In my post on Returning Once Again to the Names in the Talpiot Tomb, I had attempted to explain that one of the difficulties for the claim that Talpiot Tomb A belonged to the family of Jesus was that names that correlate with early Christian texts are celebrated while names that do not correlate are ignored. It is a kind of cherry-picking of the data. Paul Regnier then commented:
There is simply no evidence that Jesus was married, or had children, or more specifically that he had a son named Judas. As mentioned above, you can't draw attention to matches with the NT record and ignore non-matches. Focusing on a piece of data that does fit a theory and ignoring the pieces of evidence that do not fit has a name - it's called the Texas sharpshooter fallacy.Daniel McRaney explains on his website You Are Not So Smart: A Celebration of Self-Delusion why it is called The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy:
The fallacy gets its name from imagining a cowboy shooting at a barn. Over time, the side of the barn becomes riddled with holes. In some places there are lots of them, in others there are few. If the cowboy later paints a bullseye over a spot where his bullet holes clustered together it looks like he is pretty good with a gun.The relevance to the Talpiot Tomb claims is that a cluster of names in a given tomb is only impressive if that cluster is not contaminated with non-matches and contradictory evidence. It is true that Jesus son of Joseph, Mary and Joses are also found among Jesus' family names in early Christian texts, but Matthew and Judas son of Jesus are not.
The same issue appears again in relation to the claim that a stick man, allegedly the figure of Jonah with seaweed wrapped around his head, is drawn into the head of the "fish" in the tomb:
|The changing lines of the stick man Jonah (left: original; right: new version)|
See The Changing Figure of the Stick Man in Talpiot Tomb B
James Tabor has offered two different versions of the stick man, utilizing different lines on each occasion, the earlier version to the left above and the later version to the right. In my analogy, this is akin to the Texas sharpshooter drawing the target around holes, or here to the attempt to isolate specific lines that may or may not help us to see the presence of a stick man differently configured each time.
The same issue crops up again in relation to the alleged letters now seen in the "head" of the "fish":
This interpretation, attributed to James Charlesworth, isolates parts of some of the lines seen in at the bottom of the vessel (the "head" of the "fish") and suggests that they spell out the name Jonah, YWNH. The difficulty is that there are lots of lines there, and one can only see YWNH by ignoring lines and parts of lines. Once again, it is like the Texas sharpshooter drawing his target around the bullet-holes in the side of the barn. (See further Do the lines in the "fish" head spell out Jonah; With Each New "Jonah Ossuary" Photo, Multiple New Problems and links there and Talpiot Tomb B: Connected and Unconnected Lines).
As Daniel McRaney writes,
Anywhere people are searching for meaning, you will see the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. For many, the world loses luster when you accept the idea random mutations can lead to eyeballs or random burn patterns on toast can look like a person’s face.And of course it is possible to spot the face of Jesus on the side of one of the ossuaries in Talpiot Tomb B, just as it is possible to see a fish in another ossuary in the same tomb, a stick man and letters in its head, and Jesus' family in the tomb next door.