Updates, 31 July

First, I have decided at long last to link this blog with twitter – the username I have been not bothering to use except for reading other peoples stuff (until now) is @petercsc. Wander along, why don’t you? I might just start using it…

Also, I have been spending the last week writing a detailed response to the list of ‘soft tissue’ finds that I mentioned at the bottom of a recent post. Stick around to see it.

Define “Unreliable”

Given the opportunity, no Young Earth Creationist will resist a chance to attack the reliability of radioisotope dating. Certainly not the ICR’s Brian Thomas, who today tells us that Fluctuations Show Radioisotope Decay Is Unreliable.Halflife sim from wikipedia

A few years ago it was shown in a study that the rate of decay of radioactive material fluctuates slightly between the seasons. since then, this has been confirmed a couple of times, the most recent time in a lead-lined container to minimise environmental effects. Naturally, the creationists are crowing. However, they don’t cover everything.

For starters, this effect is tiny. It’s literally a case of it being so small we couldn’t have detected it before. And it cancels itself out – the increase in one season is balanced by a decrease in another. Continue reading

Creationist Misinformation: Mercury

Mercury Magnetic FieldIn this Daily (pseudo)Science Update from the Institute for Creation Research’s Brian Thomas returns to the field of Astronomy with a post entitled Messenger Spacecraft Confirms: Mercury Is Unique.
Basically, as usual, we have a short laundry-list of things that are currently unknown, but in all reality probably will be within a few years. They are presented as things that cannot be explained, except by God. But this introduction works for anything I’ve talked about since I started this blog. What are the specific claims?

First, they say that “Mercury can’t be anywhere near as dense as it actually is”, which they support with a reference to another creationists website, which doesn’t back up the claim itself. Presumably, they are commenting on the current inability of models to predict the arrangement and features of the planets. Creationism, on the other hand, predicts and explains nothing.

Second, he mentions that the planet has a higher level of sulphur than is considered possible if it formed as close to the sun as it is now. Why exactly it couldn’t have spiralled inwards over time I don’t know…

And then we get to the magnetosphere. Mr Thomas begins:

[F]or many years the “dynamo theory” (which has since been shown to be false) was the only explanation offered for magnetic fields on rocky planets that are supposed to be billions of years old.

Whoa! Citation bloody needed! The dynamo effect works (unless you’re saying that god does it directly, like people used to think with lightening). Have they ever heard of radioactivity? Maybe the planet’s density is a result of having lots of uranium, or something. The heat generated from that would probably be sufficient.

The final problem they have is the magnetic field of Mercury. Basically, it’s stronger on one end than the other. He asks: “What natural process would cause that?”

The reuters article he cites gives one possible explanation – “one theory is that the planet’s magnetic field is in the processing of flipping.” Another article says that it “suggests that Mercury’s south polar region is much more exposed than the north to bombardment by charged particles from the sun.” Just because something is unexplained doesn’t mean that it is unexplainable. And hey, that means we have not one but two explanations! Isn’t that even better? 😀

He finishes:

According to Space.com, “Scientists don’t fully understand the import of many of Messenger’s early findings.”3 In light of what are best explained as Mercury’s purposeful peculiarities, and of its young-looking magnetic field, this statement might be better rendered as: “Evolutionary scientists don’t understand why Messenger’s early findings show that Mercury looks both young and uniquely created.”

No. You can’t just say that when something is not explained, God must’ve done it. There is no evidence in that that points to the planet being young, over any other explanation. Science does not default to Creationism, in the same way that it didn’t default to Geocentricism, when all the stuff about Mercury’s orbit was being puzzled over a hundred years ago. That was solved by Einstein, but that doesn’t mean that Newtonian gravity doesn’t work. Even if we needed such a big ‘paradigm shift’ to explain this now, it would still involve the universe being much older than 6000 years.

The Theory of Supernatural Embryology?

The latest post from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) suggests that they are in the development of such a hypothesis. That, or they’re feeling a bit under the weather right now and are mentally impaired because of it. Or they think everyone who reads their stuff is stupid. I’ve got an open mind at this point…

Haswell's Frog - Paracrinia haswelli tadpole Continue reading

Watch Who You’re Calling “Anti-Science”

If Young Earth Creationists like opals, they dislike Discovery News just as much. And every other reputable science news outlet as well, but I get the idea that DN is particularly reviled. Christine Dao, the ‘Assistant Editor at the Institute for Creation Research’ is the author of the latest article to arrive in the Daily (pseudo)Science Updates page. It’s titled Evolution Controversy’s Outdated, One-sided Exposure and is a reaction to Evolution Controversies: A History in Photos from Discovery News. Dao says: Continue reading

Opals, What is it With Opals?

For some reason, creationists seem to like Opals. I’m not entirely sure why. One possible explanation is the Ken Ham is Australian, and so are opals. This is pretty weak, though. I don’t see many Creationists commenting on Kangaroo’s…
Opal Doublet Continue reading

More Fruit Fly Larvae

A month or so ago I tackled a DpSU about how all the bad things that happen when you so much as think about tampering with the genetic code for the larvae of the fruit fly disproves evolution. Or rather, doesn’t.

white-eyed_drosophila

Today we have another article on fruit flies, which represents a not a-typical last-ditch attempt to explain away yet another evolutionary tour-de-force to the dangerously curious Creationist masses. Jokes aside, the question of who Brian Thomas’ target audience is is a mystery, albeit one for another day. You do get the idea that these guys are really insecure in their faith, or think other people are.

The article is called Do Hairless Fruit Fly Larvae Spell “Evolution”? Basically, we have a study that reverse-engineers the differences in the fruit-fly genome that cause the species Drosophila melanogaster to have hairs on its larvae, but the related species D. sechellia (see here for the family tree) not to. Brian Thomas begins: Continue reading

I Sense a Pattern

This latest Daily (pseudo)Science Update from the Institute for Creation Research, Fossil Pigment Paints Long Ages into a Corner, is the third in four days to be about organic materials in fossils, and the fourth of four to be about fossils in general. As such, I’m going to make this a quick one, as I’ve said enough about this kind of thing for the week. Go and read Soft Tissues and Logical Fallacies, Soft Tissues are Back!, and From Dinosaurs to Ice Age Plants for more information here.

Confuciusornis_sanctus_mmartyniuk Continue reading

The Utah ‘Dinosaur’ Petroglyph

In a recent post I mentioned in passing an old (ish) Brian Thomas article that he had then cited in support of some point or another. I called the article, Utah Dinosaur Petroglyph Disputed, a “hilarious fail of an article.” In clarification, it doesn’t fail at being an article – it’s got a heading and paragraphs and everything – but it’s still a general failure. Continue reading

Cambrian Compund Eyes – The Creationist POV

shrimp faceSomebody has found some very nice early Cambrian compound eyes. “Very nice” in that the eyes seem to be quite good – “[t]hey have over 3000 lenses, making them more powerful than anything from that era, and probably belonged to an active predator that was capable of seeing in dim light,” the article says. The eyes were apparently similar to that of a shrimp, although the fossils are not attached to any creature that would tell us what it was. Continue reading