Is the Internet bringing about the end of organized religion?

Finding a way outNo, the Internet will not bring about the end of organized religion. But it is making it much easier to leave.

There is a thoughtful article at AlterNet by Valerie Tarico entitled “Does the Internet Spell the Doom of Organized Religion?“. In the article, Tarico argues that “the biggest threat that organized religion has ever faced [is] the internet.”

Here is a summary of the argument:

  • “A traditional religion, one built on “right belief,” requires a closed information system.” The internet opens the user to all sorts of ‘unapproved’ information. This is absolutely the case. No longer are churches and church-affiliated colleges the storehouses of knowledge and information. Today, it all lives on a collective web of resources not controlled by the church or any organized religious entity.
  • Christian opposition to science is not just about attempting to suppress facts and information that expose and disprove false religious claims, but, “They see in science not only a critic of their outdated theories but a competitor for their very best product, a sense of transcendent exuberance.” That is, it is the emotional connection that many science educators are now able to employ on the Internet that is truly challenging the church. It is not just the facts (for we have known these for years), but it is the successful packaging of these facts into digestible, entertaining, relevant, artistic, and even wonder-invoking, emotional videos and summaries (in a manner similar to what  religion has done for years), that is truly challenging the church.
  • Quick and convenient side-by-side comparisons (we call them “synoptic” in biblical studies) of various religious claims, especially of the absurd and sensational, allow Internet users to quickly compare ridiculous religious claims with similar ones that the user might personally hold. The user can the quickly recognize the similarity and logical association between the absurd and the previously held claims, and then dismiss them both as irrational. This is a by-product of the Internet’s ability to disseminate information and of the scientific community’s recognition (finally!) that is important to communicate the relevance of new (and old) discoveries to the public, as well as the information.
  • The internet exposes the “Kinky, Exploitative, Oppressive, Opportunistic and Violent Sides of Religion”. This is a two-fold problem for organized religions. On the one hand, problems with appalling religious faith claims (like God commanding genocide, ordaining slavery, etc.) can be highlighted on the Internet (when they are often ignored or conveniently overlooked in Sunday School). But a second problem is the exposure of problems with the clergy, who suddenly find their financial and sexual misdeeds exposed everywhere on the internet. Simply put, it’s harder to cover up crimes committed by churches and its leaders that it was before the Internet.
  • The internet has created a community of like-minded folks who are easy to find, which provides a safe place to land for people coming out of organized religion. One of the most appealing aspects of religion is a built-in community of like-minded people who often support each other in times of struggle and provide an identity to the believer within a community. Before the Internet, it was difficult to find or create a similar community outside of one’s local religious community. However, the Internet has provided such a place, where those leaving a community of faith can instantly discover a large and very diverse community of rationalists and “non-believers” committed to the same ideals of morality and justice to which former believers are accustomed, but that are not rooted in theistic claims. The Internet provides a new community of friends, even in small towns dominated by members of a singular faith community that have ostracized the recently departed.
  • Interfaith communities and groups exploring spirituality that exist outside of dogmatic organized religious institutions can be found on the Internet, which allows those departing organized religions either to depart gradually from the faith, or, to remain at a level of belief and spirituality with which they are comfortable without the constant corrective pressures of unprovable doctrines and dogmas.

The article overlooks (or perhaps takes for granted), one of the most powerful things the Internet does, which also happens to be its simplest and most original feature: hyperlinks. In its infancy, the Internet was a way to link one document to another. No more having to go “look it up”. No more having to take the author’s word for it. Instant verification is now possible with links (and with a ton of cataloging help from Google :). Any claim can be almost instantly checked, challenged, or verified. This ultimately does away with the need for a single authority (like a parent or a priest), but instead allows the user to judge a claim based upon both an evaluation of the evidence itself and comments about the credibility of the evidence and the arguments from a whole collective of experts and authorities, all contributing to the evaluation of particular claims.

Note that this is different from a simple democratic vote on ‘truth’ – an accusation that opponents of sites like Wikipedia often use to characterize the site incorrectly. On the Internet like in scholarship, not all links and commentators are weighted the same. Links into a page from established news sources and scientific journals are counted as being worth more than a self-published LiveJournal page touting the alien origin of the pyramids. Credible sources are weighed more than self-published material. This is how Wikipedia works. It’s also how Google’s search algorithms work: placement in Google’s search results is the product of the number of visits to a particular site, the number of links to the site, and the credibility of the links linking to the site as calculated by still other algorithms evaluating the credibility of the other sites linking into the site.

Oh, and of course, cash spent on bumping certain websites to the top of Google searches as “advertisements”. Note, for instance that a simple search for “science and religion” on YouTube (acquired by Google in 2006) elevates and highlights “Scientology” and “Baha’i Faith” videos to the top. These are paid ads, which is ironic, in that it is now organized religion that is paying top dollar to have its message artificially promoted (since it is having less success threatening, ostracizing, and killing “heretics” to keep its message on top).

Personally, I don’t think the Internet will spell the end of organized religion, or of disorganized religion for that matter. What it will do, however, is hasten the dissemination of information, both credible and non-credible, and will allow users to begin to accumulate claims and information from sources other than parents, close friends, and clergy. There will always be fringe groups, hate groups, believers in aliens, and conspiracy theorists, and the internet will, in fact, lend them additional undue exposure as well. Likewise, just because information is more readily available to a greater number of people does not ensure that users will know how to use this newly found, often unvetted information, which many readers do not (and often cannot) confirm as credible.

(This, btw, is why accreditation and credible schools and scholars still, and always will matter: accreditation and scholarship are the antidote to popular myth, hate, fear, impulse, and unsubstantiated claims, beliefs, and ideologies. Methodologically sound and objective research (as opposed to personal revelation and unverifiable, or worse yet, easily disproved claims) is the best means by which to discover and evaluate knowledge and information. This is the realm of the academy, and it is increasingly relevant and necessary. And yes, THIS is why tenure matters!)

Ultimately, I’d argue that the Internet makes information that used to be available only in the elite classrooms of the world now available to the public.

Or perhaps better said: the Internet is the closed course that we wish we could take, that suddenly got moved to a larger room.

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in defense of the digital humanities, open courseware, and online publishing

This is one of the best cases I’ve seen for the Digital Humanities, open courseware, and online publishing. It demonstrates the need for universities, and especially tenure-granting committees to consider digital media as equally worthy of consideration during tenure reviews as scholarly articles printed on paper in peer-review journals and monographs published by traditional academic publishers. This transition should be hastened by the present scampering of traditional print publishers to establish digital publishing presences online (as I’ve mentioned here). It is also a clever demonstration of the legitimacy that advances in online education, improvements in Wikipedia contributor rules, blogging, Google scholar projects, harnessing social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, course management systems like Moodle, and new forms of 3D and hypermedia publishing have brought not only to the Digital Humanities, but to scholarship in general. Give it a view and leave comments below.

HT: Amanda Waldo

new article on the future of peer-review at bible and interpretation

Bible and Interpretation has published my latest essay entitled, “How and Why Academic Peer-Review is About to Change.” The article looks at how new technologies like blogs, wikis, and Google Docs can improve the peer-review process by allowing for increased review, an improved editing process, and a shorter time to press. Check it out.

news sites beginning to prohibit anonymous comments

Anonymous Speechit was only a matter of time.

the claims by some that certain forms of speech including slander/libel, defamation, and forgery are protected under the first amendment simply because they are spoken or written anonymously is coming to an end. according to an article by stephanie goldberg on cnn.com:

Like those bathroom-stall messages, online comments on news stories can be difficult to police. For years, many publications have tried to strike a balance between encouraging open communication among readers and maintaining civil discourse. But a few sites, fed up with rude or inflammatory comments, are taking bold new steps to raise the level of dialogue.

i applaud these news sites that are attempting to engage their readers in a responsible manner. while it is certainly possible to fake a name, an email, and even a credit card, these websites are taking positive steps toward ensuring that the comments offered in response to online articles are, in fact, not hateful, libelous, or a part of a greater campaign of defamation. (besides, even fake email addresses can be tracked back to a single ip address ;-)

news websites are beginning to realize that the continued tolerance of anonymous comments, especially those that make unsubstantiated claims, contain hate speech, or are designed to defame others actually undermine the website’s credibility over the long term. the credibility of news websites that allow unbridled anonymous talk slowly comes to resemble the bathroom stall and not the reliable news source they seek to be. and just like journalism that reports on whispers and rumors, for every significant scoop that unveils a conspiracy or exposes a crime, there are hundreds of sites that do little more than spread gossip and make claims that smear others.

while it is true that anonymous speech allows some to say things that would otherwise go unsaid, credibility over the long term resides in the consistent verifiability of a story’s source. and when an anonymous source is shown to be involved in a systematic campaign of media manipulation for the purposes of discrediting a perceived rival, then we have moved from a realm of protected speech to the basic elements of slander/libel and defamation on the civil side, and in some cases, forgery, identity theft, and criminal impersonation on the criminal side.

a site is only as good as its sources. put your name on what you write. use your own name, write responsibly, and don’t cite rumors and whispers. don’t make sensational claims, and never attempt to use any form of protected speech to commit crime – it always backfires.

and oh yeah, i almost forgot: there is no such thing as anonymity on the internet!!!

transportation security administration to block certain websites from employee computers

Email from TSAthe transportation security administration sent out an email today notifying employees that access to certain websites at work would begin to be limited. the sites are deemed ‘inappropriate for government access’ and include the following:

  • Chat/Messaging
  • Controversial opinion
  • Criminal activity
  • Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content
  • Gaming

so is this an infringement on free speech (not that government workers surfing the web is speech in any way, shape, or form? or is it a government agency trying to get their employees to work?

a quick few observations:

  1. aren’t these work computers? what on earth are tsa employees doing gaming or chatting on work computers? and is this why my luggage always gets mis-routed in the philadelphia airport? on this one, i’m with the tsa. get to work and stop facebooking. facebook will drain all of your time and energy.
  2. sites with ‘controversial opinions’ are banned. who makes this determination? what is a ‘controversial opinion’? who makes that determination? are controversial opinions those from conservatives? liberals? those that are critical of the obama administration? i’m with the employees on this one.
  3. pornography isn’t on the list?? how is pornography not on this list? government employees can’t play bubble spinner but they can browse porn? to quote casablanca, ‘captain renault big sister is getting broad-minded.’

what do you think?

court docs detail raphael golb’s harassment of robert cargill

Raphael Golb

Raphael Golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, identity theft, impersonation, and aggravated harassment.

on march 5, 2009, raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental insitute historian norman golb, was arrested on 51 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer. golb’s arrest set in motion a bizarre and twisted path towards his trial, complete with motions to dismiss the charges, motions to suppress evidence seized during his arrest, and the use of these very motions to further attack his victims with the verbatim claims made by the very aliases he still refuses to admit being. golb claims his impersonation, forgery, and identity theft amount to nothing more than ‘satire’ and ‘free speech,’ but yet is not confident enough in his own defense to admit that he made the very ‘speech’ in question.

but for many of us, raphael golb’s arrest only marked the latest phase of a three-year old investigation into his identity and activity. the passing of time may have caused many to forget just what the golbs did that led to this point. additionally, many never really knew much of what the golbs were doing furtively, behind the scenes, to harass and intimidate their victims. everyone could read ‘charles gadda’s’ posts on the internet, but because i did not discuss the case publicly prior to golb’s arrest, many are unaware of the actions taken by raphael, joel, and norman golb behind the scenes to damage their victims, including me.

recent filings in the case of the people of the state of new york v. raphael golb have made public some disturbing emails and other communications sent by the golbs to one another detailing how they should harass and intimidate me and effectively “ruin my career.” i knew that some of this was going on, but prior to the hard evidence provided by the new york district attorney’s office in publicly available court documents, i had no idea the extent to which the golbs were determined to damage my career and me personally.

below are some excerpts from a recent court filing detailing emails sent between norman golb’s sons, raphael and joel, detailing their motives and intent to ‘harass and unsettle’ me, and to explicitly damage my career.


Excerpts from

AFFIRMATION IN RESPONSE
TO THE DEFENDANT’S
MOTIONS TO DISMISS,
MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE
RECOVERED VIA SEARCH
WARRANT, AND REQUEST FOR AN ADVISORY
OPINION
Indictment No. 2721/2009

(pdf)

66. Defendant’s animosity towards victim Dr. Cargill also bears an eerie parallel to the Wise incident. Robert Cargill was working on his Ph.D. when he was the subject of an anonymous smear campaign by the Golb/Gadda aliases that lasted over a year. Much of this smear campaign seemed designed to prevent him from getting his Ph.D. Thus, Dr. Cargill was at a crucial phase in his academic career (working on a Ph.D.), just as Dr. Wise was at a crucial phase in his career some twenty years prior, with respect to tenure. Also, defendant’s harassment of Dr. Cargill included insinuations that he had copied another’s work.

Defendant’s intent to harass Dr. Cargill is evidenced within email communications:

78. The harassment count as to Dr. Cargill differs from the harassment counts as to Drs. Schiffman and Goranson, because the defendant did not impersonate Dr. Cargill. Since the defendant did impersonate Drs. Schiffman and Goranson, it is reasonable to infer that one motivation for the impersonation was to harass them. With respect to defendant’s actions towards Dr. Cargill, email evidence assists in showing the defendant’s intent to harass Dr. Cargill. For example, on January 19, 2008, there is an email discussion between Golb/Gadda alias Robert Dworkin and his brother Joel Golb, about a proposed email to Professor Carter, Chair of the UCLA department in which Robert Cargill and his Ph.D. advisor Dr. Schniedewind worked. Joel Golb takes issue with some proposed language that reads “…my intent in writing to you has not been to harm Mr. Cargill’s academic career prospects”. Joel Golb writes: “Clearly, for all who read this, one of the purposes of Dworkin’s devastating letter will be, precisely, to destroy the career prospects of a really nice guy” [emphasis added].

79. Further discussion regarding a similar proposed email to Professor Carter took place on March 13, 2008. On March 13,2008, Joel Golb writes that he approves of the proposed email, and writes that it “will merely serve to harass and unsettle a bit… ” (emphasis added).

80. On March 15, 2008, in an email between Joel Golb and Golb/Gadda alias Jesse Friedman, about Drs. Cargill and Schniedewind, Joel Golb indicates the possibility that “both their careers may well be ruined.”

81. Multiple emails were indeed sent to Professor Carter from Golb/Gadda aliases complaining about Dr. Cargill and his Ph.D. project. Dr. Cargill’s apparent Christian background is attacked, and he is even accused of copying someone else’s work. On January 18, 2008, and several times thereafter, emails were sent to Professor Carter and multiple other UCLA email accounts from Golb/Gadda alias Don Matthews. On February 8, 2008, and several times thereafter, emails were sent to Professor Carter from Golb/Gadda alias Emily Kaufman, with multiple UCLA employees copied. On February 9, 2008, and at least one time thereafter, emails were sent to Professor Carter from Golb/Gadda alias Steve Frankel, with multiple UCLA employees copied. On March 19, 2008, an email was sent to Professor Carter from Golb/Gadda alias Joshua Reznick, with multiple UCLA employees copied.

82. From the period of June 2007 to June 2009, Golb/Gadda aliases Steve Frankel, Carlo Gadda, Don Matthews, David Kaplan, Emily Kaufman, Jesse Friedman, and Robert Dworkin sent dozens of emails to hundreds of “ucla.edu” recipients, as well as other individuals, all attacking Dr. Cargill. The volume of defendant’s alias creation, and his planning with others, speaks to the deliberate intent in conducting defendant’s operation.

83. Defendant’s pattern of conduct, and surrounding facts, further indicate that defendant’s motives were less than innocent. For example, the campaign surrounding Dr. Schiffman was clearly designed to damage his career based upon the content. The impersonating emails crafted by the defendant even specifically indicated that Dr. Schiffman’s career was “at stake”. Such conduct as to Dr. Schiffman is relevant as to defendant’s intent as to Dr. Cargill.

84. As previously indicated, there is no legal requirement that harassing communication must be made directly to the victim. In fact, it is apparent that this type of harassment, when made indirectly to the victim through dozens of communications with hundreds of the victim’s colleagues, can be more harassing than direct communication with the victim. Defendant knew that these emails would ultimately affect Cargill in a manner designed to harass and alarm him. In fact, sending emails to third parties is more offensive than sending emails directly to Dr. Cargill. If Dr. Cargill received direct harassing emails from any of defendant’s dozens of aliases, he could simply delete the email, and block each successive sock puppet email account. It would be easier for Dr. Cargill to block the email accounts than it would be for the defendant to keep creating new accounts. However, Dr. Cargill cannot block or delete emails sent to dozens or hundreds of his associates. Rather, he is forced to field question after question from others about the negative content of the emails. Notably, this pattern of attack was taking place at a crucial period during Dr. Cargill’s academic career, and it attacked the basis of Dr. Cargill’s Ph.D. project.

85. In sum, the inference from the totality of defendant’s conduct is that the defendant maliciously spread false information with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, defraud, deceive, and injure.

=== END TRANSCRIPT ===


the above speaks to the specific motive and intent to do harm to me and damage my career. in fact, the intent to do damage is quite explicit. after living through that experience, and after coupling golb’s sons’ activities with the signed letters from the hand of norman golb, it appears that they were all in it together. dr. golb would write formal letters of complaint and appear above the fray, while the sons would attack me relentlessly online using aliases in coordination with norman golb.

having contacted the director of the oriental institute directly, and having corresponded with the general counsel‘s office of the university of chicago about dr. golb’s activities, and with no real action being taken to investigate norman golb’s ethical and professional behavior in this matter, i must assume that the university of chicago has full knowledge of these proceedings, and is tacitly endorsing them. either that, or they are culpable of negligence in this matter, in that they have as of yet taken no action to stop golb, or even to investigate the matter.

again i must ask: is this the kind of behavior tolerated or promoted by the oriental institute? by the university of chicago?

the bigger question is: are the premeditated and well-coordinated deeds of norman golb and his sons actionable in civil court?

bombshell: ny da’s response to raphael golb’s motion to dismiss charges and suppress evidence reveals norman golb’s knowledge of the campaign

Raphael and Norman Golb

Raphael Golb and his father, University of Chicago historian Dr. Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, identity theft, impersonation, and aggravated harassment of several Dead Sea Scrolls scholars.

court docs allege:
norman golb knew about the smear campaign!

court docs also allege:
norman golb participated in the smear campaign against other scholars.

in fact, according to email transcripts contained in the january 19, 2010 new york district attorney’s response to raphael golb’s motion to dismiss all charges and suppress evidence, norman golb actively participated in the smear campaign against fellow dead sea scrolls scholars by providing phone call and email talking points.

court documents show that norman golb’s other son, joel, was involved as well.

in fact, according to court docs, norman golb’s wife, ruth, was involved too. norman golb went so far as to use his wife ruth’s email account to disguise his involvement in the event that his email was ever compromised.

the smear campaign was a golb family affair! (based upon evidence in court docs)

for those interested in this seemingly never-ending scandal, the new york district attorney prosecuting the case against raphael golb has responded to golb’s motions to dismiss. it is now posted online. (these docs are publicly available.) raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, stands accused of 51 counts of criminal impersonation, identity theft, forgery, aggravated harassment, and unauthorized use of a computer. a full account of the scandal can be found at http://www.who-is-charles-gadda.com.

below are excerpts from the:

AFFIRMATION IN RESPONSE TO THE DEFENDANT’S MOTIONS TO DISMISS, MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE RECOVERED VIA SEARCH WARRANT, AND REQUEST FOR AN ADVISORY OPINION

note in particular, exhibit c (transcribed below), which gives only some of the email evidence the new york district attorney’s office used to bring charges against raphael golb.

key lines to watch for:

“By the way, if Dad has some comment on the latest Charles Gadda exchange, he can send it through your email, that way there would be no trace of it in his account.” – Raphael Golb

“…they know Gadda is Golb’s son, meaning they are faced with a dedicated, in-the-know adversary who is out to get them, and there’s simply nothing they can do about it.” – Raphael Golb

“we can’t send via Dad’s email so we’ll send via mine” – Ruth Golb (Norman Golb’s Wife, Raphael Golb’s Mother)

“Dad thinks that if Crawford was invited it’s because she’s Frank Cross’s student and someone must have been in back of it since she’s the least competent of all of them.” – Ruth Golb

“… Mom and I also found of interest the latest item you sent us, i.e. the one from the writer living in Raleigh (or thereabouts). The recent blogs by Dworkin et al. are obviously having effect,” – Norman Golb

“Schiffman is such a sleaze and behaves as though he has nothing to fear -this makes sense to me. Love, Mom” – Ruth Golb

“Would you like me to inform them using an alias, or do you prefer to contact them yourself?” – Raphael Golb to Norman Golb

“your contribution was posted 2 minutes after my own posting–wouldn’t it have been better to wait a while to avoid the impression that we are collaborating or are indeed one and the same person?” – Joel Golb to Raphael Golb

“I really don’t think I ruined anything by coming on — the tone of my thing was quite different from yours, along with links. It’s part of Gadda’s persona to always come on late at night with jabs at these people, quoting the New York Times and similar sources. Why shouldn’t he have picked up on Ignorant Gnostic’s statement?” – Raphael Golb in response to Joel Golb

…. So I think Dworkin should be extremely careful to make sure the mail is totally untraceable–even going so far as to mail from an internet cafe–and it might actually be time in the next few weeks to simply throw out his old computer and replace it with one of those extremely inexpensive PCs one can now get… – Joel Golb to Raphael Golb alias “Robert Dworkin”


EXHIBIT C

Summary of, and Excerpts of,
Certain Email Communications

These emails are provided to help demonstrate defendant’s intent and motive.

EMAILS BETWEEN THE GOLBS CONCERNING THE UPCOMING JEWISH MUSEUM EXHIBIT, THAT ASSIST IN DEMONSTRATING DEFENDANT’S INTENT AND MOTIVE REGARDING HIS SUBSEQUENT IMPERSONATION OF DR. SCHIFFMAN

On July 24, 2008 at 11:57 PM Raphael Golb (raphael.g@mindspring.com) wrote to Ruth Golb (ruthgolb@gmail.com), his mother:

… I saw Dan F. today. Unfortunately, he’s probably not going to be able to accomplish anything [at the Jewish Museum]… Thus, he has no influence over them. He does, however, know the curator (Susan Braunstein), and will speak to her about it (but she might be on vacation). She will probably resist, however, and then he will be able to do nothing.

This makes it all the more important that Dad try and do something about this via Benny Kedar. There is no shame in asking to see the list of lecturers (“Look, I don’t want to tell you who to invite and not to invite, but I would be curious to see who you have invited”) and pointing out that they could have had the courtesy to invite him, after everything he has done to help them improve the exhibits.

By the way, if Dad has some comment on the latest Charles Gadda exchange, he can send it through your email, that way there would be no trace of it in his account. [emphasis added]

Raph

On July 26, 2008, Raphael Golb (raphael.g@mindspring.com) wrote:

… what must be truly maddening to them is that they know Gadda is Golb’s son, meaning they are faced with a dedicated, in-the-know adversary who is out to get them, and there’s simply nothing they can do about it. I believe the blogging campaign has put pressure on them and possibly contributed to what we are seeing now with the Jewish Museum. [emphasis added]

On July 28, 2008, at 9:32am, Raphael Golb (raphael.g@mindspring.com) emailed Dr. Norman Golb (n-golb@uchicago.edu) a link to a Nowpublic blog by Gadda concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Jewish Museum, with subject “new nowpublic item on new york exhibit” and text “Dad — there’s a new article out by Gadda — http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/dead-sea-scrolls-coming-new-york”

On July 28, 2008, at 2:56pm, Ruth Golb emailed Raphael Golb and indicated “we can’t send via Dad’s email so we’ll send via mine”

On July 30, 2008, at 2:08pm, Raphael Golb emailed his family with a proposed email to be sent to Susan Braunstein, curator of the Jewish Museum.

On Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 2:08 PM, wrote:
Mom, Dad, Joel,
how about this:
Dear Ms. Braunstein,
I am the son of Norman Golb (author of Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?).
I live in New York, and I have heard that an exhibit of the scrolls will soon be opening at the Jewish Museum. If you can spare a moment one afternoon, I would greatly appreciate having the opportunity to meet you; I have some information on recent developments that could be of interest to you.
Raphael Golb, Ph.D.

On July 30,2008, at 3:16pm, Ruth Golb responded:

“No, no, no for a few reasons. But let Dad write to B. K. tomorrow. ” [indicating Benny Kedar]

On July 30, 2008, at 3:46pm, Raphael Golb responded:

Okay, but we are very quickly running out of time on this one. [emphasis added] New York is far away from Jerusalem and I suspect it is not a primary concern of Benny Kedar’s. Incidentally, is Dad on good terms with anyone at the Jewish Theological Seminary?

In Dad’s letter, he should perhaps point out that the Jewish Museum is one of Judaism’s most prominent cultural institutions (hinting that its reputation is at stake), and ask if Katz will be taking steps to ensure that the decisions taken at the meeting will be concretely applied to the exhibit there.

On July 30, 2008, at 4:07pm, Raphael Golb wrote to Ruth Golb:[,]

I just called Dan about this and he immediately said there was no way Braunstein would ever meet with me, because she’s a “big shot.” He insisted that she must indeed be “au courant” because she is very clever, and that nothing he tells her will make any difference anyway because she will simply do what she wants. (Meanwhile, she has not returned his calls, because she must be busy setting up the exhibit and she probably assumes that he is just calling her for social reasons.)

My conclusion: the only way of getting through to her would be to directly inform her of the meeting. Ideally, Benny Kedar would call her himself, but again, I can understand Dad’s reluctance to be pushy. The only realistic possibility is for Kedar to instruct Katz to call Braunstein with a request that the additional information be added to the exhibit.

On July 30, 2008, at 6:18pm, Raphael Golb wrote to Ruth Golb:

I just spoke with Dan R; I could tell that basically he didn’t have the courage to ask Braunstein to invite Dad; he kept suggesting that I come to the lectures and ask questions afterwards to rebut the speakers; when I explained why that wouldn’t work, he suggested that Dad himself show up at Schiffman’s lecture (at Dan F.’s expense, hotel and everything); when I explained why Dad wouldn’t do that, he suggested that Dad write to Braunstein, pointing out that the speakers are not balanced and that he would be willing to give a talk at his own expense to rebut them…

On July 30, 2008, at 9:04pm, Ruth Golb wrote Raphael Golb:

Dad thinks that if Crawford was invited it’s because she’s Frank Cross’s student and someone must have been in back of it since she’s the least competent of all of them.

Now, if Dad is to use the Schiffman thing, he needs the exact quote of Schiffman’s and page number. Dad doesn’t have a copy of the book here.

The following email thread indicates the Golbs’ interest in who was speaking at the Jewish Museum, and refers to the fact that Dr. Schuller and Dr. Crawford were both students of Dr. Frank Cross.

On July 31,2008 Raphael Golb wrote Ruth Golb and wrote:

I doubt if this has anything to do with Cross — it could easily have come from the usual Katz recommended list, and simply result from the fact that Braunstein is a woman and that the idea of the lecture (“Women at Qumran”) seemed interesting and different to her — something that would interest the audience.

On July 31, 2008, Ruth Golb wrote to Raphael Golb:

Poor Dan. He means well, but the politics of this is beyond him. His suggestions would not be appropriate, of course.
Dad thinks that if Crawford was invited it’s because she’s Frank Cross’s student and someone must have been in back of it since she’s the least competent of all of them. Now, if Dad is to use the Schiffman thing, he needs the exact quote of Schiffman’s and page number. Dad doesn’t have a copy of the book here.
Mom

On August 05, 2008, 12:39am, Raphael Golb Wrote to Norman Golb under subject “schuller — harvard”:

Ph.d. Harvard, student of Cross just like the other one.

On August 06, 2008, 7:06pm, Raphael Golb wrote to Norman Golb:

Dad —
You will be amused to learn that the announcement of Schuller’s lecture has disappeared from the Jewish Museum website, at least for now. I have a feeling they have decided to try and keep it a secret for as long as possible…
Raph

On August 10,2008, at 1:10am, Norman Golb wrote to Raphael Golb:

… Mom and I also found of interest the latest item you sent us, i.e. the one from the writer living in Raleigh (or thereabouts). The recent blogs by Dworkin et al. are obviously having effect,

On August 10, 2008, 1:32am, Raphael Golb wrote to Norman Golb:


Would you like me to inform them using an alias, or do you prefer to contact them yourself? I’m sure they will ignore this anyway (perhaps not Orion, but the others certainly will).

On August 4, 2008, Raphael Golb wrote (apparently to Ruth Golb):

I was wrong in my assumption about the woman lecturer — it is Eileen Marie Schuller, Professor, Department of Religious Studies, McMaster University — no doubt just as bad as the other one, but nonetheless not the same.

Raph

On Mon, Aug 11,2008 Ruth Golb wrote to Raphael Golb:

Hi Raph,
Dad is still sleeping but I think you’re on to something here. Schiffman is such a sleaze and behaves as though he has nothing to fear -this makes sense to me.
Love,
Mom

On August 14, 2008, Raphael Golb wrote to Ruth Golb:

Okay — we absolutely need to speak on the phone before Dad gives his lecture. Weston Fields responded to Friedman with a “thank you very much for this information!” note. I have a hunch Fields and Broshi might try and set him up, with people here and there in the audience shouting out things like “why don’t you write a Nowpublic article on that, or will you have your son do it for you?” to try and rattle him. He needs to be very seriously prepared for that sort of thing — he should write down a few notes on what to say if that should happen, and bring them along with the text of the lecture so that he doesn’t feel caught off guard. (Possible responses: “you think I care about internet junk? I don’t know which of my sons you’re referring to, but they both have jobs, and if they chat on-line, they’re entitled to their opinion. now are you going to keep interrupting my talk, or can we go on?”) He must also prepare himself for a more “scientific” set up, people here and there in the audience attempting to point out every little weakness they can find.

EMAILS AMONG THE GOLBS THAT DEMONSTRATE COORDINATION OF DEFENDANT’S SOCK PUPPET ACTIVITIES AND MAINTAINING ANONYMITY, WHICH ASSIST IN DEMONSTRATING DEFENDANT’S INTENT AND MOTIVE

On July 2, 2008, Golb/Gadda alias Jesse Friedman wrote to Joel Golb (j.golb@snafu.de)

I am sorry — I forgot to “activate” the phillipcoleman@yahoo.com account yesterday — mea culpa. Try again on the site, I think it will work now. Phillip_Coleman.

Where they ask you for your city and phone number, try Philadelphia, 19134 is zipcode and invent a phone number — area code is 215. You can always be on vacation if they inquire (but so far none of my aliases have received the slightest hint of attention).

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1123440.html

You should also try posting on the other site again. The woman has returned from vacation, and look how she has updated her original posting! — with a quote from the latest comment by “Dead Sea Scrolls student”…

http ://blog.news-record.com/staff/frontpew/archives/2008/06/dead_sea_scroll.shtml

On August 3, 2007, defendant (using personal email account raphael.g@mindspring.com) emailed Joel Golb and wrote:

I see you called–was at the library all day–Gadda has now published a definitive attack against these people–please let me know if you see any typos, etc., I will pass the info on to him if I see him–

http://www.nowpublic.com/christian_fundamentalism_and_dead_sea_scrolls_san_diego

On Jul 25, 2008, 5:54am, Joel Golb wrote to Raphael Golb:

your contribution was posted 2 minutes after my own posting–wouldn’t it have been better to wait a while to avoid the impression that we are collaborating or are indeed one and the same person? You want me to help on this–then please preserve Gnostic’s outward integrity as an independent contributor

On July 25, 2008, 11:27am, Raphael Golb wrote to Joel Golb:

Relax — it would have been unusual if I hadn’t posted anything — they would have started insinuating I was using another alias.

2 minutes — actually it was more like an hour or two, but if it says 2 minutes that’s good — how can I be in two places at the same time?

On July 25, 2008, 4:58pm, Raphael Golb wrote to Joel Golb:

I’m just getting home from stuff. From your exchange with Dad, I see that he apparently didn’t get my other emails which would explain why he never got back to me.

I really don’t think I ruined anything by coming on — the tone of my thing was quite different from yours, along with links. It’s part of Gadda’s persona to always come on late at night with jabs at these people, quoting the New York Times and similar sources. Why shouldn’t he have picked up on Ignorant Gnostic’s statement?

The following emails further demonstrate the coordination between Raphael and Joel Golb, and confusion about the volume of anonymous blogs:

On September 17, 2008, 12:55pm, Joel Golb emailed Raphael Golb:

there has been a new comment added to the Now Public site….

Raphael Golb responded with:

which article, the plagiarism thing? let them fight it out, whether someone plagiarized dad isn’t my concern, i am focused on the institutional problem, i’m around now if you can call.

On Sep 18, 2008, at 2:43am, Joel Golb wrote to Raphael Golb:

the Now Public article

On September 18, 2008, 2:45am, Raphael Golb responded to Joel Golb and stated:

look, i don’t know which article you’re talking about, there are nine of them — just give me a call, i need to tell you something anyway

A June 17, 2008 email from j.friedman47@gmail.com (a Golb/Gadda alias) to j.golb@snafu.de (the email account of Joel Golb in Germany) indicates discussion about the use of proxies, and discusses a Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit that was opening in North Carolina. The use of an internet proxy is a method of disguising one’s internet protocol address, the identifier that indicates which computer is accessing a computer at a given place and time.

“they are clearly accepting messages submitted through proxies, it must be some kind of glitch in their system — we are now up to 17 comments (see latest by sandy greenberg and martin elderling)…”

A November 4, 2007 email between robertdworkin@gmail.com (a Golb/Gadda alias) and j.golb@snafu.de (the email account of Joel Golb) contains discussion about an outline to use concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls, with the subject “scrap last outline–use this instead (dad phoned with some suggestions)”. This email implies that Norman Golb called Joel Golb, gave suggestions to the outline, which Joel Golb passed on to Raphael Golb in this email. This also implies that both Joel Golb and Norman Golb know that Raphael Golb is using at least some internet aliases.

A January 18, 2008 email between robertdworkin@gmail.com (an alias of Raphael Golb) and j.golb@snafu.de (the email account of Joel Golb) discusses keeping emails anonymous and untraceable, and some confusion about which alias will be used to send emails from NYU computers.

Subject: Re: revised version
Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 05:38:23 +0100
From: Joel Golb <j.golb@snafu.de>
To: robert dworkin <robertdworkin@gmail.com>

…. So I think Dworkin should be extremely careful to make sure the mail is totally untraceable–even going so far as to mail from an internet cafe–and it might actually be time in the next few weeks to simply throw out his old computer and replace it with one of those extremely inexpensive PCs one can now get…

There is email correspondence between Raphael Golb’s alias accounts and Dr. Golb, however it never overtly acknowledges a partnership. However Raphael Golb alias accounts have forwarded to Dr. Norman Golb email exchanges that the alias account (or another alias account) had with third parties. For example:

On August 15, 2007, email account robert.dwokin@gmail.com (a Golb/Gadda alias) sent email account n-golb@uchicago.edu (email account of Dr. Norman Golb) an email that forwarded a communication between robertdworkin@gmail.com and an employee at the LA Times concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls.

On March 31, 2008, email account joshua.reznick@yahoo.com (a Golb/Gadda alias) sent three successive emails to email account n-golb@uchicago.edu (email account of Dr. Norman Golb). These three successive emails appear to be revisions of the prior emails, and while formal in tone, the successive emails do not reference the preceding emails. In other words, if they did not know each other well, one would expect some sort of acknowledgment or apology for sending successive similar emails. These March 31, 2008 emails invite Dr. Norman Golb to correspond with the individual that email account joshua.reznick@yahoo.com had been corresponding with, and includes a copy of the prior correspondence. It is reasonable to infer that the successive emails represent successive revisions, with the final version being what Dr. Norman Golb would show to the person that the Golb/Gadda had been corresponding with.

On July 15, 2008, email account j.friedman47@gmail.com (a Golb/Gadda alias) sent email account n-golb@uchicago.edu (email account of Dr. Norman Golb) an email that forwarded a communication between jerome.cooper2@gmail.com (another alias of Raphael Golb) and a professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls.

On December 16,2008, defendant (using email address raphael.g@mindspring.com) emailed Dr. Golb (at n-golb@uchicago.edu) under the subject line “Canadian Jewish academic site links museum controversy”

http://www.cijr.com/Israzine/israzine_Home.htm

You will see that they make a mistake (referring to you several times as “Norman Golb and Ludwig Rosenberger”) to which I believe someone has alerted them in case they can (or desire) to change it. Nonetheless, this arguably puts greater pressure on the museum. Notice that they have also linked one of Gadda’s articles

=== END TRANSCRIPT ===


the evidence is compelling.

but given this new evidence, we must also ask:

  • has the university of chicago opened an ethics investigation into the behavior of norman golb?
  • is this the kind of professional behavior encouraged and endorsed by the university of chicago?
  • if it can be shown that letters were sent to university of chicago administrators bringing this matter of golb’s actions to their attention, and they did not act and failed to investigate golb, is the university complicit, either via negligence or tacit endorsement, in golb’s activity?
  • given this new evidence, will the university of chicago open an ethics investigation into the activities of norman golb?

more to follow soon…

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