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 Post subject: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 4:38 pm 
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John Gee's latest article addressing the missing papyrus theory is worse than any of us could have expected, which is saying quite a lot given Gee's history of poor scholarship. I received a scan copy from a friend of a friend. I'm going to let Andrew deal with Gee's nonsense about the formulas, and he is currently writing a response which I suspect he will share online when he is done. To say the least, Andrew is livid because of the dishonest manner in which Gee has misrepresented what he and Chris Smith have done. It is clear that Gee simply doesn't understand the math. I suspected as much because an last year Mortal Man and Chris debated their formula argument with Will Schryver at the MAD forum, and Mortal Man hammered him on the point that they did not rely on "papyrus thickness" for determining their measurements and that no "assumptions" was made. Papyrus thickness was never part of the formula and no matter how many times they explained this to wade and Schryver, it just didn't sink in. The method used was the one Gee originally drew to everyone's attention, the Hoffman formula. But Gee wasn't counting on someone like Andrew to be right on top of him to make sure he was applying the formula correctly. Ultimately, in a nutshell, Gee started the Hoffman formula initially to argue for 40+feet of missing Horos scroll and Chris and Andrew showed that Gee failed to use the Hoffman formula properly. Gee then adjusted his numbers and moved away from the Hoffman formula, the same formula he tried to use to justify his missing papyrus theory.

Gee's latest article is just six pages and half of it consists of footnotes, photos and graphs, so there really isn't much content provided by Gee, just apologetic assertions with inane dismissals and put-downs of anything Cook and Smith said. Here is an interesting note on page one from the editor:

Quote:
From the Editor:
One of the questions that swirls around the Book of Abraham is the role that the papyrus scrolls played in the translation process. A corollary to that question is, was one or more of the scrolls long enough to contain the Book of Abraham as we now have it? The extant fragments certainly are not long enough to have contained the current text. But how long were the scrolls originally? John Gee has tackled this relative question with objectivity and precision.


How in the world would this editor know that John Gee applied "objectivity and precision" when no one in the apologetic world seems to grasp any of this stuff? John Gee doesn't get his apologetics peer reviewed by people capable of correcting him; every time I try to get Dan to address this topic he defers to John Gee as if he were the only authority that mattered. But to say Gee is objective is just ludicrous, but I suppose par for the course when it comes to the kind of "scholarship" we've come to expect from these FARMS types. Gee has been trying to salvage his failed theory for more than a decade now and he has ignored refutation after refutation, from his manipulation of the KEP photos to his last FAIR presentation which tried to say there was no sequence to the KEP characters. At every turn Gee has come out looking like an absolute fool, and so he has spent a great deal of time trying to salvage an argument that has ruined his credibility even with his former professor at Yale. So to say Gee is objective, as if he has no dog in this fight, is just dishonest.

Here is an excerpt from Gee's article. Notice that he callously describes Smith as a "former Unitarian ministerial student" which, is not only false, but perhaps the dumbest way to describe him:

Quote:
Two different formulas have been published estimating the original length of a scroll, given the length of each winding of the preserved intact exterior portions. One has been proposed by the Egyptologist Friedhelm Hoffmann and one by Andrew Cook (a theoretical physicist) and Christopher Smith (a former Unitarian ministerial student). The two formulas are similar, differeing primarily in minor details. Cook and Smith use the thickness of the papyri (which they did not measure but only estimated) as an indication of the change in diameter to calculate the difference between the lengths of successive windings in the scroll...While Cook and Smith's formula predicts a highly inaccurate length, Hoffman's formula provides a rough approximation....although the Cook and Smith method of determining scroll length is anything but accurate, even if it had been successful it would have created other problems. Cook and Smith fail to establish which was the long roll because they applied their formula only to the Horos scroll; they did not apply it to any of the other extant scrolls and thus fail to meet another of the necessary conditions. They measured only the Horos scroll because they assumed it to be the source of the Book of Abraham. Yet the eyewitnesses identify the long roll as the source. Bent on proving that the Horos scroll was not the long roll, they overlooked the implications of such a view. If the scroll of Horos is not the long roll, it simply cannot be the source of the text of the Book of Abraham (according to the accounts of the eyewitnesses). By endeavoring to prove that the Horus scroll was not the long roll, they would have undermined their own case, which depended on the Horos scroll being the proposed source of the text of the Book of Abraham.
Cook and Smith would like to minimize the length of the Horos scroll because they believe that finding would eliminate the possibility that the Book of Abraham was translated from a scroll that we so not currently have.


Emphasis mine.

As I said, Andrew is preparing a detailed response to Gee's numerous lies and misrepresentations regarding their method and Gee's sophomorphic understanding of the formula. What I would like to tackle is his repeated claim that the historical acounts based on the eye-witnesses point to a "long roll" as the source of the Book of Abraham. According to Gee, 19th century eye-witnesses recalled:

Quote:
a. some papyri "preserved under glass." describes as "a number of glazed slides like picture frames, containing sheets of papyrus, with Egyptian inscriptions and hieroglyphics";
b. "a long roll of manuscript";
c. "another roll"; and
d. "two or three other small pieces of papyrus with astronomical calculators, epitaphes,etc."


First of all, Gee would have us believe these are the only historical accounts describing the papyri collection, when he very well knows that this is just a fraction of the accounts and those he ignores point to the Horos scroll as the source. If the Horos scroll isn't the source, then why is Gee trying to claim it is now more than 60 feet in length? Everyone from past LDS leaders to the Book of Abraham itself, alludes to this scroll as the source. But Gee wants to pretend Cook/Smith had no reason to assume this aside from some evil attempt to support an anti-Mormon agenda.

The reason Gee isolates these few comments is because he is desperately trying to paint this picture as if there is no evidence supporting the view that the source must have been the Horos scroll. What's worse, Gee constantly refers to "multiple" accounts that attest to a "long roll" but the footnotes for examples b and c above, point to the same exact source. A few sentences down he refers to "log roll" again and the footnote refers to the same Blanchard source used by Schryver years ago, which is merely the Haven account again. So he is trying to stretch a single comment about a long" roll, into three independent eye-witness accounts!

As I showed back in 2009, the Blanchard reference, which neither Gee nor Schryver ever bother to cite in context, says nothing about the Book of Abraham coming from a "long roll." This is just another example of the kinds of deceptions John Gee engages. He wants to be able to manipulate the evidence to suit his apologetic theories, and he just expects his audience to accept it without doing their (and his) homework.

Some of you may recall that three years ago William Schryver tried to prepare a publication arguing these same things, which was essentially a cut and paste job from Gee's previous FARMS "reviews":

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9323

I hammered Schryver for not only copying Gee, but for also failing to understand that one account referring to a "long" roll doesn't tell us the length of that roll. Long doesn't give us length any more than tall gives us height. Nor can this single account be used to support "multiple" eye witness accounts that simply do not exist. Gee engaged in this sort of pseudo-scholarship years ago, Schryver parroted Gee verbatim and I refuted it thoroughly. Then he scraped his so-called article that he was preparing for publication. And now, several years later Gee is again repeating the same nonsense as if this is some kind of ground-breaking revelation, when it fact it is just the same regurgitated nonsense that has been refuted for years. The fact of the matter is their entire apologetic about a long roll rests on the one isolated comment by Charlotte Haven, and as LDS scholar Jay Todd once noted, "One wonders if Charlotte is reporting accurately. Until more evidence is gathered, the sum and value of Charlotte's report remains clouded on several issues." (The Saga of the Book of Abraham, by Jay M. Todd, page 249) If this is how historians describes a source used by anti-Mormons to support an anti-Mormon claim, the apologist would reject it out of hand as unreliable.

But Gee/Schryver are certain her use of the word "long" must be dead accurate to support their baseless assumption that her perception of long has to be more than several feet. In reality, for all we know, she used the word "long" because this particular manuscript was long by comparison to the other fragments, in which case it describes the Horos scroll perfectly.

But it seems more likely that the papyri slides or sheets were laid out on the table back to back, appearing as one long roll. It is unrealistic to think Granny Smith would be constantly "rolling" and "unrolling" an eroding ancient document that was to be shown to strangers on a regular basis. The whole idea was to keep the collection preserved, and they were cut and glued to slides for that purpose.

The reason apologetic versions of the Haven account never include the context probably has something to do with the fact that what Haven describes is clearly part of the extant material. This completely undermines any attempts to prove she was referencing missing material. These anecdotes throw cold water on apologetic hopes of establishing a missing source for the Book of Abraham, because she claims to be looking right at it!

Read the link above for a detailed refutation of this argument.

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 4:39 pm 
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Thanks for sharing. This should be interesting.

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 5:08 pm 
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Kevin Graham wrote:
In reality, for all we know, she used the word "long" because this particular manuscript was long by comparison to the other fragments, in which case it describes the Horos scroll perfectly.

But it seems more likely that the papyri slides or sheets were laid out on the table back to back, appearing as one long roll. It is unrealistic to think Granny Smith would be constantly "rolling" and "unrolling" an eroding ancient document that was to be shown to strangers on a regular basis. The whole idea was to keep the collection preserved, and they were cut and glued to slides for that purpose.

These are fair points, Kevin. I've wondered the same thing about whether the fragments would have been laid out next to the scroll, but I've been hesitant to make this argument in print because Charlotte's account doesn't directly allude to such a thing. Whether you're right about this or not, I think the takeaway with regard to Haven's account is that it's really pretty vague, and I don't think it's justifiable to hang an entire theory on a particular interpretation of the word "long" in that single account, especially when it flies in the face of other evidence.

For more on how our mathematical results fit with the eyewitness evidence, readers may wish to see my posts here and here, which summarize the major arguments of my paper in the JWHA Journal titled "Assessing the State of Preservation of the Joseph Smith Papyri."

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 5:19 pm 
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When we were kids if we said something like "just a inch" my grandmother would say "an inch on the end of your nose would be quite a bit."

But I have a long nose. So maybe the scroll was as long as my nose plus an inch :confused:

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:05 pm 
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So is Gee incapable of understanding what Andrew and Chris did or is he consciously producing a dishonest response to hide the Book of Abraham problems in a cloud of apologetic b***s***? In other words, is he an idiot or a liar? Based on the excerpts provided by Kevin, I can't see any other alternatives.

I think Andrew needs to set up a math test and if Gee can't pass it, then he is disqualified from making any further comments about the length of the scroll.


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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:07 pm 
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Just for fun, let's say Gee is right. Let's say that Egyptology is more math-intensive than physics, and Gee has done the equation correctly but Andrew has not. Let's say the missing part of the papyrus is 10 feet long. Or 60 feet long. Or a quarter of a mile long. There remains a certain salient question.

Pretend you have a manuscript that reliably dates to some time in the 19th century. You have a page that says this:

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

And then some pages are missing. What possible reason would you have for assuming that on the missing pages you would find the following?

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.


The only possible reason would be that you were already convinced that Herman Melville wrote Star Wars. Thus, you would be willing to accept argument from ignorance as "evidence" of your foregone conclusion. But a reasonable person who had not already invested much of his or her sense of identity in the belief that Herman Melville wrote Star Wars might be somewhat less persuaded.

If you understand the above example, you understand the missing scroll theory.

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:09 pm 
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Quote:
So is Gee incapable of understanding what Andrew and Chris did or is he consciously producing a dishonest response to hide the Book of Abraham problems in a cloud of apologetic b***s***? In other words, is he an idiot or a liar? Based on the excerpts provided by Kevin, I can't see any other alternatives.


I'm afraid it is a little of both.

Quote:
I think Andrew needs to set up a math test and if Gee can't pass it, then he is disqualified from making any further comments about the length of the scroll.


LOL!

Good to have you back with us DA!

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:17 pm 
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Darth J wrote:
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.


OMG, how strange!

:surprised:

I'm almost one third through reading Moby Dick right now as we speak! And, I watched episodes 1-4 of Star Wars last week!

This is so strange, Darth. We must have a connection of some kind. Wierd.

Enjoy this from the Dark Side, my friend:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv9G9rwWihg&feature=related

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:18 pm 
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This whole Book of Abraham saga has to be one of the single most pointless and idiotic debacles in the history of apologetics. It beggars belief that a PhD bearing Egyptologist of Gee's raw intelligence and intensive training would squander his talents, education, and reputation on this utter nonsense. The actual benefit of making this crap argument is zero. Even if it did work, it would not forward knowledge on the subject of the Book of Abraham one bit. All that is gained by fabricating the existence of this text is the illusory chance that somewhere out there the ancient source text of Joseph Smith's 19th-century short story on Abraham might yet exist, or, better yet, is lost forever.

You would think that adults with even a modicum of scholarly knowledge about the Bible could deal with a 19th century prophet who saw God and talked with angels writing a book of scripture set in the deep past. But oh no! For some unfathomable reason, it is preferable to imagine some Hebrew living in Hellenistic Egypt writing it. Better that guy making up an Abraham story than Joseph. Why in the hell beats me, but evidently that is the line in the sand which shall not be crossed.

Absurd.

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:18 pm 
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Darth J wrote:
Just for fun, let's say Gee is right. Let's say that Egyptology is more math-intensive than physics, and Gee has done the equation correctly but Andrew has not. Let's say the missing part of the papyrus is 10 feet long. Or 60 feet long. Or a quarter of a mile long. There remains a certain salient question.

Pretend you have a manuscript that reliably dates to some time in the 19th century. You have a page that says this:

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

And then some pages are missing. What possible reason would you have for assuming that on the missing pages you would find the following?

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.


The only possible reason would be that you were already convinced that Herman Melville wrote Star Wars. Thus, you would be willing to accept argument from ignorance as "evidence" of your foregone conclusion. But a reasonable person who had not already invested much of his or her sense of identity in the belief that Herman Melville wrote Star Wars might be somewhat less persuaded.

If you understand the above example, you understand the missing scroll theory.


True, though apologists have relied heavily on the rare exceptions where some papyri contain multiple stories from multiple authors; so of course this provides them with some "plausibility" that such is the case with the Joseph Smith papyri. The problem however, is that we have the beginning and end of the Horos scroll and it is clear both portions refer to the same thing (Facsimile 3 mentions Horos!)

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:20 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
This whole Book of Abraham saga has to be one of the single most pointless and idiotic debacles in the history of apologetics. It beggars belief that a PhD bearing Egyptologist of Gee's raw intelligence and intensive training would squander his talents, education, and reputation on this utter nonsense. The actual benefit of making this crap argument is zero. Even if it did work, it would not forward knowledge on the subject of the Book of Abraham one bit. All that is gained by fabricating the existence of this text is the illusory chance that somewhere out there the ancient source text of Joseph Smith's 19th-century short story on Abraham might yet exist, or, better yet, is lost forever.

You would think that adults with even a modicum of scholarly knowledge about the Bible could deal with a 19th century prophet who saw God and talked with angels writing a book of scripture set in the deep past. But oh no! For some unfathomable reason, it is preferable to imagine some Hebrew living in Hellenistic Egypt writing it. Better that guy making up an Abraham story than Joseph. Why in the hell beats me, but evidently that is the line in the sand which shall not be crossed.

Absurd.


x 200.

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:24 pm 
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Kevin Graham wrote:
True, though apologists have relied heavily on the rare exceptions where some papyri contain multiple stories from multiple authors; so of course this provides them with some "plausibility" that such is the case with the Joseph Smith papyri. The problem however, is that we have the beginning and end of the Horos scroll and it is clear both portions refer to the same thing (Facsimile 3 mentions Horos!)


You're right, Kevin, but that bit of trivia supplies no reason to believe that a pagan funerary text would also contain an account of Abraham learning 19th-century astronomy directly from God and telling us how an Egyptian king whose given name was Pharaoh tried to imitate Mormonism, but couldn't have the priesthood because the story of Noah's ark is actual history and the Egyptians came from Ham.

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:25 pm 
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dblagent007 wrote:
I think Andrew needs to set up a math test and if Gee can't pass it, then he is disqualified from making any further comments about the length of the scroll.


Amen. Andrew, start writing that test. Save Gee from further humiliation.

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:33 pm 
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Kevin Graham wrote:
True, though apologists have relied heavily on the rare exceptions where some papyri contain multiple stories from multiple authors; so of course this provides them with some "plausibility" that such is the case with the Joseph Smith papyri. The problem however, is that we have the beginning and end of the Horos scroll and it is clear both portions refer to the same thing (Facsimile 3 mentions Horos!)


Relying on bizarre outliers and exceptions is the very foundation of LDS apologetics regarding Jospeh Smith's scriptural productions. There is always some shady bit of archaeology in an outdated footnote, a rare reading of a certain text of the OT, or a plausible on the surface scenario regarding some ancient phenomenon. Unfortunately, all of these obscurantist pseudo-scholarly gymnastics are blown away once it finally hits you: Joseph Smith wrote them all.

It really is as simple as that.

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:36 pm 
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Any body know what was going on in LDS church when it cannonized the BofA?
In other words, why?

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 6:38 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
This whole Book of Abraham saga has to be one of the single most pointless and idiotic debacles in the history of apologetics. It beggars belief that a PhD bearing Egyptologist of Gee's raw intelligence and intensive training would squander his talents, education, and reputation on this utter nonsense. The actual benefit of making this crap argument is zero. Even if it did work, it would not forward knowledge on the subject of the Book of Abraham one bit. All that is gained by fabricating the existence of this text is the illusory chance that somewhere out there the ancient source text of Joseph Smith's 19th-century short story on Abraham might yet exist, or, better yet, is lost forever.

You would think that adults with even a modicum of scholarly knowledge about the Bible could deal with a 19th century prophet who saw God and talked with angels writing a book of scripture set in the deep past. But oh no! For some unfathomable reason, it is preferable to imagine some Hebrew living in Hellenistic Egypt writing it. Better that guy making up an Abraham story than Joseph. Why in the hell beats me, but evidently that is the line in the sand which shall not be crossed.

Absurd.


This is an excellent post. Well said.

Paul O

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 8:01 pm 
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What other religion has meaty stuff like this?

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 8:32 pm 
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Looks like I started getting more interested in this topic at the right time.

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 8:52 pm 
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IF by meat you mean patent absurdity..... then
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
all of them?

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 7:54 am 
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The Maxwell Institute is looking more and more like the Discovery Institute each day.

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 Post subject: Re: John Gee's Latest Hit Piece
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 7:55 am 
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lulu wrote:
Any body know what was going on in LDS church when it cannonized the BofA?
In other words, why?


When the PoGP was canonized the Book of Abraham was far from the most controversial thing in it. As I recall, the JST was the issue. Brigham Young wasn't keen on the idea of canonizing something that came from the RLDS apostates. So after Young died, one of the first things John Taylor did was canonize the PoGP in 1880.

There were already scholarly articles in circulation at the time claiming that the source material for the Book of Abraham was funerary in nature and had nothing to do with Abraham (they could tell from some of the pixels, and from seeing quite a few 'shops in their time) but an 1878 booklet by George Reynolds (of Reynolds v. US) entitled The Book of Abraham: Its Authenticity Established as a Divine and Ancient Record appears to have put the matter at rest in the minds of the Saints.

Short answer: they just thought it was great stuff. Hell, it was scriptures with pictures--who could beat that? They had no idea that it would turn out to be such a headache for them.


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