The ICR’s Acts and ‘Facts’ – June 2012

The Institute for Creation Research has a number of magazines, the most famous of which is the monthly newsletter Acts & Facts, which is often featured on the ICR’s front page. Here’s a brief summary of the June 2012 edition. For future reference the magazine can be found in pdf form here.

The editor’s column for this month is by Jayme Durant, Associate Editor (and the author of last months). This months edition of Acts & Facts is all about repeatedly insisting that “Genesis matters.” They have, in reverse alphabetical order, “Why Recent Creation Matters,” this “What Matters Most” article, “Does Genesis Really Matter,” and “Do Origins Matter?” They also advertise for a ‘conference’ called “Your Origins Matter,” ads for which were present last month also. A little monotonous, but whatever. Continue reading

Crustal Prediction

Part of the surface of Mercury, as imaged by MESSENGER

The earlier post for the 27th has been removed. In its place is another astronomy article, Mercury’s Magnetic Crust Fulfills Creation Prediction:

The planet Mercury provides many clues to its unique and recent creation. For example, Mercury’s density and composition don’t match planetary evolution models, and its surface geology and magnetic field are too active for it to be billions of years old. New data from the MESSENGER—the spacecraft that has been probing the dense planet’s surface since 2004—confirms another creation-based prediction made in 1984.

Yes, we return once again to MESSENGER – and for perhaps the first time Thomas has remembered to give the craft its proper capitalisation. Brian has three ‘citations for his second sentence, all to articles written by him about MESSENGER findings in the second half of last year. They are:

Messenger Spacecraft Confirms: Mercury Is Unique. This article points out a number of features of Mercury, including high levels of sulphur, that are unexplained (or at least were at the time). As I said then, just because we don’t know how they came to be does not justify jumping to creationism.

Mercury’s Fading Magnetic Field Fits Creation Model. I originally concluded that, given the numbers quoted, the field of Mercury was apparently fading far too fast for the ‘creation model’ – it would require moving the creation date even closer to the now, and would be biblically impossible. However, with the help of Stuart Robbins and a copy of the paper itself, I discovered that it could not even be concluded that the field was fading. What actually happened was that far more detailed results from MESSENGER compared with that from Mariner 10 (which merely made a flyby) caused a significant reduction in estimates of the strength of Mercury’s magnetic field. This is not the same as saying that the field was noticeably stronger in the 1970’s than it is today.

Mercury’s Surface Looks Young. The presence of ‘volatiles’ were claimed by Thomas to show that Mercury is young, though in reality they probably just demonstrate that a small part of the surface is (geologically) recent.

So that’s all he’s got there. Continue reading

Young Enceladus Creationism

Thomas has conceded the point – “Thanks for catching my errors!” – and this article has vanished, to be replaced by one on Mercury. A screenshot of the original is available here.
The famous "tiger stripes" - hot fault lines on the surface, home to geysersToday’s DpSU – Saturn Moon’s Space Geyser Should Not Exist – is an example, among other things, of Brian Thomas taking a minor detail from a science news article (here, Enceladus Plume is a New Kind of Plasma Laboratory) and running off on a creationism-related tangent. His entire argument consists of these two paragraphs:

Enceladus loses “about 200 pounds of water vapor per second,” which roughly equates to three tons per year. Enceladus weighs over 100 quadrillion tons and supposedly formed billions of years ago. The plume provides an opportunity to cross-check its old-age assignment.

Assuming that the small Saturnian satellite has always issued the same amount of material at the same rate as it does today, then it would have completely unspooled itself in about 35 million years. Why is it still so active?

The full quote includes a metric value:

About 200 pounds (about 100 kilograms) of water vapor per second – about as much as an active comet – spray out from long cracks in the south polar region known as “tiger stripes.”

Now, I have three important problems with Thomas’ claim: Continue reading

Can’t Touch the Quantum

Photosynthesis: not even remotely that simple

In an error that will likely soon be corrected, the latest Thomas article – What Will the Next Biological Breakthrough Be?(screenshot) – reuses a previously-seen title. [ED: after several days it has been changed to “Photosynthesis Uses Quantum Physics”]

The actual subject of the article closely resembles that I discussed most recently in Bird Brained Quantum Mechanic, in which I concluded:

So, what makes this unevolvable? Indeed, what makes this any different from any other sensory-related chemical reaction from the point of view of the organism? Evolution can and will exploit anything it can, even if we don’t understand it. This isn’t the first case of ‘quantum’ in the field of biology, and it wont be the last.

The only thing to change now is that the “chemical reaction” here is not sensory, but instead forms part of the process of photosynthesis in bacteria (and probably plants as well, but the experiment was done with bacteria). Continue reading

A Book about Bombardier Beetles

Part 4 of 4 of the documentary The Natural World – Secret Weapons from 1983. The explanation of how the Bombardier beetle’s defence mechanism really works begins immediately, though the full segment starts at 8:30 in the previous video. Watch from the beginning starting here.

The pseudonymous entomology blogger Bug Girl has obtained a copy of an old ‘kids’ book published by the Institute for Creation Research called Bomby the Bombardier Beetle. Her reaction?

And, oh what a mass of WTFery this book is.

You get the idea: now read the full post.

It would seem that while a decline in the quality of the ICR’s output over the decades could still be argued, they’ve been pulling nonsense like this out of their …rectal chambers ever since the beginning.

New Sensory Organ in Rorqual Whales

This new organ may be responsible for the large size of Rorqual whales, such as this Fin whale

Another for the ‘no idea what he’s talking about’ pile, I’m afraid: Organ Discovery Shows Why Whales Didn’t Evolve, by Brian Thomas.

Rorqual whales are a subgroup of the Baleen whales – the filter feeders – and include the blue whale, along with many other large whales such as the fin whale above. Baleen whales (order Mysticeti, as they are called in the paper) have two separate (left and right) unfused halves to their lower jaw. In the Nature paper Thomas discusses, Discovery of a sensory organ that coordinates lunge feeding in rorqual whales, a sensory organ has been found to be located in the gap between the two jaw bones of rorquals, and is hypothesised to play an important role in these whales lunge-feeding behaviour:

Despite the antiquity of unfused jaws in baleen whales since the late Oligocene (~23–28 million years ago), this organ represents an evolutionary novelty for rorquals, based on its absence in all other lineages of extant baleen whales. This innovation has a fundamental role in one of the most extreme feeding methods in aquatic vertebrates, which facilitated the evolution of the largest vertebrates ever.

Continue reading

Old Ink

Squid ink: not just for writing withThe ink used by Cephalopods as an escape mechanism has been unchanged for millions of years. How do we know this? Because ink preserved for all that time has been analysed and found to be “essentially identical” to that of the modern Sepia officinalis (European common) cuttlefish.

Curiously, Thomas – in Fresh Fossil Squid Ink 160 Million Years Old? – has little to say on the “no evolution” aspect. Instead, he largely regurgitates what he has said in previous years about how the ink could not have survived all that time and thus must be only thousands of years old – typical soft tissue preservation stuff. Continue reading

Is Jerusalem Bulla Really the Oldest Evidence of Bethlehem?

A vaguely contemporaneous bullaArchaeologists discovered a clay “bulla” in an excavation around the walls of Jerusalem. ICR News called this “the oldest indication of Bethlehem among archaeological artifacts.” But clear evidence shows that other artefacts hold the real record.

Researchers have gleaned a wealth of information from the small fragment of clay. For example, they have determined that the bulla had an administrative purpose, being used to mark goods being sent to Jerusalem as tax payment. They have also pinned down the date that it was used – the seventh year of a King, either Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah. This dates it to the seventh or eighth century BCE.

But mentions of a town called Bethlehem from even earlier have been discovered by archaeologists. The Armarna letters, from the 1300s BCE, refer to a rebellion in “Bit-Lahmi.” … Continue reading

Of Pandas and Reification

In the world today there are only two species of Pandas: the Giant and Red Pandas. Famously the two are actually rather distantly related, in that the Giant Panda is a variety bear, while the Red is more closely related to weasels. In his article Did Panda Bears Once Live in Europe? Brian Thomas discusses – a term I use loosely – the discovery of a new Panda fossil from Spain (of the bear variety, that is).(paper/cited news article) Continue reading

Ötzi’s Blood

Replicas of Ötzi's clothesAccording to an article published on May 1 in LiveScience, ‘Iceman’ Mummy Holds World’s Oldest Blood Cells. Said “iceman” is of course the naturally mummified Ötzi, who died around 3250 BC and was frozen in the Alps on the Italian/Austrian border.

But young Earth creationists claim a much older record holder: Mary Higby Schweitzer’s T. rex red blood cells. His article for Wednesday, thus, asked Are Iceman Blood Cells Really the Oldest? Continue reading