Right Thinking From The Left Coast
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

In Search Of:  Santa Claus
by Lee

A group of scientists is—get this—seeking peer reviewed papers to attempt to prove that Santa Claus exists.

The Institute for Father Christmas Research (FCR) is pleased to announce the inaugural Call for Papers for the International Journal of Santa Claus Research (IJSCR).

IJSCR is a professional peer-reviewed journal of interdisciplinary scientific research that presents evidence of the existence of Santa Claus within a socioeconomic and cultural framework.

Addressing the need to disseminate the vast field of research conducted by experts in geology, genetics, astronomy, and other disciplines of science, IJSCR provides scientists and students hard data based on cutting-edge research that demonstrates the flying sleigh, the magical reindeer, the list of who has been naughty and nice, and other evidences that correlate to the legendary Santa Claus accounts.

It is our hope that you will be encouraged in your study of Santa science issues that remain at the forefront of education and research.

Okay, so I made it up a little.  But the truth is just as stupid.

Posted by Lee on 04/30/07 at 06:24 PM (Discuss this in the forums)

Comments


Posted by on 04/30/07 at 06:35 PM from United States

I was not sure if you were going to bash creation science [sic] or climate science [sic] with this one.  Either one could fit.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/30/07 at 08:33 PM from United States

Cool, I’ve been looking for someplace where I could submit my paper on Noah’s Ark and why the dinosaurs were denied passage.

Posted by on 04/30/07 at 08:44 PM from United States

Cool, I’ve been looking for someplace where I could submit my paper on Noah’s Ark and why the dinosaurs were denied passage.

Good grief, WVR, you’re on a roll!

Posted by on 04/30/07 at 09:15 PM from United States

Either one could fit.

Any hypothesis could fit. 

How stupid of those round Earth people to think that the Earth is round.  Any fool can see with their own eyes that it’s flat.

How stupid of those witch doctor morons to put moldy bread on that festering wound.  Everyone knows that the poisons can only be sucked out with leeches.

How stupid of those brane theory fools to think that magic inter-dimensional space plates collided to create the big bang.  How retarded do you have to be to not realize that a 5th dimensional entity cannot rotate through 3 dimensional space?

Posted by on 04/30/07 at 10:57 PM from United States

We just have to have faith in science that it will prevail.

Posted by on 04/30/07 at 11:30 PM from United States

You mean faith in naturalism…

Posted by on 05/01/07 at 12:26 AM from United States

I thought it was going to be “proof” of jesus and the bible....too bad there isn’t any.

Of course, you’re supposed to have faith, not proof.  If you have proof then your belief is meaningless.  Of course, if you’re an atheist, faith alone is pretty much meaningless anyway....where was I going with this?

Oh yeah, these guys are fucking morons no matter how you look at it.

Posted by on 05/01/07 at 01:00 AM from Australia

How stupid of those round Earth people to think that the Earth is round.  Any fool can see with their own eyes that it’s flat.

Hey, let’s do an experiment to see which is true. We’ll plot the angle of the sun at different places on the globe, at the same time.

How stupid of those witch doctor morons to put moldy bread on that festering wound.  Everyone knows that the poisons can only be sucked out with leeches.

Hey, let’s do an experiment to see which is true. We’ll get 100 patients with the same condition and treat half with leeches and half with bread.

Posted by on 05/01/07 at 05:29 AM from United States

Hey, let’s do an experiment

Hey, that is the way it’s supposed to work.  It seems to me this is exactly what the guy is proposing.  He’s looking for experiments that find evidence for the existence of something.

The point is that people mock what they don’t understand.  They mock you for thinking the Earth is round.  They mock you for thinking it’s flat.  But what purpose does that serve? 

You don’t think there’s enough evidence for the existance of God?  That’s fine.  Really.  But what exactly is the point of discouraging people who look for more evidence?  Doesn’t that fly in the face of the scientific principles of gathering and studying evidence?

If you have proof then your belief is meaningless.

Meaningless to whom?  You?  Faith is not some mindless venture after something that is believed to be untrue.  I don’t have faith that a rock will do my 2007 tax return this year.  There’s no evidence to support the idea that it would.  There is evidence to support the idea of God.  You may find that evidence to be circumstantial.  You may find that you lack enough evidence to believe in God.  But that doesn’t mean that people who do believe in God don’t have any evidence at all, or that they only subsist on blind faith.

Posted by on 05/01/07 at 06:48 AM from Australia

But what exactly is the point of discouraging people who look for more evidence?  Doesn’t that fly in the face of the scientific principles of gathering and studying evidence?

If they want to waste their money on it then that’s fine, I have no problem. The point is that it doesn’t matter how much evidence they collect - creationism isn’t a testable hypothesis. That’s why it’s not science. As soon as someone tries to make a testable hypothesis (irreducible complexity, for instance) then it’s fairly rapidly demolished by the evolutionary biologists.

But that doesn’t mean that people who do believe in God don’t have any evidence at all, or that they only subsist on blind faith.

I think it does - I’ve never seen any evidence for any sort of god. If you have any, let’s have a look at it. Remember that evidence has to be reproducible and not just “I feel his presence”, or “the bible says so”.

Posted by on 05/01/07 at 10:58 AM from United States

The point is that it doesn’t matter how much evidence they collect - creationism isn’t a testable hypothesis. That’s why it’s not science.

Neither is the illusive M-brane theory, big bang theory, and many other places at the outer limits of physical science at which the laws fall apart.  Does that mean that they are not science either?

Remember that evidence has to be reproducible

We’ve been over this before, I’m sure.

Historical evidence is evidence.  History does not die with the last credible witness to observe it.  I cannot produce Alexander the Great for you.  Does that invalidate his existence?  Would he need to conquer the known world before your very eyes before you believed such a feat possible?

Posted by on 05/01/07 at 12:30 PM from United Kingdom

Neither is the illusive M-brane theory, big bang theory, and many other places at the outer limits of physical science at which the laws fall apart.  Does that mean that they are not science either?

To be honest, I think ‘testable hypothesis’ is redundant. Something untestable is a conjecture, something testable is a hypothesis, and a hypothesis that passes all tests is a theory.

Biblical truth is a hypothesis, but one which can easily be tested and proved inaccurate.

Historical evidence is evidence.  History does not die with the last credible witness to observe it.  I cannot produce Alexander the Great for you.  Does that invalidate his existence?

Not really. You have the hypothesis that Alexander existed and you can test that hypothesis not only in ancient writings, but in evidence collected today. An example might be the existence today of blue-eyed people in Iran and Afghanistan, where but for the injection of European bloodlines you would expect to find only brown.

Crucially, there is no evidence that he did not exist, and therefore the hypothesis can be passed.

Posted by on 05/01/07 at 04:47 PM from United States

At least you don’t have to worry about going to hell if you don’t believe in Science . . .

Posted by on 05/01/07 at 07:27 PM from United States

Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum

What more do I have to prove my own existence?  What will bear testimony to my existence after I am gone?

there is no evidence that he did not exist, and therefore the hypothesis can be passed.

What sort of logic is this? What evidence would prove that Alexander the Great did not exist?  If none can be provided is it assured that he did? 

All we have that separates our perception of Alexander the Great and Hercules is the narrative style, and credibility of the authors that relay their stories to us.  Both are preserved on coins, statues, buildings, in songs, and story.  Both leave behind copious amounts of evidence of their existence (at least as characters in historical narrative.) What would you propose as proof beyond the veracity of the written record that either one did or did not exist?

Scholars of repute do agree that Jesus is a historical figure, and that it is quite plausible that he did indeed exist.  That leaves you with the credibility of the narrators who tell you about his life to judge for yourself whether or not the story of his life is credible.  Is Jesus the character the same guy as Jesus the man?  I am quite willing to believe he is because I am willing to trust in the credibility of the narrators, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul.

An example might be the existence today of blue-eyed people in Iran and Afghanistan, where but for the injection of European bloodlines you would expect to find only brown.

Cum Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc.  Blue eyes in Mesopotamia does not provide evidence for the existence of a single historical figure that may or may not have existed during the origin of a blue eye trait, let alone a historical figure as fantastic as Alexander the Great.  After all, the silk road is thought to have existed millennium before Alexander is thought to have existed.  A 7000 year old trade route is a far more likely cause of genetic mixing than Alexander’s bunch knocking up some camp followers.

Beyond that, if you were to apply your evidence within the context of evidence offered against the existence of God, it could easily be explained that random chance is an equal opportunity provider.  If there is an ability to mutate a blue eye trait in Germania then there is an equal chance that trait may arise in Mesopotamia. 

Alexander the Great is thus left on the same scientific shelf as God until such a time arises that we might provide “reproducible evidence” that either exists.

Posted by on 05/02/07 at 02:57 AM from United Kingdom

What sort of logic is this? What evidence would prove that Alexander the Great did not exist?  If none can be provided is it assured that he did?

No, because nothing in science is proved to the extent where it is absolutely assured. It is only proven to the point where we can assign temporary acceptance to the underlying theory. This acceptance can be revoked at any time if more data comes to light.

Both leave behind copious amounts of evidence of their existence (at least as characters in historical narrative.) What would you propose as proof beyond the veracity of the written record that either one did or did not exist?

The existence of a great Greek leader in the time of Alexander can be shown by the spread of Greek artifacts across the world at that time. If some of these artifacts are stamped with the name Alexander, it would be obtuse to withold acceptance from the theory that the leader’s name was Alex.

However, no solid evidence (like - I don’t know - hydra bones) has ever been found to indicate the veracity of the accounts of Hercules. Indeed his story is an extraordinary one, and so an extraordinary standard of proof is required. It would be obtuse to withold acceptance from the theory that he was just a story.

Scholars of repute do agree that Jesus is a historical figure, and that it is quite plausible that he did indeed exist.  That leaves you with the credibility of the narrators who tell you about his life to judge for yourself whether or not the story of his life is credible.  Is Jesus the character the same guy as Jesus the man?  I am quite willing to believe he is because I am willing to trust in the credibility of the narrators, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul.

I am willing to accept that a man of that name lived in Palestine about 2,000 years ago. There is enough evidence to lend credence to the theory that he existed, because the physical existance of one man is not an extraordinary claim.

However the claim that He was the son of God is extraordinary, and there is not enough evidence to accept it. It would be obtuse to do so without extraordinary proof.

Blue eyes in Mesopotamia does not provide evidence for the existence of a single historical figure that may or may not have existed during the origin of a blue eye trait, let alone a historical figure as fantastic as Alexander the Great.  After all, the silk road is thought to have existed millennium before Alexander is thought to have existed.  A 7000 year old trade route is a far more likely cause of genetic mixing than Alexander’s bunch knocking up some camp followers.

You’re probably right - that was the first aspect of Alexander’s legacy that came to mind, and it’s not watertight. How accurately the trait can be dated, I don’t know. But what you can prove is that not all giraffes are descended from two individuals which survived a global flood several thousand years ago.

Proving that the Bible is inaccurate in a central tenet of its story destroys a lot of its credibility thoughout, just as a load of Greek coins stamped with the name Gilbert would undermine the theory that the great leader was named Alexander.

If there is an ability to mutate a blue eye trait in Germania then there is an equal chance that trait may arise in Mesopotamia.

Perhaps, but there may not be an equal chance that it would multiply. I’m guessing here, because this isn’t my field, but I would imagine that people in hot countries can use all the dark pigmentation that they can get. Northerners can do with much less, and so the trait may have an easier ride.

Alexander the Great is thus left on the same scientific shelf as God until such a time arises that we might provide “reproducible evidence” that either exists.

Give me a year scratching around in the dirt of Iraq and I’ll get you a brand-new piece of evidence that Alexander existed, such as a coin stamped with his name or a piece of writing.

Give you a year in Israel, and you might well achieve the same feat with Jesus. However, you will not be able to prove that he was the son of God, unless you turn up something truly Earth-shattering.

Thus, we can lend acceptance to our theories that Alex the man and Jesus the man existed. But to lend acceptance to the extraordinary claim that Jesus was the son of God, without extraordinary proof, would be obtuse.

Posted by on 05/02/07 at 08:34 PM from Australia

I might add to Patrick’s excellent explanation that the variety of sources matters too. Alexander is attested to by friend and foe alike, whereas the evidence for a Nazarene carpenter is largely confined to reports from people with a vested interest in the legend.

The same thing, by the way, applies to some of Alexander’s more outlandish exploits (not his existence). History is written by the victors, and all that.

Posted by on 05/03/07 at 02:26 PM from United States

I might add to Patrick’s excellent explanation that the variety of sources matters too.

It’s still argumentative, and that’s my point.  The witnesses cannot be produced, and therefor they are not reproducible.  Regardless, even if they were producible they can still be considered fallible.  History is written by the victors, right?  There’s no way to be assured (scientifically) that either side of the historical record is telling the truth of the matter.

The burden of proof to show that Alexander was indeed who we believe he was lay in your faith of the credibility of those who tell you about him.  A coin with the name Alexander on it does not prove that Alexander was a general who led his armies at the front of his van in nothing but a leather skirt and a bronze helmet.  The coin may be evidence in support of our theories about him, but it can never be offered as concrete evidence that the name got there in the same way we think it did. 

His actions, the way he lived his life, and the way people interacted with him can only be recorded in text.  If the text cannot be held as credible simply because it is not concrete or reproducible, then how can it be scientifically proven that the history took place as we recorded it?

However the claim that He was the son of God is extraordinary, and there is not enough evidence to accept it

Extraordinary claims aside, if we cannot provide concrete evidence of the ordinary, how could we possibly provide concrete evidence of the extraordinary?

It is only proven to the point where we can assign temporary acceptance to the underlying theory.

One last point to make.  Reality is not relative.  The truth does not change as our perception of truth changes.  Truth is constant regardless of our understanding of it.  If we are to be honest in our search for truth then it only follows that all avenues of probability should be explored.

If it’s probable that there’s 12 dimensions of which we can only perceive 4, why is it not probable that there is an entity that exists within one of those dimensions that we cannot perceive?

Posted by on 05/03/07 at 02:58 PM from United States

Or 10 dimensions at least.

Posted by on 05/03/07 at 05:51 PM from United Kingdom

The witnesses cannot be produced, and therefor they are not reproducible.  Regardless, even if they were producible they can still be considered fallible.  History is written by the victors, right?  There’s no way to be assured (scientifically) that either side of the historical record is telling the truth of the matter.

Exactly - I think that’s why Orpheus made the distinction between Alexander and his exploits. But I’m afraid I don’t follow what you mean by the ‘two sides of the historical record’. Do you have a source which claims the Greeks never left Greece, or can you show me a huge swath of central Asia with no Greek artifacts?

The coin may be evidence in support of our theories about him, but it can never be offered as concrete evidence that the name got there in the same way we think it did

Again I agree, because nothing is ever proven beyond doubt. But when you have masses of evidence pointing to the same conclusion, do you not think it obtuse to withold acceptance from the theory?

Extraordinary claims aside, if we cannot provide concrete evidence of the ordinary, how could we possibly provide concrete evidence of the extraordinary?

I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re getting at here.

Perhaps my own point isn’t clear. If I was to make an ordinary claim (a man named Jesus walked the Earth 2000 years ago, or I have a chicken in my garage), a relatively low standard of proof would suffice. A few scraps of documents, or a photo of the chicken.

If I made an extraordinary claim (Jesus was the son of God, or I have a dodo in my garage), an extraordinary standard of proof would be needed. A consistent Bible filled with scientific accuracy, or a DNA work-up of the dodo, would merely be a start.

If it’s probable that there’s 12 dimensions of which we can only perceive 4, why is it not probable that there is an entity that exists within one of those dimensions that we cannot perceive?

I can’t get my head round more than four, but why should we accept an extraordinary claim that God, heaven and hell exist somewhere we can’t see on the strength of a moderately-inaccurate historical document? After all, you said yourself that their veracity cannot be assured.

Posted by on 05/04/07 at 03:28 PM from United States

After all, you said yourself that their veracity cannot be assured.

If their perceptions are void because they took place at a point in the past (the 4th dimention), how do you differentiate your faith in their perceptions, and your faith in your own perceptions, or the perceptions of people who are currently working on our present description of reality? 

But I’m afraid I don’t follow what you mean by the ‘two sides of the historical record’

This was meant to address the scope of the sources that Orpheus mentioned.  I was referring to the people who were on Alexander’s side, and the people who were defeated by him.

Perhaps my own point isn’t clear. If I was to make an ordinary claim (a man named Jesus walked the Earth 2000 years ago, or I have a chicken in my garage), a relatively low standard of proof would suffice. A few scraps of documents, or a photo of the chicken.

That’s rather subjective view, wouldn’t you say?  What constitutes an ordinary claim?  Is there a yardstick by which one judges and extraordinary claim?

Posted by on 05/05/07 at 03:23 AM from United Kingdom

If their perceptions are void because they took place at a point in the past (the 4th dimention),

They’re not void because they took place in the past - indeed they are not void at all. But they are insufficient to prove an extraordinary event for exactly the same reason that hearsay evidence has such a low standard in court. You cannot trust written accounts without substantiating evidence.

If there were just written accounts of Alexander but no solid evidence that he existed, it would be fair to say that he was at best semi-legendary, like King Arthur. But there is loads of substantiating data that allows us to conclude that he was, in all probability, a real person.

That’s rather subjective view, wouldn’t you say?  What constitutes an ordinary claim?  Is there a yardstick by which one judges and extraordinary claim?

Do you not think that my ownership of a dodo would be incredible, but my ownership of a chicken perfectly reasonable? The point is that a claim must have proportionate evidence - hence a photo would do for the chicken, but weeks of examination by experts would be required for the dodo.

A moderately-inaccurate historical record, riddled with inconsistencies simply cannot be considered reasonable proof of life everlasting, any more than a moderately-inaccurate historical record riddled with inconsistencies can prove the existence of King Arthur.

Now if there was any solid evidence of either, I would be the first to review my position. What would it take to make you review yours? Or would nothing suffice?

I don’t think we’re going to convince each other, but thanks for the debate fang!

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