Archive for the ‘woo’ Category

(I’m reading Introduction to Modern Mathematics right now. It’s very entertaining)

Anyway, in 1967 children were learning too:

The little girl, showing in her domestic play the overriding absorption in personal relationships through which she will later fulfill her role of wife, mother and “expressive leader” of the family (Parsons & Bales, 1956), learns language early in order to communicate. The kind of communication in which she is chiefly interested at this stage concerns the nurturant routines which are the stuff of family life. Sharing and talking about them as she copies and “helps” her mother about the house must enhance the mutual identification of mother and child, which in turn, as Mowrer (1952) and McCarthy (1953) suggest, will reinforce imitation of the mother’s speech and promote further acquisition of language, at first oriented toward domestic and interpersonal affairs but later adapted to other uses as well. Her intellectual performance is relatively predictable because it is rooted in thi early communication, which enables her (environment permitting) to display her inherited potential at an early age.

The same thing happens in boys, but to a lesser extent because they cannot so easily share their interests. Their preoccupation with the working of mechanical things is less interesting to most mothers, and fathers are much less available. Probably too, effective communication about cause and effect presupposes a later stage of mental development than does communication about household routines. The small boy may be storing a great many observations, but his conversation tends to be limited to such remarks as Train stop until he is mature enough to ask Why is the train stopping? … His language, less fluent and personal and later to appear than the girl’s, develops along more analytic lines and may, in favourable circumstances, provide the groundwork for the later intellectual achievement which could not have been foreseen in his first few years.

(Moore 1967, pp. 100-101, cited in Macaulay 1978, p. 360, cited in Eckert, McConnell-Ginet, Language and Gender, 2003)

One has to mention that while extremely creepy, biased and unquestioningly supportive of the extant social order, this sort of pseudoscientific attitude is by no means gone. One only has to smirk derisively at The Female Brain, and lo, its brainless savanna-dwelling adherents come out of the woodwork, mumbling incoherent things about “savanna ancestors”, “hunting and gathering” and “men needing to rape because evolution and also science”, desperately trying to defend the pseudoscience that validates their biases, bigotry and prejudice.

(Incidentally, having read Mark Liberman’s deconstruction of The Female Brain — and other poorly done/described neuroscience research — one has to come to the conclusion that Louann Brizendine is a fraud and a kook. There are only so many end notes that give references to research that doesn’t support her most important claims — or in many cases has nothing to do with her claims at all —  one can read without suspecting foul play(1). Or possibly, she didn’t understand a word of what she hopefully *did* read.)

(Also, there are rumours that there’s a neat deconstruction of Brizendine in Cordelia Fine‘s Delusions of Gender, which I haven’t yet read, and which was recommended on PZ Myers’ blog earlier today. The comment section of that post is, predictably, filled with angry ape-descended savanna-dwellers. For them, I have a message: guise, penis enlargement stuff can be found in the “spam” folder of your mailbox. Have fun!)

(1) Liberman never says it, repeatedly assuming Brizendine’s good will. This is because he’s a nice and also a serious person.

I am neither.



However, not everyone’s fight is over yet:

“There is a cardiologist currently being sued by a device manufacturer, we have researchers who have been unable to publish their critique of lie detector technology because of threats of libel action.”


(Unless it’s BBC’s sinister plot to take over the world on the April Fool’s day or something. In which case D: D: D:(1))

(1) I’m paranoid after this morning’s news about creepy right-wingers turned out to be a joke. BUT! IT WAS ALL SO PLAUSIBLE IT REALLY WAS.

Cherie Blair, the wife of the former UK Prime Minister,  suspended the sentence of a guy who assaulted another guy and consequently broke his jaw on the grounds of the assaulting guy being religious, which clearly means that he knows  what he did was wrong.

I must say, LOL.

AC Grayling has some awesome commentary about it here, but what I’d like to write about is Why It Doesn’t Surprise Me At All.

1. Cherie and her houseboi are completely, totally into anti-vaccine stuff:

In 2002 he [Tony Blair] refused to say whether his son Leo had received the MMR vaccine. From survey data, this was the fact the public remembered best about the vaccine, and it was this move that drove the story away from the specialist health journalists, and into the rabid hands of the generalists. (source)


And while most other politicians were happy to clarify whether their children had had the vaccine, you could see how people might believe the Blairs were the kind of family not to have their children immunised: essentially, they had surrounded themselves with health cranks. There was Cherie Blair’s closest friend and aide, Carole Caplin, a new age guru and “life coach”. Cherie was reported to visit Carole’s mum, Sylvia Caplin, a spiritual guru who was viciously anti-MMR (“for a tiny child, the MMR is a ridiculous thing to do. It has definitely caused autism,” she told the Mail). They were also prominently associated with a new age healer called Jack Temple, who offered crystal dowsing, homeopathy, neolithic-circle healing in his suburban back garden, and some special breastfeeding technique which he reckoned made vaccines unnecessary. (source)

2. They’re both into some crazy New Agey woo:

We don’t know whether baby Leo eventually received the MMR jab. But what is more interesting is what the Blairs may have done instead. You might remember Carole Caplin, the intuitive people person and life coach who was taken in by convicted fraudster Peter Foster. He did the Blairs’ property deals, of course, and he also says that they took Leo to a New Age healer, Jack Temple, who offered crystal dowsing, homoeopathy, herbalism, and neolithic circle healing in his back garden.

Apparently, says Foster, the prime minister agreed to this bloke waving a crystal pendulum over his son to protect him (and therefore his classmates, of course) from measles, mumps and rubella. And Foster also reckoned that Tony let Cherie give Temple some of his own hair and nail clippings. Temple, who died in 2004, preserved these cuttings in jars of alcohol and said that he only needed to swing his pendulum over the jar to know if the owner was healthy or ill. (source)

3. Carole Caplin, Cherie’s personal guru life trainer, is completely batshit insane:


It’s possible you don’t know just how bad science Caplin’s world is. Here is a brief tour. When Cherie was suffering with swollen ankles, Caplin introduced her to “Jack Temple, Homeopathic Dowser Healer”, as his website says. Here is Jack on cramp: “For years many people have suffered with cramp. By dowsing, I discovered that this is due to the fact that the body is not absorbing the element ’scandium’ which is linked to and controls the absorption of magnesium phosphate.”

Crazy cultists!

Caplin also once worked for the 5,000-strong cult Exegesis, who were accused of brainwashing, and who recruited people by saying that its therapy methods could solve personal problems.

(Source – somehow the link won’t load properly; it’s the third article)

4. Moar New Agey craziness from the Grauniad:

Cherie has never hidden her interest in alternative, some would say oddball, therapies though how seriously she takes them is open to question. Her adviser Carole Caplin reportedly introduced her to spiritual healing crystals. On holiday in Mexico the Blairs are supposed to have smeared themselves in mud during a rebirthing ceremony. Rumours that Downing Street was a focus for a feng shui session were denied. But Cherie sported an acupuncture ear stud.

5. Finally, this article is a brilliant chronicle of the pair’s wootastic escapades, and absolutely deserves to be read in full. I’ll only quote the sweet sweet description of the Magickal BioShit!Amulet:

Cherie wears a ‘magic pendant’ known as the BioElectric Shield, which is filled with ‘a matrix of specially cut quartz crystals’ that surround the wearer with ‘a cocoon of energy’ and ward off evil forces. (It was given to her by Hillary Clinton, another political spouse who combines the characteristic Third Way vices of sharp prac tice and bone-headedness.) Then there have been inflatable Flowtron trousers, auricular therapy and acupuncture pins in the ear.

Also, this tiny bit:

New Age Labour has spilled out of Downing Street and blighted public policy. In January 1999, for instance, the Government recruited a feng shui consultant, Renuka Wickmaratne, to discover a magical way to improve inner-city estates without raising taxes.

‘Red and orange flowers would reduce crime,’ she concluded, ‘and introducing a water feature would reduce poverty. I was brought up with this ancient knowledge.’


6. Therefore, WHY would anybody expect her views on religion to be, like, sane?

So, whenever you think that woomeisters  couldn’t possibly stoop as low as to do something really really horrible, they always disappoint you. I mean:

There are concerns the detectors have failed to stop bomb attacks which have killed hundreds of people.

What sort of detector would that be? And why would anybody buy it in the first place? And for 40000$/piece, no less?


The device consists of a swivelling aerial mounted to a hinge on a hand-grip. It does not operate by battery, instead promotional material says it is powered only by the user’s static electricity.

Ouch. Also:

Mr McCormick has said the device, sold from offices in Sparkford, Somerset, used special electronic cards slotted into it to detect explosives.

But a BBC Newsnight investigation reported that a computer laboratory said the card it examined contained only a tag used by shops to prevent theft.

Mr McCormick is the original scammer, I believe.

Personally, I also believe, he should walk through a minefield or something equally explosive  to prove the efficacy of his contraption. I mean, it’s only fair. Since he still insists it’s working.

The device was sold, apart from Iraq, to 20 other mostly Far Eastern countries.

It’s a bit hard to tell what’s most appalling part about the entire incident; the deaths that were indubitably caused by evidently useless equipment, the racist neocolonialist behaviour of the scammer (LOL LET’S SELL THIS SHINY MAGICAL BEADS WANDS TO THOSE STUPID BROWN PEOPLE IT’S NOT LIKE THEY COULD EVER NOTICE ANYWAY, LOLOLOL!!!1!!), or the fact that nobody noticed it until now.

Some more ridiculous claims about the purported efficacy of the device were listed here.

ETA: via #ttdkn, of course <3

Soooo, I go offline to write up some stuff, and I have so much stuff to write at the moment that the only thing that prevents me from having a complete nervous breakdown is the sense of duty (DUTYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY);

anyway I go offline, and the next thing I see when I stumble vaguely downwards in the general direction of the  back-to-the-internets and ah-fundies-hell

(or, rather, am summoned back from the seventh circle of hell – the circle reserved for people who have to write things, so that they can concentrate when the sweet, screeching sound of wailing of Xian sinners fills their dark bitter hearts with much needed warmth& warm fuzzy feelings of glee, schadenfreude and GLEE – by e-mails and messages asking me DID U SEE THAT DID U?????)

well, what’s the next thing?


Bible Possibly Written Centuries Earlier, Text Suggests

asdfasdfasdfghasdfghasdfghasdfghasdfghadfghasdfghasdfghasdfgh NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Well. Let’s start from the beginning

(and also make the necessary disclaimer that I can’t really say anything until I see the article in a proper scientific journal, because, LOL, this is how it works)

(unless you’re a fuckwit who believes Albright& Thiele  – as a typical person who deals with ANE, my first reaction was “WTF is Thiele?”, my second reaction was to google, my third was “Ah, USian fundies, OKAAAAY!”, my fourth to e-mail a Prof who is an actual Semitist just to make sure. The Prof’s first reaction was “LOL THIELE”, her second “LOL FUNDIES” so there – that Albright&Thiele are scholars whose research should be still taken seriously in the year 2010. For one, it’s terribly outdated, second, their methodology was, frankly, appallingly unscientific, third, they were both archaeologists, and as such, not really trained to interpret texts properly. The Wiki editors, though, seem to be strangely enamoured of them. It probably has something to do with noxious fumes and  sulfurous vapours from the influence of  Conservapaedia  >.>)


what Galil Gershom seems to claim is:

1. The inscription from from Khirbet Qeiyafa is written in Hebrew.

2. It can be dated to X century BCE.

3. The presence of writing in Israel at such an early period could prove that the Bible was written much earlier than heretofore assumed.

Ad 1> His interpretation seems to hinge on the presence of two verbs which, as he himself admits, do occur in other Canaanite languages, albeit with lesser frequency.

It has to be noted that the text itself is very fragmentary and heavily damaged.

Also, I’d like to remind everybody about the blunders that are in fact sometimes made when it comes to interpreting ancient texts, such as these, where a private letter was suggested to be a part of an epic poem.

However, even if Gershom’s interpretation is correct, it means very little for the chronology of the redaction of the  Bible.

Ad 2> I’d have to take a look at whatever was published about the excavations. If anything has been published at all.

It might not have been, yet.

Ad 3> Here, we come to the crux of the argument, and where it’s time to call bullshit.

Because, the lack of Hebrew writing system is NOT the ultimate proof for the late redaction of the Bible. There are multiple other arguments, and trying to turn the scientific consensus (VI century BCE and later redaction) into another false controversy replete with straw men and non-sequiturs is a complete, utter and total failure on the part of whoever did it, be it Gershom himself or the maverick journalist who wrote the press release(1).

There are multiple other factors that have to be taken into account when dating ancient texts, such as, for instance, the cultural background. Sometimes older words for garments, vessels, and the like, have to be explained by added glosses, because they are no longer comprehensible to later readers. There is  ample evidence for such “gloss-like” passages in the Bible. There is also plenty of other indirect evidence for the “traditional” chronology being, basically, drivel and complete bullshit, intended to alleviate crazy biblical literalists’ existential Angst about their favourite book(2) not being true.

Also, even if the Hebrew writing was a later invention, it doesn’t mean that writing was unknown in Syria and Palestine. There is evidence that the Egyptian hieroglyphics had been known since at least early III millenium BCE in Arad and Southern Canaan, where they were sometimes used as decorative motives, which might suggest the local population couldn’t read them yet. In the XIV century BCE Amarna several hundred letters to and from Syro-Palestinian kings were excavated, all of them written on cuneiform tablets in Akkadian. Also, this:

The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought. (The Bible’s Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.)

Yeah. The Earth was thought to be first created flat, too.

(It most likely was indeed written in a Hebrew alphabet, but arguments like that? Oh, FFS)

Right. I’ll just go and do some work now.

(1) As usual and for anec-datal reasons, I’m a strict adherent of the “always blame the science journalist” theory.

(2) It never ceases to be amusing how some many people claim their favourite book is one they never read.

This is better than a blog. This is like a shopping list for a philologist: it shows you what a person uses, what are their needs, and what they like, and what they don’t and so on.

The bonus is, it has the author’s own meta-commentary which allows a curious anthropologist a unique glimpse into the life of an angry middle-class white anglophone theist. As usual, it starts with a persecution complex and quickly degenerates from there:

Amazon’s CEO, being an anti-Christian bigot, allows me and other Christians to be repeatedly harassed by Amazon’s community moderators and other anti-Christians, including allowing them to repeatedly leave fake reviews on Christian books.

I believe the terminus technicus for this kind of whining is “aw, world’s smallest violin!”.

1. The stuff he is interested in that isn’t media includes:

a. A knife with which he doesn’t seem to be happy:

I really hate these dumb laws forbidding automatic knives which are causing the market to be flooded with junk like this. It’s hard on the fingers to open and feels crumby and clumsy when it sets open rubbing against the metal below the knife. How is it it’s legal to own and shoot a gun in self defense, but not a knife? Someone please get rid of these dumb anti-self-defense government laws, it’s sickening.

Uh-huh, what does he need an automatic knife for?  Is this a countryside thing, where you could need an automatic knife for some bizarre countryside things which I would have no idea of?

Somehow, I believe, epistemological scepticism is in order.

b. A bicycle cover. When he starts ranting, though, the rant has very little to do with bicycles at all:

Note: this review would have shown up a day earlier but once again the amazon community moderators decided to harass me for my religion and delete without notification. So much for the “We’re trying to be the most customer centric” lie. The moron amazon moderators, who are massively evil liberal morons refrained from harassing me by interfering with my reviews for me being a fundamentalist Christian, using arbitrary reasons like, “WE couldn’t tell if you liked it or not”(…)

Halfway through I started wondering if he would ever get to the actual bicycle cover part at all, but alas. He didn’t. The happy end:

How can amazon be the most customer centric if they approve of stalking Christians? . I hope this review satisfies their arbitrary length requirements, you evil bigots. You are begging to be sued.

Aw, sweet! I wonder whether he consulted his internet lawyer yet.

c. An electric turkey fryer and roaster. This review totally freaked me out, because, well. If this guy suddenly disappears from the internets and later, a Darwin award will be given to a angry middle-class white anglophone theist? We will so know who it was.

I mean, seriously. I hope he never actually never does anything stupid like breathing in CO2 to prove his point, because:



Yeah, coming out of our mouths all right. But in? In is a completely different story :( I gathered that he considers Wikipedia a huge liberal conspiracy, but for what it’s worth:

Toxicity and its effects increase with the concentration of CO2, here given in volume percent of CO2 in the air:

  • At about 8% it causes headache, sweating, dim vision, tremor and loss of consciousness after exposure for between five and ten minutes.
  • Yeah, so. Hopefully, the guy isn’t actually dumb enough to try to prove anything to anybody :\

    d. A ceramic tower heater:

    1) The LCD on the heater is an ugly mentally disturbing green.

    Ah, an interesting colour.

    2. As for the media:

    a. Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years

    The “fundamentalism” in the title of the second book is misleading though since there is nothing wrong with having beliefs and the opposite of fundamentalism is arbitrariness or ignorance. Also everyone has beliefs that they won’t change on, why pick on that? Further, the fundamentalists this book attacks aren’t fundamentlists, but Arbitrarians I call them, since they have beliefs based on their feelings. But knowing that, that second book has much good info.

    “The opposite (sic!) of fundamentalism is arbitrariness or ignorance”? Huh? I must be new to the whole synonym/antonym thing, then. And beliefs based on feelings? I’m sorry, this offends my Vulcan logic.

    Otherwise, guys, this is so hilarious!

    b. Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK (Volume 1)

    Besides being an incredible breakthrough work, it’s yet more evidence of how corrupt our government is. It just never ends.

    Hah. There is another thing that just never ends. Heeee.

    What sick idiots from Hell.

    It’s quite fascinating to see how he conflates categories here for the effect of creating omgosh! the most potent insult ever! They are idiots! But they’re also sick!

    IN HELL!1111111111!!!!111

    c. He also writes scathing reviews of Windows OSs, which after brief skimming I concluded to be mostly on topic. However, the day when I actually stoop as low as to read computer programmme rants on Amazon will be the day I give up the internets forever.

    I hoped someone would recommend to him Ubuntu, though.

    I know, I know. It’s unethical.

    d. His review of Racing Toward Armageddon: The Three Great Religions and the Plot to End the World contains, well, among other things, his predictably misogynistic views on abortion:

    An obvious flaw with this is that fundamentalists are known for trying to save babies not abort them with a red cow and nukes. And according to a few psychos fundamentalists are like Hitler because they try to get everyone to have more babies (yes that’s isanely backwards and stupid). SO, even in twisted people like that realize fundamentalist Christians aren’t trying to kill everyone off, but trying to increase the world’s population (like ever heard of “be fruitful and multiply”? one of the most common phrases in North America, kinda hard to miss), so the authoer must be severely blind.

    Ouch. I think his sources about “most common phrases in North America” might be a bit biased.

    Multiple Bible quotations follow. Then:

    Clearly Baigent and Ian are so stupid, they can’t understand plain speech, and in their abhorrence of justice, can’t believe that God would actually punish wrong doing.

    This is sort of adorable, like a stupid puppy running into a snowdrift or a tiny kitten trying to eat the woolen decoration on my hat and then vomiting all over the room.

    e. He enjoyed Jeff Sharlett’s The Family, which I found extremely hilarious, and which also makes one wonder about the degree of development of his reading comprehension skills.

    f.  His review of Biblical Numerology: A Basic Study of the Use of Numbers in the Bible made me giggle, a bit:

    Excellent Objective Scholarly Work

    is followed by:

    This is a thorough and very readable book and the other rightly defends the perfection of Scripture, God’s word, which has changed the world for the better by those who use it for good and even by those who use it for mere personal gain.

    Yeah. Yet again, a really not very bright Biblical literalist proves that to a Biblical literalist “objective” = “agrees with all my preconceptions, prejudices, and bigotry”.

    (Also: using Biblical dates/numbers for actually counting anything, worse yet, trying to date historical events, or possible historical events, must be, like, the dumbest thing ever. EVER!)

    There are 20 pages of this stuff. I must do important things now, though.

    Which is all very well, since it would indubitably be Vogon-awful.


    In the process of researching silly memes for my meme-post, which I will post tomorrow(1), I came across this gem:

    “The two-horned mitre, which the Pope wears, when he sits on the high altar at Rome and receives the adoration of the Cardinals, is the very mitre worn by the priests of Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines and Babylonians.”


    Do I have to list things that are wrong with this one very short sentence? Yes, I have:

    1. It’s not two-horned. Don’t even try to suggest that it’s anything like the Mesopotamian Hörnerkrone, because you will be wrong, and I will tell you why you are wrong, where you are just wrong, and where you are wronger than wrong, and then proceed to verbally abuse you just because I can.

    2. The pope, as far as I can tell, rarely sits on an altar.

    3. Especially not when the cardinals are present, I should think.

    4. No one has any bloody idea as to what the priests of Dagon actually wore.

    5. And it was most likely different in different places and periods, and, you know. Dagan was a god with more or less 2000 years of well attested worship history from Middle Euphrates area to the Levantine coast. Does anybody(2) really expect there would be a standardised priestly uniform in that entire area during the 2000 year period? No, I didn’t think so.

    6. Dagan was not a fish-god. This is in fact an old meme, made up by St Jerome and other early Christian theologians.

    7. The Levantine coast was full of people, and, le gasp, not all of them were Philistines.

    8. Babylonians weren’t really so hot about Dagan. He was primarily a Syrian deity.

    This is how many things are wrong with just one sentence. Shall we even proceed? Yes, we shall, because I’m a nasty person and will not hesitate to kick a defeated meme, even after it already died and, went stiff, decomposed, and even stopped smelling funny ages ago.

    The Mystery religion of ancient Babylon / Assyria, was noted for the priestly class of “Dagon” in much the same way that the “Mystery” religion of Rome has copied it.


    1. While Dagan was indeed also worshipped in Assyria and Babylonia, he was primary a Syrian deity. Please note also that in the cuneiform his name was spelled “Dagan”, because cuneiform has no sign for “o”.

    2. This is also a good moment to mention that while the imagination of modern day ignoramuses would suggest that there were only two different groups in the Ancient Near East, namely a) the Jewish people, b) the pagan people, this is a very inaccurate impression. There were marked differences between the inhabitants of southern and northern Mesopotamia, Elam (parts of modern Iran), various regions of Syria (the contrast that is easiest to see is inland Syria – coastal Syria), the Levantine coast, etc. The contrast between the Jewish people and the neighbouring pagan people, on the other hand, wasn’t as great as it’s usually made out to be in monotheistic memes.

    3. There was very little “Mystery” in the ANE religions, I’m afraid(3).

    4. Even less mystery in the Catholic Church(3).

    5. It’s easier to parse cultural exchange when you think that religious concepts were copied by C&P sort of a deal between various religionists, but the thing is, this is absolutely incorrect. It would be more accurate to say that from a large pool of shared ideas, the most attractive were chosen and improved upon (there are gods in my city; they are stronger than the gods of our neighbours –> there is god in my city; he is stronger than the gods of our neighbours, because they don’t exist, etc).

    There’s nothing in the Bible that indicates that Jesus wore such a hat.

    Or a watch. Or boots. Or a dozen of other things, and yet. What sort of an argument is that?

    Also, I don’t think there’s a tendency in most world’s religions to clothe the class of religious specialists in what their god used to wear.

    Incidentally, even with my tenuous grasp of Catholic theology I  understand perfectly well that it’s not Jesus but St Peter whom the pope is supposed to represent, anyway.

    But there’s moar!

    “…there are strong evidences that Dagon was Nimrod…. All scholars agree that the name and worship of Dagon were imported from Babylonia. ”
    – The Two Babylons, Hislop, p. 215

    Absolutely not. All scholars agree that the name and worship of Dagan were exported to Babylonia.

    “In their veneration and worship of Dagon, the high priest of paganism would actually put on a garment that had been created from a huge fish! The head of the fish formed a mitre above that of the old man, while its scaly, fan-like tail fell as a cloak behind, leaving the human limbs and feet exposed.”
    – Babylon and Nineveh, Austen Henry Layard, p. 343

    And here we get to the crux of crankery! Because A.H. Layard, one of the fathers of assyriology, was born in 1817, and died in 1894. This means that when he was excavating Nimrud – or, as the ancients called it, Kalhu – in the late 1840, he knew virtually nothing about the history and cultures of the Ancient Near East apart from what the Bible told him. Cuneiform – the writing system that was used by many civilisations in the ANE, was being deciphered at the time. Not only were there not nearly enough tablets recovered from ancient sites for the scholars to have any sensible idea of what the civilisations of ANE looked like, but the cuneiform tablets that were recovered? Well, bummer, but people couldn’t really read them yet. By 1851 Rawlinson and Hicks could read about 200 signs, and while it is enough to read most texts that are concerned with daily life, it is not enough to read religious texts at all. Which you would have to find and identify as religious texts first, anyway.

    What we have is: an awe-struck Victorian scholar, uncovering for the first time in thousands of years monumental buildings and sculptures(4) that depicted stuff that must have been so absolutely incomprehensible to him as to be almost alien. He had no primary sources to help him interpret what he saw, apart from the Bible, and the works of early Christians and Roman literati. The Roman (and Greek) literati would have been awestruck, too, only none of them really saw what Layard did, because most Babylonian and Assyrian cities had long been destroyed by the time they were active (or, their Assyrian or Babylonian architecture, and do bear in mind that in a war, palaces and temples are the first to be plundered).

    Therefore, when Layard saw men in fish costumes what could he possibly do but make up exciting stuff about wicked oriental pagan cults?

    fish genius from Kalhu, has nothing to do with Dagan at all

    There you go; a brief googling provided us with a photo of the nice fish guy from Kalhu. Nowadays we know that he was no priest, but a so-called genius, who was supposed to protect the king (whose palace was located in Kalhu) from evil.

    (Incidentally, there was no temple of Dagan in Kalhu at all, which is to be expected in an Assyrian city)

    “The most prominent form of worship in Babylon was dedicated to Dagon, later known as Ichthys, or the fish. In Chaldean times, the head of the church was the representative of Dagon, he was considered to be infallible, and was addressed as ‘Your Holiness’. Nations subdued by Babylon had to kiss the ring and slipper of the Babylonian god-king. The same powers and the same titles are claimed to this day by the Dalai Lama of Buddhism, and the Pope. Moreover, the vestments of paganism, the fish mitre and robes of the priests of Dagon are worn by the Catholic bishops, cardinals and popes.
    -The Wine of Babylon; Pg 9

    No, the most prominent form of worship in Babylon was of course dedicated to Marduk, the patron-deity of Babylon *eyeroll*. There was no such thing as “head of church” in the Ancient Near East at all. There were various temples with their own hierarchy of priests, and the importance of various temples was largely dependant on the current religio-political situation. To make is as simple as possible, in the third millenium BCE the most important temples that got most sacrifices and donations were the temples of Anum, who, it was thought,  awarded kingship to the kings. The situation changed in the second millenium BCE, when Enlil got more important than Anum(5).

    The excavations done of ancient Nineveh and Babylon have shed light on the shocking connection between Dagon the fish-god and the Pope’s Mitre (hat).


    Also, no Niniveh in Niniveh, really, which is something I probably should have said from the start. This only shows how really very little the first assyriologists knew about the stuff they were studying: Layard thought that Kalhu (which we discussed above, and which was the city he discovered) was the biblical city of Niniveh. The book he wrote about Niniveh is actually about Kalhu. The title of the modern editions of Layard’s book is usually left unchanged, but, for Ashshur’s sake, this stuff is on Wiki.

    But I guess that if you’re a dimwitted incompetent crank you just wouldn’t bother to research that, would you?

    Research, pah. It must be for Catholics or something *eyeroll*.

    (1) OTOH: we (La Housemate, La Kidlet, and me) were making stuff from Salzteig, which is like home-made Play-Doh. I bravely produced: demented pig (one), demented cat (one), Dalek army (two Daleks) and the Great Cthulhu. Therefore, I might want to spend tomorrow painting it all  pink and sprinkling my Dalek army with pink glitter instead of blogging.  I am actually seriously considering my options at the moment.

    (2) Anybody sane, that is.

    (3) In fact, the only mystery I can think of is “so, why did they believe all that bullshit again?”

    (4)Yup, some of what he found is in British Museum. It’s HUGE.

    (5) This is of course a gross oversimplification. But if you’re a non-specialist you’re probably not interested in the exact chronology of which god was most important where and why.