ICB: Jesus, did Jacobovici really nail it?
Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici is using and misusing a fuzzy sort of ‘proof’ – the “cluster of evidence” – to claim he may have found the crucifixion nails.
Indiana Jones-style he has fearlessly pieced together the clues and dug out two 2000-year-old nails from a burial cave, which he says could be those that pinned Jesus’ hands to the cross.
Only the truly cynical would point out that the revelations come a) Just in time for Easter and b) Just as Jacobovici releases his documentary The Nails of the Cross.
The 8cm iron nails were originally found near Jerusalem more than 20 years ago, in a box bearing the name ‘Caiaphas’ – the name of the priest who presided over Jesus’ crucifixion, according to the New Testament. Read the news story here.
On the one hand, Jacobovici urges scepticism about his findings. But, he says:
They’re bent just like the only example of a nail used in crucifixion. They have round heads, they are big enough for the hands. So what you have is a cluster of evidence.
Any one of these things by themselves is meaningless. Put it all together and what you have is a probability. There are no other nails you can say the same things about.
Therefore, they could be the real deal, apparently
I’ve been called a little bit bent. I have a round head. And I’m sort of large. Maybe I’M a crucifixion nail!
Cluster of evidence indeed. I call bullshit on Mr Jacobovici.
The so-called “soft-sciences” are extremely important – we need to be able to theorise about past civilisations, and about human nature in general.
In the social sciences, a “cluster of evidence” is not a common term. But it is sometimes used and you can see how it is a good starting point. A series of striking similarities between geographically disparate peoples might indicate an ancient unity, for example, or a trading relationship. A cluster of evidence can lead to a hypothesis that can then be tested, eventually published, and scrutinised by peers.
But when you have someone like this – who rather than starting the conversation, starts with the conclusion, calls a press conference and watches his “cluster of evidence” prompt headlines such as ‘Crucifixion nails found in tomb’ – it’s just junk science. Without the science bit.
Looking forward to the doco, though.
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