Subject: Re: creationism and education Date: 4 Jul 91 15:19:18 GMT In article 1991Jul4.050

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From: stassen@netcom.COM (Chris Stassen) Newsgroups: Subject: Re: creationism and education Message-ID: <1991Jul4.151918.8985@netcom.COM> Date: 4 Jul 91 15:19:18 GMT In article <> (Arthur T. Manning) writes: [I wrote:] >> Perhaps you ought to make your case in the scientific arena *before* >> you can make a legitimate claim to inclusion in Public School curricula? > I thought that's what Scientific Creationism is all about. _Scientific Creationism_ is intended for public school use ("This book itself is intended to serve primarily as a source for background information needed by the teacher...", p. v). It is not intended to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Were it submitted for publication in a journal it would surely get rejected on the grounds of shoddy scholarship. Two examples: "It is known that there is essentially a constant rate of cosmic dust particles entering the earth's atmosphere from space and then gradually settling on the surface. The best measurements of this influx have been made by ---- Hans Petterson, who obtained the figure of 14 million tons per year..." [_Scientific Creationism_, pp. 151-152] Morris goes on to explain that a layer of dust 182 feet thick should have accumulated on the earth in 4.5 billion years. [For a second, we shall ignore the fact that 0.0000005 inches of dust per year would be "lost in the noise" of erosion.] Petterson's measurements were made in 1960 by standing on a mountain, using a device intended for measuring smog levels, and assuming both that all nickel-laden dust was meteoric in origin and that 15% of meteoric dust is nickel. (In particular, the assumption that nickel is rare in earthly dust is wrong, and this caused Petterson to vastly overestimate the influx rate.) Anyway, Petterson calculated a "very generous" UPPER LIMIT of 15 million tons per year, and indicated that he believed the correct value to be closer to 5 million tons per year. The number "14 million" DOES NOT APPEAR IN PETTERSON'S PAPER. By the time Morris wrote _Scientific Creationism_, there were two much more accurate measurements available. Samples taken in space gave a figure of about 20 THOUSAND tons per year. Measurements from deep sea sediments agree with this value. [See G. B. Dalrymple, "How old is the Earth?", in _Evolutionists Confront Creationists_, Proceedings of the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division, AAAS] I suspect that Morris has INTENTIONALLY chosen to take obsolete data and call it the "best" measurement available. Why? By now, he certainly knows of the mistake, and yet new printings of _Scientific Creationism_ continue without correction of the error. Number two [talking about U/Pb dates and 'neutron capture']: "... the relative amounts of 'radiogenic' isotopes of lead in the system may not be a function of their decay from thorium and uranium at all ... That this problem is quite serious has been shown conclusively by Dr. Melvin Cook ... These ores contain no Lead 204 [...] the calcuations for such neutron reactions to make this correction, according to Dr. Cook, in effect will show that [...] none of them need have been formed by radioactive decay at all, and consequently the minerals may all be quite young..." [_Scientific Creationism_, pp. 141-142] Cook's calculations, which Morris does not reproduce, are incorrect. Cook himself is a young-earth creationist, who has made some signficant blunders in these calculations and I will describe three of them. First, the paper which Cook references (Nier, A. O., 1939. "The isotopic constitution of radiogenic leads and the measurement of geologic time. II", Phys Rev. 55: 153-163) has a "dash" in the table for [204]Pb of some samples. The dash means THAT IT WAS NOT MEASURED, not that none was present. "Lack of [204]Pb" in the samples was Cook's primary justification for pleading to neutron capture. Second, the flux of free neutrons is six orders of magnitude too small to have the effect desired by Morris and Cook. Cook is at least honest enough to admit this ("In spite of the evidence that the neutron flux is only a millionth as large as it should be to account for appreciable (n, g) effects..."). Morris does not reproduce this part of Cook's paper. Third, Cook mistakenly assumes that the neutron-capture cross section of [206]Pb and [207]Pb are equivalent. They actually differ by a factor of over 20. [My CRC says 25 vs. 0.7 millibarns for neutrons at 2200 m/s.] When this correction is applied to Cook's calculations, the effect is in the opposite direction! A large flux of neutrons would make a U/Pb date YOUNGER than the actual age of the sample. I can produce twenty more equivalent examples from _Scientific Creationism_ without breaking into a sweat. This is why, IMO, Morris' publication is aimed at teachers. Teachers may not have the time to track down his references, nor the expertise to evaluate his arguments. Were his arguments submitted for peer review (the *real* scientific arena), they would be carefully researched and clearly exposed for the misleading trash that they are. > Apparently they haven't done so hot :-(. I agree. Every creationist text I've got that produces arguments for a young earth (sample size: 8) includes one of the above two wrong arguments. If I bought a biology textbook and saw human evolution supported by "piltdown man," I'd throw the book away. If I applied the same standards to the creationist materials that I own, I wouldn't have any left! Why would one perpetuate arguments which ought to be known to be wrong? The only reason I can think of is that the writer has run out of arguments that might be correct. :-( -- "I'm not saying that I don't believe in sex. | Chris Stassen I just think equal time should be given to | the Stork Theory." - Frank & Ernest | stassen@netcom.UUCP


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