Monday, August 16, 2010

In case you feel like joining in

I promised The Chemist and bossmanham some weeks ago that I'd let y'all know if I happened to chuck a pebble at, say ERV.  So consider this your invitation to join in.


Contaminating science with religion. Creating an abominable vanilla-chocolate twisty ice-cream cone of an actual fun thing, a real thing we do in science, hypothesizing on historic or fictional stories:
The Bible does not describe if any members of the family including Andrew and Simon developed febrile illness, before or subsequent to her febrile illness. The characteristic features of seasonal influenza include abrupt onset of fever, chills, non-productive cough, myalgias, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, and fatigue. The diagnosis is mainly clinical. Seasonal influenza would be less likely if no members of the family were affected. Avian influenza and other respiratory viruses may cause isolated infection without efficient human-to-human transmission. In any case, influenza-like illness due to a respiratroy virus would explain her symptomatology and clincial course.
... with religion.
One final consideration that one might have is whether the illness was inflicted by a demon or devil.
Ugh, gross.
It was probably accepted on the terms that it was a fun game: Hey, what illness could this character in the Bible have had? What poison might this Shakespearean character have used? What kind of mental illness could have inspired the 'madness' of Dionysus?

But the authors didnt treat it as 'fun'. They treated it as reality, and its stupid. And the reviewers should have noted that just by reading the first sentence of the goddamn abstract:
The Bible describes the case of a woman with high fever cured by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Its been retracted. Cue Christian persecution in science in 3... 2... 1...

I said:

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

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


bossmanham said...

Oh joy! ;)

I'll add what I can. Hopefully I'll have some time this week.

bossmanham said...

I emailed the guy who retracted the article and asked for his reasoning.