Miss Conduct & a Case of Contradictory Researchers

Yet another scholar has given Dr. Israel Finkelstein an academic beating. This time it’s by Dr. Horton Harris in PEQ (vol. 146, #1, March 2014) over Finkelstein’s 2011 assertion that Tell el-Ful was Pharathon instead of Gibeah:

Finkelstein’s conclusion that all the references in the Bible to Gibeah are to be understood as referring to Geba appears somewhat arbitrary. … Finkelstein dismisses [Khirbet Farah as Pharathon] with the objection that there are no finds which support it. … At the nearby towns of Anathoth and Michmash, whose locations are not in doubt, no ruins have been found dating back to pre-Roman times. … Since Khirbet Farah in the Wadi Farah corresponds toponymically with Pharathon, there is no conclusive reason for placing Pharathon at Tell el-Ful or for transferring Parah from its toponym Kh. Farah to an anonymous Tell el-Ful. … Finkelstein has omitted the topographical dimension. … Finkelstein can argue that the smallness of the site is inconsistent with a great fortress in the time of Saul, but the evidence is everywhere susceptible to interpretation depending on the viewpoint of the interpreter. … Until Finkelstein is able to demonstrate that Gibeah is actually Geba or lies somewhere other than Tell el-Ful, his arguments for his suggested location of Pharathon at Tell el-Ful need not be accepted…

Harris does a thorough job, dismissing Finkelstein in stride while also analyzing points made by Conder, Albright, & Schniedewind. By identifying one of Finkelstein’s points as arbitrary, he essentially accuses him of being irrational. Finkelstein may be correct in his geographical assertions, but he hasn’t formed a rational proposition.

The point made by Harris about evidence being susceptible to interpretation coincidently corresponded with another relevant news item from last week. A communication researcher, Maja Horst from the Univ. of Copenhagen, announced that “all the scientists are deeply concerned that their research is responsible and useful to society; they just disagree about what it means to conduct responsible research… This is a problem because if we have different definitions of what it means to be a responsible scientist, it becomes very difficult to have a fruitful discussion about it.

Welcome to the world of Biblical apologetics & the Evolutionism vs. Creationism debate, Dr. Horst! It’s nigh unto impossible to have a fruitful discussion with someone like Finkelstein when he arbitrarily/arrogantly decides what is historical & what is not. And he’s backed by a major university that avoids responsibility when someone on its staff flagrantly violates their own Code of Honor. In stark contrast, notice how swiftly the RIKEN Research Paper Investigative Committee reacted recently to allegations of deceitful behavior by Haruko Obokata:

Research misconduct warps the essence of science and significantly undermines credibility, not only within the science community, but also with the general public. Research misconduct is prohibited precisely because of the need to ensure robust, healthy exchange of information among scientists in their search for truth, and to promote the advancement of science. In manipulating the image data … Dr. Obokata acted in a manner that can by no means be permitted. … Dr. Obokata’s actions and sloppy data management lead us to the conclusion that she sorely lacks, not only a sense of research ethics, but also integrity and humility as a scientific researcher. … RIKEN must promptly institute specific measures to ensure that this kind of research misconduct will never happen again.

Notice not only the rapidity with which this investigation was conducted, but the transparency of the findings compared with that of TAU recently. As Dr. David Ussishkin observed following the promotion of Dr. Oded Lipschits, were it to happen anywhere else, such a person “would have been thrown out of the institution in the speed of a ballistic missile.

Finkelstein flaunted his irrational mental state in a report last week by Julia Fridman at Haaretz.com, “The Exodus: Jewish history, or Ancient Semitic Memory?” (I’m deliberately omitting a hyperlink to their site because of its ridiculous auto-refresh rate when it’s not given access to browser cookies):

One must put a clear line between research and tradition. Therefore, at the Seder, when we read the Hagadah, for one evening every year, it is all history for me.

So sad.

While Finkelstein continues digging his own philosophical grave, things continue going well for me & my stairclimbing. I made a mistake during the final week of training leading up to last Saturday’s race at the 2nd-tallest skyscraper in downtown L.A.; however, God still enabled me to achieve my target range, albeit the low end.

The mistake was that I over-exerted myself attempting to set a personal record, at a time when I was physically weak. This led to chest pains & shortness of breath that had my engineering employer concerned enough to recommend I visit an urgent-care facility Friday evening, the night before the race, where I was tested (including an EKG, which was interesting because normally I’m the one conducting electrical tests!).

The physician concluded that no human could have done what I did during my training sessions that week if there were any circulatory or respiratory problem, & certainly no risk of a heart attack or stroke. It made me feel better just seeing/hearing his reaction when I told him what I had done! As a result, I now have official confirmation that I am not just an athlete, but a “high performance athlete“!

He recommended that I rest for about 3 weeks.  Ha!  I finished #17 of 749 participants at this race, #4 of 46 in my gender/age division. Of the 3 men who beat me, one is the leader of the national organization that tracks these races, & the other two traveled from Colorado & Texas to participate. After the national rankings were updated, I became #34 of 14,182 men in America, & #7 of 1,592 in my division.

Here’s a 4-minute (mostly time-lapsed) professionally produced video of the race by another climber, who oddly enough works as a television producer:

The best part is the very end when he collapses to his knees from exhaustion!

Will Israel Finkelstein & Oded Lipschits ever reach a similar state?

I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, & said, ‘O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens’” (Ezra 9:5-6).

G.M. Grena


5 Responses to “Miss Conduct & a Case of Contradictory Researchers”

  1. pithom Says:

    At the nearby towns of Anathoth and Michmash, whose locations are not in doubt, no ruins have been found dating back to pre-Roman times.

    -That would be incorrect. Note that I have growing suspicions that Finkelstein is wrong about his identification of Tell el-Ful, at least in the Iron Age.

    • G.M. Grena Says:

      I wrote to Dr. Harris last week asking for a clarification, but he has not responded. Maybe there was a confusion over semantics. Probably Dr. Finkelstein was referring to exclusively to surface sherds in his 2008 Returnees article, but expecting building remains/fortification structures (Harris’ “ruins”) in his 2011 Pharathon article. I have not studied this subject in detail, so I’m simply guessing as to the points each was making; but thanks for highlighting out the problem.

    • G.M. Grena Says:

      Dr. Harris sent a better-late-than-never reply on April 29 confirming my suspicion that the context of his remark was that “nothing substantial apart from sherds was ever found” at the pertinent sites.

    • G.M. Grena Says:

      Unfortunately I don’t have the 3 articles referenced by Finkelstein in his 2008 article, upon which he based his conclusion that the finds at Khirbet Ein Fara don’t support it being Pharathon (2 of them are in Hebrew, so I wouldn’t be able to read them anyway). An additional point that Harris makes in his 2014 article is that the “destruction of fortresses was common in the years before and leading up to the revolt of 66 [A.D.]” per Josephus’ War 2.484.

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