Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

God works in mysterious ways. Geology, not so much.

As some of you may realize, tomorrow is February 12, 2009- the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Darwin, as you may recall, is generally credited as the originator of the theory of evolution which, in the modern era, has gradually metamorphosed into a mature and extremely useful theory that brings together findings from chemistry, genetics, biology, ecology, anthropology and archaeology. In a real sense, the modern synthesis is a biological version of the "Theory of Everything" that physics has long sought. In short, Darwin can be safely remembered as beginning, though by no means completing, a momentous theoretical structure. And frequent readers know that I have a great deal of respect for this achievement.

Regular readers are also aware that evolutionary theory has its share of detractors, coming overwhelmingly from the ranks of religious fundamentalists and biblical extremists. To name just two groups who particularly hate this part of science, we have the trolls at Conservapedia whose article on evolution has a picture of Joseph Stalin before a picture of Darwin. Actually, for that matter, the article includes two photos of Charles Darwin versus two photos of Stalin and one photo of Adolf Hitler. Secondly, we have the folks in the intelligent design "movement" who were just a little too impressed when they ran into the watchmaker analogy.

A third detractor of evolution is convicted tax evader and creation scientist, Kent Hovind. Hovind, you may recall, also founded Dinosaur Adventure Land, "Where Dinosaurs and the Bible meet!" In any case, Kent Hovind is not just any creationist, he's a Young Earth Creationist or YEC,* meaning that he thinks the Earth is around 6,000 years old. This is important for Hovind not just because it aligns with his reading of the bible, but because a young Earth should make evolution untenable as an explanation for biodiversity. His beliefs, however, are an issue because the geological evidence overwhelmingly supports an old Earth. Fortunately, Hovind has a way around that. See, he thinks that the various rock and soils strata we see in the geological record could have been layed down all at one time by an enormous flood. You know, the kind you need an ark to survive. Importantly, he has famously suggested that experiments would support his flood strata theory. Funny thing, though: he's never actually performed the experiment.

Fortunately for us, now somebody has:

Will this convince any YECs? Oh, hell no. As I suggested in response to yesterday's post over on Orgtheory, sometimes there are just too many shitty justifications for an inane belief for any one experiment or study to make a difference.** But it may help stop someone from becoming a YEC in the first place.

And hell, it's funny besides.

* Pronounced "Yech" as in, "Yech! I can't believe I just spent an hour listening to Kent Hovind's bullshit!"

** Note, in particular, that in the comments to a post discussing the recent news about Andrew Wakefield there is an entry from someone asking if it could be mercury in high fructose corn syrup that is causing autism. Never mind that there is zero evidence that vaccines, with or without mercury, cause autism. Never mind the differences between ethyl and methyl mercury. Like the Hydra, disprove one bit of nonsense and two more grow back.

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