bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 17: Follow Up Investigation

WHERE WE ARE
In his Handbook of Christian Apologetics Peter Kreeft raises 14 objections against the Hallucination Theory in an attempt to DISPROVE or REFUTE that skeptical theory.  Kreeft thinks he can prove the resurrection of Jesus by disproving a few skeptical theories about the resurrection of Jesus, such as the Hallucination Theory.
Kreeft’s first three objections focus on the idea of the credibility of eyewitness testimony in support of the resurrection of Jesus.  These objections evoke the centuries-old idea of a court trial providing evidence beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus rose from the dead.
In recent posts, I have provided powerful evidence in support of two important factual claims:

  1. HUMAN MEMORY IS UNRELIABLE.
  2. HUMANS ARE DISHONEST.
  • In Part 13 of this series, I provided evidence showing that human memory is UNRELIABLE.
  • In Part 14 of this series, I provided evidence that very young children (ages 2 to 3 years old), and young children (ages 4 to 10 years old) are DISHONEST and that teenagers are also DISHONEST.
  • In Part 15 of this series, I provided evidence that college students are DISHONEST.,
  • In Part 16 of this series, I provided evidence that adults in general are DISHONEST.

Taken together, Parts 14, 15, and 16 provide solid evidence showing that humans are in general DISHONEST.
These empirical FACTS about human memory and human behavior provide good reasons for skepticism and doubt about eyewitness testimony.  So, these FACTS undermine the first three objections by Kreeft against the Hallucination Theory.
I also began to challenge the idea that a court trial could provide powerful evidence that proves the resurrection of Jesus.  This challenge is in relation to the alleged 500 witnesses who supposedly experienced an appearance of the risen Jesus.  This claim about the 500 witnesses constitutes Kreeft’s third objection against the Hallucination Theory.
I have challenged this objection by carefully considering the tasks and procedures for conducting a proper modern criminal investigation, such as might now be conducted in the case of a serious crime, like murder, rape, kidnapping, or armed robbery.  In Part 12 of this series, I considered the basic tasks and procedures for conducting a “Preliminary Investigation” of a crime scene and of witnesses present at the crime scene.  The conclusion I reached was this:

First of all, it is highly improbable that anyone conducted a preliminary investigation into the scene and the witnesses of the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus to five hundred people.

Second, if there was a preliminary investigator and a preliminary investigation into the scene and the witnesses of the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus to five hundred people, it is very unlikely that this preliminary investigation satisfied the above criteria for a careful and proper preliminary investigation into an event.

Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that there was a careful and proper preliminary investigation into the scene and the witnesses of the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus to five hundred people, in accordance with the above criteria for a careful and proper preliminary investigation.

Such a proper “Preliminary Investigation” is crucial for the prosecution to build a strong case that could potentially prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular person committed the murder (or other serious crime) in question.
In this current post, I will continue this line of thought by considering the tasks and procedures for conducting a proper “Follow-up Investigation” into a murder (or other serious crime).
 
A. PREPARATIONS FOR FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEWS OF WITNESSES
Here are guidelines provided by the National Institute of Justice for a follow-up investigator to prepare to interview witnesses to a crime (from p.21 of Eyewitness Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement):
FI-A1. Did a follow-up investigator review available information about the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus to hundreds of witnesses BEFORE interviewing those witnesses?
First of all, it is very unlikely that there was any preliminary investigation into this event, and it is extremely unlikely that there was a preliminary investigation that was done carefully and properly in accordance with modern procedures and standards.  Furthermore, most people in first century Palestine and the surrounding areas were illiterate, and could not read or write.  So, even if there was a generally proper initial investigation of this event, this probably would NOT have produced a full and accurate written record of the information gathered in that preliminary investigation.  So, the best that a follow-up investigator could do (assuming that the follow-up investigator was not the same person as the preliminary investigator) would be to discuss the event with the preliminary investigator to find out verbally what the preliminary investigator had discovered.  Such a verbal transmission of information would provide an INCOMPLETE and BIASED and INACCURATE collection of information relative to what was actually discovered by the preliminary investigator.
Second, it is very unlikely that there was any follow-up investigation of this event (even if we count an investigation that happens weeks or months after the event as being a “follow-up investigation” without there having been any “preliminary investigation” within hours or days of the event).  Even if there had been a follow-up investigation, there were no professional detectives in the first century, so an investigator probably would not have bothered to carefully “review available information” about the alleged appearance of Jesus prior to interviewing alleged witnesses of this event.  So, it is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator into the alleged appearance of Jesus to hundreds of witnesses carefully reviewed the available information about this event prior to interviewing the alleged witnesses.
FI-A2. Did a follow-up investigator conduct interviews with these hundreds of witnesses as soon as these witnesses were physically and emotionally capable?
First, it is very unlikely that there was any follow-up investigation of the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus to hundreds of people.  Second, there is no immediately obvious motivation for an investigation to occur immediately after the alleged event (i.e. within hours or a few days), so even if there was an investigation of this event, it probably would have taken place weeks or months or years after the event allegedly took place.  Thus, it is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator conducted interviews with hundreds of witnesses of this alleged appearance of Jesus as soon as the witnesses were physically and emotionally capable of being interviewed (i.e. an hour or a day after the event).  This means that IF any such interviews took place weeks or months or years after the event, the memories of the witnesses would likely have been corrupted by discussions about the event between witnesses and with people who were not present during the event, as well as simply by the passage of time and the natural fading of memories.
FI-A3. Did a follow-up investigator select an environment for interviewing the hundreds of witnesses that minimized distractions while maintaining the comfort level of those witnesses? 
First, it is very unlikely that there was any follow-up investigation of this event.  Second, there were no professional detectives in the first century, so even if there had been a follow-up investigation of this alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, it is unlikely that an investigator would have put any thought or effort into finding an environment that would minimize distractions while maintaining the comfort level of the alleged witnesses.  Thus, it is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator selected an environment for interviewing the hundreds of witnesses that minimized distractions while maintaining the comfort level of those alleged witnesses.
FI-A4. Did a follow-up investigator ensure that resources were available for a proper interview of the hundreds of witnesses and for accurately recording or documenting the interviews of the hundreds of witnesses of the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus (e.g. notepad, tape recorder, cam corder, interview room)?
First, it is very unlikely that there was any follow-up investigation of this event.  Second, there were no professional detectives in the first century, so nobody had an idea of what is required for a proper interview of a witness.  Third, even if there was a follow-up investigation of this event, it is unlikely that the investigator could read and write, because most people in first-century Palestine and surrounding areas were illiterate, and even if the investigator could read and write, there would be little motivation to carefully produce a full written record of the interviews of hundreds of alleged witnesses, because most people would be unable to read those documents.  Also, there was no such thing as a tape recorder or video camera in the first century, so such standard ways of accurately preserving the contents of an interview were unavailable in the first century.  So, it is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator of the alleged appearance of Jesus to hundreds of witnesses ensured that resources were available for a proper interview of the hundreds of witnesses to an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus and for accurately recording or documenting those interviews.
FI-A5. Did a follow-up investigator ensure that all of the hundreds of witnesses of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus stay separated from each other prior to being interviewed (so that they would not discuss this event with each other)?
First, it is very unlikely that there was any follow-up investigation of this event.  Second, because there were no professional detectives in the first century and because psychologists have only very recently discovered how easily memories of eyewitnesses can become corrupted or how easily completely false memories can be implanted in the mind of a witness, even if there was a follow-up investigation of this event, it is very unlikely that the investigator would have been concerned about keeping the witnesses separated from each other.
Furthermore, even if by some miracle there was an investigator of this event, and the investigator requested and advised all of the hundreds of alleged witnesses to NOT discuss the event with each other, it is highly unlikely that the witnesses would have complied with this request.  So, it is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator ensured that all of the hundreds of witnesses of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus stayed separated from each other (so that they did not discuss the alleged appearance of Jesus with each other) prior to being interviewed.  This means that IF any follow-up interviews of the witnesses took place some days, weeks or months after the event, the memories of the witnesses would likely have been corrupted by discussions about the event between the various witnesses.
FI-A6. Did a follow-up investigator determine the nature of each witness’s prior contact with the person or group who conducted the preliminary investigation (into this alleged event where hundreds of people experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus)?
It is not clear to me what the purpose or motivation is for this task.  Perhaps this is just one way to establish rapport with the witness.  Perhaps the motivation is to find out if the previous interaction between the preliminary investigator and this witness was congenial and whether the witness was cooperative and forthcoming with the previous “preliminary” investigator.
However, recordings or complete notes from the preliminary interview of that witness should contain information about whether the witness was congenial, cooperative, and forthcoming during the preliminary interview, so this step seems redundant and superfluous.
In any case, it is very unlikely that anyone conducted a follow-up investigation into this alleged event, and even if someone did conduct a follow-up investigation into this alleged event, it is unlikely that the follow-up investigator would ask questions about how the previous preliminary interview went.  For one thing, it is very unlikely that there would have been any preliminary investigation to look back upon.  For another, concerns about the congeniality and cooperation of a witness in a previous interview would probably be of little interest to a first-century person who has never seen or thought about a professional detective or professional investigation into a crime or important event.  So, it is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator determined the nature of each witness’s prior contact with the person or group who conducted a preliminary investigation of this alleged event.
CONCLUSION ABOUT PRE-INTERVIEW PREPARATIONS BY A FOLLOW-UP INVESTIGATOR
In the case of EACH ONE of the six key tasks concerning preperations by a follow-up investagator for follow-up interviews of the hundreds of witness who experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, it is extremely unlikely that these key preparation tasks were performed, because it is very unlikely that anyone conducted a follow-up investigation into this alleged event, and because even if someone did conduct a follow-up investigation of the event, it is very unlikely that the investigator would have attempted to do these key tasks.  This is because there were no professional detectives in the first century, and there was no scientific study of human memory in the first century, and there was no such thing as tape recorders or video cameras in the first century, and because very few people were able to read and write in the first century.
 
B. CONTACT WITH WITNESSES FOR FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEWS
Here are guidelines provided by the National Institute of Justice for contact between a follow-up investigator and a witness just prior to conducting a follow-up interview of that witness (from p.22 of Eyewitness Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement):
FI-B1. Did a follow-up investigator of the alleged event where hundreds of witnesses experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus develop rapport with each of the hundreds of witnesses prior to interviewing each witness?
FI-B2. Did a follow-up investigator of this alleged event inquire of each witness about the witness’s prior contact with any initial investigator(s) of this event before interviewing each witness?
FI-B3. Did a follow-up investigator refrain from volunteering any specific information about this alleged event or about the identity or activity of the person who allegedly made an appearance before the crowd of witnesses to each of the hundreds of witnesses before interviewing each witness?
It is very unlikely that anyone conducted a follow-up investigation or conducted interviews with hundreds of witnesses who experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  Even if there was someone who conducted an investigation of this alleged event, it is very unlikely that this investigator followed the guidance indicated in item B1, or in item B2, or item B3.  This is because there were no professional detectives in the first century, there was no scientific study of human psychology or human memory in the first century.  So, it is extremely unlikely that there was a follow-up investigator who interviewed hundreds of witnesses of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus and who followed these three guidelines just prior to interviewing each of the witnesses to that alleged event.
 
C. CONDUCTING FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEWS OF WITNESSES
Here are guidelines provided by the National Institute of Justice for a follow-up investigator to conduct follow-up interviews of witnesses to a crime (from p.22-23 of Eyewitness Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement):
 
FI-C1. Did a follow-up investigator of the alleged event where hundreds of witnesses experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus encourage each of the witnesses to volunteer information without prompting?
It is very unlikely that anyone conducted a follow-up investigation of this alleged event.  Even if someone did conduct a follow-up investigation of this alleged event, it is unlikely that this person would have encouraged the witnesses to volunteer information without prompting because there were no professional detectives in the first century, and there was no scientific study of psychology or human memory in the first century.  So, it is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator encouraged each of the hundreds of witnesses to this alleged event to volunteer information about the event without prompting.
FI-C2. Did a follow-up investigator of this alleged event encourage each of the hundreds of witnesses to report all details of the event, even if the details seem trivial?
It is very unlikely that anyone conducted a follow-up investigation of this alleged event.  Even if someone did conduct a follow-up investigation it is unlikely that the investigator would have encouraged each of the hundreds of witnesses to report all details of the event, even if the details seem trivial.  This is unlikely because there were no professional detectives in the first century, no scientific study of human psychology or human memory in the first century, and because recording or documenting all of these details reported by hundreds of witnesses would have been extremely difficult in the first century.  So, it is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator into this alleged event encouraged each of the hundreds of witnesses to report all details of the event, even if the details seem trivial.
FI-C3. Did a follow-up investigator of this alleged event ask open-ended questions and augment those with close-ended specific questions about the event when interviewing the hundreds of witnesses to this alleged event?
FI-C4. Did a follow-up investigator of this alleged event avoid asking the witnesses leading questions when interviewing the hundreds of witnesses to this alleged event?
It is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator interviewed hundreds of witnesses in accordance with these two guidelines. (See my comments in Part 12 of this series on the same questions concerning a preliminary investigation).
FI-C5. Did a follow-up investigator caution each of the witnesses not to guess (esp. about the identity of the person who made an appearance to the crowd) when interviewing the hundreds of witnesses of this alleged event?
It is very unlikely that anyone conducted a follow-up investigation of this alleged event.  Even if someone did conduct a follow-up investigation of this alleged event, it is unlikely that this person cautioned the witnesses not to guess (esp. about the identity of the person who made an appearance to the crowd).  So, it is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator cautioned each of the witnesses not to guess (esp. about the identity of the person who made an appearance to the crowd) when interviewing the hundreds of witnesses of this alleged event.
FI-C6. Did a follow-up investigator ask each of the hundreds of witnesses to this alleged event to mentally re-create the circumstances of the event when the follow-up investigator interviewed these witnesses?
FI-C7. Did a follow-up investigator encourage each of the hundreds of witnesses to use non-verbal communication to describe the event (e.g. drawings, gestures, objects) when interviewing the hundreds of witnesses to this alleged event?
FI-C8. Did a follow-up investigator avoid interrupting each of the hundreds of witnesses to the alleged event when the investigator was interviewing these witnesses?
It is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator interviewed each of the hundreds of witnesses of this alleged event and followed the guidelines stated in items C6, C7, and C8 (for the same reasons I have given in relation to the previous five guidelines).
FI-C9. Did a follow-up investigator encourage each of the hundreds of witnesses during interviews of these witnesses to contact follow-up investigators when additional information about this alleged event is recalled?
FI-C10. Did a follow-up investigator instruct each of the hundreds of witnesses during interviews of these witnesses to avoid discussing details of the alleged event with other potential witnesses?
FI-C11. Did a follow-up investigator encourage each of the hundreds of witnesses during interviews of these witnesses to avoid contact with the media or exposure to media accounts concerning the alleged event [or:] to avoid telling the story about the event to others who were not present during the event, and to avoid listening to others who were not present talk about the event?
Concerning guidelines C9, C10 and C11, it is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator conducted interviews of the hundreds of witnesses who experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus in accordance with these guidelines (see my comments in Part 12 of this series about similar guidelines concerning preliminary interviews of the witnesses).
 
CONCLUSION ABOUT FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEWS OF THE HUNDREDS OF WITNESSES
It is extremely unlikely that a follow-up investigator interviewed the hundreds of witnesses who experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus in the first century and did so in accordance with the 11 guidelines for follow-up interviews that I have discussed above.
 
OVERALL CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE IDEA OF PROVING THE RESURRECTION IN A COURT TRIAL
What we DON’T KNOW about the hundreds of witnesses who allegedly experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus could fill VOLUMES.  We don’t know how many people were actually present during this event (500 is a very round number and was very likely a rough guess of the size of the crowd that was made weeks or months after the event by some unknown person).
We also don’t know how many people in the crowd actually experienced seeing a person that they took to be Jesus.  Paul asserts that “more than 500” witnesses saw the risen Jesus at the same time and same place, but it is very likely that he is just passing along a story that he was told about this event and it is quite possible that either he or the story teller had mistakenly inferred that ALL of the people in the crowd (perhaps a crowd of 300 or 400 people) saw what they took to be the risen Jesus, when in fact only SOME of the people in that crowd saw what they took to be the risen Jesus, perhaps only a handful of people in that crowd.
We don’t know where this event took place.  We don’t know what year this took place.  We don’t know if it took place during the winter, spring, summer, or fall.  We don’t know how Paul learned about this alleged event.  We don’t know the names of ANY of the alleged witnesses of this event.  We don’t know the race or ethnicity of ANY of the alleged witnesses of this event.  We don’t know about the intelligence or level of education of ANY of the alleged witnesses.  We don’t know whether this event took place indoors or outdoors, in the early morning, in the middle of the day, or late at night.  We don’t know if the light was good or if it was dark.  We don’t know if the wind was howling or there was no wind.  We don’t know if it was raining or the sky was clear.  We don’t know if the people in the crowd had been drinking or not.  We don’t know about the quality of eyesight or hearing of ANY of the alleged witnesses.  We have no information about the honesty or dishonest of ANY of the alleged witnesses.  We don’t know how old ANY of the alleged witnesses were at the time of the alleged event.
Most importantly, we DON’T KNOW whether ANY of these witnesses had ever seen the historical flesh-and-blood Jesus prior to his death.  So, for all we know, EVERY one of these witnesses was INCAPABLE of identifying anyone as being Jesus of Nazareth, because none of them had previously met Jesus of Nazareth.  The testimony of these hundreds of witnesses might well be just as WORTHLESS as Paul’s testimony about his own experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
We also don’t know whether these witnesses would describe their experience as being an ORDINARY VISUAL experience, or if they would describe their experience as a DREAM or a VISION.  We don’t know if  all of the witnesses had precisely the same experience of the person who they identified as being the risen Jesus.  Would each of them describe a person of the same height?  same hair style?  same type of facial hair?  same color and style of clothing?  We don’t know.  We don’t know how long this event lasted.  Was Jesus “seen” for just a couple of seconds? or a couple of minutes? or a couple of hours? Did the experience last the same amount of time for every witness? or did it last for a few seconds for some, a few minutes for others, and an hour or two for others?
We don’t know if there was a careful and objective preliminary investigation into this alleged event.  We don’t know if there was a careful and objective follow-up investigation of this alleged event.  However, we have good reason to believe that it is extremely unlikely that there was a careful preliminary investigation of this alleged event that was conducted in accordance with modern procedures and guidelines used in criminal investigations of serious crimes, like murder.  We also have good reason to believe that it is extremely unlikely that there was a careful follow-up investigation of this alleged event in which hundreds of witnesses of this alleged event were interviewed in accordance with modern procedures and guidelines that are used in criminal investigations of serious crimes, like murder.
But such careful and proper preliminary investigations and follow-up investigations are crucial to any reasonable effort by a prosecuting attorney to correctly identify the person who commited the murder (or other serious crime), to provide sufficient evidence to charge that person with murder, and to prove in a court trial that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.   A prosecutor cannot simply pull a witness off the street and put them in a witness stand and hope that the witness has some credibility and some relevant knowledge about the murder or the murderer.  The use of witnesses in a modern court trial requires that there be a foundation of solid investigation and documented evidence from the crime scene, and documented properly conducted interviews of relevant witnesses.  Apart from a proper preliminary investigation and a proper follow-up investigation,  it would be practically impossible for a prosecuting attorney to put together a solid case for the guilt of any murder suspect.
Furthermore, I have argued extensively that eyewitness testimony is UNRELIABLE because:

  1. HUMAN MEMORY IS UNRELIABLE.
  2. HUMANS ARE DISHONEST.

Therefore, the whole idea of there being a court trial in which witnesses to an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus would provide testimony that would PROVE beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus rose from the dead is a RIDICULOUS FANTASY that one can only believe by completely ignoring the reality of how modern criminal investigations and the scientific study of human psychology and human memory provide the foundations for successful prosecutions of serious crimes in actual modern court trials.
In view of these various considerations, I conclude that Kreeft’s Objection #3, concerning the claim that “over five hundred” witnesses experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time and at the same place, FAILS.  This third objection does NOT provide a solid or strong reason to reject the Hallucination Theory.  This is a very weak objection that is grounded primarily in WISHFUL THINKING and FANTASY.

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 16: Adults are Liars and Cheaters

ADULTS ARE DISHONEST
In general, studies of lying behavior indicate that college students lie more frequently on average, than the general adult population.  However, based on recent studies with larger sample sizes, the difference in average number of lies per day is fairly small between college students and the general adult population:

College students and adults
A common source of fascination is in the similarities and differences between college student samples and representative adult samples. As mentioned in the introduction, the general trend is that lying increases with age through childhood, peaks during the teen years, and then declines gradually with age. Despite maturation, the positive skew is maintained (Debey et al., 2015; Serota et al., 2010). Understanding the size and nature of these trends, however, requires considerable nuance. The difference was the largest in the original DePaulo et al. (1996) study where adults lied once per day and stu- dents twice per day. Depending on how one frames the results, this is a small difference of one lie per day or a difference of 100% with students lying twice as often as adults. If we rely on the much larger samples in the current study compared to Serota et al. (2010), the mean difference is more modest; 2.03 for students compared to 1.65 for adults.

Kim B. Serota, Timothy R. Levine & Tony Docan-Morgan (2021): “Unpacking variation in lie prevalence: Prolific liars, bad lie days, or both?“, Communication Monographs, DOI: 10.1080/03637751.2021.1985153
Thus, since I have already shown that college students are LIARS, it follows that adults, in general, are LIARS.  There is only a modest difference between how often college students lie and how often adults in general lie.
======================
Here is a nice summary statement about an important psychological study on this topic [emphasis added]:

For example, during a bogus experiment on ESP (a mind-reading task), people are presented with an opportunity to cheat in order to win a $50 prize.  When people are placed in such a situation, almost everyone cheats (90%) and then when confronted about their behavior, few tell the truth; only 9 to 20% of the individuals in these studies confess when questioned (see, Miller and Stiff, DeTurck and Miller).

What is really interesting about these findings is that the same results are obtained by different researchers working in different parts of the country.

[…]

Overall, the experimental evidence shows that when placed in the right (or wrong) situation, people are prone to lying, a behavior that starts at an early age, and people are very good at it.

Experiments Show How Readily Adults and Children Will Lie When Given the Chance To Do So
Miller, G. R., & Stiff, J. B. (1992). Applied issues in studying deceptive communication. In R. S. Feldman (Ed.), Applications of nonverbal behavioral theories and research (pp. 217-237). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Miller, G. R., & Stiff, J. B. (1993). Deceptive Communication. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
deTurck, M. A., & Miller, G. R. (1985). Deception and arousal: Isolating the behavioral correlates of deception. Human Communication Research, 12, 181-201.
deTurck, M. A., & Miller, G. R. (1990). Training observers to detect deception: Effects of self-monitoring and rehearsal. Human Communication Research, 16, 603-620.
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A large study of lying in the U.K. produced some useful information about the dishonesty of adults:

I will focus on the telling of “Big Lies” and ignore the telling of “White Lies”. [ NOTE: there was a good degree of agreement between the various people who participated in this survey as to what sorts of lies would count as “Big Lies” and what sorts of lies would count as “White Lies”, so this was NOT a purely subjective distinction.]
The study is based on a survey of people in the U.K. ages 18 and older: “After eliminating responses from 16- and 17-years-olds, the reanalysis” (in the article containing the above chart) “included 2,980 subjects.”
On the positive side 80.3 % of the people in this study indicated that on average they tell ZERO “Big Lies” per day.
However, on the negative side, that means that about 20% of the people in this study indicated that on average they tell 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or more “Big Lies” per day.  In my view, someone who tells a Big Lie on average once per day is clearly a DISHONEST person.  So, this study indicates that AT LEAST 20% of adults are DISHONEST.
However, the question that was asked of the subjects introduces a bias.  If the question had been “How many times do you tell a Big Lie on average over the course of one week?”  then a person could have answered “1 per week” which would be equivalent to telling a Big Lie at a rate of about 1/7 per day or .14 Big Lies per day, or a person could have answered “2 per week” which would be equivalent to telling a Big Lie on average at a rate of about 2/7 per day or .29 Big Lies per day.  But there was no option to indicate that one told Big Lies on average about once or twice every week.
The relevant options confronting a person who tells a Big Lie once or twice per week are either “0” Big Lies on average per day or “1” Big Lie on average per day.  Someone who only tells a Big Lie once or twice per week, will probably thus answer that, on average, they tell 0 Big Lies per day, because saying that they tell 1 Big Lie on average per day would significantly exaggerate how frequently they tell Big Lies.
That means that it is very likely that MANY of the people who claimed to tell a Big Lie on average 0 times per day believe that they tell one or two Big Lies on average each week.  The focus of the survey on Big Lies per day thus hides the fact that MANY of the 80% of subjects in this study who claimed to tell 0 Big Lies on average per day, believe that they in fact tell one or two or three Big Lies each week.  It seems to me that someone who tells a Big Lie on average each week is NOT a very honest person.  That means telling over 50 Big Lies in one year.  I would consider such a person to be DISHONEST.
Furthermore, people tend to LIE about how much and how often they do things that are considered to be wrong or bad.  People tend to UNDERESTIMATE and UNDERREPORT how much and how often they do things like telling Big Lies.   So, MANY people who report that they tell a Big Lie on average 0 times per day, might well IN FACT tell a Big Lie on average 1 time per day.  If just half of the 80% of subjects who reported telling 0 Big Lies on average per day actually tell 1 Big Lie on average per day, then that means that 40% of the people in this study should, in reality, be categorized as being just as DISHONEST as the 20% of people who admitted they tell at least 1 Big Lie on average per day. In that case, 60% of the subjects in this study would be clearly DISHONEST people.
If we simply assume that ALL of the subjects in this study answered the question honestly and accurately, then the conclusion would be that about 20% of adults tell AT LEAST 1 Big Lie on average per day, and it seems to me that means that one in five adults is clearly a DISHONEST person.  But presumably a large portion of the 80% of people who claimed to tell 0 Big Lies on average per day believe that they tell one (or two or three) Big Lies each week, making them DISHONEST too.
However, it would be NAIVE to simply accept that ALL of the subjects in this study answered the question honestly and accurately.  People tend to have a bias against remembering their bad behavior, and people tend to have a bias against honestly reporting how often they engage in behavior that is viewed as bad behavior.  So, we have good reason to believe that a significant portion of the people who were subjects in this study UNDERREPORTED the actual frequency of their telling Big Lies, and that a significant portion of the 80% of people who estimated that they tell 0 Big Lies on average per day, actually tell 1 or 2 Big Lies on average per day.
This study tells us what people REPORT about the frequency of their own lying, especially how frequently they tell “Big Lies”.  But since, at least in my view, telling 1 Big Lie on average per week is sufficient to consider a person to be DISHONEST, we really want to know what portion of adults tell at least 1 Big Lie on average per week.  The data in the graph from this study indicate that MORE THAN 20% of adults tell AT LEAST 1 Big Lie on average each week.  But the ACTUAL portion of adults who tell AT LEAST 1 Big Lie on average per week might well be much larger.
For example, if half of the 80% of subjects who claimed to tell an average of 0 Big Lies per day actually tell an average of 1 or more Big Lies per day, then we could add another 40% of the people in this study to the 20% who admit they tell AT LEAST 1 Big Lie on average per day (and thus are clearly DISHONEST), so that the conclusion would be that 60% of the people in this study are in fact, clearly DISHONEST people.  And if just half of the remaining 40% of people who claimed to tell an average of 0 Big Lies per day are people who actually tell an average of one or more Big Lies per week, then we could add another 20% of the subjects to the category of being DISHONEST people.  In this scenario, 80% of the people in this study would be reasonably considered to be DISHONEST people.
Granted that people who tell one or two Big Lies on average per week are LESS DISHONEST than people who tell one or two Big Lies on average per day, this is only a matter of degree, and telling about 50 Big Lies in one year is sufficient reason for considering a person to be DISHONEST.  In my view it is unreasonable to call a person “honest” when he or she tells one or two Big Lies per week on average.
The truth of the matter is very likely to be somewhere in between those two estimates.  It is very likely that SIGNIFICANTLY MORE THAN 20% of the people in that study are DISHONEST (i.e. tell a Big Lie on average at least once per week), and it is also likely that less than 80% of the people in that study are DISHONEST (i.e. tell a Big Lie on average at least once per week).  In any case, a large portion of adults (25-45%), and quite possibly the majority of adults (60-70%) are DISHONEST, based on this large study of people in the U.K.
Serota, Kim & Levine, Timothy. (2014). A Few Prolific Liars. Journal of Language and Social Psychology. 34. 10.1177/0261927X14528804.
==================
ADULTS ARE CHEATERS
Although adults in the USA appear to be fairly honest about paying their taxes, and not cheating on taxes (compared with adults in other countries), adults in America often cheat on their spouses and lovers.

The most consistent data on infidelity come from the General Social Survey, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and based at the University of Chicago, which has used a national representative sample to track the opinions and social behaviors of Americans since 1972. The survey data show that in any given year, about 10 percent of married people — 12 percent of men and 7 percent of women — say they have had sex outside their marriage.

Love, sex and the changing landscape of infidelityNY Times, Oct. 28, 2008
There are two important qualifications to note about these statistics. First,  infidelity or “cheating” is considered bad behavior, and so people are biased against honestly reporting that they have engaged in such behavior, and against honestly reporting how often they have engaged in such behavior.  This is especially true when questions are asked of people in an interview, which is how the General Social Survey has been conducted:

Surveys conducted in person are likely to underestimate the real rate of adultery, because people are reluctant to admit such behavior not just to their spouses but to anyone.

In a study published last summer in The Journal of Family Psychology, for example, researchers from the University of Colorado and Texas A&M surveyed 4,884 married women, using face-to-face interviews and anonymous computer questionnaires. In the interviews, only 1 percent of women said they had been unfaithful to their husbands in the past year; on the computer questionnaire, more than 6 percent did.

Love, sex and the changing landscape of infidelityNY Times, Oct. 28, 2008
So, AT LEAST 5% of women who were interviewed in the above study LIED and claimed they had NOT been unfaithful in the past year, when in fact they had been unfaithful in the past year.  Women were more honest on anonymous computer questionnaires, but who is to say that they were fully and completely honest on those computer questionnaires?  The fact that MORE women were honest on computer questionnaires does not mean that ALL women were honest on the computer questionnaires.
The second qualification to keep in mind is that these statistics are about how many people were unfaithful or “cheated” in the previous year.  Each year about 10% of married people CHEAT on their spouse.  But most people are married for many years.  With each passing year one has more opportunities to CHEAT.  So, a spouse who is faithful for the first two years of marriage might well CHEAT during the third year of marriage.  So, the 10% figure is only a bottom-level baseline.  Since most marriages last for many years, the percent of spouses who CHEAT over the course of a marriage that lasts ten, twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years is bound to be GREATER THAN just 10%!

…University of Washington researchers have found that the lifetime rate of infidelity for men over 60 increased to 28 percent in 2006, up from 20 percent in 1991. For women over 60, the increase is more striking: to 15 percent, up from 5 percent in 1991.

The researchers also see big changes in relatively new marriages. About 20 percent of men and 15 percent of women under 35 say they have ever been unfaithful, up from about 15 and 12 percent respectively.

Love, sex and the changing landscape of infidelityNY Times, Oct. 28, 2008
In recent studies 20% (or 1 in 5) married men under 35 REPORT that they have been unfaithful at some point in their marriage, and 28% of men over 60 REPORT having been unfaithful to a spouse at some point in their lives.  So, over the course of a lifetime, we can expect about 25 to 30% of men to be unfaithful to at least one spouse.
It appears that young women are now REPORTING being unfaithful almost as much as young men (15% vs. 20%).
So, in the future, we can expect 25% to 30% of women over 60 to REPORT having been unfaithful to a spouse at some point in their lives, like men over 60 now REPORT.
So, between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 adults will CHEAT on a spouse at some time in their lives, if they get married and live to be 60 years old.  That is a significant portion of married people who will REPORT CHEATING in their marriages.  It is reasonable to believe that the ACTUAL portion of married people who CHEAT is larger than what people REPORT, so the reality is probably more like between 1 in 3 and 1 in 2 adults will CHEAT on a spouse at some time in their lives, if they get married and live to be at least 60 years old.
 
CONCLUSION
It is NOT just college students who are LIARS and CHEATERS.  Adults, in general, are LIARS and CHEATERS.  Virtually ALL adults tell lies from time to time, and somewhere between 25% and 75% of adults are DISHONEST because they tell Big Lies on a regular basis (one or more times per week).
When put in a situation where it is tempting to lie and cheat (for personal gain) with little chance of being detected ALMOST EVERYONE will lie and cheat, and then when questioned about this ALMOST EVERYONE will LIE and hide the fact that they lied and cheated.  This is virtually the SAME way that four and five-year-old children behave in similar experiments.
Also, a large portion of married people CHEAT on their spouses over the course of a lifetime, somewhere between 25% and 50% for those who marry and live to be at least 60 years old.
Adults in general are LIARS and CHEATERS, just like college students, just like high school students, just like children.

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 15: Young Adults are Dishonest

WHERE WE ARE
As part of my response to Peter Kreeft’s first three objections against the Hallucination Theory,  I want to point out two major problems with EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY:

  • HUMAN MEMORY IS UNRELIABLE
  • HUMANS ARE DISHONEST

In Part 13 of this series, I summarized key points from an excellent article on problems with eyewitness memory and identifications made by eyewitnesses.  The main conclusion of that article is that eyewitness testimony is UNRELIABLE because human memory is UNRELIABLE.  The evidence from that article provides solid justification for this conclusion.
In Part 14 of this series, I provided a summary of evidence for the view that YOUNG CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS ARE DISHONEST, and in this post, I will be providing evidence that YOUNG ADULTS (specifically college students) ARE DISHONEST.
 
COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE LIARS
If most people lie and deceive, and if people often lie and deceive,  then we have good reason to be skeptical.  We have seen in previous posts that most children lie and lie frequently,  and that most teenagers lie and cheat and do so frequently; it is now time to take a look at the behavior of college students.
A study of lying in everyday life was conducted in which one group consisted of college students and a second group consisted of community members (ranging from 18 to 71 years old).  The participants each kept a  journal for one week in which they were to write down each social interaction and each lie they told.
The results of the study were summed up this way [emphasis added]:

Lying Is a Fact of Daily Life
The studies reported here provide some of the first data, and by far the most extensive data, on some of the most fundamental questions about lying in everyday life. As we expected, lying is a fact of daily life. Participants in the community study, on the average, told a lie every day; participants in the college student study told two. One out of every five times that the community members interacted with someone, they told a lie; for the college students, it was one out of every three times. Of all of the people the community members interacted with one on one over the course of a week, they lied to 30% of them; the college students lied to 38% of the people in their lives. (p.991)

Lying in Everyday Life
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
1996, Vol. 70, No. 5, 979-995
Bella M. DePaulo – University of Virginia
Deborah A. Kashy – Texas A&M University
Susan E. Kirkendol – Pfeiffer College
Jennifer A. Epstein – Cornell University Medical College
Melissa M. Wyer – University of Virginia
Only one of the college students claimed to go a whole week without ever lying.  That one student, of course, might well have been lying in claiming to have never lied that week.  If the students in this study are representative of college students in general, then ALMOST ALL  college students lie, and MOST college students lie on a DAILY basis.
Another study compared a group of high school students with a group of college students.  In this study, the students were asked (in questionnaires) if they had lied to their parents on various topics (friends, alcohol/drugs, parties, money, dating, and sex) at least once in the past year.  Here is a summary of the results [emphasis added]:

Lying to parents was indeed a frequent behavior among the adolescents and emerging adults. Figure 1 shows the percentages of students who had lied to their parents about 6 different issues at least once within the past year. As can be seen, the percentage of high school students who had lied about the different issues ranged from 32 to 67% whereas for college students the range was 28–50%. Eighty-two percent of all students indicated that they had lied to their parents about at least 1 of the 6 issues during the past year. (p.105)

Lying to Parents graph2
[The white bars represent high school students, and black bars represent college students]
It is worth noting that although college students in this study were less likely than high school students to report lying to their parents, a notable proportion of college students had lied to their parents at least once in the past year (ranging from 28 to 50% for the different issues). (p.109)
 
Another study lumps the high school students together with college students to report that 82% of the students lied to their parents on at least one of the six topics in the past year.   That means that MORE than 82% of high school students lied on at least one of the six topics, and that LESS than 82% of the college students lied on at least one of the six topics in the past year.
We know that 50% of college students lied to their parents just on the topic of money alone.  So, it is virtually certain that some significant portion of the remaining 50% of college students lied on one or more of the other topics.  Thus, although we cannot arrive at a specific number, it is very likely that somewhere between 60% and 70% of the college students lied to their parents about at least one of the six topics in the past year.
The Right to Do Wrong: Lying to Parents Among Adolescents and Emerging Adults
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 33, No. 2, April 2004, pp. 101–112
Lene Arnett Jensen,  Jeffrey Jensen Arnett,  S. Shirley Feldman,  and Elizabeth Cauffman
 
Another study of college students looked into how often such students lied on their Resumes [emphasis added]:

Abstract

This study explores how Linkedin shapes patterns of deception in resumes. The general self-presentation goal to appear favorably to others motivates deception when one’s true characteristics are inconsistent with their desired impression. Because Linkedin makes resume claims public, deception patterns should be altered relative to traditional resumes. Participants (n = 119) in a between-subjects experiment created resumes in one of three resume settings: a traditional (offline) resume, private Linkedin profiles, or publicly available Linkedin profiles. Findings suggest that the public nature of Linkedin resume claims affected the kinds of deception used to create positive impressions, but did not affect the overall frequency of deception. Compared with traditional resumes, Linkedin resumes were less deceptive about the kinds of information that count most to employers, namely an applicant’s prior work experience and responsibilities, but more deceptive about interests and hobbies. The results stand in contrast to assumptions that Internet-based communication is more deceptive than traditional formats, and suggests that a framework that considers deception as a resource for self-presentation can account for the findings.

[…]

On average, participants lied 2.87 (median = 3.00, SD = 1.79) times in their profile with a total of 341 lies. The frequency of deception was normally distributed.  One hundred and six participants (92.4 percent) reported at least one deception; the greatest number of lies was 8. There were no gender differences in deception frequency, t(117) = 0.53, p = 0.60.

The Effect of Linkedin on Deception in Resumes
Jamie Guillory, M.S., and Jeffrey T. Hancock, Ph.D.
CYBERPSYCHOLOGY, BEHAVIOR, AND SOCIAL NETWORKING
Volume 15, Number 3, 2012
92% of the college students in this experiment lied on their resumes.  There was an average of three lies in each resume.  So, if these students are representative of college students in general, then ALMOST ALL college students lie on their resumes, and MANY (perhaps MOST) lie multiple times on their resumes.
In conclusion,  there is scientific evidence that indicates that MOST college students lie on a DAILY basis, that MOST college students lie to their parents on one or more important topics each year, and that ALMOST ALL college students lie on their resumes.
 
COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE CHEATERS
Let’s look at some evidence on academic cheating by college students:
Understanding Academic Misconduct
Julia M. Christensen Hughes – University of Guelph
Donald L. McCabe – Rutgers University
Canadian Journal of Higher Education
Volume 36, No. 1, 2006, pages 49 – 63.
[Emphasis added]

[There is]…a growing body of primarily U.S.-based research that suggests academic misconduct has become commonplace amongst the majority of college and university students…(p.50)

 Results of U.S.-based studies have consistently shown that many students engage in academic misconduct in the completion of their academic work and that academic institutions and faculty have done little about it (see for example, Bowers, 1964; Hetherington & Feldman, 1964; Singhal, 1982; McCabe, & Trevino, 1993, 1996; Payne & Nantz, 1994; McCabe, Trevino, & Butterfield, 1999, 2001). (p.51)

 Rates of Engagement in Academic Misconduct (p.51-52)

 Purportedly, academic misconduct has always been with U.S.. It has been described in the higher education literature as “ubiquitous” (Pincus & Schmelkin, 2003); as an “epidemic” (Haines, Diekhoff, LaBeff, & Clark, 1986, p.342), a “perennial problem” (Davis, Grover, Becker, & McGregor, 1992, p.16), and “one of the major problems in education today” (Singhal, 1982, p.775). Such observations are primarily based on studies of undergraduate students at U.S. colleges and universities (both private and public), using a variety of data collection techniques (e.g., self report surveys, in-depth interviews, experiments), and differing sample sizes (e.g., from less than one hundred students in a single department to thousands of students on multiple campuses).

 Although they vary in methodology, these studies have consistently found that the majority of undergraduate students have engaged in some type of misconduct in the completion of their academic work. For example, in Bower’s (1964) seminal multi-campus study involving over 5000 students from 99 U.S. campuses, three out of four students reported engaging in at least one of 13 questionable academic behaviours, with 39% of students reporting having engaged in “serious test cheating” (e.g., copying during an exam with or withoutthe other student’s knowledge, using crib notes, helping someone else to cheaton a test or exam) and 65% reporting having engaged in “serious cheating on written work” (e.g., plagiarism, fabricating or falsifying a bibliography, turningin work done by someone else, copying a few sentences of material without footnoting).

 In a similar 1990-1991 study involving over 6,000 students across 31 small to medium sized U.S. campuses, McCabe and Trevino (1993) found that as many as two out of three students reported engaging in at least one of 14 questionable behaviours and that almost 20% of students reported engaging in 5 or more such behaviours. In this case, 64% of students were found to have engaged in serious test cheating and 66% in serious written cheating.

 Smaller, single campus studies have also reported high rates of academic misconduct. For example, Hetherington and Feldman (1964) used an experimental design in which 78 psychology students at one U.S. state university were presented with multiple opportunities to cheat on actual course exams. More than half (59%) of the students exhibited some form of cheating, the vast majority (87%) of whom were observed to cheat multiple times. Payne and Nantz (1994) used in-depth interviews to study the cheating behaviours of 22 business students in a medium-sized, U.S., state university. Nineteen (or 86%) of the students admitted to having cheated in their college work. Finally, Singhal (1982) surveyed 364 engineering students at a U.S. state university; 56% of students reported having cheated. 

Understanding Academic Misconduct
Julia M. Christensen Hughes – University of Guelph
Donald L. McCabe – Rutgers University
Canadian Journal of Higher Education
Volume 36, No. 1, 2006, pages 49 – 63.
Some of the data from the above-mentioned studies are shown in the following table (click on the image below to get a clearer view of the table):
Summary Statistics Table
The table above is from page 223 of the following article:
“Cheating in Academic Institutions: A Decade of Research”
Donald McCabe – Rutgers University
Linda Travino -Pennsylvania State University
Kenneth Butterfield – Washington State University
ETHICS & BEHAVIOR 11(3) , 219-232.
A review of a large number of studies on cheating by college students produced similar percentages:

 “Bernard E. Whitley, Jr.(1998:238) reviewed 107 studies related to cheating among college students and found an average of 70.4 percent of students had cheated, 43.1 percent had cheated on examinations, 40.9 percent had cheated on homework assignments, and 47 percent had plagiarized.”  (p.491)

COLLEGE STUDENTS AND ACADEMIC DISHONESTY
NATHAN W. PINO, PH.D.
WILLIAM L. SMITH, PH.D.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Georgia Southern University
Coll Stud J 37 no4 D 2003
NOTE: The original paper referenced above was:

Whitley, B. E. (1998).  “Factors Associated with Cheating Among College Students: A Review.”
Research in Higher Education, 39, 235-274.

Much of the evidence about cheating by college students is obtained by anonymous questionnaires answered by college students.  But we already know that college students have a significant inclination to lie, so they might also be lying even on anonymous questionnaires about cheating.  There is evidence that college students do in fact under-report their own cheating on these anonymous questionnaires.
One study published back in 1987 noted that the use of a method called Randomized Response Technique yielded significantly higher cheating report rates when compared with standard anonymous questionnaires:

Abstract [emphasis added]

Academic cheating behavior by university students was surveyed using the randomized response technique (RRT) and by conventional anonymous questionnaire methods. RRT is a survey method that permits sensitive information to be collected but that precludes associating the respondent with a particular response to a survey item. The estimated proportions of students who have engaged in cheating behaviors were, in general, larger using RRT.  Moreover, this result is consistent with earlier findings for other sensitive behaviors. That under-reporting is a serious problem with anonymous questionnaires is supported by the fact that the anonymous questionnaire estimates ranged from 39% to 83% below the RRT estimates. Furthermore, using a covariate modification of RRT, there was a distinct inverse relation between students’ estimated grade-point average and the tendency to engage in cheating behavior. While these results have direct implications for estimating cheating behavior in higher education, more broadly, they raise serious concerns about the use of anonymous questionnaires when survey topics are sensitive.

“Improved estimation of academic cheating behavior using the randomized response technique”
N. J. Scheers, C. Mitchell Dayton
link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00991933
Research in Higher Education
1987, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 61-69
Another reason that conventional anonymous questionnaires might result in minimizing the amount of cheating by college students is the problem of volunteer sample biases [emphasis added]:

Reported rates of cheating may significantly underestimate the threat to academic integrity in universities due to volunteer sample biases. To vary the incentive states of the participants, we sampled using: 1) a 126 item questionnaire solicited through campus email, 2) a 33 item questionnaire solicited the same way, and 3) a questionnaire that offered course credit. Course-credit participants were more likely to report a cheating behavior (80.7%) than the long questionnaire (68.5%) or the short questionnaire (56.3%), both of which offered no tangible reward. We also asked subjects to respond regarding the cheating behavior of a person that they know best in two different research designs. In both designs, participants reported less cheating for themselves than they did for others. The hypothesis that we underestimate cheating through volunteer sampling was clearly supported. (Contains 4 tables.)

“Under Reporting of Cheating in Research Using Volunteer College Students”
Miller, Arden; Shoptaugh, Carol; Parkerson, Annette
College Student Journal
v42 n2 p326-339 Jun 2008
 
CONCLUSION
We have seen that data from the past several decades consistently shows that most college students cheat on either tests or written assignments or both.  70% is a conservative figure, but given that most of the data is self-reported cheating by college students, whom we know frequently lie, and given that there is empirical evidence that volunteer sample bias and use of conventional anonymous questionnaires results in significant underreporting of cheating, the actual percentage of college students who cheat may well be in the 80% to 90% range.
College students are CHEATERS.
MOST college students lie on a DAILY basis.
MOST college students lie to their parents on one or more important topics each year.
ALMOST ALL college students lie on their resumes.
College students are LIARS and CHEATERS.
 

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 14: Humans are Dishonest

WHERE WE ARE
I am currently examining Peter Kreeft’s third objection against the Hallucination Theory.  His first three objections are all concerned with the TESTIMONY of WITNESSES, namely EYEWITNESSES.  The first three objections by Kreeft thus evoke the centuries-old idea of proving the resurrection of Jesus in a court trial.  If we take that idea seriously, though, Kreeft’s first three objections become a pathetic joke.  
Objection #3 is about “Five Hundred Witnesses” who allegedly had an experience of the risen Jesus at the same time and the same place.
In Part 12 of this series, I began taking this idea (of a court trial about the resurrection) seriously, by walking through modern procedures and criteria for a careful and proper “initial investigation” of a murder (or other serious crime).  Witnesses in a murder trial are NOT just randomly grabbed off the street and put on a witness stand.  There is usually an initial investigation, where the crime scene is carefully examined and evidence collected and documented, and where witnesses are usually identified and briefly questioned by a police officer or by a detective, and later there is usually a follow-up investigation where key witnesses are interviewed further by a detective.
Before a witness ever takes the stand, both the prosecution and the defense have access to notes and recordings of previous investigations of the crime scene and interviews of the witnesses, sometimes two or three interviews of key witnesses, and so the lawyers have a good idea of what the witnesses will say if and when they testify in court, and they have a good idea of the credibility of the testimony of each witness.  Defense lawyers can also investigate suspects, circumstances, and witnesses to gather evidence that might help to defend their client against the murder charge.
Before I continue with a discussion about what a careful and proper “follow-up investigation” involves, and whether any such investigation took place relative to the alleged event where five hundred people had an experience of an alleged appearance of Jesus,  I want to point out two major problems with EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY:

  • HUMAN MEMORY IS UNRELIABLE
  • HUMANS ARE DISHONEST

In Part 13 of this series, I summarized key points from an excellent article on problems with eyewitness memory and identifications made by eyewitnesses.  The main conclusion of that article is that eyewitness testimony is UNRELIABLE because human memory is UNRELIABLE.  The evidence from that article provides solid justification for this conclusion.
In this post, I will provide a summary of evidence for the view that HUMANS ARE DISHONEST, which gives us another good reason to conclude that eyewitness testimony is UNRELIABLE.
 
VERY YOUNG CHILDREN ARE LIARS

Babies not as innocent as they pretend

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent     12:01AM BST      01 Jul 2007 

Following studies of more than 50 children and interviews with parents, Dr Vasudevi Reddy, of the University of Portsmouth’s psychology department, says she has identified seven categories of deception used between six months and three-years-old.

 Infants quickly learnt that using tactics such as fake crying and pretend laughing could win them attention. By eight months, more difficult deceptions became apparent, such as concealing forbidden activities or trying to distract parents’ attention.

By the age of two, toddlers could use far more devious techniques, such as bluffing when threatened with a punishment.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3298979/Babies-not-as-innocent-as-they-pretend.html
 
There seems to be some SKEPTICISM about the idea that very young children are involved in deception and lying.  So, I think we should take a closer look at some important facts and evidence on this question about very young children. One of the key studies on this question was published in 2013, in an article called “Emergence of Lying in Very Young Children” (Developmental Psychology © 2013 American Psychological Association 2013, Vol. 49, No. 10, 1958–1963). The authors are Angela D. Evans (Brock University) and Kang Lee (University of Toronto and University of California, San Diego).
Here is a summary of this article [emphasis added]:

ABSTRACT

Lying is a pervasive human behavior. Evidence to date suggests that from the age of 42 months onward, children become increasingly capable of telling lies in various social situations. However, there is limited experimental evidence regarding whether very young children will tell lies spontaneously. The present study investigated the emergence of lying in very young children. Sixty-five 2- to 3-year-olds were asked not to peek at a toy when the experimenter was not looking. The majority of children (80%) transgressed and peeked at the toy. When asked whether they had peeked at the toy, most 2-year-old peekers were honest and confessed to their peeking, but with increased age, more peekers denied peeking and thus lied.

However, when asked follow-up questions that assessed their ability to maintain their initial lies, most children failed to conceal their lie by pretending to be ignorant of the toy’s identity. Additionally, after controlling for age, children’s executive functioning skills significantly predicted young children’s tendency to lie. These findings suggest that children begin to tell lies at a very young age.

The first sentence of this abstract supports my general claim:  “Humans are dishonest.”   The first sentence of the article cites research supporting this claim:

 Lying is a pervasive behavior in the adult world (DePaulo, Kashy, Kirkendol, Wyer, & Epstein, 1996). 

The second sentence cites previous research which supports the claim that young children tell lies  (at least from 42 months and on, i.e.  children from 3.5 years old on up):

Furthermore, children, as young as 42 months, have been found to lie in laboratory settings for a variety of reasons (Evans, Xu, & Lee, 2011; Polak & Harris, 1999; Popliger, Talwar, & Crossman, 2011; Talwar & Lee, 2002). 

The issue, according to these psychological researchers,  is whether children younger than 3.5 years old tell lies.  In other words, Do very young children tell lies?   Their conclusion, based on a psychological experiment was:  YES.  Furthermore, they concluded that not only do 2-year-old children tell lies, but that the tendency to tell lies increases significantly between 2 years of age and 3 years.  The primary evidence presented in the article concerns an experiment conducted with very young children [emphasis added]:

Children were invited to play a guessing game. A toy was placed behind them (e.g., a duck), a noise associated with the toy was made (e.g., quacking), and the children were asked to guess the name of the toy. After the children successfully guessed the first two toys, the experimenter told children that she needed to get a storybook and that the next toy would be placed on the table with the noise playing but that they were not to turn around while the experimenter retrieved the storybook. The toy was placed on the table, and a musical card played music unrelated to the toy so that children could not accurately identify the toy. Due to the young age of the children, the experimenter did not leave the room but instead went to a corner (in front of the child) and rummaged through a bin with her back to the child. Hidden cameras captured whether children peeked. After 1 min, the experimenter closed the bin loudly and stood up to indicate that she was done and was about to turn around. The experimenter then turned around and immediately covered the toy with a cloth. Children were classified as either peekers (peeked at the toy) or nonpeekers (did not peek at the toy). As a measure of whether children understood that they were not supposed to peek, children’s behavior at the moment that the experimenter stood up was coded. Of the children who peeked at the toy, 86.5% (N _ 45) of children returned to their seated position with their back to the toy, indicating that they understood the rule and remained in this position while the experimenter covered the toy. …

To assess whether children would tell the truth or a lie about their peeking behavior, the experimenter asked, “While I was getting the book, did you turn around and peek at the toy?” If they peeked and admitted peeking, they were classified as a confessor. If they peeked but denied peeking, they were classified as a lie teller. Then, to examine whether children were able to maintain verbal consistency between their initial statement and subsequent statements (i.e., semantic leakage control) they were asked, “What do you think it is?” Children who blurted out the name of the toy were classified as revealers. Children who concealed their knowledge by either feigning ignorance (e.g., saying “I don’t know”) or guessed another toy were classified as concealers.

Evans and Lee analyze the results of this experiment and draw some conclusions about very young children [emphasis added]:

The present study investigated the emergence of lie-telling behaviors in children between 2 and 3 years old. We examined the development of the lie-telling behaviors, and the relation between lie-telling and children’s executive functions. With regards to children’s lie-telling behavior, consistent with studies with older children (Polak & Harris, 1999; Talwar & Lee, 2002, 2008), the majority of 3-year-olds who peeked lied. In contrast, only a quarter of the 2-year-olds lied to conceal their transgression. Consistent with our hypothesis, we established experimentally that 2-year-olds will spontaneously tell lies. We also found that between 2 and 3 years of age, the tendency to lie dramatically increases, which mirrors the developmental trend of children between 3 and 12 years (Talwar et al., 2007; Talwar & Lee, 2002, 2008).  …

In the conclusion, Evans and Lee suggest that the increase in lying from age 2 to age 3 does not represent a decline in morality, but rather is an indication of increasing cognitive ability [emphasis added]:

In summary, we demonstrated for the first time experimentally that children begin to tell lies as young as 2 years of age, but most 2-year-olds are still highly honest. Within a 1-year span, children become more inclined to lie about their transgression. In line with studies involving older children, we found that executive functioning skills played an important role in lie telling. Furthermore, the results of the present investigation suggests that rather than younger children simply being more morally inclined to tell the truth, they may simply be less able to tell lies due to their executive functioning skills.  …

Lying increases significantly as very young children become better able to lie.
So, do young children tell lies? Clearly, they do.  What about very young children (ages 2 to 3), do they tell lies? Thanks to Evans and Lee, we can now answer that question with a fair degree of confidence: YES they do.  And by the age of 3, they have a very significant tendency to lie.
Sixteen of the oldest children in this study were from 43 to 48 months old (3.6 to 4 years old).  Ten of those children peeked at the toy, and nine of the ten who peeked lied, that is, 90% of the children who peeked in this older group lied about it! The portion of the younger groups who lied ranged from 25% to 33% of those who peeked.  The overall percentage was 40% of all the young children in this study who peeked lied about it. (this data from Table 1 in the article).
 
YOUNG CHILDREN ARE LIARS
If an adult person is not mentally ill and not mentally disabled, then he/she will answer YES to the following questions:
1. Do children sometimes lie?
2. Do teenagers sometimes lie?
3. Do college students and young adults sometimes lie?
4. Do adults sometimes lie?
I take it to be UNCONTROVERSIAL that children, teenagers, young adults, and adults SOMETIMES tell lies.
There might be some who disagree about the claim that VERY YOUNG children tell lies (i.e. children who are only two or three years old), but my discussion above provides significant evidence to support this answer: YES, even VERY YOUNG children will sometimes lie, and by age three MOST children will lie when they have disobeyed an adult and are questioned about this.
So, if we all agree that children, teenagers, young adults, and adults sometimes lie, then why am I writing posts on this question?  Because the real question is not whether people of various age groups SOMETIMES lie; rather, the real questions are these:

  • How MANY people lie and deceive?
  • How OFTEN do people lie and deceive? 
  • How EASILY do people lie and deceive? 
  • What MOTIVATES people to lie and deceive?

My main point is that MOST children lie, MOST teenagers lie, MOST young adults lie, and that MOST older adults lie. Another point I want to make is that children OFTEN lie, teenagers OFTEN lie, young adults OFTEN lie, and older adults OFTEN lie.   Scientific research can confirm or disconfirm these claims, and scientific research can inform us of the DEGREE to which lying and deception are common human behaviors.  The MORE  people that lie, the more skeptical we ought to be.  The more OFTEN people lie, the more skeptical we ought to be.  The more EASILY people will tell lies, the more skeptical we ought to be.
The scientific study that I focused on above examined the behavior of VERY YOUNG children.  The results of that study show that children as young as two years old will tell lies.  In fact,  between 25% and 33% of the younger children who ‘transgressed’ by disobeying the rule to not peek (at a toy placed behind them) before being asked to guess what sort of toy it was (based on sounds coming from the toy)  lied and said that they had not peeked.
The children who were about three years old in that study who ‘transgressed’ lied at a significantly higher rate (MOST of the peekers that age lied).  Sixteen of the oldest children in this study were from 43 to 48 months old (3.6 to 4 years old).  Ten of those children peeked at the toy, and nine of the ten who peeked lied, that is, 90% of the children who peeked in this older group lied about it!
But what about older children, children from ages four to ten?  Perhaps as children grow up, they become more aware of the wrongness of lying and deception, and more aware of social conventions against lying and deception,  and more aware of the implications and consequences of lying and deception.  So, it is possible that lying and deception decline as children get older and become more mature.
We need to turn to scientific research to find out whether the strong tendency to lie at around three years of age declines, or increases, or stays the same, over the following years of childhood (i.e. from age four to age ten).
Kang Lee, who was one of the psychological researchers who authored the article that I discussed in the previous post, has done a lot of research on lying and cheating and truth-telling by children.  One article, in particular, discusses research in recent decades about children lying:  Child Development Perspectives © 2013 The Society for Research in Child Development (Volume 7, Number 2, 2013, Pages 91–96).
“Little Liars: Development of Verbal Deception in Children” by Kang Lee, University of Toronto[emphasis added]:

ABSTRACT

Lying is common among adults and a more complex issue in children. In this article, I review two decades of empirical evidence about lying in children from the perspective of speech act theory. Children begin to tell lies in the preschool years for anti- and prosocial purposes, and their tendency to lie changes as a function of age and the type of lies being told. In addition, children’s ability to tell convincing lies improves with age. In the article, I highlight the central roles that children’s understanding of mental states and social conventions play in the development of lying. I also identify areas for research to be done to develop a more comprehensive picture of the typical and atypical developmental courses of verbal deception in children.

In the introduction of this article, Lee notes that “No research on lying was conducted between the early 1900s and 1980 (Lewis, Stanger, & Sullivan, 1989).”  But this changed in recent decades.
In the article, Lee synthesizes data from several psychological experiments and provides a chart that indicates the percent of ‘transgressors’ or children who do something contrary to directions given by an adult and who then lie and indicate that they did not disobey the directions given by an adult:

percent of transgressors who lied

We can see that there is a significant increase in the percent of children who lie about their violation of the rule or instruction given by an adult.  At age two only about 30% of ‘transgressors’ lie.  At age three it jumps up to about 55%, and by age four about 75% of transgressors will lie.  Then there is a smaller increase between age four and five, so that at five about 80% of transgressors lie.  Then the trajectory levels out and stays in the range between 80% and 85% for ages six through ten.
These empirical studies of lying indicate that MOST children who are three years of age or older will lie when they have broken a rule or disobeyed direction given by an adult.  Furthermore, this tendency to lie increases significantly between age two and age five, and then levels out at a high percentage (between 80% and 85% of transgressors will lie), from age five to age ten.
So, we do NOT see the tendency to lie DECREASING as children grow older.  Rather, it appears that the tendency INCREASES as they learn how to become better at the ‘skill’ of lying and deceiving others.  By age five children become fairly skilled at lying and will very frequently lie, at least when they have disobeyed a rule or directions from an adult (‘transgression’), and they will lie even when there is no threat of punishment or no significant reward at stake (which is the case in these experiments).  Clearly, young children between age 3 and age ten are LIARS.  They do not just lie SOMETIMES.  MOST young children ages three to four years old will lie when they have disobeyed a rule or directions from an adult and are questioned about this.  Between ages five and ten only a tiny minority (15 to 20%) of those who have disobeyed a rule or directions from an adult will be truthful and admit this when questioned.
Very young children (two to three years old) are often LIARS, and MOST young children three to four years old who have disobeyed a rule or directions will lie about this, and over 80% of children who are between five and ten years old who have disobeyed a rule or directions from an adult will lie about this.  Children are LIARS, and they don’t just lie sometimes.  They lie frequently, and the better they get at telling lies, the more frequently they tell them.
 
YOUNG CHILDREN ARE CHEATERS TOO

At 5-6 years of age many children cheat if the opportunity arises. In one study of this age group, 84% knew that cheating was not allowed. However, 56% cheated.

http://www.glass-castle.com/clients/www-nocheating-org/adcouncil/research/cheatingbackgrounder.html
 
TEENAGERS ARE DISHONEST
One good reason why we should be skeptical is that people often lie, deceive, and cheat.
This is not just my personal opinion. This is a FACT, a fact established by scientific observation and research. I have presented factual scientific data showing that very young children lie, and that elementary age children lie frequently. Now it is time to look into how much teenagers lie, deceive, and cheat.
I take it as an obvious truth that teenagers sometimes lie and deceive and teenagers sometimes cheat.   So, an important question is HOW MUCH do teenagers lie and deceive and cheat?
 
One psychologist who has studied this question is Nancy Darling.  Here are some important findings from one of her studies about teenagers [emphasis added]:

In the last few years, a handful of intrepid scholars have decided it’s time to try to understand why kids lie. For a study to assess the extent of teenage dissembling, Dr. Nancy Darling, then at Penn State University, recruited a special research team of a dozen undergraduate students, all under the age of 21. Using gift certificates for free CDs as bait, Darling’s Mod Squad persuaded high-school students to spend a few hours with them in the local pizzeria.

Each student was handed a deck of 36 cards, and each card in this deck listed a topic teens sometimes lie about to their parents. Over a slice and a Coke, the teen and two researchers worked through the deck, learning what things the kid was lying to his parents about, and why.

“They began the interviews saying that parents give you everything and yes, you should tell them everything,” Darling observes. By the end of the interview, the kids saw for the first time how much they were lying and how many of the family’s rules they had broken. Darling says 98 percent of the teens reported lying to their parents.

Out of the 36 topics, the average teen was lying to his parents about twelve of them. The teens lied about what they spent their allowances on, and whether they’d started dating, and what clothes they put on away from the house. They lied about what movie they went to, and whom they went with. They lied about alcohol and drug use, and they lied about whether they were hanging out with friends their parents disapproved of. They lied about how they spent their afternoons while their parents were at work. They lied about whether chaperones were in attendance at a party or whether they rode in cars driven by drunken teens.

Being an honors student didn’t change these numbers by much; nor did being an overscheduled kid. No kid, apparently, was too busy to break a few rules. And lest you wonder if these numbers apply only to teens in State College, Pennsylvania, the teens in Darling’s sample were compared to national averages on a bevy of statistics, from academics to extracurriculars. “We had a very normal, representative sample,” Darling says.

[Excerpted from:  “Learning to Lie” by Po Bronson, published Feb 10, 2008,  New York Magazine]
 
Nancy Darling made  a couple of comments worth noting about the above-mentioned study:

Most kids lie to their parents sometimes. For example, in a study we did of 121 high school students, 120 of them listed at least one area they lied to parents about. And that last teen told us they agreed with their parents about everything. (I’m not sure I believe them.) We’ve replicated these findings with thousands more kids in four countries on three continents.

(“Is Your Teen Trustworthy?Psychology Today,  Published on July 9, 2011)
 
Another indication of teenage deception is the fact that while many teenagers drink alcohol, parents are generally unaware that their teenage child drinks alcohol [emphasis added]:

 Abstract: This study included 199 White mother-adolescent dyads and 144 White father-adolescent dyads. All adolescents reported regular alcohol use, yet less than one third of parents were aware of their adolescents’ drinking. […]

Despite public concern and media hype surrounding drug use by adolescents, studies have confirmed that American adolescents’ use of some illicit drugs, including cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin, is minimal. In a 1995 national survey, only from 1% to 4% of eighth, 10th, and 12th graders reported using any of these substances in the previous 30 days. The use of other substances during the month preceding the study was more prevalent, with from 9% to 21% of students reporting marijuana use and from 19% to 34% reporting cigarette use. Alcohol use was even higher, with 25% of eighth graders, 39% of 10th graders, and 51% of 12th graders reporting that they drank in the previous month(Johnston, O’Malley, & Bachman, 1996). Public attention has been misdirected at adolescents’ use of illicit drugs, even though licit drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, cause more deaths in the United States than all other drugs combined (Ellickson, 1992) and may, in the long run, pose a greater risk to the developing adolescent and more harm to society (Kandel, Single, & Kessler, 1976; Newcomb & Bentler, 1989).

[…]

Even though some adolescents experiment with alcohol without becoming regular users (Kandel et al., 1978), few studies have recognized this distinction and focused on adolescents who are regular drinkers. (For exceptions, see Barnes & Farrell, 1992; Barnes et al., 1994). To avoid confounding experimentation with regular use, this study focuses only on adolescents who were using alcohol on a regular basis.

[…]

The subsample derives from a study of eighth to 12th graders (n = 1,227) and their parents (n = 1,176) from three school districts In urban, suburban, and rural settings in a single Midwestern county between December, 1994, and May, 1995.

[…]

Parents’ beliefs about their adolescents’ alcohol use.
Parents responded to the question, “How likely is it that your child currently drinks alcohol?” in one of seven categories. (See Table 1.)

Parents’ beliefs about alcohol use by their adolescents’ close friends.    
Parents responded to the question, “How likely is it that your child’s close friends currently drink alcohol?” in one of seven categories. (See Table 1.)

Parents’ awareness of their adolescents’ alcohol use.
Previous studies have concluded that adolescent self reports of alcohol use on anonymous or identifiable surveys are valid and reliable (Malvin & Moskowitz, 1983; Mensch & Kandel, 1988). Because this study included only adolescents who reported the regular use of alcohol, parents were classified as either unaware or aware of their adolescents’ use of alcohol based on their response to a question regarding beliefs about the adolescent’s alcohol use. Parents were coded unaware if they responded that the adolescent was somewhat, very, or definitely unlikely to be drinking alcohol. Parents were coded aware if they responded that the adolescent was somewhat, very, or definitely likely to be drinking alcohol or that they were not sure. The response, not sure, was classified in the aware category because parents typically underestimate adolescent alcohol use, and this uncertainty indicates some suspicion that the adolescent is using alcohol. (The percentages are reported in the results.)

[…]

Parental Awareness of Alcohol Use by Their Adolescents and Their Adolescents’ Close Friends
This first set of analyses confirmed our hypothesis that the majority of mothers and fathers would be unaware of their adolescents’ alcohol use. Although all adolescents included in this study reported using alcohol at least once a month, only 29% of mothers were aware of their adolescents’ alcohol use. Moreover, few aware mothers were definite when asked about the likelihood that their adolescents currently were using alcohol. Only 5% responded “definitely”: 4%, “very likely”; and 6%, “not sure.” The largest group of aware mothers, 1552, responded that their adolescents’ alcohol use was “somewhat likely.” Despite adolescents’ reports of regular use of alcohol, the majority of mothers, 71 %, were unaware. Most were quite certain that their adolescents were not currently using alcohol. Specifically, 26% of the unaware mothers responded “definitely not,” and 33% responded “very unlikely”; only 12% of the mothers responded that their adolescents’ use was “somewhat unlikely.”

We obtained similar results for fathers. Only 31 % were aware that their adolescents were currently using alcohol. Few aware fathers were certain about their adolescents’ use. Only 2% responded “definitely”; 4%, “very likely”; and 6%, “not sure.” The largest group of aware fathers, 19%, responded that their adolescents’ alcohol use was “somewhat likely.” Despite adolescents’ reports of regular alcohol use, 69% of fathers were unaware. The majority were quite certain that their adolescents did not currently drink alcohol. Specifically, 24% of unaware fathers responded “definitely not,” and 29% responded “very unlikely”; only 16% of the fathers responded “somewhat unlikely.”

[“Other Teens Drink, But not my Kid“: Does Parental Awareness of Adolescent Alcohol Use Protect Adolescents from Risky Consequences?” (1998).
Karen Bogenschneider, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Ming-Yeh Wu, Soochow University
Marcela Raffaelli, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Jenner C. Tsay, University of Wisconsin
University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Faculty Publications, Department of Psychology. Paper 116, 5-18-1998]
For teenagers who report regular alcohol use,  about 70% of their parents are UNAWARE that their teenager is currently using alcohol.  This suggests that many of these teenagers are involved in lying and/or deceiving their parents, at least about their use of alcohol.
 
TEENAGERS ARE CHEATERS
The view that teenagers often lie and cheat is also supported by a survey of 43,000 high school students conducted by the Josephson Institute [emphasis added]:

Survey highlights: while 89 percent of students believe that being a good person is more important than being rich, almost one in three boys and one in four girls admitted stealing from a store within the past year. Moreover, 21 percent admitted they stole something from a parent or other relative, and 18 percent admitted stealing from a friend.

On lying, more than two in five said they sometimes lie to save money (48 percent of males and 35 percent of females). While 92 percent of students believe their parents want them to do the right thing, more than eight in ten confessed they lied to a parent about something significant.

Rampant cheating in school continues. A majority of students (59 percent) admitted cheating on a test during the last year, with 34 percent doing it more than two times.  One in three admitted they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment.

“As bad as these numbers are, they appear to be understated,” said Michael Josephson, president of the Institute and a national leader in ethics training. “More than one in four students confessed they lied on at least one or two survey questions, which is typically an attempt to conceal misconduct.”

Josephson said the results of this survey, conducted in 2010, are slightly better than those of the 2008 survey.

Josephson Institute of Ethics’ Report Card for 2010
Note:  In a 2012  survey conducted by the Josephson Institute, the percent of lying, stealing, and cheating reported by high school students decreased somewhat.
 
A survey of 24,000 high school students produced results similar to the above Josephson Institute survey [emphasis added]:

Don McCabe, a professor at Rutgers Business School in New Jersey, has conducted much of the research on cheating in U.S. schools since 1990 and says cheating on tests in high school is on the rise.

In his survey of 24,000 students at 70 high schools, 64 percent of students admitted to cheating on a test, 58 percent admitted to plagiarism and 95 percent said they participated in some form of cheating, whether it was on a test, plagiarism or copying homework.

Problem is, he said, some students don’t think of it as cheating, or they try to justify their behavior.

“They feel a test is unfair and they feel it’s OK to cheat,” he said. “Maybe they had something to do that night and didn’t study. Another big issue is fairness — they feel that they are getting left behind.”

(“Students’ cheating takes a high-tech turn” by Jeremy P. Meyer, The Denver Post, POSTED:   05/27/2010 )
 
Various studies of Middle School and High School students show that cheating by teenagers is very common:

The results of the 29th Who’s Who Among American High School Students Poll (of 3,123 high-achieving 16- to 18-year olds – that is, students with A or B averages who plan to attend college after graduation) were released in November, 1998. Among the findings:

    • 80% of the country’s best students cheated to get to the top of their class.
    • More than half the students surveyed said that they don’t think cheating is a big deal.
    • 95% of cheaters say they were not caught.
    • 40% cheated on a quiz or a test
    • 67% copied someone else’s homework

According to the results of a 1998 survey of 20,829 middle and high school students nationwide conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, 70% of high school students and 54% of middle school students said they had cheated on an exam in the last 12 months. …

Middle School:
Most research shows that cheating begins to set in during the middle school years (ages 11 – 13). According to The Josephson Institute of Ethics, “The evidence is fairly clear that cheating begins in the middle school fairly seriously and escalates in the higher grades, 10th, 11th and 12th grades, because that’s when the stakes are highest. It doesn’t seem as if it’s necessarily a dispositional thing, like they’ve never thought of cheating before. It’s that there isn’t much reason to cheat in the elementary school.”

According to Jacobs, research at this age shows that middle schoolers are motivated to cheat because of the emphasis placed on grades. In one study, 2/3 of middle school students report cheating on exams; 90% copy homework. Furthermore, even those who say that cheating is wrong, will cheat. The bottom line: If a child’s goal is to get a good grade, he is more likely to cheat.

High School:
Research has shown that the incidence of academic cheating among high school students has risen to all-time highs. The studies conducted by Who’s Who Among American High School Students, as well as those conducted by The Josephson Institute, are just a few of the many that demonstrate the problem. In addition, a 1997 Connecticut Department of Public Health survey of 12,000 students showed that 63% of 11th graders and 62% of ninth graders reported cheating on an exam in the previous 12 months.

[…]

According to Stephen Davis, a psychology professor at Emporia State University in Kansas: “about 20% of college students from across the nation admitted to cheating in high school during the 1940’s. That percentage has since soared, with no fewer than 75% and as many as 98% of 8,000 college students surveyed each year now reporting cheating in high school – and the majority admitting doing it on several occasions.

http://www.glass-castle.com/clients/www-nocheating-org/adcouncil/research/cheatingbackgrounder.html
 
Most teenagers lie and deceive.  Most teenagers are dishonest with their parents on several topics.  Most teenagers cheat in school, either on tests or on assignments.  Most teenagers who regularly drink alcohol manage to hide this from their parents.  Those are the facts.  Teenagers are LIARS.  They are DISHONEST.
To Be Continued…
 

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 13: Two Problems with Eyewitness Testimony

WHERE WE ARE
I am currently examining Peter Kreeft’s third objection against the Hallucination Theory.  His first three objections are all concerned with the TESTIMONY of WITNESSES, namely EYEWITNESSES.  The first three objections by Kreeft thus evoke the centuries-old idea of proving the resurrection of Jesus in a court trial.  If we take that idea seriously, though, Kreeft’s first three objections become a pathetic joke.  
Objection #3 is about “Five Hundred Witnesses” who supposedly had an experience of the risen Jesus at the same time and the same place.
In Part 12 of this series, I began taking this idea (of a court trial about the resurrection) seriously, by walking through modern criteria for a careful and proper “initial investigation” of a murder (or other serious crime).  Witnesses in a murder trial are not just randomly grabbed off the street and put on a witness stand.  There is usually an initial investigation, where the crime scene is carefully examined and evidence collected and documented, and where witnesses are usually identified and briefly questioned by a police officer or by a detective, and later there is usually a follow-up investigation where witnesses are interviewed further by a detective.
So, before a witness ever takes the stand, both the prosecution and the defense have access to notes and recordings of previous interviews of the witnesses, sometimes two or three interviews of a witness, and so the lawyers have a good idea of what the witnesses will say when they testify, and they have a good idea of the credibility that the testimony of each witness will have.
Before I continue with a discussion about what a careful and proper “follow-up investigation” involves, and whether any such investigation took place relative to the alleged event where five hundred people had an experience of an alleged appearance of Jesus,  I want to point out two major problems with EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY:

  • Human memory is UNRELIABLE
  • Humans are DISHONEST

 
EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY IS UNRELIABLE BECAUSE HUMAN MEMORY IS UNRELIABLE
Professional detectives have been working at solving murders and other serious crimes since the mid-1800s.  So, why did the Department of Justice think law enforcement needed new guidelines for careful and proper investigation of murders and other serious crimes around 1998?  One big motivation is that many people who were convicted of murder and other serious crimes on the basis of EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY were later proven to be INNOCENT by the use of DNA evidence.  This had become a serious concern by that time:

An excellent article on the unreliability of human memory is Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases by Cara Laney and Elizabeth F. Loftus.  The main conclusion of this article is that eyewitness testimony is NOT reliable:

Notice some of the different ways that eyewitness memory can be corrupted:

a. leading questions
b. misinterpretation of events
c. conversations with co-witnesses
d. the expectations of the witness for what should have happened

 
If an eyewitness is exposed to misinformation after the event (e.g. in a misleading question) that can corrupt the memory of the eyewitness (This is known as the “misinformation effect”):

 
Discussions of an event between eyewitnesses to the event increase the Misinformation Effect:

This article also describes a study in which a group of people is shown a brief video, but because of the use of polarized glasses, they actually are watching two different versions of the video, some in the group see one video, and others see a video that has some significant differences from the first one.  The subjects are asked to answer a dozen memory questions about the movie after discussing those questions with each other, and then to answer another twenty questions on their own.  Four of the dozen questions that the subjects discuss together are about details that differed between the two versions of the video, and eight of the twenty questions that they answered individually are about details that differed between the two versions of the video.  There was a significant impact on the reliability of memory on the questions that were discussed by the group prior to answering those questions:

False memories of events that did not happen can be implanted into a person’s mind fairly easily:

More recent experiments have shown that false memories can be created in a significant portion of the subjects and in some experiments, false memories were created in most of the subjects.  In one study, subjects were exposed to advertisements about Disneyland that featured the cartoon character Bugs Bunny being present at Disneyland.  As a result, some subjects became convinced that they had personally seen the Bugs Bunny character at Disneyland, but that cannot have actually happened, because Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brothers cartoon and has never been a Disney cartoon character nor a character portrayed at Disneyland.
This article also discusses the unreliability of eyewitness identification of culprits.  This is relevant to the claim that hundreds of eyewitnesses experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, because in order for a person to claim to have seen the risen Jesus, that person must have IDENTIFIED a person (or an experienced visual image of a person) as being Jesus of Nazareth.  The evidential value of such testimony is based upon that IDENTIFICATION.  Merely seeing a person in town or in a church service is of no significance to the question at issue if that person was NOT Jesus of Nazareth.  So, the reliability or unreliability of eyewitness IDENTIFICATION of persons is of direct relevance to the claim that hundreds of people experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
There are a number of factors that often lead to UNRELIABLE eyewitness IDENTIFICATIONS:

Let’s consider the above factors in relation to the claim that hundreds of people experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus:

a. poor vision
b. poor viewing conditions
c. stressful witnessing experiences
d. too little time to view the person who needs to be identified
e. too much delay between witnessing and identifying
f. being asked to identify a person from a race other than the race of the witness

a. Did an objective investigator determine for each one of the alleged eyewitnesses whether he/she had good vision or poor vision?
There probably was no objective investigator of this event.  Furthermore, even if there were an objective investigator, it seems unlikely that this investigator would have tracked down hundreds of alleged eyewitnesses and inquired about the quality of their vision.  So, it is very unlikely that an objective investigator checked on the vision of hundreds of witnesses to an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  In any case, we have no information about the quality of the vision of the hundreds of alleged eyewitnesses.
b. Did an objective investigator determine whether the viewing conditions at the time and place of this event were good or bad viewing conditions?
There probably was no objective investigator of this event.  Furthermore, even if there were an objective investigator, it seems unlikely that this investigator would have carefully investigated the quality of viewing conditions that existed at the time and place of this alleged event.  So, it is very unlikely that an objective investigator carefully investigated the quality of viewing conditions that existed at the time and place of this alleged event.  In any case, we have no information about the viewing conditions at the time and place of this alleged event.
c. Did an objective investigator determine that the circumstances for these hundreds of alleged eyewitnesses during the event were NOT stressful circumstances for them?
There probably was no objective investigator of this event.  Furthermore, even if there were an objective investigator, it seems unlikely that this investigator would have carefully investigated the circumstances during the event to determine whether they were stressful circumstances for the alleged eyewitnesses.  So, it is very unlikely that an objective investigator carefully investigated the psychological circumstances of the alleged eyewitnesses that existed at the time and place of this alleged event.  In any case, we have no information about the psychological circumstances of the eyewitnesses at the time and place of this alleged event.
Presumably, there was no threat of violence at the time, like there would be in the case of witnessing a murder.  However, if this event took place during a Christian worship service, there might well have been significant emotional factors at the time of this event.  Early Christians often spoke in tongues and “prophesied” and performed faith healings.  Early Christian worship was probably more like Pentacostal worship than the calm and well-ordered worship services in Catholic and mainstream protestant Churches that we see today.  So, if this event took place during a Christian worship service, which seems likely, then there might well have been a great intensity of religious fervor and emotion that would have impacted both the interpretations of the eyewitnesses and their memories of this event.
d. Did an objective investigator determine whether there was enough time or too little time to view the key person who was identified (namely the person who was thought to be the risen Jesus)?
There probably was no objective investigator of this event.  Furthermore, even if there were an objective investigator, it seems unlikely that this investigator would have carefully investigated the amount of time that each of the hundreds of witnesses viewed the person who they believed to be the risen Jesus.  So, it is very unlikely that an objective investigator carefully investigated whether there was enough time or too little time to view the person who was thought to be the risen Jesus.
In any case, we have no information about how long each of the hundreds of witnesses “saw” or experienced this alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  It could have lasted for just one second, or just a few seconds, or for a minute, or a few minutes, or for longer.  We just don’t know.
e. Did an objective investigator determine for each alleged eyewitness whether there was too long of a delay between seeing this person (or experiencing an image of a person) and identifying that person as being Jesus of Nazareth?
There probably was no objective investigator of this event.  Furthermore, even if there were an objective investigator, it seems unlikely that this investigator would have carefully investigated the amount of time between when each of the hundreds of witnesses viewed the person in question and the time when that witness concluded that this person was  Jesus of Nazareth.  So, it is very unlikely that an objective investigator carefully investigated the amount of time between when each of the hundreds of witnesses viewed the person in question and the time when they concluded that this person was  Jesus of Nazareth.
In any case, we have no information about the amount of time between when each of the hundreds of witnesses viewed the person in question and the time when that witness concluded that this person was  Jesus of Nazareth.  Some people might have immediately concluded that the person was Jesus of Nazareth, other people may have drawn this conclusion an hour after the event, some may have drawn the conclusion a day later, a week later, or a month later.  We just don’t know.
There were no photographs or videos or line-ups of suspects to view later.   So, there was NEVER a formal identification in the way that IDENTIFICATION occurs in modern criminal investigations.  There were no pictures of Jesus to show to the alleged eyewitnesses, and there was no physical Jesus of Nazareth available to put into a lineup of similar-looking Jewish peasants.  So, modern standards and processes of IDENTIFICATION could NOT have taken place for this event.
However, some or all of the alleged eyewitnesses might not have identified the person in question as being Jesus of Nazareth immediately, during the event.  If a witness did NOT immediately recognize the person in question as being Jesus of Nazareth, then there was a gap in time between seeing this person (or experiencing an image of a person) and IDENTIFYING that person as being Jesus.  In those cases, it would be important to know HOW LONG that gap of time was between seeing and identifying.  We have no information about whether there was such a gap in time between seeing and identifying, no information about how many witnesses experienced a delay between seeing and identifying, and no information about how long this gap of time was for each of the various hundreds of alleged eyewitnesses.  We just don’t know.
f. Did an objective investigator determine for each of the hundreds of alleged eyewitnesses whether Jesus of Nazareth was from a race other than the race of the witness?
There probably was no objective investigator of this event.  Furthermore, even if there were an objective investigator, it seems unlikely that this investigator would have carefully investigated whether Jesus of Nazareth was from a race other than the race of the witness.  This is a concern based on the modern scientific study of problems with eyewitness identificatiton.  So, it is very unlikely that an objective investigator carefully investigated whether Jesus of Nazareth was from a race other than the race of the witness.
In any case, we have no information about the race, or races, of the alleged eyewitnesses.  We just don’t know their race or races.  These alleged eyewitnesses might well have all been Greeks or Romans who had converted to Christianity, and thus none of them would have been Palestinian Jews.  In that case, their identifications of a man as being Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Palestinian Jew, would be suspect.
There is one very important factor that has not been touched on by the article on problems with eyewitness memory: prior familiarity with the person in question.
g. Did an objective investigator determine for each of the hundreds of alleged eyewitnesses whether they had previously seen and met Jesus of Nazareth before he died?
This is the crucial problem with Paul’s testimony about his alleged experience of an appearance of the risen Jesus.  Paul never met the historical Jesus prior to Jesus’ death.   So, Paul was in no position to correctly and reliably IDENTIFY any person as being Jesus of Nazareth.  Paul’s testimony, the only firsthand testimony that we have, of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus is WORTHLESS because Paul did not know what Jesus looked like.
So, an absolutely crucial question about these alleged hundreds of eyewitnesses of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus is whether ANY of them had seen and met Jesus of Nazareth before Jesus died.  If these people did not live in Palestine, then it is unlikely that they had seen and met Jesus of Nazareth before he died.  In that case, their eyewitness IDENTIFICATION of the man who appeared to them in this event as being Jesus of Nazareth would be WORTHLESS, and thus their testimony, like Paul’s testimony, would be WORTHLESS.  The fact that they saw some person who they believed to be Jesus of Nazareth would NOT provide significant evidence that this person was in fact Jesus of Nazareth.
 
CONCLUSION
It is becoming more and more clear that the analogy with a court trial shows the “eyewitness” evidence for the resurrection of Jesus to be a pathetic joke.   If we compare modern murder investigations by professional detectives and the court trials that depend on those investigations with the evidence offered by Christian apologists, it becomes painfully obvious that the evidence they provide is extremely weak and dubious, nowhere even close to being the sort of strong evidence needed to establish the occurrence of a supernatural event or miracle.
Eyewitnesses in a murder trial are not simply pulled off the street and put onto the witness stand.  The crime scene and witnesses of the crime are initially investigated by a professional police officer and/or homicide detective, and key witnesses are investigated and interviewed again in more depth by a professional detective, and this initial gathering of information and testimony occurs prior to any court trial, prior to any witness being called to testify.  By considering modern criminal investigations and court trials, especially concerning serious crimes like murder, we can clearly see that there is no serious chance that an actual court trial would ever lead to the verdict that Jesus rose from the dead.

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 12: Preliminary Investigation

WHERE WE ARE
I am working my way through Peter Kreeft’s 14 objections against the Hallucination Theory, the view that one or more of Jesus’s disciples experienced a hallucination or dream about Jesus after the death of Jesus, and this experience was mistakenly believed to be an ordinary sensory experience of a living and embodied Jesus who had risen from the dead, and that this experience (or those experiences) became the primary basis of the early Christian belief that Jesus had physically risen from the dead.  Kreeft’s objections against this theory are presented in Chapter 8 of his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA).
So, far I have shown that Kreeft’s first two objections against the Hallucination Theory FAIL:

OBJECTION #3: FIVE HUNDRED WITNESSES
Kreeft presents his third objection against the Hallucination Theory in a single paragraph:

The five hundred saw Christ together, at the same time and place.  This is even more remarkable than five hundred private “hallucinations” at different times and places of the same Jesus.  Five hundred separate Elvis sightings may be dismissed, but if five hundred simple fishermen in Maine saw, touched and talked with him at once, in the same town, that would be a different matter.   (HCA, p.187)

The term “witnesses” in this context has this meaning, as I have previously argued:

6b. One who actually furnishes evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.  

Recall that Kreeft’s second objection was that “The Witnesses were Qualified”, which turned out to mean the claim that the TESTIMONY of the WITNESSES of alleged appearances of the risen Jesus was CREDIBLE.  Kreeft’s first three objections against the Hallucination Theory are concerned with the TESTIMONY of WITNESSES, which evokes the idea of a court trial.
The idea of proving the resurrection of Jesus in a court trial has been around for at least a few centuries.  Back in 1729, Thomas Sherlock wrote a defense of the resurrection of Jesus called The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus.   This idea is a common theme in Christian apologetics:

In his book The Resurrection Factor, Josh McDowell fully embraces this idea in his discussion of the alleged five hundred witnesses:

Let’s take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial and place them in a courtroom.   Do you realise that if each of these 500 people were to testify only six minutes each, including cross-examination, you would have an amazing 50 hours of firstshand eyewitness testimony?  Add to this the testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you could well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history.  (The Resurrection Factor, 2005 edition, p.79)

This is a wild apologetic fantasy by McDowell, and I will throw some cold water on this fantasy right now.  There is ONLY ONE firsthand testimony of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus in the entire New Testament, namely that of Paul.  Speaking about Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and specifically about the opening verses of Chapter 15, the great New Testament scholar Raymond Brown points out Paul’s uniqueness in this regard:

…Jesus “was seen”…[by] Cephas (Peter), the Twelve, and more than 500; then James, all the apostles, and “last of all me.”  The concluding reference to himself is extremely important since Paul is the only NT writer who claims personally to have witnessed an appearance of the risen Jesus.  (An Introduction to the New Testament, 1997, p.534, emphasis added)

Paul never claims to have met or seen the historical Jesus during Jesus’ earthly life, and as far as we know he never had met or seen the historical Jesus during Jesus’ earthly life, so Paul had no way to IDENTIFY anyone as being Jesus of Nazareth.  Because Paul never met the historical Jesus, Paul’s “testimony” about seeing the risen Jesus is WORTHLESS as evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.
Furthermore, Paul did not see the crucifixion or burial of Jesus, so Paul did not himself witness the death of Jesus.  Thus, Paul did NOT know that Jesus had in fact DIED prior to the alleged appearance of Jesus to Paul.  That means that Paul did NOT know that the person who he “saw” and who he identified as Jesus, had risen from the dead.  Thus, there is ZERO credible firsthand testimony of an appearance of the risen Jesus in the New Testament.
If we take the idea seriously of there being five hundred “witnesses” who “testify” in a court trial about having experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, this turns Objection #3 by Kreeft into a pathetic joke (as well as Objection #1 and #2).  So, that is precisely what I shall now do.
 
PREPARATION FOR A MURDER TRIAL
When a person is charged with the crime of “murder”, that is a very serious matter, because we usually punish murder severely, with the death penalty or with life in prison.  We expect that person to have a fair trial in which he or she will be vigorously defended by a competent lawyer, and we expect that the prosecuting attorney to attempt to build a strong case for the guilt of the accused person using both eyewitness testimony, physical evidence, and documentary evidence.   The accused should only be found “guilty” of murder if all twelve members of the jury are persuaded by the evidence and arguments that it is beyond reasonable doubt that the accused did in fact commit the murder in question.
Before a witness for the prosecution testifies in a murder trial, that person has already previously been interviewed two or three or more times by a police officer and/or by one or more homicide detectives.  The prosecution already has a very good idea of what that person claims to have seen (or heard, or felt, or smelled, or tasted) relative to the murder or the murderer or the victim, and thus what that witness is likely to testify during the court trial.
So, let’s back up in time, to before the trial, to the time when the investigation and interviews of witnesses are just starting.
There is typically at least a “preliminary investigation” and a “follow-up investigation” of a murder scene and of relevant eyewitnesses.
 
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION OF THE SCENE OF THE ALLEGED APPEARANCE OF JESUS TO FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE
Here are guidelines provided by the National Institute of Justice for a preliminary investigation of a crime scene (from p.14 & 15 of Eyewitness Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement):

An appearance by Jesus to a crowd of people was not a crime, so we would not expect there to be a criminal investigation of this event.  Nevertheless, the claim that “Jesus physically rose from the dead” is a central claim of Christianity, so whether a risen Jesus did in fact visit a crowd of people is an important issue that should be carefully investigated.

Was there a “preliminary investigator” who carefully gathered evidence from the location where this alleged appearance of Jesus occurred?

We don’t know.  However, it is highly improbable that there was a “preliminary investigator” who carefully gathered evidence from the location where this alleged appearance of Jesus occurred.  First of all, the whole idea of a “detective” who carefully investigates a crime scene and witnesses is a modern idea:

The first private detective agency was founded in Paris in 1833 by Eugène François Vidocq, who had also headed a police agency in addition to being a criminal himself. Police detective activities were pioneered in England by the Bow Street Runners and later the Metropolitan Police Service in Greater London. The first police detective unit in the United States was formed in 1846 in Boston.  (from “Detective” in Wikipedia)

So, the alleged appearance of Jesus to the crowd of five hundred people took place about 1,800 years before there were any people who were professional detectives.
Furthermore, these “witnesses” were “brethren” according to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:6), meaning that they were Christian believers.  They already believed in God, and in miracles, and that God had miraculously raised Jesus from the dead.  They were not the sort of people who would be skeptical about an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  In fact, if one of them had “investigated” this event, we would have good reason to suspect that he or she was too BIASED to be an objective investigator.
Who else would carefully and objectively investigate an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus?  Non-Christian pagans would have little interest in this event.  Most pagans at that time believed in gods, ghosts, souls, magic, and other supernatural beings and forces.  They would not have been skeptical about an appearance of Jesus (although they might tend to think of the event as the appearance of a god or a ghost, rather than as the seeing of an embodied person who had previously died).
The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem generally were opposed to Christianity and wanted to suppress this religious movement, so they would not be interested in taking claims of alleged appearances of a risen Jesus seriously and doing a serious and objective investigation of such claims.  If they were really worried about stories of hundreds of witnesses to an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, they might try to hunt down and threaten or kill those witnesses, to silence them, but would not make a serious investigation into this event.

PI-B1. Did a preliminary investigator identify the person who had allegedly appeared to the crowd of five hundred people?

Probably not.  First of all, it is highly improbable that there was a preliminary investigator or investigation of this alleged event.   Second, even if there had been a preliminary investigator of this event, it is highly probable that he or she would not have investigated the event on the day it occurred, but rather some days or weeks or months later.  If there was no preliminary investigation on the day of the event, then whoever the person was who appeared to the crowd (if an actual physical person DID appear to the crowd), would have probably been long gone, so nobody could point this person out to the preliminary investigator at the time of the preliminary investigation.  The identification of this person would require descriptions and testimony from eyewitnesses who were present at the event.

PI-B2. Did a preliminary investigator determine/classify what crime or incident had occurred?

Probably not, because it is highly improbable that there was a preliminary investigator or investigation of this event.  But if there had been a preliminary investigation, the investigator might well have tried to determine whether an actual physical man (whom some believed to be Jesus) had been visually observed by the crowd or if the experiences of this alleged appearance of the risen Jesus were hallucinations or dreams or subjective visions.  Such a preliminary determination would probably be helpful to any later investigations, but because there probably was no preliminary investigator or investigation, we have no such determination to help us figure out what actually happened.

PI-B3. Did a preliminary investigator broadcast an updated description of the incident, perpetrator(s), and/or vehicle(s)?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that anyone began a preliminary investigation of this event, so it is highly improbable that anyone “broadcast” an updated description of the event, or of the man who had appeared to the crowd (whom some believed to be the risen Jesus).  Furthermore, there were no radios, telephones, cameras, video cameras, televisions, or newspapers in the first century, so “broadcasting” information about this event would be difficult, if not impossible, to do.  If some person was disguised as Jesus, or just happened to look like Jesus, and had appeared to the crowd, and then left town a short while later, it would have been difficult to track that person down, because of the lack of communication technology in the first century.

PI-B4. Did a preliminary investigator verify the identity of the witness(es)?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that there was any preliminary investigator or investigation of this event.  Furthermore, if there had been a preliminary investigation, it probably did not occur on the same day as the event but took place days, weeks, or months later.
Since the five hundred people were Christian believers, they probably had gathered for a religious service or religious activity when the alleged appearance of Jesus took place.  But not everyone shows up for every religious service or every religious activity in their church or Christian community, so just being a member of that Christian community would NOT mean that one was present during this event.   Thus, it would be important for there to be a preliminary investigation on the same day as the alleged appearance, so that an accurate list of the names of people who were actually present during this event would be documented.
It would be too easy for people who were part of the local Christian community to later claim (and even believe) that they had been present during this event when they were in fact NOT present during the event.  Since it is highly improbable that anyone conducted a preliminary investigation, and even more unlikely that someone conducted a preliminary investigation on the same day as the event or even the next day, it is extremely unlikely that anyone accurately identified and documented the names of the people who were actually present during this event.

PI-B5. Did a preliminary investigator separate witnesses and instruct them to avoid discussing details of the incident with other witnesses?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that there was a preliminary investigator or investigation of this event, so it is highly improbable that anyone separated witnesses and instructed them to avoid discussing details of the incident with other witnesses.  Furthermore, the knowledge that discussion of details of an event between eyewitnesses to the event is likely to contaminate and distort the memories of those witnesses about the event is a very recent bit of scientific knowledge about the fragility of human memory.  So, even if there had been a preliminary investigator of this event, it is unlikely that the investigator would have cautioned the five hundred witnesses to avoid discussing details of the alleged appearance of Jesus with each other.  Thus, it is extremely unlikely that a preliminary investigator separated witnesses and instructed them to avoid discussing details of the incident with each other.
Given that this event would have been viewed by the Christian believers who were present at the event to be a highly significant religious event, it is extremely probable that they would have discussed the details of this event with each other unless someone in a position of authority had instructed them to avoid discussing details of the event with each other.  In fact, even if there had been a preliminary investigator who instructed these Christian believers to avoid discussing details of this incident with each other, it is highly probable that they would have ignored this instruction and gone ahead and discussed the details of the event with each other.  Therefore, it is highly probable that the Christian believers who were present during this event discussed the details of the event with each other.  This is a serious problem for the credibility of any testimony of these witnesses to the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.

PI-B6. Did a preliminary investigator canvass the area for other witnesses?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that there was any preliminary investigator or investigation of this event.  Furthermore, since the event probably took place during a gathering of Christian believers for a religious service or religious activity, it would be very important to search for other witnesses who were NOT members of that Christian community, and thus who would NOT be subject to the religious biases and peer pressure of that Christian community.   An outsider could have provided a more objective point of view that would either confirm or disconfirm the testimony of the Christian believers who were present during the event.
A preliminary investigation is usually conducted at the scene of a crime, especially at the scene of a murder.  But it is highly improbable that a preliminary investigation took place in relation to the event where five hundred people allegedly had an experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  And even if there had been a preliminary investigation, it is unlikely to have satisfied the various criteria spelled out above for a proper preliminary investigation.  As noted in the guide by the National Institute of Justice, this has significant implications for any later investigation of this event:

The preliminary investigation at the scene forms a sound basis for the accurate collection of information and evidence during the followup investigation.  (Eyewitness Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement, p.15)

 
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION OF THE WITNESSES OF THE ALLEGED APPEARANCE OF JESUS TO FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE
A very important part of a preliminary investigation of a crime concerns eyewitnesses. Here are guidelines provided by the National Institute of Justice for a preliminary investigation of eyewitnesses (from p.15 & 16 of Eyewitness Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement):

PI-C1. Did a preliminary investigator establish rapport with the witnesses?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that there was a preliminary investigator or investigation of this event.  Also, since there were no professional detectives around in the first century, it is unlikely that a preliminary investigator of this event would know that it is important to establish rapport with a witness before and during an interview of the witness.

PI-C2. Did a preliminary investigator ask about the condition of the witness?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that there was a preliminary investigator or investigation of this event.  Also, since this would not be a criminal investigation, there would not be any particular reason to be concerned about an injury of the witness or about trauma to the witness because of having experienced a violent event.  This second question also seems closely connected to the first question.  Asking about the condition of the witness is a way to help establish rapport with the witness.
If a witness was seriously injured at the scene of a crime, then another reason to ask about the condition of the witness would be to determine if the witness was conscious and in a state of mind to be able to clearly understand and to provide reasonable answers to, questions about the crime or event in question.   That sort of question would also be relevant in the case of a witness to an alleged appearance of Jesus.  Is the witness currently in a state of mind to be able to clearly understand questions about the event and to provide reasonable answers to those questions?   There probably was no preliminary interview of any witnesses to this alleged appearance of a risen Jesus, so this question was probably not asked.  If there was a preliminary investigation of witnesses, we have no idea whether this question was asked.

PI-C3. Did a preliminary investigator ask open-ended questions; augment with closed-ended questions? and avoid leading questions?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that there was a preliminary investigator or investigation of this event.  Furthermore, since there were no professional detectives around in the first century, it is unlikely that a preliminary investigator of this event would know that it is important to ask questions in the manner described here and to avoid asking leading questions.  So, it is extremely unlikely that a preliminary investigator of this event asked questions of witnesses in this manner and avoided asking leading questions.

PI-C4. Did a preliminary investigator clarify the information received with the witnesses?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that there was a preliminary investigator or investigation of this event.  If there was a preliminary investigation, we have no idea whether the investigator clarified the information received with the witnesses.

PI-C5. Did a preliminary investigator document the information received from each witness, including the identity of each witness, in a written report?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that there was a preliminary investigator or investigation of this event.  Since most people in the first century were illiterate, even if there was a preliminary investigation of this event, the investigator probably could not write a report, and most other people would not be able to read a report if one had been written.  Since this was a matter of religious beliefs and disagreements and not a criminal investigation, it probably would not have been considered worthy of the effort to find investigators who could read and write reports of information obtained from witnesses to this event.  So, it is extremely unlikely that a preliminary investigator documented the information received from each witness, including the identity of each witness, in a written report.

PI-C6. Did a preliminary investigator encourage the witnesses to contact investigators with any further information?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that there was a preliminary investigator or investigation of this event.  Furthermore, there were no telephones and no postal services available in the first century, so “contacting” an investigator in another city or town at a later date would probably be difficult to do.  A preliminary investigator would be unlikely to have significant power or authority over the witnesses (like a police detective or FBI agent has), so if there had been a preliminary investigator, that person would be unlikely to demand or even request that the witnesses contact them with further information after the investigator left the area.  So, it is extremely unlikely that a preliminary investigator encouraged the witnesses to contact investigators with any further information.

PI-C7. Did a preliminary investigator encourage the witnesses to avoid contact with the media or exposure to media accounts of the incident?

Mass media accounts of current events did NOT exist in the first century, so this question does not apply as it is worded.  However, the purposes behind this question do apply to a first-century preliminary investigation of witnesses to an event.  Gossip and word-of-mouth allowed stories about current events to spread across a city or town, and even between cities and towns.
There are a few problems with gossip spreading a story or account given by a witness to an event.  First, gossip and word-of-mouth is an unreliable way of accurately transmitting a story or account, so this means of communication creates changes and distortions to the original story.  Second, to the extent that the original story is preserved and communicated through gossip, it can influence and corrupt the memories of other potential witnesses to the event.  Similarly, listening to gossip about the event could impact and corrupt a witness’s memory of that event.  But since there were no professional detectives in the first century, an investigator into this event would be unlikely to understand the fragility of human memory, and would be unlikely to encourage witnesses to avoid communicating their stories to others (initiating gossip), and would be unlikely to encourage witnesses to avoid listening to any stories being told about the incident (exposure to gossip).

PI-C8. Did a preliminary investigator encourage witnesses to avoid discussing details of the event with other potential witnesses?

Probably not.  It is highly improbable that there was a preliminary investigator or investigation into this event.  Furthermore, there were no professional detectives in the first century, and knowledge about the fragility of human memory is a recent scientific discovery,  so even if there had been a preliminary investigator into this event, it is unlikely that the investigator would have encouraged the witnesses to avoid discussing details of the event with other potential witnesses.  Thus, it is extremely unlikely that a preliminary investigator encouraged witnesses to this event to avoid discussing details of the event with other potential witnesses.
 
CONCLUSIONS ABOUT PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION OF THE SCENE AND WITNESSES OF THE ALLEGED APPEARANCE OF JESUS TO FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE
First of all, it is highly improbable that anyone conducted a preliminary investigation into the scene and the witnesses of the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus to five hundred people.
Second, if there was a preliminary investigator and a preliminary investigation into the scene and the witnesses of the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus to five hundred people, it is very unlikely that this preliminary investigation satisfied the above criteria for a careful and proper preliminary investigation into an event.
Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that there was a careful and proper preliminary investigation into the scene and the witnesses of the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus to five hundred people, in accordance with the above criteria for a careful and proper preliminary investigation.
 

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 11: The Group Hallucinations Historical Claim

WHERE WE ARE
On page 187 of his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), Peter Kreeft presents his second of fourteen objections against the Hallucination Theory.
In Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7 of this series,  I clarified, analyzed, and evaluated Peter Kreeft’s Objection #2 (Witnesses Were Qualified) against the Hallucination Theory, and in Part 7  I concluded that this objection FAILS.
On page 186 of HCA, Kreeft presents his first objection against the Hallucination Theory.
In Part 8 of this series, I clarified Peter Kreeft’s Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses) against the Hallucination Theory.
In Part 9 of this series, I clarified the group-hallucination principle that is a key premise of Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses).
In Part 10 of this series, I argued that we have good reason to doubt the group-hallucination principle that is a key premise of Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses), and thus we have good reason to reject Objection #1.
In this post, I will examine the historical claim that is another key premise of Objection #1.
 
THE KEY HISTORICAL CLAIM IN THE ARGUMENT  CONSTITUTING OBJECTION #1
Here is the core argument in the larger argument that constitutes Peter Kreeft’s Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses) against the Hallucination Theory:

B. IF on multiple occasions more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time, THEN it is extremely unlikely that those experiences on ALL of those occasions were hallucinations.

3a. On multiple occasions more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time.

THEREFORE:

C. It is extremely unlikely that the experiences on ALL of the occasions when more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time were hallucinations.

This is a SOUND argument only if the group-hallucination principle in premise (B) is true AND the historical claim in premise (3a) is true.  I have previously argued that we have good reason to doubt that premise (B) is true.  It is now time to examine the key historical claim in Objection #1, namely premise (3a).
 
KREEFT’S ALLEGED EXAMPLES OF GROUP EXPERIENCES OF APPEARANCES OF THE RISEN JESUS
In Part 3 of this series, I pointed out that the examples provided by Peter Kreeft of alleged experiences of alleged appearances of a risen Jesus include both individuals and groups:
INDIVIDUALS

  • Mary Magdalene
  • James (the “brother” or cousin of Jesus)

GROUPS

  • the disciples minus Thomas
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • Andrew (Peter’s brother)
    • James (son of Zebedee)
    • John (son of Zebedee)
    • Philip
    • Bartholomew
    • Matthew
    • James (son of Alphaeus)
    • Simon (called the Zealot)
    • Judas (son of James)
  • the disciples including Thomas
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • Andrew (Peter’s brother)
    • James (son of Zebedee)
    • John (son of Zebedee)
    • Philip
    • Bartholomew
    • Matthew
    • Thomas
    • James (son of Alphaeus)
    • Simon (called the Zealot)
    • Judas (son of James)
  • two disciples at Emmaus
    • Cleopas
    • an unnamed disciple at Emmaus
  • the fishermen on the shore
    • Simon (whom Jesus named Peter)
    • James (son of Zebedee)
    • John (son of Zebedee)
    • Thomas
    • Nathanael (= Bartholomew?)
    • the beloved disciple (not one of “the twelve” disciples)
    • a second unnamed disciple by the Sea of Tiberias
  • five hundred people
    • unnamed males and females in an unknown location and with unknown religious and cultural backgrounds

The argument constituting Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses) is based on a principle concerning GROUP hallucinations, specifically where more than two people have an experience at the same time that seems to them to be an experience of the risen Jesus.  Individual experiences of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus are thus IRRELEVANT to Objection #1.   That is why I have used strikethrough font for the examples of individuals who allegedly experienced an alleged appearance of a risen Jesus.  I have also used strikethrough font for the example of the “two disciples at Emmaus” because the argument constituting Objection #1 is about when more than two people have an experience at the same time that seems to them to be an experience of the risen Jesus.  So, that example is also IRRELEVANT to Objection #1.
The example of five hundred people allegedly having an experience at the same time, an experience that allegedly seemed to them to be an appearance of the risen Jesus, obviously satisfies the requirement of being an experience where more than two people have such an experience at the same time.  However, I am excluding this example for now, because Kreeft uses this “evidence” as the basis for his Objection #3 (Five Hundred Witnesses), and it is UNFAIR and UNREASONABLE for him to use this same “evidence” twice, making basically the same objection twice.  Since Kreeft clearly wants this “evidence” to be considered a third objection, I will exclude consideration of this “evidence” in evaluating his Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses).
 
PREMISE (3a) IS DEAD ON ARRIVAL
That leaves us with just THREE alleged group experiences of the risen Jesus that are based on THREE different passages from the 4th Gospel:

  • the disciples minus Thomas (John 20:19-25)
  • the disciples including Thomas (John 20:26-28)
  • the fishermen on the shore (John 21:1-14)

Because all three alleged examples of group experiences of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus are based on the 4th Gospel, premise (3a) is DEAD ON ARRIVAL.  The 4th Gospel is the least historically reliable of the four gospels.  It was written in the closing decade of the first century, about sixty years after Jesus was crucified.  Most mainstream NT scholars conclude that it was NOT written by an eyewitness, but was likely written by an unkown disciple of an unknown disciple of Jesus, and that, at best, it contains some bits and pieces of historical data from the sermons of an unknown disciple of Jesus (who was NOT one of “the Twelve”).  Most of this gospel is fictional, and until recently the 4th Gospel was ignored by scholars who were interested in studying the historical Jesus, because it is so historically UNRELIABLE.
Apart from some careful scholarly arguments in defense of these particular stories from the 4th Gospel, one should be VERY SKEPTICAL about the historical reliability of these stories.  Since Kreeft only provides us with four fucking sentences on Objection #1, there is clearly no scholarly argument presented about any of these passages being an exception to the general unreliability of the 4th Gospel.  So, one could reasonably conclude at this point that premise (3a) is either FALSE or DUBIOUS, and this gives us a good reason to reject Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses).

Ending of Luke and Beginning of John on the same page of Codex Vaticanus (c. 300–325)

KREEFT’S FIRST TWO EXAMPLES OF GROUP EXPERIENCES ARE PROBABLY FICTIONAL STORIES
The fact that the 4th Gospel is generally UNRELIABLE gives us a good reason to doubt the story about the alleged group experience of “the disciples minus Thomas”  and to doubt the story about the alleged group experience of “the disciples including Thomas” because both stories are found in Chapter 20 of the 4th Gospel.  However, this is not the only good reason to doubt the historicity of these two stories.
No other Gospel has the “doubting Thomas” story that constitutes Kreeft’s second example of an alleged group experience of the risen Jesus.  So, this second example is without confirmation by any other Gospel.
Luke does have a story about an alleged appearance of Jesus to his disciples in Jerusalem on the first Easter Sunday, so that is a partial confirmation of “the disciples minus Thomas” story found in Chapter 20 of the 4th Gospel.  But there are inconsistencies between Luke’s story and the story found in the 4th Gospel.  Luke, for example, talks about “the Eleven” being present, which directly contradicts the claim that Thomas was absent for this alleged group experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus:

33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.
34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!”
35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
(Luke 24:33-36, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)

If Luke’s account is accurate, then Thomas was present during this group experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on the first Easter Sunday, because Thomas was one of “the eleven”.  But if Luke’s account is accurate, then the whole “doubting Thomas” story in Chapter 20 of the 4th Gospel is clearly fictional, and the story of “the disciples minus Thomas” in that same Chapter of the 4th Gospel is at least mistaken on the important detail of whether Thomas was present or absent during the alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on the first Easter Sunday.
There are other details that differ between Luke’s account of this event and the account in the 4th Gospel.  For example, in Luke Jesus shows his hands and his feet to his disciples, but in John Jesus shows his hands and his side to his disciples.  Showing his side to the disciples is a reference to an alleged wound in Jesus’ side, a wound that is ONLY mentioned in the Gospel of John.  No other Gospel account of the crucifixion mentions a soldier stabbing Jesus in the side with a spear.  No other Gospel account of an appearance of the risen Jesus mentions a wound in the side of Jesus.  Those details about a wound in Jesus’ side are found ONLY in the 4th Gospel.   So, it looks like the spear wound in Jesus’ side is a fictional element in the 4th Gospel that is carried through to the fictional story of “doubting Thomas” which is also found ONLY in the 4th Gospel.
The contents of what the risen Jesus allegedly says to his disciples on Easter Sunday differs between Luke’s account and the account in the 4th Gospel, so that is another reason to doubt the historical reliability of the stories in Chapter 20 of the 4th Gospel. In Luke’s account Jesus tells his disciples that he will send the Spirit of God upon them in the near future:

46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,
47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things.
49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”                                   (Luke 24:46-49, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)

But in the 4th Gospel, Jesus gives his disciples the promised Spirit of God right on the spot:

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.
(John 20:21-22, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)

In Luke’s account of this alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, Jesus makes a big deal about eating some fish in front of the disciples, to prove that he is not a ghost:

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?
39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
43 and he took it and ate in their presence.  (Luke 24:46-49, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)

According to Luke, the disciples were “terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.”  Furthermore, Jesus explicitly speaks about their being “frightened” and shows his hands and feet BECAUSE he wants to PROVE to them that he is NOT a ghost.  Nobody who was a disciple of Jesus who had such a terrifying experience, where Jesus explicitly talks about NOT being a ghost and takes steps to PROVE that he was NOT a ghost would have forgotten this very emotional event.  Yet the account given in Chapter 20 of the 4th Gospel says NOTHING about the disciples being “terrified”,  NOTHING about the disciples thinking Jesus was a ghost, NOTHING about Jesus eating a piece of fish “in their presence”, and NOTHING about the actions of Jesus being motivated by the purpose of PROVING that he was NOT a ghost.  So, the absence of these closely-related details in the 4th Gospel’s account of this alleged appearance of Jesus is clearly inconsistent with the account in Luke’s Gospel, and raises doubt about the historical reliability of both accounts of this alleged appearance of Jesus to his disciples on the first Easter Sunday.
The Gospel of Luke gives us a good reason to reject the “doubting Thomas” story from Chapter 20 of the 4th Gospel as fictional, and thus to reject “the disciples with Thomas” example of an alleged group experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus from the 4th Gospel, and the Gospel of Luke partially corroborates “the disciples without Thomas” example from the 4th Gospel, but also casts doubt on the accuracy and reliability of both versions of this story, because of various inconsistencies in important details between Luke’s account and the account in the 4th Gospel.
But the most serious problem here is that both Mark and Matthew agree that Jesus did NOT appear to his disciples in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday, but appeared to them for the first time in Galilee a week or more after Jesus was crucified, and thus his first appearance to his disciples was NOT in Jerusalem and NOT on the first Easter Sunday.  Because Mark is the earliest of the Gospels, and because both Matthew and Luke use Mark as a primary source of information about the life, ministry, and death of Jesus, Mark’s account of what happened on the first Easter Sunday should be given preference over the accounts found in Luke and John.
In terms of objective historical investigation, IF some of the disciples of Jesus actually did experience an alleged appearance (or appearances) of the risen Jesus, THEN the most likely scenario is that the experience(s) of the alleged appearance (or appearances) of the risen Jesus first took place in Galilee a week or more after Jesus was crucified.  (NOTE: Jesus and his twelve disciples had walked from Galilee to Jerusalem prior to Jesus being crucified in Jerusalem, and it would take a number of days for the disciples to walk back to Galilee from Jerusalem.  So, if the disciples started walking back to Galilee from Jerusalem on Easter Sunday or on Monday after that Sunday, then they would not have arrived back in Galilee until about a week after the crucifixion.)
The problem is not merely that the 4th Gospel has been found by NT scholars to be historically UNRELIABLE, but that the other Gospel accounts of what happened on the first Easter CONTRADICT the accounts of alleged group experiences of alleged appearances of Jesus found in Chapter 20 of the 4th Gopsel.   The CONTRADICTIONS are not limited to details (like Luke’s account implying that Thomas was present with the other disciples on Easter Sunday), but concern basic historical claims, like that there was a group experience by several of Jesus’ disciples of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus on Easter Sunday.  The earliest Gospel, Mark, clearly implies that this DID NOT HAPPEN, and the Gospel of Matthew agrees with Mark on this basic historical question.  Therefore, the stories about alleged group experiences of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus to his disciples in Jerusalem found in the 4th Gospel are not just questionable or dubious, they are PROBABLY FICTIONAL; they are PROBABLY FALSE.  They certainly cannot be used to PROVE premise (3a), or even to provide solid evidence for premise (3a).
 
ONE EXAMPLE OF A GROUP EXPERIENCE OF AN ALLEGED APPEARANCE IS INSUFFICIENT
Kreeft’s first two examples of group experiences of alleged appearances of the risen Jesus were DEAD ON ARRIVAL, because the 4th Gospel is historically UNRELIABLE, and we have just seen that a more in-depth examination of those two particular stories reveals that they are PROBABLY FALSE and that IF some of the disciples of Jesus experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, this probably first occurred in Galilee a week or more after Jesus had been crucified.  So, we are left with ONLY ONE alleged example from Kreeft about an alleged group experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus:

  • the fishermen on the shore (John 21:1-14)

This example can be challenged on the basis of the view of most NT scholars that the 4th Gospel is historically UNRELIABLE, and thus, apart from a careful scholarly argument that this particular story is an exception to the rule, we have good reason to doubt the historicity of this story.   However, this appearance story takes place in Galilee at least a couple of weeks after Jesus was crucified, based on the 4th Gospel.   So, this appearance story, unlike the first two examples from Chapter 20 of the 4th Gospel, does not directly contradict the Gospels of Mark and Matthew.  Furthermore, advocates of the Hallucination Theory agree with Kreeft on the following point:

A disciple (or some disciples) of Jesus experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at some time after he was crucified, and that experience (or experiences) led them to believe that Jesus had physically risen from the dead.

The disagreement they have is NOT that such experiences occurred, but is over the nature of those experiences, whether they were actual sensory experiences of an actually present living and embodied Jesus or hallucinations about Jesus or dreams about Jesus (without a living and embodied Jesus being present).  So, some advocates of the Hallucination Theory might be willing to accept the historicity of “the fishermen on the shore” example of a group experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
It should be noted, however, that ONE EXAMPLE of such a group experience is NOT SUFFICIENT to support the key historical claim made by premise (3a):

3a. On multiple occasions more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time.

This premise asserts that such group experiences took place on “multiple occasions”.  One example of such a group experience is NOT ENOUGH to prove that this happened on multiple occasions.  So, because two of Kreeft’s three examples of alleged group experiences of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus have been shown to be PROBABLY FALSE, the ONE questionable example that remains FAILS to establish his key historical claim.  Because Kreeft has only provided us with ONE questionable example of such a group experience, we have good reason to doubt premise (3a) and to reject Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses).
 
THERE ARE NO WITNESSES TO GROUP EXPERIENCES OF AN ALLEGED APPEARANCE OF THE RISEN JESUS
The word “witnesses” does not appear anywhere in the clarified version of the core argument of the argument constituting Kreeft’s Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses).  But note that this objection is labeled “Too Many Witnesses”.  So, if there are actually ZERO “witnesses” related to the alleged group experiences that are asserted to have occurred in premise (3a), then that should give us another good reason to doubt or reject Objection #1.  It seems to me to be the case that there are ZERO “witnesses” related to the alleged group experiences specified in premise (3a), so I will now attempt to argue for this view, and then see whether this thinking does provide us with another good reason to reject Objection #1.
In Part 2 of this series, I argued that the term “witness” as used by Kreeft in his case against the Hallucination Theory, should be understood one of two ways:

6a. One who can potentially furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.

6b. One who actually furnishes evidence by giving a firsthand account of something.  

In Part 4 of this series, I argued that definition (6a) will not work for Kreeft to make his case, because his focus is on the credibility of the testimony of various people.  In order for the credibility of the testimony of various people to be of any help to his case, there must BE actual TESTIMONY that we now possess from some “witness”.  The fact that someone merely had the POTENTIAL to furnish evidence by giving a firsthand account of an event is of no significance if that person NEVER ACTUALLY PROVIDED any testimony about that event.  So only a “witness” in the strong sense spelled out in definition (6b) will be of use for Kreeft to make his case against the Hallucination Theory.
But there is no account of a group experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus that constitutes a firsthand account of that event.  The ONLY firsthand account that we have of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus comes from Paul, who wrote most of the letters in the New Testament.  The Gospels were NOT written by eyewitnesses to a group experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  The authors of Mark and Luke do NOT claim to be disciples who traveled with Jesus and do NOT claim to have ever laid eyes on the historical Jesus, and they do NOT claim to have seen an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  NT scholars don’t believe that Mark and Luke traveled around as disciples of the historical Jesus, nor that they personally experienced an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
The author of Matthew does NOT claim to be a disciple who traveled with Jesus, does NOT claim to have ever laid eyes on the historical Jesus, and does NOT claim to have seen an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  There are very good reasons to doubt that “Matthew the tax collector” was the author of the Gospel named “Matthew”, one such reason being that there was probably no such person.  Jesus probably had a disciple named “Matthew” but that disciple was NOT a tax collector.  The author of the Gospel of Matthew borrows a story from the Gospel of Mark about Levi the tax collector and makes it into a story about “Matthew” one of the twelve disciples in the inner circle of the followers of Jesus.
Clearly, the real Matthew would not borrow a story from another Gospel about another person and make it into a story about himself.  The real Matthew would be able to tell lots of stories about himself and his relationship with Jesus, without having to borrow material from an author who never even met the historical Jesus.  Since the author of the Gospel named “Matthew” borrows a story from Mark about the disciple Matthew, that is a powerful reason for rejecting the view that the disciple of Jesus named Matthew was the author of the Gospel named “Matthew”.   Since the author of Matthew never claims to have been a direct disciple of Jesus, and never claims to have been an eyewitness to the events described in that Gospel, and since there are good reasons to doubt that the disciple named “Matthew” was the author of this Gospel, there is good reason to doubt and to reject the view that the account of the alleged group experience of an alleged appearance of Jesus found at the end of this Gospel is an eyewitness account.  The author of Matthew was NOT an eyewitness to the events described in that Gospel.
The author of the 4th Gospel was traditionally believed to be John the son of Zebedee, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus.  But most NT scholars do NOT accept this traditional view, and even some Evangelical NT scholars doubt that John was the author of the 4th Gospel.  A common view, argued by the great Catholic NT scholar Raymond Brown is that the 4th Gospel was composed by an unknown disciple (or disciples) of an unknown disciple of Jesus.  On this view, there may be bits and pieces in the 4th Gospel that are based on sermons given by an unknown disciple of Jesus (not one of the twelve).  But the material in the 4th Gospel has been strongly shaped by dramatic and theological and ideological purposes, and it has been significantly revised by a second or third-generation Christian believer (or believers) who was NOT an eyewitness to the events described in the 4th Gospel.
The strong shaping of the 4th Gospel by dramatic, theological, and ideological purposes, combined with the fact that the author and revisers of this Gospel were NOT eyewitnesses to the events described in the Gospel explains why this Gospel is so historically UNRELIABLE, and why it would contain stories about alleged group experiences of alleged appearances of the risen Jesus that are FICTION.
In short, the Gospels do NOT provide us with any eyewitness accounts of any alleged appearance of Jesus.  The one possible exception to this is the story of “the fishermen on the shore” found in Chapter 21 of the 4th Gospel.  But the problem with that story is that the 4th Gospel is in general historically UNRELIABLE, and was NOT composed by an eyewitness, so this is at best a secondhand telling of this story by an unknown disciple of a disciple of Jesus, and there is no way of telling, with any degree of certainty, whether this particular story originated with a disciple of Jesus or if it came from the imagination of an unknown disciple of an unknown disciple of Jesus.
The ONLY firsthand account of an alleged appearance of Jesus found in the NT is in the letters of Paul.  Paul claims to have had an experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  But Paul was NOT a disciple of the historical Jesus, and so far as we know Paul NEVER SAW the historical Jesus in person prior to having an experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  Since Paul had NOT previously seen the historical Jesus, Paul was in no position to identify anyone as BEING Jesus, so Paul’s experience has no real significance as EVIDENCE for the resurrection of Jesus.  Furthermore, Paul was NOT part of a group experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, so his individual experience is IRRELEVANT to Kreeft’s key historical premise in Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses) against the Hallucination Theory.
 
CONCLUSION
Two out of three of the alleged examples provided by Kreeft of group experiences of alleged appearances of the risen Jesus are PROBABLY FALSE.
That leaves only ONE example of a group hallucination (experienced by more than two people at the same time), but ONE example is INSUFFICIENT to show that the key historical claim of Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses) is true.
Furthermore, the ONE remaining alleged example provided by Kreeft of a group experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus is DUBIOUS, because it comes from the historically UNRELIABLE 4th Gospel, and because that Gospel was NOT composed by a disciple of Jesus nor by someone who was an eyewitness to the events described in that Gospel.
There are NO ACCOUNTS in the NT of a group experience of an alleged appearance of Jesus that are provided by an eyewitness who was actually present during that event.
For these reasons premise (3a), the key historical premise of Kreeft’s Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses), is DUBIOUS.
I previously argued in Part 10 that premise (B), the group-hallucination principle, which is another key premise of Kreeft’s Objection #1, is DUBIOUS.
Since both key premises of Kreeft’s Objection #1 are DUBIOUS, we have good reason to reject that objection, and thus Kreeft’s Objection #1 FAILS.

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 10: Evaluation of the Group-Hallucination Principle

WHERE WE ARE
In Part 9 of this series I began to examine the core argument of Kreeft’s Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses) against the Hallucination Theory:

B. IF on multiple occasions more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time, THEN it is extremely unlikely that those experiences on ALL of those occasions were hallucinations.

3a. On multiple occasions more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time.

THEREFORE:

C. It is extremely unlikely that the experiences on ALL of the occasions when more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time were hallucinations.

I pointed out that it is natural for skeptics to raise objections to the historical claim made in premise (3a), but that premise (B), a generalization about group hallucinations, is in need of further clarification, and that I suspected that when the meaning of (B) became clear, it too would turn out to be FALSE or DUBIOUS.  So, I worked on clarifying the meaning of premise (B).  Probably the most important bit of clarification is that the term “hallucination” should be understood in a broad way, such that it includes DREAMS as being examples of hallucinations.  Here is the definition of “hallucination” that I proposed:

An apparent sensory experience S that seems to be of a person or object is a hallucination IF AND ONLY IF
there is no corresponding external object or actual person present during apparent sensory experience S.

Kreeft needs the term “hallucination” to be understood in this broad manner, otherwise, his case for the resurrection of Jesus immediately FAILS, because if “hallucination” is understood more narrowly, in a way the excluded DREAMS, then Kreeft would have no objection against, and thus no refutation of, the skeptical theory that one or more disciples had a DREAM about Jesus that they mistakenly believed to be experiences of a real and embodied risen Jesus, and that these dream experiences became the basis for their belief that Jesus had physically risen from the dead.
 
KREEFT’S ARGUMENT FOR PREMISE (B)
Here is the argument that was given in support of premise (B):

1. Hallucinations are private, individual, subjective.

THEREFORE:

2a. It is very unlikely that more than two persons could have the same hallucination at the same time.

THEREFORE:

B. IF on multiple occasions more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time, THEN it is extremely unlikely that those experiences on ALL of those occasions were hallucinations.

Neither Josh McDowell nor Peter Kreeft provides a clear argument in support of premise (2a).  However, McDowell mentions the “details” of hallucinations as being a key idea in support of premise (2a) and that suggests a line of reasoning that I will now spell out.
 
THE THINKING BEHIND PREMISE (2a)
Even just a few “details” about a dream or hallucination can imply a huge number of possible alternative DESCRIPTIONS of that experience.  For example, a person might describe a portion of a dream this way:

I watched a full-grown orange tabby cat walk slowly across the foot of my bed.

Each element of this sentence describing the dream could be replaced by some alternative possibility.  Instead of a full-grown cat, one could have dreamed about a kitten.  Instead of an orange cat, one could have dreamed about a black cat.  Instead of a tabby cat, one could have dreamed about a hamster or a puppy dog.  Instead of the cat walking slowly, one could have dreamed that the cat ran quickly.  Instead of the cat walking across the foot of a bed, the dream could have been about a cat walking across the floor or across the top of a table.
For the simple description “a full-grown orange tabby cat slowly walking across the foot of my bed” we can abstract various general categories:

  • AGE (newborn, infant, young, full-grown, old)
  • COLOR (red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, gray, black, brown)
  • TYPE/ANIMAL (tabby cat, Shetland pony, pointer dog, rattle snake, Angus cow, etc.)
  • LOCOMOTION (walking, skipping, hopping, running, tumbling, crawling, etc.)
  • SPEED (very slowly, slowly, moderately, quickly, very quickly, at full speed)
  • LOCATION (the foot of, the middle of, the top of, underneath, along the side)
  • OWNERSHIP (my X, your X, Our X, Sam’s X, Mary’s X, etc.)
  • FURNITURE (bed, couch, dresser, table, easy chair, nightstand, bench, shelf, desk, etc.)

The possible permutations exceed five possibilities for each of eight categories, so the possibilities exceed 5 to the 8th power or 25 to the 4th power or 390,625 different possibilities.  If we identify six different alternatives for each of the eight categories, then the number of different possible scenarios would be 6 to the 8th power or  36 to the 4th power, or 1,679,616 different scenarios.  Therefore, the description “a full-grown orange tabby cat walked slowly across the foot of my bed” suggests well over a million different alternative scenarios, with just a little bit of thought about different possibilities concerning each of the eight categories referenced in that brief description.
This thinking is what I believe is behind McDowell’s reference to “great detail” in the “descriptions of the appearances” in his presentation of his “Very Personal” objection against the Hallucination Theory:

Christ appeared to many people, and descriptions of the appearances involve great detail… (TRF, p.84)

Detailed descriptions of experiences are significant because they suggest millions of possible alternative descriptions, and thus millions of alternative possible experiences/hallucinations/dreams.  Because there are millions of alternative possible dreams/hallucinations relative to a brief detailed description of one such experience, it seems highly unlikely that more than two people would experience the “same dream” or the “same hallucination” at the same time.
 
FACTUAL PROBLEMS WITH THE THINKING BEHIND PREMISE (2a)
It seems, at first thought, that because the following brief description suggests well over a million alternative scenarios, that it would be very unlikely for more than two people to have a hallucination or dream that fits this description:

I watched a full-grown orange tabby cat walk slowly across the foot of my bed.

However,  as I have argued elsewhere, people in fact often do have similar dreams, and it is quite possible for two people to have the “same dream” at the same time:

The above example of two people dreaming about a full-grown orange tabby cat shows not only that it is possible in principle for two people to have “the same dream”, but that there is a SIGNIFICANT CHANCE of this happening.  There might be a full-grown orange tabby cat living in the house with this couple, and that cat may sometimes walk slowly across the foot of their bed.  In fact, the tabby cat might have slowly walked across the foot of their bed just before they went to sleep on the night in question, and thus it would not be a huge coincidence if both of them happen to dream that night about their cat slowly walking across the foot of their bed.  So, it is not merely possible in principle for two people to have “the same dream”, there is also a SIGNIFICANT CHANCE of this actually happening, from time to time.     (from my post on McDowell’s “Very Personal” objection)

Although more than two people having the same dream at about the same time is less likely than just two people having the same dream at about the same time, there is still a significant chance for this to happen (for example, if three people were in bed together and saw the tabby cat walk slowly across the foot of the bed, then it would be quite possible for all three people to dream of this happening that night).
Because dreams are based on our experiences, beliefs, and memories, and because the memories, beliefs, and experiences of groups of people can be similar, the contents of dreams by different people can be similar:

The subjects of the studies by Zadra and Nielsen were STUDENTS.  Note that some of their most common dreams involved common experiences and fears of students:  school, teachers, or studying,  and arriving too late, and failing an examination.  This is a strong indication that the contents of dreams are often related to the sorts of emotions and events that the dreamers have commonly experienced in their waking lives.
It is also important to note that according to one study of dream contents one of the more common types of dreams that people report is “A person now dead being alive”!!

 
Jesus was a religious preacher and teacher.  The word “disciple” basically means student.  So, people who devote their lives to following a particular religious teacher, are people who are likely to have dreams about that person and dreams about being taught by that person.  Furthermore, if their beloved teacher dies, then there is a good chance that some of the students or disciples of that religious teacher will experience dreams about that teacher who was then dead being alive.
So, the chance that some of the disciples of Jesus had dreams about Jesus being alive and about Jesus teaching people is quite good, and thus the possibility of two people having the “same dream” about Jesus at about the same time after Jesus died is much greater than one might initially think.  Although there are billions of different possible descriptions of different dream contents that we can imagine, the dreams people actually have are NOT random combinations of people and events; they are based largely on the past experiences and memories of the dreamers.  If a group of people share many common experiences, beliefs, and memories about a particular person (like Jesus), then the chances that two of these people will have a similar dream or even the “same dream” about that person are significant.
 
EVALUATION OF PREMISE (2a) and PREMISE (B)
I have previously argued that the term “hallucination” must be interpreted broadly so that it includes DREAM experiences, otherwise the cases for the resurrection of Jesus presented by Josh McDowell and by Peter Kreeft will immediately FAIL.   Here is premise (2a):

2a. It is very unlikely that more than two persons could have the same hallucination at the same time.

This premise is TRUE only if the following claim is TRUE:

2b. It is very unlikely that more than two persons could have the same DREAM at the same time.

But we have seen that premise (2b) is initially plausible because we are aware that there are billions of different possible alternative descriptions of dream experiences, and because we are tempted to assume that all of these billions of possible descriptions of the contents of a dream are equally likely to occur in a dream, and that each different dream description has only a very tiny probability of actually occurring in a particular dream.  But we have seen that people do in fact often have similar dreams because dreams are based largely on the experiences, beliefs, and memories of the dreamers and because groups of people can have very similar experiences, beliefs, and memories (e.g. college students or devoted followers of a religious teacher).  Therefore, claim (2b) is FALSE or at least DUBIOUS.
But if claim (2b) is FALSE or DUBIOUS, then premise (2a) is also FALSE or DUBIOUS.  But (2a) is the reason given in support of premise (B) in the argument for Kreeft’s Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses).  So, the reason given in support of premise (B) is FALSE or DUBIOUS, and thus we have good reason to doubt premise (B), and a good reason to reject the core argument for Objection #1 against the Hallucination Theory.

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 9: Clarification of the Hallucination Principle

WHERE WE ARE
In Part 8 of this series, I focused on Peter Kreeft’s VERY UNCLEAR argument constituting his Objection #1 (“Too Many Witnesses”) against the Hallucination Theory.    I argued that this was a brief and UNCLEAR version of Josh McDowell’s “Very Personal” objection against the Hallucination Theory (found in his book The Resurrection Factor, hereafter: TRF).  On that basis, I was able to make sense out of Kreeft’s VERY UNCLEAR argument.
The core argument constituting Kreeft’s Objection #1 in my clarified version of his argument goes as follows:

B. IF on multiple occasions more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time, THEN it is extremely unlikely that those experiences on ALL of those occasions were hallucinations.

3a. On multiple occasions more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time.

THEREFORE:

C. It is extremely unlikely that the experiences on ALL of the occasions when more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time were hallucinations.

This is a modus ponens argument; it has the form:

 IF P, THEN Q.   

 P. 

THEREFORE:

Q.   

So the logic of this core argument is fine (assuming that the meanings of the key terms don’t change between the premises or between the premises and the conclusion).  We only need to evaluate the truth or falsity of the two premises in order to determine whether this argument is a strong and solid argument against the Hallucination Theory (although there is one further inference required to arrive at the ultimate conclusion that it is very likely that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE.)
 
INITIAL EVALUATION OF THE PREMISES
Premise (B) states a principle about hallucinations, particularly about “group” hallucinations.  Initially, this principle seems plausible and reasonable.   So, it is natural to focus on premise (3a), which asserts a historical claim about alleged experiences of alleged appearances of the risen Jesus.  I will argue that Kreeft FAILS to show that premise (3a) is true, and thus that this premise is DUBIOUS.  However, there is still some UNCLARITY in premise (B), and when that premise is further CLARIFIED it will cease to be plausible and reasonable.  So, I expect that in the end, I will argue that both premises of this core argument should be rejected, and thus that Kreeft’s Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses) FAILS to refute the Hallucination Theory,  just like Josh McDowell’s “Very Personal” objection (upon which Kreeft’s Objection #1 is based) FAILED.
 
UNCLEAR  TERMS IN PREMISE (B)
There are at least three UNCLEAR terms in premise (B):

  • the same experience
  • extremely unlikely
  • hallucination

Because premise (B) contains these UNCLEAR terms, it cannot be rationally evaluated as it stands.  These expressions need to be CLARIFIED before one can rationally evaluate the truth or falsehood of premise (B).
 
WHAT DOES “THE SAME EXPERIENCE” MEAN?
Conceptual vs. Empirical Claims about “the same experience”
First of all, “the same experience” cannot be had by even two people, in the sense that any experience, like a hallucination, is a SUBJECTIVE event.  My experiences are MINE, and your experiences are YOURS, and you CANNOT literally have “the same experience” that I just had.  Josh McDowell confuses this conceptual point about experiences and hallucinations with an empirical claim about experiences and hallucinations.  You CAN have experiences that are similar to mine, in that my DESCRIPTION of my experience can closely match your DESCRIPTION of your experience, and my DESCRIPTION of my hallucination can closely match your DESCRIPTION of your hallucination.
For example, a man can experience a dream and describe the contents of the dream this way: “I saw a full-grown orange tabby cat walk slowly across the foot of my bed.”  If that man’s wife also has a dream, and she describes the contents of her dream this way: “I saw a full-grown orange tabby cat walk slowly across the foot of my bed.”, then we can reasonably conclude that the man and his wife both had “the same dream” or “very similar dreams”.
In other words, I can give detailed descriptions of my own experiences, dreams, and hallucinations, and if those detailed descriptions match up with a detailed description that someone else gives of his/her experience, dream, or hallucination, then we have good reason to conclude that my experience, dream, or hallucination is “the same” or “very similar to” the other person’s experience, dream, or hallucination.  This is so, even though my experience CANNOT be someone else’s experience, because MY experiences occur in MY mind and CANNOT occur in anyone else’s mind.
An Experience vs. a Description of an Experience
A second important point of clarification is that experiences, especially visual experiences, cannot be fully captured in words or DESCRIPTIONS.  At any rate, the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is actually an extreme UNDERSTATEMENT.
A photographic image on my PC monitor has a resolution of 3840 by 2160.  That means that the color image on my monitor consists of 3,840 pixels across and 2,160 pixels vertically, and thus that this image consists of 8,249,400 individual pixels.  Each pixel can be a different color.  Because my monitor is 4K Ultra High Definition, each subpixel is 10 bits, and each pixel is 30 bits, which means there are over 1 billion different possible colors for each pixel. If we think of the 10 bits per subpixel as a “word” describing the type of RED or GREEN or BLUE that is part of the overall color of one pixel, then three “words” are used to define the color of each pixel.  Based on this analogy, there would need to be 3 “words” to define each of the 8,249,400 pixels = 24,748,200 “words” to define one high-definition color image on my PC monitor.  So, we need about twenty-five million words to fully define one high-definition color image.
But when we see an event, the visual data is more like a video or movie.  We see objects moving through space, changes in shadows, colors, shades, brightness, and shapes.  For a movie to look realistic you need between 30 frames per second and 60 frames per second.  So, ten seconds of a  60-frame-per-second movie would require 600 frames or images.  If each frame or image was of the 4K Ultra High Definition kind (like on my PC monitor), then each frame or image would require about 25 million “words” to define, so a ten-second portion of a 60-frame-per-second movie in Ultra High Definition would require 600 frames times 25 million “words” per frame = 15 billion “words”.  So, a picture, especially a moving picture, is worth a hell of a lot more than just 1,000 words.
Normally, when we DESCRIBE what we saw and experienced during an event, we do NOT use millions or billions of words.  So, the information contained in verbal DESCRIPTIONS of an experience, dream, or hallucination normally captures only a tiny fraction of the information contained in the original experience, dream, or hallucination.
Because when we compare experiences, dreams, or hallucinations between different people, we are actually comparing the DESCRIPTIONS of those experiences, dreams, or hallucinations, and because descriptions are almost always given in dozens of words, or hundreds of words, or in some cases thousands of words, and NOT in millions of words, nor in billions of words, we are comparing only a tiny fraction of the information contained in the original experiences, dreams, or hallucinations.  Therefore, it is virtually impossible to prove that an experience had by person A was “exactly the same” as an experience that was had by person B.  It is, of course, theoretically possible that person A had “exactly the same” experience as person B had, but verbal DESCRIPTIONS of these experiences only give us a high-level summary of the experiences, which does not allow us to compare experiences at the lowest level of details.
Point of View Affects Experiences
There is one more important point about the experiences of two people being “the same”.    Things look different from a different point of view.  The following images are of the same object but from different points of view:

BOWL VIEWED FROM ABOVE

BOWL VIEWED FROM THE FRONT

BOWL VIEWED FROM BETWEEN ABOVE AND THE FRONT

 
The image of the bowl is very different depending on the point of view one has of it.   The same is true of people, plants, animals, and physical objects.  How they look depends on the point of view one has while observing the person or thing in question.
If John is standing behind Jesus, and Peter is standing in front of Jesus, and Thomas is standing to the side of Jesus, on Jesus’ left, then if Jesus is looking straight ahead, John will see the back of Jesus’ head, Peter will see Jesus’ full face, and Thomas will see only the left side of Jesus’ face.  They will all have different visual experiences of Jesus even if they are all looking at a physically present Jesus at the same time.
So, having “the same experience” of Jesus at the same time does NOT mean having the exact same visual experiences of Jesus at the same time.  What it means is that the people in question have visual experiences of Jesus that we would expect them to have IF Jesus was actually and physically present, given their different points of view.   In other words, we understand that in three-dimensional space, different points of view of actual physically present people or objects produce different visual experiences, but the variations between those different visual experiences coordinate with each other in predictable ways.
 
WHAT DOES “EXTREMELY UNLIKELY” MEAN?
At the very least “Extremely Unlikely” means SIGNIFICANTLY MORE UNLIKELY than events that are just “Very Unlikely”.  But what does “Very Unlikely” mean? and exactly how much MORE unlikely does something have to be in order to be SIGNIFICANTLY MORE UNLIKELY?  In short, the expression “Very Unlikely” and the expression “Extremely Unlikely” are both VAGUE.  Furthermore, it makes a big difference what the precise meanings of these terms are because Kreeft is NOT merely trying to show that the Hallucination Theory is somewhat improbable; he is trying to DISPROVE the Hallucination Theory; he is trying to PROVE it to be FALSE.  One might reasonably argue that the qualified conclusion of the clarified version of Kreeft’s argument is TOO WEAK, given that his goal was to DISPROVE or REFUTE the Hallucination Theory:

A1.  It is very likely that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE.

If “very likely” means, for example, that there is an 80% chance that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE, then Kreeft’s argument is TOO WEAK to be considered a REFUTATION because it leaves open a 20% chance (or one chance in five) that the Hallucination Theory is TRUE.  I would take that as a victory for skepticism.  If each of the four skeptical theories that Kreeft attacks have a 20% chance of being TRUE, then the disjunction of those theories could potentially have an 80% chance of being TRUE!  If there is an 80% chance that either the Hallucination Theory or the Conspiracy Theory or the Apparent Death Theory or the Myth Theory is TRUE, then skepticism about the resurrection is clearly the most reasonable position.
This is why Kreeft and other Christian apologists NEED to REFUTE or DISPROVE each one of the various skeptical theories about the resurrection.  There are a number of skeptical theories (actually many more than Kreeft realizes) and if each skeptical theory has some significant chance of being TRUE, then the disjunction of those skeptical theories can potentially be probable, or even “very likely”.
However, it is NAIVE and UNREASONABLE to expect that any historical argument about alleged events in the life of Jesus (or alleged events related to Jesus’ death) could be PROVEN or KNOWN to be TRUE.  Given the nature of ancient history in general, and the generally poor quality and the limited quantity of historical evidence available about the life (and death) of Jesus, we can only reasonably expect to arrive at conclusions that are PROBABLE, not conclusions that are CERTAIN.  So, Kreeft has a very narrow range of probabilities that will allow him to be successful in his apologetic quest.  Showing that a skeptical theory only has a 20% chance of being true is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!  But he has no reasonable hope of showing that a skeptical theory only has a 1% chance of being TRUE (or a 99% chance of being FALSE).
How close to showing that there is a 99% chance that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE does Kreeft need to get in order to be successful?  Would showing that there is a 90% chance that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE be good enough?  That would mean that there might well be a 10% chance that the Hallucination Theory is TRUE.  Once again, if each of the four skeptical theories has a 10% chance of being true, then that leaves open the possibility that the disjunction of the four skeptical theories that Kreeft rejects has a 40% chance of being TRUE.  That hardly amounts to PROVING that the Christian Theory is TRUE, and so this would NOT be good enough for Kreeft to obtain his apologetic goal.
Thus, Kreeft needs to show that the chance of the Hallucination Theory being FALSE is at least 95% (greater than 90% but less than 99%).   There is NO WAY that the weak dubious evidence available on this subject (mostly from the biblical Gospels) will support such a high level of probability.  I don’t think that ANYONE can even show that there is a 95% chance that Jesus actually existed, so showing that there is a 95% chance that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE is a wild fantasy.
In any case, neither McDowell nor Kreeft give us any indication of what they mean by “very unlikely” or “very likely” or “extremely unlikely” or “extremely likely”.  So, in order to evaluate claims in their arguments that use these terms, we need to make educated guesses (like I’m doing here) about what these terms NEED to mean in order for their apologetic arguments to be successful.
 
WHAT DOES “HALLUCINATION” MEAN? 
In his book The Resurrection Factor, Josh McDowell quotes three different definitions of the word “hallucination” and then provides a similar definition of his own:

…a hallucination is an apparent act of vision for which there is no corresponding external object.   (TRF, 1981 edition, p.84)

This is a fairly BROAD definition of “hallucination” and, although McDowell probably did not realize this, it includes DREAMS.  We have visual experiences when we dream, and “there is no corresponding external object” to the visual experiences of people, animals, and objects that we “see” in our dreams.  So, on McDowell’s definition of “hallucination”, every dream anyone experiences (that involves visual experiences) is a hallucination.
But what does “hallucination” mean to Kreeft?  Unfortunately, because Kreeft’s presentation of his objections against the Hallucination Theory is ridiculously brief, Kreeft provides NO DEFINITION of this key term.  However, since Kreeft appears to have borrowed Objection #1 from Josh McDowell, namely from McDowell’s “Very Personal” objection in The Resurrection Factor, it is reasonable to assume that Kreeft accepts McDowell’s broad definition of “hallucination”, and thus that the term “hallucination” correctly applies to DREAM experiences, as well as to other more typical kinds of hallucinatory experiences, like when a person who has taken LSD and “sees” a fire-breathing dragon is sitting in the middle of a freeway.
McDowell’s definition is, however, clearly wrong because many hallucinations do NOT involve vision or visual experiences.  One of the most common sorts of hallucination is audio, hearing sounds or voices that are not actually present.  But we can easily fix this problem with McDowell’s definition so that it includes other senses besides sight:

An apparent sensory experience S that seems to be of a person or object is a hallucination IF AND ONLY IF
there is no corresponding external object or actual person present during apparent sensory experience S.

This definition is still a broad one that includes DREAMS as being a subset of hallucinations.
As I pointed out when critically evaluating McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory, it is important that “hallucinations” include DREAMS, because if they don’t, then McDowell’s argument for the resurrection of Jesus FAILS.  The same is true of Kreeft’s short and unclear version of McDowell’s “Very Personal” objection.
If “hallucinations” does NOT include DREAMS, then there is a significant skeptical theory that both McDowell and Kreeft have FAILED to address and thus FAILED to refute:  the theory that some disciples of Jesus had a DREAM about Jesus and mistakenly believed that the dream was a real experience of an actually present Jesus who had risen from the dead.  Neither McDowell nor Kreeft explicitly considers such a theory.  So, in order for their cases for the resurrection of Jesus to be successful, their objections against the Hallucination Theory must work against this DREAM theory.
Given that McDowell defined the word “hallucination” in a way that includes DREAMS, his argument ought to apply to the skeptical DREAM theory.  Given that Kreeft presumably accepts McDowell’s definition of “hallucination”, particularly for his “Too Many Witnesses” objection (since that objection was borrowed from McDowell), Kreeft’s Objection #1 (Too Many Witnesses) also ought to apply to the skeptical DREAM theory.
If Kreeft wants to define “hallucination” more narrowly than McDowell, so that it excludes DREAMS, then his case for the resurrection of Jesus will immediately FAIL, because Kreeft has provided no objections against, and thus no refutation of, this skeptical DREAM theory.  So, if Kreeft’s case for the resurrection is to be successful as it stands, then Kreeft NEEDS to define “hallucination” in the broad manner that McDowell did so that DREAMS will count as examples of “hallucinations”.
 
TO BE CONTINUED…
 

bookmark_borderDefending the Hallucination Theory – Part 8: Too Many Witnesses

WHERE WE ARE
In Chapter 8 of his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (co-authored with Ronald Tacelli; hereafter: HCA), Peter Kreeft attempts to disprove the Hallucination Theory, as part of an elimination-of-alternatives argument for the resurrection of Jesus.  Kreeft thinks that by disproving four skeptical theories, he can show that the Christian theory is true, that Jesus actually rose from the dead (see HCA, p.182).  If Kreeft FAILS to disprove the Hallucination Theory, like McDowell FAILED to disprove it (see my series of posts on McDowell’s objections to the Hallucination Theory), then Kreeft’s case for the resurrection of Jesus FAILS.
Kreeft presents fourteen objections against the Hallucination Theory (although his own numbering of the objections ends at Objection #13).  I have divided those objections into five groups, based on key problems or aspects of the objections:

I. The “Witnesses” Objections (Objection #1, #2, and #3)

II.  The Equivocation Objections  (Objection #4 and #5)

III. The Dubious-Hallucination-Principles Objections (Objection #6, #8, #9, and #10)

IV. The Self-Defeating Objections (Objection #7 and #14)

V. The Empty-Tomb Objections (Objection #11, #12, and #13)

I started my critical examination of these objections with the first set, the “Witnesses” Objections, specifically with Objection #2: The Witnesses were Qualified.
In Part 4 of this series of posts, I argued that premise (1a) in the argument constituting Objection #2 is DUBIOUS because it implies 102 historical claims about various people who lived 2,000 years ago, and yet Kreeft provided NO HISTORICAL EVIDENCE in support of ANY of those 102 historical claims.
Six of those historical claims are about Mary Magdalene.  Kreeft’s most important claim about Mary Magdalene is that she had an EXPERIENCE of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  In Part 5 of this series of posts, I argued that the available HISTORICAL EVIDENCE not only FAILS to prove or establish this key historical claim about Mary Magdalene but that a careful and critical examination of the relevant HISTORICAL EVIDENCE indicates that this key historical claim is probably FALSE.
In Part 6 of this series of posts, I pointed out that 66 of the 102 historical claims implied by premise (1a) are about “the eleven” disciples and I argued that we know very little about eight of those eleven disciples so that any attempt to prove the truth of the 48 historical claims Kreeft implies about those eight disciples is doomed to FAILURE.  Thus, most of Kreeft’s historical claims about “the eleven” cannot be shown to be true because there is insufficient HISTORICAL EVIDENCE to rationally evaluate 48 historical claims out of the 66 historical claims that he implies about “the eleven” disciples in premise (1a).
In the light of these serious problems, we are fully justified in REJECTING premise (1a) as being DUBIOUS, and unworthy of belief and acceptance.  Objection #2 FAILS because premise (1a) is DUBIOUS.
In Part 7 of this series of posts, I argued that a key inference in the argument constituting Objection #2 is ILLOGICAL.  Clearly, premise (3b) in the argument constituting Objection #2 does NOT FOLLOW from premise (1a), because (1a) only addresses one KIND of reason why the testimony of a person might be UNWORTHY of our confidence.  Premise (1a) only addresses the possibility of the witness being dishonest or deceptive; it only (at most) eliminates the possibility that the witness is a DECEIVER.  Premise (1a) does NOT eliminate the possibility that the witness was DECEIVED or MISTAKEN concerning his/her experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  Simple, honest, and moral people can be DECEIVED or MISTAKEN, and premise (1a) does NOT rule out ANY of the various potential causes of deception or error.
Because Objection #2 is based on a DUBIOUS premise and also relies on an ILLOGICAL inference,  I concluded that we ought to reject Objection #2 against the Hallucination Theory.

OBJECTION #1: TOO MANY WITNESSES
Kreeft states his first objection against the Hallucination Theory in one paragraph:

(1) There were too many witnesses. Hallucinations are private, individual, subjective. Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the disciples minus Thomas, to the disciples including Thomas, to the two disciples at Emmaus, to the fishermen on the shore, to James (his “brother” or cousin), and even to five hundred people at once (1 Cor 15:3-8).  Even three different witnesses are enough for a kind of psychological trigonometry; over five hundred is about as public as you can wish.  And Paul says in this passage (v. 6) that most of the five hundred are still alive, inviting any reader to check the truth of the story by questioning the eyewitnesses—he could never have done this and gotten away with it, given the power, resources and numbers of his enemies, if it were not true.   (HCA, p. 186-187)

I have used strikethrough text to indicate parts of this paragraph that are concerned with an alleged group of five hundred witnesses of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.  Kreeft has a separate objection concerning those alleged five hundred witnesses (Objection #3: Five Hundred Witnesses), so he is attempting to use that objection TWICE, which is unfair and unreasonable.  I will consider Objection #3 later, but for now, we should ignore Kreeft’s attempt to insert his third objection as part of presenting his first objection.  The strikethrough text should be considered to be part of his presentation of Objection #3, not part of his presentation of  Objection #1.
Because Objection #2 references the “witnesses” previously mentioned in Objection #1, in my analysis and evaluation of Objection #2 I have previously (in Part 4 of this series) spelled out the people that Kreeft is talking about in Objection #1.  I won’t repeat those lists of names here, because we need to clarify Kreeft’s argument first, and later when we evaluate premises about the “witnesses” we will need to spell out who those people were.
 
KREEFT’S ARGUMENT CONSTITUTING OBJECTION #1
Here are some key claims in Kreeft’s argument that constitutes his first objection against the Hallucination Theory:

1. Hallucinations are private, individual, subjective.

THEREFORE:

2. Even three different witnesses are enough for a kind of psychological trigonometry.

3. There were too many witnesses.

THEREFORE:

A. The Hallucination Theory is FALSE.

As with Kreeft’s argument constituting Objection #2,  I have provided the conclusion, based on the context.  This is an objection raised against the Hallucination Theory in order to REFUTE the Hallucination Theory, so the context strongly suggests that the UNSTATED conclusion is that “The Hallucination Theory is FALSE.”
Premise (1) makes three general claims about hallucinations.
Premise (2) asserts a general principle concerning situations where there are at least “three different witnesses” of an alleged event.
Premise (3) asserts a factual or historical claim about the quantity of witnesses who allegedly had an experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus.
Also, as with Kreeft’s argument constituting Objection #2, this argument is ridiculously brief and VERY UNCLEAR.  What does “psychological trigonometry” mean?  Kreeft does not bother to explain or clarify that idea.  Why are there “too many” witnesses?  What constitutes “too many” and why?  How does the subjectivity of hallucinations support premise (2) about “psychological trigonometry”?  Kreeft makes no effort to explain or clarify this messy and confusing argument.
However, I was able to clarify Kreeft’s VERY UNCLEAR argument constituting Objection #2 by referencing the likely source of that objection: a defense of the resurrection of Jesus by Humphrey Ditton, so I will once again identify the likely source of Kreeft’s Objection #1.  That way we can try to make some sense of Kreeft’s VERY UNCLEAR argument above.
It seems fairly clear to me that Kreeft borrowed his Objection #1 from Josh McDowell.  McDowell presents seven objections against the Hallucination Theory in his book The Resurrection Factor (hereafter: TRF) which was originally published by Here’s Life Publishers in 1981, thirteen years before Kreeft published his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Intervarsity Press, 1994).
McDowell’s second objection against the Hallucination Theory is the “Very Personal” objection, and that objection references all three of the concepts in premise (1) of Kreeft’s argument above.  Here is Kreeft’s claim:

1. Hallucinations are private, individual, subjective.

Here are similar statements made by McDowell in presenting his “Very Personal” objection:

…hallucinations are linked to an individual’s subconscious and to his particular past experiences(TRF, p.84, emphasis added)

A “hallucination” is a very private event — a purely subjective experience… (TRF, p.85, emphasis added)

The third premise of Kreeft’s argument is also very similar to statements McDowell makes in his “Very Personal” objection.  Here is Kreeft’s third premise:

3. There were too many witnesses.

Here are similar statements made by McDowell in presenting his “Very Personal” objection:

Christ appeared to many people(TRF, p.84, emphasis added)

The many claimed hallucinations would be a far greater miracle than the miracle of the resurrection. (TRF, p.85, emphasis added)

Premise (2) of Kreeft’s argument focuses on the idea of “three different witnesses” having an experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus, and this can be explained in relation to a key statement that McDowell makes in presenting his “Very Personal” objection.  Here is Kreeft’s second premise:

2. Even three different witnesses are enough for a kind of psychological trigonometry.

Here is a key claim McDowell makes in his “Very Personal” objection that is closely related to Kreeft’s second premise:

…making it very unlikely that more than two persons could have the same hallucination at the same time. (TRF, p.84, emphasis added)

Kreeft has focused on the idea of “three different witnesses” experiencing an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time because that is “more than two persons” having such an experience at the same time, which according to McDowell would be “very unlikely” to occur if these experiences were hallucinations.  Kreeft’s UNCLEAR premise (2) thus appears to be BASED UPON McDowell’s clearer principle concerning hallucinations.
ALL THREE of the key claims in Kreeft’s argument constituting his Objection #1 correspond with statements made by McDowell in the presentation of his “Very Personal” objection against the Hallucination Theory, and  McDowell’s book The Resurrection Factor was published 13 years before Kreeft published Handbook of Christian Apologetics, so it is reasonable to conclude that Kreeft borrowed this objection from McDowell.
 
 
CLARIFICATION OF KREEFT’S ARGUMENT CONSTITUTING OBJECTION #1
If we assume that Kreeft’s Objection #1 is basically a shortened and less clear version of McDowell’s “Very Personal” objection against the Hallucination Theory, then we can make sense out of Kreeft’s VERY UNCLEAR argument:

1. Hallucinations are private, individual, subjective.

THEREFORE:

2a. It is very unlikely that more than two persons could have the same hallucination at the same time.

THEREFORE:

B. IF on multiple occasions more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time, THEN it is extremely unlikely that those experiences on ALL of those occasions were hallucinations.

3a. On multiple occasions more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time.

THEREFORE:

C. It is extremely unlikely that the experiences on ALL of the occasions when more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time were hallucinations.

D. IF it is extremely unlikely that the experiences on ALL of the occasions when more than two persons had the same experience of an alleged appearance of the risen Jesus at the same time were hallucinations, THEN it is very likely that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE.

THEREFORE:

A1.  It is very likely that the Hallucination Theory is FALSE.

Premise (1) is Kreeft’s summary of three key claims made by McDowell in McDowell’s  “Very Personal” objection.
Premise (2a) is McDowell’s claim that apparently was the BASIS for Kreeft’s UNCLEAR premise (2).  So, we can clarify Kreeft’s argument by replacing his UNCLEAR second premise with the clearer related claim from McDowell’s statement of this objection.  Premise (2a) provides the specific “principle” about hallucinations that is essential to this argument.
Premise (B) is an inference from McDowell’s principle to a principle that applies to the circumstances Kreeft has in mind, namely that there are MULTIPLE instances when more than two people had the same experience of an alleged appearance of Jesus at the same time.
Premise (3a) is a significant revision and clarification of Kreeft’s VAGUE and UNCLEAR premise (3), and this clarification is needed so that this key historical premise logically connects with the clarified principle about hallucinations that is asserted in premise (B).  The principle about hallucinations must closely correspond to the historical claim about witnesses to alleged appearances of the risen Jesus so that the logic of the argument will work.
The UNSTATED sub-conclusion (C) is a logical inference from (B) and (3a), and the UNSTATED assumption (D) allows us to infer the desired conclusion (A1), which is a qualified version of our initial interpretation of Kreeft’s UNSTATED conclusion.
Here is a diagram of the logical structure of this argument:

 
 
 
TO BE CONTINUED…