BRIEF REPORTS
INVESTIGATOR MAGAZINE 142 (2012 January) to 148 (2013 January)

INVESTIGATOR 142

THE RAPTURE  A NON-EVENT

In #139 John H Williams reported: "Saturday 21/5/2011 brought no rapturous joy to fundamentalists…" (p31)

The Harold Camping ministry had predicted May 21 for the "rapture" when all good Christians get whisked off this planet by the angels, leaving everyone else behind to suffer "the great tribulation".

Harold Camping supporters handed out pamphlets all over America and Europe.

When events proved Camping wrong he set a new date — October 21.

Williams was unconvinced: “If only those who were taken in about being taken up could have somehow developed a modicum of scepticism. Some will go through it all again on October 22nd."

Camping was again wrong, and Williams again correct.

INVESTIGATOR 146

BAYES' RULE

Investigator
readers were introduced to Bayes’ Theorem in #133 in connection with calculating the probability that miracles have occurred.

A book about the Theorem was published in 2011 titled The Theory That Would Not Die (Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, Yale University Press).

A review of the book in The Weekend Australian Magazine states that Bayes’ Rule is: "the one-line theorem that says by updating initial beliefs with objective new information, a new and improved belief emerges. It makes such intuitive sense it’s hard to imagine that … statisticians dismissed the rule as subjective rubbish for 150 years…  The rule works everywhere probabilistic reasoning is important, from decoding DNA to filtering spam." (November 26-27, 2011, p. 25)

A more formal explanation appears in A Dictionary of Philosophy (1979):

The theorem published posthumously in 1763 by Thomas Bayes (1702-61), giving an expression for the probability of a hypothesis, h, if some evidence, e, is added to antecedent knowledge, a. The theorem states that the probability of h relative to e & a is equal to the probability of h relative to a multiplied by the probability of e relative to h & a, and divided by the probability of e relative to a. This means that evidence improbable antecedently, but likely to obtain if the hypothesis is true, raises the probability of a hypothesis most. The application of the theorem can be controversial, since it is often unclear how assignments of antecedent probabilities are justified. (p. 36)

INVESTIGATOR 148

GREAT WALL FROM SPACE

The claim is still heard that the Great Wall of China is visible from Space. Last century it was even sometimes claimed that the Great Wall is the only man-made structure visible to the naked eye from the Moon.

New Scientist, however, reports that most of the Great Wall is only 3 metres wide and "the naked eye can only spot a 10-square-metre object up to 36 kilometres away." (2012, March 17, p16) Google satellite pictures of Earth’s surface confirm that from a great height the Great Wall cannot be seen.

Therefore if you want see the Great Wall don't go to Space, go to China.

CHRISTIANITY — THE TOP TEN

Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey, author of 37 books, has now written A Short History of Christianity (2011). A report about Blainey and his latest book in The Weekend Australian (2011 October 29-30) included a list of the “Top Ten Christian Nations”.

The Top Ten of Everything 2006 (2005) by Russell Ash has a similar list of “Top 10 Largest Christian Populations”.

Here are the two lists with Christian-population estimates to the nearest million:

 The Top Ten (2005) Blainey (2011) 1 USA                    255 USA                    245 2 Brazil                  168 Brazil                  175 3 China                  114 Mexico                105 4 Mexico                103 Russia                100 5 Russia                  84 Philippines            90 6 Philippines            75 Nigeria                  75 7 India                      70 Dem. Rep. Congo 65 8 Nigeria                  63 China                    60 9 Germany               62 Italy                       55 10 Dem. Rep. Congo 55 Ethiopia                 53