I’ve been at this blog for an entire year now. I’m not sure how that happened.
It’s a good job I checked actually – I thought I had until the 27th at least. I started, as I have mentioned elsewhere, having only recently even found the Institute. Their massive, albeit vapid, ‘evidence for creation’ section (originally) looked like fun. I started on them with little more plan than to see how long I could keep it up before I got bored. While I technically haven’t touched those old, stale articles in many months I am still here long after the fortnight, tops, I had originally thought I’d last before I got bored of it all.
What this means is that I have discovered quite a lot in the process:
- The Institute for Creation Research is an old, respected, but rather ineffective creationist outfit. They are permanently asking for funds – the ‘donate’ button on the side of their website was turned red for emphasis at some point over the last year, while each and every Acts & Facts edition trumpets the fact that donations to the Institute are tax deductable (or even, it seems, that you can effectively dodge taxes by giving to them). And they seem to have little international presence at least in recent years, judging, among other things, by the fact that I had never heard of them before perhaps a week prior to starting this blog. When it comes to young Earth creationist organisations few think of the ICR before AiG and CMI.
- The ICR is not particularly competent either. It increasingly appears that the man entrusted with writing their all-important ‘news’ articles, none other than Brian Thomas, is a liability. AiG may be :shrewd and calculating” by Mr Thomas just blunders. My favourite moment comes from INDELs, in which he took the fact that the portion of the genome that directly encodes genes is only ~2% of the whole genome, and that this is ~98% similar to that of a chimpanzee, to conclude that, over all, “98 percent of DNA … is different!” It boggles the mind, not least because even Dr Tomkins, in his quest to find out the ‘true’ similarity, concluded that we are at least 86% the same. And there are many more such errors made by Mr Thomas, from pretty much every article he has ever written from the site (it would seem).
- But it’s not just him. Other Daily Science Update writers have similar problems, along with the Acts & Facts columns. And so too do their That’s a Fact video channel, started a few months after I did. While even remotely cerebral content is thin on the ground in more recent episodes, they were originally much more ambitious – and more wrong. By far the worst was Imitating Humans, their third video (which I covered here). This video discussed the project attempting to create the worlds most powerful computer, by modelling it on the human brain. This, of course, shows how amazingly well designed the brain is. The problem? The project to make the worlds most powerful computer, and the project to make a computer modelled on the human brain, are completely different projects. Their point was stupid before that, anyway, but it is shown to be intentionally deceptive by the fact that they simply must that they were different: Mr Thomas posted on the brain computer in late August.
- The Institute also seems to be scaling back lately. When I started, Daily Science Updates were coming out five times a week, most of the time (it actually took me a while to work out their schedule, as often a day a week would be missing). Not long after they launched their K-12 blog and video series. Around the new year Dr Forlow, of the aforementioned blog, started posting five times a week also, up from three, while the videos were announced to now be coming out weekly.
Now, the DpSUs come out three times a week. Videos are rare, and there hasn’t been one in an entire month. This week Dr Forlow is posting reruns of her first week, for reasons unknown. Their twitter, another recent addition, has been almost silent for many months. You see what I mean, I’m sure.
- The ICR reserves the right not to respond to your questions. To censor them, even. There were once comments underneath the videos: not any more. Here’s a shot of some comments on their facebook page from just today – who is Dugan responding to? I once sent an email to Thomas himself asking about one of his articles, and have gotten no response. About the last thing the aforementioned twitter did was block me, which is why it nolonger appears in the feed to the right. But I sent another email to the ICR about the trivial issue of their search box, and they have been quite happy to ask for screenshots to help them fix it.
- At the start of this year, not long before school began (my last year of high school), I theorised that I would soon be able to take a Thomas article and simply link back to an older post on a similar subject in most cases. But it seems that while there is only a limited supply of fundamental creationist talking points there is an infinite number of examples that can be shoehorned into an argument. After all, if no shoes fit then they all fit equally well. This means that I still do need to write complete new posts in most cases. Nevertheless, I’m much faster at it than I used to be.
- There’s more, of course. In researching where article writers have gotten things wrong I have learnt a huge amount about the underlying subjects. I’ve discovered that young Earth creationists, at least this lot, can be refuted by a high school student who can only read the abstract. And I’ve found that contacting the researchers who have had their conclusions hijacked can be quite a good thing, and that they may even provide the full paper for my perusal – I need to do that more often. And having now read the paper, or commentary from the original author, I find that the ICR article is even worse than I had determined. For the latest example go an reread my previous, hopefully updated by the time this appears, post.
It’s traditional in these sorts of situations to reveal something about your site stats. I don’t get interesting search results, unfortunately, so all I have is boring old numbers.
I’m less than a week away from topping 20,000 views, a modest number that I nevertheless thought impossible even several months into starting out. In other words, somebody is actually reading what I write. And I’ve already beaten by a thousand last year’s results, so things are going quite well. But I do still remember the time last year when I would leave the house happy that I had a dozen hits before I woke up, and expected no more before tomorrow. While I suppose it would be a good thing if more people were made aware of the problems with the Institute, but mostly this blog is for my own education and entertainment.
I think I can keep it up another year.