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Jonathan Reed takes on pseudo-science

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Jonathan Reed, professor of religion and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, presented “Pseudo-science and Biblical Archaeology: Scholars and the Media” Monday in the President’s Dining Room. His talk, part of the faculty lecture series, addressed accuracy concerns with archeological reporting in the media. Reed has written several books on religion and has been interviewed on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CNN’s “Paula Zahn Show,” NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.” / photo by Candice Salazar

Jennahway Huerta
Staff Writer

Throughout history, scholars have come across mysterious objects they think might have potentially been from Jesus Christ’s era.

These artifacts are tested and the majority turn out to be fake or “pseudo.”

Jonathan Reed, professor of religion and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, described the difference between science and pseudo-science in his lecture, “Pseudo-Science and Biblical Archae­ology: Scholars and the Media,” Monday in the President’s Dining Room.

“Science is the systematic study of the physical world based on observation and experiment,” Reed said.

Pseudo-science, he said, tries to prove a theory or belief “by appealing to a single scientific finding or instrumentation, but is not based on the scientific method nor support by peer review.”

The lecture addressed research and historical data. The discoveries that appeared throughout time have been discussed on television as well as in magazines, such as National Geographic.

Some of the stories involved such topics as the Cardiff Giant, the Shroud of Turin, the James Ossuary or the Siloam Pool.

“The Cardiff Giant was a petrified man about 10 feet tall and was found in a farm when people were digging for a well,” Reed said.

This giant was found in 1869 and people wanted to see this petrified giant because in the passage of Genesis it states giants lived on earth.

Business man and entertainer P.T. Barnum realized how much attention the Cardiff Giant received and created his own petrified giant.

In the end, the Cardiff Giant discovery turned out to be a fake and others found Barnum’s fictitious as well.

George Hull, who was an atheist, got into an argument about the passage of Genesis. He then created the Cardiff Giant.

He planted it a year earlier and hired someone to dig a well and to come across it.

This turned out to be one of the most famous hoaxes in America.

These potential objects of truth gained so much hype.

People around the world were astonished about the findings and would travel long distances to see these objects for justification.

In the end, majority of these objects did not have corresponding evidence and some were falsified just to gain media attention.

However, on a rare occasion a truthful finding was uncovered.

One of the findings by these people was the biblical Siloam Pool, which was found in 2003 explained Reed.

This rock-cut pool was a major gathering place for ancient Jews.

The Siloam Pool location is on the southern slope of the City of David, where the original site of Jerusalem was stationed.

The Pool of Siloam is mentioned several times in the Bible and is acknowledge where Jesus cured a blind man.

“I enjoy his interpretation and experience,” Barbara Poling, associate dean of the LaFetra College of Education, said.

“It was an absolute superb presentation. One of the best I have heard,” Jack McElwee, professor of business administration, said.

“It was fascinating. Jonathan always has interesting and provocative things to say about the intersection of and conflicts between archaeology and religion,” David Werner, professor of English, said. “Ultimately, what one believes has in some sense to confront the world that science defines for us.”

Reed’s lecture is a part of the weekly faculty lecture series. The next lecture will be at 12:03 p.m. Monday in the President’s Dining Room. Ricardo Morales, professor of chemistry, will present on metallic nanoparticles.

Jennahway Huerta can be reached at

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