Is There Anything More Pathetic Than Flood Geologists at GSA Meetings?

Yup. Actually, there is. And this is why the announcement that Flood geologists, those poor dumb souls who are so besotted with a Bronze Age work of fiction, are once again coming to the GSA’s annual meeting should have you rubbing your hands with glee. Because, you see, the only thing more pathetic than Flood geologists is the fact that their own research has disproved their inane flood hypothesis.

Oh, yes, my darlings. That’s delicious, isn’t it? Tuck your napkin under your chin and go sink your teeth in to this bit of yum: “The defeat of Flood geology by Flood geology.” It’s eleven meaty pages of pure, savory, gourmet geo-goodness.

Really, all you need to do is grab Figure 1 and print it. Carry it with you. It’s got everything neatly laid out, with little icons showing what bit of evidence says that the whole entire earth couldn’t have been underwater at that time. And remember, this is evidence creationist geologists have found through their own research.

Here’s my own quick-and-dirty summary:

Subaerial deposits – raindrop impressions, dessication cracks, continental basalts, in-situ root beds, dinosaur eggs, glaciation, fossil charcoal, eolian dunes, paleosol, trackways.

Low- energy deposits and long pass ages of time: Cretaceous chalk, algal growths, various sea critter beds, reefs, lacrustine (lake) deposits, fluvial (stream or river) deposits.

Diversification of terrestrial animals: “Because such speciation cannot occur during a single year when the entire planet is underwater and during most of which the relevant animals are dead, [flood geologist S.J. Robinson] argued that the entire post-Carboniferous portion of the geologic column must be post-Flood.”

The Mountains of Ararat: can’t have Noah landing there if they don’t exist, and any flood deposits would have to be on top of them, so, uh, y’know, it was some other mountains of Ararat!

When you plot where examples of all of the above are found on a handy geologic timescale, you end up eliminating every bit of it, except for the Hadean Eon. It just doesn’t work. It can’t work.

And some of them know it:

In the words of Flood geologist Max Hunter (2009:88), “It is somewhat ironic…that, almost a half century after publication of The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris in 1961, the geologic record attributed to the Genesis Flood is currently being assailed on all sides by diluvialists…[and] there remains not one square kilometer of rock at the earth’s surface that is indisputably Flood deposited.”

So what’s a Flood geologist to do?

The continued denial of the implications of their own findings is an example of what I call the gorilla mindset: the attitude that if something looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, but religious dogma says it is a gorilla, then it is a gorilla.

According to Flood geologists, this is a gorilla.

Yup. Pretty much. And these poor inane souls are going to be at GSA, shouting “Gorilla! It’s a gorilla!” every time you show them a duck.

Show them Figure 1, and they might just cry.

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Lying Liars and the Creationist Bastards Who Lead Field Trips

It’s be a while since we’ve had the Smack-o-Matic off the woodshed wall.  I shall now proceed to lift it down reverently, blow the dust from it, give it a loving polish, and proceed to administer it to some very deserving bottoms.

If you are one of those people prone to troll about “tone” and has to look for a fainting couch whenever a Gnu Atheist is the slightest bit mean to those poor ickle Christians, you’d best exit the cantina now.  I have now prepared the Smack-o-Matic for maximum smackage, and I am about to be very Not Nice.

Check out this dastardly bunch of outrageous liars:

In almost every way, the “Garden of the Gods at Colorado Springs” excursion at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) last year was a normal — even enjoyable — field trip. Standard geologic terminology was used in the accompanying field trip guide, and throughout the trip itself. The trip leaders discussed past events in terms of millions and billions of years. At each stop along the trip, the guides relied on orthodox geologic thinking, including a standard examination of sedimentary features and the nature of contacts between units.

But in reality, the trip was anything but a normal geology field trip. Instead, it was an example of a new strategy from creationists to interject their ideas into mainstream geology: They lead field trips and present posters and talks at scientific meetings. They also avoid overtly stating anything truly contrary to mainstream science.

But when the meeting is over, the creationist participants go home and proudly proclaim that mainstream science has accepted their ideas. 

Who led the field trip? 

Lesse… we had not one but two buffoons from the Institute for Creation Research: Steve Austin and Bill Hoesch.  Marcus Ross, formerly of that noxious bunch of anti-evolution fucktards who plague my beautiful city of Seattle, also known as the Discovery Institute.  He’s currently teaching at Liberty University, which is so anti-intellectual I’m not sure how anyone calls it a “university” without laughing themselves to death.  John Whitmore, who’s with Cedarville University in Ohio, stuffing liberal Christian students’ heads with nonsense.  Lest you be persuaded by the “liberal” part that there must be some sanity at that school, consider this factoid: “Cedarville’s official doctrinal statement declares, ‘We believe in the literal six-day account of creation’ and requires that all faculty ‘must be born-again Christians’ who ‘agree with our doctrinal statement.'”  Oh, yes, liberal.  Liberal stupidity, perhaps.

The last, Tim Clarey, gets hardly a mention in the article, so I did a quickie on Google.  All I can say is, Delta College in Michigan must be really fucking hard up for geology professors if they let the editor of  “Proceedings of the Second Conference on Creation Geology” (.pdf) teach.  Oh, but he’s fun and stuff and he doesn’t make you use the text book.  I wonder why that is….

I have something against these arseholes.  No, it’s not because they’re the kind of dumbshit Christian who tries to shoehorn 4.5 billion years of geology into 6,000 years and one really big flood (instead of “God did it!” at every turn, with creationist geologists, you hear “the Flood did it!”  All. The. Time).  They’re welcome to be as stupid as they like.  They can play with their Magic Sky Daddy and believe the Bible’s really really real and true and totally accurate even in all those bits that are flat-out wrong or completely contradict other bits of the Bible.  They’re even welcome to come to conferences and present their “science” along with all of the supposed data they’ve amassed.  Go on, give us a laugh.  And if they’ve got real data, solid data, data that proves what they’re saying beyond a reasonable doubt, bring it!  It’s science, baby. 

Now, they haven’t got that data and the chances they ever will are roughly on par with my waking up tomorrow and actually deciding that my day job is the best job in the whole universe, but still, let ’em try.

No, what I have against them is the fact that they’re lying little shits who do their damnedest to snow everyone.  They’re deceptive ratfuckers who, when among the real scientists, pretend they’re down with this millions-of-years stuff.  They use the big geology words and sometimes even salt their bullshit with a little actual geology to disguise the taste of what they’re serving up.  Just check this out:

Field trip 409 was not the first such creationist-led geology excursion at a GSA meeting. At the 2009 annual GSA meeting in Portland, Ore., four of the five trip leaders (Austin, Whitmore, Clarey and Ross) organized a field trip to Mount St. Helens to examine catastrophic erosion resulting from the 1980 eruption. After that trip, the Institute for Creation Research ran a headline bragging, “Christian Geologists Influential at GSA Meeting,” noting that Austin’s “peer-reviewed manuscript was published by GSA.”
In truth, every field trip guide that year was published in the book “Volcanoes to Vineyards.” Austin’s guide, “The dynamic landscape on the north flank of Mount St. Helens,” followed normal geologic thinking and contained no direct creationist arguments — though attempts to link Mount St. Helens to the Grand Canyon erosional processes might have proved puzzling to attendees. 

That, my friends, is despicable.  It’s behavior beyond the pale.  These people pretend to be really real scientists, if slightly weird ones, with nary a mention of their Young Earth beliefs and their 6,000 year timeline and they don’t breathe a word of Noah’s Flood, all so that they can get their photo taken with actual really real scientists and pretend they’ve wowed ’em – and they lie about their supposed publications, and they deceive the folks back home, the poor innocent little fucktards in the pews, into thinking actual fucking geologists respect their Biblical bullshit.

Just one more example shall suffice to show what two-faced ratfucking rat bastards these assholes are:

“Millions of years” was a phrase that also appeared in Ross’ talk on Late Cretaceous marine stratigraphy; many of his slides used normal geologic time, with millions of years clearly labeled on axes. Nothing in his 15-minute talk hinted at nonstandard geologic thinking. Because most of the audience probably did not know Ross’ background, it must have been puzzling to them when the first question following Ross’ talk challenged him on how he could “harmonize this work with [his] belief in a 6,000-year-old Earth.” (This question came from University of Florida geology professor Joe Meert, who blogged about the exchange.)

Ross answered the question by saying that for a scientific meeting such as GSA, he thought in a “framework” of standard science; but for a creationist audience, he said, he used a creationist framework. Judging from the reaction of the audience, this answer caused more confusion than enlightenment. Ross pointed out that nothing in his presentation involved Young-Earth Creationism. But he then volunteered that he was indeed a Young-Earth Creationist.  [Outraged emphasis added]

Is it just me, or is that an insult to both the geological profession and the Christian faith?  I mean, seriously.  Is there anyone they won’t lie to?

That’s the reason I have not refrained from using the naughty words in abundance when referring to this merry band of despicable fucktards.  They don’t even have the courage of their convictions.  They can’t stand up and say, “I believe this, and here’s the evidence I’ve found that might support that believe if you squint a lot and drink some Drano and pretend that radiometric dating doesn’t exist.”  They have to lie to us, and then they lie to believers who have no idea how science works but get a thrill up their leg when they think that their Bronze-Age beliefs are validated by actual scientists.  And that offends me on so many levels I can’t explore them all.

The writer of the article describing this atrocity thinks we should allow them to continue to infest conferences.  And I say, “Yes.  By all means – if they are required to proclaim, baldly, up front, and without prevarication, just precisely what it is they believe.”  None of these games where they play the Serious Scientist at professional, mainstream geology conferences and then spew Young Earth creationism all over the Christian circles back home, all the while proclaiming that because they didn’t get run out of the conference on a rail, that means genuine scientists believe them.

But they’ll never be honest, because they know real geologists will never accept them if they tell the truth.  So the liars for Jesus will continue to lie.  And geologists, like biologists, will have to expose their Trojan-horse antics before, like termites, they undermine the foundations.

Unchaining Ourselves

The Great Chain of Being needs breaking.  Brian Switek took bolt cutters to it in a SciAm guest post last week, and my, how the creationists howled.  Got so bad that Bora called in the cavalry.  Did my duty, registered so I could comment, and laughed my arse off because these silly little nitwits howling their protests got me to thinking a lot more seriously on the subject.  What follows is an expanded version of the comment I left.

First, an explanatory image, taken from a wonderful lecture by evolutionary biologist Lindell Bromham:

On this depiction of the great chain of being you can see that plants are higher than inorganic things, animals are higher than plants, humans are better than animals, angels are above humans and so on. You might say, ‘Oh, we don’t believe in that any more.’ Yet, if you pick up any evolution textbook or even a popular science evolution book, you will often find something that looks very similar to this.

And creationists apparently can’t stand it when somebody like Brian comes along and says this:

At the beginning of the 20th century, American fundamentalism was gaining momentum and the public circus that was the Scopes trial turned the teaching of evolution into a controversial public issue. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, anti-scientific opposition to evolution remains a prominent cultural force. Be it straight-up young-Earth creationism or its insidious sibling intelligent design, fundamentalism-fueled views of science and nature abound. Groups such as the National Center for Science Education are continually tracking the spread of anti-evolution agendas which would further erode the quality of scientific understanding. Perhaps this is why we keep returning to the March of Progress. When the fossils and stratigraphy are laid out so plainly, how can any reasonable person deny that evolution is a reality? Yet, by preferring this antiquated mode of imagery, we may have hamstrung ourselves. Given all that we have gleaned about evolution from the fossil record—especially the major pattern of contingent radiations cut back by extinction before bursting into numerous splendid forms all over again—why not bring this wonderful “tangled bank” imagery to the public?

Yes!  Having come out of a march-of-progress, great-chain education, I can give you plenty of reasons why it’s well past time to break the chain and go to the bank.  And don’t tell me it’s too complicated for kiddies and laypeople to understand, and that a nice, neat line is the best way to introduce folks to evolution.  It’s not.  Far from it.

Ultimately, that linear way of explaining evolution set me back several years.  Yeah, it may be simple, but it’s too simple.  It doesn’t leave room for all the side trips, dead ends, and scenic routes, and it doesn’t give a person room to think outside of a destination.  That confused the hell out of me, because there are plenty of things that didn’t reach the supposed destination, but were there for a good part of the journey.  It’s like supposing several cars worth of people can only travel between Phoenix and Flagstaff: you can’t explain then why some of them buggered off sideways to Prescott instead.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Flagstaff,+AZ&daddr=Phoenix,+AZ+to:Prescott,+AZ&geocode=FUghGQIdL4VY-SkxJi7a944thzEAs9vOoTwfjg%3BFblh_gEdy-JR-SnLeaFQ7RIrhzGsG0o1-MdpjA%3BFfgJDwId6t1L-SnrfHEA1CgthzHd_u5S5z2kCQ&hl=en&mra=ls&sll=34.325645,-111.87465&sspn=2.086741,3.532104&ie=UTF8&ll=34.325292,-111.890259&spn=1.75492,0.87072&t=h&output=embed
View Larger Map

Handy map illustrating the concept for those who aren’t from the area.

Then I started reading books on evolution.  And there was this tree:

Darwin’s Sketch

Once I saw the tree, started thinking not in chains but in trees and bushes, it started to make sense.  Not every branch goes “up.”  The top of the tree isn’t the only place to be.  It’s still a simple model, but it’s one that leaves plenty of room for all the bits that don’t fit when you chain yourself to the Great Chain.

That’s true in a lot of things about life.  It’s time to let go of the black/white either/or thinking and embrace the world as it is: fuzzy, chaotic, contingent, and far more interesting than mere lines from A to B.

So grab your bolt cutters, my darlings, and join Brian Switek in cutting those chains.

Why Talking to Idiots Gets You Nowhere

Finally finished this paper that’s been in my tabs for days: “Irreducible Incoherence and Intelligent Design: A Look into the Conceptual Toolbox of a Pseudoscience.”  Stumbled across it playing on The Panda’s Thumb, and while it took me forever to read because I’ve had the attention span of a spastic on caffeine pills lately, I got quite a lot out of it.  Namely: if one goes about disproving IDiotic blathering about how evolutionary theory can’t explain X, they’d better not be doing it in order to convert the cretins.  May as well spend your time trying to convince me that curling is an exciting and dramatic sport to watch – you’d have better luck making a conversion.  Mind you – I find nearly every sport in the universe dead boring.

No, the only time the IDiots become useful IDiots is when they inspire evolutionary biologists to figure things out and demolish IDiotic arguments from the foundations up – not because any amount of evidence will make these dumbshits realize they’re wrong (none will), but because of the ricochets.  Knocking down an IDiot’s argument is a fantastic way to teach ordinary folk like me about biology.  It makes it more interesting, what with the controversy and the smart people vs. the Dumbskis sorta thing.  It’s also a good idea to have a refutation ready so that innocent bystanders don’t get snookered. 

Besides, it’s fun.  Especially when the poor howling IDiots snivel and have to rush out to move their goalposts.

Anyway.  There’s my thoughts.  It’s an entertaining paper, too, so you lot may enjoy reading it yourselves.  Which you should go do now, because I’m off to watch another Harry Potter film.

Explaining Monkeys and Uncles to Christine O’Donnell

Yes, I know the election is old news.  Yes, I know Christine O’Donnell lost.  But she speaks for a hefty ignorant chunk of the population when she spouts that snide “Then why are there still monkeys?!” line at the slightest whiff of evolution.

Brian Switek explains a few things about monkeys, uncles, and why your cousins don’t vanish merely because you survived:

In any family tree you care to draw – whether from a broad evolutionary perspective or a narrowed genealogy of close relatives – each point among the branches is going to fall into one of two categories: linear relatives and collateral relatives. Your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. are all linear relatives, while cousins, uncles, and aunts are collateral relatives who are more closely related to you than most other people but are not direct ancestors or descendants. That’s simple enough, and the same sort of logic can be applied to evolutionary relationships.

Read the whole thing, and you’ll be well-prepared the next time some ignoramus thinks he or she has stymied you with the monkey schtick.

As For Being Shrill, Strident, Etc.

Once again, the “tone” argument’s making the rounds (does it ever cease?  It circles like a dog attempting to capture its own fugitive tail).  Ophelia Benson’s already pointed out a few of the more annoying examples.  And she led me to this delightful bit by Jason Rosenhouse, which comes just in time, because a dear (and horribly neglected) friend of mine posted rather more sensibly on the issue (hi, Paul!).  I’d meant to come up with something thoughtful and considered that would explain my position, but find I don’t have to.  All one has to do is read Jason’s post and imagine me standing there jumping up and down going, “Me, too!”

I’d quote from it, but I can’t find a single bit I want to excerpt because I want to excerpt it all.  But if you’ve ever wondered what we shrill, strident, unabashed defenders of evolution, atheism, and all things rational are thinking, this is pretty much it in a nutshell.

And remember, my dearest Paul, that we’re not trying to convert the unconvertable.  Nothing we do will reach the men and women who spend their days swearing Jesus rode a dinosaur.  Politeness won’t do it, any more than a good sharp smack will.  Think of the old psychologists-changing-a-lightbulb joke: the only way anything works is if they want to change.

No, we’re rallying the troops and aiming at the fence-sitters.  And as one of those who got knocked off the fence and had some good sense jolted in to me by those horrible shrill Gnu Atheists, as a person who disavowed woo for science because PZ, Orac et al didn’t have any trouble calling a spade a silly little shite, I can testify that being contentious sometimes does more than raise morale for the choir.  Sometimes, it awakens passion, wonder, and courage in people who might’ve sat it out.

It takes all kinds.  Changing the world isn’t a simple task!

(For those who haven’t had the pleasure, I can wholeheartedly recommend Paul’s lovely Cafe Philos blog.  After a long day in the trenches, it’s nice to sit with a cup of coffee and just enjoy some thought-provoking serenity.)

Clueless Reporter + Creationists = FAIL

Yep, woke up too early after falling asleep too late.  But that’s all to the good!  I got to spend time upon the intertoobz, and wouldn’t you know that Brian Switek wrote up one of the most delicious dishes of fail I’ve seen in, well, days.  Here’s what happens when a frigate bird crosses the paths of credulous “journalists” and a couple of creationists:

Sadly, some people still get duped by the fantastic claims espoused by “professional monster hunters.” Last week on Salem-News.com, reporter Terrence Aym posted an article proclaiming: “Dinosaur Found Alive: Two Species Recorded in Papua New Guinea.” (The piece is a shortened version of an article Aym posted to Helium.com.) Citing eyewitness accounts collected by “serious researchers” Jim Blume and David Woetzel, Aym reports that at least two types of pterosaur—flying archosaurs which were not dinosaurs—still soar over Papua New Guinea, and he even provides some video to prove it.
The trouble is that the video provides a pretty clear look at what is definitely a frigatebird, probably a female great frigatebird (Fregata minor) based upon the dark feathers and white patch on the chest. 
[snip]

Then there is the problem of Aym’s sources. Both Blume and Woetzel are creationist explorers who have tried to promote the existence of living pterosaurs and dinosaurs. In fact, Woetzel has gone as far to propose these living pterosaurs as the “fiery flying serpent” of Isaiah 30:6 in the Bible, claiming that the pterosaurs also give off a kind of bioluminescent glow they use to catch fish. For Woetzel, such anecdotes are enough to prove that humans and pterosaurs have always coexisted, and in a Creation Research Society Quarterly paper he asserts that “evolutionists have appropriated the natural fascination with the terrible reptiles to propound their belief in naturalistic origins and billions of years of evolution.  By God’s grace we should strive to tear down this high place and point people instead to the great Creator.”

Apparently Mr. Aym never learned in Journalism 101 that one should actually, y’know, verify your sources.

This rather glaringly points up the incredible inanity of creationists, as well as the piss-poor quality of reporters.  It’s pretty pathetic when you have to turn to cryptozoology and ridiculous postulations about surviving pterosaurs to shore up your faith.  They’re not even trying to shoehorn facts to fit the Bible – they’re just making shit up.  If they weren’t so faith-blind, they’d have a pretty good shot at a lucrative career writing fantasy.  Alas, people this god-deluded don’t make good novelists.  Too preachy.  Fantasy fans want fun, not fundamentalism.

Brian, darling, thank you for giving me a good sendoff!  Now I must away to say my goodbyes to the cat (hopefully without getting maimed in the process) and brave Seattle morning traffic so I can bring you all some awesome geology, plus flowers.

If you’re needing amusement whilst I’m away, call up your local creationist, tell him you’ve got living proof the descendants of the dinosaurs still walk among us, and give him a budgie.