Stop Arguing, Start Believing

Your Daily Science Update for Friday the 30th really does seem to be taking the perspective that scientists should give up doing science, and simply trust Biblical Literalism. It’s called Linguists Argue over Language Origins, and is about a scientific controversy over a Science paper from April of last year: Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa by a Quentin D. Atkinson of Auckland University. Continue reading

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The Ultimate Question

When it comes to Creationism, especially young-Earth Creationism, the ultimate question is not “how many roads must a man walk down?” Nor is it “what do you get if you multiply six by nine?” Closer, however, is the title of the latest Daily Science Update from Mr Thomas, Why God Created Large, Sharp Teeth. The answer, whatever it is, seems unlikely to be “42”.

The teeth of the T-rex were not particularly well-suited for plant eating Continue reading

The Faint Young Sun Paradox

If our Sun is, as we believe, a perfectly normal 4.5 billion-year-old main sequence star, we would expect that, say 3 billion years ago it would be largely the same as another main sequence star of that age. And, 3 billion years ago, we would thus expect that the sun would output around 70% of the energy it does today. Unfortunately, this is too little to sustain liquid water on the surface of the Earth. And yet, we know that there was.

This, then, is the faint young Sun paradox.

The Sun, through a telescope (a bad idea, but somebody managed it...) Continue reading

Spiders Web Biomimicry

Biomimicry – sometimes called biomimetics – is “the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems.” Creationists love it, of course, seeing it as confirmation that their Designer is superior to mere human intelligence. Of course, as natural selection has been going for far longer and operates via different mechanisms it would be unsurprising for there to be a few things we could learn from its products – the pointing out of an instance of biomimicry thus is merely a preaching to the choir, and requires other elements to form part of a Creationist Claim. An example of biomimicry being twisted into a CC can be found here, along with a response (of course).

Our latest instance comes from Mr Thomas’ Daily Science Update for Monday the 19th: Scientists Decode Key to Spider Web Strength. The study (and only reference) is Nonlinear material behaviour of spider silk yields robust webs from Nature.

A diagram of the web of the spider Nephila clavipes, which is being focussed on in the paper Continue reading

Mice and Elephants

A Cretan Dwarf Elephant skeletonFor March 16 on the DpSU front we had Mouse to Elephant Needs How Much Evolution? This, as I already alluded to, (incorrectly) accuses the authors of a study of circular reasoning.

How come? Well, in his own words:

How much time would evolution need in order to make a mouse the size of an elephant?

Since this kind of evolution supposedly occurs too slowly for biologists to observe, one place to look for answers is in the fossil record. But in order to answer this particular research question, a team of evolutionary biologists made some large assumptions.

The group published what amounts to a circularly-reasoned argument in a peer-reviewed journal. They estimated the maximum rate of evolution to achieve the most extreme change in mammal sizes. To do this, however, they had to first assume that small changes in size that are observed today had no limits in the past. In other words, they assumed that a mouse could turn into an elephant given enough time.

Continue reading

Plant Sunblock

On pi day – March 14 – from Mr Thomas came Plant UV Detectors Could Not Have Evolved. He asks:

[D]id plants really evolve over eons, or were they created in one day? New research demonstrates exactly why plants had to have been created in an instant.

Or at night, possibly? Anyway, this will be interesting to see.

If you were in any doubt as to the seriousness of the problem Continue reading

Flood Stories

Yes, folks: That's a Video!

As should come as no surprise, flood stories are fairly common throughout the world: so are floods. A lengthy list of such myths and summaries of their narrative compiled by Mark Isaak can be found at talk.origins.

It is a common creationist claim that the large number of these myths is evidence that their Global Flood actually happened. Never mind that the plural of anecdote is not data, and that folklore quite definitely falls under the ‘anecdote’ category. The ICR has even gone so far as to make us a video preaching this message, called Flood Stories:

Continue reading