Field of Science

Paper analyzes a case of fever in the Bible

If you haven't already seen it, go to Science Blogs and read all about the (piece of*) paper published in Virology Journal (Impact Factor 2.44) about a case of fever in the Bible. Jesus cured the fever, and the authors conclude it was was an influenza-like illness. The paper is free, and can be found here. Abstract:
The Bible describes the case of a woman with high fever cured by our Lord Jesus Christ. Based on the information provided by the gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, the diagnosis and the possible etiology of the febrile illness is discussed. Infectious diseases continue to be a threat to humanity, and influenza has been with us since the dawn of human history. If the postulation is indeed correct, the woman with fever in the Bible is among one of the very early description of human influenza disease.
The big question is why this kind of "analysis" has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Beats me.

* The whole paper is just about one page.

Important update 8/11:
The paper has been retracted, according to the Editor-in-Chief of Virology Journal. See comment below.


  1. My guess was the Virology wanted to get some mainstream media nods... but I Googled and nada. Only ScienceBlogs' panning of the paper.

    Strange. You'd think Fox News would be all over this.

  2. Robert F. Garry, PhDAugust 11, 2010 10:12 AM

    As Editor-in-Chief of Virology Journal I wish to apologize for the publication of the article entitled ''Influenza or not influenza: Analysis of a case of high fever that happened 2000 years ago in Biblical time”, which clearly does not provide the type of robust supporting data required for a case report and does not meet the high standards expected of a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Virology Journal has always operated an exceptionally high standard of thorough peer review; this article has clearly not met these thresholds for balance and supporting data and as such, the article will be retracted. I should like to apologize for any confusion or concern that this article may have caused among our readership, or more widely.

    Whilst only ever intended as an opinion piece and also a bit of relief from the ‘normal’ business of the journal, the speculations contained within this article clearly would be better expressed outside the confines of a peer-reviewed journal. Biomed Central does not support any views outlined in this article.

  3. I believe the atheists MUST be investigated because of their METHODS to target and attack medical journals.

    The ODDS that atheism was NOT the 'deciding factor' here and the 'coincidental' "enthusiasm for retraction" .. ?

    "One of the blogs that brought the paper to notice was This Scientific Life, by Bob O'Hara."

    "Blag Hag: A large list of awesome female atheists

    -5:24am 3 Jan 2010 ... Bob O'Hara said... Grrlscientist is also an atheist and blogger. I think she's awesome. But then I did marry her, so I might be biased."

    " Kam L.E. Hon from the Department of Paediatrics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was astonished" the article had produced such a negative response since it was only intended for thought provocation."

    "He said he would never to write this kind of article again."

    THAT smacks of cyberbullying.

    In Scientific circles that is unlawful.


  4. Ironjustice, I really can't see that this is cyberbullying at all. The paper was clearly not suited for the journal, and something went wrong in peer-review. The fact that it was exposed with help of the internet doesn't make any of it unlawful.

  5. Wait, even if we buy his premise, since when is "cyberbullying" "unlawful" "in scientific circles"? What law are we even talking about?

    Not that I buy into the premise, but still...

  6. This is the REASON 'why' this is unlawful. IF one fails to disclose 'conflict of interests' IN the removal of an article by a medical journal BY 'commanding the dogs of war to attack / influence' ..
    This snip below explains it.
    It is my somewhat feeble attempt to discover the drive behind the person who wrote to the journal and had the article removed AND 'what' type of influence was used to break the record of removal of an article from a medical journal.
    IF a person is a medical professor of a University and uses his influence AS a scientist WITHOUT disclosing conflict of interest then it becomes unlawful.
    IF he was JUST an atheist but not an **activist atheist** then it would not be a conflict of interest but when one is an **activist** it becomes a CONFLICT OF INTEREST.


    The influencing of medical journals is becoming an issue.

    Would / could anyone tell me whether the Paul Gray who complained to Virology is the same Paul Gray who is a member of this list and posted the comments below ?

    Rare Look Inside Bible Belt Classroom

    Jump to comment 10 by Paul Gray

    These children are victims, the product of religious child abuse, and they should be pitied. It's obvious that they have been taught to regurgitate what a priest has fed them without subjecting it to any critical thought, garbage in, garbage out.

    Permalink Flag Comment Saturday, 03 July 2010 at 5:54 AM | #485951

    Paul Gray (11 August 2010) Washington University School of Medicine

    The content of this "case report" aside, it is unclear how this case report meets any of the normal standards of a scientific article or the minimal standards of any journal other than someone actually paid to have it published.

    According to the Journal's Instructions for Authors

    "Case reports submissions will be assessed by the Editors and will be sent for peer review if considered appropriate for the journal."

    I would like to know whether the editor actually read this submission and decided that no peer review was necessary.

    I had my qualms about BioMedCentral journals and this only makes then stronger.

    Competing interests

    None declared

    QuotePermalink Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 9:34 AM | #503852
    Comment 25 by ironjustice
    Paul Gray failed to declare his conflict of interest.

    "A misdemeanor, such as hiding a conflict of interest, can be as devastating as wholesale fabrication of data."

    One can see Paul Gray is an atheist.

    Many of the other MEDICAL atheist activists did not declare conflict of interest.

    Cyberbullied and disgraced four scientists.

    "Exploring scientific misconduct This paper was written by a student for a senior seminar on Science in Society at Bryn Mawr College. It's made available, with the student's permission, as a contribution to ongoing discussion of issues at the interface between science and the wider society of which it is a part.

    It's All the Little Things:

    How Misdemeanors in Scientific Misconduct are as Bad as Fabrication and Falsification

    Elena Plionis

    December 2007"


    At the heart of all scientific misconduct is distortion of truth. There is a spectrum of misconduct, ranging in degree of ill intent and consciousness involved. However, the consequences of an infraction will not always equal the infraction’s magnitude on this scale. As a result, a misdemeanor, such as hiding a conflict of interest, can be as devastating as wholesale fabrication of data."

  7. This is one of the comments which led to the removal of the article. If you will notice she uses her position at the University in her comment but fails to declare her 'conflict of interest' which is she is an activist atheist.

    Comment by: Dr Rosemary Redfield, University of British Columbia
    Title: This is not science.
    This paper in no way qualifies as science. It doesn't even qualify even as a case report, because the authors have no personal experience of this case. They basically say that, if their assumption that the woman had influenza is correct, then their conclusion that she was cured is justified.
    The citations are also disgraceful. The authors cite only the bible, a web page about temperature measurements, and themselves (seven times!).
    If BioMed Central hopes to build a reputation as a home for serious science then they need to first withdraw this paper and then have some serious discussions with this journal's editor.
    Competing interests:

  8. Dr. Paul Gray emailed me and said he did not post the comment as to religion in schools. I didn't ask him whether he was religious or an atheist or an agnostic. The 'implication' still stands though as to the rabid response elicited by a 'provocative' speculative medical article reviewed by well educated men.

    Atheist influences.
    "Bob O'Hara (BobOH) wrote:
    Yay! Feel the power of the blogosphere. I saw this story tweeted by @enniscath. So I blogged it (on This Scientific Life), and Tara Smith blogged it, and then PZed Myers linked back. So the whole thing exploded, and caused the retraction."

    "August-12-10 4:48:06 PM
    Cath Ennis (enniscath) on Twitter16 Aug 2010 ... British-Canadian scientist, blogger, grant wrangler, godless lefty."

    "The Evolution Academic Freedom Act HF 183 introduced Feb. 3 by Rod Roberts (R-Carroll) has come under attack by the infamous gang of three, namely Hector Avalos, of Iowa State University; and James W. Demostes and Tara C. Smith, of the University of Iowa.
    HF 183 states that college and high school teachers often suffer discrimination or punishment for questioning evolution. The gang of three, who are godless atheists, want to push their agenda on the teachers and students at our schools and universities."

    PZed Myers - "godless liberal"

  9. Okay, so first of all, failure to declare a legitimate conflict of interest is not unlawful. It is unethical and can get you censured, but there is no law that governs it. I'm sorry to make such a sticking point of this, but it's a very bizarre thing that you are saying. It would be like if LeBron James fouled somebody in a basketball game and the refs failed to call it, and I started saying, "He broke the law! He broke the law!" That's just silly.

    (Perhaps you were confused by Elena Plionis' reference to failure to disclose CofI as a "misdemeanor". She meant it in the context of it being a minor offense, or at least what is perceived to be a minor offense -- see definition 1 here. She did not mean it was literally a chargeable misdemeanor!)

    Second of all, conflicts of interest in this context apply primarily to things such as monetary or academic ties -- is there a potential that you finances or your career could be influenced by the paper in question? They do not tend to apply to a scientist's personal opinions, because... well, then everybody would have a conflict of interest about everything!

    "I believe that study X does not support the reported conclusions, because they failed to control for such-and-such a variable.
    Competing interests: I believe that study X does not support the reported conclusions."

  10. Quote: They do not tend to apply to a scientist's personal opinions, because... well, then everybody would have a conflict of interest about everything!
    Answer: IF it was ANYTHING but a **medical journal** and you are NOT as I specified an **activist** AND not a person in a 'scientific position' THEN the comments need not be FULLY HONEST but when the comment section SPECIFICALLY asks for conflicts of interest to BE 'stated' THEN the ethics of the commentor come into question. Since the commentor is an **evolutionary scientist** AND activist atheist the mere fact she finds it NOT unethical calls into question her ability to discern between right and wrong. Imho.

  11. Stop ending all of your comments with "Imho." as an isolated sentence. It's a silly affectation. Yes I know it's your opinion. (Clearly it's not factual!) I use IMHO occasionally on a specific sentence, if I want to qualify that I think that particular point I am making is more subjective than the rest of the paragraph/comment/essay/whatever. But putting it at the end of every comment is just silly.

    Anyway, at this point we'd just be repeating ourselves. I find it odd that you use the term "atheist activist", like it's a boolean attribute that you either have or you don't. You would be correct if the scientist in question were a board member of an organization that campaigned to keep religion out of science journals -- that would be a conflict of interest involving "atheist activism". But just having an opinion? I don't get it.

    If a scientist writes a commentary condemning religious opposition to embryonic stem cell research, should they have to declare: "Potential conflicts: I am a proponent of embryonic stem cell research."? It seems redundant.

  12. Quote: Stop ending all of your comments with "Imho."
    Answer: How about I just tell you to stfu. You TELL me .. dck .. understand ? The **activist atheist** evidenced here is one who creates evolutionary courses IN ORDER TO make SURE her students are introduced to evolution BECAUSE she KNOWS they come from "creationist" backgrounds.
    She speaks to relishing the fact she introduces courses per the AGENDA of evolutionary atheists. By not including her conflict of interest WHEN SPECIFICALLY ASKED FOR evidences either a lack of UNDERSTANDING what ETHICS / morals are or she DOES understand what ethics / MORALS are and CHOOSES to have none. Imho.
    "lacking a “moralizing god”"

  13. So your definition of an "atheist activist" (with the accompanying requirement to state that as a conflict of interest) is someone who thinks that students ought to understand the only scientifically accepted theory of the origin of life?

    That's fucking retarded. Imho.


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