Creation-Evolution Headlines
July 2008
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“And so the question that survives, even in the wake of so momentous an achievement [as the Apollo moon missions], is whether those laws, and that engineering, are drawn from a culture, so to speak, that is to have pride of place in the matter of assessing all of reality.  The word itself, ‘reality,” presupposes a percipient.  It’s not a sophist trick to ask, ‘Whose reality?’ or, ‘Reality in relation to what?”  The aim throughout is to understand the setting of our own lives, at once physical, social, political and moral.  And it remains to be debated whether ultimate authority in these respects is held by science.” 
—Dr. Daniel N. Robinson, concluding a lecture on Philosophy of Science for The Teaching Company.
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Wet Cave with Fossils Found in Dry Desert   07/31/2008    
July 31, 2008 — The Atacama Desert in Chile is one of the driest places on earth – it gets about 1mm of rainfall per year, if that – but scientists just discovered a wet cave there.  Robert Roy Britt reported for Live Science that these desert caves can contain water, and at least one is loaded with fossils – indicating a moist climate for the region in the past.
    The discovery was totally unexpected, the article says.  There is even evidence of prehistoric human activity.  Hundreds of thousands of bones in one of the Atacama caves, mixed with tree branches, were found eroding out of cave walls.  The article contains a link to a photograph of ungulate bones seemingly jammed together in the wall in a haphazard manner.  Ungulates (grazing animals that chew the cud) must have enjoyed a wealth of grass here at one time.
    The team led by J. Judson Wynne of the SETI Institute was exploring the desert for caves that might resemble those on Mars, in hopes of finding likely places to look for life.  Mars is still a question, but there was apparently plenty of life at this location in the past.  The team is seeking to determine whether the bones were “dumped into the cave by prehistoric people or if perhaps they were trapped by a flood.”  One of the team members was “marveling over the extent of this deposition as well as discussing what could have possibly led to the deposition of these bones.”  Readers may want to follow the adventures of the expedition on Wynne’s blog.
    Speaking of caves, another amazing underground feature has been exciting cavers since its discovery in New Mexico in 2001.  A large passageway in old Fort Stanton Cave sports a river of crystal running for over four miles – the longest known cave formation in the world.  See Live Science for the story.  Named the Snowy River by its discoverers, it is unique and beautiful.  They still have not determined how far it goes.  The Bureau of Land Management tells about its discovery and has a photo gallery of the river and the cave.  In a return trip last year, cavers were surprised to find water flowing over the crystal.  It had been dry on previous surveys.  Apparently new layers of calcite are deposited each time the underground river periodically flows.

What a planet we live on.  There are still phenomenal discoveries to be made.  Imagine hundreds of thousands of fossils and tree branches buried in one of the driest places on earth.  What does that suggest?
Next headline on:  GeologyAmazing Facts
  Visualize an Ethernet in your eyeball.  Revisit the 07/27/2006 entry.

What’s SETI Got to Do With It?   07/31/2008    
July 31, 2008 — The science news outlets are all posting a story from Space.com about how you can adopt a scientist.  Mark Showalter is an interesting guy – astronomer, scuba diver, amateur naturalist, award-winning photographer, and specialist in planetary rings.  But why was this story posted in the SETI column?
    There doesn’t seem to be anything Mark has done to find intelligent life in space.  It appears that the SETI Institute, with its “Adopt a Scientist” program, hopes that getting people to follow a scientist around will end up transferring his passion for science onto the search for life in space.  “When you adopt a scientist, you help lead the way towards answering profound questions regarding our place in the universe,” the article says.
    Another story from Live Science talks about a cave explorer adventuring in Chile who is also a member of the SETI Institute (see previous entry).  His work is aimed at comparing habitats on Earth that might compare to those on Mars where life might be found.  Again, though, the search for microbes has nothing to do with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

This is an example of the propaganda tactic of transfer or association.  The positive vibes you receive by getting to know an interesting person are supposed to transfer over into making you think that SETI is science, not religion.  Anybody can play the association game.  Mark is a nice guy with a lot of abilities and interests, but his personality does not put SETI in the Science column.  Science needs data.  SETI will become a science when Mark finds an alien in his viewfinder, on his next dive, or in the rings of Saturn.  Good luck.
Next headline on:  SETISolar System
Ethane Lake Found on Titan   07/31/2008    
July 31, 2008 — Liquid ethane has been detected in a lake near the south pole of Saturn’s moon Titan, reported JPL yesterday.  This confirms long-held suspicions that ethane, a byproduct of methane disruption by the solar wind, accumulates on the surface of the large atmosphere-shrouded moon.  A problem remains why there is so little of it.  Pre-Cassini predictions envisioned a global ocean of liquid ethane.
    Nature1 reported observations by the Cassini Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) of a lake near the south pole that had been discovered previously.  The specular signal indicated an extremely smooth surface – smoother than any geological process could make.  The spectrum of ethane, a hydrocarbon that is liquid at Titan’s surface temperature, confirmed that ethane is present.
    Ethane is formed when atmospheric methane, CH4, in its gaseous form, is struck by the solar wind in Titan’s upper atmosphere.  The bombardment strips off a hydrogen atom.  The ionized methane molecules, CH3+, quickly combine into ethane, C2H6, which falls to the surface as rain.  A stable molecule, ethane should collect continuously on the surface in pools and lakes.  The chemical process is irreversible (03/11/2005).  Ethane cannot evaporate back up into the atmosphere, nor can it dissociate back into methane.  This should lead to the accumulation of liquid ethane on the surface of Titan over time.
    Calculations prior to Cassini’s arrival showed that a global ocean of ethane and liquid methane should have accumulated over 4.5 billion years – up to a half-mile deep or more.  Pre-arrival radar images from earthbound instruments cast doubt on the presence of a global ocean, but before the Huygens Probe parachuted to the surface (01/15/2005, 01/21/2005), scientists were still hoping for a splash.  The probe landed, instead, on a dry lake bed of what appears to be methane-saturated icy sand, with only traces of ethane present.
    “Before Cassini, scientists thought Titan would have global oceans of methane, ethane and other light hydrocarbons,” the JPL press release stated.  “More than 40 close flybys of Titan by Cassini show no such global oceans exist, but hundreds of dark, lake-like features are present.”  The southern lake, comparable to the Great Lakes in extent, has been named Ontario Lacus – Lake Ontario.  Science Daily posted a picture of the 150-mile-long lake from orbit.  It covers 7,800 square miles, slightly larger than its earthly counterpart.  How deep is it?  VIMS can only constrain the minimum depth to 3/4 of an inch.  It could be much deeper.  The presence of a beach around the perimeter, though, suggests that the lake is evaporating.  Scientists wonder if the lakes migrate from pole to pole as the seasons change during Saturn’s 29.4-year orbit.  Cassini has detected more and larger lakes in Titan’s northern latitudes (radar map) than in the south (radar map).
    The original paper began with the mystery of the missing ethane ocean: “Titan was once thought to have global oceans of light hydrocarbons on its surface, but after 40 close flybys of Titan by the Cassini spacecraft, it has become clear that no such oceans exist.”  The statement included references to five papers from 1982 to 1995 predicting an ocean (see 1983 and 1993 abstracts by Lunine), including two by Carl Sagan (1982, 2002).  Francois Roulin, commenting on the paper in the same issue of Nature,2 noted that “Titan’s lakes are probably a liquid ethane–methane mixture together with dissolved nitrogen, as previously proposed for the speculative oceans” that turned out to exist only on paper.  Jonathan Lunine, who had predicted a global ocean in 1983, told National Geographic News that the lakes “do not hold enough ethane to account for what can be produced over the age of the solar system.  So we still have a mystery here.”  See also the 02/15/2008 entry.
    The lake may contain other organic molecules besides ethane.  Hydrocarbons and nitriles such as propane, butane, acetylene and benzene have been detected in Titan’s atmosphere, as well as high-mass cluster ions.  Cosmic rays bombarding the lakes may produce additional exotic molecules.  Artwork tries to convey what an observer might see on this dim world with orange sky; here is another.  The surface near the Huygens Probe was actually photographed in realistic color in this historic image from the landing site.  Photographs of the descent have been put together into a stunning movie available from the Descent Imager website.
    Titan turned out to be drier than expected.  The equatorial regions are awash in dunes reminiscent of the Namib Desert – except that the particles are made of ice, probably coated with hydrocarbons manufactured in Titan’s bizarre chemical laboratory.
1.  Brown, Soderblom et al, “The identification of liquid ethane in Titan's Ontario Lacus,” Nature 454, 607-610 (31 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07100.
2.  Francois Roulin, “Planetary science: Organic lakes on Titan,” Nature 454, 587-589 (31 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/454587a.
Here is a science project crying out for some mathematically-minded person to work on.  It can be done right at the desk without special equipment – just a literature search and a calculator.  Figure out how long it would take to get the observed lakes on Titan.  Inputs are conservative rates of ethane production in the atmosphere and the most optimistic estimates of lake volume.  The result should place a severe upper limit on the age of Titan.
    Scientists have downplayed the severity of this problem.  They usually mention it in passing only to change the subject.  Usually, they jump to the possibility that Titan’s organic chemistry might have something to say about the origin of life (07/26/2005) – a foolish distraction.  Where is the ethane?  There should be a huge ocean of it by now, according to their belief in billions of years.
    Their only escapes now are less credible.  They have to claim the chemical process started recently, or that the ethane remains in the atmosphere (how long could that last?), or that the ethane went underground.  They never, ever question the billions-of-years age!  Their problem would be solved by reducing the age of Titan (and Saturn, and the solar system) by a few orders of magnitude.  That would fit this observation and many others (e.g., 04/08/2005, 06/29/2008, 05/05/2008, 03/10/2008, 12/03/2007, 08/04/2007, 07/18/2007, 05/04/2007, 03/31/2007).
    So here is a challenge.  The long-age believers made a prediction that appears to have been falsified.  We want to know what they are going to do about it.  Don’t let them sweep this problem under the crust.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating Methods
Dinosaur Soft Tissue: Fooled by Slime?   07/30/2008    
July 30, 2008 — The claim made in 2005 that soft tissues in dinosaur bone had been discovered (see 03/24/2005) has been challenged by new research published in PLoS One.1  Maybe the pliable stuff is just slime.
    Thomas Kaye from the Burke Museum of Natural History in Seattle with two colleagues were actually hoping to find more soft tissue samples.  After analysis, they concluded instead that what they saw in both dinosaur bone, turtle and ammonite fossils is bacterial biofilm that grew in the hollow spaces inside the fossils.  This challenges the findings of Mary Schweitzer’s team who not only claim to have found flexible tissues and remnant blood vessels, but had also sequenced collagen protein in the samples (04/12/2007).  Kaye interprets the putative iron-rich blood cell remnants as framboids – microscopic mineral spheres.  Finding similar structures in an ammonite (squid-like animal with a shell) and turtle indicated to the team that these framboids were too common to be examples of exceptional preservation from the original tissue.  Instead, they postulate that bacterial biofilms grew inside and around the original tissue, maintaining the shape of it after it had decayed away.  The paper was summarized by Science Daily, PhysOrg and Reuters.
    According to New Scientist, though, Schweitzer is not convinced.  Her studies indicated that the dinosaur collagen resembled that of chicken, and the mammoth collagen resembled that of elephants.  Kaye offered no explanation for how that could happen, she said.  Other scientists quoted in the article conjectured that the tissues could be composites of both original tissue and biofilm.  The Reuters article quotes Kaye as saying, “We are not experts in the field.  We are not disagreeing with the fact that their instruments detected protein.  We are offering an alternative explanation.”
    The original paper offered more evidence that the proteins are from modern bacteria:
Bridged trails observed in biofilms indicate that a previously viscous film was populated with swimming bacteria.  Carbon dating of the film points to its relatively modern origin.  A comparison of infrared spectra of modern biofilms with modern collagen and fossil bone coatings suggests that modern biofilms share a closer molecular make-up than modern collagen to the coatings from fossil bones.  Blood cell size iron-oxygen spheres found in the vessels were identified as an oxidized form of formerly pyritic framboids.  Our observations appeal to a more conservative explanation for the structures found preserved in fossil bone.
The team investigated 15 genera from seven different geological formations, including the Hell Creek formation where the T. rex soft tissue had been found.  The tissues in this investigation were compared with modern biofilms grown in the laboratory.  Some of them bore branching structures mimicking blood vessels.  The procedure, however, is not as simple as just looking at the tissue with a magnifying class.  Their methods indicate significant alteration and interpretation:
A turtle carapace from the Hell Creek formation was selected for spectroscopy because of its proportionally large chambers in the trabecular bone that allowed scraping the coatings loose.  Two milligrams of material was ground with 450 milligrams of potassium bromide (KBr) and pressed into a pellet using 8 tons pressure.  Modern biofilms grown on microscope slides in pond water were allowed to desiccate for 7 days and 2.5 milligrams were pressed into a KBr pellet as above.  A 2.5 milligram sample of desiccated tendon from a chicken was ground with KBr and pelletized.  Spectrums were taken on a Nicolet 510P bench at 1 cm-1 resolution with a minimum of 15 scans.  Infrared flux was matched within 5% for all specimens and a clean KBr pellet used for background subtraction between specimens.  Excel cross correlation routines were used to determine percentage of similarity for spectrums.
The team did apply several cross-checks.  Bones from the surface and from burial meters down showed the same effects.  Spectra from living and fossilized specimens were compared.  They did not find as close a correlation of the tissues with modern collagen—only 37%.  In addition, the radiocarbon dates correlated with modern times.
    How did these biofilms grow to look so much like original soft tissue?  Here was their explanation:
A biofilm would coat the voids of vascular canals and lacunae, producing an endocast of the structure.  Once the bone is dissolved, these biofilm endocasts would closely mimic pliable vascular structures.  The results presented here suggest that the tubular structures and osteocytes are formed by this process.  The lack of observed cell structure in the transparent tubes is inconsistent with preserved tissues.
They further stated that bacteria are known to produce collagen-like proteins.  And since biofilms are ubiquitous in nature, existing on almost any water/surface boundary, they could be expected in the cave-like surfaces inside bones.  “They provide a protective medium against changes in the broader environment from pH levels, toxins, etc.,” they said.  “They are viscous, flexible and long lasting through mineralization.”  That’s how the earlier team was misled, they think: “When biofilms coat a substrate, and that substrate is subsequently removed, the biofilm will retain much of the original morphology.  This can explain the quantity and similarity of structures found in fossil bone and indicates that these structures are unlikely to be preserved dinosaurian tissues but the product of common bacterial activities.
    It appears, therefore, that they made a good case for interpreting the soft tissues as modern bacterial slime, not original dinosaurian remnants.  Further investigation will be required to answer new questions this interpretation raises – along with time for rebuttal from the Schweitzer team.
Update::  After our first posting of this story today, National Geographic reported it and said Mary Schweitzer is standing by her claims.  She offered four counter-arguments: (1) No biofilms have been reported with branching, hollow tubes such as the ones she found in the T. rex bone; (2) Over time, gravity would have made the films thicker at the bottom, contrary to what her team found; (3) Methane-breathing bacteria have never been reported inside bone; (4) Kaye’s team failed to address her team’s follow-up reports that employed chemical and molecular evidence for soft tissue.  Surprisingly, Kaye responded, “If they say they got T. rex protein, then we’re not disagreeing.”  He just questioned why they got so little of it.  A paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History left it as a draw.  Both teams make compelling arguments.  “I think you do have two very interesting alternative hypotheses,” he said.
1.  Kaye, Gaugler and Sawlowicz, “Dinosaurian Soft Tissues Interpreted as Bacterial Biofilms,” Public Library of Science One 3(7): e2808 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002808.
We agree with Kaye that “You have to go where the science leads,” and if Schweitzer ever retracts the claim (based on the best evidence and further study) that these represent (at least in part) original soft tissues from the dinosaur, then so be it.  We’ll have to concede the point.  However, a number of questions arise from the new interpretation.  For one thing, as some observers noted in the New Scientist write-up, the structures could still be a composite of original tissue and biofilm.  And why did Schweitzer get a match of collagen in the dinosaur bone with that of chickens, while using the same techniques, got the collagen in mastodon bone to resemble that of elephants?  What about Schweitzer’s discovery of fragile medullary bone in the same dinosaur fossil? (see 11/11/2006).
    We asked a dozen follow-up questions in the 11/11/2006 entry when the slime interpretation was first raised.  More questions come to mind now.  Why was biofilm inside fossilized bone discovered now, after centuries of collecting fossils?  Is there something in common with the environments displaying this phenomenon?  What did all the scraping, grinding and pressing do to the original material?  Maybe less destructive techniques need to be used for corroboration.  Even if biofilms can conform to original tissues and persist after they decay away or fossilize, is it reasonable to believe they would remain unaltered for 68 million years?  If the biofilms date modern by radiocarbon methods, and bacteria are still seen swimming around, it would have to imply the bacteria have been sitting there all this time, incorporating carbon-14 as they grow and divide millions of times.  What did they live on after the original tissue was all gone?  Wouldn’t there be evidence of millions of generations of biological growth in the bacterial colony?  How reasonable is it to assume that for 68 million years, a biofilm would maintain such a good mimic of original dinosaur tissue (now long gone) that it would fool careful researchers in the lab?
    So even granting victory to the Kaye team’s interpretation would seem to still argue these bones aren’t that old.  Evolutionists tell us the world underwent drastic changes since this fossil was deposited.  A meteor nearly destroyed all life on earth.  Mountains rose, valleys sank, floods came, tectonic plates mashed against one another while others drifted apart, climates warmed and cooled, ice sheets blanketed continents and animal life was evolving like crazy.  Cows evolved into whales and shrews evolved into giraffes.  All that time, we are asked to believe, the bacteria in that bone held hands to maintain the shape of long-gone soft tissue for millions of generations, till in 2005 a team of scientists found it so perfectly matching collagen and blood vessels they announced to the world the discovery of original soft tissue.  How credible is that?  The fact that Kaye et al found similar biofilms in ammonite and turtle might just suggest those fossils aren’t millions of years old, either.
    This is a scientific controversy in progress.  It illustrates the tentative nature of scientific announcements.  The biofilm advocates might argue that Schweitzer’s soft-tissue interpretation is the extraordinary claim that demands extraordinary evidence.  One should take a conservative, guarded attitude about it till more observations can test it.  Fine; creationists were going strong without dinosaur soft tissue.  Their views do not require it.  It would be very interesting to them if the soft-tissue interpretation wins out, and they could employ it as additional evidence falsifying millions of years.  Even so, their claims were no less robust before the surprise announcement in 2005.  Creationists don’t need the soft tissue, but evolutionists need their millions of years.  As we have argued, the biofilm interpretation, even if it wins out, does not get rid of their difficulty.
Next headline on:  FossilsDinosaursDating Methods
  If humans harness cellular machines, is it intelligent design?  See the 07/20/2007 entry.

Leaf Assumption Challenged: Affects Climate Modeling   07/29/2008    
July 29, 2008 — A reasonable-sounding assumption has been overturned, leaving climate models in upheaval.  The assumption was that leaf temperature stays in equilibrium with air temperature.  It doesn’t.  Leaves are hotter than assumed during active periods of growth, such as at midday in the growing season.  They maintain a relatively constant temperature through their own biological air conditioning, regardless of what the weather is doing.  This affects the interpretation of oxygen isotopes in wood extracted from tree rings, which in turn affects inferences about past climate.  The story came unraveled in Nature last week.1
    Scientists have used the ratio of oxygen-16 to its heavier sibling oxygen-18 as a proxy for climate variations.  The interpretation, however, assumed that leaves are in equilibrium with ambient temperature.  Helliker and Richter (U of Pennsylvania) found that leaves can be 10° C hotter than air temperature, and were almost uniformly warm across a wide range of habitats.  This also affects calculations of relative humidity – a function of temperature.  “Our results explain this observation over a broad climatic range and further suggest that the overarching trend is to maintain leaves at an optimal temperature irrespective of mean climate,” they said.  F. I. Woodward (U of Sheffield, UK), commenting on this paper in the same issue of Nature, 2 explained, “During the growing season, with photosynthesis at its peak, leaf temperatures remain constant over a wide latitudinal range.  This is a finding that overturns a common assumption and has various ramifications.”
    One key ramification relates to climate models.  Scientists have built models of past climate on the assumption that the oxygen ratios they measured in wood reflected the air temperature during the growing season.  Now, it appears that assumption is misguided.  Pine needles, for example, cannot be modeled in isolation, because they usually are in tight clusters.  It seemed reasonable that a pine needle, exposed on all sides to the air, would be the same temperature as the air.  But in the dense forest canopy, clusters of densely-packed needles create their own microclimate as the needles actively expend energy manufacturing sucrose in response to photosynthesis.  Leaf temperatures, therefore, can be much higher than air temperature – and relative humidity correspondingly lower.  This affects the rates at which oxygen-16 and oxygen-18 diffuse and become incorporated into the cellulose in tree rings.
    Woodward summarized the potential impact of this finding on climate models: “The fact that vegetation canopy rather than leaf morphology dominates temperature control in the forests sampled by Helliker and Richter suggests the need for greater emphasis on understanding how the canopy responds to climate change, and to global warming in particular.”  The authors also suggested that the finding will force researchers to modify estimates of water loss in the forest canopy.  In addition, theories about how climate affects leaf evolution have been called into question.


1.  Brent R. Helliker and Suzanna L. Richter, “Subtropical to boreal convergence of tree-leaf temperatures,” Nature 454, 511-514 (24 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07031.
2.  F. I. Woodward, “Ecology: Forest air conditioning,” Nature 454, 422-423 (24 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/454422a.
Do you see how unquestioned assumptions become weak links in chains of reasoning on which politicians and societies put their trust?  Maybe the modifications to theory required will not be dramatic in this case, but they could be.  Scientists had treated oxygen ratios in tree rings as bona fide scientific evidence of past climate conditions.  Scenes of scientists measuring isotope ratios to high precision in labs make for impressive visuals in documentaries.  The lay public becomes persuaded that scientists have a virtual crystal ball into the past.  All the while they were not measuring climate – they were measuring local microclimates right at the leaf surfaces, which can be significantly warmer than the air just a meter away.  Plants have a thermostat of their own that maintains near-constant temperatures during the growing season.  These temperatures are the ones recorded in the wood – not the climate conditions.  This little “whoops” discovery should teach us a healthy caution and skepticism about proxy measurements employed matter-of-factly by scientists.  We can all learn, furthermore, to question our own assumptions, as reasonable as they may seem to us.
Next headline on:  Plants
History Channel Airs Evolve   07/29/2008    
July 29, 2008 — A new 13-part series on the History Channel, called Evolve, begins with an episode on the evolution of the eye.  To sell the story, the blurb needed to cast Evolution as an inventor:
They are one of evolution’s most useful and prevalent inventions.  Ninety five percent of living species are equipped with eyes and they exist in many different forms.  Learn how the ancestors of jellyfish may have been the first to evolve light-sensitive cells.  Discover how dinosaur’s evolved eyes that helped them become successful hunters.  Finally, learn how primates evolved unique adaptations to their eyes that allowed them to better exploit their new habitat, and how the ability to see colors helped them find food.
Evolve seems to be used as a verb here.  If dinosaurs evolved eyes, and primates evolved color vision, were they doing it with purposeful intent?  Did they know how to commandeer the mutations necessary to give natural selection the raw materials on which to tinker, in order that the required function for survival would emerge?  This would certainly not represent the new-Darwinian view.  The terminology seems misleading.
    The series relies heavily on CGI animations.  These, however, depend on the imaginations of current-day people – not historical records.  History used to be defined in terms of written records.  Since this subject matter lacks written records, maybe the channel should be renamed the Prehistory Channel.  The hour before also contains an animated episode set in prehistory from the series Jurassic Fight Club about a supposed cannibal dinosaur.  Perhaps as a bow to those who respect written records, though, is the episode following Evolve.  It is entitled “Noah’s Great Flood” from the series Mega Disasters.  The film treats the Biblical story as myth, however.  It popularizes the theory of Ryan and Pitman that the Noah legend grew up out of a theorized historical megaflood restricted to the Black Sea region (see 04/06/2002).
    Illustra Media has been a leader in exploring the origin of life and complex organs from the alternative intelligent design perspective.  Readers familiar with Unlocking the Mystery of Life and The Privileged Planet may not be aware that they have also produced films about history for which there are written records: about Jesus Christ and the Exodus.  Their titles have just been gathered into one website at ApologeticsDVDs.com.
    Speaking of history on an unrelated topic, space program buffs will get a thrill out of finding “the most comprehensive compilation ever of NASA’s vast collection of photographs, historic film and video” at NASAimages.org.  The collaborative website between Internet Archive and NASA was launched July 24.
Evolution thrives on visual propaganda and the power of suggestion.  Animation fills in the holes in their story.  Don’t be fooled.  Carl Sagan weaved animation tricks decades ago in the Cosmos TV series.  In one of the most egregious cases of visual propaganda for evolution ever shown, his animators depicted a single cell morphing into one animal after the other, till the final output was upright-walking man.  The number of conceptual, evidential and philosophical obstacles he leaped over in a single bound makes Evel Knievel look like a pogo-stick rider.  OK, Carl, if you want to play the Imagination game, even Homer Simpson can do a better job evolving than that.  And Guinness Beer at least got the direction of evolution right.
Next headline on:  DarwinismMediaIntelligent DesignBible
Gems and Hot Ideas About Life’s Origin   07/28/2008    
July 28, 2008 — It seems that origin-of-life speculations are constantly looking for new plot lines.  PhysOrg published a new idea that life started on diamonds.  Yes, “Diamonds may have been life”s best friend on primordial Earth,” it began, raising the interesting question whether friendship was a concept before consciousness emerged.  Since diamonds are thought to be among the oldest minerals on earth, some German researchers studied whether their surfaces would make good incubators for the birth of the first cell.  “In a series of laboratory experiments, the scientists showed that after treatment with hydrogen, natural diamond forms crystalline layers of water on its surface, essential for the development of life, and involved in electrical conductivity.”  How does one say “necessary and sufficient conditions” in German?  “When primitive molecules landed on the surface of these hydrogenated diamonds in the atmosphere of early Earth, the resulting reaction may have been sufficient enough to generate more complex organic molecules that eventually gave rise to life, researchers say.”
    In another odd scenario, the BBC News suggested that life came from Venus.  If it is so difficult as to challenge the best astrobiologists on earth to imagine life forming on a congenial planet in the habitable zone, how much more from a scorching-hot, sultry cooker with a sulfuric-acid-drenched atmosphere?  The Wickramasinghe brothers (Chandra being long-time colleague of the late Fred Hoyle) don’t look at Venus that way.  They think “Venus’s clouds contain chemicals that are consistent with the presence of micro organisms.”  And so how did those Venus microbes arrive here on earth?  They were blown here by the solar wind.  A skeptical researcher considered this “not really very likely.”
How do wild ideas get such good press?  If you need a refresher course on why crystals are not templates for information, read the 02/19/2004, 02/15/2004, and 06/08/2007 entries.  Progress will be measured in some future day by the decibel level of laughter such conjectures evoke among thinking people.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeDumb Ideas
  Backup systems in the cell challenge evolutionary ideas, from 07/21/2006.

Can Worms Outsmart Humans?   07/27/2008    
July 27, 2008 — Worms may seem creepy to some people, but they possess some amazing abilities.  How many of you had to struggle through calculus class, for instance?  Worms know it by heart, reported Greg Soltis at Live Science.  Their brains instinctively apply the logic of calculus to input signals from sensory inputs.  A University of Oregon biologist found that when a roundworm is sensing the presence of food, it essentially takes a derivative to arrive via the shortest possible path.
    In other worm news, engineers may have found a source for “super-strong, lightweight materials for use as construction and repair materials for spacecraft, airplanes, and other applications.”  It’s in the fang-like jaws of a common marine worm, reported Science Daily.  A unique histidine-rich protein identified in the jaw and pincers of this worm “rivals that of human teeth and exceed the hardness of many synthetic plastics,” yet is as lightweight as it is strong.  Nereis virens (sandworm or ragworm; see description), a marine worm prized as bait by Maine fishermen, uses the jaws to capture and cut up its food.

Maybe dogs learned calculus from worms (05/20/2003).  If an evolutionist tries to call this a case of convergent evolution, debate him.  It’s funny to watch them squirm and bark when challenged.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyMarine BiologyBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
Lick Your Wounds   07/27/2008    
July 27, 2008 — Saliva contains a powerful anti-infection protein, say scientists from the Netherlands.  Science Daily reported that if this compound could be mass-produced, it offers hope for those with diseases, burns and injuries prone to infection.
    Saliva is a complex concoction with many kinds of molecules.  With controlled experiments, the researchers were able to identify histatin as the effective ingredient in promoting healing of wounds.
    The editor of the journal in which the results were published explained the significance of this finding.  “This study not only answers the biological question of why animals lick their wounds, it also explains why wounds in the mouth, like those of a tooth extraction, heal much faster than comparable wounds of the skin and bone,” he said.  “It also directs us to begin looking at saliva as a source for new drugs.
    A search on histatin revealed a paper in 2001 published in Infection and Immunity that also attributed antifungal and antibacterial properties to histatin-5, one of a family of polypeptides produced in the parotid and submaxillary glands.  “Like other salivary proteins, histatin 5 appears to be multifunctional,” they said. 
If you have been grossed out by the sight of an animal licking an open sore, maybe you should respect the animal for having tacit knowledge that scientists are just discovering.  How would evolution explain this?  How many animals had to die of infection before the right compounds emerged by chance?  How did the animal learn to lick the wound once the antiseptic did emerge?
    The creation perspective makes sense.  We are equipped with the substances needed to flourish in the environment that was created for our enjoyment.  This includes tools for handling routine exigencies that might arise from our curiosity.  You have an effective healing ointment right there in your mouth.*
     The shame is that modern science took so long to think about this cue from nature.  Sometimes civilization seems to train us away from the tacit knowledge we need as part of our design.  Will the Red Cross start teaching licking one’s wounds in First Aid class?
Next headline on:  HealthBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
*As the “Eden Principle” advises,** things are not necessarily the same now as in the original creation.  This finding about histatin should be modulated by the possibility of risks in human saliva offsetting some of the benefits; it does not, therefore, render unnecessary the proper application of modern antiseptics.
**Eden Principle: examination of the original interoperations of natural phenomena should provide our default understanding of their current optimal interoperations, unless historical changes indicate otherwise.  Corollary: the burden of proof is on the proposer of a health treatment if it was unnecessary in Eden.  Examples: (1) Vegetarianism was the prescribed diet in the Garden of Eden, but subsequent events permitted the eating of meat.  (2) If coffee enemas were not prescribed as routine health treatments in Eden, they are probably not needed today.
Dinosaurs Placed in Big Tree   07/26/2008    
July 26, 2008 — Dinosaurs didn’t take advantage of the big rise in diversity at the end of the Cretaceous, say British researchers.  Their big “supertree” of dinosaur evolution shows that the dinosaurs were just evolving at a regular speed while flowering plants, social insects, birds and mammals were evolving like crazy.
    Science Daily and New Scientist were among popular media reports that printed the supertree diagram and stated the claim without question.  An examination of the original paper,1 however, shows something interesting:
In order to obtain a well-resolved tree, we undertook some post hoc taxon pruning where poorly constrained species, producing unacceptably high numbers (more than 5000) of equally probable supertrees, were removed.  Choosing a tree for diversity analyses was based on overall supertree support.
In fact, numerous subjective decisions were made to come up with the supertree.  The authors had to decide which fossils qualified as distinct species, for instance.  They also ran various tree-building software programs and had to decide threshold values for agreement: e.g., “To enforce MIX to run a compatibility analysis, the threshold parsimony option was set to 2.  One hundred heuristic searches were performed, and characters were weighted (as described above) using a specifically generated weight file.”  Subsequent paragraphs show even more subjectivity.  Here is one selection from the “Materials and Methods” section, to give a taste of the tweaking behind the result.  Some definitions of terms were added in brackets.
Phylogenetic shifts in diversification were detected using SYMMETREE v.  1.0 (Chan & Moore 2005).  Analyses of tree shape are biased when a group is paraphyletic [composed of some but not all members descending from a common ancestor], as a particularly speciose clade (in this case, birds) is represented by a single terminal (Archaeopteryx).  A modification was thus required in order to account for the absence of birds.  Although it was not feasible in the present contribution to include all birds, a hand-drawn phylogeny of the better-known Mesozoic taxa (72 species in total) was inserted at the node subtending Archaeopteryx +Jinfengopteryx, effectively making the tree a Mesozoic time slice.  (This placement of Jinfengopteryx is based on the original description (Ji et al.  2005), but more recent analyses, e.g. Turner et al. (2007), have placed it within Troodontidae.)  Polytomies [divisions into three or more parts] were treated as soft, with the size-sensitive ERM [equal-rates Markov] algorithm set to perform 10000 random resolutions per individual node and 1000000 random resolutions for the entire tree.  Internal branches within the phylogeny on which diversification shifts are inferred to have occurred were identified using the Delta-2 shift statistic.  This process was repeated for time slices of the whole tree as described in Ruta et al. (2007) to avoid violating the ERM model.
The tree was also fitted to the geological time scale, which assumes the very evolutionary story that the researchers were trying to discern.  Then, they added missing data (a kind of oxymoron), or “ghost ranges,” to get a smoother result:
Ghost ranges, minimal basal stratigraphic range extensions implied by the geometry of the phylogenetic tree, indicate missing fossil data, and allow us to correct diversity profiles for the group through the Mesozoic and to compare diversification rates, the proportional change in observed species richness as a function of time, at different points (figure 2b, solid line): note how the addition of ghost ranges smoothes the curve.  In particular, peaks in observed diversification rate in the Norian and Campanian-Maastrichtian (bins 3 and 12) are greatly reduced when ghost ranges are introduced.  This is a minimal correction that does not take account of unknown taxon ranges before the first appearance of the older of a pair of sister groups.  In addition, this correction does not address possible upward range extensions.  However, peaks in the earliest, Middle and Late Jurassic are still observed after introduction of ghost ranges (figure 2b, dashed line).
Did anyone ask whether selective judgments in software settings and subjective decisions about which species to include and exclude would generate reliable inferences about an unobservable past assumed to be over 100 million years ago?  Could this kind of tweaking be guaranteed, instead, to reproduce the authors’ own biases?
    The authors did try to correct for some known biases, such as sampling error.  They also discussed uncertainties that are hotly debated among evolutionists, such as whether diversification typically occurs early in a radiation or not.  “The fossil record of continental vertebrates is clearly patchy, with large temporal gaps between sampling horizons.  The seriousness of sampling bias is debated,” they also granted.  Even so, they had to admit, “It follows that the fluctuations in diversification rate may not necessarily reflect evolutionary signal, and these must be tested rigorously.
    When all was said and done, after repeated rounds of tuning the knobs, the signal that dinosaurs did not take part in the alleged “Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution” was weak.  The popular science articles, though, reported it as a discovery of science.
1.  Lloyd, Davis, Pisani et al, “Dinosaurs and the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution,” Royal Society Proceedings B, 0962-8452 (Paper) 1471-2954 (Online), DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0715.
You have just watched professional divination in action.  What these scientists did has no more relation to the true history of the world than the tea leaves in a fortune-teller’s bowl reveal about the origin of tea plants.  This is pure hocus, foisted on a gullible public under the guise of science (i.e., knowledge).  We provided detailed quotes from the paper to reveal how the trickery is done.  You don’t have to understand the jargon.  Just look at how subjective it is.  Why do the popular media publish the bottom-line claims of these wizards as if knowledge has just been gleaned from the world?  This is nothing but Darwinist imagination masquerading as scientific research.
    Notice how the project was saturated with evolutionary religion from start to finish.  The fossils (admittedly scanty) were first placed into the millions-of-years evolutionary story.  This step has already been falsified by the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bone, bringing the millions-of-years assumption crashing down (see 04/26/2008).  Unabashed by that inconvenient fact, the authors continued their vision quest by borrowing other published evolutionary-diviner chants and spells.  It’s only polite, after all, to reference one’s sources.  Then they used Darwin-divination software.  They selected only the tea leaves and lighting guaranteed to support their story.  They published their resultant horoscope in a Darwin-divination journal, then handed it to the Darwin-inebriated press to herald to the unwashed masses.  A colorful image of the Magic Supertree Diagram was displayed to lend an air of mystical authority to the announcement.
    All these shenanigans are designed to create a sense of numinous awe in the public consciousness.  Readers are supposed to bow down and confess that the diviners possess The Wisdom of The World, and that they are to be heeded instead of those wicked, nasty, evil, insane Creationists who proclaim a different message: that the complex bodies of birds, mammals, dinosaurs and insects reveal design, not chance, and that mythical “Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolutions” are incapable of forcing undirected matter to invent complex organs and functions.
    Get wise to the tricks of the wizards.  This is not science.  It’s not even magic.  It’s deception.  The deceivers who believe their own lies are the most to be distrusted.
Next headline on:  DinosaursEvolutionary Theory
  Poultry excuses for evolutionary change, and we mean poultry, not paltry, because they are mere chicken feed: read why in the 07/25/2005 entry.  And could anyone today really suggest that anti-Semitism is an example of natural selection in action?  National Geographic did: see 07/19/2005.

Did Lyell Lie a Little?   07/25/2008    
July 25, 2008 — Science is supposed to be a collective process involving presentation of arguments by many people making reference to observational data.  Ideally, no one person’s world view should dominate what other scientists think.  Yet in the history of geology, the figure of Charles Lyell has loomed large as a guiding influence.  With rare exceptions, his principle that geological phenomena should be explained with reference to current processes at current rates (uniformitarianism) dominated geological practice for over 150 years.  Did Lyell “discover” this principle in the data, or impose it on the data?  Indications are coming to light that he not only pre-selected uniformitarian thinking as his own guiding principle, but through force of his writings and personal prestige succeeded in marginalizing opposing views.  His influence channeled generations of geologists to look at evidence through the lens of “slow and gradual” processes.
    Geologist Victor R. Baker had little good to say about Lyell in a book review in Nature.1  “Geological history turned upside down” is how he titled his review of a second book on the history of geology by Martin J. S. Rudwick, Worlds Before Adam: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Reform (University of Chicago Press, 2008).  Baker began by stating that “geology also has its own set of attitudes that have accrued during the discipline’s long history.”  Attitudes can be taken as synonymous with presuppositions – those ways of looking at the world that precede actual investigation of the facts.
    Lyell was, of course, preceded by notable figures like Cuvier (a catastrophist who invoked multiple earth-changing events), and gradualists like Comte du Buffon, Werner, Hutton and others who had laid the groundwork for viewing earth history in terms of vast ages of gradual change.  Rudwick had discussed these in his prior work, Bursting the Limits of Time (U of Chicago Press, 2005).2   

Worlds Before Adam looks at how the ideas generated by Cuvier and others came together with more theoretical concepts between 1820 and 1845.
    Rudwick’s books are myth-busters, of which writers of introductory geology texts and popularizations should take note.  In both volumes he counters the Anglocentric view that James Hutton, William Smith and Charles Lyell were the founders of modern geology who shone their British intellectual light onto the darkness of continental musings.  To a large degree, he argues, the reverse was the case.
    Controversially, Rudwick challenges the view that geology’s development is a story of secular progress.
Lyell was a “man of faith” – but one who rejected the Mosaic chronology of Genesis.  He believed strongly that geological science should be free to investigate the history of the world apart from the framework of a recent creation and world-wide Flood that a straightforward reading of Genesis indicated.  Though a dozen or so “Scriptural geologists” in the late 18th and early 19th centuries defended that view, some of them with equal academic credentials and more field experience, Lyell and his band of academics had little time or interest in hearing them.  They were on a program: to advocate a uniformitarian approach to interpretation.
If contemporary lists of the greatest scientists feature a geologist at all, it is usually Lyell, a central figure in Worlds Before Adam.  Lyell intended the title of his great multi-volume opus Principles of Geology (first published in 1830–1833) to recall Isaac Newton’s Principia.  He sought to recast geology on firm foundations, just as Newton had done for physics.  Following his geologist contemporaries and predecessors, Lyell used the understanding of present-day causes to interpret the deep past – a principle termed actualism.  Rudwick explains that Lyell’s excellent descriptions of current geological processes, embellished with observations from his own geological excursions, derived from an original listing by the eighteenth-century German scholar Karl Ernst Adolf von Hoff.  Lyell greatly extended the actualistic method by making pronouncements about how the complex geological processes of the past occurred through the progressive action of small-scale procedures that were still in operation, and by prescribing how geologists should reason about these past processes.
So even though Lyell appealed to evidence, the force of his influence was in prescribing how geologists should reason about and interpret what they were seeing.  Surprisingly, his view faced strong opposition at the time and only gradually became dominant.  It was comparable, Baker said, to the influence of Darwin on biology.  Darwin had not proved gradual evolution or common descent, either, but had prescribed how biologists should reason and interpret the evidence through a lens of slow and gradual change.  In this, of course, he had been strongly influenced as a young man by Lyell’s own vision.  Principles of Geology was among his favorite readings aboard the Beagle.
    It’s interesting why Lyell initially faced opposition.  Notice the contrast between facts and reasoning about the facts:
Rudwick shows that Lyell’s ideas met with almost universal criticism.  This was not caused by his advocacy of actualism, which was widely used, nor was any serious denunciation forthcoming from the biblical literalists, who were considered anti-scientific by Lyell and by his critics.  Instead, the geological facts themselves seemed contrary to Lyell’s vision of uniform action by small-scale processes operating over a long time.  Examples include evidence for sudden mass extinctions from records in various ‘bone caves’, the existence of huge blocks sitting erratically out of geological place in the Alps and northern Europe, and deep U-shaped valleys containing streams too small to account for their excavation.  Lyell’s critics held that one should inquire into nature through evidence, rather than through privileged reasoning.
This excerpt from Baker’s book review underscores two notable points about the history of geology.  First, the “biblical literalists” (a term of derision still in use today by Darwinists) were dismissed not on the basis of the strength of their arguments or evidence, but because they were “considered anti-scientific” – i.e., they were marginalized by categorizing them out of science (a strategy still in use today by Darwinists).  Second, Lyell’s own contemporaries fought against the principle of applying “privileged reasoning” and argued for inquiry into nature based on evidence.  Apparently many of them felt at the time that Lyell failed to respect the evidence when it militated against his world view.
    The term “actualism” gave way to “uniformitarianism” through the nomenclature of William Whewell, a distinguished philosopher of science (see June 2007 Scientist of the Month), who sought to clarify the debate in a way that would discredit Lyell’s scientific method. 
It is an irony of subsequent developments in geology, and a testimony to the success of Lyell’s advocacy, that catastrophism came to be regarded as unconventional.  This perverted Whewell’s original intention, which was to show that the uniformitarians and Lyell were extreme in thinking that geologists should say in advance how nature works, through slow and uniform processes, before interpreting the evidence.
As an example, Baker (reviewing Rudwick) points out that Lyell stuck to his guns even when the evidence was against him.  When Louis Agassiz (“perhaps the greatest of the catastrophists”) presented evidence in favor of glacial theory, “Lyell resisted, remaining true to his epistemological project.”  Strictly speaking, an “epistemological project” is an agenda.  It says, “I am going to advocate for a different definition of knowledge” before going and looking at the evidence.  That might be what Baker was referring to in his title, “Geological history turned upside down.”
    The influence of Lyell pervaded the field of geology from about 1830 till the 1980s, when individual “neo-catastrophists” sought a place at the table.  One of the most colorful case studies is that of J Harlan Bretz who argued for the catastrophic creation of the Channeled Scablands of eastern Washington by means of a giant flood.  His story is told by a new NOVA program airing this week called Mystery of the Megaflood.  Information on the PBS website about this program reveals that this is a story as much about the nature of science as about a geological event.  It recalls how Bretz had trouble getting his fellow geologists to “see” data that contradicted their uniformitarian paradigm.  Since Bretz’s interpretation required phenomena for which there was no present example, such as powerful underwater vortices (kolks) capable of ripping racetrack-size potholes out of solid rock, they ridiculed his ideas for decades (see PBS article interviewing Vic Baker).  Bretz defied the uniformitarian consensus and was eventually vindicated (03/05/2008 commentary).  It is now more in vogue to offer catastrophist explanations for things (see 05/22/2003).3  Lyell’s ghost, however, has not been exorcised; it continues making frequent apparitions in the geological literature and popular media.
1.  Victor R. Baker, “Geological history turned upside down,” Nature 454, 406-407 (24 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/454406b.
2.  Lyell portrayed his predecessor James Hutton (1726-1797) as the father of uniformitarian geology.  This was largely a historical myth propounded by John Playfair, Hutton’s protègè, and by Lyell, who had propaganda needs for an English giant on whose shoulders to build his ideas.  Relying heavily on Rudwick’s 2005 book Bursting the Limits of Time, John Reed, writing in the latest Journal of Creation (22:2, 2008), explodes five myths about Hutton: (1) that he was the father of uniformitarian geology (those ideas were common in the 18th century), (2) that Hutton was an empiricist, (3) that Hutton was an objective thinker (he was in fact building a deistic system), (4) that Hutton was a secular martyr (neither religious people nor his fellow savants opposed him), and (5) that Playfair merely clarified Hutton’s hard-to-understand writing style (he actually cut-and-pasted sections to sanitize Hutton’s true beliefs).
3.  Uniformitarianism does not work for Venus, planetologists confess: see 11/26/2003 and 08/16/2004.
As Terry Mortenson documents in his detailed treatise on the Scriptural geologists, The Great Turning Point, the uniformitarian view was an agenda-driven worldview choice, not a requirement of the evidence.  Many of the Scriptural geologists were at least as qualified (if not more so) than the long-age advocates who wanted to compromise Christianity with the ancient-earth ideas of Hutton.  Lyell himself stated clearly in his letters that his agenda was to divorce geological inquiry from any and all consideration of the Mosaic record in Genesis.  He succeeded uniformly with catastrophic results for free inquiry.  A perusal of the abstracts from Geology any given month reveals Lyell’s paradigm nearly unchallenged.  Article after article is consumed with fitting this or that formation into its presumed place in the billions-of-years geological timescale.  The categories, names and dates are never questioned.  Out-of-the-box thinking plays second fiddle to keeping the story going.
    The Scriptural geologists argued that this approach was as doomed as trying to understand the Roman Empire by choosing to study only the monuments of Rome without reading any contemporaneous eyewitness testimony.  They had strong scientific justifications for evaluating the evidence within a creation and Flood framework.  They argued with scholarship and finesse, showing how the data fit with a global catastrophe as described in the Genesis Flood but did not fit with long ages and gradualism.  Flood geology died out around 1840 for reasons Mortenson gives in the conclusion of his book.  Among them was the fact that the Scriptural geologists acted alone and did not raise up a school of thought or society that could carry on their work.  The uniformitarians won by default and continued through sheer dominance of academia, till Flood geology emerged again (essentially independently from its 1830 predecessor) with the publication of The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris in 1961.  The secular geological societies continue to pay them no attention.  True to the Lyell playbook, they label them “anti-science” only to dismiss them.
    It is apparent from Rudwick’s book that the marginalization of the “biblical literalist” view was an example of a category error in science.  Lyell, Sedgwick, Buckland, Phillips and the other uniformitarians who captured 19th-century academic geology departments did not have to listen to the Scriptural geologists, review their books, answer their arguments or evaluate their evidences.  Why?  Because they had decided, in advance, that the Scriptural geology position was “anti-science.”  Sound familiar?  That is exactly what the Darwinians do to the creationists today.  How convenient it is to rule your opponent out of a debate by definition.  “I don’t have to listen to you; you are a fool.”  The real fool is often the one calling the other one a fool.
    Today’s entry fits well with the yesterday’s on philosophy of science.  What can science know?  Surely it is hard enough interpreting the causal thicket for things that we can observe and repeat in a lab.  Geology is a science necessarily historical in nature.  Is there any good reason for rejecting historical accounts a priori that speak of processes germane to one’s subject matter?  Much less so when the written records show a good fit to the evidence.  What the Bible described as a real event fits what we see: billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth, to borrow Ken Ham’s pithy phrase.
    So did Lyell lie a little?  In view of his negative influence on geology for 150 years, he lied a lot.  He pretended to be promoting objective science but really was imposing his own theological views on geological practice.  The Charlie & Charlie Company (Darwin and Lyell) are partners in crime – defining science so as to downplay the priority of evidence.  Now that we have seen that Lyell had an agenda, and that his “epistemological project” outran his respect for the evidence, it’s time we toss his ideas overboard and let them experience a little catastrophism up close.
Next headline on:  GeologyDating MethodsTheology and Philosophy
What Can Science Really Know?   07/24/2008    
July 24, 2008 — Two book reviews on philosophy of science appeared in the leading general-science journals Nature and Science last week.  Both of them downplayed the oft-told triumphalist portrayal of science as a progressive path toward infallible knowledge – the picture most students get in school.
    In Nature,1 N. David Mermin (Cornell) gave a surprising reprimand to an icon of triumphalist science: Alan Sokal (see 06/03/2008 commentary).  Sokal’s famous hoax against the postmodern deconstructionists in 1996 embarrassed them soundly and signalled the approaching end of the Science Wars of the 1990s.2  Sokal emerged as a champion of scientific realism.  His bold trick made him a darling of the scientific establishment.  The hoax’s value as a victory for scientific claims to epistemic superiority is debatable, though.  Some viewed it more as a boyish taunt than a serious conflict over ideas.  Among them is the reviewer of Sokal’s new collection of essays, Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy, and Culture (Oxford, 2008).  Mermin, a physicist and colleague of Sokal, did not have much good to say about this book.  He considered Sokal’s treatment of critics of the triumphalist spirit of science as ill-informed, dismissive and shallow.  He found much to agree on, “But Sokal’s unwillingness to expand his frame of reference to accommodate legitimately different points of view undermines his effectiveness as a scourge of genuine rubbish,” he concluded.  “I would like to think that we are not only beyond Sokal’s hoax, but beyond the science wars themselves.  This book might be a small step backwards.
    In Science,3 Kim Sterelny (philosophy program, Australian National University and Victoria University of Wellington) reviewed William C. Wimsatt’s essay compendium, Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality (Harvard, 2007).  Wimsatt, whom Sterelny considers “among the most creative, original, and empirically informed philosophers of our day,” dealt with the problem of finite humans trying to form idealized conceptions of natural phenomena that are too complex to grasp in their entirety.  These idealizations are heuristic devices.  Scientists believe by faith they can be refined with further research and become better approximations to reality.  In turn, higher-order complex phenomena can then be reduced in terms of their simpler components: i.e., biology reduces to chemistry, which reduces to physics.  Scientific explanation becomes organized into hierarchical domains of increasing complexity.  So much for the triumphal picture:
It is common ground between Wimsatt and his targets that these ideas about science are idealizations, perhaps even extreme ones.  But Wimsatt argues that they are unhelpful idealizations.  For they idealize away from what we most need to explain: the cognitive success of limited beings.  Treating science as ideally rational is like a developmental biologist using preformationism to model development: the subject matter of the discipline has been idealized away.
Wimsatt respects the success of science but understands that causes and effects are not simple.  There exists a “causal thicket” because elements at one level are not always influenced by adjacent levels.  If you understand the chemistry of the atomic bonds in DNA, for instance, how much do you really understand DNA translation?
The world is messy.  We are fallible and bounded.  Yet science progresses with great reliability.  Wimsatt’s conception of science is organized around these three facts.  Like science itself, his account is partial and incomplete, an approximation organized around the idea of a heuristic.  Many questions are left open, and much could be challenged.
Perhaps one question that arises immediately is how a messy, heuristic approach to epistemology could yield reliable knowledge.  In a new lecture series on the solar system,4 professor Frank Summers (Southwest Research Institute) stated openly that concordance with reality is not important in science.  If a theory has good explanatory power and makes good predictions, that’s what matters.  With that in mind, he had surprisingly good things to say about Ptolemy’s earth-centered model of the solar system.  It explained complex motions in terms of simple geometrical shapes, and helped its users make predictions to sufficient accuracy for 1500 years – hardly an achievement to sneeze it, whether or not the model corresponded to the way things “really are.”
1.  N. David Mermin, “Science wars revisited,” Nature 454, 276-277 (17 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/454276a.
2.  The Sokal Hoax episode is discussed at length in a lecture series by the Teaching Company, “Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It” by Steven L Goldman, Lehigh University.
3.  Kim Sterelny, “Philosophy of Science: Addressing Complexity,” Science, 18 July 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5887, p. 344, DOI: 10.1126/science.1156895.
4.  Frank Summers, New Frontiers: Modern Perspectives on Our Solar System, The Teaching Company, 2008.
As these book reviews show, it’s overdue to dispense with the triumphalist, progressivist view of science.  None of these factors guarantee science has a grip on truth: (1) it gets a lot of money, (2) a lot of smart people practice it, (3), it appears to be successful, (4) the textbooks portray it as victorious over superstition, (5) it wins Nobel Prizes, (6) it has a “scientific method” (whatever that is), (7) geeks major in it at school, (8) it’s hard and uses a lot of math, (9) it explains things, (10) it uses a peer review system, (11) it has big organizations and publishes impressive journals, or (12) it owns lots of big buildings and museums.
    Clearly science seems “on to something” because of its practical successes in medicine, electronics and the space program, but even then, how much of the success is due to trial and error?  How much is due to practical engineering?  How much do we assume is true simply because it works according to the best theories of the day?  One only need look at history to see many examples of practical success using theories we now believe are wrong.
    The “hard sciences” like physics and chemistry arguably have the best case to make.  They give us practical benefits like lasers, computers and robotic spacecraft that arrive at distant planets on schedule.  But arriving at Saturn and taking pictures of its rings is different from explaining how Saturn got there in the first place.  Even physics gets pretty far out when it comes to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, or the many-worlds interpretation, or cosmology.  How much more the storytelling that goes on in psychology and evolutionary biology and uniformitarian geology?  It’s not beyond belief to foresee today’s leading theories being tomorrow’s pseudosciences.
Look at how many of science’s claims to epistemic priority have been undermined by philosophers of science:
  1. There is no one scientific method.
  2. Even if there were a scientific method, exercising a method cannot be done without making assumptions and judgments.
  3. There are no demarcation criteria between science and pseudoscience that can reliably keep the good stuff in (physics) and the bad stuff out (e.g., astrology).
  4. Scientific discovery follows no rules: it can come from hard work, tacit knowledge, accident, or even dreams.
  5. Scientific hypothesis-making follows no rules.  Few scientists arrive at a hypothesis out of raw data without some hunch or intuition of what to look for.  Many scientists have their hypothesis before looking at any evidence at all.
  6. Scientific explanations are fraught with logical pitfalls.  Reducing a complex phenomenon into simple principles runs the risk, for instance, of “explaining away” the very thing to be explained. 
  7. Induction is subject to serious criticism.  It begs the question that patterns in past experience will continue in the future.
  8. Prediction is no reliable guide to good science.  Astrologers and other pseudoscientists often succeed at predictions.  Predictive success runs the risk of affirming the consequent: a logical fallacy.  That’s why Karl Popper denied predictive success has any role in scientific justification.
  9. Falsification rarely succeeds in overcoming a paradigm’s web of belief.
  10. Scientific reasoning may differ in diligence but not in substance from other kinds of reasoning.
  11. The requirement for natural laws is fraught with pitfalls.  Are laws descriptive or normative?  Statements that sound like laws may be nothing more than accidental generalizations.  Laws also make claims that far outrun experience; on what basis can they be justified?  Should natural laws be permitted that have zero instances?  Newton’s did – e.g., “A body in motion acted on by no external forces will continue in a straight line forever.”  Some legitimate sciences, like biology, employ few natural laws, and the ones they do employ are often plagued by exceptions.
  12. Science is a vague term with wannabees trying to latch onto the prestige of the word.  Where does one draw the line?  At social science?  political science?  economics?  Christian Science?  Scientology?  The speculations even within a “hard science” like physics are arguably just as unproveable as those of a “soft science” like psychology.
What are you left with?  “What works for our needs right now.”  We call something scientific if it gives us some nice feelings with its explanations, allows us to make useful predictions, or gives us some practical control over the world.  Its grip on reality or truth is tenuous at best.
    Once we get past triumphalist science, we should take a more informed look at other avenues of human knowledge.  History and the humanities might want to re-assert some of their claims in the marketplace of ideas.  Likewise, philosophy and theology have been footstools of imperial science for too long.  Provided that scholars in other fields apply sound principles of reason, use thorough research methods, interact where theories are analyzed and different points of view are considered, and build on prior knowledge, are their methods really so different from those of science?  Aren’t these good practices for any kind of research?
    At the end of the 19th century, science was king.  Two world wars later, and a century of revolutions in philosophy of science later (with no clear winners), it’s time to re-evaluate science’s claims to special epistemic status and cultural priority.  Take another look at that quote by Dr. Daniel Robinson at the top right of this page.
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Tree of Life in the Genes? Not Yet   07/23/2008    
July 23, 2008 — Now that we have hundreds of animal genomes in the bank (the GenBank), is Darwin’s tree of life becoming visible?  If the image is present, it is extremely weak, said Michael J. Sanderson of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Arizona.  Writing for Science,1 he showed that only a small fraction of genomes show even minimal support for a phylogenetic (evolutionary) tree.
    His report was accompanied by a circle diagram with 876 taxonomic orders represented by small rectangles along the rim.  He shaded blue those that contained a minimal phylogenetic signal, and yellow those that did not.  The entire circle was almost all yellow.  One has to look hard for blue rectangles.  This is after “improvements in algorithms and high-performance computing technology have dramatically increased the scale of feasible phylogenetic inference; and unconventional sources of data, including whole genomes, expressed sequence tag libraries, and barcode sequences, have altered the landscape of large-scale phylogenetics with an infusion of new evidence.”  The distribution of species in GenBank (the database of gene sequences) is remarkably broad, he said.  If there was ever a time to see Darwin’s tree of life come to light in the genes, it should be now.
    In light of the flood of evidence, how can the phylogenetic signal be so weak?  “Construction of a high-resolution phylogenetic tree containing all eukaryotic species in the database is a grand challenge that is substantially more tractable than inferring the entire tree of life, but to succeed, strategies will have to overcome serious sampling impediments,” he said.  “Quantifying the distribution and strength of phylogenetic evidence currently in the database is a prerequisite for this effort.”  So that’s what he set out to do.  And that’s what turned out to look pretty weak.
    Sanderson looked at 1127 higher taxa for evidence of a phylogenetic signal.  He had to set his standards pretty low.  He figured if there were at least four operational taxonomic units [OTUs] that were similar between two taxa, for instance, then an evolutionary relationship could be inferred.  His choice of tree-building software also was rigged to produce a “fast but conservative” result.  “Any clade in the resulting tree will have had at least 50% bootstrap support in maximum parsimony ‘fast’ bootstrap analyses with two different sequence alignment algorithms,” he explained.2  “Although this protocol biases the confidence assessment slightly downward, the bias is small.”  Is that a matter of human opinion?
    There were more hints the standards were loose.  “For comparative purposes and to aid in the visualization of results, an arbitrary cutoff value of 1.5 was selected as minimal phylogenetic support,” he continued.  “This is equivalent, for example, to the information content of two independent loci, each resolving three-quarters of clades to at least a bootstrap value of 51%.”  This sounds close to the tipping point for inferring no relationship at all.
    After manipulating his protocols, summing, and averaging, the evolutionary signal came out surprisingly low, even with the loose standards.  Here is the upshot:
Among individual OTUs [operational taxonomic units], Homo sapiens had the maximum support value of 293.9, but the distribution of scores had a long tail leading to 6402 OTUs with no support at all (most of which, 6079, simply were not found in any phylogenetically informative clusters).  The top 10 were all mammals; the top 25 were mammals, angiosperms (tomato, potato, tobacco, rice, and wheat), Drosophila melanogaster, and Drosophila simulans, all with support scores above 60 units.  Of the 171,703 OTUs for which scores were calculated, only 12% achieved minimal phylogenetic support.  The mean support was 0.84, less than the equivalent of each taxon being found in at least one well-resolved and -supported phylogenetic tree.
So only 12% reached the already-low bar for evolutionary signal – that means 88% did not.  At the level of orders, the scores were skewed even lower.  The maximum score was 10 in primates, and 0.0 in 75 other orders.  He tried to draw an inference between orders that were species-rich and species poor, but many of the orders outside of primates and arthropods did not even reach minimal phylogenetic support regardless of species richness.
    So what did Sanderson conclude from his investigation of the strength of the signal of Darwin’s tree of life in the genes?  Basically, he said more work is needed.  “An accurate high-resolution phylogeny will require substantial increases in sequence data to bring that score to a level comparable to that of the best-supported higher taxa.”  He thinks more data targeted at the right clusters of genes might help.  Better algorithms in the tree-building software might help, too.  Maybe the signal will become clearer when genes from undiscovered species in poorly-resolved branches become available.  “In the meantime, sampling protocols guided by quantitative assessments of the phylogenetic distribution of data will improve the efficiency of emerging phylogenomic strategies for building the tree of life of known organisms.”  Translated, this almost sounds like he is claiming that better data-massaging methods might just begin to help develop strategies for beginning to find ways to begin to visualize Darwin’s tree.  In colloquial terms, it’s going to take a lot of work to fix this picture.
1.  Michael J. Sanderson, “Phylogenetic Signal in the Eukaryotic Tree of Life,” Science, 4 July 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5885, pp. 121-123, DOI: 10.1126/science.1154449.
2.  For more on the meanings of bootstrap, maximum parsimony and other phylogenetic tree-building terms, see the entries from 04/26/2008, 01/26/2008, 03/30/2004, 10/15/2003, and 11/06/2002.
Charlie’s hanging from his own tree.  Why give him more rope?  It will only make the carcass horizontal instead of vertical.
Next headline on:  EvolutionGenetics
  Visualize spaghetti in a basketball.  Now read the 07/24/2004 “amazing” entry.  In fact, there were a lot of good entries that month, like “You have motorized sunscreens in your eyeballs,” 07/19/2004.  Browse the whole page while you’re there.

Mangrove as Metaphor   07/22/2008    
July 22, 2008 — The mangrove – that shoreline tree with the salt-tolerant roots that grows into dense thickets – is the fulcrum of two unrelated news stories.  It never met a force it couldn’t handle.  It also provides metaphors for evolution and creation.
    PhysOrg reported that the mangrove is a key to saving lives.  “The replanting of mangroves on the coasts of the Philippines could help save many of the lives lost in the 20-30 typhoons that hit the islands annually,” the article said.  Mangrove forests help people in two ways: they create rich ecosystems that benefit local fisheries and the economy, and they absorb the energy of typhoons and tsunamis (02/18/2005).  Tragically, many of the native mangrove forests have been depleted.  In Mexico, National Geographic reported, mangrove forests are being destroyed by resort development.  This is dooming fisheries and ravaging the local economy.  “The government has overvalued such development and grossly undervalued the vital role mangroves play” in the ecology that benefits humans, a report found.  Asian governments are beginning to understand the value of mangroves.  The PhysOrg article showed that expensive rehabilitation projects are not required.  Often, locally-led, low-budget attempts work best.
    On a completely different topic, science writer Carl Zimmer considered the mangrove as one possible metaphor for what has happened to Darwin’s tree of life.  Its appearance of a tangled thicket represents a little closer the kind of relationships among microorganisms that recent research has discerned, contrary to the sketch of a branching tree Darwin produced in his early notebooks.  Writing for Discovery Magazine, in “Festooning the Tree of Life,” Zimmer illustrated concepts from a paper by Tal Dagan (U of Dusseldorf) in PNAS.1  Dagan and colleagues analyzed 181 microbe genomes and determined that lateral gene transfer has been a major contributor to the diversity of microbes.  This means that “much of the history of life may not fit the tree metaphor very well any more,” Zimmer said.
    Zimmer produced a series of illustrations of the original Darwinian branching tree getting all tangled up.  He showed that lateral gene transfer produces cross-connections that scramble the data so thoroughly, the tree pattern is no longer discernible.  After crossing out tree, bush and mangrove thicket, Zimmer selected “Gordian Knot” as the best metaphor for the result.  “This new picture is a far cry from Darwin’s sketch, and thank goodness for that,” he ended.  “A science that doesn’t move forward for 150 years isn’t much of a science at all.  But we may need some new metaphors to help us catch up with it.”


1.  Tal Dagan, Yael Artzy-Randrup, and William Martin, “Modular networks and cumulative impact of lateral transfer in prokaryote genome evolution,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print July 16, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0800679105.
Science has moved forward, all right.  It has moved so far forward since Darwin’s time, his speculative worldview of design without a designer has been thoroughly scrambled.  A Gordian knot is not the illustration Darwin projected about how life changes.  Look at Zimmer’s last diagram.  It requires faith to see any tree at all.  Why even maintain the metaphor?  Zimmer’s own reasoning has falsified the original tree diagram and made it superfluous.
    A mangrove thicket, by contrast, is a tightly-knit community of trees, birds, fish, insects and animals all living together simultaneously and harmoniously as a system.  Who really needs to believe they evolved from one another’s microbe ancestors over mythical millions of years?  If you want a worldview that has withstood wave after wave of scientific discoveries, think creation.
Next headline on:  PlantsDarwin and Evolutionary TheoryGenetics
Earth from Space Is a Special Place   07/21/2008    
July 21, 2008 — The Deep Impact spacecraft, 31 million miles away, captured images of the moon circling the Earth, reported Space.com (for the sequence of images, click here).  “Making a video of Earth from so far away helps the search for other life-bearing planets in the universe by giving insights into how a distant, Earth-like alien world would appear to us,” commented Michael A’Hearn (U of Maryland), principal investigator for the mission.  Deep Impact made history by crashing a probe into a comet in 2005.  It is now en route to another comet rendezvous in 2010, and searching for earth-like planets around other stars in the meantime.
    In another story on Space.com, Clara Moskowitz reported that solar systems like ours may be rare.  A study of stars in the Orion Nebula only found 10% with enough material orbiting to form Jupiter-size planets.  The number of stars able to host planetary systems may be as low as 6%.  Surveys like this are subject to statistical interpretation and new data, of course, but the consensus seems to be at this point that without a Jupiter-size planet in the system, it would be unlikely an earth-like planet could survive.
    See also the 07/13/2008 entry for a list of conditions that make Earth appear unique.  Nobody knows at this time whether other earth-like planets exist.  NASA missions are continuing to refine methods to detect them.  Till then, as far as we know, only our Earth has the conditions that allow silly people to act insanely happy (see Astronomy Picture of the Day).
Watch the two videos in order.  They communicate to the heart.  Where else in the universe could conditions exist for such behavior?  What impassionate physical laws brought about the happy dance?  Think – and then thank (Acts 14:17).  The Creator has not left himself without witness, Paul said.  Turn away from worthless things.  The Creator has given us blessings that fill our hearts with joy in order that we would seek Him, though He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17).
Next headline on:  Solar SystemStars
Adult Stem Cells May Cure Muscular Dystrophy   07/19/2008    
July 19, 2008 — Muscular dystrophy leaves children and adults in a nearly helpless state.  Parents watch in agony as their children suffer rapid and progressive weakness.  Attempts to support research, like the annual Labor Day events Jerry Lewis has held for over 40 years, have betrayed their inability to find a cure by the very fact of their continuance.  Now, there is a new possibility that the solution may not lie in some exotic drug or invention of man, but in cells that live right inside our bodies: adult stem cells.
    The BBC News reported hopeful results from a study at Harvard that showed “Transplanting adult stem cells into mice with an illness like muscular dystrophy (MD) helped rebuild muscle structure and strength.”  It took awhile to identify the correct cells, but “Once the stem cells were in place, they spread throughout the muscle, producing new cells and improved the way it worked.”  It appears they also produce a stem-cell reservoir for long-term benefit.  Moreover, the cells were not rejected (in mice) when injected from a donor.
    Before human treatments can begin, of course, much further study will be required.  Problems of distributing the cells to every affected tissue in the body will need to be solved.  The lead researcher said, however, that “This study indicates the presence of renewing muscle stem cells in adult skeletal muscle, and demonstrates the potential benefit of stem cell therapy for the treatment of muscle degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy.”
    In other adult stem cell news, Science Daily reported that dentists may be able to use your own bone stem cells to repair teeth.  Orthodontic work might be accomplished in months instead of years.  Another report on the BBC News said that immune cells cloned from your own skin might cure melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.  Yet another report on Science Daily said that scientists are finding ways to reprogram stem cells “in place” in the body without having to manipulate them in the lab.  This can even be done with your own neural cells inside your brain – reprogramming them in their natural environment.  All these advances are occurring without the need for embryonic stem cells.
Praise God for progress on all debilitating diseases regardless of how scientists find them, but this one has special significance for those who have been watching the debate over embryonic stem cells.  It illustrates the disconnect between the researchers actually finding cures and the scientific establishments who keep pushing embryonic stem cells (ELS cells), which require the killing of fertilized human embryos.  Adult stem cells cause no ethical concerns.
    Here is another tremendously hopeful example of a potential cure from the use of adult stem cells.  The list of near-miraculous cures has been growing for years now.  Big Science keeps pushing ELS cells, tricking voters into spending billions of taxpayer dollars on stem cell research centers, yet still have nothing to show for it.  They even admit that any treatments usable by doctors may be over a decade away – or more.  As a citizen and voter, don’t expect scientific institutions, with eyes on Nobel Prizes and international prestige, to do the right thing.  Doing the right thing has to start with you and me.
Next headline on:  HealthPolitics and Ethics
  Damage control: another potentially falsifying piece of evidence against evolution was analyzed in the 07/16/2003 entry.  Evolutionists can’t connect natural selection to the fact that every animal develops from a single-celled embryo.  Moreover, the genes that control this development are “astonishingly conserved” across the animal kingdom!  Watch how they tried to wiggle out of that straitjacket.

Cellular Trucks Use Moving Highways   07/18/2008    
July 18, 2008 — Imagine how cool it would be to get in your car and have the road do the driving.  The highway would stretch or shrink, moving this way or that, till you saw your destination and hopped off.  That appears to be what the cargo-bearing motors do in the cells in your body.  A new paper by a team of American biophysicists published the hypothesis in PNAS this week.1
    Cell biologists have known for a long time that molecular motors move cargo around on long strands of protein, called microtubules, that form an intracellular highway network (12/04/2003) called the cytoskeleton.  One observation that has been confusing, though, is why the motors seem to just move back and forth (bidirectional transport) instead of making progress toward a destination.  It doesn’t seem to make any sense.  Would a car that has to get somewhere just keep shifting between forward and reverse gears?  It starts to make better sense when you consider that the road is also doing the moving.
    The situation in a cell is much more complex than suggested above.  The cell is a crowded environment, with enzymes and parts moving about rapidly.  In addition, there is thermal motion adding to the hustle and bustle.  Microtubules grow and shrink as their molecular components are added and removed constantly.  Cargo-carrying motors, like dynein and kinesin, attach and detach from their freeways all the time.  It seems chaotic, but the cell works.  Somehow it is a powerhouse of organization and function.
    The authors of this new idea proposed that any given cargo vesicle has multiple motors attached to multiple tracks at a time.  These motors can work in concert, tugging on the microtubules, making them bend and buckle at times.  Think of what could happen if cars could do this on a 3-D freeway system, in which they had attachments to multiple tracks at once.  They could compress the road, let go of the overhead track, and then shoot out quickly for miles as the road beneath them stretched back to its extended position.  Some vehicles along for the ride could get a free ride – like on a moving sidewalk that advances by un-stretching itself.
    Is this a novel concept, or what?  Here’s how the authors explained it, after first dismissing other possibilities:

Given these observations, a more parsimonious explanation is that nonthermal (motor-induced) forces and quenched disorder constraining the microtubule backbones within the cell body generate large backbone undulations.  Numerous constraints are imposed by the crowded intracellular environment, forcing the microtubule backbone into an effective highly curved confining tube, in particular through entanglement with other microtubules.  The large stored length of microtubules (within the cell body) is transmitted over long distances by the virtually incompressible microtubules and projected in the longitudinal direction inside the processes.... ... The fluctuating tensions are induced by multiple molecular motors decorating intracellular cargos and cross-bridging between several microtubules at a time.
    The microtubule network actively “animated” in this fashion induces an additional velocity component that adds to the motor-driven cargo transport velocities in the microtubule fixed reference frame.
A cell’s molecular motors thus drive the road as well as the car!  With this mechanism, they get a velocity boost that helps them arrive at their destinations faster than if they simply moved along the microtubule at constant velocity.  This also begins to explain why the motors move back and forth:
As suggested by our data, within the “fluctuating cytoskeleton” picture we can indeed understand the observed back-and-forth motion as a consequence of a peculiar form of tug of war of many motors competing with each other and with microtubule elastic forces.  As opposed to the “local” tug of war of opposite polarity motors on the same vesicle, the “global” tug of war described here allows large numbers of motors distributed along the whole microtubule to exert forces at a time and compete for the direction of microtubule movement.  When bent on large scales, the microtubules offer a rather large compliance to the exerted longitudinal and lateral forces, which in turn allows all of the motors along their length to act at a time and generate the observed microtubule fluctuations.  Switching of motor pulling and microtubule relaxation phases can induce a back-and-forth motion of the microtubule backbone.
But a question remains.  How does this help the motor get its attached cargo get to its destination?  Simple: it hitchhikes.  This is actually the term they suggested to describe their hypothesis.  Some motors only need a short hop.  They grab the moving microtubule and let go when they need to.  Others, needing rapid transit across longer distances, play the system by binding and unbinding repeatedly.  In a matter of seconds, the motor can cover a long distance (relative to its own tiny size).  The moving-sidewalk system even works for cargos without their own motors.  “For this mode of motility involving transient binding of cargos to moving microtubules, which eventually leads to a long-range dispersion, we suggest the term ‘hitchhiking,’” they said.  “Exploiting this simple mechanism, even cargos devoid of active motors can be efficiently dispersed throughout the entire cell.”  In short,“We demonstrate that, besides being tracks for motors that directly haul cargos, microtubules can transmit the force of distant motors onto a cargo over large separations.2
   
1.  Kulik, Brown, Kim, Kural, Blehm, Selvin, Nelson and Gelfand, “The role of microtubule movement in bidirectional organelle transport,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Published online before print July 14, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0800031105.
2.  Physicists may enjoy this extra detail:   This implies a mechanical nonlocality of the cytoskeleton because a longitudinal pulling strain in an almost stretched microtubule is essentially instantaneously transmitted over long distances.  Furthermore, microtubule motion on intermediate timescales (tens of milliseconds to several seconds) can be understood as a consequence of pulling out the slack length of microtubules induced by random constraints and motor forces along its entire length.”
Frequent readers of CEH will know immediately the answer to this pop quiz question.  “True or false: evolution was mentioned in this paper.” (Answer: false).
    As amazing as this explanation was, other questions come to mind.  How does the motor know where to get on and off?  How do the motors conspire to control the microtubules for best effect?  Remember, these are blind molecules in a busy, seemingly chaotic environment.  The results, however, are anything but chaotic.  There are wonders in this black box we are only beginning to appreciate.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyAmazing Facts
Early Magnetic Galaxies Surprise Astronomers   07/17/2008    
July 17, 2008 — Astronomers reported in Nature that early galaxies have normal magnetic fields.1  That is surprising because magnetic fields were supposed to start small and strengthen over billions of years.
    The team tried to be careful to distinguish intervening magnetic signatures from those in quasars.  Their measurements indicated that “organized fields of surprisingly high strengths are associated with normal galaxies when the Universe was only about one-third of its present age.”  It also reveals that physicists don’t understand galactic magnetism very well.  The finding puts severe constraints on models of how magnetic fields form in galaxies.
    The international team of astronomers ended their paper with a commentary about modern cosmology that was revealing.  “It also serves as a general reminder of the potential importance of magnetic fields, which is usually completely ignored, in the formation and evolution of cosmic structures in the high-redshift Universe.”
    Space.com gave a layman’s report on the announcement.  The article ended, “The new finding means scientists must come up with an improved explanation for how magnetic fields build up inside galaxies in the young universe such as those Miniati and his team observed.”
1.  Bernet, Miniati et al, “Strong magnetic fields in normal galaxies at high redshift,” Nature 454, 302-304 (17 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07105.
This is disturbing.  What else are they ignoring that could have important effects on their cosmological models? 
Next headline on:  CosmologyPhysics
The Cro-Magnon Were Europeans   07/16/2008    
July 16, 2008 — There’s no genetic difference between Cro-Magnon Man and modern Europeans, a genetic study reported by Science Daily.  Researchers took extra care to avoid contamination of bones found in southern Italy, they said.  They claimed Cro-Magnon people were able to maintain genealogical continuity for 28,000 years, remaining distinct from Neanderthals, whom they said lived in Europe for 300,000 years.
Forget everything you were taught about early man in Europe, because the evolutionists keep changing their story and what they say now is absurd.  Is it really plausible that two groups of Homo sapiens lived side by side for nearly 30,000 years and never intermarried?  Has that ever happened in modern times?  Where is all the genetic evolution that should have occurred between the time this Italian Cro-Magnon individual lived and today?  He’s virtually identical to modern Europeans.  Why even classify him as “other” than us?
    And why think that he lived so long ago?  28,000 years is three to four times the length of all recorded human history.  These people were our equals physically and probably mentally.  Maybe they were even superior.  Who could possibly believe that Cro-Magnon, or even Neanderthals for that matter (with bigger average cranial capacity than us), would not have reached the moon in 28,000 years, to say nothing of 300,000?  Evolutionists want us to believe they were smart enough to hunt mammoths and produce cave paintings that attract the awe of modern artists, but never learned how to ride a horse in all that time.  That is absurd.  Wouldn’t you expect that they would have built cities in a fraction of the evolutionary time scale, and invented writing?  They have no answer for what “switched on” in the human brain to create instant civilization about 6,000 to 8,000 years ago.
    The ages they give are not scientific.  They are part of a vast evolutionary myth that is propagated by a powerful class of shamans who run our schools and scientific institutions.  There is nothing in the data that is inconsistent with the Biblical view that these were people after the Flood (which itself is remembered in hundreds of tribal legends around the world), scattered after Babel into distinct family clans.  Those remaining in the Fertile Crescent built the first cities and started writing in clay tablets about their banking transactions and laws.  Others with different spoken languages migrated east and west, north and south.
    The harsh conditions in Europe during the Ice Age delayed the development of writing and civilization.  (Think of how few records modern tribes near the Arctic leave today.)   Neanderthals were particularly hardy individuals who got to Europe first.  Cro-Magnon people (just as much offspring of Noah as their brethren but genetically distinct) arrived later after conditions were becoming more hospitable.  If this started a big war, with the Cro-Magnon ending up victorious over the Neanderthals, would there be any fossil remains?  Not likely; nor would there necessarily be any written records, any more than detailed accounts of wars between Germanic tribes in later Roman times or Anasazi in North America much later, who vanished without a trace (unless the Hopi are living descendants).
    No long periods spanning tens or hundreds of thousands of years is required in this scenario.  It matches what we know about people, and it matches the Table of Nations in Genesis 10.  Think how much migration could happen among intelligent people in just decades or centuries.  We know how curious people are.  Within a few millennia, Germanic tribes were exploring the New World.  South Pacific Islanders were hopping from island to island.  Columbus, a latecomer, was sailing west for the Indies.
    We are familiar with human wanderlust.  It is inconceivable that Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons would have sat still for 28,000 years or 300,000 years and not populated the globe.  There’s only one logical conclusion.  The evolutionary story, with its vast periods of time, portraying brutish people living like cave potatoes, is a myth.  If they can be so flagrantly wrong about dates and activities close to us in time, do the math and tell us if you trust them when they weave tales about what happened millions and billions of years ago.  The reckless drafts on the bank of time must stop.
Next headline on:  Early ManGeneticsDating Methods
  Why building evolutionary phylogenetic trees is a hopeless task, both now and for any future civilization on any planet in the universe, from 07/25/2002.  This hurdle doesn’t keep the Darwinists from trying, though (see 07/30/2002, for example).

Another Evolutionary Statistic Is Wrong   07/15/2008    
July 15, 2008 — Marine invertebrate diversity has not increased dramatically over time, contrary to conventional wisdom.  That’s the conclusion of a team of 35 researchers who spent a decade analyzing seashell fossils from around the world.
    Science Daily reported the story July 7.  A week later, on July 14, Science Daily reported a follow-up story, entitled, “Disproving Conventional Wisdom On Diversity Of Marine Fossils And Extinction Rates.”  The later article featured John Alroy (UC Santa Barbara), the principal author of the paper published in Science.1  “There’s been 36 years of people arguing about this,” he said.  “And I feel we finally resolved this debate, which is certainly one of the most high profile debates in the study of diversity of the fossil record.”  95% of the fossil record consists of marine invertebrates (see ICR claim).  The abstract says,

It has previously been thought that there was a steep Cretaceous and Cenozoic radiation of marine invertebrates.  This pattern can be replicated with a new data set of fossil occurrences representing 3.5 million specimens, but only when older analytical protocols are used.  Moreover, analyses that employ sampling standardization and more robust counting methods show a modest rise in diversity with no clear trend after the mid-Cretaceous.  Globally, locally, and at both high and low latitudes, diversity was less than twice as high in the Neogene as in the mid-Paleozoic.  The ratio of global to local richness has changed little, and a latitudinal diversity gradient was present in the early Paleozoic.
The team painstakingly catalogued 248,816 fossils from around the world and found that things that paleontologists have been saying for 40 years may not be accurate.  Diversity reached saturation early after the Cambrian and Ordovician and remained flat, with minor excursions, over the remaining eras.
    The new database suggests that there were only three, not five, mass extinctions.  The number of species recovered quickly, they said.  The sixth and last presumed extinction never happened, they claim, based on their results.
    Another researcher explained the utility of the project.  She said, “If we know where we have been, we know something about where it will go.”
1.  Alroy et al, “Phanerozoic Trends in the Global Diversity of Marine Invertebrates,” Science, 4 July 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5885, pp. 97-100, DOI: 10.1126/science.1156963.
It’s good to know where you have been.  Where you have been, though, does not necessarily predict where you will go.  Do these researchers know the answer to such questions?
    Statistics can be misleading.  Good for them that they went at it in much more detail than in previous studies.  They have falsified claims going back four decades.  That does not ipso facto “truthify” their own claims.  Because their work has an incestuous relationship with evolutionary geology and biology, any conclusions borne out have a statistically high likelihood of dementia.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyFossilsDating Methods
Is Artificial DNA Intelligently Designed?   07/15/2008    
July 15, 2008 — Japanese chemists have made a new kind of DNA, reported Science Daily.  It resembles natural DNA, but is composed of bases that are shorter, modified forms of the ones cells use.  “The finding could lead to improvements in gene therapy, futuristic nano-sized computers, and other high-tech advances,” the article says.
An evolutionist should extend his or her reasoning to ask if these new molecules are products of natural selection.  If the DNA in the scientist’s body is a product of natural selection, why not the products of his body?  If the mind is an excretion of the brain, why are not products directed by the natural brain through natural hands also products of natural selection?  At what point did something “new” like purpose or design ”emerge” from undirected natural ingredients?  Is not artificiality merely an artifact of the same natural process that produced DNA?
    If the evolutionist answers yes to the above, we continue the line of questioning.  How do we know that your answer was not a product of natural selection, a mindless, undirected process of chance and necessity?
    Information is the key ingredient that makes understanding possible.  The prerequisite for information is a mind.  If these scientists truly invented a new molecule on purpose that is capable of storing information, then explain why the DNA in their cells was not purposefully created.
Next headline on:  GeneticsIntelligent DesignBiomimetics
Watery Moon Upsets Conventional Wisdom   07/14/2008    
July 14, 2008 — The moon looks pretty dry.  It may have maria (oceans) but the figurative term would not attract customers for beachfront property: its seas are made of hardened lava.  The moon’s “Ocean of storms” (Mare Procellarum) only gets rain in the form of solar wind and cosmic rays.  Still, could there be water molecules in this dry place?  New studies say yes.  What’s most interesting about this answer is the reaction of some scientists to unexpected information.
    In a paper in Nature,1 Saal et al believe they have discovered primordial water in orange and green soil samples returned by Apollo astronauts.  Since the H2O molecules are deeply embedded in crystals, they feel it rules out contamination from earth or condensation from extra-lunar sources.  The concentration of water (their best estimate being 750 parts per million) is much higher than the estimates for the earth’s upper mantle.  The researchers feel it represents magmatic water in the interior of the moon that was buried after volcanic eruptions then became exposed after meteoritic impacts.  They detected, in addition, other volatiles, including sulfur, fluorine, chlorine and carbon dioxide.
    So what?  The problem is that the favored theory for the origin of the moon would not permit these volatiles to be present.  Many astronomers feel a Mars-size object impacted the earth early in its history.  The moon condensed out of the ejecta.  This process, however, would not have left much if any water or volatile elements and molecules behind.  Commenting on this paper in the same issue of Nature,2 Mark Chaussidon (CRPG, France) explored the ramifications:
These results raise many questions.  Are the volatile contents of the melts that formed the green and orange glasses typical for the Moon?  Can the general scarcity of most volatile elements on the Moon be reconciled with the apparent abundance of sulphur, chlorine, fluorine and especially water in the lunar glasses?  What happened to all the water during the Moon’s formation?  And if the Moon is not bone dry, where did the water come from?
He tried to salvage the impact hypothesis by suggesting that maybe earth and the primordial moon exchanged volatile material for a few centuries while the moon coalesced.  Future comparisons of hydrogen-to-deuterium ratios between earth and moon may help resolve the dispute.
    EurekAlert reported the story and ended with a surprising comment about scientific discovery in general:
Lead author of the study, Alberto Saal of Brown University remarked: “Beyond the evidence for the presence of water in the interior of the Moon, which I found extremely exciting, I learned that the contributions from scientists from other disciplines has the potential to produce unexpected results.  Such a scientist is able not only to ask questions that no one has asked before, but also can challenge hypotheses that are embedded in the thinking of the scientists working in the field for many years.  Our case is a typical example.  When I suggested we measure volatiles in lunar material, everyone I talked to thought that such proposal was a futile endeavor.  We ‘knew’ the Moon was dry.”
Astrobiology Magazine also reported the story and included the above quote.  It also included artwork of the Mars-impact hypothesis.  The BBC News also reported the story.  It should be recalled from the 11/04/2002 entry that Apollo astronaut and geologist Harrison Schmidt (Apollo 17), who discovered the orange soil on the moon, denies the Mars-impact hypothesis.
1.  Saal et al, “Volatile content of lunar volcanic glasses and the presence of water in the Moon’s interior,” Nature 454, 192-195 (10 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07047.
2.  Mark Chaussidon, “Planetary science: The early Moon was rich in water,” Nature 454, 170-172 (10 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/454170a.
How can science progress if scientists don’t ask the right questions?  Looking for water on the moon was futile.  They “knew” the moon was dry.  If you think science is always an unbiased collection of evidence, think about this case.  Scientists always approach a problem with a bias.  No one collects data in a strict Baconian fashion.  There is always an element of human selection, deciding what questions are interesting, and what data are most likely to yield fruitful hypotheses.  Thank goodness for a few individuals who bravely ask the questions others don’t consider worthwhile.  If the finding holds up, a lot of artwork and computer animations may get tossed out the window.  Another problem will resurface: where did our moon come from?  The Mars impact hypothesis was the leading theory for a long time, not because the data demanded it, but because the other contenders were each losers (see best-in-field fallacy).  But consider what was said in the previous entry about our privileged planet: the moon has a function.  It’s very probable that without our specific moon, its mass and distance, life could not exist.  Then there is the amazing coincidence about solar eclipses: the moon’s apparent diameter in the sky is the same as the sun’s.  Too many coincidences and the chance hypothesis sounds uncannily lucky.  Maybe the moon was created.
Next headline on:  Solar System
  Gushy adoration of Darwin gets embarrassing, from 07/18/2006 and 07/14/2006.  Is Charlie the atheists’ idol?  Judge for yourself from the 07/12/2006 and 07/06/2006 entries. 

Love Your Planet   07/13/2008    
July 13, 2008 — Modern astronomy and space travel have given humans the ability to view the earth from a distance and ponder its significance.  Some astronomers expected the earth to be ordinary-looking.  In many respects, however, astronomy is teaching us otherwise.  Clara Moskowitz, staff writer for Space.com began an article by saying, “Earth is one special planet.”
    What makes the earth special?  Let her count the ways:

  1. Liquid water in abundance – but not too much water to submerge the continents.
  2. Plate tectonics and active geology.
  3. A magnetic field that shelters it from harmful solar radiation.
  4. The only planet known to have life.
  5. The only planet known to have intelligent life.
  6. The only known planet hosting intelligent beings who have achieved space travel.
  7. An environment that has kept water liquid for a long time.
  8. A safe distance from its star.
  9. A carbon-silicate cycle that has operated for a long time.
  10. The right size to hold onto an atmosphere, yet have a habitable surface.
  11. A moon the right size and distance to stabilize earth’s tilt and rotation.
  12. A moon that circulates the ocean tides.
Moskowitz entertained hopes that astronomers will find billions of earth-like planets eventually, but her list of unique features of the home planet is impressive.  No other planet or moon in the solar system comes close: not Venus, Mars, Jupiter, or Titan.  No other body is in the “Goldilocks” position of being just right.  And “So far,” she added, “we haven’t seen any planet outside the solar system come very close to Earth either.”  Of the extrasolar planets discovered so far (going on 300), many are “hot Jupiters” or gas giants as close in as Mercury to our sun, or even closer.  An earth-like planet could not compete in the habitable zone of such a system.
    She quoted Donald Brownlee, co-author of Rare Earth (12/19/2000, 07/15/2002) and project scientist of the Stardust mission (01/02/2004, 01/25/2008), who said, “I doubt that in our galaxy typical stars have planets just like Earth around them.  I’m sure there are lots of planets in the galaxy that are somewhat similar to Earth, but the idea that this is a typical planet is nonsensical.”  See also the 04/04/2005 entry, where five astronomers on a panel agreed that our solar system is special.
Brownlee appeared briefly in the DVD The Privileged Planet explaining his view about the uniqueness of earth.  The unique properties listed above and more are discussed in the film – along with a thought-provoking hypothesis about why these features point to intelligent design.  The production includes startling admissions by a variety of astronomers, some hostile to intelligent design but struck by the facts of nature.  If you haven’t yet seen this powerful and beautiful film, order a copy today.  It makes a nice loaner and conversation starter.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemAmazing Facts
What Mean These Stars?   07/12/2008    
July 12, 2008 — There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in current astronomical models.  Two articles recently underscored the fact that astronomers still have a lot to learn.
  1. Cluster generation conundrum:  The members of globular star clusters were long thought to be old stars of the same age, like seniors at a care facility.  Then the discovery of “blue stragglers” caused consternation; they were too massive to be billions of years old.  In the first episode of a new DVD series produced by Astronomy magazine, “The Life and Death of Stars,” an astronomer proposed that the blue stragglers are stars born from collisions among the older stars.  Now, a third population is further upsetting cluster age models, according to a press release from the Space Telescope Science InstituteScience Daily stated that the dilemma of three out-of-sync stellar populations in globular cluster NGC 6791 “may fundamentally challenge the way astronomers estimate cluster ages.”
        The article says that astronomers have found three populations of stars with different estimated ages: 4 billion, 6 billion and 8 billion years.  Two of the populations consist of white dwarf stars.  “The age discrepancy is a problem because stars in an open cluster should be the same age,” said one astronomer.  “They form at the same time within a large cloud of interstellar dust and gas.  So we were really puzzled about what was going on.”  Another added, “This finding means that there is something about white dwarf evolution that we don’t understand.”
        The article proposed a simple and “elegant” reconciliation of the two discrepant ages of white dwarf populations.  They might be binary systems.  The brightness of the binaries makes them look younger, the team of astronomers suggested.  They did not explain why this was never discovered before, or what it means to other estimates of cluster ages and distances.  White dwarfs are commonly-used age indicators, because according to leading models of stellar evolution, they are the end products of main sequence stars of a certain range of masses after the red giant phase.  For more on problems with globular cluster dating, see 01/05/2003, 01/01/2004, 08/28/2006 and 05/03/2007National Geographic News published the stunning Hubble image that shows the interior of the cluster.  A couple of distant spiral galaxies can be seen in the background.
  2. Cosmic baby boom:  Another conundrum “baffles astronomers,” according to Space.com.  The article subtitle explains the problem: “Our galaxy cranks out about 10 new stars per year.  Now astronomers have found one near the beginning of time that’s generating a whopping 4,000 a year.  At that rate, the galaxy needs only 50 million years to grow into one equivalent to the most massive ever observed.  Such rapid-fire starbirth and growth confounds theory.”  Sure enough, the leading “Hierarchical Model” of galaxy evolution expects that galaxies should grow slowly, not explosively “in one big burst” of star formation.  Peter Cepak of Caltech used a human analogy to explain the problem: “If our human population was produced in a similar boom, then almost all of the people alive today would be the same age.”  He continued, “If the universe was a human reaching retirement age, it would have been about 6 years old at the time we are seeing this galaxy.”
        The new finding further exacerbates the problem of instant maturity in the early universe (see 06/04/2001, 01/03/2004, 09/21/2005, 03/31/2006).  Why would stellar evolution occur at a much more rapid pace in the early universe?  What was exceptional about that epoch?  The idea contradicts uniformitarianism.  Astronomers announced the results based in images of a galaxy taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii.  Now, the team is trying to see if this “Baby Boom galaxy” is an exceptional case.  If not, and most early galaxies were bursting into growth in their cosmic infancy, the Hierarchical Model of galaxy formation may be falsified.
How scientists treat anomalies in their models is instructive.  Many scientists are reluctant to jettison a working model just because of a few anomalies.  More often they employ rescuing devices to save the model.  Sometimes, however, the anomalies are just too stubborn to fit.  It is up to observers outside the paradigm to decide when the rescuing devices have become less plausible than other models.
We’ll let our readers chew on these stories and ponder their implications.  Some will feel comfortable with the explanations offered by the pros.  Others will wonder if a scientific revolution is in the offing.  For a diversion, try this riddle on someone today:
Q: I am the end of time and the beginning of eternity.  I am the last of space, and the beginning of every end.  What am I?
A: The letter ”e.”
Have a stellar day.
Next headline on:  AstronomyDating MethodsCosmology
Flatfish Evolution Revealed   07/11/2008    
July 11, 2008 — Darwin has been vindicated again, to hear the media reports.  Science Daily said, “Flatfish Fossils Fill in Evolutionary Missing Link.National Geographic News ruled out the competition by saying, “Odd Fish Find Contradicts Intelligent Design Argument.”  In a nutshell, Science Daily said, “Hidden away in museums for more that 100 years, some recently rediscovered flatfish fossils have filled a puzzling gap in the story of evolution and answered a question that initially stumped even Charles Darwin.”  By implication, anything that would stump Darwin would stump all the brightest minds in history.
    The case concerns two species of flatfish fossils from Italy, locked in away a French museum, that were re-evaluated by Matt Friedman (U of Chicago and Chicago Field Museum).  In his report in Nature,1 he claims that the fossils clearly show mature forms of flatfish with eyes only partially migrated to the top.  That’s the transitional-form claim.  He also claimed they were the right age to precede the later flatfish with fully migrated eyes.  Then he speculated on how the partially-migrated eyes might have been adaptive to the fish.  That’s the thing that puzzled Darwin.  Apparently, Darwin was tempted to resort to Lamarckian mechanisms to explain it.  Not necessary, Friedman explained: “The discovery of stem flatfishes with incomplete orbital migration refutes these claims and demonstrates that the assembly of the flatfish bodyplan occurred in a gradual, stepwise fashion,” he said.  “Thus, the evolutionary origin of flatfish asymmetry resembles its developmental origin, with increasing degrees of orbital migration transforming a symmetrical precursor into a fully asymmetrical form.”  Friedman is not resurrecting Haeckel’s idea that “ontology recapitulates phylogeny,” is he?
    Friedman noted that modern flatfish sometimes prop their bodies up using their fins.  This might have allowed the half-evolved forms to use both eyes, he speculated.  It’s not clear why this would be beneficial to a fish.  It would seem a lot of work for an upright fish to lie on its side with one eye up, occasionally struggling to get its other eye up for a better look.  The flatfish-to-be would certainly not be able to look ahead to the day, perhaps hundreds of thousands or millions of years in the future, when its descendents would get both eyes to the top and life would be sweet.  And why do living flatfish exhibit this behavior when both eyes are already on top?  Whether or not this makes any evolutionary sense, the bulk of Friedman’s argument that the alleged transitional forms were adaptive was that they existed.  This begs the question that existence proves adaptation – let alone a process of evolution.  How could one know that extinct life forms were not maladapted?  Maybe that is why some went extinct.  It does not necessarily prove they were evolving toward a more adapted state.
    Some damaging admissions about the evolutionary story showed up in the final paragraph – after the pro-Darwin claims had been made.
Inferring interrelationships between higher groups in this explosive radiation has proved difficult, and an unresolved bush persists.  Documenting the origin of these clades is vital to understanding the roots of modern biodiversity, because acanthomorph fishes comprise nearly one-third of living vertebrate species.  Stem representatives—such as Amphistium and Heteronectes [the two fossils discussed in the paper] in the case of pleuronectiforms [flatfish]—have yet to be identified for many acanthomorph clades, but their recognition might prove invaluable in delivering a stable hypothesis of interrelationships for this exceptional vertebrate radiation.
What this seems to imply is that this “transitional form” is too little too late.  Why have these fossils been sitting in museums for 100 years, only now to be reclassified as missing links?  And where are the missing links for the numerous other acanthomorph fishes (1/3 of all living vertebrates), that so far as is known at this time, comprise an “unresolved bush” instead of a phylogenetic tree?  Did not Darwin envision a gradually branching tree, not a picture of “explosive radiation”?  According to Friedman, the bulk of missing links are in the future.  It will be up to future biologists to find them.  He implied there is not now, nor ever has been, a “stable hypothesis of interrelationships” about vertebrate evolution.  This can only mean that the current evolutionary story is unstable.  Admitting an “exceptional vertebrate radiation” undermines a natural law of evolution.  It’s an exception, not an instance.
    In addition, Friedman admitted to the National Geographic reporter that “Fossils from excavations in northern Italy and Paris revealed that the intermediate specimens once lived together with flatfishes having both eyes on one side of the skull.”  The ancestor and descendent lived side by side.  Doesn’t that make it a little questionable to conclude an ancestral relationship?  His assertion that these two fossils with partially-migrated eyes demonstrate that “the assembly of the flatfish bodyplan occurred in a gradual, stepwise fashion” seems exaggerated – to say nothing of the claim it vindicates Darwinism.
    The National Geographic write-up took the unusual step of asking the opinion of a creationist.  After opening with a line that the discovery of this missing link “could give intelligent design advocates a sinking feeling,” and stating without a reference that “Intelligent design advocates have seized on the idea of instant flatfish rearrangement as evidence of God or another higher being intentionally creating new animal forms,” NG asked Frank Sherwin of ICR for his response.2  The query was preceded by the qualifier, “The new discovery, however, is unlikely to change the minds of many creationists.”  Sure enough, Sherwin found the evidence “underwhelming.”  He did not deny that rearrangements of parts was possible within created kinds.  “What we’re asking is, Show me how a fish came from a nonfish ancestor.”  After all, the putative flatfish ancestor and its sole descendents already had eyes, fins, gills, scales and all the equipment of a fish.  Moreover, flatfish and upright fish have the same vertebrate body plan.  The parts only got rearranged, if they “evolved” in a Darwinian sense.  Though the rearrangement seems to help the flatfish with its camouflage, obviously most fish get by just fine without flatness.  It could not be argued, therefore, without floundering for the halibut, that the environment pushed fish to adopt this posture.
    Interesting facts about flatfish were stated in the NG article.  There are 500 species with this lifestyle.  They vary from four inches to seven feet in size.  Surprisingly, the fish are not born that way.  The embryonic fish start out life with eyes on both sides of the skull, as with normal fish.  “As a flatfish develops from a larva to a juvenile, one eye migrates up and over the top of the head, coming to rest in its adult position on the opposite side of the skull.”  The young adults apparently have to spend some time learning to cope with this biological rearrangement that takes place as they grow up.  Biologist Richard Palmer (U of Alberta) confessed that the mystery of flatfish development has “really been a major, major puzzle to evolutionary biologists.”  Has it been resolved?  The answer must be evaluated in context of Friedman’s own admission that the big picture of acanthomorph fish evolution remains unresolved and current theories are unstable.  Evolution News, meanwhile, exposed numerous inaccuracies in the National Geographic write-up.
    Despite the empirical doubtfulness of the claims, evolutionists seem in ecstasy with the spirit of Darwin.  Philippe Janvier, in the same issue of Nature,3 could not resist eloquence: “In the case of the fossils described by Friedman ... one cannot but admire the vindication of a prediction, made by Darwin, of a gradual eye migration during flatfish evolution that mirrors the metamorphosis of the living forms.”  Janvier is not resurrecting Haeckel’s idea that “ontology recapitulates phylogeny,” is he?
    Evolution in action: it’s all over the place, claimed Jonathan Weiner of Natural History Magazine.  Writing for Live Science, he said, “Finches, monkeyflowers, sockeye salmon, and bacteria are changing before our eyes.”  He launched into a paean of praise for Darwin’s gradualism against a backdrop of his wife Emma’s religious concern for his soul.  “For most of the twentieth century the only well-known example of evolution in action was the case of peppered moths in industrial England,” he said.  He may have revealed more than he wished about the state of evolutionary theory.  Did he really intend to suggest that during a whole century, with the Scopes Trial and all the propaganda of the Darwin Centennial, only shifting populations of one species of moth provided a well-known example of evolution in action?  Undoubtedly he will be happy to add the flatfish story to the score.  He needs to show the other side of America’s “house divided” over evolution that by “peering over the shoulders of biologists,” one can “actually watch Darwin’s process in action.
1.  Matt Friedman, “The evolutionary origin of flatfish asymmetry,” Nature 454, 209-212 (10 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07108.
2.  Sherwin is a Biblical creationist, not a member of the intelligent design community per se, although he would accept some of their principles.
3.  Philippe Janvier, “Palaeontology: Squint of the fossil flatfish,” Nature 454, 169-170 (10 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/454169a.
We peer over the shoulders of biologists all the time and find them exaggerating.  They talk about evolution in action, but what is observed is evolution inaction (01/01/2007).  They need to get busy and find the vast majority of missing links they claim must exist if they expect reasonable people to accept their myth.  Finding explosive radiations and unresolved bushes is only helping their sworn enemies, the creationists.  No wonder this discovery is “unlikely to change the minds of many creationists.”  They have too much respect for evidence and logic.  To watch Darwin’s process in action – you mean his propensity for just-so storytelling?  Why yes, we see that very clearly.
    One of our readers asked a good question.  How do we know that these fossils were not mutants, or were not de-evolving from flatfish back to the upright position?  After all, blind cave fish can re-evolve eyes under the right circumstances (see 01/08/2008).  Maybe in these rare cases the developmental process got stopped in the middle.  If the proposed intermediate and the full flatfish lived side by side, it seems these possibilities are just as warranted by the evidence.
    Even if an independent panel of philosophers and logicians were to judge that the evidence in this paper is sufficient to justify the claims that the fossils were (1) ancestral and (2) intermediate and (3) adaptive (conclusions one should not assume based on the exaggerated claims of its supporters), creationists can handle a few rearrangements of existing parts without being whelmed over the ankles.  Sherwin is right about the real issue: “Show me how a fish came from a nonfish ancestor.”  That goes for the entire panoply of life.  Show us how a human came from a bacterial ancestor.  Systematic gaps, explosive radiations and unresolved bushes put the burden on the evolutionists, not the creationists.  Stop the BAD science (bluffing assertions of dogmatism).  Get back to the intellectual restraint that scientists are supposed to exhibit.
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyEvolutionIntelligent Design
  Selective intolerance at Tulsa Zoo, from 07/16/2005: OK to worship the elephant god, but not Jehovah.

Why Academic Freedom Is Dangerous   07/10/2008    
July 10, 2008 — Barbara Forrest has a tough case on her hands.  The veteran creationist-fighter has to convince the people of Louisiana that they did a bad thing by passing the Academic Freedom Bill, because academic freedom when it comes to discussing intelligent design and evolution is dangerous (cf. 05/12/2008, bullet 3).  The bill passed by 94-3 in the state House and unanimously in the Senate.
    Amanda Gefter, reporting on New Scientist admitted Forrest has the deck stacked against her.  Those supporting the measure outnumbered her group and had more spirit.  Nevertheless, she empathized with Forrest’s anti-ID position, titling her article “New legal threat to teaching evolution in the US” and speaking of “hidden dangers” in the bill recently signed by Governor Bobby Jindal that protects the rights of teachers who wish to supplement their lessons with alternative material on controversial science topics such as evolution, human cloning and global warming, after first teaching the assigned textbook material.  It is the prospect of offering alternatives to evolution that has generated the most heated discussion.
    What is it about the evolution issue that is so threatening to the time-honored tradition of giving voice to opposing views on controversial topics, and letting people think critically about the evidence?  In sum, here are the arguments as gleaned from the article for forbidding academic freedom on the evolution question:

  1. [Forrest] had spent weeks trying to muster opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would allow teachers and school boards across the state to present non-scientific alternatives to evolution, including ideas related to intelligent design (ID) – the proposition that life is too complicated to have arisen without the help of a supernatural agent.
  2. The act is designed to slip ID in “through the back door”, says Forrest, who is a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and an expert in the history of creationism.
  3. She adds that the bill’s language, which names evolution along with global warming, the origins of life and human cloning as worthy of “open and objective discussion”, is an attempt to misrepresent evolution as scientifically controversial.
  4. Jindal .... enjoys a close relationship with the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), a lobbying group for the religious right whose mission statement includes “presenting biblical principles” in “centers of influence”.  It was the LFF which set the bill in motion earlier this year.
  5. The development has national implications, not least because Jindal is rumoured to be on Senator John McCain’s shortlist as a potential running mate in his bid for the presidency.
  6. The new legislation is the latest manoeuvre in a long-running war to challenge the validity of Darwinian evolution as an accepted scientific fact in American classrooms.
  7. ...Forrest presented evidence that ID was old-fashioned creationism by another name....
  8. Academic freedom is a great thing," says Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California.  “But if you look at the American Association of University Professors’ definition of academic freedom, it refers to the ability to do research and publish.
  9. This, he points out, is different to the job high-school teachers are supposed to do.  “In high school, you’re teaching mainstream science so students can go on to college or medical school, where you need that freedom to explore cutting-edge ideas.  To apply ‘academic freedom’ to high school is a misuse of the term.”
  10. “It’s very slick,” says Forrest.  “The religious right has co-opted the terminology of the progressive left... They know that phrase appeals to people.”
  11. ....those who wish to challenge Darwinian evolution have “plausible deniability” that this is intended to teach something unconstitutional.... “They are better camouflaged now.”
  12. In a landmark 1987 case known as Edwards vs Aguillard, the US Supreme Court ruled the [balanced treatment] law unconstitutional, effectively closing the door on teaching “creation science” in public schools.
Convinced that intelligent design is unconstitutional, Forrest is worried that the bill makes it harder for opponents of ID to sue schools and teachers who present what they feel is religious material.  “Because the law allows individual boards and teachers to make additions to the science curriculum without clearance from a state authority,” Gefter reported, “the responsibility will lie with parents to mount a legal challenge to anything that appears to be an infringement of the separation of church and state.”  Forrest complained that this is like starting a lot of local brush fires that have to be fought individually.  “This is done intentionally, to get this down to the local level,” she said.  “It’s going to be very difficult to even know what’s going on.”
    Forrest says she doesn’t fight “academic freedom” for fun, but because it’s a duty.  Her next tactic is to get the word to teachers to be on the lookout for creationist material finding its way into science class.
    Writing for National Review, Discovery Institute senior fellow John West denied that the Louisiana bill is a threat to science.  “The act is not a license for teachers to do anything they want,” he said.  “Instruction must be ‘objective,’ inappropriate materials may be vetoed by the state board of education, and the law explicitly prohibits teaching religion in the name of science, stating that its provisions ‘shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine.’”  It is hypocritical for pro-Darwin lobbyists to fight this bill on religious grounds, he said, when many of them have a clear atheist agenda.  He pointed out that Barbara Forrest is a militant atheist and long-time board member of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Organization.
    West countered that the real threat to science is to indoctrinate students and fail to teach them how to evaluate evidence.  The law was so carefully framed, he added, that even the head of the Louisiana ACLU has had to concede that it is constitutional as written.  He accused the “usual suspects” of mounting a “disinformation campaign” against the bill which turned out to be a massive failure in Louisiana.  Both political parties, he pointed out, were nearly unanimous in support of the bill, and some science professors came to the hearings to testify in favor of the bill.
    West argued that students deserve to be taught more than the consensus views on controversial issues, because historically the consensus has often been wrong or subject to blind fanaticism (he cited the eugenics movement, supported by all the leading scientific societies of the early 1900s, as a particularly bad example).  Furthermore, scientific positions often have serious implications for society and government policy.  Students, therefore, need to be able to evaluate critically the evidence on which the claims are based.  “In truth, the effort to promote thoughtful discussion of competing scientific views is pro-science,” he concluded.
    Michael Stebbins (co-founder of Scientists and Engineers for America) did not quite elevate the cordiality of the dialogue when he wrote in The Scientist about “Jindal’s Creationist Folly” and referred to intelligent design as “urine in the education pool.”  Meanwhile, Evolution News took time out for a reality check concerning the New Scientist article.
Hallelujah!  The dogmatists are on the run.  Were you impressed by the scare tactics and loaded words used to support the idea that high school students are so dumb and pliable, they must be indoctrinated into lily-white evolutionary truths lest their pure minds get corrupted by evil religious ideas?  Were you attracted by the tender vitriol of their hate speech?
    This is how you make freedom look dangerous.  You characterize the ones calling for freedom as evil.  Those sneaky, creepy (05/22/2008), creationists are just angry they lost at Dover.  So in retaliation, they look for new ways to set brush fires and wreak havoc on civilization (cf. 11/30/2005).  Thus black is white and white is black.  (Be sure to throw in a few big lies wherever needed, like defining ID incorrectly, mischaracterizing the Supreme Court ruling [it does not prevent teaching creation science but only laws that require teaching creation equally alongside evolution], and claiming there is no controversy among evolutionists; see 03/07/2008.  Also, keep holding up the Dover decision – an ACLU-plagiarized ruling by one unelected judge in one Pennsylvania school district – as the standard of jurisprudence for the entire world.)
    Evolution, of course, is so “scientific” that it is the only contender for a science class (06/03/2008).  And of course, evolutionists have no bias or agenda (06/21/2008, 04/13/2008).  Why, those evolutionists, they are so smart, and so logical (04/14/2008, 03/12/2008) they know for a fact that people have bacteria ancestors (03/20/2008, 02/22/2008).  They only tell the honest truth (03/06/2008).  Their math is so good they get the whole universe out of nothing (01/15/2008).  Yes, we must protect students from challenges to those natural truths.  Nothing supernatural about their miracles.  And they just lo-o-o-o-o-ve the people of Louisiana (04/09/2008).  They would never do legal maneuvering and play politics to sneak around the will of the people (02/20/2008).
    The dogmatists can’t win through the democratic process and town hall or through open debate on the evidence, so they use the courtroom and special-interest PACs.  To enforce their will on the people, they get unelected judges to tell us what science is, and get the ACLU and Americans United for “Separation of Church and State” (a misleading slogan, more properly United Against Academic Freedom) to slap parents, teachers and students with budget-busting lawsuits (intimidation, e.g., 01/06/2007).  Who has been setting those brush fires?  No wonder the people at the Louisiana hearing were wearing stickers, clapping, cheering and standing in the aisles.  No longer will they have to stay after class with Ben Stein, covering the chalkboard with “I will not question Darwinism.”
    Let’s keep the pressure on Barb till she emigrates to a country she would really enjoy – Cuba.  There, she can stand and clap for little Elian Gonzalez – you remember the little boy denied freedom in America and captured at gunpoint and shipped to Castro’s evolutionary heaven?  Now, eight years older (high school age) and sufficiently indoctrinated with the consensus view, Elian is a proud young member of the Communist Youth Brigade (see New York Times).  He promised he will never let down the murderous Castro dictators.  Enough to make Forrest clap, cheer and stand in the aisle!  Sufficiently programmed, Gonzalez will have all the academic freedom he wants to be a good, loyal communist on an island where alternative views are systematically excluded.  Maybe he can debate (with his professional academic freedom) controversial topics like whether an annual pro-communist rally should be held on Fidel’s birthday or on Raul’s.  See?  We’re only trying to alleviate the anxiety that is wearing Barbara Forrest down.  Why not take your services to a place where they would be appreciated?
    After reading the anti-ID smear piece on New Scientist, take a refreshing intellectual shower.  Read John West’s piece on National Review celebrating the fact that neo-Darwinism is no longer a protected orthodoxy in Bayou country.  He explains what academic freedom is really all about.  If you agree, get to work against the Darwin-only-Darwin-only DODOs in your state.
Next headline on:  EducationEvolutionOrigin of LifeIntelligent DesignPolitics and Ethics
First Mercury Research Papers in from MESSENGER   07/09/2008    
July 9, 2008 — Science published a suite of papers analyzing data from the first MESSENGER spacecraft flyby of Mercury.1  The flyby last January was the first since Mariner 10 visited in the 1970s.  Mariner 10 had left many questions that are now being revisited.  Among the dozen papers and articles, here are three that discuss the most significant discoveries touching on Mercury’s origin and history.
  1. Volcanoes:  The volcanoes are officially real.  Mariner had left doubt whether the smooth plains and craters with flattened floors were produced volcanically.  Now, MESSENGER scientists have confirmed numerous cases of intrusive and extrusive volcanism.2  Many impact craters and areas between craters have been flooded with lava.  In addition, small “ghost” craters can be seen in some lava flows.  The volume of lava in some craters is impressive.  Some flooded craters are hundreds of miles wide and 5 km deep.  Grabens and wrinkle ridges subsequent to the eruptions suggest that Mercury’s surface shrank subsequent to the planet’s formation.  Overall, the volcanic evidence on Mercury resembles that of earth’s moon.
  2. Craters:  The interpretation of surface age by crater counts has continued to be controversial, reported Strom et al in another paper.3  Crater-counters will need to take into consideration what they said: “Clusters of secondaries, seen in some higher-resolution Mariner 10 images, were presumed to constitute a minor fraction of Mercury’s smaller craters.  MESSENGER images suggest that secondary cratering is much more important than had been thought, as exemplified by the many distinct chains and clusters of craters radiating away from prominent, large, fresh impact craters and basins.”
        Additional findings cast more doubt on the assumption that craters signify how old things are.  Some heavily-cratered plains appear much younger than others which presumably formed during a hypothetical Late Heavy Bombardment 3.5 billion years ago.  “In any event, the use of small craters for dating of geological units on Mercury must be done with even greater caution than is needed for other bodies.”  Why?  “Whereas an older unit will tend to have more secondaries on it than a younger unit, there cannot be the one-to-one correspondence of crater density with relative or absolute age (as there is for primary craters) because of the temporally and spatially nonuniform production of secondaries.”  If crater counts are to have any age interpretation, it seems that each planet or moon will have to have its own rules.
  3. Magnetic field:  The fact that two rocky planets (Mercury and Earth) have global magnetic fields, and the other two (Venus and Mars) do not remains puzzling.  Mariner 10 “yielded the surprising result that Mercury has a coherent, intrinsic magnetic field,” Anderson et al stated in another paper.4  For a small, ancient, slow-spinning body to maintain a global field, when larger planets do not, is a mystery.  There has not been a statistically significant change in Mercury’s magnetic field strength since 1974.
        The field seems predominately dipolar.  How is it produced?  The leading theory suggests a stagnant layer at the top of the outermost molten core, where convection currents might generate a dynamo.  MESSENGER measurements are “consistent” with this view.  The field produces a sizeable magnetosphere, which was analyzed by Slavin et al.5  Mercury is unique in having a double magnetopause and multiple current sheets: “This double MP signature had not been observed previously at Mercury or any other planetary magnetosphere,” they said.  Perhaps the reason is Mercury’s unusual proximity to the sun and the solar wind.  The magnetosphere is immersed in a cloud of comet-like planetary ions that influence the field’s shape and behavior.
        The MESSENGER press release said, “Researchers have been puzzled by Mercury’s field since its iron core should have cooled long ago and stopped generating magnetism.  Some researchers have thought that the field may have been a relic of the past, frozen in the outer crust.”  The fact that the field remains dipolar rules that out, and “supports the view that we’re seeing a modern dynamo.”  If so, the core is not solid as it should be for a small planet after billions of years.
MESSENGER’s next flyby is October 6.  After another flyby September 29, 2009, the spacecraft reaches orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011.  The MESSENGER home page contains details on the mission and science goals, along with a gallery and summary of findings (see the July 3 press release).  Popular reports were posted on National Geographic and Space.com.
1.  Solomon et al, “Return to Mercury: A Global Perspective on MESSENGER’s First Mercury Flyby,” Science, 4 July 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5885, pp. 59-62, DOI: 10.1126/science.1159706.
2.  Head et al, “Volcanism on Mercury: Evidence from the First MESSENGER Flyby,” Science, 4 July 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5885, pp. 69-72, DOI: 10.1126/science.1159256.
3.  Strom et al, “Mercury Cratering Record Viewed from MESSENGER’s First Flyby,” Science, 4 July 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5885, pp. 79-81, DOI: 10.1126/science.1159317.
4.  Anderson et al, “The Structure of Mercury’s Magnetic Field from MESSENGER’s First Flyby,” Science, 4 July 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5885, pp. 82-85, DOI: 10.1126/science.1159081.
5.  Slavin et al, “Mercury’s Magnetosphere After MESSENGER’s First Flyby,” Science, 4 July 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5885, pp. 85-89, DOI: 10.1126/science.1159040.
Interpretations are a dime a dozen, but raw data from distant places are worth their weight in gold.  We’ve seen a remarkable paradigm shift about crater count dating (09/25/2007, 10/20/2005).  Space.com delivered the usual assumption: “Scientists will also be able to use variations in crater density across the surface to date the sequence of geological events,” it piped; “‘The longer a surface sits out there, the more cratered’ it becomes, Solomon explained, so more cratered surfaces should be older formations.”  Should be and Are are different words.  If scientists cannot infer absolute or relative dates, they cannot infer ages much at all.  You just saw them admit that secondary cratering went from minor to major concern, and greater caution must be used in interpreting crater ages.  This implies that they were not cautious before when they made bold pronouncements about how old Mercury was.  Their readers should therefore exercise even greater caution.
    Don’t expect observations of remnant volcanism to provide any stronger evidence for hidden epochs of time.  A lot can happen in a short time if the conditions are right.  The presence of ghost craters hints that very little time elapsed from the point eruptions began and craters were emplaced.  The only ones who need an old, old Mercury are the evolutionists.  The solar system is exempt from the requirements of their world view.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyDating Methods
Amazing Update:  July 9: more evidence that all birds have superfast muscles was published by Science Daily.  These muscles can move 100 times quicker than a human can blink an eye.  See the 09/08/2004 entry about doves.  Quote: “By having these extraordinary muscles, birds have a more precise control of their voice and can actively change the volume and frequency of their song faster than previously thought physically possible.”
Next headline on:  Birds

Feather Fossil Fallacy?   07/09/2008    
July 9, 2008 — Imprints of melanocytes have been found in fossil feathers.  What does this mean?  The popular science news reports, like Science Daily, Live Science, PhysOrg and the BBC News seem convinced it can tell us something about how birds evolved from dinosaurs.  Understanding what was discovered requires sifting through claims that go far beyond the evidence.

The Claims:  “The complex coloured plumage of extinct birds which once soared over the heads of dinosaurs could soon be revealed” (BBC).  “Artists may now be able to paint dinosaurs and ancient birds and mammals in their true colors, thanks to the discovery of pigment residues in fossilized feathers.” (Live Science).  “The traces of organic material found in fossil feathers are remnants of pigments that once gave birds their color, according to Yale scientists whose paper in Biology Letters opens up the potential to depict the original coloration of fossilized birds and their ancestors, the dinosaurs” (Science Daily).  Another Yale scientist remarked, “Now that we have demonstrated that melanin can be preserved in fossils, scientists have a way to reliably predict, for example, the original colors of feathered dinosaurs” (Live Science).
What Was Found:  The Yale scientists determined that some imprints of carbon in the rock were not bacterial residues but traces of melanocytes – the cells that contain the pigment melanin.  The protein melanin was thought to degrade quickly, but carbon imprints of melanin were still identifiable in color bands within the specimens.  These were detected in a fossil of a striped feather from Brazil (which evolutionists claim is 100 million years old), and in a fossil of an Eocene bird from Denmark (claimed to be 55 million years old).  Both specimens were from birds.  No dinosaur feathers were found.
In other words, more imaginary feathers have been found, but this time on imaginary dinosaurs (see 04/10/2006, 02/08/2006).  The question no one seems to be asking is, how could these delicate protein structures survive for over 100 million years?  One of the co-authors of the paper simply stated that the fact they exist proves that they are that old.  Jakob Vinther stated flatly, “Understanding these organic remains in fossil feathers also demonstrates that melanin can resist decay for millions of years.”
    Only the BBC News came close to questioning the claim.  Co-author Mike Benton was quoted asking, “But then how do you square that with the well-known fact that the majority of organic molecules decay in thousands of years?”  His answer was vague: “Somehow [the melanosomes] are retained and replaced during the preservation process and hence you preserve a very life like representation of the colour banding.”
    In the end, no one questioned the age of the fossils.  “The Yale team believe [sic] it could identify brown, red, buff and even iridescent colours,” the BBC reported.  “The technique may be applied to other creatures to reveal the colour of fur or even eyes, the team believes.”  Benton did offer one more clue that the result was astonishing: “It might give you a very clear handle on an aspect of the ecology that people would have thought impossible to divine for an ancient fossil,” he said.
The observation-to-assumption ratio in this story was so low, that if it were a signal-to-noise ratio, you would hear mostly static.  Ask yourself a simple question.  Up till now scientists respected the “well-known fact” that organic molecules decay in mere thousands of years.  Doesn’t the presence of organic molecules in fossils suggest the slight possibility that the scientists are flat wrong about their dating, and that the fossils are indeed mere thousands of years old?
Next headline on:  BirdsDinosaursFossilsDating Methods
  Veteran of the neo-Darwinism wars recounts how the modern consensus was manufactured, from 07/02/2004.  Read Ernst Mayr’s comments and look for evidence for evolution – if you can find any.

It’s Networks All the Way Down   07/08/2008    
July 9, 2008 — New ways of seeing biology are finding life is full of networks.  At both ends of the complexity scale – from humans to bacteria – complex interactions are the rule.  Two teams studying different phenomena had the same reaction – astonishment.

  1. Bottom-up complexity:  Who would have thought one of the simplest life forms has a more complex network of signaling molecules than man?  “We were absolutely stunned,” remarked Gerhard Manning, a bioinformatics researcher, at the level of complexity in a network of tyrosine kinases in a single-celled microbe.  Science Daily said of the organism studied, Monosiga brevicollis, “It commands a signaling network more elaborate and diverse than found in any multicellular organism higher up on the evolutionary tree, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered.”
        Speaking of evolution, this organism was selected precisely because of its evolutionary position.  The choanoflagellates are thought to be basal members of microbes about to evolve into multicellular animals.  Imagine the shock seeing network complexity at that level:
    With all this new information, one obvious question remains unanswered: what is a single-celled organism doing with all this communications gear?  “We don’t have a clue!” says Manning, “but this discovery is the first step in finding out.”
    The article title was telling: “Can You Hear Me Now?  Primitive Single-Celled Microbe Expert In Cellular Communication Networks.”

  2. Top down complexity:  This is your brain on diffusion imaging: see Technology Review.  A refined method of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that follows water molecules as they move through neurons is allowing scientists to see, for the first time, the network connections in the brain.  The crude new views of this non-invasive imaging technique have revealed a core region in the back of the brain, reported Emily Singer, that seems to act as a central hub.  The number of connections within the hub as well as outside suggest an important function.  “What goes on there?” asked one of the neuroscientists at Indiana University.
        This imaging technique promises new looks at the complexity of the human brain.  Before, MRI and CAT scan images showed only shadows of the surfaces of regions of the brain.  Now, diffusion imaging promises to reveal the network connections of the brain’s trillions of neurons.  (Note: in the illustration, multiple layers of complexity have been subtracted in order to focus on certain features.)  By comparing normal brains to victims of autism and Alzheimer’s disease, researchers hope to understand what went wrong in the network wiring in those debilitating conditions.
        Singer called the newly-discovered hub a kind of Grand Central Station.  Even in a resting state, your hub is a hubbub of traveling signals.
Only in the last few years has networking become a biological buzzword.  Proteins form networks.  Genes form networks.  Neurons form networks.  Ecological members form networks.  Networks are characterized not so much by the nodes but by the relationships between the nodes.  By nature they are “information-rich” structures.
It was way too funny to see the Salk guys admit they don’t have a clue figuring out where a microbe got all that complex communications gear.  If they don’t have a clue about what is right in front of their eyes, what can we trust of their claims about the unobservable past?
    Creation scientists might also have been stunned by this discovery, but in a different way.  They would be delighted with yet another display of the Creator’s wisdom.  Evolutionists, on the other hand, are stunned with a tinge of dismay.  Their delight in discovery is tempered by an unexpected level of complexity in an organism that was supposed to primitive and simple.  Dumbstruck, they flounder about for an explanation of how it could have evolved.  That calls for a new word: they’re dumbfloundering.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHuman BodyAmazing Facts
Leaky Fat Blobs Produced Life   07/07/2008    
July 7, 2008 — “How life began remains an open question,” said David Deamer in Nature,1 then filled the opening with a speculation: maybe life started in leaky blobs of fat.
    The imaginary first primitive cells would have had a problem.  Without transport proteins that control entrances and exits, any lucky ingredients that might have come together inside a primitive membrane might leak out.  But if the membrane was too protective, the inside molecules would be trapped.  “A model of a primitive cell suggests that early membranes were surprisingly permeable,” the article subtitle teased.  Indeed, a team writing in the same issue published results of their laboratory simulations of an artificial vesicle that “allows small, organic ‘nutrient’ molecules to pass through its membrane.”  Would that solve the problems?
    Deamer switched imaginary views to a primitive earth with volcanoes popping out like acne.  The“local conditions were far from equilibrium – a constant flux of energy drove organic reactions towards ever-increasing complexity,” he imagined.  “This would ultimately have yielded various polymeric products, perhaps including prototypes of nucleic acids or proteins.”  Next, he envisioned “vast numbers of microscopic assemblies of molecules” that became enclosed in fatty bubbles.  By chance, life emerged:
In this theory of the origins of life, each cell-like assembly had a different composition from the next.  Most were inert, but a few might have contained a particular mixture of components that could be driven towards further complexity by capturing energy and small ‘nutrient’ molecules from the environment – the beginnings of a heterotrophic system.  As the nutrient molecules were transported into the internal compartment, they became linked together into long chains in an energy-consuming process.  Life began when one or more of the assemblies found a way not only to grow, but also to reproduce by incorporating a cycle involving catalytic functions and genetic information.
The leaps in that scenario are astonishing, but finally Deamer acknowledged a problem: “the membrane that forms the compartment of the putative cell is also a permeability barrier.”  How to get nutrients inside for the catalytic cycle, assuming it got going?  He pointed to the work of Mansy et al in the same issue.2  They experimented with prefabricated vesicles that were able to selectively permit the passage of ribose or nucleotides but exclude polymers.  The researchers “establish for the first time that a simulated prebiotic protocell can work with an external source of reagents,” he said.  “a heterotrophic origin of primitive cellular life is feasible.”3
    In his closing paragraph, Deamer took a swipe at the strong minority of origin-of-life researchers who believe life took hold in metabolic cycles before cells emerged: “Cells are the basic unit of all life today, and there is increasing reason to think that the first form of life was a primitive version of a cell, rather than a replicating molecule supported by a metabolic network.”
1.  David Deamer, “Origins of life: How leaky were primitive cells?,” Nature 454, 37-38 (3 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/454037a.
2.  Mansy et al, “Template-directed synthesis of a genetic polymer in a model protocell,” Nature 454, 122-125 (3 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07018.
3.  Heterotroph (other-nourished) means an organism that lives off the nutrient manufacture of others; i.e., humans are heterotrophs.  Autotrophs (self-nourished) organisms make their own food.  Because autotrophs, like plants, require much more complexity in order to harvest energy and make food, origin-of-life researchers have preferred to believe that the first life-forms were heterotrophs.  Though the complexity gets divided up somewhat, it begs the question of how heterotrophs obtained their required nutrients with no autotrophs around.
More powerful than a loco motive, leaping tall conceptual hurdles with a single bound, faster than a speeding roulette, it’s Supermad!
    For more cartoons, stay tuned to the Nature channel.  Now, for a word from our sponsors.  Do you sometimes feel like a fat blob?  Are you lacking energy and feeling lifeless?  Here’s a tip; jump into a volcano.  That’s right.  The far-from-equilibrium conditions at the Volcano Mountain Health Spa are sure to drive you toward higher degrees of complexity and fitness.  It will also improve your sex life.  You’ll find yourself growing and reproducing in no time.  Spend a few million years on our metabolic cycles and read our magazines, filled with genetic information.  Join today and get a free cart load of our sugary snacks made of 100% pure ribose, just in from Death Valley! (11/05/2004).
    If you’re tired of cartoon re-runs (09/03/2004), get some realistic intellectual nourishment at Creation-Evolution Headlines.
Next headline on:  Origin of LifeDumb Ideas
Darwinist Reporter Calls Everyone a Hypocrite   07/06/2008    
July 6, 2008 — In a surprising show of journalistic hubris, reporter Robin Nixon of Live Science accused every human being in the world of being a moral hypocrite.
    “Why We’re All Moral Hypocrites” reported results of a study by Piercarlo Valdesolo at Northeastern University that indicated people tend to judge themselves more leniently than others.
    The article discussed moral instincts, moral behaviors and moral decisions, and even said “we are instinctively moral beings.”  Yet all this morality was ascribed to the amoral processes of evolution: “The researchers speculate that instinctive morality results from evolutionary selection for team players.  Being fair, they point out, strengthens mutually beneficial relationships and improves our chances for survival.”
Speak for yourself, Robin.  This reporter for one of the most egregious of the dogmatic-Darwin news sites has illustrated profoundly illogical and unscientific behavior.  She has just besmirched the character of all gentle grandmothers praying for wayward children, all men of God in the pulpit, all self-sacrificing parents, all missionaries, all doctors serving poor people in third-world countries, and all honorable people everywhere by calling them moral hypocrites.  Is a guilty conscience here finding comfort in numbers?
    Worse, she speaks nonsense by speaking of morality as a product of evolution.  If “morality” is only about self-survival, and if it bears no reference to absolute standards of right and wrong, it is a meaningless word.  Not even survival can be called morally beneficial; death and extinction are equally as meaningless as survival in Darwin’s universe.  Who is to judge that survival is a good thing?  Who is there to pat the chimps on the back when they act like team players and survive better?
    “Evolutionary morality” is an oxymoron.  The fact that this reporter innately knows right from wrong and makes moral judgments herself refutes her claim that morals evolved.  At least she admitted that the researchers had nothing to back up that claim other than speculation.
    Only the Biblical world view can defend the assertion that we are moral beings, because it teaches moral absolutes rooted in the character of God who created all things.  And only the Biblical worldview can judge humans as hypocritical.  This hypocrisy, the result of sin, is curable through Jesus Christ.
    Even thoughtful non-Christians should look at this article as profoundly irrational.  Can a contrived lab test on 85 individuals be generalized to all of humanity, of all cultures and all times?  What kind of scientific reasoning is that?  Robin should have been laughing at this study, not praising it.  In our culture, any stupid thing that a so-called scientist publishes in some journal somewhere garners more presumptive authority than something that a righteous man in the pulpit has to say from the word of God.  Hypocrisy is not limited to the occasional preacher who strays from the moral standard.  It applies also to those who speak vain words of morality while denying its foundation.  By indicting all humanity, this reporter indicts herself.  Her readers are therefore justifiably entitled to ignore anything she says, including the assertion that morality evolved.  How can we trust her word?  She’s a hypocrite, too – unless she claims Yoda privileges, which make her an exalted master looking in on the predicament of mankind from the outside.  But then, how could we know such a claim is not hypocritical?
    Evolutionary theory offers no hope for hypocrisy, because whatever moral instincts we have could only be part of a pointless, meaningless, inborn nature; why fight it?  The Bible offers forgiveness for hypocrisy (Romans 10) and a moral standard to which we can and should aspire, enabled by God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 12).
Next headline on:  Evolutionary TheoryBible and Theology
  Read about three body-blows against evolutionary theory back-to-back from 2003: alarm at theories of the evolution of rape, from 07/18/2003, “rank speculation” about predator-prey evolution, from 07/17/2003, and serious doubts about the evolutionary potential of developmental genes, from 07/16/2003.  “That evolutionists are never alarmed at damaging admissions like this is a measure of their intellectual lethargy.”

Amazing Cell Tricks: Contour Map Navigation   07/05/2008    
July 5, 2008 — Watch a cell divide, and if things go well, it always divides in the middle.  How does a cell figure out where its middle is?  It follows its contour map.  PhysOrg titled its entry, “Dividing cells find their middle by following a protein ‘contour map’.”
    Cell division, or cytokinesis, is a precisely-controlled operation that is vital to all of life (see 12/28/2007).  Each molecule in the cell has to know its proper position during each stage, and how to get there.  For some molecules, crossing a cell is like navigating a countryside over a long distance.  Human navigators, we know, need a topo map printed out or software or GPS.  They also have to know where they are trying to go, and have sensory equipment (eyes, kinesthetic sense) to gauge contour lines on a hill or valley.  How can a cell pull off this feat?  They use periodically-placed signaling molecules that act like beacons.
    The team measured all over the cell the positions of important sensory molecules involved in cell division.  They detected a gradient – like the slope of a hill – that was greatest at the center, where the site of cleavage must be located.  The proteins and enzymes that create the cleavage furrow are thus able to sense the contours and arrive at the right spot to begin cleaving the cell in two.

Wonderful stuff, that molecules are so precisely choreographed that they can arrive in formation like band players on a football field.  The explanation was duly marvelous, but... it seems to beg the question.  What tells the signalling molecules where to go and where the center is?  If Dan found the mountaintop because Bob hollered to him from the summit, how did Bob find it?  Clearly more is going on than scientists have thus far been able to figure out.
Next headline on:  Cell BiologyAmazing Facts
How to Tell an Evolutionary Story   07/04/2008    
July 4, 2008 — Thanks to Science Daily, we now know that “Evolutionary Origin Of Mammalian Gene Regulation Is Over 150 Million Years Old.”  The proof is easy.  It is so easy, in fact, that no proof is necessary.  One can merely assume it is true.  Trust them; they are scientists, after all.
Here is how the E word evolution was used in the article:
  • The findings, reported online in Nature Genetics, have provided new insights into the evolution of genomic or parental imprinting and epigenetic regulation in mammals.
  • Imprinting is thought to have evolved because of genetic conflict that influences the allocation of resources from parents to offspring.
  • The apparent absence of genomic imprinting in monotremes and presence in eutherians and marsupials suggests that imprinting has evolved at the boundary of monotremes and therians’ divergence.
  • Interestingly, imprinting evolution paralleled the apparition of the placenta and implantation.
  • Hence, it is possible that imprinting and placentation co-evolved in the therian ancestor.
  • The next stage is to look for the IGF2-H19 locus in another branch of mammals’ evolution...
  • Recent evidence suggests that therians diverged from the egg-laying monotremes like the platypus approximately 180 million years ago, and then split into the eutherian and marsupials infra-classes around 150 million years ago.
  • Hence the ... consortium will concentrate its efforts in obtaining the sequence of the monotreme IGF2 locus to provide further insights into the imprinting evolution and the mysteries of gene regulation in these curious creatures which carry mammalian, bird-like and reptilian characteristics.
Apparently the members of the consortium felt it superfluous to explain how the gene regulatory toolkit emerged through a random process of mutation and selection.  Science Daily was satisfied.  It summarized the paper by saying, “Scientists ... have found that a complex, highly conserved and extremely important mechanism of controlling genes is over 150 million years old.”
Evolution is such a wonderful story.  It explains everything.  It conjures up such marvelous apparitions of mythical worlds in the far distant past.  Evolution is so versatile.  It mixes things up rapidly but then saves other things for 150 million years.  Who would have ever thought up such things.  Aren’t you glad we have the shamans to comfort us with their hidden wisdom?  Think how hard life would be if we actually had to think for ourselves.
Next headline on:  MammalsGeneticsEvolutionDumb Ideas
Leaf Vein Patterns Are Not in Vain   07/03/2008    
July 3, 2008 — The vein patterns in a leaf approach perfection.  If the requirement is to reach every cell with the shortest and most efficient paths, leaves do it just right.  A team of scientists at Cornell, “inspired by plant leaves,” tried to build a network in a polymer substrate that would maximize distribution of fluid with evaporation-driven flow.  Their “biomimetic leaf” couldn’t improve on the real thing.  Read all about it in PNAS.1
    Next, they think the “design principles” they uncovered will be useful for inventors.  “These scaling relations for evaporatively driven flow through simple networks reveal basic design principles for the engineering of evaporation–permeation-driven devices, and highlight the role of physical constraints on the biological design of leaves.”
1.  Noblin et al, “Optimal vein density in artificial and real leaves,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print July 1, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0709194105.
Don’t you creationists try to latch onto this story now.  They said, “The long evolution of vascular plants has resulted in a tremendous variety of natural networks responsible for the evaporatively driven transport of water.”  So clearly they believe in evolution.  This is merely an adaptation.  Natural selection is up to the task.  That’s what natural selection does: adapts things to their environment.  It searches through all possibilities and finds the optimum solutions to nature’s engineering problems.  It tinkers with things until it gets them right.  Evolution has millions of years to work its magic.  Given enough time, anything is possible, even things that look like miracles.  Evolution is smart.  Evolution is like... well, a god.  Believe!
Next headline on:  PlantsAmazing FactsBiomimetics
  Remember all the claims that brain size revealed the path of human evolution?  Did it occur to anyone that quality might be more important than quantity?  See the July 4th entry from six years ago (07/04/2002) where that firework exploded.  That month, also, another ape-man shook up the family tree (again) on 07/11/2002.  With that much shaking going on, is there really a tree left?  Trees can be extraordinarily robust... in the imagination.

Saturn Rings: F is for Flamboyant   07/02/2008    
July 2, 2008 — The Cassini spacecraft just started its extended mission on July 1.  Among its many achievements during the four-year prime mission (2004-2008) was the elucidation of complex processes occurring in Saturn’s rings.  One ring in particular, the thin outlying F-ring, attracted particular interest.  Voyager scientists from the early 1980s could hardly believe their eyes when separate strands of this narrow ring appeared to braid around each other.  Thanks to Cassini, a little more is known now, but the discoveries are no less surprising.
    A press release from JPL last month announced the discovery of collisions within the F-ring.  These collisions, on the order of 30 meters per second, create some of the flamboyant features seen by the cameras: rapid perturbations, spurs, grooves, gouges and fan-like structures that vary rapidly.  “Large scale collisions happen in Saturn’s F ring almost daily,” said one of the authors of the paper in Nature,1 “making it a unique place to study.  We can now say that these collisions are responsible for the changing features we observe there.”  Interactions with the two shepherd moons, particularly Prometheus (the larger and nearer one) also perturb the ringlets.  Prometheus both incites violence in the embedded moonlets, causing them to collide more frequently, and it gets struck itself during its periodic close passages of the ring.
    One detail strangely omitted from the reports is an estimation of how long these processes could continue.  Carl Murray said that “Saturn’s F ring is perhaps the most unusual and dynamic ring in the solar system; it has multiple structures with features changing on a variety of timescales from hours to years.”  But for a ring undergoing almost daily collisions of its constituent moonlets, could this ephemeral ring last for billions of years?  No one in the popular reports was asking the question.
    The original paper, however, noted that these processes could not last for long.  “It is difficult to understand how the observed ~1 km-wide ring component seen in some of the highest resolution images can survive in such a chaotic environment,” they said.  “Nonetheless, the evidence suggests not only that it does, but also that it even maintains enough integrity to precess uniformly; the only obvious mechanisms to prevent its destruction are self-gravity and collisions.”  They left to future researchers the need to make progress in understanding how self-gravity might work.
    The authors placed an upper limit for the origin of the ring at a million years – a tiny fraction of the assumed 4.5-billion-year age of the solar system (and of Saturn itself).  To save the age of the system, they either had to presume a moon broke up in the vicinity of the F-ring a million years ago, or that the F-ring is balanced between forces of accretion and disruption.  The latter suggestion, however, does not take into account the brightness of the ephemeral ring (which would have been darkened by dust pollution), nor other disruptive processes, such as external bombardment and sunlight pressure, that would also erode the ring over time.
    Space.com printed a review of the surprises Cassini found at Saturn over the last four years.


1.  Murray et al, “The determination of the structure of Saturn’s F ring by nearby moonlets,” Nature 453, 739-744 (5 June 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06999.
Great.  Now we can add another evidence that the consensus age of the solar system is vastly overdrawn (see also last month’s admission about Enceladus, 06/19/2008).  You will notice that the scientists have to keep adding ad-hoc “rescuing devices” to their paradigm in order to maintain the 4.5-billion-year figure.  Multiplying rescuing devices makes a theory look bad.  The straightforward interpretation is that the rings are not so old.  Thank you, Cassini, for adding impetus toward another scientific revolution.  Keeps gurus honest.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating MethodsPhysics
Can Psychology Figure Out Humans?   07/01/2008    
July 1, 2008 — Psychology is often considered a soft science.  Anything they pronounce one year is likely to be modified or overturned the next.
    A few years ago (and still in some quarters), self-esteem was all the rage (now fading, though; see 05/12/2003).  We should be assertive and confident, we were told, and make our feelings known.  Two recent reports might place more value on self-restraint.
    Last month Science Daily reported, for instance, that it’s OK to keep your feelings to yourself.  “Contrary to popular notions about what is normal or healthy, new research has found that it is okay not to express one’s thoughts and feelings after experiencing a collective trauma, such as a school shooting or terrorist attack.”  Many teachers and school counselors may feel a jolt at that idea.  Don’t the psychological counselors rush in after every disaster to help students express their feelings?  Might it be possible in some cases that such a response does more harm than good?
    On July 1, a report on Science Daily warned about the perils of overconfidence.  A French psychologist tested subjects with a computer game and tried to measure the effect of overconfidence on their reactions.  His research “suggested” a pretty far-reaching conclusion: “Overconfidence is not limited to the realm of subjective beliefs and cognitive judgments but appears instead to reflect a general characteristic of human decision making.”  Is such a conclusion warranted by one little artificial test?  Can psychologists really find the sweet spot between underconfidence and overconfidence for all possible personalities in all possible situations?
The usefulness of psychology as a science is very limited.  Some findings about memorization and learning methods have value, but any time they try to generalize about human nature, psychologists are right about as often as the proverbial broken clock.  The field is replete with discredited theories, contradictory speculations, and outright scandals (Freud, Jung).  Some of its teachings are indistinguishable from those of cults.  Who needs these guys?
    The rational animal is far too complex for a science of the soul.  If lab rats under controlled conditions do what they darn well please (the Harvard Law), how much more people who can choose to deceive and mislead a researcher?  There are no scientific laws in this field anything as rigorous as the law of gravity.  You are likely to have far better luck figuring out how to interact with your fellow humans with good old folk psychology: the kind we learn growing up.  We learn by experience how to judge one another’s inner mental states, to anticipate what they will say or do, to empathize with what they are feeling.  We assume, without proof, that our fellow humans are rational entities, not just Pavlovian responders to neural states (see 06/21/2008, bullet 3), despite what the cognitive neuroscientists tell us.  In terms of explanatory power and practical utility, folk psychology has a pretty impressive track record over professional psychology.  It is arguably just as scientific.
    Best of all is to get your anthropology from the operator’s manual.  Only the Maker understands how humans are put together.  First, we need to get reconnected to the power source.  The Bible says we are like walking dead needing life, rebels needing to lay down our arms, fools in need of wisdom, sinners in need of redemption (Romans 3).  Christ’s sacrificial work, accepted by faith, pays our debt, resurrects us back to spiritual life and imputes His righteousness to us.  Then, the Bible’s instruction manual, such as the Proverbs of Solomon and teachings of Jesus Christ (e.g., Sermon on the Mount – but don’t stop there) and the writings of Paul, James, John and the other apostles are the textbook for living.  The Bible is loaded with real, practical principles on all aspects of life.  It comes with numerous case studies.  No other source of soul-ology (psychology) has the Creator’s imprint on it.  Why would you go anywhere else?  The sweet spot for confidence is right there: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
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Creation-Evolution Headlines is my favorite ‘anti-evolution’ website.  With almost giddy anticipation, I check it several times a week for the latest postings.  May God bless you and empower you to keep up this FANTASTIC work!”
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“I am an ardent reader of your site.  I applaud your efforts and pass on your website to all I talk to.  I have recently given your web site info to all my grandchildren to have them present it to their science teachers.... Your Supporter and fan..God bless you all...”
(a health services manager in Florida)

“Why your readership keeps doubling: I came across your website at a time when I was just getting to know what creation science is all about.  A friend of mine was telling me about what he had been finding out. I was highly skeptical and sought to read as many pro/con articles as I could find and vowed to be open-minded toward his seemingly crazy claims. At first I had no idea of the magnitude of research and information that’s been going on. Now, I’m simply overwhelmed by the sophistication and availability of scientific research and information on what I now know to be the truth about creation.
    Your website was one of dozens that I found in my search.  Now, there are only a handful of sites I check every day.  Yours is at the top of my list... I find your news page to be the most insightful and well-written of the creation news blogs out there.  The quick wit, baloney detector, in-depth scientific knowledge you bring to the table and the superb writing style on your site has kept me interested in the day-to-day happenings of what is clearly a growing movement.  Your site ... has given me a place to point them toward to find out more and realize that they’ve been missing a huge volume of information when it comes to the creation-evolution issue.
    Another thing I really like about this site is the links to articles in science journals and news references.  That helps me get a better picture of what you’re talking about.... Keep it up and I promise to send as many people as will listen to this website and others.”
(an Air Force Academy graduate stationed in New Mexico)

“I’m a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming.  We’re pretty isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine.  I read it daily, and if there’s nothing new, I re-read everything.  I follow links.  I read the Scientist of the Month.  It’s the best site I’ve run across.  Our local school board is all Darwinist and determined to remain that way.”
(a newspaper editor in Wyoming)

“ have been reading your page for about 2 years or so.... I read it every day.  I ...am well educated, with a BA in Applied Physics from Harvard and an MBA in Finance from Wharton.”
(a reader in Delaware)

“ I came across your website by accident about 4 months ago and look at it every day.... About 8 months ago I was reading a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times that was written by a staunch ‘anti-Creationist’ and it sparked my interest enough to research the topic and within a week I was yelling, ‘my whole life’s education has been a lie!!!’  I’ve put more study into Biblical Creation in the last 8 months than any other topic in my life.  Past that, through resources like your website...I’ve been able to convince my father (professional mathematician and amateur geologist), my best friend (mechanical engineer and fellow USAF Academy Grad/Creation Science nutcase), my pastor (he was the hardest to crack), and many others to realize the Truth of Creation.... Resources like your website help the rest of us at the ‘grassroots level’ drum up interest in the subject.  And regardless of what the major media says: Creationism is spreading like wildfire, so please keep your website going to help fan the flames.”
(an Air Force Academy graduate and officer)

“I love your site!  I **really** enjoy reading it for several specific reasons: 1.It uses the latest (as in this month!) research as a launch pad for opinion; for years I have searched for this from a creation science viewpoint, and now, I’ve found it.  2. You have balanced fun with this topic.  This is hugely valuable!  Smug Christianity is ugly, and I don’t perceive that attitude in your comments.  3. I enjoy the expansive breadth of scientific news that you cover.  4. I am not a trained scientist but I know evolutionary bologna/(boloney) when I see it; you help me to see it.  I really appreciate this.
(a computer technology salesman in Virginia)

“I love your site.  That’s why I was more than happy to mention it in the local paper.... I mentioned your site as the place where..... ‘Every Darwin-cheering news article is reviewed on that site from an ID perspective.  Then the huge holes of the evolution theory are exposed, and the bad science is shredded to bits, using real science.’”
(a project manager in New Jersey)

“I’ve been reading your site almost daily for about three years.  I have never been more convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture and the faithfulness of God.”
(a system administrator and homeschooling father in Colorado)

“I use the internet a lot to catch up on news back home and also to read up on the creation-evolution controversy, one of my favourite topics.  Your site is always my first port of call for the latest news and views and I really appreciate the work you put into keeping it up to date and all the helpful links you provide.  You are a beacon of light for anyone who wants to hear frank, honest conclusions instead of the usual diluted garbage we are spoon-fed by the media.... Keep up the good work and know that you’re changing lives.
(a teacher in Spain)

“I am grateful to you for your site and look forward to reading new stories.... I particularly value it for being up to date with what is going on.”
(from the Isle of Wight, UK)

“[Creation-Evolution Headlines] is the place to go for late-breaking news [on origins]; it has the most information and the quickest turnaround.  It’s incredible – I don’t know how you do it.  I can’t believe all the articles you find.  God bless you!”
(a radio producer in Riverside, CA)

“Just thought I let you know how much I enjoy reading your ‘Headlines’ section.  I really appreciate how you are keeping your ear to the ground in so many different areas.  It seems that there is almost no scientific discipline that has been unaffected by Darwin’s Folly.”
(a programmer in aerospace from Gardena, CA)

“I enjoy reading the comments on news articles on your site very much.  It is incredible how much refuse is being published in several scientific fields regarding evolution.  It is good to notice that the efforts of true scientists have an increasing influence at schools, but also in the media.... May God bless your efforts and open the eyes of the blinded evolutionists and the general public that are being deceived by pseudo-scientists.... I enjoy the site very much and I highly respect the work you and the team are doing to spread the truth.”
(an ebusiness manager in the Netherlands)

“I discovered your site through a link at certain website... It has greatly helped me being updated with the latest development in science and with critical comments from you.  I also love your baloney detector and in fact have translated some part of the baloney detector into our language (Indonesian).  I plan to translate them all for my friends so as to empower them.”
(a staff member of a bilateral agency in West Timor, Indonesia)

“...absolutely brilliant and inspiring.”
(a documentary film producer, remarking on the 07/10/2005 commentary)

“I found your site several months ago and within weeks had gone through your entire archives....  I check in several times a day for further information and am always excited to read the new articles.  Your insight into the difference between what is actually known versus what is reported has given me the confidence to stand up for what I believe.  I always felt there was more to the story, and your articles have given me the tools to read through the hype....  You are an invaluable help and I commend your efforts.  Keep up the great work.”
(a sound technician in Alberta)

“I discovered your site (through a link from a blog) a few weeks ago and I can’t stop reading it....  I also enjoy your insightful and humorous commentary at the end of each story.  If the evolutionists’ blindness wasn’t so sad, I would laugh harder.
  I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering from a leading University.  When I read the descriptions, see the pictures, and watch the movies of the inner workings of the cell, I’m absolutely amazed....  Thanks for bringing these amazing stories daily.  Keep up the good work.
(an engineer in Virginia)

“I stumbled across your site several months ago and have been reading it practically daily.  I enjoy the inter-links to previous material as well as the links to the quoted research.  I’ve been in head-to-head debate with a materialist for over a year now.  Evolution is just one of those debates.  Your site is among others that have been a real help in expanding my understanding.”
(a software engineer in Pennsylvania)

“I was in the April 28, 2005 issue of Nature [see 04/27/2005 story] regarding the rise of intelligent design in the universities.  It was through your website that I began my journey out of the crisis of faith which was mentioned in that article.  It was an honor to see you all highlighting the article in Nature.  Thank you for all you have done!
(Salvador Cordova, George Mason University)

“I shudder to think of the many ways in which you mislead readers, encouraging them to build a faith based on misunderstanding and ignorance.  Why don’t you allow people to have a faith that is grounded in a fuller understanding of the world?... Your website is a sham.”
(a co-author of the paper reviewed in the 12/03/2003 entry who did not appreciate the unflattering commentary.  This led to a cordial interchange, but he could not divorce his reasoning from the science vs. faith dichotomy, and resulted in an impasse over definitions – but, at least, a more mutually respectful dialogue.  He never did explain how his paper supported Darwinian macroevolution.  He just claimed evolution is a fact.)

“I absolutely love creation-evolution news.  As a Finnish university student very interested in science, I frequent your site to find out about all the new science stuff that’s been happening — you have such a knack for finding all this information!  I have been able to stump evolutionists with knowledge gleaned from your site many times.”
(a student in Finland)

“I love your site and read it almost every day.  I use it for my science class and 5th grade Sunday School class.  I also challenge Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to get on the site to check out articles against the baloney they are taught in school.”
(a teacher in Los Gatos, CA)

“I have spent quite a few hours at Creation Evolution Headlines in the past week or so going over every article in the archives.  I thank you for such an informative and enjoyable site.  I will be visiting often and will share this link with others.”
[Later] “ I am back to May 2004 in the archives.  I figured I should be farther back, but there is a ton of information to digest.”
(a computer game designer in Colorado)

“The IDEA Center also highly recommends visiting Creation-Evolution Headlines... the most expansive and clearly written origins news website on the internet!”
(endorsement on Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center)

“Hey Friends, Check out this site: www.creationsafaris.com.  This is a fantastic resource for the whole family.... a fantastic reference library with summaries, commentaries and great links that are added to daily—archives go back five years.”
(a reader who found us in Georgia)

“I just wanted to drop you a note telling you that at www.BornAgainRadio.com, I’ve added a link to your excellent Creation-Evolution news site.”
(a radio announcer)

“I cannot understand why anyone would invest so much time and effort to a website of sophistry and casuistry.  Why twist Christian apology into an illogic pretzel to placate your intellect?  Isn’t it easier to admit that your faith has no basis -- hence, ‘faith’.  It would be extricate [sic] yourself from intellectual dishonesty -- and from bearing false witness.”
Sincerely, Rev. [name withheld] (an ex-Catholic, “apostate Christian” Natural/Scientific pantheist)

“Just wanted to let you folks know that we are consistent readers and truly appreciate the job you are doing.  God bless you all this coming New Year.”
(from two prominent creation researchers/writers in Oregon)

“Thanks so much for your site!  It is brain candy!”
(a reader in North Carolina)

“I Love your site – probably a little too much.  I enjoy the commentary and the links to the original articles.”
(a civil engineer in New York)

“I’ve had your Creation/Evolution Headlines site on my favourites list for 18 months now, and I can truthfully say that it’s one of the best on the Internet, and I check in several times a week.  The constant stream of new information on such a variety of science issues should impress anyone, but the rigorous and humourous way that every thought is taken captive is inspiring.  I’m pleased that some Christians, and indeed, some webmasters, are devoting themselves to producing real content that leaves the reader in a better state than when they found him.”
(a community safety manager in England)

“I really appreciate the effort that you are making to provide the public with information about the problems with the General Theory of Evolution.  It gives me ammunition when I discuss evolution in my classroom.  I am tired of the evolutionary dogma.  I wish that more people would stand up against such ridiculous beliefs.”
(a science teacher in Alabama)

“If you choose to hold an opinion that flies in the face of every piece of evidence collected so far, you cannot be suprised [sic] when people dismiss your views.”
(a “former Christian” software distributor, location not disclosed)

“...the Creation Headlines is the best.  Visiting your site... is a standard part of my startup procedures every morning.”
(a retired Air Force Chaplain)

“I LOVE your site and respect the time and work you put into it.  I read the latest just about EVERY night before bed and send selection[s] out to others and tell others about it.  I thank you very much and keep up the good work (and humor).”
(a USF grad in biology)

“Answering your invitation for thoughts on your site is not difficult because of the excellent commentary I find.  Because of the breadth and depth of erudition apparent in the commentaries, I hope I’m not being presumptuous in suspecting the existence of contributions from a ‘Truth Underground’ comprised of dissident college faculty, teachers, scientists, and engineers.  If that’s not the case, then it is surely a potential only waiting to be realized.  Regardless, I remain in awe of the care taken in decomposing the evolutionary cant that bombards us from the specialist as well as popular press.”
(a mathematician/physicist in Arizona)

“I’m from Quebec, Canada.  I have studied in ‘pure sciences’ and after in actuarial mathematics.  I’m visiting this site 3-4 times in a week.  I’m learning a lot and this site gives me the opportunity to realize that this is a good time to be a creationist!”
(a French Canadian reader)

“I LOVE your Creation Safari site, and the Baloney Detector material.  OUTSTANDING JOB!!!!”
(a reader in the Air Force)

“You have a unique position in the Origins community.  Congratulations on the best current affairs news source on the origins net.  You may be able to write fast but your logic is fun to work through.”
(a pediatrician in California)

“Visit your site almost daily and find it very informative, educational and inspiring.”
(a reader in western Canada)

“I wish to thank you for the information you extend every day on your site.  It is truly a blessing!”
(a reader in North Carolina)

“I really appreciate your efforts in posting to this website.  I find it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also to research particular topics.”
(an IT consultant from Brisbane, Australia)

“I would just like to say very good job with the work done here, very comprehensive.  I check your site every day.  It’s great to see real science directly on the front lines, toe to toe with the pseudoscience that's mindlessly spewed from the ‘prestigious’ science journals.”
(a biology student in Illinois)

“I’ve been checking in for a long time but thought I’d leave you a note, this time.  Your writing on these complex topics is insightful, informative with just the right amount of humor.  I appreciate the hard work that goes into monitoring the research from so many sources and then writing intelligently about them.”
(an investment banker in California)

“Keep up the great work.  You are giving a whole army of Christians plenty of ammunition to come out of the closet (everyone else has).  Most of us are not scientists, but most of the people we talk to are not scientists either, just ordinary people who have been fed baloney for years and years.”
(a reader in Arizona)

“Keep up the outstanding work!  You guys really ARE making a difference!”
(a reader in Texas)

“I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that ‘science’ is not hostile towards ‘religion’.  It is the dogmatically religious that are unwaveringly hostile towards any kind of science which threatens their dearly-held precepts.  ‘Science’ (real, open-minded science) is not interested in theological navel-gazing.”
(anonymous)
Note: Please supply your name and location when writing in.  Anonymous attacks only make one look foolish and cowardly, and will not normally be printed.  This one was shown to display a bad example.

“I appreciate reading your site every day.  It is a great way to keep up on not just the new research being done, but to also keep abreast of the evolving debate about evolution (Pun intended).... I find it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also to research particular topics.”
(an IT consultant in Brisbane, Australia)

“I love your website.”
(a student at a state university who used CEH when writing for the campus newsletter)

“....when you claim great uncertainty for issues that are fairly well resolved you damage your already questionable credibility.  I’m sure your audience loves your ranting, but if you know as much about biochemistry, geology, astronomy, and the other fields you skewer, as you do about ornithology, you are spreading heat, not light.”
(a professor of ornithology at a state university, responding to the 09/10/2002 headline)

“I wanted to let you know I appreciate your headline news style of exposing the follies of evolutionism.... Your style gives us constant, up-to-date reminders that over and over again, the Bible creation account is vindicated and the evolutionary fables are refuted.”
(a reader, location unknown)

“You have a knack of extracting the gist of a technical paper, and digesting it into understandable terms.”
(a nuclear physicist from Lawrence Livermore Labs who worked on the Manhattan Project)

“After spending MORE time than I really had available going thru your MANY references I want to let you know how much I appreciate the effort you have put forth.
The information is properly documented, and coming from recognized scientific sources is doubly valuable.  Your explanatory comments and sidebar quotations also add GREATLY to your overall effectiveness as they 1) provide an immediate interpretive starting point and 2) maintaining the reader’s interest.”
(a reader in Michigan)

“I am a huge fan of the site, and check daily for updates.”
(reader location and occupation unknown)

“I just wanted to take a minute to personally thank-you and let you know that you guys are providing an invaluable service!  We check your Web site weekly (if not daily) to make sure we have the latest information in the creation/evolution controversy.  Please know that your diligence and perseverance to teach the Truth have not gone unnoticed.  Keep up the great work!”
(a PhD scientist involved in origins research)

“You've got a very useful and informative Web site going.  The many readers who visit your site regularly realize that it requires considerable effort to maintain the quality level and to keep the reviews current....  I hope you can continue your excellent Web pages.  I have recommended them highly to others.”
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)

“As an apprentice apologist, I can always find an article that will spark a ‘spirited’ debate.  Keep ’em coming!  The Truth will prevail.”
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)

“Thanks for your web page and work.  I try to drop by at least once a week and read what you have.  I’m a Christian that is interested in science (I’m a mechanical engineer) and I find you topics interesting and helpful.  I enjoy your lessons and insights on Baloney Detection.”
(a year later):
“I read your site 2 to 3 times a week; which I’ve probably done for a couple of years.  I enjoy it for the interesting content, the logical arguments, what I can learn about biology/science, and your pointed commentary.”
(a production designer in Kentucky)

“I look up CREV headlines every day.  It is a wonderful source of information and encouragement to me.... Your gift of discerning the fallacies in evolutionists interpretation of scientific evidence is very helpful and educational for me.  Please keep it up.  Your website is the best I know of.”
(a Presbyterian minister in New South Wales, Australia)

“I’ve written to you before, but just wanted to say again how much I appreciate your site and all the work you put into it.  I check it almost every day and often share the contents (and web address) with lists on which I participate.  I don’t know how you do all that you do, but I am grateful for your energy and knowledge.”
(a prominent creationist author)

“I am new to your site, but I love it!  Thanks for updating it with such cool information.”
(a home schooler)

“I love your site.... Visit every day hoping for another of your brilliant demolitions of the foolish just-so stories of those who think themselves wise.”
(a reader from Southern California)

“I visit your site daily for the latest news from science journals and other media, and enjoy your commentary immensely.  I consider your web site to be the most valuable, timely and relevant creation-oriented site on the internet.”
(a reader from Ontario, Canada)

“Keep up the good work!  I thoroughly enjoy your site.”
(a reader in Texas)

“Thanks for keeping this fantastic web site going.  It is very informative and up-to-date with current news including incisive insight.”
(a reader in North Carolina)

“Great site!  For all the Baloney Detector is impressive and a great tool in debunking wishful thinking theories.”
(a reader in the Netherlands)

“Just wanted to let you know, your work is having quite an impact.  For example, major postings on your site are being circulated among the Intelligent Design members....”
(a PhD organic chemist)

“It’s like ‘opening a can of worms’ ... I love to click all the related links and read your comments and the links to other websites, but this usually makes me late for something else.  But it’s ALWAYS well worth it!!”
(a leader of a creation group)

“I am a regular visitor to your website ... I am impressed by the range of scientific disciplines your articles address.  I appreciate your insightful dissection of the often unwarranted conclusions evolutionists infer from the data... Being a medical doctor, I particularly relish the technical detail you frequently include in the discussion living systems and processes.  Your website continually reinforces my conviction that if an unbiased observer seeks a reason for the existence of life then Intelligent Design will be the unavoidable conclusion.”
(a medical doctor)

“A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.  I told him CreationSafaris.com.”
(a PhD geologist)

“I love your site... I check it every day for interesting information.  It was hard at first to believe in Genesis fully, but now I feel more confident about the mistakes of humankind and that all their reasoning amounts to nothing in light of a living God.”
(a college grad)

“Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments on your creation evolution headlines page ... it is very informative.”
(a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)

“I still visit your site almost every day, and really enjoy it.  Great job!!!  (I also recommend it to many, many students.)
(an educational consultant)

“I like what I see–very much.  I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the whole issue... Thanks ... for this fabulous endeavor–it’s superb!”

“It is refreshing to read your comments.  You have a knack to get to the heart of the matter.”
(a reader in the Air Force).

“Love your website.  It has well thought out structure and will help many through these complex issues.  I especially love the Baloney Detector.”
(a scientist).

“I believe this is one of the best sites on the Internet.  I really like your side-bar of ‘truisms.’  Yogi [Berra] is absolutely correct.  If I were a man of wealth, I would support you financially.”
(a registered nurse in Alabama, who found us on TruthCast.com.)

“WOW.  Unbelievable.... My question is, do you sleep? ... I’m utterly impressed by your page which represents untold amounts of time and energy as well as your faith.”
(a mountain man in Alaska).

“Just wanted to say that I recently ran across your web site featuring science headlines and your commentary and find it to be A++++, superb, a 10, a homerun – I run out of superlatives to describe it! ... You can be sure I will visit your site often – daily when possible – to gain the latest information to use in my speaking engagements.  I’ll also do my part to help publicize your site among college students.  Keep up the good work.  Your material is appreciated and used.”
(a college campus minister)

 
Featured Creation Scientist for July



John Ray
1627 - 1705

He has been called the Father of British Natural History.  He influenced Linnaeus, John Wesley and William Paley.  He compiled a monumental catalog of plants through his own field work, and was the greatest authority of his day in both botany and zoology.  And one of his great works was titled, The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation.

John Ray (also spelled Wray) was the son of a poor blacksmith.  He had to work his way through college at Cambridge.  Though he studied for the ministry, and became an accomplished preacher, his childhood love of plants and animals, nurtured by his mother, directed him toward a career goal of studying the handiwork of God in the world of living things.  Dan Graves said of him, “John Ray felt that if man were placed on earth to mirror back to God the glory of all His works, then he ought to take notice of every created thing.”

With the help of a friend, John Ray set out to catalog all the plants of Britain.  The friend died early, but Ray kept up the project, eventually publishing a catalog of 18,600 plants.  His systematic encyclopedia was without peer in its day, though the work of Linnaeus soon overshadowed it.  It was Ray who divided the plants into the monocots and dicots.  Along with Robert Boyle, he helped found the Royal Society of London.

John Ray was interested in all the works of God.  In addition to his botanical studies, he also wrote on English folklore and proverbs, and on metals, birds and fish.  Throughout his life he marveled at the wonders of God’s creation and expressed delight in whatever he discovered.  He believed in the fixity of species.  He opposed the Deistic views of Descartes and others on the Continent.  Even during extreme illness in his later years, he carried on his work.  His daughters brought specimens to him so he could continue.

Darwin’s Origin was 152 years into the future at the time of John Ray’s death.  One can only speculate what John Ray would have thought of the idea that plants emerged without design by an impersonal, aimless process.  It is doubtful he would have endured such nonsense.  Post-Enlightenment moderns might argue that John Ray was a Christian and creationist only because everybody was at that time.  That argument, however, cuts both ways.  Could it not be asserted that today’s scientists are similarly products of their secularist culture?

In addition, John Ray’s story defeats the myth that Christian faith is a detriment to science.  It was Ray’s confidence in the Word of God and its account of creation that impelled him to spend years observing and collecting and cataloging specimens.  Finally, to attribute Ray’s views to his culture does a huge dishonor to a great natural philosopher.  Who could deny that he believed it with all his heart when he said, “There is for a free man no occupation more worthy and delightful than to contemplate the beauteous works of nature and honor the infinite wisdom and goodness of God.”


If you are enjoying this series, you can learn more about great Christians in science by reading our online book-in-progress:
The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.

A Concise Guide
to Understanding
Evolutionary Theory

You can observe a lot by just watching.
– Yogi Berra

First Law of Scientific Progress
The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
Corollaries:
1. Exceptions always outnumber rules.
2. There are always exceptions to established exceptions.
3. By the time one masters the exceptions, no one recalls the rules to which they apply.

Darwin’s Law
Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
Bloch’s Extension
So will Darwinists.

Finagle’s Creed
Science is true.  Don’t be misled by facts.

Finagle’s 2nd Law
No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it happened according to his own pet theory.

Finagle’s Rules
3. Draw your curves, then plot your data.
4. In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
6. Do not believe in miracles – rely on them.

Murphy’s Law of Research
Enough research will tend to support your theory.

Maier’s Law
If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
Corollaries:
1. The bigger the theory, the better.
2. The experiments may be considered a success if no more than 50% of the observed measurements must be discarded to obtain a correspondence with the theory.

Eddington’s Theory
The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.

Young’s Law
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
Corollary
The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.

Peer’s Law
The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.

Peter’s Law of Evolution
Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.

Weinberg’s Corollary
An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.

Souder’s Law
Repetition does not establish validity.

Cohen’s Law
What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts – not the facts themselves.

Harrison’s Postulate
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

Thumb’s Second Postulate
An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.

Ruckert’s Law
There is nothing so small that it can’t be blown out of proportion

Hawkins’ Theory of Progress
Progress does not consist in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right.  It consists in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong.

Macbeth’s Law
The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.

Disraeli’s Dictum
Error is often more earnest than truth.

Advice from Paul

Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.

I Timothy 6:20-21

Song of the True Scientist

O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom You have made them all.  The earth is full of Your possessions . . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever.  May the Lord rejoice in His works . . . . I will sing to the Lord s long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.  May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more.  Bless the Lord, O my soul!  Praise the Lord! 

from Psalm 104

Maxwell’s Motivation

Through the creatures Thou hast made
Show the brightness of Thy glory.
Be eternal truth displayed
In their substance transitory.
Till green earth and ocean hoary,
Massy rock and tender blade,
Tell the same unending story:
We are truth in form arrayed.

Teach me thus Thy works to read,
That my faith,– new strength accruing–
May from world to world proceed,
Wisdom’s fruitful search pursuing
Till, thy truth my mind imbuing,
I proclaim the eternal Creed –
Oft the glorious theme renewing,
God our Lord is God indeed.

James Clerk Maxwell
One of the greatest physicists
of all time (a creationist).

Disclaimer: Creation-Evolution Headlines includes links to many external sites, but takes no responsibility for the accuracy or legitimacy of their content.  Inclusion of an external link is strictly for the reader’s convenience, and does not necessarily constitute endorsement of the material or its authors, owners, or sponsors.