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Monday, May 22, 2006

Da Vinci Code - Fish in a Barrel!

One of my commenters can sometimes be a real bonehead. Here is one example -

"I believe Dan Brown simply because he writes better fiction than radar(fewer contradictions aswell)."

This is stupid, in part because he has yet to read any of my works of fiction and therefore has no idea if there would be contradictions found within. But the stupid multiplies when anyone says, 'I believe Dan Brown.' This is because Dan Brown's best-selling work of fiction is so full of mistakes and bad research and impossible claims it is hard to know where to start.

Fiction, not fact

Dan Brown's works are listed as fiction and found in the fiction sections of bookstores and best-seller lists. However, within the Da Vinci Code he claims to include all sorts of truth. So let us take a look, using DVC as the abbreviation for the work going forward to save time and space.

How The Da Vinci Code Doesn't Work

The above is a great and thorough post about various glaring errors in DVC. How could Brown be so careless as to not even know that the restrooms in the Louvre don't even HAVE windows? Among other errors about the painting that Sophie uses to ward off the police (besides the fact that it is actually found in a different gallery) is that it is too tall for her to see over and also weighs more than 300 pounds so that she could not just pick it up and wave it around. The DVC is full of such careless errors.

But this kind of error is classified as a plot mistake/blooper. The dozens of such mistakes show us that quality control is not part of Brown's methodology. But what about the great truths he is purporting to uncover?

The Last Supper

First of all, it is actually a tempura rather than a fresco. Secondly, it doesn't depict the scene in which Jesus offers up the wine as his blood. It depicts the moment where he reveals that there is a traitor among the 12. Leonardo's notes and the style of painting of that era help us to understand that the person to Jesus' right was intended by Leonardo to represent John, not a woman at all. The "disembodied hand" actually belongs to Peter.

Brown gets a lot of things wrong about Leonardo, calling him Da Vinci when he was not known in that way during his lifetime. That would be like calling Ben Franklin "Of Philadelphia" or Jesus "Of Nazareth." Leonardo was not the prolific painter Brown claims, most often abandoning paintings before completion. He was apparently most interested in inventing things rather than producing them and probably spent more time as an itenerant machine-and-weapons designer than he did a painter during the time he was an adult. He was a genius but quite mercurial, not the kind of man chosen to lead a secret organization for one minute. The Mona Lisa was actually never named by Leonardo himself and since chroniclers believed that the painting was of a Lisa Gherardini, and since the Italian for 'my lady' is mona, they named the painting Mona Lisa.

The Priory of Sion

The Priory of Sion was a fictional organization, intended perhaps to be a political force but later becoming a hoax perpetrated by Pierre Plantard. Invented in 1956, the documents used by Brown to promote their existence are obvious fakes made in the 20th century on two different typewriters. Plantard later admitted under oath that he had made up the whole thing.

Brown does bring in two actual organizations, the Knights Templar and Opus Dei. The Knights were actually crusaders who defended the pilgrims in Jerusalem and in journeys to and from Jerusalem and fought against the Muslim invaders who for a time threatened to overrun Europe. His assertions about their chapels and cathedrals and continued existence are full of errors. Opus Dei is an organization that in some ways resembles a cult and is concerned with adherence to holiness and their view of scripture with absolutely no apparent connections to Mary Magdalene, the Knights Templar or any searches for Holy Grails.

The Bloodline

It is asserted that Mary Magdalene came to France, with the daughter of Jesus, to escape being hunted down and killed by the pro-Peter camp of Christianity. There they married into a French line known as the Merovingians, who ruled in France from 476-751 AD. The Merovingians supposedly were now the descendants of Mary and Jesus' daughter.

In fact, DNA testing was done on the remains of one of the last Merovingians recently and compared to the DNA of people who were descendants of the Magdalenes. The Merovingian DNA was typical of European stock, with no resemblance to the Mediterranean code that would have indicated at least some Semetic blood.

But of course, the assertions that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and produced a child are completely fictional with no basis in fact at all. None. Any assertions made by Brown on this matter are false (such as the idea that there is a record of the marriage of Jesus).

Bible and Bible-related claims

This will probably require another post, since:

A) The Suns-Clipper game is now in the 4th quarter and I want to go back and watch.
B) They didn't give me enough anti-biotics, my illness returned full-force and I am exhausted. I have new pills, so there is hope.
C) I want to check out the feedback to this post to see if there are actually any DVC true believers out there.

28 comments:

highboy said...

Refuting The Da Vinci Code is so easy all you have to do is type "Refute the Da Vinci Code" into Google and watch the wealth of information. Good luck with those pills.

A Hermit said...

It's fiction. Get over it...

If oyu like conspiracy stories and intrigue with secret organizations and ancient codes read Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. It's a much better book, with a really surprise ending...

A Mysterious Hermit

creeper said...

"In fact, DNA testing was done on the remains of one of the last Merovingians recently and compared to the DNA of people who were descendants of the Magdalenes. The Merovingian DNA was typical of European stock, with no resemblance to the Mediterranean code that would have indicated at least some Semetic blood."

Could you point us to this study?

Anonymous said...

Although's Foucault's Pendulum is not nearly as good a trashy airport thriller; it takes just too much brainpower . . .

I have to try to read it again - didn't quite make it through.

The Eight was fun, if not quite at the same level . . .

"and compared to the DNA of people who were descendants of the Magdalenes. "
This has me rather confused. Are these people who claim descent from Mary M.?

"The Ballad of Mary Magdalene" - good song:

My name is Mary Magdalene
I come from Palestine
Please excuse these rags I'm in
I've fallen on hard times
But long ago I had my work
When I was in my prime
But I gave it up
And all for love
It was his career or mine
"

If perhaps not to everyone's musical or theological taste . .

A Hermit said...

"I have to try to read it again - didn't quite make it through."

OK, I won't give away the ending then. But you'll be really surprised when the helicopter crashes....
.
.
.
.
I may have said too much...

A Mischevious Hermit

radar said...

"Some claim that Jesus and Mary Magdelene were married and had a daughter, Sarah, who fled Egypt to France and married into the Merovingian royal bloodline. Recent mitochondrial DNA tests on the remains of Merovingian Queen Aregonde were inconclusive, but failed to show any markers that have been traced to Middle Eastern people who would have lived during the time of Christ."

From ‘Da Vinci’ prompts ‘Da bate’ on news-tribune.com

"Inconclusive" refers to the fact that they only were able to test from one location on the body and to be conclusive they would test from two. The researchers were able to find viable DNA only from the foot of the corpse. The DNA tester, however, was confident of the results as published, that the body was that of someone of European heritage and not including Semetic markers.

There was a History Channel "Digging for the Truth" broadcast in which the tester was interviewed.

creeper said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
highboy said...

"It's fiction. Get over it..."

Tell that to Dan Brown. He's the one telling the world its based on real evidence.

creeper said...

I don't find the nitpicking about GPS devices and toilet windows in DVC particularly relevant - that's entirely poetic licence.

I really like the movie 'Witness', and when I went to 30th St. Station in Philly (hi Dan! -- and Highboy, at a bit of a distance), I went and sipped the water from the same tap that you see at the beginning of the movie, then went into the men's room in which the murder takes place - and doggone it, the whole place is completely different!

(And no, I did this within a year or two of the movie being shot, and it wasn't a brand new change then. They just cut to a movie set. And that's not really remarkable, the same way it doesn't matter one iota whether the toilet in the Louvre has a window, or where the paintings are in relation to each other. Why Radar should bring up such trivial knowledge after pronouncing that Dan Brown "claims to include all sorts of truth" is something I don't understand - surely Dan Brown didn't claim to be truthful about the placement of toilet windows and such.)

Hey, it is fiction. But that's one layer of DVC, it's a simple thriller - in some cases too simple. The part that bugged me to no end when reading it was the bit where they have two supposed Da Vinci experts in a room trying to figure out some supposed code, and they're looking at this thing and they can't figure it out... and in the end it turns out that the thing was written in reverse.

That's where that book completely lost me.

One of the things Da Vinci is quite famous for is having written his notebooks in reverse, ie. to be read in a mirror.

And there are two DV experts looking at this thing.

DV experts being people who spent considerable amounts of time looking at his writing in reverse or at least being aware that it was written in reverse...

And they can't figure it out.

And it's because it's written in reverse...

???

Was he really that desperate to make that plot point happen?

It's commonly said that the first half of DVC (the book) is a tautly written thriller, but the second half lets it down. I agree with that, and I'm not too concerned about whether that toilet actually has a window or whatever.

But that's not really the focus of the religious types when they focus on DVC. I read "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" (which is what the controversial aspects of DVC are based on, AFAIK) some time in the 90's and thought it was fun, similar to "Fingerprints of the Gods", though I wasn't, I suppose, obsessed enough with the subject to really dig into it, the way one does on occasion with these (quite enjoyable) online discussions.

P.S. Radar: get well. I've been in places like that, and it dang well stinks. One thinks one can just power through these things, but it ain't always the case. Get thee to the nearest bed for a couple of days. You need it.

creeper said...

"Tell that to Dan Brown. He's the one telling the world its based on real evidence."

1. Is he claiming all of it is based on real evidence?

Unlikely.

2. Have all the parts he is likely referring to been conclusively refuted?

Jeffahn said...

radar,

You couldn't be more wrong. DVC is 100% authentic. We know this because parts of it are easily verified as true, therefore you *have* to accept that it is all true.

So???

highboy said...

"We know this because parts of it are easily verified as true,"

Proof? Unless you're being sarcastic. Nothing this guy has said has been proven. Nor real historians or scholars give him support. There has always been a handful or a sect that have held this ridiculous theory of his, but that is hardly evidence.

Jeffahn said...

highboy,

You're both wrong and right. Or is that right and left? Straight and...anyways, you only need to have certain facts or aspects of a story proven true in order to claim that the whole story is true. And only one story needs to be proven true in this way to make the stories written to accompany the original story true. You can even prove preceeding stories true in this way, as well as stories written hundereds of years later by people who claim to have seen the actual events. You can also delete/add/modify the stories to suit your particular purposes. Quoting selectively is also a useful tactic; and if people then start pointing out contradictions in what you are attempting to convey, then you can just claim that they just aren't interpreting correctly.

creeper said...

"Nothing this guy has said has been proven."

I've been to the Louvre, and it does indeed have that glass pyramid thingy that Dan Brown talks about. I would consider this aspect of the DVC book to be absolutely true, without question. Anyone who wants to disprove it, get down to the Louvre and see for yourself.

Using Radar's recent logic in other discussions, this is enough to demonstrate that the rest of Dan Brown's writings are also literally true.

Anonymous said...

The 30th St. Station bathroom is just kind of weird. I suspect there's been a lot of rejiggering of spaces as time has gone by, but maybe they just built it that way . . .

In a way, DVC's Opus Dei fixation is sort of a weird, less serious, fictional offshoot of the genre that includes Maria Monk's Awful Disclosures - the horrible, horrible things that go on in Catholic nunneries! - and various anti-Masonic accounts - the horrible, horrible things that go on in Masonic rituals! - all tied together with the whole secret powerful evil group out to undermine all that's good bit.

Weird.

-Dan S/

creeper said...

""Inconclusive" refers to the fact that they only were able to test from one location on the body and to be conclusive they would test from two. The researchers were able to find viable DNA only from the foot of the corpse. The DNA tester, however, was confident of the results as published, that the body was that of someone of European heritage and not including Semetic markers."

It's also inconclusive on another and much more significant level: they used mitochondrial DNA testing, which only tests the maternal bloodline. All it shows is that Queen Aregonde's ancestors only on her mother's side in every generation (i.e. her mother, her mother's mother, her mother's mother's mother etc.) were not semitic.

In other words, if Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a daughter, that daughter had a son (with a non-semitic mate), and that son had a daughter, you would already not see semitic markers in the offspring's mitochondrial DNA.

So this doesn't back up at all what Radar would like to think it backs up.

highboy said...

You guys are making a point, but it went over my head. Or I missed something.

creeper said...

Correction:

"In other words, if Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a daughter, that daughter had a son (with a non-semitic mate), and that son had a daughter, you would already not see semitic markers in the offspring's mitochondrial DNA."

should read

"In other words, if Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a daughter, that daughter had a son, and that son had a daughter (with a non-semitic mate), you would already not see semitic markers in the offspring's mitochondrial DNA."

cranky old fart said...

Guys,

Compliments on the sarcasm, even if Highboy doesn't seem to get the obvious.

xiangtao said...

I've noticed that highboy seems to have a knack for not getting sarcasm.

highboy said...

"You can even prove preceeding stories true in this way, as well as stories written hundereds of years later by people who claim to have seen the actual events. You can also delete/add/modify the stories to suit your particular purposes. Quoting selectively is also a useful tactic; and if people then start pointing out contradictions in what you are attempting to convey, then you can just claim that they just aren't interpreting correctly."

Do you have proof of these things actually happening, or are you just assuming? In regards to the Bible I mean.

"You can also delete/add/modify the stories to suit your particular purposes."

Proof?

"Quoting selectively is also a useful tactic;"

Something atheists are quite good at, especially when trying in vain to discredit the Bible.

"and if people then start pointing out contradictions"

I don't know, hasn't happened yet. I've only read people "selectively quoting" without taking the whole book into account.

creeper said...

Radar,

"It is asserted that Mary Magdalene came to France, with the daughter of Jesus, to escape being hunted down and killed by the pro-Peter camp of Christianity. There they married into a French line known as the Merovingians, who ruled in France from 476-751 AD. The Merovingians supposedly were now the descendants of Mary and Jesus' daughter.

In fact, DNA testing was done on the remains of one of the last Merovingians recently and compared to the DNA of people who were descendants of the Magdalenes. The Merovingian DNA was typical of European stock, with no resemblance to the Mediterranean code that would have indicated at least some Semetic blood."


Can I take it from your silence that you are conceding that the second paragraph above does not disprove the first?

creeper said...

Hey guys,

every quote is selective. It's quoting it out of a context that would alter its meaning that is significant.

radar said...

Radar,

"It is asserted that Mary Magdalene came to France, with the daughter of Jesus, to escape being hunted down and killed by the pro-Peter camp of Christianity. There they married into a French line known as the Merovingians, who ruled in France from 476-751 AD. The Merovingians supposedly were now the descendants of Mary and Jesus' daughter.

In fact, DNA testing was done on the remains of one of the last Merovingians recently and compared to the DNA of people who were descendants of the Magdalenes. The Merovingian DNA was typical of European stock, with no resemblance to the Mediterranean code that would have indicated at least some Semetic blood."

Can I take it from your silence that you are conceding that the second paragraph above does not disprove the first?


No.

The lab analyst stated that the two were not related. I will go with the DNA experts unless someone brings in new evidence to disprove.

radar said...

"Nothing this guy has said has been proven."

I've been to the Louvre, and it does indeed have that glass pyramid thingy that Dan Brown talks about. I would consider this aspect of the DVC book to be absolutely true, without question. Anyone who wants to disprove it, get down to the Louvre and see for yourself.

Using Radar's recent logic in other discussions, this is enough to demonstrate that the rest of Dan Brown's writings are also literally true.


Point one. The pyramid has over 700 panes of glass, not 666. That is the point concerning Dan Brown being wrong about the pyramid. Heck, Dan Brown can be proven to be wrong about pretty much everything he asserts.

Point two. That logic you mention must be yours, since it is not mine. Nice try. Not.

creeper said...

"The lab analyst stated that the two were not related. I will go with the DNA experts unless someone brings in new evidence to disprove."

The lab analyst did not jump to the conclusion that you would like to see confirmed, namely that DNA tests disprove that "the Merovingians supposedly were now the descendants of Mary and Jesus' daughter".

Did you read my earlier comment about mitochondrial DNA? Care to respond?

"That logic you mention must be yours, since it is not mine. Nice try. Not."

No, it was a sarcastic parody of your ongoing "fallacy of compositions" logic regarding the literal veracity of all parts of the Bible, as concluded from some factual support for some parts of the Bible. By the same logic I could conclude from seeing that Dan Brown truthfully stated that that glass pyramid is there in front of the Louvre that everything else in his book must be literally true as well.

But I will not conclude that, since I recognize that that would be a fallacy.

It is your logic, Radar, only exaggerated so that perhaps the point will come across.

Katherine319 said...

All i have to say is that i do not believe anything that Dan Brown says. I believe that Dan Brown is putting a lot of history (such as art, churches, etc.) just to make people believe him. The Da Vinci Code is fiction and a lie. It's also making people change their minds in their beliefs. It's an antichrist movie and as you can see, i'm against it. Sorry for writing like this but i really dont like The Da Vinci Code.

creeper said...

Radar, make sure you blogroll Katherine's collection of posts. They're just parody, but very good parody.

By the way, did you have a chance to think about this mitochondrial DNA business? Any thoughts?