North Carolina’s Bible Class Bill

According to WSPA-TV, the CBS television station located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, there’s something strange going on nearby: NC Bill Would Add Bible Study At Public Schools. We’re always interested when lawmakers try to bring religion into public schools, so let’s see what that TV station says. We added the bold font:

Some people have fought against it, while others have prayed for it. And now, a North Carolina lawmaker has proposed it. Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson wants passages from the Bible to become part of the curriculum in the state’s public high schools.

The man seems like a veritable Moses, bringing the holy book into the godless public schools. Who is he? Here’s his page at the Legislature’s website: Senator Stan Bingham. We’re informed that he’s a lumber company owner. Okay, back to the news story:

His bill would allow local school boards to offer elective courses for credit on the Old Testament, the New Testament or a combination of both.

That’s exciting. We looked at the legislature’s website and found this page for the bill: Senate Bill 138. On 27 February it was referred to Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate. No action since.

The bill’s text isn’t very long. You can read it as a pdf file: text of Senate Bill 138, but we’ll spare you the bother of clicking over there. It has a short, catchy title: AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR LOCAL BOARDS OF EDUCATION TO OFFER TO STUDENTS IN GRADES NINE THROUGH TWELVE AN ELECTIVE COURSE IN BIBLE STUDY. Here’s what it says, and we put a few phrases in bold for emphasis:

SECTION 1.G.S. 115C-81 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:

“(g4) Bible Study Elective. – Local boards of education may offer to students in grades 7 nine through 12 elective courses for credit on the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) , the New Testament, or a combination of the two subject matters. A student shall not be required to use a specific translation as the sole text of the Hebrew scriptures or New Testament and may use as the basic textbook a different translation of the Hebrew scriptures or New Testament approved by the local board of education or the principal of the student’s school.

A course offered by a local board of education in accordance with this subsection shall (i) follow federal and State law in maintaining religious neutrality and accommodating the diverse religious views, traditions, and perspectives of the students of the local school administrative unit and (ii) not endorse, favor or promote, or disfavor or show hostility toward any particular religion, nonreligious faith, or religious perspective. Courses may include the following instruction:

(1) Knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratories, and public policies.

(2) Familiarity with the contents, history, style, structure, and societal influence of the Hebrew scriptures or the New Testament.”

SECTION 2. This act is effective when it becomes law and applies beginning with the 2013-2014 school year.

You were probably impressed by the bill’s loving attention to neutrality. Perhaps you also noticed that by omission, it excludes the texts of all other religions. Let’s see what else the news story has for us. Ah, they offer some remarks by an informed citizen:

“It takes practice to hear an opinion or a viewpoint that just goes entirely against anything you ever thought in your life,” said Rev. Barbara Bathune. Bathune has spend time not only behind the pulpit, but also in front of a class of students teaching a college-level religious studies course.

That’s helpful. The news story then quotes the bill’s author:

“This is an elective,” said Bingham. “I don’t think it is out of order for a student to ask a school system to take an elective in the Bible.” Bingham’s bill, as written, only names the Bible as an option. A dozen lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Senate have signed on as co-sponsors, including three Democrats.

Yup, the bill has lots of sponsors in the Senate. The legislature’s page on the bill lists them: Allran, Brock, Clark, Cook, Daniel, D. Davis, Goolsby, Hise, Hunt, Jackson, McLaurin, Newton, Parmon, Pate, Randleman, and Sanderson. Here’s more from the news story:

Some people believe that classes on religion at tax-supported schools violates the constitutional separation of church and state. Sarah Preston, policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union-North Carolina, said it is notoriously difficult to teach the Bible inside a public school in a manner consistent with the First Amendment, which can put educators in a thorny situation.

Yes, it is difficult. So where are things now?

Bingham said he is happy to debate such issues as his bill moves through the legislative process. “There’s going to be a lot of discussion on this, and that’s exactly what I want to see happen,” he said.

This thing could erupt into a huge battle over state involvement with religion, or it could fizzle out into nothingness. We’ll have to keep an eye on things.

See also: Creationist Wisdom #310: Truth vs. Hogwash.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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50 responses to “North Carolina’s Bible Class Bill

  1. Yup. Everything in NC is just so hunky-dory that they have time for… this. Why, if the legislators have time to ensure that the souls of the heathen are saved, then NC must be the place to be! (starts packing bags…)

    Okay, seriously, I see this as yet another evolution, another branch on the tree that is creationism. First, they were told they couldn’t teach creationism, so it became “intelligent design”. Then ID was found unconstitutional, so it became “academic freedom”. The so-called “freedom” bills always have that random gobbledy-gook saying, “Hey, courts, this doesn’t mean what you think it means, even though that’s what it really means.” So now the good and honorable (gack!) Sen. Bingham has put the language into a bill, but it’s not about creationism. It’s to try to have Bible classes at taxpayer expense. Interesting.

  2. Courses on the ‘Bible as Literature’, and similar titles are offered in many public schools in many states already and have not been ruled by Federal courts as unconstitutional, as far as I can determine. The problem, of course, is that such courses might allow proselytizing, etc. Teachers for such courses need appropriate training and oversight. These courses can be a real problem, if taught improperly.

  3. Realist1948

    Like it or not, we live in a country where Christianity is a major part of the culture. If you are raised without much exposure to the bible (as I was) you don’t “get” a lot of the bible references that crop up here and there. As a teenager, one of my favorite record albums was Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited.” (I still like the album). The first words of the first song are “God said to Abraham, kill me a son. Abe said ‘Man, you must be puttin me on.’ ” And so on. Loved the song, but didn’t really understand it at the time. And how can you fully appreciate a movie like Bill Maher’s “Religulous” if you don’t know some of the truly insane things that are in this widely read book. Lewis Black’s comedy is a lot funnier if you have some understanding of the old and new testaments.

    I suppose a course title like “Bible study for atheists” would be too offensive to most people (especially in NC), but to be totally ignorant of the bible is not IMHO a good thing. I recall that Gregory Bateson wrote that he was required to read bible passages at home. His explanation was something like, “My father wanted me to be an atheist, but not an empty-headed atheist.”

  4. These days, it seems the state must be protected from religion, rather than the other way around. It might not be a bad idea to include bible studies, as well as the study of other religions’ foundational stories

  5. docbill1351

    You know, I could give a rat’s ass whether I understood a line from a Dylan song or not. By Unreal48’s logic, public schools should offer a course in the History of Rock ‘n’ Roll so kids would understand the lyrics in McLeans “American Pie.” A course to help kids understand Bob Marley would be interesting and I’d sign up for that one! How about a course in Hindu literature so kids could understand Apu Nahasapeemapetilon’s catch phrase, “Thank you! Come again!” in The Simpsons.

    Pop quiz: Which would be more useful to understand Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel – Bible, or Political History of the Italian Renaissance?

    Here in Texas, from what I’ve been able to determine by talking with friends out in Odessa-Midland, the only kids taking the elective “Bible in Literature” course are already Thumpers and they aren’t learning squat about “literature” nor do they care; they’re majoring in Willful Ignorance. And the supporters are just giggle-happy that they think they’ve pulled one over th’ libural gov’ment, by hecky!

  6. I’m fine with it, as long as they give the teachers the academic freedom to teach both the strengths and weaknesses of the bible. Also, it is important to make sure the whole bible is covered, including the numerous massacres of innocent townspeople ordered by god so that his chosen people could occupy their land, the bible’s support for slavery, biblical teachings on marriage (including polygamy and requirements to marry wives of deceased siblings), extensive dietary restrictions, use of the death penalty to address almost every crime imaginable, including disrespecting one’s parents, human sacrifice, and on and on. Unfortunately there are no passages addressing abortion, so we can’t work that in, but perhaps god instructing his people to kill pregnate women might suffice.

    It’s important to encourage students to think critically, and make up their own mind on whether the bible is worthy of respect. Teach the controversy!

  7. Ed posted my thoughts exactly. Force ’em to teach “the controversy.” The difference here being that there really is a great deal of controversy to be found in the ol’ “Good Book.”

    I also like Barbara’s comments on protecting the state from religious encroachment rather than the other way around. I’m from “Freshwater country,” and there are times that I’d like to give the bastards all the academic freedom they want just to watch the chaos as sectarianism ate ’em alive.

  8. Realist1948

    Hey docbill1351 (and notice I don’t modity your handle the way that you altered mine): Just what would be wrong with an elective course in the history of Rock n’ Roll? Schools teach the histories of various art forms (usually as electives), and Rock is an art form. Teaching rock might be a way to get kids interested in learning about electronics, since the two subjects are strongly connected. The argument for teaching about any religion hinges, IMHO, on how influential it is on the culture. Hinduism or Jainism have not (so far) been very influential in U.S. culture. OTOH, some exposure to native American religions might help in understanding American history and culture.

    Knowing that people once believed in witches helps us understand the history of Salem, MA. But knowing about witches isn’t the same things as believing in them, is it?

  9. Pete Moulton

    Does this mean they’ll also be offering courses in the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? And if not, why not?

    Actually, I agree with Ed: teach the controversy! Strengths and weaknesses! Academic freedom! Above all, make sure that reading the wholly babble from cover to cover like any other mythology is the primary prerequisite. NC’ll be awash in atheists before you can say, “Bob’s your uncle.”

  10. Let me say that I’m all for it. My big beef is that creationism not be taught as science. Such a class is necessary since many biblical stories are referenced as allusions in many other works. For example “good samaratan” or “patience of Job”. The same is true of Greek mythology another good elective. Now if it becomes a tongue talkin’, snake handlin’, soul savin’ revival meetin’ well that would be another issue.

  11. In NC, wouldn’t that be “Billy Bob’s your uncle”?

  12. Troy says: “Such a class is necessary since many biblical stories are referenced as allusions in many other works.”

    I don’t think it’s necessary, especially since such classes can get out of hand and become mere Sunday School classes. I think it’s sufficient for texts of any kind, usually literature or history (e.g., containing political speeches), to footnote an author’s allusions (to expressions from the bible, from Greek mythology, or from other works) that may not be familiar to students, indicating the source and meaning of the expression.

  13. “… and (ii) not endorse, favor or promote, or disfavor or show hostility toward any particular religion, nonreligious faith, or religious perspective.”

    Just so long as it includes both the Old and New Testament. Got to have some diversity, dontcha know. Sheesh!

  14. doodlebugger

    Spartarnburg SC is near that center of scientific advancement, Anderson SC, from which emanates some of the more notable the items discussed in SC’s creationist letters to the editor blogs. How come there are still monkeys SC.

  15. As a retired public school science teacher, I sure have a lot I want to comment on here. First, I agree with Gary’s comments completely, especially his first line — “Everything in NC is just so hunky-dory that they have time for… this.” Exactly.

    With schools everywhere being forced to drop art, music, physical education, and such other courses that aren’t measured in the “No Child Left Behind” tests, North Carolina wants to take time and taxpayer money to teach religion?

    And as for Realist1948’s view that “…to be totally ignorant of the bible is not IMHO a good thing”, There is nothing preventing a high school student from picking up a copy of The Bible and reading it on his/her own. Or, if they prefer being in the company of a study group, I’m certain they can find a nearby church offering Bible Study classes.

    Ed brings up a good point, though — “Teach the Controversy!” Realistically, though, that ain’t gonna happen. Any teacher who would appear to be putting “The Holy Bible” in a bad light is not going to last long in North Carolina.

    If the parents in N.C. want their children to have an understanding of biblical references, they are free to a) teach Bible study in the home, or b) take their kiddies to church. Don’t ask all the taxpayers to foot the bill.

  16. Realist1948

    @Troy – Teach creationism as science? No way that should be allowed to happen, in NC or anywhere else.
    @Gary, WRT “Everything in NC is just so hunky-dory that they have time for … this.” The bible course is being proposed as an elective. This assumes that they have already covered the required courses before allocating resources to electives. Whether this opens the door to make bible study a required course is something to beware of, of course.

    Sadly, NC is like a lot of other states when it comes to under-funding many of its schools. This is especially true in states like Illinois, where the state pays less than half of the school costs, leaving it up to local property taxes to cover most of the costs. If your parents live in a poor school district in Illinois, you’re basically screwed.

  17. @Realist1948 The topic at hand isn’t creationism as science, this seems to be more of a humanities type of study. Maybe I didn’t express myself clearly: As far as getting the Bible stories into schools I’m indifferent to it unless they are putting into science class in which case I am very much against it.

  18. docbill1351

    MakingItRealSince1848 whined, “Just what would be wrong with an elective course in the history of Rock n’ Roll?”

    Time, 48-san, time. Ain’t got no time in high school for crap like this. Public school teachers build the foundation on which the kid’s careers will rest. Teachers in K-12 work on teaching kids how to learn, not the fine points of blue suede shoes.

    College is an entirely different cat, though. In college one can delve into the History of Science, Philosophy of Science, Asian Ideas and Values, Man and the Arts, and on and on. Want to learn the Bible more gooder so you can understand Dylan, then college is the place for you. Knock yourself out.

    Let’s get real, Real, the only reason the Thumpers are harping on about Bible courses is to trick the government and get prayer back in school because waaaaaaaaaaay back in 1962 life was just so much holier, respectful, and mo’ bettah. Just as I remember it. All pigs were equal.

  19. I’m not an educator so please forgive my ignorance. I would think that all high school courses would have to have some sort of BoE oversight, including electives. If that’s the case then who decides how well you perform in a bible class, is there a standardized test? I don’t understand how this isn’t government sponsored religion since it is the only religion available for study.

  20. Realist1948

    Hey duck-bill-string-of-digits… I guess respectful disagreement isn’t your thing, is it? A big part of teaching is getting the students interested in what’s being taught. I hope you’re not a teacher… I’d pity your students. If one can integrate a history of rock with the development of electronics, the students might get interested enough to actually learn something about physics, engineering, applied mathematics, and related subjects.

    You never know what’s going to arouse interest in a student. If you know how to use Google, you might try looking up the NPR interview with Adam Steltzner, the engineer who lead the NASA team that successfully landed Curiosity on Mars this past August. He barely passed his math courses in high school — too interested in having a good time (including playing in a rock band). A Rock n Roll electronics coiurse might have gotten him on the path to a PhD much sooner.

  21. Realist1948

    Here’s the exact quote from Gregory Bateson I was referring to earlier:

    “My father, the geneticist William Bateson, used to read us passages of the Bible at breakfast –lest we grow up to be empty-headed atheists..”
    It’s from “Steps to an Ecology of Mind” by Gregory Bateson, page 343 of the 1972 paperback version. Those words begin the chapter titled “On Empty-Headness Among Biologists and State Boards of Education.”

  22. Jim Roberts

    The Bible, read attentively, is a potent force for atheism. It is unconstitutional to promote atheism. Therefore this bill is unconstitutional.

  23. Realist1948

    Pop quiz on the Bible:
    The Book of Numbers deals mainly with:

    A. The representation of quantities by numbers.
    B. Arithmetic.
    C. How to conduct a census for purposes of establishing a military draft of males of certain ages; how to organize the conscripts into units in a hierarchy of command and control; and the assignments of camp locations to various units of the army thus formed.

  24. If they are teaching the Bible in a religious frame of mind (ie, the Bible is the word of God, inspired, etc) then they are promoting a religion in a public school even if they pretend to be neutral.

    If they teach the Bible truly neutrally, as say in a course on comparative religion, the Bible as literature, or the Bible as mythology (say from a Joseph Campbell perspective), that would be anathema to the fundamentalist Christians, and so they would oppose it.

    If the Bible-thumpers support it, it ain’t neutral. If it’s neutral, the Bible-thumpers won’t want it.

    If it were really true that “Christianity is persecuted” in this country and that the State had an aggressive anti-Christian agenda (rather than say, maybe, a passive one), the State would have required comparative religion classes in public school, with all the really nasty bits of the Bible as required reading.

    I do agree that we should have a better grounding in our cultural heritage, including our Christian heritage, as part of public education. That can be done without promoting religion. In fact it might be a good inoculation against religious extremism, without having to go in the opposite direction of extreme anti-clericalism or extreme anti-religiousness (I know many of you think there’s no such thing; I disagree).

  25. I’m going to repeat what I wrote earlier —

    “If the parents in N.C. want their children to have an understanding of biblical references, they are free to a) teach Bible study in the home, or b) take their kiddies to church. Don’t ask all the taxpayers to foot the bill.”

    And I will add —

    If a physics teacher wants to show how developments in electronics have influenced rock music, he or she is certainly free to do so. You don’t need an entire elective course studying rock & roll to do this. Doc Bill is right — there’s no time in the high school course of study for crap like that.

    Likewise, if an English teacher wants to explain a biblical reference in a piece of literature being studied in class, he or she is free to do that. However, what would not be allowed in a public school is to teach that the Bible is infallible authority, or that an individual will be punished in the hereafter for non-belief.

  26. Realist1948

    There have been a few posts that refer to a lack of time in high school to allow for topics that aren’t currently covered. IMHO there would be more time for electives, etc. if the typical high school did not waste so much time teaching things that students aren’t likely to use after graduation. In particular, a typical 4 year study of mathematics in high school covers many topics that are of little use, and are not tied to any topics that the student might encounter later on. Ask any college graduate, even engineers, when they last had to solve a quadratic equation, or determine if a formula defined a parabola, a hyperbola, or some other conic section.. These things are seldom seen after the math SAT is taken. There’s often little said about how mathematics relates to contemporary applications in science and engineering. Beyond the goal of scoring well on the SAT, the point of teaching mathematics is often lost. The fact that so many people are baffled by a simple home mortgage or credit card contract, and the fact that so many people buy lottery tickets, demonstrates that a practical understanding of mathematics is lacking. This even though high schools spend many classroom hours to the subject.

  27. I can’t remember much of anything I learned in high school, but that’s not the point of high school, you are there to learn how to learn. You can take some classes that will help you in an introductory college course, but it is all basic knowledge you need so you can continue learning weather you go to college or not. That’s the most dangerous thing about allowing creationism into schools. It is not only wrong, it undermines your ability to learn.

  28. Realist1948 said:

    Ask any college graduate, even engineers, when they last had to solve a quadratic equation, or determine if a formula defined a parabola, a hyperbola, or some other conic section.

    Solve a quadratic? Yesterday. Haven’t had to deal with a parabolic, hyperbolic or simple conical section for some time. Instead, I had to deal with higher order, namely 4th and 5th order functions. And that was today. I won’t go into some of the statistical calculations I’ve been working on. And wait til we get to the ergodic random processes with which I’ve been tangling.

    Note to Doc Bill: Take a chill pill, my friend. Realist1948 has not been misbehaving. Save your wrath for those who truly deserve it.

  29. I’m so glad we are getting some notice on this ridiculous bill. We’ve now got a Republican General Assembly and Governor (first time in forever) and they’ve been chomping at the bit for this for ages.

    I’ve taught in a rural NC high school that had privately funded (or so I was told) Bible classes. They still do. It was so thinly disguised as a class it was laughable

    If this isn’t an awful insult to education, here’s another: someone wants to waste time removing the word “education” from the NC Education Lottery. It didn’t add much money to education, but it’s insane that they want to do this right now. I’m so embarrassed for my state.

    Oh, yeah. I’m teaching science now—evolution—and we are supposed to start using the new national standards for science, but with this new political climate, I wouldn’t be surprised if that goes right out the window.

    By the way, I’m still lurking around–when I’m not grading papers!

  30. Lynn says: “By the way, I’m still lurking around–when I’m not grading papers!”

    That’s good to hear.

  31. Realist1948

    @Gary – I don’t doubt that you have occaision to use the math I referred to above, but I suspect that you are in a small minority. Even if you need to perform such calculations, there is a growing amount of computer software (e.g. Wolfram products) that can do many of these calculations for you. Although there is value in understanding some algebra, trig, and geometry, I don’t think that the seemingly endless drills on factoring equations, solving equations, etc. is the best use of most students’ time. OTOH, they might at least go through the exercise of figuring the odds in their state’s lottery, and analyzing a typical 30 year home mortgage.

  32. docbill1351

    Aw, come on, Gary, if Back to the Future 1748 can’t handle the banter maybe he should retire to Mississippi where he belongs. I built my first few computers listening to Kate Bush so give me a break.

    My point, still, is that high school is not the time to mess around with crazy electives. College is where that happens.

    My high school teachers encouraged us to read the Great Books and eastern philosophy and all that stuff, and we had time out of class to discuss that stuff which we did.

    My bone is against the disingenuous morons who push “Bible Study” for no apparent reason, not my great and long time thin-skinned friend R1948. We’re from the same century, you know …

  33. Realist1948

    @Duck bill bunch-of-digits. “To Mississippi where he belongs” ? Well I guess you Texans like to poke fun at MS, and I have no quarrel there. You know what they say: Texas = Mississippi with good roads. Thin skinned? Nah, I just wish you could discuss an issue with some degree of intelligence, rather than simply making childish insults. You can always tell a Texan, but you can’t tell him much,,,,,

    But enough of this for tonight. I’m going to go read more of Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson.

  34. @Lynn — Do less lurking and do more writing, eh? We need your voice!

  35. docbill1351: “I built my first few computers listening to Kate Bush so give me a break.”

    Is that some sort of biblical allusion? I didn’t have the opportunity to take a bible course in high school, so I feel totally impoverished about such matters.

    And Real bunch-of-digits? Your point about useful math is well-taken. So instead of public schools offering Rock & Roll 101 or Bible Studies 666, how about a Life Skills class that would cover such things as mortgages, investments, credit card debt, car loans and leases, insurance, dispute resolution, common scams to avoid, things that lower your credit rating, etc., etc., so on and so forth. Now that would be a class ALL could use.

    And you are right about the fact that math instructors could do a better job of explaining the practical applications of the math they are teaching — at both the high school and college level. (Especially at the college level!)

  36. You guys make a lot of good points against mine. One thing that didn’t come up in this thread is would allowing schools to have a humanities type Bible course stop creationists and the legislators they influence or control from pursuing the doping down of science with creationism or would they walk away happy? The more I think about it I think it would probably just encourage their assault against science.

  37. @Troy: One mental gift that I lack is the ability to read the minds of creationists, but I would guess your last sentence is correct — they would push hard to remove evolution from the science curriculum. It falsifies the main tenet of their cult.

  38. RSG said:

    Your point about useful math is well-taken. So instead of public schools offering Rock & Roll 101 or Bible Studies 666, how about a Life Skills class that would cover such things as mortgages, investments, credit card debt, car loans and leases, insurance, dispute resolution, common scams to avoid, things that lower your credit rating, etc., etc., so on and so forth. Now that would be a class ALL could use.

    Okay. I’ll second this. Heartily. Along with Realist1948’s suggestion to teach basic probability so that people understand what they’re getting into when they play the lottery. To cover all of that, you’d need basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), exponentials and algebra (needed for many of the financial stuff such as calculating how much time it would take to pay off a loan based on the loan amount, payment amount, interest rate, frequency with which interest is compounded, and frequency of payment). Did I miss anything?

  39. Realist1948

    I’m happy to see some agreement here from RetiredScienceGuy. Along with showing applications of math to lotteries, mortgages, etc. I’d favor introducing some computer programming along with first year algebra, geometry, or probability. Given the ubiquitous presence of computers today (including embedded devices), high schools should take steps to demystify what these ‘magic’ devices are. The fundamentals of C or Java programming can be covered in a few weeks (I used to teach intensive one-week into courses on both of these languages to adults). Java or C programming can be used as a tool for demonstrating an unlimited range of math applications. A Java program to estimate the value of pi using nothing more than area under a curve by trapezoidal rule, the definition of a circle, and a square root function can be written in less than 100 lines of Java (including a home-made square root calculator based on Newton’s method). A Java program to output the remaining balance on a simple mortgage (given the principle amount, interest rate, and monthly payment) can also be written in less that 100 lines of C or Java code. On every mortgage I’ve had in the past 35 years, I’ve run my own calculations to verify that the lender’s monthly statements were correct… something every borrower might want to do.

  40. Adding to Gary: I have seen else where that some Creationists object to teaching basic Set Theory to children. The reason becomes clear if you consider that set theory in the basis for logic (also probability).

  41. Realist1948

    Probability could present many problems for fundamentalists. For example, the bible says that Noah lived to be 950 years old. Hmmm… let’s consider a few facts:
    The longest unambiguously documented human lifespan is that of Jeanne Calment of France (1875–1997), who died at age 122 years, 164 days.

    It is very common for people to make transcription errors when working with numbers … interchanging two digits, dropping a zero, inserting an extra zero. It happens all the time.

    And people simply MAKE STUFF UP.

    Given the choice of 1) a transcription error, 2) they made up the claim that Noah lived to be 950, or c) a human being actually lived to be nearly 8 times as old as any other known human, which choice(s) are most likely?

  42. docbill1351, I hope you’re not sulking. Come back. We miss you.

  43. Realist1948

    I doubt that duck-bill-in-the-14th-century is sulking. Maybe, like me, he had to take some time out to learn what Gary meant by ergodic random processes. I must say, that was a new one one me. But then, I haven’t done all that much with signal processing, statistics, or sophisticated electronics. I know some basic electronics, but for a long time I thought that a “twisted pair” referred to a strange couple living in San Francisco….

  44. Realist1948 says: “I doubt that duck-bill-in-the-14th-century is sulking.”

    Maybe not, but calm down, okay?

  45. Realist1948 said:

    Maybe, like me, he had to take some time out to learn what Gary meant by ergodic random processes.

    I’m quite certain Doc knows ergodic (and non-ergodic) random processes quite well.
    SC said:

    Maybe not, but calm down, okay?

    I hope Doc does, too. Doc needs to realize The First Rule of Curmudgeon Club (otherwise known as Kink’s Rule #1): “We don’t gnaw on KIT-TEH!”

  46. Realist1948

    I’m happy to show respect towards other Curmudgeon Club members just as long as they show no disrespect towards me. Arguments welcome, but insults and ad hominem attacks are not.

  47. Realist1948 says: “I’m happy to show respect towards other Curmudgeon Club members just as long as they show no disrespect towards me.”

    I prefer that everyone behaves properly, even when provoked. Sometimes that means you have to shrug and carry on. Discipline is my job. Trust me, I know when things get out of hand.

  48. docbill1351

    Real-Max-1849 finally wrote something sensible:

    Duck bill bunch-of-digits… You can always tell a Texan, but you can’t tell him much.

    But, retiredsciguy got it absolutely spot on, nail on the head, Katniss Everdeen bullseye when he wrote the immortal words, more true than Truth ™ itself

    Doc Bill is right.

    As my friend Stephen Colbert once said to me, “I know it wears on me to be right all the time, how about you?”

    And I said, “Yes, it is a weighty responsibility I carry but I do so cheerfully for all Humanity.”

    As for being wrathful, in SC’s house I’m as tame as a narcoleptic Koala bear and just as cuddly. Can’t say the same for my fulminations when I’m unleashing acid spewing zerglings on JoeG over at AtBC.

    For the record, I never sulk although I have been known to pout.

  49. docbill1351 said: “Real-Max-1849 finally wrote something sensible”

    Follow his example. I know you can.

  50. docbill1351

    Geeze, I dunno. I’ve been sucking on those Goofy stamps for quite a few years …