—the very argument you claimed not to be making. Have you changed your mind?
First, you're confused again. I was talking about the abstract of his Master's thesis, which I mentioned above.
Ah, sorry about that, and thanks for the link. :)
He very obviously considers it a real historical event, presents it as such, and is using these simulations to push a literalist Biblical line.
Yes, he is doing all of those things—but the P1 paper itself does not. What he himself is pushing is irrelevant for whether or not the paper is science. Many people push On the Origin of Species as proof of God's ingenuity, but that doesn't credit or discredit it.
This isn't funny. If that fictional story were set in the past, a paper purporting to "explain" some aspect of it as though it had happened would not be science.
Once again, we're going to have to disagree here, as I simply don't agree with your interpretation that the paper is, at its core, trying to "explain" the crossing. An insubstantial rewording would suffice to make that clear.
But 1882 is not 1250 BC. Completely different conditions, and no evidence of any such event in 1250 BC, when there were completely different conditions.
That's exactly the point of the study—the conditions were different, and some attempt is made to account for the topology of the era to see if it were possible. Of course, this is not a particularly pressing question, but if it's found to be not possible, then that demonstrates that any such wind setdown event in that period could not have been an origin for the myth.
How is it defined in the scientific fields in question? I really think you're playing games here, and it's not coming across as honest.
I would defer to a hydrologist. I agree, I was being a bit facetious, but my honest point was that your definition of "event", which your point rested on, is quite narrow and also a word game.
Pure bullshit. The parts of the paper I quoted above are enough to show that to be wrong. They refer to the crossing [. . .]
And other parts of it refer to it as a "narrative" and an "interesting story of uncertain origin". Again, we're clearly not going to agree on this point...
But you're having difficulty reading
Looks like we both are—I said "to me" as in, "you said it in posts #102 and #109 in response to my post", not "it is acceptable to me".
because I never said any alternate version would be acceptable to me or anyone else.
You gave an alternate version in #102, and expanding on that point, in #109, wrote:
Even if they had written a decent paper, they could only have suggested that a wind setdown event could have happened (under their reconstructed conditions) in that general time frame. I don't think anyone would challenge this if they accept the values and models used.
If this is not what you meant to say, then I withdraw my objection.
This is so mixed up. The existence of a supernatural god or the supernatural in the first place is a fact claim. In order for it not to be dismissed by science it has to be given a coherent definition and some empirical basis on which the claim can be tested. Leaving aside the lack of coherence
There is nothing incoherent about these claims—"wine can be turned into water" is a perfectly direct, coherent, and testable claim. Of course science can investigate these claims.
it could be argued that these miracles are evidence of some vague deity. Then the test would become whether they occurred, and if so (note this - it's important) if there are alternative explanations.
You've got it exactly backwards. It helps to consider explanations in order to find out if it occurred! Science examines the claim, looks for a plausible explanation grounded in the laws of physics under which water could turn into wine—and then, upon finding no evidence for one, reports its findings to inform the discussion of whether it could have happened (and in this case, informs it rather conclusively).
In this case, the experts have concluded that the story isn't true and can't have been true.
...thanks in no small part to science. This is precisely my point. Were some of these experts scientists? Did they use scientific methods to determine that it wasn't true? To make myself absolutely clear, the answers are yes, and yes, which you yourself acknowledged ("No. What a dumb question").
If it didn't happen, scientists should dismiss investigations into how it happened or could have happened. They aren't science.
What you're saying is that science only works on claims if people have deemed them to have occurred. You're perfectly entitled to that view of science, but such a narrow one, if taken literally, would hold science back. When someone makes a claim about something that happened in the past that sounds bizarre, science should be one of the first ways to put this claim to the test, not one of the last. Science doesn't wait around for a jury of "experts" to report back if it can be historically verified or not before it begins to work (nor does it accept their proclamation as the final word and allow itself to be silenced). It continues to test and re-verify the claims in order that it may accumulate an overwhelming body of evidence for one conclusion or another.
Yes, [homeopathy has been investigated scientifically] frequently. Enough to show it to be bogus.
Then you've accepted my point—that science investigates not just whatever we define as reality, but claims about reality—even false ones. Homeopathy is a crank premise that "violates the laws of physics" (as you put it)—and yet science investigated it and showed it to be false.
In the case of homeopathy, when no solid research over the course of decades could show that it worked, and physicists demonstrated that it was impossible. When do you think it stops being science to investigate the process of construction of canals on Mars? In your view, does anything ever become crankery? [. . .] Who do you think? I'm serious.
Whether or not a claim is crankery is besides the point. Science investigates all claims that are testable, including crank ones. Nobody's forcing anybody to do so—scientists don't have to address them if it's a waste of their time (which it certainly is in the cases you proposed), nor publish about it. But, nonetheless, it is the scientific method that addresses these claims—we have no other way of knowing about the natural world.
I don't know what you mean by "something" here, but in many cases, yes.
Just something, anything, speaking generally. I agree, in many cases, it's almost certainly a waste of time. But that doesn't make it not science.
A scientific paper explaining an event needs to show that it is/was real.
If by "explain", you mean "assert to have happened", then of course you are right. But offering an "explanation" for a proposed event is not unscientific if it is testable—how the explanation holds up to those tests can be used to determine the likelihood of that event having occurred.
No, it's crankery. There is a process of hypothesis development in science, and it's based in reality.
Yes, a scientist would be expected to create their own hypotheses, and for them to be well-founded. But science is not limited to testing only those hypotheses. Scientists are opinionated; one might think a hypothesis is not based in reality and conduct experiments to disprove it.
False. [. . .] And how dare you equate this shlock to Einstein? Seriously. How dare you?
Relax—I didn't! :) You were saying that something that violates the laws of physics precludes it from even requiring investigation. I disagreed—investigation is how we determine that it violates the laws of physics. You say that science dismisses questions about false realities out of hand as unscientific; I think the strength of science is that it engages with all questions that make testable claims—and most questions about false realities certainly do.As far as the kid who uses the scientific method to examine ESP for herself goes, if you don't want to call it performing "science", go for it—you're being consistent on this count. I have no objection, but I do have a different definition of science. You define it as pushing the boundaries of known knowledge; I think that while this is, of course, one of the functions of the scientific method, one of the beautiful things about the scientific method is that it can function irregardless of preexisting knowledge as a personal endeavor. Of course, this is not the science that brings breakthroughs, or the kind that adds to the collective pool of human knowledge; it's certainly not the science that scientists are paid to do. But it does add to one's personal knowledge, and to the collective pool of human experience. To perform an experiment by rote as mere practice of research methods—that's not what I'm talking about. But to be curious about the world, to be skeptical, and to then be convinced of fundamental truth by your own eyes, your own methods—regardless if said truth has been long recorded in textbooks—that is the beauty of science.
No, it isn't science. I think the standards for science projects probably include projects that merely recapitulate existing knowledge (and so don't do science),
Suppose this kid grows up in a nation or culture that is not aware of said existing knowledge. Is uncovering that knowledge science? Or, suppose a scientist makes a discovery she believes is pushing the cutting edge, but she has accidentally overlooked a similar study. Is what she has done science? If one researcher independently derives something whose previous existence was unbeknownst to her, is what she has done science?
"Science investigates scientific questions This is circular." It isn't if you understand what a scientific question is.
Can you define "scientific question" without resorting to appeals to "reality", which as we've already established, must be determined by science and scientific questions themselves? If not, then your definition is circular. That wouldn't necessarily mean it's not useful as a word or label, but the logic behind the concept is circular.
To say that science investigates reality is incomplete; science also investigates what is our reality by modeling it, and compares the predictions of the model to our observations of reality.
 Explain the meaning of this in terms of the Exodus story, homeopathy, and the Moon-landing hoax idea.
People hypothesized that homeopathy worked, predicting in their model of the universe that diluting a substance imprinted its structure; scientists tested it and found it to be false.
People hypothesized that the moon landings were faked, predicting in their model of the universe that (among other things) an astronaut in shadow would not be visible in a photograph exposed for the light levels of the lunar surface; Mythbusters tested it and found it to be false. Of course, they couldn't actually go to the moon, so instead of testing against pure reality, they were forced to make do with scaled-down models that recreated reality as much as possible—which is how much science is done.
People hypothesized that a wind setdown event on the Lake of Tunis ca. 1250 BC could form a land bridge, predicting in their model of the universe that the wind could blow the required amount of water down a curved piece of topology; they tested it and found it to be possible, under certain conditions. Of course, they couldn't actually go back in time to the Lake of Tunis or make the wind blow on command, so instead of testing against pure reality, they were forced to make do with hydrodynamic models that recreated reality as much as possible—which is how much science is done.
Would you mind enlightening me as to the purpose of this exercise?
You presumed that it should be Saved for Posterity,
I didn't just presume that—I asserted it. If the sims are good, then they should stick around somehow. As you said, "Absolutely every bit of information ever produced could be defended in that way (and I probably would since I do research in archives - I'm for saving everything)." :)
I'll read it sometime, maybe now. Summarize it here. What was the research question?
Truth be told, the authors present no overarching question to motivate their study—only modeling: "In summary, a zombie outbreak is likely to lead to the collapse of civilisation, unless it is dealt with quickly. While aggressive quarantine may contain the epidemic, or a cure may lead to coexistence of humans and zombies, the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often. As seen in the movies, it is imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly, or else we are all in a great deal of trouble."
This is all too broad, and my knowledge too limited. Give some examples.
If someone wrote a paper saying "Here's an interesting seismological event/occurrence/phenomenon that could sink a land mass in the fashion of the myth, perhaps explaining its origin," I would defend it as science. I didn't have any particular studies in mind, but a quick Google Scholar search turned up these guys...I can't vouch for anything about them as I don't have access to these journals—I'm just linking to them to show that they're out there. http://geology.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/abstract/33/8/685 http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=425545 After what you've said (and I thank you for the discussion) I don't think you'll change your mind—I just think these (and the Loch Ness example) are examples that highlight our differences.
"Those would, I think, fit your definition of silly crankery—there's little to no evidence to support the reality of the premise—yet, if the studies were technically sound, I would defend both of those cases as science for applying the scientific method to investigate claims of reality." No, science investigates reality. People can make all sorts of claims about reality, and science can investigate whether or not they're true.
Er, that's what I said. You said I was wrong, but then you just made my own point. Well, I'm glad we agree on that, at least! :)
FFS. When did I say that? No.
I'm not sure what you're upset about—I wasn't referring to anything that you said.