To: All Msg #14, Dec0392 02:05PM Subject: Re: Richard Milton Creationist or What? In artic

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From: Simon Clippingdale To: All Msg #14, Dec-03-92 02:05PM Subject: Re: Richard Milton -- Creationist or What? Organization: Department of Computer Science, Warwick University, England From: simon@dcs.warwick.ac.uk (Simon Clippingdale) Message-ID: 1992Dec3.220552.28908@dcs.warwick.ac.uk Newsgroups: talk.origins,alt.atheism In article mathew writes: > This month's Fortean Times carries an article entitled "How old is the > Earth?", by "science writer" (their words) Richard Milton. Milton has > supposedly written a book "The Facts of Life: Shattering the Myth of > Darwinism". talk.origins readers may remember that this was the book reviewed by the Sunday Times (ST) a couple of months back, said review constituting "Antti's File of Nonreligious Objections" [to evolution] of the thread of the same name, which file I posted to t.o. I saw the Fortean Times (FT) and its cover splash for this article and lashed out my two quid. Suffice it to say that mathew has not overstated the drivel- to-content ratio of Milton's piece. Those who recall my post of the time will remember that Milton's primary `scientific' support appeared to come from one Melvin Cook, ex-Professor of Metallurgy at Utah University, who reckons according to the ST that the atmosphere radiocarbon-dates to 10k-15k years. Curious that Milton claims this as supporting him in the ST and yet in his FT piece, he writes: "Taking the measured amount of helium in the atmosphere suggests a date for its formation as recent as 100,000 to 1 million years ago." Another interesting snippet from the epilogue to the FT article is that Prof. Cook is indeed a Creationist. This was not made clear in the ST piece, which as well as giving Cook's atmospheric radiocarbon date and quoting him as saying "The facts do not support the theory of evolution", went on to say editorially and without reference to Cook: "Carbon dating, considered one of the most reliable methods for dating plant and animal remains of relatively recent origin, when applied to the earth's atmosphere points to an age of only 10,000 to 15,000 years." > In the article, Milton alleges that there is a vast conspiracy to hush up > people who try to publish scientific proof that the earth is much less than > 3,800 million years old. He suggests that geologists have a hidden agenda to > support evolutionary theories, which require that the earth be very old. > > In an Epilogue, Milton claims that he does not "believe evolution to be > false" (whatever that means), and that he does not doubt that the mechanism > of natural selection occurs. He claims that he has been unfairly > represented > in reviews of his book by people such as Richard Dawkins, and that he > doesn't > believe the earth is only a few thousand years old. > > Personally, I think he's lying through his teeth, and that he's a > Creationist. > There are various tell-tale signs: > [...] I'm with mathew on this one. Check these quotes from the FT piece for vague familiarity: "I also discovered that there is an important underlying reason for some scientists' belief in an Earth of great antiquity -- a hidden agenda in geology. It is the ideological commitment of the life sciences to Darwin's theory of evolution [...]." "But few professional scientists will speak out openly on an issue like this because [...] you get published in academic journals only if the Darwinist thought police say it's OK." "When it comes to dating the Earth itself, though, radioactive decay is deeply flawed on a number of counts -- and it was these flaws that Dr Cook's colleagues were keen should not be published." "Most disconcerting of all is the fact that these various methods of dating commonly produce discordant ages for the same rock deposit. Where this occurs, a `harmonisation' of discordant dates is carried out -- in other words, the figures are adjusted in the laboratory until they seem right." "It was pointed out by Henry Morris [stuff about meteoritic dust deposition]" Ha ha ha. That really blew it for me. For those unfamiliar, Morris is a leading light in both the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and the Creation Research Society (CRS), well known on talk.origins as documented purveyors of Untruths For Jesus. And from the whingeing epilogue: "[Dr Richard Dawkins'] intentions [in reviewing Milton's book] can be judged from a small section of the language he uses: `complete and total ignorance', `harmless fruitcake', `loony', `stupid', `drivel', `needs psychiatric help'. "When he does write rationally, Dawkins gets his facts wrong. He says "All qualified physicists, biologists, cosmologists and geologists agree, on the basis of massive, mutually corroborating evidence, that the earth's age is at least four billion years. "In fact, one of the principal disclosures in my book is that some professional scientists, whose job is investigating dating methods, have published serious doubts about the sole method (not "massive, mutually corroborating evidence") of arriving at this immense age, that of radioactive dating. I give three examples in my FT article." Two points: one, how come they got published? Milton's thesis (see "thought police" quote above) is precisely that they can't. Two, well, I looked for these "examples" in the body of the article. The only obvious candidates are Noble & Naughton (1968) and Funkhouser & Naughton (1968) who published the stuff on erroneous dates arising from inappropriately selected volcanic rock samples in Hawaii, which is of course famous among geologists and hardly a major stumbling block provided suitable precautions are taken in sample selection. As far as I am aware, neither Noble nor Naughton nor Funkhouser entertain or have published "serious doubts" about radiometric dating in principle. (BTW, Milton doesn't even *mention* isochron dating methods.) That leaves the fringe candidates, Melvin Cook, the ex-Prof of metallurgy and Creationist writer, who can hardly be described as a `professional scientist whose job is investigating dating methods' without stretching things a bit, and good old Henry Morris, who can hardly be described. From mathew's article again: > In an Epilogue, Milton claims that he does not "believe evolution to be > false" (whatever that means), and that he does not doubt that the mechanism > of natural selection occurs. By way of speculation, I suspect that Milton acknowledges microevolution (note for a.a. readers: genotypic changes over time within a lineage) but denies macroevolution (the divergence of species from one another). This would be consistent with Creationist claims that evolution can produce gradual changes in a biblical `kind' but cannot spawn new `kinds', and consistent with his denial in the ST article that speciation (i.e. macroevolution) has been demonstrated. (Another note: it has. Lots. I have an article on observed speciation if anyone wants a copy, or there's some [different] stuff on it in Chris Colby's evolution FAQ.) By saying that he does not believe evolution to be false, Milton implies that he is, as he claims, not a Creationist, but of course very few Creationists deny (micro)evolution utterly. What they deny is that species share common ancestry by virtue of macroevolution, as does Milton. > So -- just who is this nutter? The style leads me to suspect that he > doesn't > know what on earth he's talking about. I'm with you mathew; the style and content both lead me to suspect that he's a Creationist and a liar. > mathew Cheers Simon -- Simon Clippingdale simon@dcs.warwick.ac.uk Department of Computer Science Tel (+44) 203 523296 University of Warwick FAX (+44) 203 525714 Coventry CV4 7AL, U.K. --------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Philip R. Burns To: All Msg #18, Dec-04-92 07:08AM Subject: Re: Richard Milton -- Creationist or What? Organization: Northwestern University, Evanston Illinois. From: pib@casbah.acns.nwu.edu (Philip R. Burns) Message-ID: 1992Dec4.150805.12295@news.acns.nwu.edu Followup-To: talk.origins Newsgroups: talk.origins,alt.atheism Simon Clippingdale writes: >Those who recall my post of the time will remember that Milton's primary >`scientific' support appeared to come from one Melvin Cook, ex-Professor ^^^^^^^^^^^ >of Metallurgy at Utah University, who reckons according to the ST that the >atmosphere radiocarbon-dates to 10k-15k years. Curious that Milton claims >this as supporting him in the ST and yet in his FT piece, he writes: > > "Taking the measured amount of helium in the atmosphere > suggests a date for its formation as recent as 100,000 > to 1 million years ago." > >Another interesting snippet from the epilogue to the FT article is that >Prof. Cook is indeed a Creationist. This was not made clear in the ST ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ >piece, which as well as giving Cook's atmospheric radiocarbon date and >quoting him as saying "The facts do not support the theory of evolution", >went on to say editorially and without reference to Cook: > > "Carbon dating, considered one of the most reliable methods > for dating plant and animal remains of relatively recent > origin, when applied to the earth's atmosphere points to > an age of only 10,000 to 15,000 years." >That leaves the fringe candidates, Melvin Cook, the ex-Prof of metallurgy and >Creationist writer, who can hardly be described as a `professional scientist >whose job is investigating dating methods' without stretching things a bit, >and good old Henry Morris, who can hardly be described. These references to Melvin Cook sent me scurrying to look up some old notes I wrote about 20 years ago when I first heard about Cook's unorthodox theories. Cook was considered to be a good chemist in his day, particularly in the field of high explosives. Cook received a number of honors including the Nitro-Nobel prize given on the 50th anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death, awards from the American Chemical Society, etc. So he is/was not a complete scientific ignoramus. I don't know if Cook is still living. The book in which Cook questions the validity of radiocarbon dating methods is entitled "Prehistory and Earth Models" (London: Max Parrish, 1966). I never found that book at the time I was interested in looking at it so I cannot comment on the contents. Perhaps someone in this newsgroup who is familiar with dating methods can locate a copy and review it. The more interesting book (to me) is "The Science of High Explosives" (American Chemical Society, 1958). I believe it was reprinted later by another publisher. Appendix III contains an unorthodox theory of gravity based upon plasma physics. I have never seen a single reference to this theory anywhere (except for the person who told me about it via word-of-mouth), not even by the fringies like the fans of Velikovsky. I find this curious since it seems tailor-made for them. It uses four basic ideas: (1) Plasmas may exhibit negative pressure under certain conditions; (2) The sun and planets possess excess positive charges; (3) The interplanetary medium possesses an excess of negative charges; (4) There is no gravity as such, just charged plasmas, with the negative pressure acting as the "gravity." Cook purports to show that the planets would follow Newtonian paths if his theory be correct. I found the discussion difficult to follow at the time since I knew nothing about plasma physics at that time (and I don't know any more now). Cook also resurrects Mayer's 19th century theory of an isothermal (or nearly so) sun, with matter infall the principal source of the sun's kinetic energy. I no longer have a copy of the book, so I don't remember the details of how he extended the time scales to cover the standard geological timescale. I don't remember his disputing the several billion year age for the earth, at least not in the "High Explosives" book. Again, it might be interesting if someone familiar with plasma physics and planetary astronomy could look into this. It might be entertaining at the very least. -- Phil "Pib" Burns Northwestern University Evanston, IL. USA pib@nwu.edu

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