From: stassen@netcom.COM (Chris Stassen)
Subject: Re: creationism and education
Date: 4 Jul 91 15:19:18 GMT
In article <1991Jul4.firstname.lastname@example.org>
email@example.com (Arthur T. Manning) writes:
>> 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 Pb of some samples. The dash means THAT IT WAS NOT MEASURED,
not that none was present. "Lack of 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 Pb and 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
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