Is this the best blog post you'll ever read?

No, it's not. Drew you in there, didn't I? Did you come here because you really thought that? Or just for the circus?

Sorry for the deception, folks, but I fooled you here to make a point, and to make you, fine Kineti reader, a little wiser.

Observe this amusing article: Quake reveals day of Jesus' crucifixion: April 3rd, 33 AD.

Sounds really exciting and groundbreaking! Except, the evidence isn't really that strong. And it relies on a great deal of assumptions. And it's really just a best guess of a few ordinary geologists who hope to explain supernatural events in the gospels through natural means, 2000 years after the fact.

As Yeshua's disciples, we ought to be able to detect and dissect stuff like this, spitting out the bones. There's a lot of junk on the web, and it's easy to be deceived, especially in religious parts of the web. By the end of this post, you'll be just a little wiser about detecting junk like that.

Back to the Jesus-death-date article: so weak is this article's evidence, the web page's title is phrased as a question, "Does quake reveal when Jesus died?"

This is a classic example of Betteridge's Law of Headlines, which states,

Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no'.

This amusing "law" comes from a tech journalist Ian Betteridge, who noticed a trend in modern journalism towards publishing implausible stories marked by headlines stated as questions. The very existence of the headline-as-question, he says, reflects the improbable nature of the story.

…any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word "no". The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bollocks, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.

"Have We Found the Cure for Cancer?"

"Does New Discovery Turn Science Upside Down?"
"Can Leman's Blog Be a Source of Sound Biblical Teaching?" 

"Does Quake Reveal Date of Jesus' Death?"

The answer to such can almost always be "no".

Unfortunately, not all sensationalism is stated in the form of a question. While journalists at least have the courtesy of leaving open the possibility of their story being bollucks, others, especially zealous religionists hoping to spread THE TRUTH -- aren't so self-doubting.

Here's a recent example from the Messianic blogosphere. The other week, I was debating the divinity of Yeshua with James Pyles and a few others who deny Messiah is God-made-flesh. In the heat of the debate, one of them wrote this single comment,

If any of you are willing take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvcizFKWNfc

Oooh, intriguing! "If any of you are willing", as if we need to muster courage to come to some great enlightened truth.

"I am willing!", I thought, as I bravely (naively?) clicked the link. It took me to a YouTube video with the following headline:

MUST SEE: AMAZING HISTORICAL PROOF THAT JESUS WAS NOT GOD!!!

Quick, do you recognize anything wrong with this headline? You should.

The headline alone should be a dead giveaway. It’s overtly sensational. It's also ALL CAPS, a red flag that is the online equivalent to shouting. And if that weren't enough, we also have excessive punctuation (!!!). At least they didn't go Full Monty and release the shift key!!!!1111

Of course, the "AMAZING HISTORICAL PROOF" in the video doesn't deliver on those sensational claims: its assertion is that the Didache, a short document written to the early gentile believers in Jesus, is actually a Church-suppressed secret containing proof that Jesus was not considered God-made-flesh by the early believers. It's supporting evidence? The Didache does not refer to Jesus as "Lord God", therefore Jesus wasn't considered divine.

If the fellow who used this video as his argument had actually bothered to read the Didache himself, he'd see that the document -- which is not some Church-kept secret, but a well-known publication -- in no way disproves Jesus' divinity, making the whole documentary seem a little silly at best, misleading sensationalism at worst.

Fine Kineti readers, learn to recognize sensationalism on the web. Avoid being deceived.

Keep a healthy skepticism, especially for religious materials. Do research, consider evidence outside your own beliefs. Don't be dismissive or mocking of people who see things differently. Identify your niche, your echo chamber, then deliberately read outside of it. Above all, prefer stable, grounded, qualified teachers over the sensationalist joe_schmuck_4_da_TRUTH@aol.com

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Husband, dad, disciple of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua, technologist. Author of Chavah Messianic Radio, MessianicChords, and EtzMitzvot. @judahgabriel


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