Confounding the Patriarchs

In late 2013, as a response to an article by Brian Thomas rounding up what he considered the ICR’s greatest hits of the year, I wrote a post consisting of historical quotes altered to support each creationist claim Thomas brought up. For example – pertaining to the usual comet trope – Confucius almost certainly never said:

Heaven, in the production of things, is sure to be bountiful to them, according to their qualities. Hence the comet that is flourishing must be replaced often, as the bulbs don’t last like they used to.

Hardly the pinnacle of comedy, I know, but I never claimed to be any good. I mention this old post not to revisit past failures but to bring attention to the underlying point of this bastardisation of Marcus Aurelius:

He who has seen present things has seen all, both everything which has taken place from all eternity and everything which will be for time without end; for all things decay predictably and exponentially (except isotopes).

Anyone who has been reading creationist arguments for very long has probably noticed this for themselves: while YECs vehemently deny that radioactive isotopes decay in a predictable and inalterable fashion that could be used to accurately determine the passage of time, they themselves often contend that other processes decay in the same way. Humphreys’ ideas about planetary magnetic fields might be the example that most commonly appears here, but today Brian Thomas provides us with a new one. He writes, in “Did Adam Really Live 930 Years?“: Continue reading

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On Top of the World

We seem to be making an overdue time jump into November: Brian Thomas’ article for Monday is called Tibetan Cat Fossil: A Tall Tale? He opens:

An international research team claims to have found the world’s oldest big cat fossil in Tibet, publishing their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Big cats include lions, tigers, jaguars, and even snow leopards from Asia. The team dated several snow leopard-like partial fossils at between 4.1 and 5.95 million years old and a complete skull at around 4.4 million years. But how did the authors obtain these large numbers?

Continue reading

Bloody Mosquito Redux

Culiseta annulataIn mid-October I started a list in a google spreadsheet of “Articles of Interest.” It’s already up to 162 entries right now, and contains news articles and blog posts from a wide variety of sources that I might need to find again. The news stories behind a couple of recent ICR articles – on Dmanisi and the ancient galaxy from Monday – feature, as do many other topics which are likely to come up. The ICR tends to operate on a time delay of a few weeks, so looking forwards in the seven days following the galaxy story we have new information on Titan’s lakes; some abiogensis research; better dating for Homo (erectus?*) rudolfensis; and also that silly “Junk DNA face” story. Looking back at things they seem to have missed, meanwhile, turns up items like a story about blue straggler stars, a topic about which Brian Thomas has previously made noises, and an interesting system of extrasolar planets.

My point here is that there is no shortage of fresh science news of the kind the ICR likes to talk about. And yet for the second time in as many weeks Brian Thomas has decided to revisit an older story in order to better make a fool of himself. For Wednesday we have Questionable Dating of Bloody Mosquito Fossil – my previous post on this can be found here. Continue reading

What are the odds?

Another “soft tissue preservation” article from Brian Thomas today: “Scientists Broom Challenging Discoveries Beneath ‘Contamination’ Rug.” He means “sweep” there instead of “broom,” which I don’t think it supposed to be a verb. Thomas hasn’t got a new find since last week’s, but instead does a more general overview of the concept:

Recent years have witnessed many revolutionary discoveries of original tissues in fossils. Each new find challenges the widely held notion that fossils formed millions of years ago. After all, lab tests repeatedly show proteins and other biological materials lasting no longer than hundreds of thousands of years—millions are out of the question. As a result, these fossils clearly look like recent deposits. What tactics do evolutionists use to accommodate these original organic remains into their entrenched belief in deep time?

The claim that “lab tests repeatedly show proteins and other biological materials lasting no longer than hundreds of thousands of years” is one of the great ironies of young Earth creationism: as Ken Ham would say, “were you there?” Continue reading

Thomas and Morris on Radioisotope Dating

The February edition of Acts & Facts is out, and the first article we’ll look at is the “Q&A,” Doesn’t Radioisotope Dating Prove Rocks Are Millions of Years Old?, by John Morris and Brian Thomas (M&T, as well shall call them). The answer they are aiming for is, of course, “no.”

Radioisotope decay rates are renowned for constancy under normal conditions, so this assumption appears reasonable. But two observations and two clues omitted from physics textbook discussions of radiodating show that these radioisotope “clocks” are broken.

The four examples that they give should not be unfamiliar to anyone by this point – we have seen them all many times before. But in the interests of creating a shadow Q&A they are worth looking at again. Continue reading

A Directory of Randomness

I sometimes regret tethering this blog so tightly to the activities of the ICR – it means it’s harder for me to talk about what I want (not that I’m very good at that). After all, moments of hilarity and craziness are by no means limited to this one organisation. And science itself is cool too, I suppose. Anyway, here are some vaguely-relevant things I have read recently: Continue reading

Just How Long Does DNA Last?

Those were the days...The moa can be considered New Zealand’s equivalent of the Mammoth. Both were large animals hunted to extinction by humans in relatively recent history. Sightings of both are occasionally claimed, deep in the forests. And both invoke optimistic hopes that they could be someday cloned, and returned to their ancient grasslands. The moa is also the animal in the picture to the right, and the icon for this blog is a moa footprint – as you might have gathered I’m rather fond of them. They last properly came up on this blog eleven months ago, in The Extinction of the Megafauna, but in today’s post – Bone DNA Decays Too Fast for Evolution – Brian Thomas brings them up in quite a different context. For those readers unfamiliar with the soft-tissue family of young Earth creationist claims, think radiometric dating – and be prepared to have your expectations completely reversed.

DNA is a biochemical that contains genetic information. And like all other cellular ingredients, it decays if cellular systems don’t maintain it. Now, scientists are more confident about how fast it falls apart after a cell dies.

A team of researchers recently completed a thorough investigation of 158 ancient leg bones that belonged to giant extinct birds called moa, which once lived on New Zealand’s South Island. Using radiocarbon ages and measures of DNA integrity, the researchers generated a DNA decay rate with unprecedented rigor. But their results do not fit with claims from secular scientists who have found plenty of examples of intact DNA from supposedly million-year-old samples.

They used radiocarbon dating and produced a result with “unprecedented rigor”? How… odd for Mr Thomas to say such a thing. Continue reading

Lisle vs Nye on CNN

In breaking news Your Origins Matter informs us that Jason Lisle, the ICR’s Director of Research, was recently (though briefly) on CNN as part of a story on U.S. congressman Paul “lies straight from the pit of hell” Broun. You can see the clip, which also features Bill Nye, here (Lisle starts at 1:57). Lisle says:

The idea that the universe is sort of- is a big cosmic accident, well if that’s the case then why would it obey laws? Like E=mc2. That’s kinda convenient, isn’t it? I mean, if it’s just a big accident why would it obey nice neat mathematical laws that the human mind can understand. It doesn’t make sense for it to just be a big explosion. It make sense that it was created by the mind of God.

But before you jump to the conclusion that Lisle only has at his disposal the kind of arguments that a ten year old would come up with, he said on the YOM facebook page: Continue reading

Unreliable Isotopic Clocks?

In More Fluctuations Found in Isotopic Clocks Brian Thomas thinks he has reasons why four different radiometric dating techniques are inaccurate. Well, three really – one of them isn’t even a clock, so far as I can tell, and is just thrown in there to cast a general doubt on the reliability and predictability of radioactive decay. This is standard fair for young Earth creationists – though taking a look at my archives it has been just over a year since I’ve reported on at DpSU of this exact type – and the narrative being put forth is that there are more inconsistencies and problems with specific techniques being found every day, and that the whole idea is suspect. This could not be further from the truth. Continue reading

Snelling On The Ark, Part 2

This, then, is part 2 of my stream of consciousness review of Andrew A. Snelling’s article on AiG, Is the Wood Recently Found on Mt. Ararat from the Ark? Part 1, if you missed it, was here.

To recap, Snelling is arguing against the find being really from the ark. Personally, I agree – but obviously my reasoning is quite different to his. His objection is to do with the radiocarbon dating used to prove the antiquity of the wood retrieved from Mt Ararat. According to him the dating results were never publicised, but he was given them for analysis and told to keep them quiet himself. Frustrated by his perception that people are being told about the find without seeing the evidence Snelling is here revealing the hidden data and using it to show that the samples are not genuine relics of the ark.

Mt Ararat, from Near Earth Orbit Continue reading