… and the blind shall see

By Phil Plait | May 10, 2009 3:00 pm

A lot of people ask me, "Hey, why do you spend so much time denigrating pareidolia? What’s the harm in believing in a little nonsense?"

This is the harm: 50 people in India damage their eyes looking at the Sun hoping to see the Virgin Mary. They suffered photochemical burns to their maculae, a sensitive region in the eye.

All this apparently started when a hotelier, who has since moved, claimed statues of the Virgin Mother had been crying honey and bleeding oil and perfumes.

Yeah, caveat emptor, right? But at what point can you blame the believer for being foolish, versus the scam artist (perhaps a true believer as well) who started this? If people don’t know enough to know they don’t know enough, then it’s hard to assign blame to them. The fault lies in the system, which sometimes actively fights against reality and truth getting to the masses.

I hear stories like this all the time, and usually they don’t amount to much individually except as as silly story. But taken as a sum, they do in fact inflict damage: people believe in fantasies which can hurt them physically, financially, and emotionally. It destroys their ability to think critically. And then we get people like Jenny McCarthy, or the parents who used homeopathy and killed their child, or the proven fraud Peter Popoff making a comeback and bilking people out of millions of dollars.

That’s the harm.

So I will continue to point out nonsense like seeing Jesus in baked goods, and I will continue to poke fun at them and at other things which may at first seem harmless. Because, at some point, this stuff isn’t harmless any more.

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Comments (75)

  1. That’s so silly. There were some people that wanted me to try looking at the sun in some special place, so I could find the true faith. They somehow did not understand the risk. Now at least I can point these guys to go read this here.

  2. Chet Twarog

    Biblically speaking, since most people are biblical illiterates anyway, there are no physical descriptions, none, nada, of “Jesus” and/or “Virgin Mary” [or most people of the “Holy Bible”]. You just gotta read it; in its entirety.
    So, go ahead, Phil, continue but it ain’t going to make any difference to the faithful.

  3. dan2

    You couldn’t pick a more shining example. I’m here all week folks.

  4. Believe and the burning light of faith will guide you…

  5. Greg

    Every time I hear or read about things like this it always reminds me of this Freak Brothers cartoon.

    http://www.freaknet.org.uk/graphics01/g04/cat/cat04.gif

  6. JB of Brisbane

    As we say in Australia,”It’s all a lot of fun until someone has an eye out.”

  7. Adrian Lopez

    Let this be a reminder: never look at the Virgin Mary without an appropriate filter.

  8. 8MinutesOld said:

    They somehow did not understand the risk. Now at least I can point these guys to go read this here.

    All well and good, but how are they going to read it if their corneas have melted? :)

  9. MadScientist

    Religious afflictions were never harmless; at the very least they destroy your ability to reason. I hope that case of the baby dying with eczema goes in favor of the plaintiffs.

  10. Jeffersonian

    Weird.
    I’m skeptical though, given how much news we receive from there is later proven to be invented.
    (hey, like most people here I’m skeptical in general!) 😉
    And did it happen only to the extremely small xtian minority or were they Hindus and Muslims fascinated by a Catholic icon?
    One the other hand, sun-gazing has long been ingrained in parts of the Indian culture. (IE, not just Darwin-award candidates.) ::
    earthclinic.com/Remedies/sun_gazing.html
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sungazing

    and this weirdness:
    solarhealing.com/sungazing.htm

  11. I’ll give you another example of the harm of “believing in a little nonsense”.

    Google “Misty Horner”

    You will find the story of a Lee’s Summit, MO police officer who allowed his wife to die from septic shock after delivering a dead baby. Why? Because he followed the religious teachings of his brother who believed in a “prayer-only” approach to health care.

  12. Jeffersonian

    [i.e. Indian hospitals often contain patients with this injury anyway; the rest sounds suspiciously suggestive to me]

  13. Must be members of The Church Of The Blinding Light….

    J/P=?

  14. Steve

    @LarianLeQuella

    So I followed your link to “what’s the harm?” and started reading. Quite interesting, and probably a good place to send CAM believers, though a lot of the stories therein are anecdotal, which is sorta anathema to us skeptical types (of which I realise you are one).

    I got quite a shock though, coincidentally, when reading the entries in the homeopathy section. I learned of the death of one of my favourite artists, the blind Canadian guitarist Jeff Healey. He died over a year ago, and it went completely under my radar. But in this case it doesn’t look like conventional medicine would have helped. Appears that he might have only resorted to the quack stuff after all else failed him. Extremely sad news in any case :-(

    BTW, kudos to yourself and Todd W. for the big efforts on the anti-vax and evolution fronts!

  15. Just a small quibble: in the homeopathy story above, the parents are only charged with an offence at this stage, not convicted. Presumption of innocence, etc.

  16. John Paradox:
    Thank you very blooming much! Your comment instantly made my fuzzy brain recall a certain song…

    Blinded by the light,
    revved up like a deuce,
    another runner in the night
    Blinded by the light,
    revved up like a deuce,
    another runner in the night
    Blinded by the light,
    revved up like a deuce,
    another runner in the night
    Madman drummers bummers,
    Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
    In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
    With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin’ kinda older,
    I tripped the merry-go-round
    With this very unpleasin’, sneezin’ and wheezin,
    the calliope crashed to the ground
    The calliope crashed to the ground
    But she was…
    Blinded by the light,
    revved up like a deuce,
    runner in the night
    Blinded by the light,
    revved up like a deuce,
    another runner in the night

    This song makes as much sense as staring into the sun. BUT, it kills two birds with one stone, as it addresses the important need to vaccinate your child, as it is apparent that a “teenage diplomat is in the dumps with the Mumps, pumping something into his hat (Ewwwwww!)”

  17. David D

    WHOA . . .

    This does not seem to be passing the smell test at all.

    The story linked by BA is dated May 8 (no year mentioned in the byline, but apparently 2009 from the URL). I went to the link in that story, which linked to a story from an Indian (?) publication called DNA that was dated February 26, 2008.

    Googling further brought me to a Scienceblog post dated July 31, 2008, with almost the same opening paragraphs.

    I haven’t wasted much more time on looking further into this, but I wonder if this story doesn’t go back even further.

    This is obviously NOT a current news story as presented by BA. I’m not saying that it didn’t happen, but I’m having trouble figuring out exactly when, and if, it did happen.

    Phil–you should have looked into this story a little more closely before posting.

  18. Ad Hominid

    Some years ago, I went to a small town here in west Texas to investigate a reported apparition of the Virgin Mary on behalf of our local skeptic group. The subject of interest was in a chocolate stain, of all things, on a local family’s back porch. T There had been a lot of publicity by the time I got there, and I was not prepared for what I saw outside the house. People were lined up around the block in the scorching heat, waiting their turn to troop onto the porch and see the stain. Some were curiosity seekers, to be sure, but many were obviously very ill and seeking some kind of miracle. Several were in wheelchairs. One man was in what appeared to be a hospital bed, with his devoted family pushing him along. According to media reports, some of the faithful had traveled hundreds of miles to be there. The town’s lone police officer had brought in reinforcements in the form of sheriff’s deputies and state troopers to help keep order.

    The family who owned the porch, and the resident stain, was very devout and apparently completely sincere, since they didn’t appear to be charging anyone to come onto their property or making money in any way. There were some peddlers selling the usual junk, and some freelance quacks seeking donations for themselves but the family was not part of this and would not allow them onto their property. Catering trucks and a ice cream vendors were doing a land office business.

    It is easy to laugh at these supersitious people but I did not laugh, I almost cried. We can fault them for their ignorance, and willful ignorance does exist, but Phil is right: Many people don’t know that they don’t know. It is not just our right to speak out, it is our duty.

  19. Joey Joe Joe

    @David D

    The Non-Prophets discussed this story around the middle of last year, so no it is not new.

  20. @ Michael L:

    Blinded by the light,
    revved up like a deuce,
    another runner in the night

    Wait a sec! That’s not the way that lyric goes! Isn’t it,

    Blinded by the light,
    wrapped up like a ….
    there kinda runny in the night.

    ?????

    Next you’ll be telling me it’s not “I found an island in your mind, poultry in your eye” from The Doors.

  21. David D

    @Joey Joe Joe–

    Most of what I can find about this story seems to come from about March 9 or 10, 2008.

    I don’t get it–BA presents this as a current news story. Maybe he didn’t check out the story he linked to, which comes from Examiner.com, courtesy of somebody named Dylan Otto Krider, who according to his bio, “was founder of Whoslying, a nonprofit devoted to correcting statements that do not responsibly reflect objective reality.”

    It looks like Krider seems to have a little trouble with the objective reality of dates. I kind of expect a little more scholarship from BA.

  22. @Kuhnigget

    For years I thought that “deuce” was another infamous rhyming word… :)

  23. Yoeman

    LOL, the song is from Springsteen, from around 1973, it’s partially about street racing, the Deuce in question is a reference to a 1963 Chevy II.
    The Manfred Mann Earth Band covered it in 1977, with the infamous garbled lyrics, that’s the version most are familiar with.
    Thank You, LarianLeQuella, for the link to http://www.whatstheharm.net , I’m sending that link to everyone I know.

  24. ndt

    Where did Phil say this was a current news story?

  25. whether it is an old story or a new one, the opinions expressed are bang on. Even today, people say they’d go with homeopathy because there are no side effects so what’s the harm? I tell them homeopathy does not work at all and cannot work at all and they still say “even then, what’s the harm?”
    When I tell them that there are people who forego all other forms of medication and choose homeopathy and thus lose the chance to get cured, they just scoff.

    “A few people dying here and there, what’s the difference? I am not willing to let go of my right to blind faith and illogical beliefs.” That’s what they seem to be saying.

  26. David D

    @ndt–

    Where does Phil say that this story is over a year old?

    Phil links a story that has a May 8, 2009 date on it. It is pretty clear that the actual events occurred over a year ago, if they occurred at all. Again, perhaps it is quite a believable story, and maybe the opinions expressed are bang on, but when basic facts, like dates, are inaccurate, I start to question exactly what is true about the story. It almost sounds like an Urban Legend.

    As Evan Thomas said about the Duke rape case,”The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong.” If the facts are wrong, what does that say about the narrative? Again, I expect BA to do a better job at vetting the stories he decides to post about, that’s all.

  27. eddie

    @David D

    I agree. This post from BA was a little disappointing, and I’m a HUGE fan of the doc.

    Linking a story that contains the phrase, “We have no idea what ‘photochemical burns’ are, but according to the Google, it looks like it’s typically caused by UV light” is not something I would expect to see here, even if it’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek, which it obviously is not.

    I think Dr. Plaitt just got his nose a little too far into the Internet here. I’ll still follow his blog and read his books; he still makes more sense than 99.999999% of the Internet. Still, this is a little goofy and the links to his blog in the story kind of conjure up thoughts of the egotistical sort.

    Oh, hi, Dr. Plaitt! You weren’t.. er…listening there, were you?

  28. Flying sardines

    Could a similar staring contest with the Sun explain “Saint Pauls” famous converting Damascene “vision” and subsequent temporary blindness? 😉

    It does seem odd for Indians to be staring at the Sun after the “Virgin” Mary – aren’t they all Hindus or Muslims?

    We can quibble at this story (or urban legand) and its absolute accuracy but, to me, its point is still strong and apt :

    People do really stupid things that actually cause harm to themselves and others because they belive in irrational and superstituous humbug. :-(

  29. Flying sardines

    Of course NOT all Indians are Hindu or Muslim. many are Jains and Buddhists and rationalists plus animists and all sorts .. Still I wouldn’t have expected *that* many Catholics in India.

  30. Petrolonfire

    *I* always thought the song went :

    Blinded by a knife!
    Stabbed in & it sure gouged out a load of strife!

    Blinded by a knife!
    Eeeee-Owwwwwwww! It hurt like nothing else might! 😉

  31. Mike

    Sorry to comment off-topic, but I’m on a mission. I am currently engaged in a (sort of) debate with a global warming skeptic online. His most recent argument is:

    “The current cooling is occurring despite the absence of any cause included in the current modelling. There have been no large eruptions, (such as Pinatubo, for example) to account for the cooling, nor even for the stability after 2001.

    The estimates for the GHG effect, upon which the AGW concerns are based, are so much higher than the reality that the temperatures are now 0.2 degrees cooler than projected, and that represents half the warming that has occurred since 1940.”

    I am aware that cooling since 2001 is not indicative of the overall trend of increasing temperature, but how would one reply to this specific argument? Help me, Bad Astronomers!

  32. “Blinded by the light,
    revved up like a deuce,
    another runner in the night”

    Most folks who know the song are probably familiar with the cover version
    by Manfred Mann’s Earthband. The original is from Bruce Springsteen.

  33. Joey Joe Joe

    For the record, I found a link to the original (AFAIK) story. It’s dated Feb 26, 2008.

    http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1152984

    This was discussed briefly (and quite humorously) in episode 7.06 of The Non Prophets (I highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t already):

    http://www.nonprophetsradio.com/audio/

    I have also made a cut of the segment in question (2.6Mb mp3):

    http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/8/16/1351256/NPR706.mp3

  34. Bruno Domingues

    Go Phil, Go!!!

    It doesn’t hurt to say again, the more people think the same way, the less problems we will have…

    So go get them, Phil, I keep referring people to your blog and have made some “conversions”…

    Thanks for this excellent place to discuss serious issues with a friendly and casual tone. Many people think science is dull and boring and this is a nice place to show them otherwise.

    Cheers to all BABloggers

    Bruno

  35. “Because, at some point, this stuff isn’t harmless any more.”

    A case in point… Remember all that idiotic drivel which appeared in the media last September, about the Large Hadron Collider, which was supposedly going to “create a black hole which would destroy the Earth”, and such garbage. In the UK, we actually had headlines such as “The World Ends on Saturday!”
    The rational among us thought this was just so stupid as to be laughable… until we heard the news that a 16-year-old girl in India had committed suicide, because she genuinely believed that the world was about to end, as a result of reading this sort of BS!!!!

  36. What is it with so many people desperate to see the virgin Mary in just about everything from clouds to sunspots?

    If so many people genuinely did hurt their eyes looking at the sun trying to see this woman, then maybe she ought to have a public health and safety warning attached?

    Just a thought!!!

    As for the LHC, there is a minute risk that it would create a tiny and localised black hole. However, were it to expand and end the Earth it’s likely to happen so quickly that we wouldn’t have time to be writing on blogs about it.

  37. American Voyager

    Phil,I had asked a question – somewhat in frustration – when you pointed out “Jesus in the cookie” if we had to see all of these paraded out like a circus sideshow. What you wrote above answers it elloquently and I thank you. I don’t think these posts will make much of a difference since as someone pointed out above that those who are willing to do this kind of thing are not going to be detered, but it can’t hurt. Keep it up.

  38. Anton P. Nym

    @ Steve

    Yes, the “What’s the harm?” site is a list of anecdotes… and I don’t see a problem with that. If you’re going to reach folks who tend to go for alternative treatments and mystical experiences, you’ve got to talk to them in the terms they find persuasive or you might as well speak Sanskrit for all the success you’ll have.

    Folks who go for feng shui and numerology just don’t get the concepts behind statistical studies and double-blind trials; they do get personal experiences. Putting names and faces to the accounts is going to persuade them a lot more often than FDA reports will.

    — Steve

  39. Spaceman Spiff

    @Mike —

    Go to the RealClimate and Climate Progress websites for proper arguments against this sort of crap.
    http://www.realclimate.org/ (try the index)
    and
    http://climateprogress.org/

    Go here for the NASA/GISS temperature graphs: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

    The guy is just spouting some non-sense he read elsewhere — maybe some blog quoting the “breathless inanity” of Christopher Monckton:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/05/moncktons-deliberate-manipulation/

  40. Xnexus

    Okay, I love the BA, but this is the terrible justification ever.

    “Because, at some point, this stuff isn’t harmless any more.”

    The slippery slope argument is problably the worst in history. You do realize, that can be used against just about anything?

    “We can’t possibly study physics, look at the atomic bomb! Because, at some point, this stuff isn’t harmless any more.”

    “We can’t possibly allow evolution to be taught! The Nazis used that as their justification for their eugenics program. Because, at some point, this stuff isn’t harmless any more.”

    Come on BA, you’re smarter than this.

  41. Quiet Desperation

    Good gravy, Popoff?!?!

    I remember him from when I was a kid. I thought he transcended to the take his place with the Ancients or something. 😉

  42. Gary Ansorge

    “,,,blinded by the light,,,” is probably a reference to what is oft reported by those subject to grand mall seizures and yes, it does get really bright indoors when that happens.

    Blind faith,,,perhaps we could apply the old biblical saying “none are so blind as those who will (choose) not to see”.
    The conservative mind set appears to derive from a genetic predisposition toward maintaining stability, in both culture and environment. I expect we’re seeing more of this noisy declaration as a response to our rapidly changing techno environment(See: Future Shock by Alvin B. Toffler). So much change in so little time and yet, it’s not fast enough for me. Guess I’m a futurist of the first water,,,

    For those who must cling to the past, I feel only pity. They’re missing so much excitement. (Dang, it’s time for my nap,,,)

    GAry 7

  43. Damon

    The problem isn’t that you poke fun at people who believe in silly things, it’s that you lump them all together with genuine healing practices like chiropractic, accupuncture and herbal therapy. So in a way, science can be regressive as well.

  44. Davidlpf

    I cant’t really tell if Damon is being sarcistic or not. But if not “chiropractic, acupincture and herbal therapy” are not genuine medical practices there all quackary. I hope I did not get Poed.

  45. Mike

    Phil wrote “If people don’t know enough to know they don’t know enough, then it’s hard to assign blame to them. The fault lies in the system, which sometimes actively fights against reality and truth getting to the masses.”

    I’m sure what he’s referring to is the sorry state of today’s education systems in general. If we let it go the way of Texas, blindness will be the least of our problems.

  46. Tatty Teeth

    The anti-fluoride people got to me several years ago, and now I have several gaping cavities that must be filled. I wish I could go back in time and give myself a real tube of toothpaste. I feel so stupid.

    I’m happy there are people to speak out against this sort of thing. Every little bit helps.

  47. Chris

    I was going to make a joke about “blind faith” but Gary beat me to it.

  48. TheGoodDr

    As a medical doctor who has used homeopathy for many years, I have seen time and time again the amazing benefits to my patients of this form of treatment. Just remember this: Homeopathy is NOT a cure-all. It can NOT cure all cases of eczema, or any other disease for that matter. Sometimes, just like normal medicine, it just does not work. Then we need to refer on to someone else, also known as ‘doing the responsible thing’.
    So stop slagging homeopathy when you have not experienced it for yourselves, or as in my case, have experienced it in thousands of cases.

  49. Really, TheGoodDr? You have evidence that homeopathy works? Double blind studies, scientific tests, published results in peer-reviewed medical journals? Real journals?

    Because sometimes, y’know, on the net some people can say whatever they want without backing it up, presenting any evidence. Sometimes they claim authority they don’t really have either. A lot of people even claim to be doctors, when the pedigree of their degrees is is, um, questionable. I’ve written about this before.

    So I assume you have tons of evidence to back this up, evidence that so many scientists and doctors have looked for but never found because the studies were flawed, or faked, or made up.

    But until then, I’ll go with what the real tests have shown all along: homeopathic “remedies” are just plain old water, do no good, and in fact can kill when used to replace real medicine, as in the tragic case I discussed in the post above.

  50. Buzz Parsec

    Im reminded of:

    Oh Blinding Light,
    Oh Light that Blinds
    I Can Not See-ee!
    Look Out For Me.

    Ooof!

  51. Buzz:
    I’m hungry
    You’re hungry
    We’re all hungry

    LET’S EAT!

    J/P=?
    (I spell my name… Danger)

  52. I’m amused by some of the comments here.

    I never presented nor implied the story of the homeopathy death as being current. It’s from several years ago, but is making the news again because the case is going before the Supreme Court in Australia. But how does the date make any difference at all to the story?

    Second, the article about the people getting blinded quotes my own research quite a bit for my first book. Solar retinopathy is actually fairly well studied.

    Third, if an argument uses a slippery slope that does not mean it’s perforce wrong. A slippery slope is, after all, a slippery slope. In this case, we know that people have a need to believe in the irrational; if they aren’t religious than in many cases they replace that with superstition, or New Age nonsense, or the like. The point here is, teaching them to believe in things without evidence, and reinforcing that with all manners of fantasy beliefs, will lead to a profound lack of critical thinking in other areas as well.

  53. Media Watch, our local… er… media watchdog here in Oz did a short thing on Peter Popoff a week or so ago. They were trying to shame the Nine Network into dumping this fraud. Story link below…
    http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s2553918.htm

  54. David D.

    @BA–

    “I never presented nor implied the story of the homeopathy death as being current.” Yes you did.

    Here’s what you put in your hyperlink: “50 people in India damage their eyes looking at the Sun hoping to see the Virgin Mary,” not “damaged their eyes.” You linked to a story that had a CURRENT dateline. No where did you mention anything about the Supreme Court in Australia, nor did the linked story. BTW, what does the Supreme Court of Australia have to do with a story in India?

    The story may be true. But, as I mentioned above in my comments, when you can’t get something like the dates right, the whole story becomes suspect. Would you expect this kind of “scholarship” or reporting from a creationist, or an antivaxxer?

  55. @David D
    “50 people in India damage their eyes”… quotes the headline from the Examiner. The article also mentions Phil so no wonder he linked to it and the Examiner story is current. The Examiner piece doesn’t look like a news story, it looks like a comment or an op-ed so does it matter when the events actually occurred?

    You’re not reading all the links David. The supreme court of Oz is mentioned in the article linked with the following text…
    “the parents who used homeopathy and killed their child”
    It is a current news story in Oz because it is going through the courts right now and has nothing to do with the Indian story.

  56. David D.

    @Shane–

    There seems to be some misunderstanding in your comment. I am only commenting on the Examiner article about the 50 people in India. Phil presented THAT link as being current, where it most obviously is not. In my most recent comment above, I did not realize BA was talking about the homeopathy article, so my bad.

    I never mentioned the homeopathy article. I only am questioning BA’s presentation of the Indian link as being current, which it is not, and which does not mention the Supreme Court of Australia.

    “so does it matter when the events actually occurred?” Yeah–facts actually do matter. Please read my comments above.

  57. José

    Yes you did. Here’s what you put in your hyperlink: “50 people in India damage their eyes looking at the Sun hoping to see the Virgin Mary,” not “damaged their eyes.”

    That’s a stretch. And as stated before, it’s also completely irrelevant.

    You linked to a story that had a CURRENT dateline.

    Yes. Phil should have contacted the owner of the site and had them post date the URL to the time which the event occurred before he linked to it. I mean, we all know that, unless it is explicitly stated otherwise, we must assume a story happened on or around the the date in the URL. I hope that the next time Phil posts on the moon landing he’s careful to post date it to 1969 to avoid confusion.

  58. José

    Hey David D,
    I just noticed that your comment was labels May 13th, 2009, but Phil made his post on May 10th. What kind of funny business are you trying to pull here?

  59. David D.

    @Jose–

    Gosh, you are right–facts are irrelevant.

    Your moon landing analogy is a big FAIL, as it is a well-known historical event. 50 people in India staring at the sun? Not so well-known. That story, and its link, implied a degree of currency.

    Again, would you expect this kind of “scholarship” or reporting from a creationist, or an antivaxxer?

  60. @David D
    You’re right there appears to be some confusion between the Indian story and homeopathy story in Phil’s latest comment.

    Otherwise though as far as the Indian story goes, Phil links to a current story that quotes an old story. I don’t think you can read much more into it than that. I can’t tell whether it is presented as a current story or not and I don’t think it matters anyway. It is being used to illustrate an example of pareidolia gone wrong.
    Or is your point Phil should state that the site he is linking to is from yesterday but that story is actually referencing a year old news story on another website?

  61. David D.

    @Shane–

    In my opinion, the link is presented as a current story, when it clearly is not. My point is that BA should have presented this as a story that is over a year old; it would not have detracted from the point of the story to be clear about its origin. The fact that it is not immediately clear when the event occurred is a definite distraction.

  62. @David D
    In your opinion? Fine. In my opinion it is just presented. Anything else is nitpicking.

    And, to pre-empt, if an anti-vaxxer or a creationist presented a story in the same way I wouldn’t care because the age of the story has nothing to do with the substance of this particular story. If the timing of the story was important to the substance, say quoting an old study that has become obsolete because of new evidence, then we’d have a problem.

  63. José

    @David D
    Gosh, you are right–facts are irrelevant.

    Not all facts are irrelevant, but in this case, the date the incident happened is.

    That story, and its link, implied a degree of currency.

    No they don’t. It’s common practice for many sites to include the date of a post in the URL, just like the date stamp on your comments. It has nothing to do with the content of the post.

    Again, would you expect this kind of “scholarship” or reporting from a creationist, or an antivaxxer?

    I would never attack somebody’s argument based on irrelevant facts.

  64. David D.

    @Jose–

    I would never attack somebody’s argument based on irrelevant facts.

    I never attacked BA’s argument. Go back and read my comments.

    I wasn’t the only reader of this post to be dismayed by at the least an apparent lack of attention to detail. It’s almost as if BA did not read beyond the very story he linked to. Maybe the date is irrelevant to the story, but it immediately seemed like an Urban Legend to me, with some apocryphal story that is recycled again and again.

  65. José

    I never attacked BA’s argument. Go back and read my comments.

    Yes. You ignored his argument, and made up your own silly issue.

    Maybe the date is irrelevant to the story, but it immediately seemed like an Urban Legend to me, with some apocryphal story that is recycled again and again.

    It sounds like an urban legend to me too. If you stick to examining that, I have no problem, but any way I look at it, the date thing is a non-issue.

  66. David D.

    @Jose–

    I didn’t make up an issue, and you still haven’t demonstrated where I attacked BA’s argument. Ignoring is not attacking.

    You’re okay with me “examining” the story as an Urban Legend, yet you fail to understand how the “date thing” is essential to the Urban Legend idea. Go do some homework.

  67. José

    @David D.
    I didn’t make up an issue, and you still haven’t demonstrated where I attacked BA’s argument.

    Yes. I conceded that you didn’t attack his argument. I never said you did. You asked me a dumb hypothetical question about how I would react to a creationist, and I answered it.

    You’re okay with me “examining” the story as an Urban Legend, yet you fail to understand how the “date thing” is essential to the Urban Legend idea. Go do some homework.

    You said

    ”This is obviously NOT a current news story as presented by BA.”

    When people pointed out that he never presented it that way, you were unable to concede that you were wrong. Instead you made an iffy grammatical argument, and pointed to the date in the hyperlink as evidence that you were right. You don’t even understand that it’s common practice for post on the web to contain the date they were posted within the URL and you want me to do some homework?

  68. David D

    @jose–

    I do not think I’m wrong in my interpretation of this story being current. Can you point out to me anywhere where the story is presented as a year old?

    I gave specific examples of why I thought it was current. In your opinion they are “iffy”. Go and read the Examiner article that BA linked to–let me know in that article where the story is given its correct time context. I understand URL’s and how things are “time stamped” on the Web.

    You seem to still lack any understanding with Urban Legends and their genesis,and why the correct date would be important in the context of an Urban Legend.

  69. José

    @David D.
    Can you point out to me anywhere where the story is presented as a year old

    It isn’t pointed out. It doesn’t need to be pointed out. It’s irrelevant. Explain how knowing the date the incident occurred affects the meaning of the post.

    I understand URL’s and how things are “time stamped” on the Web.

    Then why would you use this to make such a dumb argument?

    You seem to still lack any understanding with Urban Legends and their genesis,and why the correct date would be important in the context of an Urban Legend.

    No. You’ve just failed miserably to show that there was any misrepresentation of the date.

  70. David D

    @Jose–

    For something like the last six hours this has been the Jose/David D show. I respectfully withdraw. You may continue to sing and dance if you choose.
    :)

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