Sunday, April 29, 2012

The new "letter to the editor" ran this morning

The Mountain Press of Sevierville, Tn ran a LtE that I wrote last week. Their header is Former teacher misunderstands issues about Scopes, evolution. They have a print circulation of only about 7,500. But, Tennessee is a small population state, and a current hot-spot for creationist laws.

I'll be interested to see if there are any creationists that will comment on-line. I'd be particularly amused if Mr. Shipe tries to defend his multiple lies.

Here is the copy I emailed,]

I wondered how bills like the Monkey Law passed. Then I read the letter Jack
Shipe. Since Shipe claimed he taught science, this ignorance has deep roots.
None of his so-called facts stand against honest examination.

John Scopes was not motivated by the ACLU, which offered to defend anyone
arrested teaching evolution. There was never any “reward.” Dayton business men
brought it up to Scopes to boost travel to, and the reputation of their town.
“Nebraska Man” was never introduced at the trial. There was never any scientific
evidence introduced at the trial. Scientific materials were appended to the
record after the trial, but none of these mentioned “Nebraska Man.”

There is nothing accurate in Mr. Shipe’s other Nebraska Man assertions either.
Tooth fragments were discovered by a rancher and amateur geologist, who sent
them to Henry Fairfield Osborn. Osborn was a paleontologist, not an
archaeologist. Osborn published in 1922 that they were from a primitive ape. He
never identified them as human. Other paleontologists disagreed even with that.
1925 professional excavations showed that the tooth fragments belonged to an
extinct peccary. This was published in scientific journals, and popular
newspapers like the New York Times.

Charles Lyell published “Principles of Geology, vol. 1” in 1830. He never
suggested the Earth’s age in years. He mentions tree rings in Volume 3 (1833)
when citing another scientist’s estimate that an African Baobab-tree was 5,150
years old. Early attempts to estimate the age of the earth used the cooling time
of rock, or iron. Boffon used heated iron spheres in 1778. From their cooling
rate, he estimated that Earth to be at least 300,000 years old. Privately he
speculated the number could be billions of years. This work was continued by
Lord Kelvin in the 1860s. He estimated the Earth’s surface to be between 20, and
400 million years old. Kelvin’s estimates were overturned by the 1903 discovery
that radioactivity heats rocks.

Apparently Shipe missed simple physics. The “leap second” results from
gravitational friction between the Earth and Moon. Currently the Earth and Moon
are tidally locked slowing Earth’s rotation as the Moon slowly moves further
away. This adds only 1 second to the Earth’s rotational speed per 500 days, but
this varied over time. Currently, it is 85 days per million years.

Shipe’s next gross error is his confusion about sex. Division into
reproductively exclusive sexes was never a single generational jump. Today we
observe hundreds of species with individuals reproductively both male and
female. Some, like Semicossyphus pulcher, are first female and then transition
to male. The evolutionary origin of sexual reproduction dates back to the yeasts
which reproduce both sexually, and asexually.

Finally, Shipe does not know what a species is, let alone how they evolve. I
recommend reading, “What is a Species, and What is Not,” by Ernst Mayr which
explains why evolution must always been at the species level. We have directly
observed this in nature, and experiments. (Google: “Emergence of New Species” ).

The only comfort we can take from Mr. Shipe’s letter is that he is no longer a

See how many errors they introduced in editing? (OK, just 1) It is instructive to me to read the original comment, versus the edited comment (above), versus the published comment.


EastwoodDC said...

Not much response at the Mountain Press. I think all those facts must have scared away the Creationist crowd. :-)

Gary S. Hurd said...

I am a little disappointed, but not surprised.