Jason Lisle Discovered a Planet!

You’re going to be hearing about this for a long time, so get used to it. We learned about it from one of our clandestine operatives, code-named “Blue Grass.”

The amazing headline is Creationist discovers new planet using data from Kepler spacecraft. It appears at the website of The Christian Times, which has a comments section. They describe themselves like this:

The mission of The Christian Times is to report on Christian-related news and events nationwide and worldwide. … We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

Let’s find out what The Christian Times reveals. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

A Christian astrophysicist in Texas has discovered a new planet seven times bigger than Earth while analyzing data from the Kepler spacecraft. Dr. Jason Lisle, the director of physical sciences at the Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research, announced the discovery in May after he analyzed a measurable drop in the brightness of the host star KPLR 7826659, during a period in which the planet crossed in front of the star.

Jason Lisle discovered a planet? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! As you all know, he’s the creationist astrophysicist who used to be employed by Answers in Genesis (AIG), ol’ Hambo’s online ministry. For reasons which have never been explained, Jason left AIG a few years ago to go to the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom.

Our last post about him was: Jason Lisle’s Extra-Solar Planet Predictions. That was almost a month ago, and he may have already known about his planetary discovery at the time. The Christian Times says:

The Kepler spacecraft, launched in 2009 for the purpose of researching stars and exoplanets in the Milky Way, records the brightness of 145,000 stars using a photometer and transmits the data back to Earth. Lisle explained that thousands of planets have been discovered orbiting stars by analyzing the data from the spacecraft.

Yes, and as far as we know, creationists played no part in the design or implementation of Kepler, and certainly not in the conception of its mission. But somehow, Jason used their data to find a planet. The Christian Times tells us:

KPLR 7826659 had already been marked as a “potential candidate” in the Kepler archives, but nothing has been published to confirm that there is a planet orbiting the celestial body. “That’s what made this one very exciting for me as I’m apparently the first to confirm that there is a real planet orbiting that star,” Lisle stated.

Ah, now we understand. The Kepler data is being made available to everyone at this website: Discover new planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy! Amateurs — and even creationists like Jason — are encouraged to view the data to look for likely planets. Over 12,000 people have signed up to give it a try, and Jason appears to be one of them. They’re given a quick tutorial and are then asked to plow through data on thousands of stars recently observed. PhysOrg had a story six weeks ago about another amateur discovery: Exoplanet discovery by an amateur astronomer shows the power of citizen science.

The Christian Times news story continues:

Lisle noted that the newly discovered planet is almost as large as Jupiter, and yet, it orbits quite close to its star, which he says runs “contrary to secular expectations, but perfectly consistent with the diversity that the Lord has built into His universe.”

“Contrary to secular expectations”? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! There are a few more paragraphs, but they contain no actual news, so this is where we leave The Christian Times. Now we wait for the inevitable babbling from creationist news sites about how Jason used the bible to find a new planet, thus proving its perfect accuracy in all scientific matters. This is going to be fun!

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Creationist Wisdom #773: Witch Trials & Science

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the State Journal-Register of Springfield, Illinois, the state capital. It’s titled Doubting can be dangerous, and the newspaper has a comments feature.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Mick. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

It wasn’t just out-of-control religion that fueled the Salem witch trials. The leading instigator, Cotton Mather, was a scientist.

What? Let’s read on:

He was elected to the London Royal Society, the world’s most prestigious scientific body. Isaac Newton was a member. Cotton’s father, also a witch trial instigator, was president of Harvard.

We had to visit Wikipedia’s article on Cotton Mather. To our surprise, Wikipedia says:

Cotton Mather, FRS [Fellow of the Royal Society] (February 12, 1663 – February 13, 1728) … was a socially and politically influential New England Puritan minister, prolific author, and pamphleteer. He left a scientific legacy due to his hybridization experiments and his promotion of inoculation for disease prevention, though he is most frequently remembered today for his vigorous support for the Salem witch trials. He was subsequently denied the Presidency of Harvard College which his father Increase had held.

How did a crazed, witch hanging preacher get involved with smallpox inoculation? Wikipedia informs us:

In 1706, Mather’s slave, Onesimus, explained to Mather how he had been inoculated as a child in Africa. Mather was fascinated by the idea. By July 1716, he had read an endorsement of inoculation by Dr Emanuel Timonius of Constantinople in the Philosophical Transactions. Mather then declared, in a letter to Dr John Woodward of Gresham College in London, that he planned to press Boston’s doctors to adopt the practice of inoculation should smallpox reach the colony again.

Okay, we learned something new about Cotton Mather. After that, Mick tells us what we already knew:

The trials were a horrible miscarriage of justice. If you denied the accusation you were working with the devil, you were hung. If you confessed and accused others, your accomplices, you were acquitted.

We know. We’ve written about the Salem witch trials of of 1692-3 before — see Salem and Philadelphia: A Tale of Two Cities. Mick continues:

Science is better today [yeah, we’ve given up conducting witch trials] but some “scientists” show the same rage when their work is questioned.

Lordy, lordy — this guy is serious about blaming the witch trials on science! Not even Jack Chick did that — see Jack Chick & the Salem Witch Trials. Now Mick tells us about another scientist who went astray:

Rajendra Pachauri, once chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, defended with anger their report that contained the wild statement that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. He seemed reluctant to see the date changed 300 years. The Panel said, just a typo.

We know nothing about that incident, but it hardly compares to the Salem witch trials. Mick thinks otherwise. Let’s read on:

Hard to have confidence in anything done by the supposed leading science in the world, even if just a typo.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! And now we come to the end:

Questioners of other scientist’s work have been threatened with prosecution. Doubting is still a dangerous position to take, even in a democracy.

What can we say? Mick seems to think that climate change deniers — and undoubtedly evolution deniers too — are taking a big risk, because scientists are all like Cotton Mather, witch burners at heart.

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Discovery Institute — Their Most Brazen Post Ever?

Unplug your irony meters, folks. This headline just appeared at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: Correcting Disinformation on Academic Freedom Legislation.

The Discoveroids want to “correct disinformation?” BWAHAHAHAHAHA! If you read their founding manifesto — see What is the “Wedge Document”? – you’ll see that their sole purpose is disinformation. Specifically regarding their model Academic Freedom Act, all the world knows that it’s an anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism piece of legislative slime. We’ve critiqued it here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

Their new “Correcting Disinformation” post was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

Our colleague Sarah Chaffee [“Savvy Sarah” to us], who is Program Officer for Education and Public Policy for the Center for Science & Culture, has an excellent piece up at CNS News, correcting some of the rampant misrepresentations of the content of academic freedom legislation around the country. She charitably calls them misconceptions.

This is Savvy Sarah’s article: Scientific Inquiry – Not Opinion – Should Triumph in Schools and the Media. Klinghoffer quotes from it and then says:

The issue centers on what the legislation protects and what it doesn’t. Academic freedom is not about teaching creationism or intelligent design.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! After that he tells us:

I’ve noticed that misrepresentations of this legislation are often accompanied by citations of the Darwin-lobbying group National Center for Science Education (NCSE). In fact, while I haven’t made a formal study of it, my impression is that that is almost always the case.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We’ve noticed that actual misrepresentations about such legislation are always made by its promoters — the Discoveroids and their mindless lackeys in state legislatures.

Next, Klinghoffer complains about the article in Nature that we wrote about in Discovery Institute — Propaganda Whiplash. He says that Nature:

… quotes Glenn Branch of the NCSE, brandishing their favorite scare word (“The strategies of creationists have gotten more sophisticated”). [Klinghoffer put the word “creationists” in bold font.]

Get ready for Klinghoffer’s final paragraph. If your irony meter hasn’t blown out yet, it will now:

You have to hand it to these people [NCSE, presumably]. As champions of disinformation, with science and education reporters all but taking dictation, they are pretty impressive.

So there you are, dear reader. In the Bizarro World of the Discoveroids, on one hand you have Klinghoffer and the Discoveroids, desperately attempting to improve science education, and on the other hand you have the “champions of disinformation” like Glenn Branch and that “Darwin-lobbying group” NCSE.

Is anybody fooled by this nonsense? No. Creationists understand that the Discoveroids are on their side, and science-minded people know that the Discoveroids are a pack of creationists. Posts like Klinghoffer’s are part of the game — and for those who are concerned about integrity, they’re also very revealing.

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2017 Gallup Poll on Evolution

The last time we posted about one of these was 2014 Gallup Poll on Evolution. The results of the Gallup Organization’s latest poll are online here: In US, Belief in Creationist View of Humans at New Low. That’s an encouraging headline! We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The percentage of U.S. adults who believe that God created humans in their present form at some time within the last 10,000 years or so — the strict creationist view — has reached a new low. Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults now accept creationism, while 57% believe in some form of evolution — either God-guided or not — saying man developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life.

It’s chilling that 38% are flat-out creationists, but the good news is that it used to be even worse. This is the question they ask each time they poll on this subject:

Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?

1. Human beings developed over millions of years, but God guided this process.

2. Human beings developed over millions of years, but God had no part in this process.

3. God created man in his present form.

They have a chart showing the poll results on the same question starting in 1982. For question 1 (theistic evolution), the results were originally 38%. That number has bounced around since then, but this year it’s still 38%. For question 2 (non-theistic evolution) in 1982 the result was only 9%. This year it’s up to a whopping 19%. For question 3 (hard-core drooling creationism) it was 44% in 1982, and now that’s down to only 38% (the same as for question 1).

Regarding those numbers, they say:

This is the first time since 1982 — when Gallup began asking this question using this wording — that belief in God’s direct creation of man has not been the outright most-common response. Overall, roughly three-quarters of Americans believe God was involved in man’s creation — whether that be the creationist view based on the Bible or the view that God guided the evolutionary process, outlined by scientist Charles Darwin and others. Since 1982, agreement with the “secular” viewpoint, meaning humans evolved from lower life forms without any divine intervention, has doubled.

Regarding education, they tell us:

Higher education levels are associated with less support for creationism and higher levels of belief in the evolutionary explanation for human origins. Belief in creationism is 21% among those with postgraduate education versus 48% of those with no more than a high school diploma. Agreement with evolution without God’s involvement is 31% among postgrads versus 12% among Americans with a high school education or less. However, even among adults with a college degree or postgraduate education, more believe God had a role in evolution than say evolution occurred without God.

Then they have a chart that shows the results broken down by education, religious preference, and church attendance. About those numbers they say:

Views by people’s religious preferences or lack thereof paint an illuminating picture as well. More Catholics believe that humans evolved but God guided the process (45%) than believe in the creationist viewpoint (37%). Creationism is still the view that half of Protestants and other Christians (50%) hold, but it is not dominant, with 39% saying humans essentially evolved with God’s guidance.

As for those with no religious preference, 57% report a belief that does not involve God, while only 9% are creationists. Not surprisingly, 65% of those who attend church weekly believe in the creationist view, while those who attend church less regularly have less consensus on the question of human origins.

There’s more to it, but you’ll probably want to click over there to study the results for yourself. It appears that some progress has been made, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. The Controversy will be with us for a long time.

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