Thursday, November 5, 2015

Have We Been Overestimating The Intelligence Of Brain Surgeons?

     Probably not, but presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson's last bit of lunacy does make me
Dr. Carson
Doesn't Know Much About Grain Storage.
(photo from nationalreview.com)
wonder a bit. 
Reacting to a question about a 1998 speech in which Carson stated that he believes the pyramids in Egypt were built by the biblical patriach Joseph in order to store grain, Carson answered yesterday that "it's still my belief, yes." That response  pretty much eliminates the chance that some contextuality surrounding the '98 speech needs to be addressed.  The man actually believes that Joseph was responsible for building the pyramids, never mind the centuries of archeological and historical research that render Carson's belief impossible to support with facts.

     Grain storage is a big business in South Dakota, and having once been an active grain trader and broker myself over a period spanning a couple of decades, I wonder if Carson has a clue about the physical components of grain storage facilities.  First off, grain bins are huge hollow enclosures with relatively tiny openings at the top, not solid blocks of rock with narrow passageways like those of the Egyptian pyramids.  Second off, outside of Old Testament (Genesis 25-50) references about storing grain in preparation of an expected famine that allude neither directly nor indirectly to pyramids, there's nothing in the scientific record to indicate that those monoliths were used for anything other than royal tombs.  Readers who have contra-information are welcome to provide it here in the comments section.  Yes, per the Old Testament, Israeli slaves were required to build bricks out of mud and straw, and it is possible that those bricks were subsequently used to build pyramids, but the connection between those bricks and grain storage facilities doesn't show up
The Dashur Pyramid
How Do You Store Grain In Here?
(photo from www.bibleplaces.com)
in the Bible.

     That's a conclusion inferred by Carson.  I don't fault the man for his beliefs, but I do question his willingness to convert literal passages of scripture into conclusions that have no basis in scientific fact, historical evidence or practical reality.  
     Not having any background or knowledge of the requirements for grain storage doesn't stop Carson from making statements about their history and development. I'd love to see Dr. Carson come to South Dakota, inspect a grain storage facility, and explain how the pyramids could have been used as storehouses for crops of any kind.



Addendum:  Added on 11/5/15 @1348  In a 2010 piece in U.S. News and World Report, Amihai Mazar, a professor at the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University at Jerusalem, noted, "No Jews built the pyramids because Jews didn't exist at the period when the pyramids were built."
     

12 comments:

  1. You really shouldn't comment about Carson, since you know little about brain surgery. He's an accomplished doctor. He was the first person to perform an autoencephalectomy.

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  2. I realize the bar is a little lower, but we've also apparently over-estimated the IQ of reality TV celebrities.

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    1. Carson is getting pummeled and I think his best days in this race are behind him. Trump knows how to work a crowd so he has some staying power.

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  3. This is probably why, in olden times, surgeons were ranked with commoners, physicians with the gentry.

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    1. Never knew about that distinction, Eve. Seems ripe with all sorts of considerations.

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  4. Thanks for the post, John.

    You wrote:
    >“In a 2010 piece in U.S. News and World Report, Amihai Mazar, a professor at the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University at Jerusalem, noted, ‘No Jews built the pyramids because Jews didn't exist at the period when the pyramids were built.’”

    I share Dr. Carson's belief that the Bible is true, but I disagree with some of his beliefs about what the Bible says. For example, Carson is a gap creationist who believes billions of years may have passed between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, and I'm a young-earth creationist who rejects the assumption that radioactive decay rates have always been as low as they are today.

    Regarding the pyramids, informed young-earth creationists generally believe they were built as royal tombs using Jewish slave labor around 1600 B.C., subsequent to both the grain storage under discussion and the death of Joseph.

    I'm hoping Carson will reverse himself on this.

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    1. Thanks for another typically thoughtful comment, Kurt, as well as the schooling in creationist thinking. I saw Carson backtracking tonight when he kept telling a reporter that his theory about Joseph is "plausible." Not quite a reversal, but at least an implicit acknowledgement that he could be wrong. My thinking is that as long as the pyramids remain unmentioned in the Old Testament, any attempt at connecting them to the story of Joseph is an exercise in conjecture, with conclusions best left in the realm of personal belief. Injecting them into the rhetorical whirlpool of national politics is a profound error in judgement, and I have no doubt that Carson will pay the political price, especially in the context of his gaffe today about the signers of the Declaration of Independence never having held political office. It's clear he isn't ready for prime time and I have no doubt that his fortunes will fade fast.

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    2. >“Thanks for another typically thoughtful comment, Kurt, as well as the schooling in creationist thinking.”

      Thanks for the compliment. I'm trying to take the opportunity to preach while I can in case your prediction comes true and Carson's campaign collapses.

      >“I saw Carson backtracking tonight when he kept telling a reporter that his theory about Joseph is ‘plausible.’ Not quite a reversal, but at least an implicit acknowledgement that he could be wrong.”

      He's not asking for my opinion, but he might be better off just admitting he had no idea how little empty space there was inside the pyramids.

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  5. You think your silo could keep the masses out during a 7 year famine? Is it possible the pyramids were repurposed for tombs and that became the bar for subsequent tombs? Carbon dating and fossil records, I scoff. How many times have we seen carbon dating proven wrong or revised. One mudslide or sandstorm throws off the fossil record, not to mention a large flood carrying salt water inhabitants to what would normally be dry landlocked areas (leaving a false fossil record). Let the man have his opinion. There is no proof otherwise - only God knows

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