The True.Hogwash Archive
The creationists have been demonstrating, yet again, that wicked sense of ironic humor for which they are so justly famous.
The latest example of which I am aware is the The True.Origins Archive web site which the perpetrators subtitle A rational alternative to - but not affiliated with - the Talk.Origins Archive and whose raison d'etre they offer, laughably but with no hint of the underlying humor, in the following passage:
The chief purpose of this site is to provide an intellectually honest alternative to such popular and highly pro-evolutionist web sites as the Talk.Origins Archive.
One must admire the subtle irony evidenced by the fact that The True.Origins Archive has no corresponding Usenet newsgroup for source material, distinctly unlike Talk.Origins. The True.Origins Archive consists of little but regurgitated YEC [Young Earth Creationist] nonsense which is anything but "intellectually honest". The dishonesty is immediately apparent in the statement that the site is-
... intended to give expression to the "other side" - to dispel the two most popular myths perpetuated by the likes of the "Talk.Origins" crowd, namely:
1. that evolution finds significant and unequivocal support in the data of empirical science
2. that the only logical alternative - biblical creation - is somehow not corroborated in the same data ...
The first contention is ridiculous enough, given the vast amount of data supporting evolution, but the second, that "biblical creation" is "the only logical alternative" to evolution, is astonishing. Any reasonably bright grade school student should be able to comprehend that there are a nearly infinite variety of non-evolutionary explanations for how everything got here. Many are supernatural, some naturalistic. All are equally logical alternatives to evolution - and all are as unsupported by empirical data as the peculiar beliefs of the YEC faction of the "Big Guy in the Sky" school of origins.
At the following URL - http://www.firinn.org/trueorigin/noaig.htm - we find an item titled "A Critique of John Stear's 'No Answers in Genesis' Website" (© 1999 J. Sarfati. All Rights Reserved.) in which the author criticizes "No Answers in Genesis!" for having a supposed deficiency of highly-pedigreed scientists on prominent display. [See Are the Folks at Answers in Genesis Feeling the Heat?]
Sarfati claims that "No Answers in Genesis" is short on substance but long on rhetoric against creationists, whereas "unlike Stear's scurrilous little site", the Answers in Genesis site majors in issues, not personalities. He then states that "Answers in Genesis" has most fields of science covered by highly qualified scientists: Specific instances offered include "the CEO, Carl Wieland -- a medical doctor".
Pieces of sheepskin aside (they do make nice wall decorations and dart boards), let's take a brief look at one of Dr Wieland's published excursions into designing and executing a meaningful scientific experiment. In an addendum to the article The Lost Squadron in Creation ex nihilo Magazine (Vol 19 #3, Jun-Aug 1997) the good Doctor Wieland asks, presumably rhetorically, "would planes sink into ice?", [see also Creationist Comedy] followed by:
A number of readers have contacted Creation magazine about the sensational information in this article. Recalling the common school experiment in which a wire tensioned with weights "sinks" through a block of ice, some wondered whether the planes could have sunk to that depth. However, the wire sinks through the ice in the experiment only if it is done at room temperature. Do the same experiment with the whole apparatus in a freezer, which would mimic the situation with the planes, and it does not work. The experimental evidence is offered in the following footnote to the above. We did this experiment. With a number 1 guitar steel string over an ice block about 40x25x25 mm in size and weighted with 4 kg of water in two plastic milk bottles at room temperature, the wire cut through in 25 minutes, the ice re-freezing behind the cut. However, with the apparatus in a chest freezer, there was absolutely no movement in 8 hours. The pressure exerted by the wire? About 400 tonnes per square metre, which is enough to reduce the melting point of ice less than 0.5 Celsius degrees. As a matter of interest, a P-38 exerts a pressure of only 0.18 tonnes per square metre, enough to decrease the melting point about one five-thousandth of a degree!
Finally the good Doctor Schweik...er Wieland, concludes:
So the planes could not have sunk through the ice; they were buried by the accumulation of snow (which becomes ice as it is compacted).
For such a "highly qualified scientist" the good Doctor seems remarkably lacking in experimental design capability. The apparent acquiescence of his fellow "highly qualified scientists" at Answers in Genesis does little to bolster their credibility regardless of their formal pedigrees. Apparently -
"Ph.D. plant physiologist and expert tropical fruit researcher" Don Batten;
"Ph.D. physical chemist (and former New Zealand national chess champion), whose scientific credentials even the Skeptics have had to acknowledge" Jonathan Sarfati;
"Ph.D molecular biologist, whose high credentials were unreasonably doubted in the Skeptic" Pierre Jerlström; and
"Ph.D. engineer who recently gained a 1st Class Honours degree in geology, specialising in radiometric dating" Tas Walker;
concur with Dr Wieland that a steel guitar string on an ice cube in a chest freezer for 8 hours accurately mimics a P-38 fighter plane on a moving glacier near the coast of Greenland for 50 years. A legitimate mainstream scientist who published such drivel would be laughed at and pitied by his colleagues.
I've got a better suggestion for testing the matter. Construct a module with a one-metre square footprint weighing 0.18 tonnes. Make the exterior casing from the same aircraft aluminum used in the skin of the P-38, and paint it with the same kind and color of paint. Place the module in the Greenland location where the "lost squadron" landed and leave it there for at least 10 years, perhaps checking on its status at intervals. Devise suitable means to distinguish between ice that has accumulated above the module due to snowfall, and sinking into existing glacial ice. Genuine ice cores might prove useful here.
Dr Wieland in the same article conjures up "3000 metres of ice core brought up in Greenland in 1990" that were, in fact, never taken, and that, by evolutionists' standards, "would only represent some 2,000 years of accumulation". What kind of highly qualified scientist doesn't know the difference between melting holes through 250 feet of ice (which was done), and taking ice core samples (which wasn't)? What kind of highly qualified scientist claims that ice cores that were never taken show "some 2,000 years of accumulation"?
Dr Wieland also misrepresents the results of coal research at Argonne National Laboratory, citing a reference he obviously either never read or else deliberately misrepresented. Dr Wieland's article is characterized by passages like the following:
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? After all, the impression the general public has is that the buildup of glacial ice takes very long time periods thousands of years for just a few metres.
For someone who claims to be a highly qualified scientific critic of evolution, Dr Wieland's fondness for what might be best characterized as "argument by appeal to laymen's ignorance" is curious. He demonstrates no comprehension of the technical issues involved in what he criticizes beyond what can be readily found in YEC literature.
The airplanes in question were approximately 15 km inland from the east coast of Greenland. A brief foray into the scientific literature on the Greenland ice sheet (e.g. Peter Knight's book, Glaciers) uncovers the fact that snow and ice accumulation within about 100 km of the coast is much greater than for the ice sheet as a whole. Furthermore, ice core samples are analysed in the context of both location (e.g. glacier, static ice sheet) and local precipitation rates. The following Wieland passage is thus revealed as ignorant twaddle:
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.
Why are none of the supposedly highly-qualified and credentialed scientists with whom the good Doctor Wieland associates calling him on his errors, misstatements, faulty logic and patently bogus assertions?
True.Hogwash Archive, maybe, but not True.Origins.