Creationist “lab” probably staged, but certainly unused

August 19, 2014 • 7:53 am

A while back some creationist group did a video that showed one of their members in front of a lab, giving an air of scientific authority to their “research.” (Of course, IDers’ and other creationists’ “research” usually consists of finding pseudo-problems with evolution; they almost never do actual hands-on work in the lab or field.) At any rate, somebody found out that the lab was actually “green-screened,” that is, it was not really the place where the creationist was interviewed, but was simply faked as a background by projecting it onto a screen behind the speaker. (I can’t recall the post I did about that, or the source, but I trust some reader will come through.)

A few days ago I posted about the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in Dallas, for the Dallas Morning News had done a piece on it. The piece included an uncritical video about the ICR, a video extracted and sent by alert reader and militant anti-creationist Doc Bill (aka the staff of Kink the Cat). Here’s the link to the video, which is short. Pay attention to the interview with ICR’s “Research Director” Jason Lisle, and especially to his appearance in front of a “white board” at about 1:15.

Doc noticed something funny about that white board, and tried to take a screenshot. But every time he stopped the video, it went black. Finally, he managed to take a screenshot of the white board on the fly, and here it is behind Lisle:

ID Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 5.57.16 PM
Now look at that and tell me if it’s real. A real lab’s boards have equations, experimental designs, and so on, but I’ll be damned if I understand anything on that board. It all appears to be fabricated to look scientific (I may be wrong, of course).  Notice, too, the list at the upper right:
—Dino’s [JAC: is that a grocer’s apostrophe?]
—Rocket Man
Maybe these are notes that creationists made in their “researches,”  but I suspect that they’re simply put up to give the shot an air of being “science-y”
And remember the ICR “lab”? No active research “wet lab” looks like that. Nothing is happening in the space shown below, that’s clear:
So I challenge Lisle and the ICR: is that your lab, or someone else’s? If it’s yours, why isn’t any research going on there, despite your claim that you have “Ph.D researchers” working on validating the truth claims of Scripture? If it’s not your lab, why did you pretend it was?
And if the stuff on the white board is really “research,” what does it mean? What is “Dino’s”?  Does that refer to a drink that belonged to Dean Martin?
Anyway, you might amuse yourself by figuring out what all the stuff on the white board means.


154 thoughts on “Creationist “lab” probably staged, but certainly unused

  1. Just a guess: if this IS about creationism, then “Dino’s” might mean “dinosaurs” [with the unnecessary apostrophe that people insist on including in plurals]. No idea about the rest of it. This could be a game–come up with an explanation of this.

    1. I see I somehow missed your line “you might amuse yourself by figuring out what all the stuff on the white board means” and said the same thing. I’m getting old.

    2. They were probably hypothesizing about the Flinstones. Dino was the ‘dog’. Rocket man was the Great Gazoo.

      1. You just lack the depth to properly appreciate a true classic, interpreted by the world’s greatest thespian at the height of his powers. It was truly a career-defining moment, this… and note the expressive and forward-thinking use of musical synthesizers. Not dated at all. This holds up very well to the test of time…

        1. That was fairly awesome, in a variety of ways. But then, I love just about all varieties of cheese. I am a cheesehead.

  2. See that microscope? That’s Science.
    They’re actively researching how to fleece the Templeton people out of another couple of million.

      1. And please don’t notice that YEC and ID are incompatible. Unite against a common enemy. Nothing to see here! Just smile and wave, boys, smile and wave.

        1. If we were to listen to the postmodernists, and we really shouldn’t, everything – including science – is subject to literary interpretation.

          1. Not the postmodernists no.. There is a difference between science and “science”. Science is what people like jerry do,with rejection of hypothesis the primary aim. “science” is what people like the ICR do, where the answer is already known, they are only pretending to look for it. It would be fun therefore, if the creationists found out that they were correct, but it was not G*D but Xenu who was responsible for everything. I would really like to know how they’d spin that.

          2. everything – including science – is subject to literary interpretation

            Including postmodernism?

            It’s an exemplar of the self-contradiction in the thought that “everything is relative,” itself an absolute, and therefore self-refuting.

            I can haz philosophy with my cheezburger?

            1. Thus my favorite retort to (especially dogmatic agnostics) who insist that you can’t prove a negative: care to try to prove that there aren’t any nonexistence proofs?


  3. These were my thoughts as well… some of the basic items of a molecular biology lab are missing, but the items we do see on display are the CHEAPEST items you can purchase, like the low-end centrifuge on the bench near a sink, the vacuum pig, low end stereomicroscope. I think there’s an incubator in the background there, but, again, the kind you might see in a high school bio lab.

    Missing are the pipettors, tip boxes, 1.5 mL Eppendorf tubes, any evidence of autoclaving, and buffers for any kind of electrophoresis. I couldn’t do much in this lab beyond extract a little DNA using a column kit.

    It’s a showpiece lab with cheap props, and it’s being shown by an astronomer. Given that Jason Lisle has a PhD in astrophysics, maybe HE is the Rocket Man? How is the creationist space program going, anyway?

      1. There can’t be one. Didn’t you know that the bible states that everything above us is mounted on a celestial dome god set over the Earth?

    1. And nothing’s plugged in. Even the lamp cord is hanging limp.

      Of course, in my day we hoisted our experiments up through the skylight during raging thunderstorms.

    2. I’ll thank you to not mock the “low end” centrifuge. When I was in grad school, I brought an ancient microfuge back to life with just a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and some voodoo. I think it had a 12 tube capacity, but it was enough to pellet DNA.

    3. This has the look of an instructional lab. The research labs I’ve seen have a “lived-in” look and the shelves and benches are much more cluttered.

  4. Well, they have a Qiagen vacuum manifold (a.k.a. “the blue pig” as we call it my lab), so they must really be cranking out small scale plasmid preps, which means lots of screening of E. coli transformants. I wonder what they’re cloning?

    1. That’s what I thought too. Perhaps they are trying to determine if the centre spot is really the best move.

  5. The tic-tac-toe pattern on the right might be a quick sketch relating to a DNA sequence alignment. The bulls-eye pattern is probably an atom with an electron moving to a lower energy level.

    1. Right, because molecular biologists need to be well versed in molecular orbital theory for the work they do every day.

      1. So what moved the first electron to the higher orbital in the first place? An un-caused cause? Gotcha, physicists!

  6. This is a fine-tuned universe where A = 3 and B = 2: and where AB = 15. That explains it: all you physicists have been looking in the wrong place.


      1. Well, according to these IDers AB = 15, while to the rest of us it’s 6. Therefore the God of the Gaps must be 15 minus 6: which is 9.

        This results in the atheist canard – that the meaning of the universe being 42 – is out by a whopping 33, Jesus’ age at his death. Take a 3 from 33 and you have the Trinity: double 33 and you have 66, the date of the Jewish Revolt: add a 6, and hey presto, the Number of the Beast. Sheeesh. One more proof that God moves in mysterious and delirious ways.


  7. The computer monitor on the left has Outlook or a similar messaging / calendaring application running. The one on the right has a word processor open with paragraphs stylized as one might expect in a business letter. Whatever the person in front of the computer is doing, it’s nothing that you wouldn’t find any low-level clerical worker doing at any company, STEM or otherwise.

    And the scribbles on the whiteboard seem to me to be the result of somebody with no skill in marketing or graphic design or the like calling out for people around him to shout sciency-sounding themes for him to sketch. A billion, an half a billion, and 25 million…what? Φ(m)? And isn’t the integral sign backwards — and how do you use an integral as a function…? I’m no mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that those symbols were pulled out of somebody’s ass.


    1. Where do you spot an integral sign? Generally though I’d say that many blackboard scribblings coming from spontaneous discussions would look nonsensical…

      1. Second line from the top left of center.

        Φ(m)[backwards integral](m) = d

        with a gratuitous large circle underneath the [backwards integral](m)

        …or maybe by eyes are just playing tricks on me….


        1. See my comment in replay to 19.

          I read it as

          Phi I_1 = O(n)
          Phi(n) I(n) = O … erased over

          which sort of makes sense (though notionally inconsistent).

          1. Well, the Flying Spaghetti Monster has informed me that it really is a backwards integral — and, since I’m eating fettuccine alfredo as I type, there’s just simply no way I could possibly be worng.



        2. No, that’s just the same T-sub-something-or-other as in the previous line. (It’s too blurry for me to make out the subscript.)

  8. every wet lab in use has stains around the sink.

    I seem to make out something like “iota” times T subscript 8 equals O times u.

    – 1 B (perhaps 1 Billion?)
    – 500 M (500 million?)
    – 25 M (25 million?)

    and oh, look there is a bell curve of a sort and lots of subscripts and superscripts. Why that *has* to be science doesn’t it? 🙂

    just hilarious to watch more lies for Christ.

  9. The white board looks like it is covered with some of the ideas from a brainstorming session. It isn’t too difficult to imagine someone taking notes at the board while 5 – 10 creationists sit around and try to come up with “sciency-looking” stuff…

  10. Hey, Jerry, thanks for the “militant” tag.

    Kink and I were able to apply for an Army surplus BearCat armored car. Can’t wait to drive it.

  11. Where are the assistant professors, post-docs, grad students, undergrads, and technicians? Probably out to lunch.

  12. I’m curious what a real creationism lab – not that I think one actually exists – would even look like. If the hypothesis is that species were designed, where would one even begin? And, if you’re starting from “Yes, we were designed by a magical entity.”, what is the point? Is it to find out how it was done? Or, to provide evidence for design? It doesn’t seem like it would involve test tubes or microscopes.

  13. It looks vaguely computer science-ish. We have something called “Big O” notation, expressed as O(n^2), for example, to indicate that a search/sort algorithm’s time to completion is proportional to the number of items in a list, squared.

    And I see drawings on the board that look like a linked list.

    1. Seconded. (Although we don’t have a monopoly on Landau notations)

      The part with the phis looks like

      Phi I_1 = O(n)
      Phi(n) I(n) = O … erased over

      It’s inconsistent in the notations (index vs function), but assuming it was also a landau notation that was erased over, it *could* be interpreted as the complexity of some kind of meta-algorithm (parametrized by n). Perhaps the part erased over would be O(n^n) ?

      The fact that it’s notationally inconsistent makes it slightly more likely to be “lived” in my view. Had it been copied out of a book, it would have been consistent. That wouldn’t be out of place on my board; I jot things down messily, changing the notations as the ideas evolve, and the result is undecipherable.

      It’s not at all what I’d expect to find on a biologist’s board, however. But then I haven’t seen any of those.

      Someone mentioned backwards integrals, but I can’t spot that nightjar.

  14. I have no idea what the stuff on the whiteboard is supposed to mean. But to be fair, I often had that same experience with my colleagues’ whiteboards at the software research lab where I used to work.

    It’s not unusual for working scientists to walk into each other’s offices to ask a question, and find an unused corner of whiteboard in which to scribble some cryptic fragment of a diagram or equation that makes sense in the context of that conversation, but is soon forgotten, crossed-out, half-erased, and overwritten by some subsequent, unrelated, and equally cryptic scribble.

    So I think what we’re seeing could well be a genuine running palimpsest of multiple creationist brainstorming sessions whose meaning would be opaque to anyone not party to those conversations. I don’t think we need to resort to deliberate fakery to explain it.

  15. I think the “Dino’s” is the one thing which looks plausible.

    Why? Clearly it (pronounced appropriately) is the name of a local Italian restaurant. Pizza and pasta can be good contributor’s to research in many subjects. 😉

    1. Are you perhaps conflating two 70s songs? “Rocket Man” was by David Bowie. (Ground control to Major Tom.) Elton John did “Crocodile Rock.”

        1. Yes! My mistake! I was conflating two songs myself. When I made the comment, I had it in my head that the chorus of the Elton John song (“I think it’s gonna be a long, long time…”) was the chorus of “Space Oddity.” I realize it until I saw these corrections.

      1. The Bowie song you are thinking of is “Space Oddity”.

        Elton John did indeed have a song called “Rocket Man” (as well as “Crocodile Rock”).

          1. And, while we’re at it, don’t forget Harry Nilsson’s “Space Man” (the best of the three, for my money).

  16. “Hey Johnny, we are gonna shoot a documentary here. See that white board? Make some scribbles to make it look like a science lab … like we are studying dinosaurs, the Solar System, the composition of ice, you know, hard stuff. Make it look like we are doing real rocket science”

  17. It all looks like fake nonsense to me. The ‘equations’ don’t even look mathematical and some of the symbols look fake.

  18. I thought Jason Lisle said he was an astrophysicist. What’s he doing in a lab? Astrophysics was my undergraduate degree, and none of the profs or grad students ever were in a “lab”. On a computer or on a notebook / chalkboard, yes. Lab? No. What’s his background that would have him doing anything in a lab?

    1. Indeed he is an astrophysicist. He received his PhD from – and as a Boulderite I’m ashamed to admit it – the University of Colorado.

      It’s truly a testament to the power of indoctrination that a PhD can be earned in such a field and the receiver still be a believer in ancient mythology.

    2. I admittedly have only one very introductory course in the subject in my background, but lab resources were used. One thing that comes to mind is people desperately trying to over turn what we know about stellar spectra, which would would require lab space to play with prisms and such perhaps. (This is all pretty crazy, of course.)

  19. I was directing a photo shoot in our math department and while we were waiting for everyone to show up, I asked a student to put some relevant figures on the clean blackboard. The chair of the department told the student to take care to not put incorrect stuff up there. “Let’s not be like the movie, ‘A Beautiful Mind,'” he said. He went on to explain that the biopic of John Nash had some real howlers in the problems that were written on the windows. “Everybody laughed,” he said. The chair also told me that there are youTube videos pointing out the absurdities. I never looked the videos up. I wouldn’t know the difference.

    1. Uh huh. Well I certainly will not click on it. Looking at web sites about blackboards can lead to pop-up ads that would be hard to explain.

    2. #11 is awesome …




      ESSAY –
      5000 WORDS

      (btw, I might classify that blog as risque, but still SFW as there is no nudity in the mere two pages of posts, the blog title notwithstanding)

  20. I’ve seen lots of white boards look that way. Here’s why/how:

    1. The owner doesn’t bother erasing something until he/she needs some space. At that time, they just erase the bit of space he/she needs, not the whole thing. This happens many times over the course of several weeks.

    2. Owner uses their white board for non-work discussions at work.

    Combine those two behaviors and pretty soon you’ll have a board full of complete gobbledygook, because each few square inch ‘patch’ reflects a different conversation, and many of them have nothing to do with science or ones’ work.

    Having said that, regardless of whether the board is real in the sense of the text on it existing independently of and prior to the making of the video, ICR doesn’t do real science.

    1. It isn’t.

      Quod erat demonstrandum (my logical and rhetorical skills come from my 23 years as a creationist).

      1. Well, I’m just sayin’, maybe they had an all-night prayer vigil and solved the little problem of the UFT, and are on to the the next big mysteries of life, like how the Kardashians have had a show run for 10 years…

  21. I’m not sure what any of that lab equipment, used or not, has to do with re-hashing bronze age myths, which is the only “research” the DI-guys seem capable of doing.

  22. By the way, I was an electron microscopist, and the only part of my lab that was clean and neat was where the sections were cut and prepared for the microscope. That was necessary because the tiniest bit of dirt, magnified 40,000 times, can obscure what you’re looking for. The rest of my lab was a jumble of glassware, journals, and notebooks.

      1. Well, there go those brain cells!

        Navy, Air Force, engineer, doctor – it appears he wasn’t good at anything which explains working for ICR.

        This video was shot in 2012 or 2013 based on the comments and (c) at the bottom of the page. The lab looks exactly the same. Obviously, they don’t use that room for anything but a backdrop to videos.

  23. I do quite a bit of work for universities in London basically making sure that pressurized equipment like autoclaves are safe to use. A few months ago I was checking some kit in new lab, and remarked to the lab manager how neat and tidy a lab could be before they let scientists loose in it.
    Lisle’s lab looks looks a lot like that lab.

  24. The picture at the bottom looks just like my Junior High School chemistry lab. He probably just went to his J.H.S. (alma mater) and took the vid. 🙂

  25. Rather than the inauthenticity of the lab and the seemingly meaningless writing on the whiteboard, I’m much more outraged by the unconscionable lies in the narration. The ignorant will only focus on the words of the narrator which they will believe without question.

    “Although some of our research is still in progress, we’ve already found that mutation rates are consistent with the biblical time scale of thousands of years. We’ve found that galaxies wrap themselves up far too quickly to be billions of years old. They would be very – very compact by now if they were really that old. Uh, we’ve found that uh – uh that there’s fossil evidence that dinosaurs, for example, lived thousands of years ago not millions and billions. We’ve found C14 in dinosaur fossils and C14 can’t last billions of years. It only lasts a few thousands of years. These are the types of discoveries that we believe confirm biblical creation and are very perplexing to evolutionary colleagues.”

    Such rubbish is absolutely disgusting. If the Bible were true, there would be no need to lie and deceive. That the religious have to resort to such deviousness is evidence that the scripture they hold holy is an anthology of myths and folklore.

  26. It’s so pathetic that these folks that make it their life’s work to try to show that science is wrong, have to make their BS look like science. If science was so wrong, wouldn’t you try to show that your thing was the exact opposite of science & therefore right?

    1. What I don’t understand is how they can spend their time arguing that science is wrong using electromagnetic signals and lasers travelling via wires, fibre optic cables, and even wireless radio signals bounced from satellites to the the participants in a worldwide information network.

      Honestly, how can anyone argue against the validity of science using the internet and not have their head explode?

  27. So how do you do a creationist experiment seriously. Do you get out a petri dish, pray over the type of bacteria you want to grow, maybe different prayers every time and then correlate that with which bacteria turn up. Then you right a paper on how prayer X leads to bacteria Y (p<0.05, power 0.80; n=12).

  28. Under the “MAN” part of rocket Man, there’s a circled word that looks like “base all”. Looks like 20 under that. Down and slightly to the right, is a drawing of a box with two smaller boxes inside it. A baseball diamond (pointed, not round, at 2nd base) inside a stadium? Anyone else get that idea?

    No idea what the 20 means.

  29. Implicit in the claim,”we’ve already found that mutation rates are consistent with the biblical time scale of thousands of years, is the fact that species evolve. If speciation isn’t the result of evolution, there is no point in mentioning mutation rates at all.

    1. Creationist simultaneously don’t believe in evolution while also believing in super fast ‘post ark’ evolution. They use the ‘just think shit up’ approach to science. It stretches to fit any scenario.

  30. The whiteboard is obviously the start of the world’s first cold fusion perpetual motion machine. Real scientists, which readers of this website clearly are not, know this.

  31. isnt’ this a great quote from ICR’s website?

    “ICR does not have a staff person available to answer Bible and science questions, and if your inquiry is of this nature, we will not be able to respond to you.”

    I do love this so much!

  32. Isn’t he an astrophysicist? Their lab would be a telescope, or a computer simulation, or something that would be a lot cooler than this. That looks like an empty chem lab or bi lab, not much like a physics lab.

  33. I was able to make out the e-mail message on the right! It says:

    “OPEN LETTER TO RICHARD DAWKINS”, Montreal, March 2009

    BTW, I almost forgot the answer to the question, ALMOST…

    so there is no transcendent reality, eh?





    This particular piece of *BLACK PROPAGANDA* demonstrated the power of
    the internet to spread an unconventional message to unsuspecting
    targets…It also drove home the point that the supernatural can never
    be eradicated from our existence without a price…

    “Nostradamus predicts the collapse of the capitalist system and the
    world-wide socialist revolution

    did you ever hear of the 1st amendment? or will you censor me like
    everyone you disagree with…

    the vote of the deluded, deceived, and brainwashed masses is not
    valid…. it is a SHAM DEMOCRACY!


    edition 1568 is the Prophetic Work

    see how we stopped the MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE and caused
    the president of American Atheists, Ellen Johnson, to quit her job.

    those headless babbling idiots in Washington and Ottawa are completely
    oblivious to the *REAL WORLD*

    … 😉

  34. I’ve seen plenty of whiteboards around my department that look as scatter-brained as that. People add sketches and doodles a little bit at a time in during discussions—sometimes scientific ones, but often not—and nothing gets erased for years.

  35. I think they’ve confused Elton John’s “Rocket Man” with Bowie’s “Star Man”:

    There’s a starman waiting in the sky
    He’d like to come and meet us
    But he thinks he’d blow our minds

  36. Could we have a whiteboard challenge? A bit hypocritical since I’m posting anonymously and wouldn’t participate, but everyone who feels comfortable posts a picture of their lab whiteboard/blackboard.

    1. That would indeed be funny, but it would probably work best if Jerry made a separate thread for that and collected the pictures.

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