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Creationist Comedy
F. C. Kuechmann

NOTE: This article incorporates revisions to the original in response to
corrections and information supplied by Peter Knight, and by Sean
Mewhinney via Leroy Ellenberger (see e-mail message below).
Revised 19-20 August 2000.

In the Creation ex nihilo Magazine (Vol 19 #3:10–14, Jun–Aug 1997, an article titled The Lost Squadron by noted Australian creationist, founder and editor of that publication, Dr Carl Wieland, purports to show that, because a group of WWII airplanes were buried under several hundred feet of ice in 50 years, the technique of ice core dating is based on false premises.

After describing how holes were melted into the ice until the planes were discovered 250 feet deep, Wieland makes this curious comment:

None of the discoverers had thought that the planes could possibly be buried under more than a light cover of snow and ice. And why would they?

Maybe because they didn't bother to look at the available data for snowfall and ice accumulation for that area for the past 50 years. That is – because they were amateur adventurers rather than scientists. If they had investigated more thoroughly, they would have found that the ice in that area builds at a rate averaging 7 feet per year.

Dr Wieland next proceeds to leap from the merely curious to the astonishing:

After all, the impression the general public has is that the build up of glacial ice takes very long time periods - thousands of years for just a few metres.

Since when is "the impression the general public has" considered a valid basis for science or anything but the impressions of the general public?

Anyone genuinely familiar with ice core dating knows that, like the growth rings of a tree, the quantity used in counting is the number of discernible annual layers – not the thickness. Wieland at first seems to be somewhat aware of that as he continues:

In fact, ice cores in Greenland are used for dating, based on the belief that layers containing varying isotope ratios were laid down, somewhat like the rings of a tree, over many tens of thousands of years.

The seekers of the buried aircraft never extracted intact ice core samples and subjected them to the tests used in scientific dating, and ice cores from moving glaciers aren`t used for studying anything but glacial movement. Yet, a bit further on, Wieland seems to be comparing the length of genuine ice core samples from the GRIP or GISP 2 projects[1] with the ice thickness burying the aircraft:

Evolutionists and other long–agers often say that "the present is the key to the past". In that case, the 3000 metres of ice core brought up in Greenland in 1990 would only represent some 2,000 years of accumulation.

Suddenly the thickness of 268 feet of glacial ice near the east coast that was melted through by non-scientists to recover the "Glacier Girl" P-38 fighter is being used to date "3000 metres of ice core" extracted deep in the interior of the Greenland ice sheet.[2] Has he already forgotten his "rings of a tree" analogy just a few paragraphs earlier? Has he opted for no more flim-flam about annual layers? -- let's just measure the thickness in two widely-separated locations, compare them, and be done with it. Is Wieland funny, or what?  Exaggeration for comic effect, I suppose, or perhaps the sleigh-of-hand of the parlour magician is at work. The GISP 2 core samples were dated using 42 scientifically validated parameters, and Wieland wants to overrule the dating with a scientifically ridiculous comparison of thicknesses. What a knee-slapper this guy is, huh?

He next shows us how it's all evidence for young earth creationism:

Allowing of course for compression of lower layers, (which is also offset by the inevitable aftermath of a global Flood, namely much greater precipitation and snowfall for a few centuries) there is ample time in the 4,000 or so years since Noah's day for the existing amounts of ice to have built up even under today`s generally non–catastrophic conditions.

If ice cores had in fact been extracted at the "Glacier Girl" site and analysis using the same 42 methods used for GISP 2 determined that the aircraft were buried thousands of years ago, Wieland might have an arguable case. As is, all he's got is proof of his own ignorance. For a topper, his information sources for the article are offered in his first footnote –

Information for this article is mostly from:The  Lost Squadron, Life magazine 15(14):6068, December 1992 and Search for a Fork–Tailed Devil, Compressed Air Magazine, pp. 3036, March 1996.

And "creation scientists" like Wieland wonder why no one with the brains of a gnat takes them seriously.

Wieland continues his journey into ignorance, in Footnote 9:

Argonne National Laboratories in the US combined wood, water and acidic clay, and heated in a sealed container (with no added pressure) at 150 C for 28 days, and obtained high–grade black coal. R. Hayatsu, et al., Organic Geochemistry, 6:463471, 1984.[3]

The cited article, however, describes testing with several materials including lignin and lignin/cellulose (the major components of wood) and heating durations ranging from 30 minutes to 8 months. None of the intervals was close to the 28 day figure given by Wieland – the closest was 60 minutes, 2nd closest 2 months. None of tests used water – most involved a mixture of 4 g activated clay and 2 g lignin, both finely powdered, in a sealed glass tube which was either evacuated or the air replaced with nitrogen.

They obtained not "high–grade black coal" (anthracite) but "an insoluble material resembling low rank coals" for the shorter intervals, and a material somewhat resembling slightly higher grade coal (vitrinites) for longer times.

Thus the distinguished Dr Wieland's assertion of rapid high–grade coal formation is at best uninformed. Either he doesn't know the difference between high grade black and low rank soft brown coal, has never actually read the original article or a genuine abstract of it, or he's deliberately lying. He seems to be either relying on inaccurate secondary sources, or else pulling his information out of his hat.

Given the demonstrated creationist practice of continuing to spout falsehoods even after they have been informed of their errors, it is reasonable to conclude that Wieland is either a deliberate liar or an ignoramus, and perhaps both.


[1] The GRIP and GISP 2 projects each retrieved in excess of 3000 metres of ice cores in the late 1980s through mid-1990s period. The samples were dated using a variety of well-established techniques. GISP 2 samples, for example, were tested using 42 parameters and showed ages in excess of 110,000 years.

[2] Wieland is giving us pure horsefeathers. There were no ice cores taken at the "Glacier Girl" site, yet he makes a direct comparison, then infers that the depth of the buried planes shows, by evolutionist standards, that the central Greenland ice core ages are actually 2000 years – and thus, by naive implication, that all ice core dates are too old by a factor of 40 [and evolutionists are obvious idiots]. This is simple ignorant nonsense yet entirely too typical of creationist literature.

[3] Ryoichi Hayatsu, et. al., "Artificial coalification study:Preparation and characterization of synthetic Macerals"; Organic Geochemistry, Vol. 6, pp 463–471, 1984.

[4] This is a footnote. Therefore, the publication containing this footnote is a scholarly,
scientific publication -- just like the publications of the Creation Research Society, whose sole claim to scholarship is the fact that they contain lots of footnotes. 

> ----- Original Message ----- > From: Leroy Ellenberger
To: FC Kuechmann
Sent: Wednesday, 9 August 2000 02:35
Subject: Fwd: The Lost Squadron Rides Again
Please forward to FC Kuechmann: 
--- Sean Mewhinney wrote:
Date: Tue, 8 Aug 2000 18:07:52 -0400 (EDT)
From: df736@freenet.carleton.ca (Sean Mewhinney)
To: jacker@gl.umbc.edu, c.leroy@rocketmail.com

Subject: The Lost Squadron Rides Again

CC: mefleharty@my-deja.com, littlejo@vnet.net, maycock@andrews.edu
Reply-to: df736@freenet.carleton.ca, atta@best.com, gyudonz@aol.com, pib@nwu.edu Reply-To: df736@FreeNet.Carleton.CA

I came across Wieland's masterpiece yesterday while web surfing. (Not being able to access the URL for the video, I have not yet found Hovind's and Cardin's exchange.) Today when Leroy Ellenberger gave me the URL I read Kuechman's response, which is reasonable and made an enjoyable read.

Nevertheless, it contains three significant errors, which the writer may wish to correct.

Kuechman writes, "Glacial ice is an extremely viscous fluid rather than solid, and heavy objects like aircraft would tend to sink into that fluid over time."

Ice may deform slowly under pressure, but any difference in density between aircraft and ice is too insignificant to cause such an effect.  In fact, considering the many hollow spaces in the aircraft, they are probably less dense than ice, and should rise, if anything. The ice deforms under the pressure of its own overburden, as snow is continually deposited on top.

Eighty meters is a quite reasonable depth for such a high-accumulation area.

Further on, Kuechman speaks of "250 feet of glacial ice that was melted through." The planes didn't melt through the ice. Although there is a lot of summer melting at this spot (it's  only 20 miles from the ocean), it refreezes, and that's not why the planes are found below the surface.

Lastly, Kuechman concludes that Wieland arrived at the figure of 3,000 meters by taking inches for meters. In spite of the coincidence, this is extremely unlikely. Three thousand meters is merely the depth of the ice sheet in central Greenland in round figures, where the GRIP and GISP 2 ice cores were drilled.

-- Sean Mewhinney

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