Someone recently sent me a message commenting on one of my blog posts (about time periods in the book of Daniel). They obviously didn’t agree with my conclusions, although they weren’t specific about what they actually disagreed with, and they didn’t give any reasons for why they disagreed. All I know is, I am wrong – apparently.
However, they did leave me with one piece of advice: “Do your own research.”
I’m not sure what to do with this useful piece of advice. I have been reading the Bible since I learned to read; I studied for eight years full-time to obtain two University degrees in Biblical Studies (a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours majoring in Classical Hebrew and Biblical Studies, and a PhD [Doctor of Philosophy] in Hebrew Bible; I have a pretty good academic book collection of my own and access to extensive theological and biblical libraries; and I spend hours almost every day studying and researching the Bible. By the way, a PhD is a “research degree” which means I spent four years doing little else besides researching. I’ve also taught apocalyptic literature (mainly Daniel and Revelation) at University, which means I’ve had to do a fair bit of research on the specific subject of that post in order to meet the demanding requirements of the faculty as well as students. By “research” I mean reading academic books and peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals as well as carefully reading the biblical texts in the original languages.
I don’t know what further research I need to do to satisfy my (anonymous) critic. My gut feeling is that I have probably done more research than they have, but if that’s not the case (and I will give them the benefit of the doubt and accept they may be more qualified than I am) it would have been helpful if they could at least steer me in the right direction. I’m guessing, however, that “do your own research” means to them that I should do a Google search and then look for the dodgiest websites I can find – you know the ones I mean, the ones that don’t provide any actual evidence for their claims and which aren’t backed by any independant research of their own – and I should simply accept their unsubstantiated conclusions (typically written without any regard for good grammar or comprehensible syntax).
Oh, I mentioned that the comment was anonymous. I put my name to everything I post here and on social media. I’m not embarrassed to have my name and my ideas linked together. I never criticise anyone anonymously. If I disagree with them I hope that healthy dialogue will lead to one, or both, of us learning something, and you can’t do that by hiding behind anonymity. In my view (although my opinion doesn’t really count for much with my critic), “do your own research” is just the lazy way of saying “I really don’t have any persuasive evidence myself, and I lack the skills to find the evidence and present it to you; I don’t do any real research myself, but I’m sure if you search the internet you’ll find someone as crazy as me who will present a lengthy (if incoherent) case for my preconceived and unsubstantiated opinions.” Ok, I don’t have time to search the internet for that kind of rubbish – I’m too busy doing real research!
One last piece of advice for my anonymous critic: if you “do your own research” and Google “do your own research” you will come across plenty of good ideas on how to actually do your own research!