Pattern-Seeking: Ingeniousness and Stupidity

Or, “How Much Evidence Can One Ignore?”.

Velikovsky was ingenious. Avaris=el-Arish=City of Amalek? Ramses=Necho? Hatshepsut=Queen of Sheba? Jezreel=Gubla? Jerusalem=Thutmoside Kadesh? Carians=Hurrians? Carchemish=Ramesside Kadesh? All these false equations thought up by Velikovsky were ingenious. They are also spectacularly wrong. These identifications required Velikovsky to ignore mountains of evidence contrary to his thesis, yet, they had such seemingly powerful connections it was hard not to put them together. It is only on the degree of evidence one ignores one transforms from ingenious to stupid.

Penny Caldwell, for example, believed Saudi Arabia was part of the Promised Land, that the Israelites had no stop at Kadesh, that no pre-Israelite Arabian culture ever existed (why would anyone else attribute footprints found all over Arabia, but not in Jordan or the NE. Sinai to the Israelites?), that ANE massebot looked exactly the same as  Nabataean marble column remains, that Rephidim could have been Bethel (!!!), that Paul could have wrote Galatians at Sinai (he actually wrote it in 56 AD in Corinth) and that a C1 BC-C4 AD prayer to the goddess Lat was an Israelite inscription (see the newly added portion of Section 5 of AJaL entitled “Menorah”). This might have been the result of a combination of motive and pattern-seeking.
However, to ignore the biblical description of Bethel and the Wilderness Wanderings while thinking Arabia was part of the Promised Land (why then, was no Israelite except Joshua and Caleb never allowed to enter the promised land [Num 20:12]?), while stating opinions with such fervor certainly does mean that Jim and Penny Caldwell might suffer from extraordinarily bad reading comprehension, if not something more fundamental. Such bad reading comprehension and lack of common sense does translate quite well into stupidity.

While we must agree that the Caldwells show obvious signs of stupidity, at least regarding the Bible, the question is whether Velikovsky showed signs of stupidity. My conclusion is that he did, most clearly in the matter of astronomical history (see here, here, here, here, here, and here). His persistent belief in the idea that Venus almost crashed into the earth can only be sustained by pure stupidity. However, he, to a greater degree than the Caldwells, showed his ingeniousness quite well. However, his complete ignorance of archaeology does show beyond doubt Velikovsky was, while clearly ingenious, stupid. However, the Caldwells, through their lack of reading comprehension, have shown that they have far less mental capability (and far more emotion) than Velikovsky.

In short, it is one’s capability for ignoring evidence in theory formation that should be the true test of one’s stupidity. Sometimes, this stupidity can be mistaken for ingeniousness.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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