how *not* to pad your ratings: the copper scroll project facebook marketing scheme

The Copper Scroll Project Facebook Page. Note the red arrows pointing to a picture of the Ark of the Covenant and to a paragraph encouraging supporters to navigate to the linked Jerusalem Post article and provide positive comments on it.

The Copper Scroll Project Facebook Page. Note the red arrows pointing to a picture of the Ark of the Covenant and to a paragraph encouraging supporters to navigate to the linked Jerusalem Post article and provide positive comments on it.

just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…

i have reported several times on the copper scroll project, a group led by retired arson investigator jimmy barfield, who claims to have ‘cracked’ the ‘code’ of the copper scroll. recently, fellow christian zionist and copper scroll project supporter, shelly neese, wrote a fluff piece for the jerusalem post, lauding the amateur ‘ark-eologist’s’ expedition:

[Barfield] then boarded a plane, and delivered his report directly into the hands of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Jerusalem. Given his lack of archeological background, his Christian faith, and the fact that the IAA confronts treasure hunters every day, I asked if they treated him skeptically. “Once they saw my report,” [Barfield] replied laughingly, “they just moved me to the head of the class.”

the jerusalem post article was interestingly followed immediately by a number of short praises from a number of people. it was eerily reminiscent of the raphael golb’s internet smear campaign, in which golb used multiple aliases to praise claims made by himself and his father, university of chicago professor norman golb, using different aliases, and to criticize claims made by others on news items with which he disagreed. of course, there is no reason to believe that those leaving comments on the jerusalem post article are aliases. however, they do appear to be the work of a group of several individuals with similar ideological and theological beliefs as jim barfield.

some of the comments read:

1. This will make the Arabs take notice
When the contents of the Copper Scroll are located it will so infuriate the Muslims. They will make up some lie to explain it. Then they will probably start a war over it! Good hunting! Yom Teruah would be a good time to find it! Blessings on Jim, his Team, and the Antiquities officials involved!
Clint B – USA (08/21/2009 23:20)

2. Copper Scroll Project
What an amazing moment it will be when the first sunlight in thousands of years reflect off of the wings of golden angels. I only wish that I could witness the sight!! What a blessed day it will be for Israel and all of the world. All of heaven will burst in song and the stars will dance to the beat, for the mystery will be revealed and there will be no more question about the truth concerning the existence of Solomon’s Temple and the proof that Israel is indeed the Jewish homeland.
Karen Chatham – USA (08/22/2009 05:47)

11. It’s all in HaShem’s timing
Mr. Barfield has truly been used of HaShem to crack the code of the copper scroll. The treasures will be unearthed in HaShem’s timing. This is an incredible story and more Israelis need to learn about this. Thanks for covering this.
Ellie – (08/23/2009 05:49)

14. Copper Scroll Project
What an exciting time we live in as we watch one of the most incredible finds ever is at hand! May YAH bless and keep all those he has chosen for such a time as this!
Mike Winger – USA (08/23/2009 08:42)

15. Copper Scroll Project
I really think Jim has insight on the copper scroll interpretation. I have been keeping him in prayer for wisdom and guidance. My prayer is that whatever he decides, on going public with any information, he only does it after he has himself heard from the Father on exactly what to do, so that he can confidentally say that he knows that he knows that what he is doing is directly from the Father. This is a matter of such importance, that one cant afford to say “I think I am doing the right thing.” Gods work done Gods way will always succeed in perfect timing. I really appreciate his work.
Randy Hahn – USA (08/23/2009 09:37)

16. Ciopper Scroll Project
We support the Copper Scroll Project and the work Jim Barfield is doing in Israel. Only God can ultimately locate the articles Jim is searching for and we are trusting HIM to use Jim Barfield to do exactly that. His humility and love for the Lord are paramount to the work that is being accomplished.Wish we were with him, if nothing more than to enjoy the experience.
Kathy Curtis – USA (08/23/2009 14:42)

18. Copper Scroll
God has a time for everything. These things will be accomplished if and when He has willed it, through the work of people like Jim Barfield. I can’t help but be anxious to see it. Thanks for this article.
Paul Laymon – US (08/23/2009 16:10)

22. Copper Scroll Project
I believe this project is very important to Jerusalem and of course all of Christianity. I am very proud of the work and commitment my son Chris, has involved himself with. This is a very important project. Thanks, also to the guidance of Jim. God’s speed to all! Zara Zerby USA
Zara Zerby – USA (08/23/2009 19:04)

23. Cracking the Code.
What a wonderful story. Please keep us informed about his progress. Good luck and may G-d be with those who are involved in this search.
mimi – USA (08/23/2009 19:

32. What wonderful people these guys are. I am touched by their love of God, Torah and the children of Israel.
God bless and prosper their hands.
Jacob – USA (08/24/2009 09:26)

46. Keep up the good work!
Those who are led by the Spirit of G-d are sons of G-d. Keep on being led Jim! I am looking foreward to all that G-d has planned for you and this project. You are an awesome person, and one of the nicest people I have ever met. Keep up the good work.
Leah Parker – USA (08/26/2009 09:04)

54. What? No alphabet soup after Barfield’s name? Then how…?
HaShem’s ways our not our ways. Man has his own set of rules to judge credibility or dole out their OK on some insight from The Holy One. But it was David who killed Goliath, not the men of skill in war, and not with armor and sword that they tried to weigh him down with. Granted we live amongst dens of thieves, but we think HaShem has shown Barfield something, and if egos can be set aside, common sense says to give this a chance.

and my personal favorite:

38. Question for all you skeptics
The Israel Antiquities Authority approved this! Don’t you think he had EXTRAORDINARY evidence? Enough evidence to overcome his unlikely background? I don’t think the IAA is in the business of approving Archeological digs based on just a hunch from a southern-red-neck ex-fireman!
Clint B – USA (08/24/2009 17:57)

i assumed that barfield had somehow made his followers aware of the jpost article. my hunch was proved to be correct when i visited the copper scroll project facebook page. because one must have a facebook account to see most pages on facebook, and because google doesn’t pick up pages that are not made public in its searches, many cannot see the copper scroll project facebook page. however, because i’ve been on facebook since 2005, i revisited the copper scroll project’s facebook page. there i found two befuddling items (see image above):

  1. it appears that they are after the ark of the covenant after all (top red arrow)!
  2. amazingly, it appears that jimmy barfield publicly urged his followers to go to the jerusalem post page and pad the ratings by adding positive feedback (bottom red arrow). he stated:

One last request….could you all go to the end of the article at the link below and please rate it…..the higher we get on the ratings the better the chance will be that they do the next article. Shelley Neese has another article just waiting in the JPost office if we can get enough of you guys to help out…so…if you would please give it a high rating…we need support from Israel. Thank you, Jim

so, jim barfield instructed his followers to go to the jerusalem post article and praise it. this certainly explains why so many of the comments stated that they were praying for mr. barfield and included the spelling the word ‘god’ as ‘g-d’ (a practice that many torah-observant christians and jews practice). i confirmed this by cross-referencing the names of those making the jpost comments with the names of people on facebook that have become ‘fans’ the copper scroll project facebook page. some of the names on the facebook ‘fans’ list made comments on the jpost article, confirming the theory.

barfield put them up to it!!

so here’s a note to anyone wanting to promote their own sensationalist (and false) theories:

  1. don’t make claims you can’t back up.
  2. don’t ask your church friends to give you money for trips to israel.
  3. don’t pretend to be leading an archaeological excavation when you’re not.
  4. and for the love of all that is good and digital, don’t, under any circumstance, go to a public-facing website and openly encourage your followers to pad the numbers!

new article by dr. robert cargill: pseudo-science and sensationalist archaeology: an exposé of jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project

Dr. Robert R. Cargill appearing on Discovery.

Dr. Robert R. Cargill appearing on Discovery.

the bible and interpretation website has published my latest article entitled, “pseudo-science and sensationalist archaeology: an exposé of jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project.” it is a call to arms for biblical scholars and archaeolosgists to address publically the sensationalist claims made by amateur archaeologists and pseudo-scientists.

Members of the academy must take individual responsibility and make conscious efforts to rebut examples of obvious disinformation whenever and wherever they arise. Likewise, archaeologists must band together and coordinate their efforts to meet these misleading claims as strongly and consistently as possible. For in a world where Wikipedia allows anyone to say just about anything, scholars must move beyond their comfortable arenas of peer-review and professional conferences, where they talk only to one another, and redouble our efforts to reach out to the public directly. We must counter irresponsible claims with measured responses, debunk and discredit them, and offer alternative theories from a spectrum of reliable scholars who, while they may at times disagree, can support their various claims with scientific facts, tangible data, and sound reason.

and in case you were wondering if this is about money (perhaps a mere finder’s fee and some texas funding) the attention (news articles and tv spots), and religious ideology (the ark of the covenant? really?), just watch:

transcript of tamar yonah’s interview of copper scroll project director jim barfield

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project,' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll.

the following is a transcript of this week’s (august 23, 2009) ‘weekend edition‘ on arutz sheva’s israel national radio. host tamar yonah interviews copper scroll project director jim barfield. you can download an mp4 version of the interview to listen along while you read the transcript here.

i shall comment further on this matter tomorrow. for now, here’s what jim barfield told tamar yonah.


0:05 [Tamar Yonah]: Well can you imagine what would happen if in this secular new world order-type world that we live in, a world where we’re supposed to be so enlightened and religion is old hat and old fashioned and primitive, what would happen if, just if, the Bible was proven to be true? What would happen if the Ark of the Covenant and treasures from the First and Second temple were discovered? Well, we have with us joining us now, Jim Barfield, and Jim is the Director of the Copper Scroll Project. And you can go to his website while we’re doing this interview and check it out, it’s called, it’s at www dot copper hyphen scroll hyphen project dot com. Copper Scroll Project with a hyphen in between each word. Copper Scroll Pa-, Project dot com. And you can go there and look at some of the, um, things that he’s done so far in trying to do an archaeological dig, to try to find th-, the treasures that the Copper Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls is telling everybody maybe where these treasures are. Here to tell us more about that we have again joining us Jim Barfield. Hi there, Jim.

Continue reading

on the insignificance and the abuse of the copper scroll

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll

i have a new op-ed feature on the new ‘in my view‘ section of the bible and interpretation website entitled ‘on the insignificance and the abuse of the copper scroll.’ in the piece, i examine the copper scroll, its history, and discuss recent abuses of it to sell books and raise money. I highlight  a retired firefighter turned amateur ‘ark-eologist’ who claims to have ‘unlocked the secret’ to the copper scroll, and who believes it to describe the treasures from the first(!) temple (a la vendyl jones).

give it a read here.

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