Sunday readers’ diatribes

February 9, 2014 • 11:39 am

I don’t know if I’ll make this a regular feature, but I’ve collected some comments from creationists and others over the past week that I thought I’d post, just so readers can see what the people say whose comments aren’t approved. At least they do get their views aired! (Note: I haven’t corrected grammar or spelling.)


This comment is from “flora,” and it’s about the most popular post I’ve ever had (over 300,000 views): “A new exposé of Mother Teresa shows that she—and the Vatican—were even worse than we thought”:

i am so ashamed !! how can you speak ill of mother Teresa?she did her best,the people who were around her know what they did to the poor too!! atleast she put a shelter on those sick people instead of them dying outside the cold and dirt!

Ask yourself everyday you walk outside your house how many homeless or poor people even the junkies with empty stomachs have you passed?, the left over food you throw in your house,why cook less that can fill your stomach instead of eating and throwing food and there are many dying to go inside your bin to eat what you threw??why..?? FIRST REMOVE THE PECK IN YOUR EYE THEN YOU BE THE JUDGE IN SOMEONE ELSE EYE!
Now we have so many sisters of charity all over! she showed mercy,she did her work on this earth!we never walked with her nor sat with her to Judge her! LET God be Judge her..
worry what will happen to you when you die!

if mother Teresa was helped by a corrupt man then good for the corrupt man he spent his money in kindness..

well worry about your hands when you die..start helping others instead of judging mother Teresa.Let God see your hands are not empty when you die.. am sure mother Teresa is happy because she helped many..

I get at least two or three comments like this a week: Mother Teresa obviously has her advocates!


From reader “CRH,” on “Who won the big evolution-creation debate?“:

I thought the whole premise of the “debate” was stupid. Neither even tried to sway others – they simply danced on their soap boxes. But, I know it would be that way. I have a question, though, for the Nye supporters:

Can you name an actual piece of evidence that validates evolution?

I bought into that ideology for years until studying molecular biology I found that all of the “evidences” were patent lies, deceptions, etc. I still have yet to find anyone who can name even one evidentiary fact.

Oh, I know, you will point to the various forms of canon/radiometric dating. But all who have ever used those methods of dating know that they are not valid. 2 ends of the same bone can date millions of years different. The trees at the bottom of Spirit lake date millions of years old when they were not more than 50 years old, etc, etc…

So, what evidence can someone produce?

Thank you for your time…

This person obviously hasn’t read my book.  It’s amazing to me that he/she thinks that all the evidence favoring evolution is “patent lies and deceptions,” as if scientists are in some kind of conspiracy to hide the truth.


From “Hoffman neighbor,” responding to the post “Bill Nye talks about his upcoming debate with Ken Ham”:

Philip Seymour Hoffman was a pathetic loser who failed to pick-up his children and if he hadn’t died, he would have picked-up his children high on 5 envelopes of heroin. What kind of city is New York City when you mourn the loss off a well-acclaimed heroin junkie who binged 5 of 8 envelopes of heroin found in his toilet in his boxers and t-shirt with a needle sticking out of his arm? We say let him die and let all others celebrity junkies in the business because we are sick of seeing these losers glorified as if there is an after life for impure celebrity junkies who have lived such pathetic lives taking advantage of life and the gifts his prestigious and portentous families bought him (judge mother and Xerox executive father). We say let that mess of a loser, Philip Seymour Hoffman, die! What a mess! Thank God for blessing us with the end of this mad mess in the penthouse of our building once and for all! Note to all other pathetic rich heroin losers: Die! Ask Joaquin Phoenix and Sam Rockwell where Philip purchased his Ace of Spades heroin and Ace of Hearts heroin from. They can tell you because they and other heroin junkie celebrities used Hoffman’s penthouse as their heroin shooting gallery! Hoffman and his place and his choice of celebrity junkie friends were and are all a glorified mess!

I’m completely appalled at this reader’s lack of sensitivity. Really, Let that “mess of a loser die?” Is there no understanding that drug addiction is a disease, not a sin or something that can be resisted?  It’s amazing what people will say under the guise of pseudonymity.


From “Miller Meares,” a comment on “Darwin’s Dilemma: I watched it so you don’t have to

There actually are not any transition fossils at all. There are a few “fossils” which, in general, were proved hoaxes. Can you name specifically any transitional fossils? or are you just taking someone’s word for it?

I could name many transitional fossils which were not hoaxes (Archaeoptyrx and Tiktaalik, to name only two). This person, who is suffering from Piltdown Man syndrome, needs to read my book. But what do you think the chances are that he (I’m assuming male based on the name) would roll over in light of the evidence?”


From “AL verum,” on “Bill Nye talks about his upcoming debate with Ken Ham“:

To me one the most amazing thing is that “Recorded History” around the globe is recognized at about 4-6000 years BC. It is fascinating that with the millions upon millions of years we have with humans evolving in complexity we only have recorded events for the last 6- 8000 years.

Shouldn’t we have evidence of recorded history long before this or did human evolution not attain the necessary skill set until 6000 years ago. This would be millions of years after much of our cognative and social skills were set and reinforced throughout human culture and subcultures.

It does not make sense – at all. We should have a much longer documented and recorded history if evolution is fact.

If anything could be found that was 10-20- 100 thousand years ago then evolutionists would have a case, but they don’t. They have to admit that the oldest recorded history we have is under 10,000 years old. That up against millions of years complex human evolution doesn’t look good – at all.

I guess by “recorded history” this reader means writing that can be dated. But writing was only invented about 5200 years ago. Did the reader think that the human lineage had symbolic language from the outset? Presumably, then, we also had agriculture at the outset.  And, of course, we do have “anything that was 10-20-100thousand years ago”: they are dated relics: hammers, spear points, and bones. I suspect this reader doesn’t trust dating methods, either.

Do you suppose that, as Phil Plait argues, these people would become pro-evolution if they were only told that their religion was compatible with evolution?


Finally, reader “Mark” chews us all out in an attempted post on “Who won the big evolution-creation debate?

you all suffer from intellectual ignorance! Morons! I disagree with Ham’s complete picture and the tact he took! But both creationist and evolutionist are indoctrinated. Creationist believe things that can not be proven and so do Evolutionist.
For example the 6000 year time line is suspect. But so is that something came from nothing. While there is fossils that suggest things there is also the fact that there are questions about how anything survived millions of years ago when the moon would have been so close that massive tides would have swept the earth (fact that the moon is leaving earth so much every year) Or the fact that when the earth was young and the primordial soup alledgedly was created the young sun was larger in diameter and would have heated the earth like venus. fact that our sun when it was formed was larger and hotter, shrunk, and when it dies in 5 billion years will expand to encompass earth. There are serious flaws in both beliefs.

In other words, “I feel superior to both camps.” But it’s so incoherent that rebutting it is useless.

By the way, this is only about a fifth of the creationist/wacko religionist comments I’ve gotten this week.

143 thoughts on “Sunday readers’ diatribes

      1. I don’t know. I woke up this morning and there it was! And all I drank was a single 12 oz. pale ale last night!

        Obviously some kind of miracle has occurred.

          1. I’ll work on loaves and fishes tonight. It would make a reasonable well-rounded meal. And maybe I can turn this into a new religion.

  1. “There actually are not any transition fossils at all.”

    Actually if the questioner do not specify what are the exact two points she/he wants to see a transition between, then the answer is that all fossils are transitional as well as all of the currently living organism, including humans. I do not think the quoted commenter would understand such an answer tough.

    1. Semantic quibble: only those individuals who become ancestors can be considered “transitional.” But those individuals fossilize in ways that, for our purposes, are indistinguishable from their relatives who don’t become ancestors, so it’s not a practical problem for paleontologists.



      1. Well, even the non-ancestors are transitional in a theoretical sense, because they would be all transitions to something else if their line did not end with them. Semantic quibbling can go both way.

        But I understand what you mean and more precise wording is necessary sometimes. Kind of pointless when we face a reality-denier. 🙁

        1. I’ll add my quibble. Since populations are what evolve, any particular fossil doesn’t need to have reproduced to be considered transitional. But the population it was part of would have needed to survive long enough to have changed before going extinct.

          1. That would depend on what perspective you’re taking on the subject. Generally most useful is population-scale evolution, which invokes statistical frequencies…but that’s just an aggregate view of individuals, with the individuals themselves “mere” carriers for DNA sequences….


    2. I really enjoyed the “actually” of that sentence. Like the writer, just had all the answers and was here to tell us the real deal.

  2. I guess by “recorded history” this reader means writing that can be dated. But writing was only invented about 5200 years ago.

    “Not exactly.”

    Yes, full-blown written language dates to about 3200 BCE…but accounting with clay markers goes back another five millennia.

    It’s kinda remarkable that it took us so long to get from writing down numbers to writing down words, but there you have it.



    1. Based on the tidbits that our host has released I’d say that some of us still haven’t progressed to writing down words stage yet.

    2. “It’s kinda remarkable that it took us so long to get from writing down numbers to writing down words, but there you have it.”

      Oh, I don’t think so. I think it’s actually a remarkable that anyone did invent narrative writing. After all, if you had some story or historical fact that you wanted to spread around, which makes more sense: that you would develop a complex system of symbols to correspond with the sounds of human speech and then laboriously teach that system to your neighbors, or that you would just speak to them?

      1. Not all that remarkable, apparently, since writing was invented independently at least twice, and possibly as many as six times.

        It’s all very well to talk about how unlikely it is for someone to come up with the idea of writing; call that probability P. But now turn it around and think about how unlikely it is that nobody would ever come up it. That number — call it Q — is on the order of (1 – P)^N, where N is the number of people who ever lived. As N increases, Q goes to zero very quickly for pretty much any value of P. So given enough thinkers, even the unlikeliest ideas get thought of eventually.

        1. I’d say it’s far easier and more intuitive to come up with written numbers than with written words.

          For the numbers, all you have to do is start with marks on a surface – the number of marks equal to the number of things represented. So obvious even a child could do it. From that, grouping them into fives or tens (‘hands’) is a natural development.

          By contrast, though representing objects with symbols may be intuitive (though much harder to draw a recognisable object than just make a number of counting marks), representing actions or any sort of abstract quality is much harder, since it requires a convention to be developed that both writer and reader can understand.

          1. But that problem of assigning meaning to words has already been solved by spoken language. Written language just requires a scheme for encoding the spoken words as text.

          2. That’s what I’m getting at. Encoding spoken words as text is (IMO) not nearly so obvious or intuitive as scratching an equivalent number of marks on a surface to record a quantity of things.

          3. Actually the same process is available for writing and numbers. Someone says “three,” and you scratch a III into the wall. Someone says “eye” and you scratch a picture of an eye into the wall. In both cases, it’s a process of abstraction to get to the abstract number “3”, an abstract pictograph for the word “eye,” or the abstract word e-y-e.

            From that, grouping them into fives or tens (‘hands’) is a natural development.

            Um, no. Base 10 is certainly the most commont now, and it might always have been, but it’s not any more “natural” than many other ways of counting.

          4. I have often though that base-6 makes a lot of sense, allowing you to count up to 35 on two hands; one hand is sixes an the other units:

            .||.. ||||/ = (2 * 6) + 5 = 17


          5. Much too complex.

            Binary works awesome. You get up to 31 on a single hand, and 1023 with two. Take your shoes off, and you can count to a million…if you can wiggle your toes independently….

            It’s even more useful for musicians, since multiples of four-bar phrases are very common.



          6. Don’t try to fully extend your fingers. Rather, hold your hand an inch above a surface (legs work great when you’re sitting down) and lower a finger to indicate a “1.” The only real problem is 27, should somebody happen to look your way. This, though, is mitigated by the positioning technique I described.



          7. Sure wouldn’t help me…it took me three years to make it through the (required) two-year class piano sequence at university…and, to this day, I can’t do much more than find a tuning note on the blasted contraption.


          8. I would think decimal 891 would be most problematic when expressed that way. We do have two hands, after all.

          9. Yeah, but even Brahms didn’t put 891 consecutive measures of rest in any of his trumpet parts.

            No so sure about the tympani parts, though….


          10. Yeah, but even Brahms didn’t put 891 consecutive measures of rest in any of his trumpet parts.

            No so sure about the tympani parts, though….

            That’s hilarious! And I’m not even a musician.

          11. @eric

            Personally, I think base 12 would be a far better number system (divisible by 3 or 4, much more factorable, as opposed to the useless 5). BUT – for counting groups of marks scratched on the cave wall, I submit 5 (or 10 for both hands) would come much more “naturally”.

            And scratching three marks on the wall to represent three goats (say) requires far less abstraction than scratching a complex image, let alone assigning phonetic letters to words and learning the alphabet (which of course is not how written language started, it would have started with pictograms. Abstractions came later).

            I’d note that the scratch-three-marks approach just naturally gives rise to basic addition and subtraction – three marks plus four marks gives seven marks (even if you don’t have words for the numbers) and if you’ve added your three goats to your friends’ four goats you actually have seven goats – the same as the number of marks on the wall (or pebbles in your bag, or whatever counting mechanism you used).

          12. I still think you have it backwards. Abstraction did not come later; it was already fully developed in spoken language before writing was invented.

            And it seems odd to claim that using scratch marks to represent goats is less abstract than using pictures of goats to represent goats.

            Abstraction isn’t really the issue here anyway. A pictogram of a goat has not only a semantic meaning but a phonetic value as well, namely the sound of the word for “goat”. So it takes no great leap of abstraction to get from pictograms to phonetics, because that correspondence is built in from the getgo.

          13. I think you’re missing the point. A pictogram of a goat only has a phonetic value of ‘goat’ in English, in any other language it’s something else. Now try doing a pictogram of something that isn’t an object – like ‘truth’ or ‘beauty’ or ‘top’ or ‘bottom’ – that’s a whole new level of abstraction.

            Anyway, it would seem that the folks cited in Ben’s original post – who invented written numbers five millennia before they invented written words – wouldn’t agree with you.

          14. Whatever language the inventors of those first pictograms spoke, the pictograms had phonetic value in that language. Armed with that basic phonetic toolkit, speakers of that language didn’t need pictograms of abstract concepts; they could just spell out the words phonetically, like a rebus.

            Pictorial representation of abstract concepts is a red herring, because that’s not where the fully general power of written language comes from. It comes from the ability to phonetically render any arbitrary spoken utterance as text.

          15. I agree with you broadly, Gregory, but I dont think what you say is true of writing systems like Chinese.

            There, abstract concepts seem to be metaphors; iirc, something like many symbols for clever (as you need to be clever to learn the symbols!).


          16. Well not if you want to divide things by twelve.

            My Dad much preferred sd (essentially base 12) to our current decimal coinage as it was far easier to work out how much people were to be paid each month.


          17. You shouldn’t divide things by twelve. There, see how I’ve solved it for you? 🙂 I am so grateful that we had a prime minister who forced the metric system on Canada when I was going through school, as without the ability to move decimal points, I’d be totally lost!

          18. We should have a 10 month year, a 10 hour day and 100 minutes per hour and one hundred seconds per minute. I can’t decide how many days per month.

            Work out the details amongst you.

          19. You jest, but I know people who would absolutely love such a thing. I know certain middle managers who like to compare sales against the “same day last year.” To the rest of us, that would mean that you’d compare, say, February 8, 2014 with February 8, 2013. But February 8 this year is a Saturday, and February 7 last year was a Friday, and clearly the sales patterns aren’t going to be the same, so they want to compare February 8, 2014 with February 7, 2013. Except, of course, that Christmas is on a Thursday this year but was on a Wednesday last year, and that means the day-after sales needs to be December 26, 2014 versus December 26, 2013.

            Now, let’s compare the “same” day two years ago, across leap years…and do we care about Valentine’s Day, or only Federal holidays…and why is it that such-and-such a date in the past never comes up as a “same day last year”?

            You can only imagine the heartaches that sort of “logic” causes.



          20. Well only sort of base 12.. You also had 20s and 22s in there ( whoever thought up the guinea??) We moved to London for 2 years when I was starting High School and my poor younger brothers had to learn long division in £sp..And you guys still yse 14 lb stones, don’t you??

          21. But we generally don’t weigh ourselves in ounces once we’re beyond infanthood;-) Living in Canuckland now I’m fairly bilingual re: F and C (though it’s been almost cold enough to use K recently) and lbs and Kg and miles and Km. Do you Brits now use km or miles on your roads? I believe you do still drive on the left…My parents were living in Nigeria when the country changed from left to right and the joke was that the cars would change one week and the trucks the next…Not sure when all the chickens and goats and bicycles would change. Driving was crazy enough there in the late 60s before there was a huge explosion in numbers of drivers. Oh, I had forgotten about Imperial quarts and pints. When I first moved to Canada from California this was a real issue for cooking. Now most stuff is in liters here, although I think the recipes that use cups use American cups…. And gasoline! My US friends and family would ask about gas prices up here and I’d have to convert from imperial gallons to “regular;-)” gallons and then do the exchange rate between Canadian and US dollars. And to think we worry about the directionality of tp rolls!!

            Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2014 16:02:42 +0000 To:

          22. TP orientation is important & universal!

            I think we should measure ourselves in Planck lengths, but it will makes us feel fat.

          23. Canadian pints are 20 ounces as well. I found a site that talks about Canadian words not used in the US and it included this funny paragraph that would confuse our US neighbours:

            I’m going to collect the loonies and toonies out of my knapsack and head to the Beer Store for a two-four. On my way back, I’ll pick us up a double-double and some Timbits, then we can have that back bacon for breakfast. If you spill your Tim’s because I’m driving 20 clicks over the speed limit, I’ll give you a serviette to use in the washroom. And don’t worry—I’ve got a mickey of vodka to put in our Caesars. Save me a seat on the chesterfield, eh?

          24. I understood that (I think!) apart from two-four and double-double. And Timbits are they like Tim Tams (Aus.)?

            (Oh, and clicks not klicks? Or was that autocorrect?)


    1. Yes, these indispensable personal revelations thrown in so casually, how can we not reject the decades-long scholarly/lab experience of a mere evolutionary speciation expert, that is, our genial host, for such convincing credentials?

  3. Hey, Jerry may not agree with how I orient my toilet paper, but at least I don’t throw food in my house! Shame on you, Jerry! 😀 LOL!

  4. So according to “AL verum” recorded history only goes back 6000 years BCE? Writing might be only that old, but a year ago I visited Olorgesailie in Kenya, where human predecessors made obviously humanoid artefacts that go back more than a million years. Successive eruptions on Mount Olorgesailie interspersed with sediments allow unusually accurate radiometric dating. I became quite emotional holding a hand axe 780,000 years old. I would like “AL verum” to explain what creatures could make these and other stone tools that long ago. They are records, just as much as writing is.

  5. Those looking for transitional fossils might find this page interesting:

    Ignore specimen “A”; it’s a modern chimpanzee. But, as the legend below identifies, all the rest are human ancestors.

    Jerry, perhaps it’d be worth your while to run a few posts directly addressing some of the most common complaints of Creationists, even if it amounts to recapping what you’ve already got in the relevant chapters of your book?



  6. I love the crank mail! My favorite part of ffrf newsletters is always the “hate mail” section. Then again, my favorite part of a newspaper is the obituaries… Hope to see this as an ongoing Sunday post!

  7. We can use the Ken Ham argument for a few of these. “Well Bill, there’s a book out there…”. Conveniently enough, it’s the same title as the site, so they should have no problem remembering it.

    1. Because they didn’t pay attention and/or comprehend back when they were supposed to be learning English (or science, etc.)

      They still don’t pay attention and/or comprehend now. Couple that with their willful ignorance and you have losers wasting their lives believing nonsense.

  8. I enjoy reading the whacka “doodles”. Thanks for sharing them. I wasn’t surprised to hear of Agnes’s penchant for others suffering. The RCC has long been fond of the idea of corporal punishment. There’s ample evidence in the atrocities of the inquisition, the thinking being that pain is the only way to “drive the evil out” and to express atonement for sin. The Beeb has an interesting article on “self flagellation”.

  9. “Do you suppose that, as Phil Plait argues, these people would become pro-evolution if they were only told that their religion was compatible with evolution?”

    Would it be worth your trouble to congenially inquire of Mr. Plait whether he would care to have a go at these fine folk, and trouble himself to let us know how it went?

  10. Oh, oh! Is this “6 easy questions (drawn out of a pool of 30)”!?

    1. Q: “how can you speak ill of mother Teresa?she did her best,the people who were around her know what they did to the poor too!!”

    A: Read the article as for how.

    2. Q: “Can you name an actual piece of evidence that validates evolution?”

    A: No pre-cambrian rabbits.

    3. Q: “What kind of city is New York City when you mourn the loss off a well-acclaimed heroin junkie who binged 5 of 8 envelopes of heroin found in his toilet in his boxers and t-shirt with a needle sticking out of his arm?”

    A: Not pertinent to Nye vs Ham.

    4. Q: “There actually are not any transition fossils at all.”

    A: Or all of them are, depending on how you describe the observed transition.

    5. Q: “Shouldn’t we have evidence of recorded history long before this or did human evolution not attain the necessary skill set until 6000 years ago.”

    A: There is no directionality in evolution. By definition, the first time culture appears that purposely records its history will be the first time, there is a selection bias in asking the question this way. Else, recorded history is as old as Earth history. (Oldest zircons ~ 4.4 Ga.)

    Aside from that bias, this would be expected of evolution. Traits come, traits go.

    6. Q: …

    A: What?

    By the way, Mark is hilariously erroneous.

    – Scientists doesn’t “believe” in unproven things, but they may well hypothesize or use untested constraints provisionally.

    – That “something came from nothing” is meaningless without a rigorous definition. But we now know that universe structure formation came from quantum fluctuations, which is as close to ‘nothing’ we see in everyday life.

    – Massive tides of tens of meters, not millions of years ago but thousands of millions, was not hurtful for anyone since there was no land life.* (The factor 1000 wrong is a typical YEC mistake.)

    – Primordial soup created on Earth. Well, not the only pathways nowadays. But much of it was created by previous star generations and by processes in the protoplanetary disk, then transported onto the forming Earth.

    – That the “young sun” was hotter and larger in diameter is irrelevant, because that stage was passed before the planets were formed. That stage is referred to as the evolved protostar and T Tauri star stages.

    The young sun as it is usually referred to was a bit smaller and weaker than today’s star, which is how most stars evolve. In fact, the “young sun problem” vs how the Archean Earth was kept hot enough to prevent global glaciations wasn’t solved, arguably, until last year.**

    * Shades of YEC dumbosity. I think I’ve seen the real question as how more massive tides influenced life as it was starting to approach the shores.

    The conclusion seems to be that a large tidal zone is beneficial to promote nutrients for early life as it starts inhabiting land. Not necessary, but beneficial.

    ** I just read that geologists have been able to constrain the early atmosphere from noble gas evolution as well as the constraints set by the earlier sediment record mineral types. And AFAIU it still looks good, we had about as much nitrogen as today and more than enough carbon dioxide.

  11. I wonder if Hoffman neighbor includes Rush Limbaugh, a confessed opioid addict, when he rants —

    We say let him die and let all others celebrity junkies in the business because we are sick of seeing these losers glorified as if there is an after life for impure celebrity junkies

  12. The second comment from “CRH”: “The trees at the bottom of Spirit lake date millions of years old when they were not more than 50 years old…”

    I suspect the reader is referring to Spirit Lake in Washington State, on the north slope of Mt. Saint Helens, and near the border of Oregon and Washington. And, I suspect the reader is a follower of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, and believer in YEC and the biblical flood story. CRH needs remedial education and an understanding of variable and episodic patterns of ash and sediment deposition. I recommend a trip or two to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle. It has a pretty good collection – about 15 million specimens and artifacts, as compared to the Field Museum’s 25 million. [Note: Unfortunately, Portland, Oregon does not have a natural history museum.]

      1. It’s a standard Cretinist technique to send samples off to respected labs for inappropriate types of radiometric dating. They might send an inorganic sample for C14 dating, or send a MYA organic sample for C14 dating. Invariably, the labs add notes such as “sample not suitable for requested dating method” along with their results (often the maximum or minimum calibration date). The Cretinists ignore the notes and parrot the obviously-useless figures.

        Imagine using a gram scale to measure a brick, for example; the scale might well read, “100g,” its maximum weight, even though the brick might be closer to a kilogram. Or, imagine using a truck weigh station to weigh the same brick; it’ll likely read zero, even though it’s clearly not massless. Same deal.



      2. Maybe you are thinking of articles written by the ID and creationist organizations like the Creation Research Institute and Answers in Genesis.

        My reading of CRH’s claim is – and I could be wrong – it represents a misunderstanding stratigraphic dating techniques (in contrast to radiometric dating). CRH seems to imply that geologic strata are always laid down over hundreds of millions of years. Because the sediments were laid down rapidly (catastrophism), this somehow supports YEC and the biblical flood story.

      3. I probed briefly into the Spirit Lake claim. This is a lake that was clobbered by Mt. St. Helens. Could not find anything ‘easy’ about 14C except a pretty dense article in Google books about the nutrient cycles in the lake following the eruption. And lots of stuff from creationists about it. I do not know (did not look) to see if 14C came out low, but that would not be surprising if the lake had stirred up deep sediment – an important feature for understanding nutrient cycles in the lake, but naturally such a thing would be distorted by the YEC. 14C is used for other things besides dating material. Here is the link in case anyone is interested. Hope it works.

  13. “CRH” quote:-

    various forms of canon/radiometric dating

    Is that meant to be carbon? Suggests to me that “CRH” had to look up the term & saw the rb letter combination as an n shape. Demonstrating s/he delved no deeper than some creationist blurb or else s/he’d have spotted the error.

    1. I recently (due to the Nye debate) came across the arguments against radiometric dating at another website. This caused me to do a Google search on the string “mt st helens radiometric dating”. Of the first two pages of results only one ( was not by a young earth creationist.

  14. Re recorded history being only 6,000 years old, that ignores numerous cave paintings, such as El Castillo in Spain, which dates to 40,000 years ago. These were clearly attempts to tell stories, possibly to record actual events.

    My mother had the privilege of being one of the first people to visit Lascaux shortly after the second world war, when it was just a cave anybody could walk into. She described it as a revelatory experience. By incredible coincidence, upon their exiting the cave, a full solar eclipse was in progress. Fortunately my mother is not the superstitious type, but it’s easy to see how one could presume supernatural forces at work in such a situation.

    1. When my wife was a student (just before heading to grad school in the 70s) she spent a summer digging with Francois Bordes at Pech de l’Azé. Lascaux was not far away. They had the chance to go into it but didn’t take it because on that day everyone was exhausted from working. She still regrets that youthful mistake.

  15. I think it’s ironic that “flora” doesn’t seem to realize that she’s “judging” JAC for “judging” Mother Theresa!

  16. “But writing was only invented about 5200 years ago.”
    Some recent excavations in Jiahu, China have come up with bones with pictographic inscriptions and dated them at well over 8000 years old.

    It is apparently controversial among palaeographers whether the signs can be called a writing system, but looking at them as a calligrapher – someone who specialises in the act of writing – the signs are clearly fairly well developed in form and I’d consider this evidence of systematic use.

  17. One argument for evolution that I like to use, but don’t recall having seen (even in WEIT, but I might be mistaken) is this: All the mechanisms for evolution have been found in our biology and molecular biology. The pictures and models of the DNA molecule are just one outstanding example of these mechanisms. So how would you stop it from happening? It is as inevitable as a stone falling under gravity. If a god created us and all the creatures, does he then continuously and miraculously intervene to stop the mechanism that he himself created? Seems pretty stupid.

        1. I didn’t mean to suggest that you were. I just got ahead of myself with google and copy/paste and picked the wrong URL to embed.

          ‘Twas all my fault, this misunderstanding.

    1. I too like to put things in a similar way: Given that mutations will happen and cannot be prevented, given that some mutations are beneficial, and that others cause populations to breed separately, then evolution and speciation are inevitable. It would take an intervention to stop evolution from happening.

  18. I’m not convinced that drug addiction is a disease. That’s the argument explicitly stated by Herbert Fingarette, Jeffrey Schaler, and Gene Heyman. Stanton Peele has also said that the belief that addiction is a disease “is a harmful fantasy.” I’m persuaded: I don’t see how engaging in voluntary acts — the ingestion of exogenous substances (no matter the frequency) — could ever be a disease. Think of it this way: is there any disease — diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, leukemia, malaria, diphtheria, acne (I could go on) — in which voluntary acts are required in order for the disease in question to exist? I can’t think of any. People might cite obesity. I disagree. Being grossly overweight can cause disease, but the act of becoming obese is not a disease.

    And as far as I can tell, it appears that Carl Hart implicitly maintains that chronic drug habits are not diseases. Here’s an interview he did with Amy Goodman:

    1. The view that addictions are a ‘disease’ of the mind has merit, since they cannot be stopped once it takes sufficient hold on your ability to choose your actions. Your very ability to make choices to not partake becomes undermined. I know from some experience, and believe me, an addiction can make a total monkey out of you. This is of course setting aside the discussion hereabouts that we have no free will anyway.
      Even if the view is in error, it is still a useful perspective to have since it creates a mind set that can save a life: Do Not Go It Alone. Get Treatment. Do Not Blame the Addict. Help the Addict.

    2. Anorexia nervosa involves voluntarily not eating enough, if you can call something “voluntary” that someone would not contemplate when in their right mind. Whether you would call it a “disease” or not, just depends on definition.

      Similarly with addiction, I don’t see that whether you call it a disease or not, makes much difference to anything. Either way the results are just as unpleasant.

    3. There are any number of pathogens that wouldn’t exist without the voluntary behaviors that transmit them: STDs, food-borne parasites, prion diseases, and so on.

  19. The terminalogy has become much simplified from what I learned back in them there olden days.
    Disease – caused by germ
    Syndrome – genetic
    Illness – body parts failing
    Addiction – physical dependance on chemical
    Disorder – physiology outside normal responses

    1. The notion of “physical dependence” can be a tricky one. To be sure, some long-term heavy drinkers need medical assistance when weaning themselves off alcohol. A sudden withdrawal from booze can be fatal for some people.

      But the broad notion os physical dependence isn’t true. Some diabetics truly are dependent on insulin for survival; epileptics truly are dependent on anti-convulsants. But there is no person in the history of the world who can be said to be “dependent” on cocaine or heroin or nicotine because the ingestion of these substances aren’t necessary for biological survival.

      1. It is nice to learn that addiction doesn’t really exist at all! You should publish that! Countless addicts will be much relieved!

      2. What? So the documented phenomenon of people with severe headaches over using some medications (like Tylenol) and getting a rebound headache isn’t evidence of physical addiction to the pain medication? Or people who take laxatives and when they stop, their bowels don’t work properly because the bowels get used to the medication – that’s not true either?

        1. It’s amazing, isn’t it! Think of all the people who no longer have a problem to deal with? (except moral failure for not choosing correctly, I suppose)

          1. I for one am going to drink coffee with abandon & no longer worry about the caffeine withdrawal headache if I suddenly find myself without caffeine!

        2. Addiction is a real phenomenon, as I noted when I said some heavy drinkers need medical assistance when getting weaned off alcohol. I’m just saying that addiction isn’t a disease.

          1. Unfortunately, in general parlance these days it is either a disease or a moral weakness. So if something isn’t a disease it is because of sin. It also means that medical intervention for your life-style choices should not be part of health plans.

  20. I like “AL verum”, who starts by saying “recorded history” only goes back 4000-6000 years… then says it goes back 6000-8000 years… then says recorded history is “less than 10000 years old”.

    All of that in the course of one, relatively short post. And they are all inaccurate, to boot.

    I can’t imagine what kind of epistemic bubbles these people must live in.

  21. In Oz we have ‘pecks paste’ which I think is a fish paste often spread on toast.
    Actually, I haven’t seen it for years so it might no longer exist.

        1. Well, I just looked up Garum and now I want some.
          As I love cooking and eating South East Asian food, I use a lot of fish sauce (the Thai brand confusingly called ‘Squid’ is the best).
          This is normally fish (AFAIK anchovies are a common variety used) that is mixed with salt and pressed while being fermented in large wooden vats for months.

          1. I always imagine maggots getting in it though it’s unlikely. Maggots have standards! 😀

        2. Talking about Garam Masala, it always amuses me when I see those little bottles of it on sale in supermarkets.
          The whole point of GM is to dry-roast whole spices and then grind them when cool.
          This is important because the oils in the spices which gives them their flavour start to degrade quickly once they are ground.
          If you imagine how long ago the spices were ground in those little bottles, it completely negates the reason for using it.

          1. Absolutely! I always make my own garam masala.
            Diane and other GTAians might be interested to know that there is an incredibley good new Indian restaurant on St. Clair West called Pukka. Ate there this evening.

          2. So you are now the only person I know (other than myself) that makes their own.
            Can we be best friends? 🙂

          3. The garum I’m talking about is Ancient Roman. But, there is a really good Indian restaurant in Waterloo if you ever go there called Masala Bay. Stephen Hawking even ate there when he was at the Perimeter Institute, but I knew it was cool before he did!

      1. Thanks ” awfully”. And you can even get it from Woolworth’s online! I don’t think Woolworth’s exists any more in North America, does it?

        1. My (dubious) pleasure.:)

          I don’t know if the North American Woolworth still exists. But it was always a totally separate outfit to the Australian Woolworths company.

          1. I used to go there with my grandfather on 1.44 day (don’t know if this was just a Canadian thing).

            I also have shopped for groceries at the Australian Woolworths. 🙂

  22. An unsurprising (if depressing) round of the incoherent ramblings of the ill-informed or flat-out ignorant.
    One point bears a few seconds commentary :

    questions about how anything survived millions of years ago when the moon would have been so close that massive tides would have swept the earth (fact that the moon is leaving earth so much every year)

    With the “Giant Impact Hypophesis” being the front-runner in the “How Did the Moon Form” Stakes, people do see a problem here. Most versions of the GI hypothesis have the impact occurring in the first few dozens of millions of years of the existence of the Earth (and other rocky parts of the inner solar system ; the gas giants were probably still accreting at this time). IF the Moon self-assembled from the impact debris a little outside the Roche Limit (which varies with the density ratio of the primary and secondary … between 2 and 3 times the primary diameter in the absence of better information about densities), then yes, it would have induced very large tides. But they’d have been in the solid rock of the Earth’s body, as this was considerably before the arrival of the Earth’s few hundredth’s of a percent (By mass) of water.
    Also, this high tide period would not have lasted for a long time ; the process of raising tides on the Earth’s surface produces a tidal peak which gets dragged ahead of the Earth’s sub-lunar point (the intersection of the line joining the centres of the Earth and Moon with the Earth’s surface). This peak then exerts a torque on the Moon, and transfers angular momentum from the Earth to the Moon, leading to an increasing radius of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth. And the process is continuing – at a couple of cm/year on the Moon’s orbit. The rate of momentum transfer is strongly affected by the separation of the bodies, and in the early months (literally) of the Moon’s construction, the Moon would have been receding at a rate visible from lunation to lunation. (It gets hard to talk of days and months, as the rotation period of the Earth around it’s axis, and of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth, are variables in the system.)
    There is a lot of room for genuine confusion here – it’s a complex system. I know that I don’t understand it well, but that I’d have to go back to uni for several years to get my maths up to handling the system. So, don’t take my word for it ; hie thee back to the math classroom and check the models for yourself.
    Oh, sorry, “Mark” applies the shotgun to his other foot :

    Or the fact that when the earth was young and the primordial soup alledgedly was created the young sun was larger in diameter and would have heated the earth like venus.

    [SIGH]The young Sun was fainter than the present Sun. It’s the accumulation of unreactive helium in the core that is driving the slow increase in temperature of the entire Sun. Keeping a spherical shell of hydrogen fusion around that inert core results in the fusion locus moving towards the surface. Which we experience as increasing solar illumination.
    And it’s probably only a billion or two years before that increasing temperature renders the planet uninhabitable. Unless we move the planet.

      1. Nice!

        Oh, I do hope not!
        It was a deliberate attempt to expose the comprehensive weakness of comprehension and study of the least ding-bat of the crowd of “specimens” (the most polite word I can think of ; normally reserved for perfectly respectable bags full of wet and muddy rock. But I’ll lower the term to this person too, because it’s really hard to hurt a rock’s feelings.).
        That’s really not a nice thing to do. It’s the intellectual equivalent of “Kick ‘im! Inna fork!”

  23. Can you name an actual piece of evidence that validates evolution?

    My sister and I do not look exactly like our parents, and I have more kids than she does.

    There. That’s evidence for descent with modification and differential reproductive success in one simple, easy-to-read sentence.

  24. I find the “pox on both your houses” group to be among the most frustrating, presuming that they actually believe what they say.

    Imagine someone saying anything as ridiculous as “Of course I don’t believe babies come from the stork, but this ‘sexual reproduction’ idea sounds fishy too.”

    Of course I think it’s much more likely they’re simply creationists attempting a more disingenuous version of the claim that both religious and scientific views are equally faith-based (they aren’t).

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