Fourth horseman, the face of the monster:
Perhaps you should not read this at all.  You can probably gather where I am going from the title, but we have arrived here after a long journey.  From now on, until new evidence arrives, I expect to write about stories or give you stories.  The journey began years ago with me wondering about a number of things, including why as a doctor when I tried to help infertile women by doing an x-ray study called a hysterosalpingogram, I found the anatomy to be normal.  Their chemistry was normal, too, yet they were infertile.  As it turned out in the end, the problem lay where chemistry and anatomy meet in the field of genetics.  Even then there was no evident genetic problem.  Neither husband nor wife had any genetic problem.  The problem was the match up of otherwise excellent genes, either between them or among their ancestors.  Another question was why people are so beastly to people.  I quit work so I could concentrate on the issues. 

After some years, I was cudgeling my mind over the evident fact that civilizations fail regularly.  I meditated, “You know, the average civilization on earth only lasts … how long?”  I dug a wall chart out of a closest that showed a timeline of world history broken down into geographical regions and going back to pre-historic and mythical times but extending into well established history until the recent past.  Measuring with my thumbnail I estimated the lifespan of all the civilizations of Mesopotamia.  Then I sat down with the computer, called up the calculator and started figuring.  Not being well organized, I found the drill rather frustrating.  I thought, “What am I doing?  There is a statistical package on this thing.  Maybe it can pull an average for me.  Sure enough, I found a routine, plugged in my numbers and got an average of about 150 years.  Then the computer asked, “Would you like to see the data graphed as a normal curve?”  I did not know exactly what that meant, but I hit the hot key.  The screen filled with the prettiest normal bell curve you ever saw with the data points arranged symmetrically on it.

From that moment I knew beyond all doubt I was right.  A regular curve like that never comes from the analysis of something where there are several variables.  There was one and only one scientific law guiding it.  That law had to be genetic.  It meant that any large population eventually fails for genetic reasons, simply because it is large.  The only thing left was to tell people about it. 

My first gesture was to repeat the calculations by hand, graphing the chance of failing of a civilization against its age.  The result again was a clear mathematical function.  There was only one law. 

I somehow got in touch with somebody in Iceland who finally understood what I wanted done.  Essentially it was the study published by Helgason et al.  Take a cohort.  Select married couples.  Go back ten generations.  Calculate their relatedness.  Count their children.  Count their grandchildren.  See if there is a relationship.  He agreed that it could be done, and that it would in no way invade anybody’s privacy.  Then he vanished.  Said be was going on vacation.  Never got back in touch.  Email discontinued.  I even lost his name long after when a computer died. 

I put what I had together and took the evidence to an international genetics meeting in Melbourne, Australia.  I could get a response from people who came by my poster.  They were amazed.  Some changed color visibly.  One became very upset.  One offered to help but then in subsequent months vanished, phone discontinued, email address discontinued and the university denying my friend had ever existed.  In the end there was no response from geneticists.

For three years I labored to create a model.  I taught myself C++ language.  I wrote a computer program that modeled genes in a population that were fine tuned to each other subject to mutations and genes subject to recessive lethal mutations as well as other genetic interactions.  The task may have been simple for some, but it was a monumental effort for me.  There were 19 variables if you ran a simple population and 57 variables if you ran 2 populations and combined them.  Somebody told me there were ten levels of program within program.  He thought that was a lot. 

Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity describes 4 mutually symmetrical space time coordinates; it is a 4 dimensional space.  His General Theory of Relativity described 13 mutually symmetrical tensor fields, a 13 dimensional space.  I was dealing with a 57 dimensional space with 19 kinds of dimension, all different and many of them probability distributions.  I found it very hard to create.  But the fun was only beginning.

For months I explored the program, trying to make sense of it.  I would run computers for hours.  I would get up in the small hours of morning to check on how the run was going.  I made reams of notes.  I could not eat; I was always hungry.  I could not sleep; I could not stay awake.  I could not get cool.  I could not warm up.  I didn’t want to talk to anybody; I was lonely.  My flesh crawled.  Everything hurt.  I vomited.  I had the dry heaves.  I had nosebleeds.  I twitched.  I had the horrors.  I was depressed.  I was frantic.  I was obsessed.  I was tormented.  To say I was disoriented would be a masterpiece of an understatement. 

I overheated and destroyed the computer that had put me on the quest and did the same with a number of other computers.  At one point I thought it was making sense and wrote up a paper; the editor said he was sending it to the referees.  As I continued to refine my calculations I realized that the computer had been at fault.  I had depended on 10 consecutive runs that had given me the same answer.  The answer had been wrong.  By the time I recovered from my horror and began to compose a retraction from the editor I got a email from the editor saying he had not sent it to the referees because, “It was not of sufficiently general interest.” 

After long toil I would not care to repeat I returned to first principles.  I wrote another program.  This time I streamlined it.  And I introduced chromosomes.  Now when it ran it made perfectly good sense.  It modeled the historical data I had found.  It modeled more and more data that seemed to pour in.  This web site gives you the results.  After three years of work I took the results back to Australia to an international genetics meeting in Brisbane.  The reception was colder than ever. 

When the Iceland data finally did get published, I hoped to make a presentation to an international genetics meeting in Germany, but by this time my resources were limited, and I was back at work earning a living.  Work conflicted with the meeting, and anyway I had received no encouragement.  I began to set up the web site.  Maybe somebody will find it and make use of it.

Along the way, I had developed a name for this beast, this ancient horror I was tracking.  I call it the Pale Rider.  I mean the Pale Rider of Revelation, not the movie. 

Scripture plays mind games on you.  This is not limited to the Old Testament.  In the New Testament there are 4 gospels.  They are all different.  The central image is the Empty Tomb.  Christ was resurrected from the dead.  There are only two accounts of the birth, and they differ. 

The appearances of Jesus after the resurrection vary.  And, sorry to say, they are no big issue.  Elvis Presley was “seen” many times after he had died.  It even happened to me.  About a year after I left my Johns Hopkins post at Baltimore City Hospital, I dropped by for a visit.  As I approached the reception desk the receptionist was talking on the phone.  She was saying, “No we can’t do that.  We do not have anybody who can do an arteriogram.  There is nobody here.  No we can’t get anybody.  Yes, I understand how much your patient needs it, but we simply can’t.  Oh.  Wait a minute.  Dr. Herbert is here.  He’ll do it.” And she hung up. 

I said I could not do the study.  I no longer was on staff.  I did not have the right to try.  She said, “But you did it last time?”  I did what?  She said I came into the hospital a previous time a couple months ago when a study was needed and did it.  I said I most certainly had done nothing of the sort.  I found myself looking at a face filled with perplexity and disbelief.  Everybody there thought I had come out of nowhere, saved the day and then vanished. 

It didn’t happen.  I was in Florida at the time, not Maryland.  If it had happened when I was in mental transports as I was during the hunt for the Pale Rider, I might have been a bit superstitious.  But at that time my life had been as ordinary as it has ever been.  Full time paid professionals don’t make that kind of mistake much.  But this time they were wrong.  I simply had not been there.  Sightings can be mistaken.

Although I could not do as they expected, I did manage to make sure the patient did not suffer for lack of my skills.  I am still not sure what had gone on before.  I suppose I should have had somebody call for the chart of the previous patient to see if there was a note there in my handwriting.  I always leave a note.  But I was sure there was no such note.  Besides, if there had been a note in my hand, then my skepticism would have been a little harder to maintain. 

All right.  If you chose you can doubt the visions of the resurrected Christ.  It’s the Empty Tomb it all depends on, that validates the teachings of Jesus.  The first person to see the tomb had the opportunity of tampering with the evidence, so who was that person?  It was a woman or women, but each olf the four accounts gives a different bevy.  Scripture is playing with your mind.

There is another New Testament mind game.  In Mathew a lawyer asks, “Which is the greatest commandment?”  It is clear that it is a mind game.  The lawyer is seeking to “tempt” him.  He answers, “Though shalt love the Lord, thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind…. And the second is like unto it.  Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Well he certainly hits the nail on the head in my interpretation.  He has taken a negative and turned it into a positive.  “Thou shalt not…” becomes, “Thou shalt…”  That’s fair.  Then he follows jab with roundhouse and says, “Love thy neighbor.”  If you think “heart, soul and mind” do not include sex, we must differ.  And “neighbor” sounds like a close knit community to me. 

But then in Luke, the game is played a little differently.  The lawyer counters with, “Who is my neighbor?”  Now he gets a parable.  A certain man, “Fell among thieves.”  Whether they ambushed him or whether he voluntarily associated with them and if so whether his purpose was honest is left open.  They robbed him and beat him up.  The only person to help him is a Samaritan, who treats him kindly and generously.  The parable ends with, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him?”  Jesus did not say, “Everyone is your neighbor.”  The parable is not about who is a neighbor; it is about what is love and how you treat a stranger.  Don’t play mind games with the Son of God and expect to win. 

Finally in Revelation, scripture takes the gloves off.  No longer is there cosmology, myth, legend, Covenant, law, diet, hygiene, medicine, nutrition, ritual, architecture, genealogy, super hero, adventure, power politics, war, sex, treachery, compelling narrative, friendship, prayer, song, drama, well crafted character, irony, philosophy, intimacy and tradition interwoven with mind games.  It is all mind game. 

The interest of Revelation is not the interest I have been pursuing, but we touch at one point.  There is a book with seven seals.  The first four reveal horses and riders.  The first horse is white, and his rider is a conqueror.  The second horse is red, and his rider brings war.  The third horse is black, his rider carrying a set of scales and announcing prices.  The fourth horse is pale and the rider is death and hell follows him.  By tradition, the four represent war, famine, plague and death but it is not quite clear to me which is which.  We are up to our ears in a mind game, of course.

Well famine seems to be the man on the black horse announcing prices.  That makes perfectly good sense.  And war is the man on the red horse.  The man on the white horse is a conqueror, but let us take him to be plague for now.  In the Old Testament white is clearly associated with disease, plague and leprosy.  Revelation draws heavily on the Old Testament

That leaves us with a puzzle.  Yes, I know, I set it up this way. 

But if the horsemen represent plague, war and famine and the final one is death, then one may ask, “What death?”  We have already excluded plague, war and famine.  There are other things, of course.  There are tidal waves, storms and floods that are immensely destructive.  As I described on August 17, 2008, there is the threat of a returning ice age, which could be a disaster of apocalyptic proportion.  But there is no mention of cold or ice anywhere in Revelation. 

There is one form of mass death that has been obvious for thousands of years.  Everywhere we move we step on the bones of fallen civilizations.  This has been less obvious during recent years of rapid change, but we still notice Stonehenge and pyramids and wonder that the societies that built them vanished.  They did not change.  They vanished.  Routinely people dwelling among large ruins disavow any knowledge of how those ruins came into being.  Those people will have stories about how they themselves arose, but will ignore the ruins among which they have been living.  And yet any child growing up there will reflect, “There were people here.  Where did they go?”  They went the way of all urban cultures.  They stopped having babies. 

So I claim Death on a Pale Horse for my own.  The horse is pale in the King James Version, but the great Tyndale chooses the word “green.”  Pale green?  That might be plague, of course, but in scripture green is more commonly associated with vegetation.  It is white that is disease. 

I was once watching TV.  The thing I hate about TV is documenting what you hear.  Given sufficient preparation, you can record your source, but with a book you just slip in a bookmark and refer to it later.  With a journal you can rip out an article.  With television, if it does not occur to you until the next day that something interesting was said, it is hard to run down.  At all events, the scholar was talking about Roman civilization at around the time the Revelation was written.  He made a big thing of Romans and cucumbers. 

According to the source, the Romans were very interested in spirituality and in any physical manifestation of spirit.  That would account for the popularity of the worship of Bacchus, god of wine.  Maybe it was not just that people liked getting drunk.  If you take “must,” grape juice and yeast, and let it ferment it gives off bubbles.  That is CO2, a very heavy molecule.   So you can watch air, or at least gas, coming out of liquid.  The more physical material is yielding a more ethereal substance.  Over time the volume of the must changes little.  But it is losing material.  Thus it gets less dense.  The person doing the brewing can follow the process by monitoring the specific gravity of the wine.  So even though the must is giving off a spiritual essence, what is left behind is getting less and less like earth and more like air, getting less dense, getting more spiritual.  It might well seem miraculous, the action of a god right before your eyes.

Another way the Romans pursued spirituality was with diet.  Particularly they valued cucumbers, because cucumbers are transparent, seemingly more of the spirit than opaque foods.  It is not the kind of thing you might not notice, being surrounded by so many other transparent things, like glass windows and lenses and gems and clear plastic.  But there it is.  Romans liked cucumbers for their transparency.

What color would you say a cucumber is?  You might say pale green.  So the pale green horse, and presumably his pale green rider, is transparent.

I call him the Pale Rider.  I lift the veil and the face behind is invisible.  Volcanoes, fires, earthquakes, storms, floods, these are terrible things.  War, famine and plague are worse.  But these things are obvious at the time. 

The infertility produced by a random mating strategy in a large population is not obvious at any one moment.  It can be seen only once with an attention span of centuries, nay of thousands of years if one wants to accumulate enough cycles to notice a pattern. 

The Pale Rider kills nations and prevents fallen ones from rising.  Silent, invisible, denied even by the observant and thoughtful, ignored even by those respected and well paid to be on the alert for such things, he rides and all hell follows after.  He spreads his devastation in secret.  I have shown you his face. 

I hope it was easier on you than it was on me.

There have been 1,061 visitors so far.  This is research, not advice.  Linton Herbert

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