Wednesday, November 04, 2015

A Snail Mail Flame War, Darwin v Mivart

If you have ever participated on a e-mail list, or internet discussion group, you have seen or engaged in "flame war"

I saw today that these are not as new as I had thought. Charles Darwin was provoked to rage by accusations by the Catholic zoologist St George Jackson Mivart. They exchanged hundreds of letters until C.R. Darwin finally demanded that Mivart stop writing.

The full record of 1874 was just published by the Darwin Correspondence Project. Earlier years are already published. The dispute between Darwin and Mivart had been brewing for years, and boiled over in 1874.

The introduction to volume 22 of the Correspondence discussing this and other interesting events is on-line.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Christian Reconstruction Rides Again!

I recently read a good book on Christian Reconstructionism by Julie Ingersoll.

There is a well reported article about Home School Legal Defense Association, and Michael Farris that I just read. It was cross-posted to Slate, but the Slate comment software seems overwhelmed. I am concerned that it has missed the radical religious motivations of the HSLDA, Mr. Farris and the Christian Dominionist/Reconstructionist movement. The rather obvious clues are scattered in the Mission Statements, and Statements of Faith for organizations he has founded. These also include the Parental Rights Organization, and the Citizens for Self-Governance: Convention of States Project.

Some additional reading;

Hedges, Chris
2008 “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” New York: Free Press.

Ingersoll, Julie J.
2015 “Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the world of Christian Reconstruction” Oxford University Press

Michael McVicar
2015 "Christian Reconstruction: R. J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism," Univ. of N. Carolina Press).

Mooney, Chris
2005 “The Republican War on Science” New York: Basic Press

Phillips, Kevin
2006 “American Theocracy” New York: Viking Press

Another "hero" of the religious radicals homeschooling is the fake historian David Barton. I already have recommended Prof. Julie Ingersoll's recent book. There is an except on-line discussing the frauds of David Barton.

David Barton, and Michael Farris are closely associated with several of their projects, and make joint public appearances.

David Barton's many lies are exposed in video format by Chris Rodda. Good fun.

One last observation is that the "science teaching" of the home school radicals is really anti-science. It is certainly anti-environment. Case in point is the mutual appearances of the following Christian Dominionists in an anti-environmental video series for churches and home schools;

David Barton, WallBuilders
Dr. Michael Farris, Home School Legal Defense Assn.
Bryan Fischer, American Family Association
Pastor Jack Hibbs, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills
Bishop Harry Jackson, Hope Christian Church
Dr. Richard Land, Southern Baptist ERLC
Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family
Dr. David Noebel, Summit Ministries
Janet Parshall, National Radio Host
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Dr. Frank Wright, National Religious Broadcasters
Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America

The video series is motivated by the claim that; "Without doubt one of the greatest threats to society and the church today is the multifaceted environmentalist movement."

The series is a project of the "Cornwall Alliance" These Dominionists also employ a Creationists favorite ploy, the fake science doctorate. "Dr." Ferris has a J.D. degree. Lawyers are not "Dr.'s"

"Dr." Richard Land has a D.Phil in theology. He was exposed as a racist, and plagiarist. He was booted from the "Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission" (ERLC), the lobby tool of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"Dr." David Noebel; Educated at bible colleges, and he "was a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin." He never received a doctorate.

"Dr." Frank Wright "holds a Ph.D. in Finance from Florida Atlantic University." He is now the CEO of Coral Ridge Ministries, renamed "D. James Kennedy Ministries."

The director of this "science" video series is "Dr." E. Calvin Beisner, who completed doctoral studies in Scottish history through the University of St Andrews. His topic was late 17th century Calvinists.

These men are fraudulently presented as authorities on science, and not all even have a legitimate doctorate.

This is hardly a new problem as witnessed by;

Helvarg, David
1994 ‘The War Against the Greens: The “Wise use Movement, the New Right, and Anti-Environmental Violence” San Francisco: The Sierra Club.

John Rosemond who pretends to be a clinical psychologist is a founding board member of the Home-school "Parental Rights Organization. Recall this is a spawn of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He wrote in 2006 of toddlers that, "They are by nature violent, deceitful, destructive, rebellious, and prone to sociopathic rages if they do not get their way.” The "cure" is to beat them.

These fake degrees are not new to creationism. I have documented some other fakes like "doctor" Kent Hovind"

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Megan Fox, YEC loon

The marvel of modern technology is that an incredibly ignorant person can be "published" and reach an audience of millions. Kim Kardashian West has at least figured how to legally dupe people for massive piles of money without actually harming anyone.

An even worse imbecile named Megan Fox has risen from a well deserved obscurity to become a national laughing stock. Ms. Fox is a young earth creationist (YEC) and home schooler. Her pivotal moment was a YouTube video where she traipsed about the Field Museum of Natural History while dismissing science. She felt qualified to dismiss scientific terms she could not even pronounce. Do watch it, if you must. I initially was laughing, but as the stupidities piled up on mountains of arrogant ignorance, I found I need beer and a short walk.

However, she has allies. They are also exposed in the supporting comments following her Fields Museum diatribe. Perhaps the 1,207,582 views on YouTube are all not just for cheap amusement afforded by a side-show freak. She teaches her home-schooled children YEC frauds. She is proud of being ignorant and infecting her children with ignorance. Her internet notoriety has lead to a new venue: a far-right internet website called PJ Media. I'll totally understand if nobody clicks their ad-bait. I wish I didn't. But, Ms. Fox claims she was "actually threatened" following her YouTube self-humiliation. She just wrote,

I have personally been threatened by people who say they want to call the state and report me for child abuse because I made a video questioning the validity of some of the evolutionists’ claims at the Field Museum in Chicago. These threats are not to be taken lightly, considering that children have been taken from their parents over idiotic circumstances like a homeschooling father who takes a natural supplement that the FDA doesn’t approve of (like every natural health supplement on the market. But don’t worry, it’s not like the FDA said Vioxx was perfectly fine before it killed 60,000 people. Oh wait…).

Those few sentences alone were enough to stun me. (The grammatical, and typographical irregularities alone are stunning. But I am not a grammerological Fascist that windges at grammar stupidnesies. Oh wit ...).

I count 4 significant gross errors of fact, and logic. That is high even for a YEC nitwit.

First of course is why any sane person worries about the comments to a YouTube video. I get emails from YEC loonies with some regularity that threaten me with Hell Fire and Damnation. (Yawn). Then there is the paranoid delusion that Ms. Fox could lose her children by what she later called "government kidnappings" directed against home schooling parents.

But there are still 4 more interesting errors. They are so densely packed that it took hours to trace them all down.

1) Were the children taken into protective custody because their father home schooled, or that he took "a natural supplement that the FDA doesn’t approve of?" Or was there more?

The "home schooling father" referred to Hal and Michelle Stanley of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Seven of their nine children were living at their home, and were removed to protective custody last January. The Affidavit for the search warrant follows:

The Affidavit clearly states that the concern is that the Stanley children were being purposefully exposed to Sodium Clorite. I'll explain why that is a very bad idea a bit later. There is no mention at all of any objection to Mr. Hal Stanely taking any thing he likes. There is no mention at all about home schooling. So we see that Ms. Fox has lied again. Actually, she lied twice.

2) Does the FDA regulate "natural supplements?"

When a chemical is sold in the US as a dietary supplement, it comes under the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). The linked article has more information, but the key items are;

"Under DSHEA, a firm is responsible for determining that the dietary supplements it manufactures or distributes are safe and that any representations or claims made about them are substantiated by adequate evidence to show that they are not false or misleading. This means that dietary supplements do not need approval from FDA before they are marketed."

... a firm does not have to provide FDA with the evidence it relies on to substantiate safety or effectiveness before or after it markets its products.

Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective for their intended use before marketing, there are no provisions in the law for FDA to "approve" dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they reach the consumer. Under DSHEA, once the product is marketed, FDA has the responsibility for showing that a dietary supplement is "unsafe," before it can take action to restrict the product's use or removal from the marketplace.

The FDA does not regulate "natural supplements." They can only act if there is solid evidence that the product chemical is dangerous, and/or that the advertised claims made about the product are false. Ms. Fox lied again.

3) What is the supplement "MMS," and why does the FDA object to this as a "nutritional supplement?" Why would the Child Protective Services worry that Mr. Stanley was spreading sodium chlorite around the house?

MMS (Miracle [Master] Mineral Solution) is sodium chlorite dissolved in distilled water. Sodium Chlorite, NaClO2, is a starting chemical for releasing a gas, Chlorine dioxide (ClO2). It is a powerful industrial bleach, and also has some use in treating waste water and sewage. If you are a chemist, I recommend the EPA fact sheet (PDF). The first link above was to Wikipedia which has most of the same information in a slightly less technical presentation.

In the bare bones version, this chemical reacts with acid to release several highly toxic gasses. If there is hydrochloric acid in the mix, chlorine gas as well as chlorine dioxide are released. Stomach acid has hydrochloric acid (HCl) concentrations from 0.5%, to as high as 0.1 M. Sodium dioxide can also be released from sodium chlorate (NaClO3) mixed with concentrated hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and an acid (industrially sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is preferred, but stomach acid works just fine). H2SO4 AKA battery acid is easy to come by). This also set off alarms when we read the results of the search warrant on the Stanley house.

Read the items carefully. Item #1 is a gallon bottle of 35% hydrogen peroxide, H2O2. The solution you can buy at the market, or drug store for an antiseptic is a maximum 3%. Hal Stanley had a "partially full" gallon bottle of H2O2 that was over 10 times stronger than can be sold in drug stores. Now remember that the adult children of Hal Stanley were worried he had used some process that "piped vapors" from sodium chlorite into rooms where the small children were doing school work. Industrial concentrated hydrogen peroxide, any suitable acid, and the "miracle solution" of sodium chlorite would produce a gas dangerous to anyone. Hal Stanley had all of these readily available.

Ms. Fox cited (by link) a website for "alternative health" that "feature(s) stories on alternative healing methods that are NOT approved by the FDA." They claimed that the poor poor man selling Sodium Chlorite was persecuted because he sold a product that "saved tens of thousands." I wish they would go back to finding Elvis and Bigfoot. Here is a quick item on how this really turned out;

Seller of “Miracle Mineral Solution” Convicted for Marketing Toxic Chemical as a Miracle Cure

May 28, 2015

A federal jury in the Eastern District of Washington returned a guilty verdict yesterday against a Spokane, Washington, man for selling industrial bleach as a miracle cure for numerous diseases and illnesses, including cancer, AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, lyme disease, asthma and the common cold, the Department of Justice announced.

Louis Daniel Smith, 45, was convicted following a seven-day trial of conspiracy, smuggling, selling misbranded drugs and defrauding the United States. Evidence at trial showed that Smith operated a business called “Project GreenLife” (PGL) from 2007 to 2011. PGL sold a product called “Miracle Mineral Supplement,” or MMS, over the Internet. MMS is a mixture of sodium chlorite and water. Sodium chlorite is an industrial chemical used as a pesticide and for hydraulic fracking and wastewater treatment. Sodium chlorite cannot be sold for human consumption and suppliers of the chemical include a warning sheet stating that it can cause potentially fatal side effects if swallowed.

So far Ms. Megan Fox has racked an impressive list of lies.

But, there is more!

4) What is the real story about Vioxx?

Remember a few minutes ago when we looked at what the FDA can, and cannot do? On thing they also cannot do is independently test drugs. It is the responsibility of the drug manufacturer to propose, implement, and report their own drug trials. In the case of the pain medication Vioxx, the drug company Merck lied. They lied, and they lied. And then they lied some more.

If you want the details use the link. I think that for this post, the fact that Megan Fox is a raging liar, and hypocrite is more to the point. She first attacked the FDA as a terrible gang that tried to prevent a highly toxic chemical from being sold to nitwits as a "miracle cure" for AIDS, malaria, and acne. Then Ms. Fox whines that the capitalist pharmaceutical industry was not stopped by the FDA. The Merck corporation bribed so-called independent industry scientists, and lied to the FDA, and published faked studies. When the FDA tried to stop the sale of Vioxx, the industrial lawyers went to work to keep the drug in the market, and to keep their bosses out of jail.

A final end note to the persistent inability of Ms. Fox to grasp simple facts is the asinine lie supposed to support home schooling that, "Meanwhile, 79% of Chicago’s public schooled 8th graders can’t read."

She even gave a link to The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

There are just a few massive problems with Ms. Fox, and her inability to read a simple table.

If you look at the data that Ms. Fox couldn't read, you will see that Chicago 8th grade students in 2011 were the 12th highest in children who were not fluent in English reading for major cities. This is not to say they were not able to read. Reading in German or Spanish is reading. The NAEP tests are in English.

Next, the data show that 36% of Chicago 8th graders were "below Basic" in English reading. That does not mean they "cannot read," or even that they cannot read English. It meant they were below the National expectation for English reading at the 8th grade level. The home of English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching was Chicago in the early 1900s. The first language was Polish.

One problem with the insanity of the far right is that under current standards, 25% of American students fail in every category. One problem few people are well informed on was that the The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) arbitrarily changed "proficient" from a 50/50 ratio to a 60% fail 40% pass. This was pulled off by the "standardized test" mafia. I was a member of the prototype committee of the NAEP Science Panel. I resigned in protest. But beyond that, Ms. Fox was still grossly incompetently wrong. This is not even close to the lie that "79% of Chicago’s public schooled 8th graders can’t read." She copied this particular lie from any of several radical right-wing websites. The link is to just one example. Even they could tell the difference between "proficient" and "cannot read." Since the average news paper is written for an 8th grade level, we have every hope that average 13 year old will soon surpass the FOX News audience in their English reading.

Ms. Fox clearly has failed repeatedly.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Teacher Slams in the OCWeekly

I have exhausted my effort to make a simple table on Google's Blogger. Bugger is a better name.

OC Weekly is a presumably liberal "alternative" news rag published weekly for Orange County, California. Today they really pissed me off.

It is hard to know just which falsehoods in this little anti-education screed by Matt Coker to debunk first.

The caption to the OCWeekly photo was the first prejudicial item that caught my eye. The photo is of a room full of teachers having a training session for union representatives. One important role that union reps have is to attend teacher and administrator disciplinary meetings. The OCWeekly caption reads, "Anaheim Union High School District teachers participate in a teacher association-based training session that is presumably NOT on what to do with all the money they make." The topics of the meeting were obviously displayed from the union website which Mr. Coker copied the photo. So before this “news” article even started, the gross bias and/or incompetence of Mr. Coker was already clear.

The bare facts are that most teachers are required to attend 5 days of unpaid training, and typically another 5 partially paid days. These are on their “days off.” When I was an industrial chemist, we had scheduled days when company reps came and did review compensation plans on the company dime. In decades of teaching I never even heard of a school district paying for negotiation time, or retirement planning. Teachers must “pay” themselves out-of-pocket. My wife was a K-12 teacher in Orange County for 30 years, and she never had a paid day off for benefit, or retirement planning.

Mr. Coker makes his inability to honestly report on education obvious in his first paragraph. He makes two gross errors. The first is to blindly accept the handout from an anti-education political hack organization. They have lied about teacher pay which just a little effort demonstrated. The second is worse. This is to think that the single number “measure” of district wide student performance should have a direct relationship with teacher pay. Mr. Coker parroted his lines from the far-right,
“Transparent California, which is a project of the California Policy Center and the Nevada Policy Research Institute, found that Anaheim Union's average teacher compensation is $115,437 while its Academic Performance Index score is 777.”

I’ll break this down.

First, the “average teacher compensation” number of “$115,437” is at best wrong. This would be obvious to any honest reporter. The first clue is that “teacher compensation” is not at all the same as a salary. However, most readers will imagine that “compensation” is the same as salary. Any honest, or competent reporter would have made this difference clear. First question is, “Are numbers from a political extremist organization trustworthy?” Second, (since the first answer is No!) what are the real numbers?

The following numbers are from “Transparent California” for individual Anaheim high school teachers. I listed the lowest, and highest paid full-time teachers for 2013-2014 based on their numbers.

Regular pay Overtime pay Other pay Benefits Total pay & benefits
$ 21,362.00, $0.00, $ 1,188.00, $2,917.00, $ 23,091.00
$104,192.00, $0.00, $16,898.00, $25,261.00, $146,351.00

Think just a moment- 4 years of college, 2 years of post-graduate teacher training, and 21 grand to start. Note as well that the highest paid teacher is also getting a $16,898 kicker. Sports coaches do get a very sweet “kick” if their kickers kick well. Additionally, there was an extended hiring freeze when the Republicans were bankrupting California, and the Nation. This has a serious effect on teacher salaries. They actually increase because cost of living, and step increases are built into their contract. What union teachers did here in OC, and across the State was to “forgive” these until the school districts got back in the positive margin of their annual budgets. This finally started to show up in paychecks only since we booted the rightwing from power. The real long term loss was our new young teachers. They were faced with terrible pay, poor hire prospects, and no raises for years. Most new teachers discover that they are not really able to stay in the classroom. They quit. About 50% quit in less than 7 years. The starting pay is very poor as seen in data published by the radical “California Policy Center.”

There are actual professionals that do competent studies of compensation rates for most US industries, and professions. I picked one because it was among the largest. In this case “largest” implies more “competent.” There is a simple comparison between the politically biased (false) California Policy Center assertion that the “average teacher compensation is $115,437,” and a professional company who’s success depends on honesty and accuracy;

Here are their creditable data on the payment package for Anaheim high school teachers;
Median Base Salary, $62,433, 70.8%
Total Compensation, $88,227, 100%

Is the Anaheim’s high school teacher average compensation really $115,437?”

A professional company who’s success depends on honesty and accuracy reported the median total compensation was $88,227, and only ~62K was salary. I know who I trust.

The rest of Mr. Coker’s pathetic slam on teachers was his lack of effort reviewing the idea of the
“Academic Performance Index (API).” The California Policy Center “Transparency” scam reported a trivial summary number of “777.” I am surprised they didn’t round down to “666.” What are the facts? The California Department of Education has these data online. Just a click away for the data that Mr. Coker was too lazy, or too biased to check. I summarize it below for the most recent 2012-2013 data.

Students, AIP 2013
Total#, 25,377, 777

This is were Mr. Coker and the “transparency” gang quit.

But, there is much more. If the goal of a school district is a score over 800, how does Anaheim really do?

There is a district wide ethnic breakdown; (Ethnic label, percentage of students, 2013 AIP score)

Filipino, 16.3%, 915

White not
Hispanic, 11.9%, 819

Hispanic, 64.6%, 734

learners, 43.0%, 685

Poor, 68.6%, 744

So where is there a serious problem? It is obvious that “English learners” do not do very well on all day long tests taken in ENGLISH! Poor students (in our experience often hungry students) do poorly on all tests. It is a safe assumption that a majority of non-English speakers in Anaheim schools are poor Hispanics! We can partial out an estimate of English fluent Hispanic AIP scores making the assumption that "English learners" are Hispanic. In that case, the English fluent Hispanic students have an API over 865.

Their teachers are doing a fantastic job.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Andrew Snelling, and Steve Austin: Creationist Frauds

There is a book very popular with young earth "flood" creationists, "Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe," edited by Dr. Steve Austin (1994, Institute for Creation Research, San Diego). This book claimed that all the strata of the Grand Canyon were deposited, and then carved out during the "Flood."

This theme is repeated up by creationist Dr. Andrew A. Snelling, "Rock Layers Folded, Not Fractured: Flood Evidence Number Six" Answers in Genesis, March 15, 2009

These and dozens of other creationist "evidences" use the following image from Coal Canyon, a side canyon to the Grand Canyon:

Some sample captions from different articles by Snelling, or Austin plus a random creationist website follow;

Figure 3 and 4. It is possible to see these folded sedimentary layers in several side canyons. All these layers had to be soft and pliable at the same time in order for these layers to be folded without fracturing. The folded Tapeats Sandstone can be seen in Carbon Canyon (top) and the folded Mauv and Redwall Limestone layers can be seen along Kwagunt Creek (bottom).

“In the walls of the Grand Canyon, we can see that the whole horizontal sedimentary strata sequence was folded without fracturing, supposedly 440 million years after the Tapeats Sandstone and Muav Limestone were deposited, and 200 million years after the Kaibab Limestone was deposited. The only way to explain how these sandstone and limestone beds could be folded, as though still pliable, is to conclude they were deposited during the Genesis Flood, just months before they were folded.”

"#2 Bent Rock Layers: 10 Best Evidences From Science That Confirm a Young Earth" by Dr. Andrew A. Snelling on October 1, 2012.

Photo 1: The whole sequence of sedimentary layers through which Grand Canyon cuts has been bent and folded without fracturing. This includes the Tapeats Sandstone, located at the bottom of the sequence. (A 90° fold in the eastern Grand Canyon is pictured here.)

Look at the photos of some of these layers at the edge of the plateau, just east of the Grand Canyon. The whole sequence of these hardened sedimentary rock layers has been bent and folded, but without fracturing (Figure 1.3) At the bottom of this sequence is the Tapeats Sandstone, which is 100–325 feet (30–100 meters) thick. It is bent and folded 90° (Photo 1).

It is obvious the 90-degree folding of the layers was done when they were still soft and pliable because there is no evidence whatsoever of breaking or shattering.

It is these false assertions, that "these hardened sedimentary rock layers has(sic) been bent and folded, but without fracturing" repeated over and over that are a major fraud of "Flood Geology."

I am particularly impressed by two features of this claim. The first is that it is a bald-faced lie. The second is actually two points related to the photograph. What is offered is a very poorly taken photo from a considerable distance with very bad lighting. Creationists use it to support their gross falsehoods. The second is that the "geology students" from the Institute for Creation Research posed in the photo are placed directly in front of the very fracturing that Snelling and Austin falsely claim is absent.

I have done a simple mark-up of just a sample of the obvious stress fractures from a much better USGS photo of the same geological feature. This original photo was taken with a good resolution, at a time of day that provided good lighting and contrast. I was particularly interested in showing the multiple strata cross-cutting stress fractures at the very locations that Snelling and Austin have lied about.

Why would Steve Austin use students to hide the obvious fractures he and Snelling claim are missing?

These frauds should not be allowed to pretend they are honest scientists who merely come "to different opinions" as some particularly weak-minded philosophers have asserted. When these liars and frauds are allowed to act like a real geologists, they use it as license to lie even more. They claim the sanction of organizations like the Geological Society of America to impress their victims. See; "Christian Geologists Influential at GSA Meeting" by Steven A. Austin, Ph.D. in "Evidence for Creation."

Some other links:

Great reply by Tim Helble

non YEC SD Adventists

"Creationism in the Grand Canyon, Part 1," by Steven Newton

Friday, July 24, 2015

A quick over view on Christain Reconstructionists

Professor Julie Ingersoll posted this short article today (July 24th 2015) on the "Christian Reconstruction Movement."

If you are not familiar with what that is, I recommend reading her essay. To get an sense of how the "Christian Reconstructionists plan to rule America, consider the following passage from one of their Gurus;

"The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant--baptism and holy communion-must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel."
-- Gary North - Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism, Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989, p. 87.

Of course she hopes you will buy her new book as well. (I probably will). *In fact, I did. I started it last night (31 July).

Some other recent good books on the origins of America's radical Religious Right are;

Hedges, Chris
2008 “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” New York: Free Press.

Phillips, Kevin
2006 “American Theocracy” New York: Viking Press

Sharlet, Jeff
2008 "The Family: The secret fundamentalism at the heart of American power" New York: Harper Collins

There is even a connection between the Christian Reconstructionists and the origin of "Intelligent Design Creationism" discussed in;

Barbara Carroll Forrest, Paul R. Gross
2004 "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design" Oxford University Press

Monday, July 06, 2015

Vernon Cupps Part 2

Part 2.
Concentric radiation halos in biotite mica considered by Gentry to be caused by polonium isotope decay (Gentry, 1992)

Vernon R. Cupps (2014) now at the Institute for Creation Research, makes the false assertion that so-called “polonium halos” are “the best indirect observational evidence, measured at today’s rates of decay, supporting millions of years of radioisotope decay.” He goes on to claim that these are actually caused by, “primordial Po (polonium), rather than Po in the form of daughter isotopes from U decay.” In support he cited young earth creationist Andrew Snelling (2000).

There are many problems with those few sentences that will take some untangling. The first thing to notice is that Cupp has not given the readers any references to the original literature, which as an “expert” he surely must know. Instead he gave a citation to the ICR “RATE project” that is a pure creationist effort to discredit real physical research. The first RATE chapter he cited was written by geologist Andrew Snelling. The reality is that the YEC “polonium halo” phantasy he is trying to resurrect has a long history, and is definitively debunked (Baillieul 2005). The idea that the microscopic damage to mineral crystals called “halos” were caused by the newly discovered phenomena of radioactive elements I have read was first published over a century ago (Joly 1907). The notion that these radiohalos could show that the Earth was ancient was published by Joly in 1917. The analysis of this phenomena, and the systematic idea they indicated an ancient formation of the Earth’s crust waited until the late 1930s (Henderson 1939). The important discoveries in the intervening ~20 years were that atoms were real, and that the nucleus was composed of 2 particles; neutrons and protons. It was Henderson who proposed that these radiohalos indicated that the Earth’s crust was ancient, and that precise ages could be assigned to crustal rocks by the number and kinds of radiohalos. This is because the crystal damage seen under a microscope as a “halo” had light and dark rings. The rings reflected the energy of the radioactive particles that formed them, and this was the result of different isotopes. Henderson predicted that some “halos” would be still active, and that some were the result of Uranium decaying all the way to Lead. It turned out he was totally correct about the basics. However, it did not prove to be a good way to directly measure the age of the Earth, or Solar System because the Earth’s crust is constantly being reformed, and recycled (Dalrymple 1991). Any radiohalo that has the characteristic size, number of rings, and a trace concentration of Lead at its center shows that the Earth was ancient, but not how old in absolute age.

Robert Gentry is a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) and Seventh Day Adventist. He has an earned M.A. in physics. He held a visiting research appointment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to explore his claim that he had discovered a “new type” of radiation. He is the primary source of creationist claims that radiohalo studies were proof of a young Earth. He started quietly in 1968 with the publication of his article in Science magazine (Gentry 1968) although he cited earlier related papers he had published at conferences. But it was in his 1968 paper that Gentry first claimed that the production of radio halos by Polonium was not from the well established Uranium decay series. His critical conclusion (later proved wrong) was, “Thus, as far as the experimental analysis is concerned, I cannot confirm Henderson's model for the secondary origin of the polonium halos. To the question of what mode of origin is consistent with the relatively short halflives of the polonium isotopes (or their /-decaying precursors), I can say only that other mechanisms are under study.” To appreciate what Gentry thought he had discovered you must know that the longest half-life for radioactive Polonium is 138.4 days. If Gentry had been correct that Polonium was somehow injected into granite by means not from radioactive decay, then granites would have formed in that amount of time, or less. He imagined that the mystery Polonium was created by God from thin air.

He was wrong, but has never admitted it.

Gentry was persistently writing and published in valid scientific journals for the next 15 years. However as a pro-creationism witness in the famous 1981 trial McLean v. Arkansas he admitted under oath that, "My understanding is that all the assertions in the Bible which pertain to science would be true." (Robert V. Gentry, Cross-examination in McLean v. Arkansas, 1981). So like most creationists, his personal opinions about the Bible overrule any fact based results. The creationists lost the trial like they have every other one. Gentry became a darling of the creationist movement who repeated his claim of persecution for his young earth assertion. He was falsely “promoted” to doctorate status and his visiting research associate was promoted to a “professorship” in creationist literature (e.g. Goette, B. (1989). Is There Evidence For a Young Earth?. Bible and Spade, 2(1), 4-6). Gentry summarized his evidence in a self-published book in 1992.

The scientific journals had given Gentry more that enough rope, and he hung himself by not being able to respond to the mass of evidence against him. Interestingly, by the time major scientific publications were tired of publishing the repetitive claims of Gentry’s, they also lost interest in publishing valid counter arguments. Readers particularly interested in the detailed scientific examination of why the YEC radiohalo argument failed should read Collins 1997, Collins and Collins 2010, Baillieul 2005, 2010. The latter refutations also address the ICR RATE rehash.

So why did the “expert” Vernon Cupps (2014) not give any citation to the real “polonium halo” story? Why not cite Gentry, and the multiple refutations of his failed YEC theory? Readers could ask him directly. I suspect that he wants to avoid any citation that easily exposed the failure of the argument, and at the same time helped promote the publications of his new bosses.

Baillieul, Thomas A. (professional geologist MA 1976, DoE, migration of radionuclides in the natural environment.
2005 reprinted 2010, "Polonium Haloes" Refuted: A Review of "Radioactive Halos in a Radio-Chronological and Cosmological Perspective" by Robert V. Gentry” NCSE Reports, VOL 30, NR 5: 17-26. Retrieved April, 2015.

Collins, L. G.
1997 “Polonium halos and myrmekite in pegmatite and granite”

Collins, Lorence G & Barbara J Collins
2010 “Origin of Polonium Halos” NCSE Reports Vol: 30 (5), 11–16

Cupps, Vernon R.
2014 “Clocks in Rocks? Radioactive Dating, Part 1” Acts & Facts. 43 (10)

Dalrymple, G. Brent
1991 “The Age of the Earth” Stanford University Press

Gentry, R. V.
1968 “Fossil alpha-recoil analysis of certain variant radioactive halos” Science, 160(3833), 1228-1230

Gentry, R. V.,
1992 “Creation’s Tiny Mystery, 3rd ed.” Knoxville (TN): Earth Science Associates

HENDERSON, G.H., A quantitative study of pleochroic haloes V. The genesis of haloes, PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON SERIES A-MATHEMATICAL AND PHYSICAL SCIENCES 173: 250 (1939)

Joly, J. (1907) “Pleochroic halos” The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, 13(75), 381-383.

Joly, John,
1917 “The genesis of pleochroic halos” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series A 217: 51

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Just another from Michael Snyder: Lie #24

I thought I would quit at 12, but exposing creationist frauds is like eating potato chips - hard to stop at just a dozen.

Lie #24 (Quote Mine) Why did evolutionist Dr. Lyall Watson make the following statement?…

“The fossils that decorate our family tree are so scarce that there are still more scientists than specimens. The remarkable fact is that all of the physical evidence we have for human evolution can still be placed, with room to spare, inside a single coffin!”

This was attributed by the creationist rags published by the Institute for Creation Research to Lyell(sic)(correct spelling Lyall) Watson, "The Water People," Science Digest, vol. 90 (May 1982), p. 44. First Lyall Watson has no doctorate in a science. Second, “Science Digest” was not a professional scientific journal, and was not peer reviewed. It was a “Readers Digest” formatted magazine that looked for sensationalized articles they dumbed down for their readers. Thirdly, the author Lyall Watson was a sham with a long list of pseudo-scientific books about the supernatural, and “psychic powers.” examples are ’Supernature’ (1973) called ’A natural history of the supernatural.’ Watson was the author of additional New Age nonsense such as “BEYOND SUPERNATURE” (1986).

But finally, the major lie is that this is merely a lie. Even in 1982 we had far more human fossil material than admitted by creationists even today. This is a variation on Creationist Claim CC030.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Michael Snyder, "44 Reasons Why Evolution Is Just A Fairy Tale For Adults.” Exposing 1 - 12.

Creationist frauds and lies regarding the sciences have a characteristic pattern similar to other forms of science denial. I recommend reading a NewsWeek article recently published, Can You Inoculate Against Science Denial? By John Cook The following graphic gives a rough outline of how science denial follows common patterns whether employed by creationists, anti-vaccination loons, or climate change deniers.

Mr. Michael Snyder is a lawyer, and like too many lawyers he is not shy about lying if it will make him money. He has already scored on the denier’s hit list by falsely presenting himself as an expert on biology, paleontology, geology, and anthropology. His not an expert in any of those sciences. He is not even a poor student. His “44 Reasons Why Evolution Is Just A Fairy Tale For Adults” is a promotion for his book, and a click-bait advertising website. (I won’t link to it). His “44 Reasons” are entirely false. Worse, none are original and it seems conclusive that Mr. Snyder is merely plagiarizing other creationists.

As we will see below, these 44 falsehoods are a mix of refuted, or baseless assertions, quote mines, as well as just plain lies that follow the pattern mentioned above. For the quote mines, I always recommend the TalkOrigins “Quote Mine Project.” When the particular falsehood prompted by Mr. Snyder is a Quote Mine, I’ll generally just refer to the TalkOrigins exposure of his fraud. None are actually original to Mr. Snyder. Some have been repeated by creationists for decades in spite of the fact they are lies. It is also worth pointing out that most of these 44 have been already debunked from just two other easily available resources, the TalkOrigins An Index of Creationist Claims, and Dr. Douglas Theobald’s “29+ Evidences for Macroevolution The Scientific Case for Common Descent”

(Note added: I found another blog that debunked the first 9 of Mr. Snyder's falsehoods, written last February, 2014.)

Falsehood #1 "If the theory of evolution was true, we should have discovered millions upon millions of transitional fossils that show the development of one species into another species. Instead, we have zero.”

This is a lie. It is debunked by the resources I linked to above. It is false Claim CC200. We have museums and museum warehouses filled to the rafters with transitional fossils. One I have personally worked with was Gomphotaria pugnax, a transitional species between the bears, and the pinnipeds. The transitional fossils for the cetaceans are very well known showing the shift from land animals to fully aquatic. The most accessible general reader source is from the laboratory of Dr. J. G. M. Thewissen, also an excellent source on the evolution of Sirenians. The known transitional fossils fall into six families, Indocetidae, Pakicetidae, Ambulocetidae, Remingtonocetidae, Protocetidae, Dorudontidae, and Basilosauridae. The transitional fossils of the Sirenians are less well studied with only about fifty specimens. None the less, the broad outline connecting the elephants, hippos, and manatees is known. The early transitional fossils for the pinipeds are the least well known. The best fossil specimen in the world (over 90% complete) of the most likely common ancestor of the pinipeds, Gomphotaria pugnax, was discovered by one of my former students and is curated by a museum where I was a director. Gomphoria shows the fossil connection between the pinipeds and their ancient ancestor bears.

Lie #2 (Quote Mine) When Charles Darwin came up with his theory, he admitted that no transitional forms had been found at that time, but he believed that huge numbers certainly existed and would eventually be discovered…

“Lastly, looking not to any one time, but to all time, if my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking closely together all the species of the same group, must assuredly have existed. But, as by this theory, innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?”

This is a “quote mine.” Quote mining is “the use of a (usually short) passage, taken from the work of an authority in some field, "which superficially appears to support one's position, but [from which] significant context is omitted and contrary evidence is conveniently ignored" (The TalkOrigin “Quote Mine Project.”) Darwin did pose the question of where would we find the fossils that confirmed his theory of common descent. He actually devoted a whole chapter to his geological study and wondered if the loss of geological fossils might have been so great that his “transitional” fossils could never be found. That was over 150 years ago. He should not have worried. We have more than adequately confirmed his theory. Here is a list of books written for non-specialists on the discovery of transitional fossils;

Prothero, Donald.
2007 "Evolution: What The Fossils Say and Why It Matters" Colombia University Press.

Shubin, Neal
2008 “Your Inner Fish” New York: Pantheon Books

Tattersall, Ian
1995 "The Fossil Trail" Oxford University Press

Ward, Peter Douglas
1992 “On Methuselah’s Trail: Living Fossils and the Great Extinctions” (New York: W. H. Freeman,).

Lie #3 (Quote Mine) “Even some of the most famous evolutionists in the world acknowledge the complete absence of transitional fossils in the fossil record. For example, Dr. Colin Patterson, former senior paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History and author of “Evolution” once wrote the following…

“I fully agree with your comments about the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them …. I will lay it on the line – there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.”

This is Quote Mine # 56. It even has an extended debunking, Patterson Misquoted.

Flasehood #4 (A Quote Mine) Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology and Paleontology at Harvard University, once wrote the following about the lack of transitional forms…

“The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.”

This is merely TalkOrigins Quote Mine #50.

#5 (A Quote Mine) Evolutionist Stephen M. Stanley of Johns Hopkins University has also commented on the stunning lack of transitional forms in the fossil record…

“In fact, the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another.”

This is debunked at TalkOrigins Quote Mine #7.

Lie #6 If “evolution” was happening right now, there would be millions of creatures out there with partially developed features and organs. But instead there are none.

In fact there are “millions of creatures out there with partially developed features and organs.” Charles Darwin was most interested in the greatly modified organs that we see today called “vestigial” organs. He was unaware of amphibians without lungs, or fish with them. He did not know that the monotremes were mammals that still laid eggs. Mr. Snyder is either an ignorant lout who wants his followers to stay ignorant, or he is a con-man.

Lie #7 If the theory of evolution was true, we should not see a sudden explosion of fully formed complex life in the fossil record. Instead, that is precisely what we find.

This is simply another appeal to ignorance. This is perfect demonstration that Mr. Snyder has not made even a slight good faith effort to learn about evolution. This particular lie of his is refuted by the following books (These are written for professionals and are not the feel-good-trivial-lies familiar to creationists);

Erwin, Douglas H., James W. Valentine
2013 "The Cambrian Explosion: The Construction of Animal Diversity" New York: Roberts and Company Publishers

Valentine, James W.
2005 “On the Origin of Phyla” University of Chicago Press

Here are the facts in very simple terms. The origin of multicellular organisms was first found about 2.5 billion years ago. This was one billion years after the first fossil single cell organisms, and 1.3 billion years after the first geochemical evidence of life.

“Complex” organisms with specialized cells appeared over a billion years ago. Additional references to those above are;

Rosing, T. Minik
1999 “13C-Depleated Carbon Microparticles in >3700-Ma Sea-Floor Sedimentary rocks from West Greenland” Science 283 (5402): 674

Rosing, Minik T. and Robert Frei
2004 “U-rich Archaean sea-floor sediments from Greenland – indications of >3700 Ma oxygenic photosynthesis" Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 217 237-244

Schopf, J. William
1999 "Cradle of Life: The Discovery of Earth's Earliest Fossils" , Princeton University Press

#8 (Quote Mine) Paleontologist Mark Czarnecki, an evolutionist, once commented on the fact that complex life appears very suddenly in the fossil record…

“A major problem in proving the theory has been the fossil record; the imprints of vanished species preserved in the Earth’s geological formations. This record has never revealed traces of Darwin’s hypothetical intermediate variants – instead species appear and disappear abruptly, and this anomaly has fueled the creationist argument that each species was created by God.”

This is Quote Mine #26. It is just another of Mr. Snyder’s many lies.

#9 (Quote Mine) The sudden appearance of complex life in the fossil record is so undeniable that even Richard Dawkins has been forced to admit it…

“It is as though they [fossils] were just planted there, without any evolutionary history. Needless to say this appearance of sudden planting has delighted creationists. Both schools of thought (Punctuationists and Gradualists) despise so-called scientific creationists equally, and both agree that the major gaps are real, that they are true imperfections in the fossil record. The only alternative explanation of the sudden appearance of so many complex animal types in the Cambrian era is divine creation and both reject this alternative.”

This is Quote Mine #40

My advice to Mr. Snyder is to stop lying. 1 John 4:1. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Lie #10 Nobody has ever observed macroevolution take place in the laboratory or in nature. In other words, nobody has ever observed one kind of creature turn into another kind of creature. The entire theory of evolution is based on blind faith.

This is actually two lies. First, I was a working scientist for 40 years. I know what I discovered, and I know the degree of severe criticism and review scientists hold each other to every day. I do not accept anything on “blind faith.” Scientists do not accept anything on “blind faith.” I do place a modicum of trust in my fellow scientists, but only that little bit. I trust them to fear what happens to a scientist caught lying. And the fact that it is a great career opportunity for a young scientist to expose the errors of a senior scientist leads me to trust that over time errors will be exposed and corrected. This contrasts science with religion. Religionists will brand (or burn, or stone to death) any deviations from dogma. This is on-going around the world even today.

The big lie is that we are not fully able to document the evolution of new species from older ones. I have compiled a list of dozens of published examples, The Emergence of New Species. For additional information about how Mr. Snyder has lied, see Dr. Douglas Theobald’s “29+ Evidences for Macroevolution The Scientific Case for Common Descent.”

#11 (Quote Mine) Evolutionist Jeffrey Schwartz, a professor of anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, openly admits that “the formation of a new species, by any mechanism, has never been observed.”

This is Quote Mine # 53 slightly varied. In simple terms, Mr. Snyder is lying again. Worse, he has merely copied someone else lying.

The bigger lie is that we are not fully able to document the evolution of new species from older ones. I have compiled a list of dozens of published examples, The Emergence of New Species.

Lie #12 (Quote Mine) “Even evolutionist Stephen J. Gould of Harvard University has admitted that the record shows that species do not change. The following is how he put it during a lecture at Hobart & William Smith College…

“Every paleontologist knows that most species don’t change. That’s bothersome….brings terrible distress. ….They may get a little bigger or bumpier but they remain the same species and that’s not due to imperfection and gaps but stasis. And yet this remarkable stasis has generally been ignored as no data. If they don’t change, its not evolution so you don’t talk about it.”

This is a very odd “quote” as it has no text as a reference. It is claimed to be a “lecture” that Steven Gould was supposed to have given to Hobart & William Smith College in 1980. There is no text, or record of this so-called “lecture.” In the creationist’s alternate reality, this lecture was titled, “Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?” There is no independent documentation that such a lecture ever took place, or what might have been said. What is interesting is that there was a paper by Gould published by the journal Paleobiology in 1980 with the title that creationist sources give to the illusive ‘lecture.’ In that paper, Steve Gould never wrote anything near the faked “quote.” The 1980 paper was also the subject of Mr. Snyder's Falsehood #4 which was merely TalkOrigins Quote Mine #50.

“Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?” Stephen Jay Gould
Paleobiology Vol. 6, No. 1 (Winter, 1980), pp. 119-130

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ego Google

I had not done an "ego Google" for months. It is typically boring: the same creationist whines about how mean I am, and Ed Brayton's bullshit posts.

Today I saw a rather amusing link to a set of lecture slides in German from a book chapter I coauthored decades ago.

Trance and Possession States E. Mansell Pattison, Joel Kahan, Gary S. Hurd presented by Gerald Zwinger.

The original publication was;

1985 "Trance and Possession States," E. M. Pattison, Joel Kahan, G. Hurd. In Handbook of Altered States of Consciousness. B. B. Walman and M. Ullman (ed.s) New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, pp. 286-310.

The way I was added to that book chapter was because I was the principle author of;

1984 "Manifestations of Possession in Novel Ecological Contexts," G. S. Hurd, E. M. Pattison. in Ecological Models in Clinical and Community Mental Health, W.A. O'Connor and B. Lubin (ed.s). John Wiley & Sons: New York.

Mansell had "adopted" most of my text, and added one of our students as a coauthor.

I was wroth. Very Wroth.