“No human phenomenon is visible from space, at least not at this point in world history.”
Memphis, January 24 – Credulous inhabitants of Pharaoh’s kingdom continue to maintain that the dramatic departure of the Israelite slave population from the country could be observed from outer space, local sources report.
Social observers and skeptics bemoaned the disturbing phenomenon in Egyptian media in a series of articles this month, giving voice to their dismay that such an advanced society still harbors primitive, uncritical thinking, and too readily accepts urban legends as fact.
“We have progressed so far since the Mesopotamians introduced astrology,” wrote veteran hieroglyph skeptic James Randi. “Our civilization can only be held back by the silliness our people betray each time some amazing new ‘discovery’ occurs. They must have had their brains addled by the so-called ‘plagues’ they experienced. No human phenomenon is visible from space, at least not at this point in world history. Anyone who claims otherwise is a charlatan.”
Other advocates of critical thinking seconded Randi’s concerns. “Ever since that Moses character came along, with his staff-serpent shenanigans and his turning water into blood, we’ve had or hands full with people reporting or believing ‘supernatural’ events,” remarked Phil Plait, who runs the Bad Astronomer series of monoliths. “So of course the culture is now primed to believe almost anything – certainly the seemingly plausible idea that a mass of millions of people could be visible from miles up in the sky. The problem is we’ve no way to test those ideas, and people just kind of accept them because they sound right and resonate, but not because there’s anything empirical to back them up.”
Randi has devoted the last several months to replicating Moses’s “plagues” by non-supernatural means, and has already succeeded in replicating a water-to-blood technique and a trick that involves the sudden appearance of numerous frogs. “The big challenge with both of them is the scale of things,” he explained. “I have no problem turning water into something that looks like blood, but to have the whole Nile do that takes resources I don’t have at my disposal. The frog thing is just a reverse rabbit-in-a-Pharaonic-headdress technique, again, with the issue of scale still unaddressed. I’m confident that with enough time and contemplation I could come up with explanations for Moses’s command of lice, wild beasts, pestilence, boils, fiery ice hail, locust swarms, darkness, and the simultaneous deaths of all Egyptian firstborns.”
The prominent debunker of the supernatural admitted that with reports coming in about pillars of fire and cloud, and of the Sea of Reeds splitting long enough to allow the escaping Israelites through but crashing in on the pursuing Egyptian cavalry, he would be unlikely to have either the time or an audience for replicating feats that pale in comparison.
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