Creationist Peer Review

A note from the editors — play the ball, not the man

CEN Technical Journal (now CMI’s Journal of Creation) 13 (1) 1999 – source.

The problem with peer review as practised by creationists, is that the peer reviewers are creationists.

This is a cheap shot, I know, but I don’t mean it like that – not entirely, anyway. Continue reading

We Don’t Know Everything About Electric Fish

There are six different lineages of so-called “electric fish,” each of which evolved its potential independently and convergently. The most famous of these is the electric eel, though speaking of convergent evolution that species is not actually an eel. The portion of the body that produces the electric field is called the “electric organ,” and appears to be derived from muscle cells, but are quite different from each other. A recent paper in Science – “Genomic basis for the convergent evolution of electric organs” (pdf, press release) – investigating representatives of four of six lineages determined that, despite their differences, the same underlying genetic and cellular processes have been leveraged (or hijacked) in each case.

Nathaniel Jeanson has an article up today about this paper called “Darwin’s ‘Special Difficulty’ Solved?” His conclusion is, if anything, unusually weak, and it’s difficult to know what to make of it. He begins by quote-mining Darwin, a common tactic but one which the ICR doesn’t seem to often resort: Continue reading

Nathaniel Jeanson’s Null Hypothesis

I’ve been investigating ICR researcher Nathaniel Jeanson’s recent paper in Answers Research Journal, “Recent, Functionally Diverse Origin for Mitochondrial Genes from ~2700 Metazoan Species.” As it’s a topic I’ve seen before I’m going to write about it, but I see this morning that Hemant Mehta at his Friendly Atheist blog has actually beaten me to it, writing “A Creationist’s Desperate Attempt to Sound Like a Credible Scientist.” However Mehta’s post mostly mocks Jeanson, going so far as to dig up a promotional video the ICR made about him, and doesn’t really address his arguments in any detail. All the more for me then. Continue reading

Meet Nathaniel Jeanson

A new video has been posted at Your Origins Matter called “College & Science: Nathaniel Jeanson.” I can’t find it on youtube anywhere (at least not yet) so you’ll have to click over there to view it. Jeanson is one of the ICR’s researchers, and the video is about 13 minutes long and covers the following:

  1. Who are you, what is your specialization, and what does your current research look like?
  2. When did you decide you were destined for a career in science?
  3. What background do you have in science and the study of creation?
  4. What advice do you have for prospective college students – science and non-science majors?
  5. What words of wisdom do you have for the Christian student in both Christian and secular universities?

The college advice portion is the longest, and perhaps the most interesting. In summary, Jeanson wants you to first ground yourself thoroughly in creationism. You should then go to a secular university, on the grounds that hearing a fellow Christian talk about “unbiblical” ideas will be more likely to persuade you than if it’s a non-believer talking, and take a course in science but not one that’s evolution-centric. Once you’ve got “credentials” you can investigate the issues you were originally interested in. If you’ve heard much about Jeanson before you might recognise his advice as being, in effect, “do as I did,” but it’s also quite similar to what Jake Hebert said in December.

Jeanson also recommends that you commute to university to avoid the debauchery (so that’s what I’ve been doing wrong – damn trains), to live either alone or with fellow believers, and to be suspicious of potentially compromising campus groups. And there’s plenty more where that came from – go watch.

The ENCODE War Continues

You remember how, back in September, there was much hype about how the release of data from the ENCODE project supposedly showed that junk DNA was  “dead”? At the time many scientists had other ideas, and the idea of writing a paper disputing this was floated at least once. An important problem, however, was that the junk DNA claims were not themselves made directly in the published journal articles – could you really write a paper slamming statements made to the media? Over the last few months it’s been shown that this was no hurdle for some, with at least three ENCODE-critical papers having been published in that time: Continue reading

Acts & Facts – January 2013

The first edition of Acts & Facts for 2013 has been noticeably redesigned from last year. Aside from various cosmetic changes there is now a dedicated contents page, a new series of articles, and some of the usual sections have been rearranged. For its part the A&F page on the ICR’s website now has pictures, linking to some of the articles which are similarly highlighted in the magazine itself. Because I have been going through these articles for the last five days this recap is mostly for future archaeologists, but there are still a few things I missed. Continue reading

The Fact of Evolution

Dr John's Q&AFrom 1989 to 2006 the ICR ran a Frequently Asked Questions column – sometimes referred to as “Dr John’s Q&A” – in it’s Acts & Facts newsletter. For 2013 they appear to have revived the concept in the form of a new series of “Creation Q&A” articles. The first is by Nathaniel Jeanson, and his question is “Is Evolution an Observable Fact?

“Evolution is fact!” is one of the most popular evolutionary assertions made by evolutionists, ranging from those at the National Center for Science Education to those working for PBS. Proponents of Charles Darwin want you to believe that his hypothesis is being confirmed right before our eyes.

The NCSE page linked to does not actually make this claim, and neither does the PBS FAQ. Not a great start. Continue reading

Acts & Facts – November 2012

I think that will do for this month’s edition. It’s already well into December so the usual ICR Acts & Facts page has switched to the next month, but a pdf can be found here and the links are all below anyway. I haven’t already written as much on these articles as I have in past months, so there’s a fair bit here that you haven’t seen before (or at least recently). Note also that November was also the month of the US holiday of ‘Thanksgiving,’ something which I ignored entirely, so expect a lot of articles on that. Continue reading

Bio-Origins Project: Hypothesis Disproven

The full ATP synthase enzymeNow it’s my turn to be smug. In last month’s edition of Acts & Facts “Deputy Director for Life Sciences Research” Nathaniel Jeanson announced that he was investigating differential mutation rates as an explanation for the observed differences in sequence in the same gene in different species. His hypothesis was that God had, in effect, a pool of genes to choose from when he created life. All organisms that needed a specific gene would be given the same one, but the particular genes needed by each would vary. These originally identical genes would then diverge through mutations, with Jeanson using lower generation times as proxies for higher mutation rates. His original supporting evidence came in the form of the mitochondrial ATP-6 genes of the elephant, mouse, and fruit fly.

As I pointed out at the time there are a number of flaws in this hypothesis. For one – despite Jeanson’s claims to the contrary – this process would not necessarily create the observed hierarchy in sequence similarity. More importantly, however, the three animals analysed at that point just happened to have their evolutionary relatedness approximately agree with the predictions of Jeanson’s differential mutation rate model. I predicted that the mere insertion of a fourth animal would ruin the correlation, suggesting a turtle as a good test subject.

The ICR has not tested a turtle, but instead has analysed a large number of mammalian ATP-6 genes. Jeanson has written a new article for the November Acts & Facts edition: Bio-Origins Project Update, Evidence Against Differential Mutation Rates. Continue reading

Acts & Facts – October 2012

It is less than a week into the month of October and we have already reached the end of the articles worth analysing in any depth in the latest edition of Acts & Facts. It’s time then to take a look at all of the articles in context. For future reference the pdf of this months newsletter is located here.

Page 3: The Enduring Value of Words (Jayme Durant)

The gist of the editor’s column this month, after you get past the story about her great grandmother going into a retirement home, is that the ICR plans to release two new books this season. One is by Brad Forlow, and will be called Biology and the Bible – my guess is that this will most likely be pamphlet sized, and even that will be pushing it. The other is by John Morris, called The Global Flood: Unlocking Earth’s Geologic History. While most likely just have more of the same kind of stuff found in other young Earth creationist geology-related books, as I haven’t read any of those before it might be interesting to get my hands on. I still need to do Tomkins’ book, however, so it would have to be added to the end of an ever-lengthening queue.

Continue reading