Still Waiting for Jason Lisle’s “Starlight” Paper

THE whole world is anxiously awaiting the publication of a scientific paper about which we wrote here: Creation Scientist Overthrows Einstein’s Relativity.

You will recall that Jason Lisle, Ph.D., a creationist astrophysicist employed by of Answers in Genesis (AIG), announced that he had a soon-to-be-completed solution to the Distant Starlight problem. The problem — for young-earth creationists — is that the light we see from distant sources required literally billions of years to reach earth, yet the creationist’s universe is only 6,000 years old.

Jason objected to our skepticism, informing us that: “I have already submitted the paper to the Answers Research Journal, and the senior editor has already sent it out to experts for peer-review.” If you’ve been following this saga, you already know that the Answers Research Journal, like the Creation Museum, is part of the creationism conglomerate run by Ken Ham.

In response, we posted Jason Lisle Defends His Unpublished Paper. That was a month ago. We’ve been hoping to read Jason’s paper, but it hasn’t yet appeared at the AIG website. While we’re all waiting, we thought it would be instructive to learn about the rigorous peer-review process which papers submitted to Ken Ham’s journal must undergo.

We found this Instructions to Authors Manual at the journal’s web page. It’s a 16-page pdf file, and it has some useful information for authors. We were particularly curious about the journal’s peer-review process, and this is what we found, with bold font added by us:

[Page 3:] The following items are required upon the submission of an author’s first draft of their paper:

A. Submitted to the Editor-in-Chief at His Email Address

1. Paper’s First Draft—Send copy of your first draft (formatted as per the instructions below) to the editor-in-chief as attached files to an email.

2. Reviewer List — Along with your first draft send to the editor-in-chief a completed Suggested Reviewers Form. List at least three (3) names of experts in the field of your paper’s topic.

To your Curmudgeon’s knowledge, when submitting a paper to a science journal, an author may suggest reviewers, but their choice is the exclusive province of the journal’s editors. We’re not aware of any journal that requires a list of suggested reviewers as part of the article submission process. AIG does it differently.

The manual has one other item about their review procedure. On page 9 there’s a section titled: “Paper Review Process.” It’s quite interesting:

Upon the reception of a paper the editor-in-chief will follow the procedures below:
A. Receive and acknowledge to the author the paper’s receipt.
B. Review the paper for possible inclusion into the ARJ review process.

The following criteria will be used in judging papers:
1. Is the paper’s topic important to the development of the Creation and Flood model?
2. Does the paper’s topic provide an original contribution to the Creation and Flood model?
3. Is this paper formulated within a young-earth, young-universe framework?
4. If the paper discusses claimed evidence for an old earth and/or universe, does this paper offer a very constructively positive criticism and provide a possible young-earth, young-universe alternative?
5. If the paper is polemical in nature, does it deal with a topic rarely discussed within the origins debate?
6. Does this paper provide evidence of faithfulness to the grammatical-historical/normative interpretation of Scripture? [Reference omitted.]

Immediately after that we see this “Remark”:

The editor-in-chief will not be afraid to reject a paper if it does not properly satisfy the above criteria or it conflicts with the best interests of AiG as judged by its biblical stand and goals outlined in its statement of faith.

This is AIG’s Statement of Faith. So there you are. We continue to wait for Jason’s paper. When we finally see it — assuming it qualifies for publication in the AIG journal — we’ll judge it on its scientific merits.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “Still Waiting for Jason Lisle’s “Starlight” Paper

  1. Actually, it’s not at all unusual to be asked for names of suggested reviewers and (even more importantly) names of people whom you specifically don’t want reviewing a paper (for reasons of prejudice or conflict-of-interest). That doesn’t mean that your suggestions will be followed, but it does give an editor a starting point.

  2. Patience, Curmie. Peer review does take some time. Lisle is probably haggling with the reviewers over important issues, like how many angels can dance of a period (“.”) in 12 pt. arial font.
    Or possibly, just possibly, one or more of the reviewers actually criticized it. Now that would be a fun thing to see! Where is the Climategate leaker when we really need them?

  3. Don’t worry, Curmster. If the paper doesn’t pass review it will end up as a book. I’m sure Lisle can come up with enough nonsensical filler to expand his one paragraph length paper into a fair sized paper weight.

  4. retiredsciguy

    Since Jason Lisle, Ph.D. was to supply the names of three reviewers in his field, therein lies the problem. His field is Young Earth/Young Universe Astrophysics, and he is the only Young Earth/Young Universe Astrophysicist in the universe.

  5. SY says:

    Actually, it’s not at all unusual to be asked for names of suggested reviewers and (even more importantly) names of people whom you specifically don’t want reviewing a paper (for reasons of prejudice or conflict-of-interest).

    Apparently so, and I’ll fix up my post. I found this: the editorial process at Nature‘s website:

    Nature welcomes authors’ suggestions for suitable independent referees (with their contact details), but editors are free to decide themselves who to use as referees. Nature editors will normally honour requests that a paper not be sent to one or two (but no more) competing groups for review.

  6. Gabriel Hanna

    I don’t know of any physics journal that only publishes results that fit a theory chosen in advance. No one, for example, requires you to show that your research advances the Cophenagen interpretation.

    They do have some kind of scientific review process at AIG; some smartasses tried to submit obviously bogus papers to them in the hopes they’d publish it, ala Sokal:

  7. Gabriel Hanna says:

    … some smartasses tried to submit obviously bogus papers to them …

    Hmmmmm. The would-be scammer is described as a “PhD materials scientist,” which is very suspicious.

  8. Gabriel Hanna

    “PhD materials scientist,” which is very suspicious.

    I don’t know why you’d say that. Some of my best friends are materials scientists, though I’d be uncomfortable with having my sister date one; it’s a perfectly legitimate field.

    As for the identity of the scammer, I for one have enough on my plate with writing real papers.

  9. Too bad AIG “Research” doesn’t have a fast track.

    That way Lisle’s Starlight Express would see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel.”

  10. I think hell will freeze over before this paper comes to “light.”

  11. cnocspeireag

    I,m sure AIG will have no difficulty finding enough peer reviewers. After all, if you’re a lying shyster, your peers are lying shysters and AIG is hardly lacking in those.

  12. Is this the surfer Ph.D that was featured on “Through the Wormhole” with Morgan Freeman?

    I found that show very open to the C/ID position and the surfer Ph.D (I think is Lisle) was somewhat… strange. He said that he didn’t go into acadamia because of the rigid structure of thought in university. Instead he sits on the beach with a laptop and writes this papers.

  13. The surfer physicist was Garret Lisi. Not at all related to our friend Jason Lisle. Garret is not a theist of any sort, as far as I know.

    This is his web site.

  14. Starlight, star bright
    No paper in two fortnights
    Creationists could gain more insight
    spending their time reading Science and Nature‘s websites

  15. I started counting the errors in this article but after a few sentences I lost count. The only true statement I’ve seen thus far is that Dr. Lisle hasn’t put his paper out for EVERYONE to see.

    To point out a few major flaws in this article: the young-earth creation theory is not the only one with the “distant starlight problem”. The evolution theory timescale also does not account for time required for the most distant stars visible to reach Earth.

    Dr. Lisle’s paper will not disagree with the Theory of Relativity, and in fact will lean heavily on it.

    And of course he will not submit his paper for secular peer review. He is one of many in his field that accept that the world makes scientific sense only in light of the Bible (biblical creation especially) being true. Since his paper will not accept an evolutionary timescale as assumed fact, no secular scientist will officially agree with it. That has far more to do with personal beliefs (if you personally believe billions of years for ANY reason, that’s a personal belief) than it does physical evidence.

  16. Right. Okay, goodbye, Lukas.