For years there have been various efforts among bloggers (primarily) to get word out rapidly when some bogus claim hits the press. Recent examples would include but would not be limited to the ridiculous ‘Nails of Jesus’ hype and the overblown ‘Lead Codices’ story.
The press, it seems, is totally uninterested in the facts and too often seems drawn to the most bizarre stories concerning biblical and archaeological subjects. Seldom do they contact scholars for their opinion and if they do, they plop their remarks at the end of the bizarre account and give a sentence or two before moving on.
And when overblown claims are debunked, the press doesn’t bother to take notice.
So it’s time to take the bull by the horn (double entendre intended) and flood the Associated Press (the primary source for most news stories) with debunkings and corrections.
Here’s my suggestion: when some ridiculous claim is made by the Simchas of the world and someone writes or discovers a reasonable, responsible, scholarly debunking each and every one of us copy the link and the text of the debunking in an email (and it has to be in the body of the email, the AP doesn’t allow attachments) and submit it to the AP. You can submit via email or snail mail at the contact information provided here (I’ve bookmarked the page myself).
Here’s how I envision it working.
1- Simcha (or anyone) makes some absurd claim about something with which we are familiar and the press picks it up and starts to run with it.
2- Cargill (or anyone) refutes the absurd claim (as Cargill did the nails of Jesus ignorance).
3- Each and every person concerned that the truth be fairly represented and the public not be left with the opinion that the loons are right copies the post, along with the link, and sends it via email to the Associated Press.
It’s not a time consuming process and the more we do it and the more who do it, the more likely that the Press will actually take notice.
It’s time to take our field back. I’m going to make every effort to do it and I’ll do it as long as it takes even if I turn out to be the only one (because that’s just how I’m wired). I do, though, hope you’ll consider doing the same (even if you’re a mennonite and you hate my guts). This isn’t about any of us, it’s about getting word out to the public which accurately reflects the state of our present knowledge regarding biblical studies and archaeology.