left biblioblography: WHEN IS ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE ANECDOTAL? A BRIEF EXAMINATION OF FLUKE LIETALKER.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

WHEN IS ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE ANECDOTAL? A BRIEF EXAMINATION OF FLUKE LIETALKER.

It is no surprise to anyone, that the human animal is a creature of selective perception: we see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear (as to the other three senses, well, if you’re so deeply mired in cognitive dissonance that pain feels good, sewers aren’t smelly, and sandpaper feels like silk, I’d suggest therapy fast), and via processing those two, perform mental gymnastics to tailor the visual and auditory input to retrofit the data as we like it.

Let’s take a quick look at anecdotal evidence, first:
(Snip)
“Anecdotal evidence is an informal account of evidence in the form of an anecdote. The term is usually used in contrast to scientific evidence, especially evidence-based medicine, which are types of formal accounts. Anecdotal evidence is often unscientific because it cannot be investigated using the scientific method.
When used in advertising or promotion of a product, service, or idea, anecdotal evidence is often called a testimonial. The term is also sometimes used in a legal context to describe certain kinds of testimony.
What constitutes anecdotal evidence is sometimes disputed on scientific or philosophical grounds. “
(Snip)
“Anecdotal evidence is often unscientific or pseudoscientific because various forms of cognitive bias may affect the collection or presentation of evidence. For instance, someone who claims to have had an encounter with a supernatural being or alien may present a very vivid story, but this is not falsifiable. This phenomenon can also happen to large groups of people through subjective validation.
Anecdotal evidence is also frequently misinterpreted via the availability heuristic, which leads to an overestimation of prevalence. Where a cause can be easily linked to an effect, people overestimate the likelihood of that the cause does have that effect (availability). In particular, vivid, emotionally charged anecdotes seem more plausible, and are given greater weight. A related issue is that it is usually impossible to assess for every piece of anecdotal evidence, the rate of people not reporting that anecdotal evidence in the population. “
(Snip)
Witness testimony is a common form of evidence in law, and law has mechanisms to test witness evidence for reliability or credibility. Legal processes for the taking and assessment of evidence are formalized. Some witness testimony could be described as anecdotal evidence, such as individual stories of harrassment as part of a class action lawsuit. However, witness testimony can be tested and assessed for reliability. Examples of approaches to testing and assessment include the use of questioning, evidence of corroborating witnesses, documents, video and forensic evidence. Where a court lacks suitable means to test and assess testimony of a particular witness, such as the absence of forms of corroboration or substantiation it may afford that testimony limited or no "weight" when making a decision on the facts.”
(End Snip)

Here is the table provided from the source cited above:


Miller and Miller (2005) list five standards of proof, by level of evidence:

Regulatory,Legal - - Precautionary Principle

Legal - Civil - * - More likely than not

Legal - Civil - ** - Clear and convincing

Legal - Criminal - *** - Beyond a reasonable doubt

Scientific - **** - Irrefutable


My point? I’m going to take a few justifiable swipes at a gospel, of course.

Luk 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Luk 1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

First, we test the veracity of the author: do we have any other record of this person existing? It’s claimed he was a physician: where did he study?

Here is the Wiki entry:

Luke the Evangelist (Greek Λουκᾶς Loukas) is said by tradition to be the author of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, the third and fifth books of the New Testament. In Catholicism, he is patron saint of painters, physicians and healers, and his feast day is October 18.
His earliest notice is in Paul's Epistle to Philemon, verse 24. He is also mentioned in Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:11, two works commonly ascribed to Paul. Our next earliest account of Luke is in the Anti-Marcionite Prologue to the Gospel of Luke, a document once thought to date to the 2nd century AD, but more recently has been dated to the later 4th century. However Helmut Koester claims the following part – the only part preserved in the original Greek – may have been composed in the late 2nd century:
Luke is a Syrian of Antioch, a Syrian by race, and a physician by profession. He had become a disciple of the apostles and later followed Paul until his [Paul's] martyrdom. Having served the Lord continuously, unmarried and without children, filled with the Holy Spirit he died at the age of 84 years. (p.335)
Some manuscripts add that Luke died "in Thebes, the capital of Boeotia". All of these facts support the conclusion that Luke was associated with Paul. “

Yeah, but who was this guy?
“Later tradition elaborates on these few facts. Epiphanius states that Luke was one of the Seventy (Panarion 51.11), and John Chrysostom indicates at one point that the "brother" Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 8:18 is either Luke or Barnabas. J. Wenham asserts that Luke was "one of the Seventy, the Emmaus disciple, Lucius of Cyrene and Paul's kinsman." Not all scholars are as confident of all of these attributes as Wenham is.
Another Christian tradition states that he was the first iconographer, and painted pictures of the Virgin Mary (The Black Madonna of Częstochowa) and of Peter and Paul. Thus late medieval guilds of St Luke in the cities of Flanders, or the Accademia di San Luca ("Academy of St Luke") in Rome, imitated in many other European cities during the 16th century, gathered together and protected painters. There is no scientific evidence to support the tradition that Luke painted icons of Mary and Jesus, though it was widely believed in earlier centuries, particularly in Eastern Orthodoxy. “
That’s all good and well, but who was this guy? Here is a fellow that the inerrantists tout as being a formidable historian, but we know very little about him. We know that he may have been Syrian: we know he may have been a companion of Paul. Where did he study? Did they issue degrees in that day and age? Who did he study under? Did he write something other than the two books (if he even did that)?
The paucity of records from that era is given in the equation: however, in the grand scheme of things, it stands to reason that there would be some sort of accountability, some sort of veracity that withstands the test of time. We’re talking about eyewitness testimony: and it does fall to the giver of testimony, to cite sources, provide instances, especially in lieu of the claim that this is humanity’s only hope for the hereafterian.
The silence of echos is deafening.
The argument is made of a strong oral tradition in those days: but the human condition, while not entirely free of societal constraints, carries with it items that transcend those constraints, both of time and environment. This is made evident in the wildly divergent accounts of the alleged crucifixion. It takes no degree to see the embellishment taken up a notch with each retelling of the story (see here).

The authorship of this gospel is so severely under fire, it may as well be tossed on the trashheap with other pseudepigrapha. Any efforts at defending it should be filed under argument from tradition, or perhaps under cognitive dissonance.

By my measurement, from the above table, Luke fails 4 of 5: even cutting out the Precautionary Principle (snip – “The principle can alternately be applied in an active sense, through the concept of "preventative anticipation" [1], or a willingness to take action in advance of scientific proof of evidence of the need for the proposed action on the grounds that further delay will prove ultimately most costly to society and nature, and, in the longer term, selfish and unfair to future generations.” End snip), we can see even from this uneducated, brief analysis, that Luke fails the rest of the criterion horrendously – More likely than not? Not. Clear and convincing? Nope. Beyond a reasonable doubt? Beyond reasonable, more like. Scientific? You gotta be kidding me.

The only reason this egregious nonsense is still being hotly contested, is the presupposition that Luke actually existed, and that the entire compilation is worthy of note.

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3 comments:

Beowulf said...

Science is not *infallible* we see science correcting science progressively throughout history and today. Luke’s authorship is never contested in early history; we don’t find variations and additions that suggest he was ‘added.’ You’ll also be able to find affirmations of Lukan authorship in the Muratorian Canon, the anti-Marcionite Prologue to Luke, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Jerome, and Eusebius. They also affirm Lukan authorship of the book of Acts (the second part of Luke). Sure it’s also noted by tradition, but I don’t see anything overwhelm enough to “toss the gospel in the heap of trash.”

Krystalline Apostate said...

BF:
Science is not *infallible* we see science correcting science progressively throughout history and today.
Well, never said that. Science is self-correcting, sure. Also subject to refinement.
Luke’s authorship is never contested in early history; we don’t find variations and additions that suggest he was ‘added.’
Of course he wasn't: it was dangerous to do so.
You’ll also be able to find affirmations of Lukan authorship in the Muratorian Canon, the anti-Marcionite Prologue to Luke, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Jerome, and Eusebius. They also affirm Lukan authorship of the book of Acts (the second part of Luke)
There's actually debate if the author of Luke was the same as the author of Acts. 2 distinctly different styles, if memory serves.

We know (or think we know) that Apollonius of Tyana studied in the Pythagorean school. We know that Plato studied under Socrates. History is dotted w/such references. We see discipleship & backgrounds for many historic figures.

For 1 that's so pivotal in the 'salvation' of humanity, it strikes me as more than passing odd. Nobody in the 1st CE mentions this guy, outside of the NT. For that matter, nobody mentions ANY of them.

I mean, Matthew was a tax collector, fer cryin' out loud. You'd think there'd be SOMETHING written about him. Same w/Luke.

I'm sorry if this offends you, but none of this would hold up in a court of law.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Crap. I hate blogspot.
I published this post this morning, but uploaded the draft on July 9th. I wonder how 1 retains the published date vs. the draft date.