Creationist Wisdom #188: Louisiana Science

Today, dear reader, we bring you a letter-to-the-editor titled Is creationism really the issue?, which appears in the Daily Comet (flashy name, huh?) of Thibodaux, Louisiana — on the banks of Bayou Lafourche in the northwestern part of Lafourche Parish. According to Wikipedia, Thibodaux is nicknamed “Queen City of Lafourche.”

We’ll give you a few excerpts from today’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and as we usually do we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Here we go, with a bit of bold font added for emphasis:

[We’d like to give you some excerpts from the letter, but that paper is being acquired by Stephens Media, and they’re suing bloggers who excerpt their content without permission. So you’ll have to click over there to read it for yourself.]

He’s talking about this: Louisiana Creationism Repeal Fails in Committee. We absolutely love Louisiana — it’s blogger heaven! Let’s read on:


Lordy, lordy. This is another attempt to invoke the Galileo affair in the cause of promoting creationism. Our cup runneth over! It was because of their insane “Galileo maneuver” that we announced Buffoon Award Winner — WorldNetDaily. We won’t repeat here what we said then, but it’s well worth re-reading. We continue with today’s letter:


Skell didn’t win the Nobel Prize. We previously wrote about his embarrassing late-life behavior (see Casey Mourns Loss of Philip Skell). Here’s more from the letter:


Yes, the LSEA is all about science. That’s why it’s modeled after the the Academic Freedom Act promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).

We can’t think of anything else to say.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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23 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #188: Louisiana Science

  1. Curmudgeon: “We can’t think of anything else to say.”

    I can. Let’s see what the letter writer really thinks about “open inquiry” by inviting him to Talk.Origins to challenge geocentrist Tony Pagano on the age and movement of the Earth, and whether Galileo “bravely dissented.”

  2. Frank, are you trying to tell us Tony Pagano is still haunting the halls of T.O? Next you’ll be telling us Sean Pitman is still there too.

    I went to leave a comment but it doesn’t look like they are allowed. The letter writer should be reminded that starting with your conclusion and then looking for, or mashing together, data to match that conclusion, as the Creationists are wont to do, is as far from science as you can get and still be in the local solar system.

  3. Invoking false authority? I’m shocked, shocked!

  4. I wonder why he put “scientific evidence” in scare quotes? Subconscious irony?

    And “dominant consensus bullying”? The writer himself is engaged in a sort of dominant consensus bullying: telling lies frequently and loudly until the lies become the dominant consensus.

  5. @b_sharp

    Tony, who was there when I started lurking in 1998, and was scarce the last few years, came back a few months ago as a “born again geocentrist.” You might recall his trademark, which is to change the subject line with every reply, with a cheap shot against anyone who dares to refute him. Whereas my trademark is to avoid “taking the bait” (& yes, I thank Dembski for that expression) by answering PRATTs (Points Refuted 1000 x for new readers), and instead ask questions about their “theories.” Questions that they’ll do anything to evade.

    Unless I missed a rare one, Pitman hasn’t posted in months. For years he “religiously” evaded my “what happened when” questions. Most people think he’s a YEC, but I think he’s a “big tenter” who privately believes that OECs, if not “evolutionists,” are right, but also knows what sells best to the rank and file evolution-deniers.

  6. Do you have a point to make with that comment, George Tippett?

  7. George Tippett

    Nothing really…do you have a dispute with the research?

  8. Look, George, if you’re not happy that I wrote about your letter, I understand. But what does that link have to do with anything?

  9. George Tippett

    Take your time. Read it all the way through. There’s no rush….very interesting, no? It’s not that technical that you can’t understand.

  10. You’re boring me, George.

  11. I can’t help noticing, George, that you didn’t answer his perfectly reasonable, simple-to-understand question.

    Please allow me to restate it: Did you have a point, George? “Nothing, really” isn’t much of an answer, is it? What does your link have to do with your letter?, George?


  12. He won’t be back.

  13. RetiredSciGuy

    George Tippett asked for your opinion about

    The opinion I’d be interested in is Gabriel Hanna’s. I read part of the above cited paper, and it smelled pretty fishy, but then I’m certainly no expert in the field. But really — two different half-lives for the same radioisotope (Potassium-40)? Can’t help but think that if this were so it would be hugely big news, and we’d be reading about in many more places than some obscure paper cited by a (crank?) letter-to-the-editor writer.

    Even if true, it wouldn’t negate the use of radiometric dating for determining the age of rocks. There are many other radioisotopes used for dating besides K-40, and they all yield the same results.

  14. @George Tippett

    This site does not allow debates, but as you know, neither do most creationist sites, so if you must complain, make sure you practice the “equal time” that you preach. There are “Darwinist” boards, like Talk.Origins, where you may debate anyone you wish, including evolution deniers who have “theories” that contradict yours. That you would come here “challenging” “Darwinists” and not mention the invitation in my first comment speaks volumes.

  15. Frank J says: “This site does not allow debates”

    We’ve had debates and disagreements, but it’s true that this isn’t the blog for debating with creationists. One might as well debate with the message on a telephone answering machine. We don’t debate about theism and atheism either, but that’s for a different reason — the subject isn’t stupid, but the debate is pointless because nothing ever gets resolved.

  16. Gabriel Hanna

    George Tippett’s link doesn’t start out well: the atomic nucleus is not held together by “strong electromagnetic forces”, and the fact that protons are like “little magnets” has nothing to do with it. The .pdf claims that nuclear stability is due to the protons having “specific positions” but this is nonsense, as anyone who has heard of the Uncertainty Principle can tell you.

    Nuclei are held together by the strong interaction, which is a short-range force produced by the exchange of massive particles; electromagnetic interactions are produced by exchange of massless photons.

    Some of the .pdf sounds scientific, but it’s garbled in with pseudoscience and horses**t. For example, we have this:

    According to Quantum Theory, the fundamental
    origin of physical processes and process rates is the so-called “quantum tunneling effect”—an unproven hypothesis that suggests particles move and emit other particles and/or energy spontaneously. This imagined effect is credited with causing an alpha or beta particle to escape the forces that restrain its location within the nucleus and escape the atom completely. The effect is well-described mathematically by using certain non-physical assumptions (e.g. point-like particles) and has been adapted to accurately predict many physical processes including a process of triggering radioactive decay.

    If you’ve got to throw out quantum mechanics to make your case, you haven’t got much of one. Quantum tunneling is not an “unproven hypothesis”–tunnel diodes are built to exploit it, for example.

    The .pdf quotes a geologist on the consequence of two hal-lives for potassium 40:

    The Spin State 4 variety of potassium 40 is produced only 28 percent of
    the time and has a half-life of 1.3 billion years. The Spin State 2 variety is
    produced the remaining 72 percent of the time and has a half-life of only
    [15] hours. Therefore, the half-life of both potassium-40 configurations
    calculated together would be only 795 years.

    This is a nonsensical calculation. Imagine we had a sample of potassium 40 and we count how many have decayed. In the first half-life of the long-lived isotope, so many half-lives of the shortlived one would have gone by that it would effectively all be gone. So, after 1 long half life, all of the shortlived sample (72% of the original) is gone, and half of the long lived one (14% of the original sample), so we’d see that 14% is left. If we naively thought that it was all at one half-life, we’d think that three half-lives had gone by, and so we’d think the sample is three times as old as it is. We wouldn’t get a half life of 795 years this way, we’d get a half-life of 0.4 billion years. But what you’d get would depend on how long you were watching it. So, after the first year, practically all of the short-lived K40 is gone, and practically none of the long-lived is; this would leave 28% and give you a naive estimate of 2 half-lives having gone by already.

    I have no idea how they got an “average” half life of 795 years: the potassium 40 concentration would be the sum of two different exponentials and you can’t calculate half-lives in the same way, you’d have to come up with some different procedure.

    Whatever. If this short-lived potassium 40 exists, it is very easy to fix the dates. Just subtract 72% of the decay products and calculate from the remainder. Rocks would still come out to be billions or hundreds of millions of years old. Doesn’t help as far as Genesis is concerned.

  17. Gabriel Hanna

    At any rate, if this were true, that there is a sekrit K40 with a half-life of 15 hours, and all rocks were created 6000 years ago, then every rock should have at least 72% of its K40 gone, and look about the same age. This is not what is observed. There are old rocks and young rocks and rocks in between.
    Furthermore, rocks that came out volcanoes recently shouldn’t have ANY of the sekrit K40 or its products in them, because the secret K40 all decayed away in the first year of Adam’s life and the argon it decayed to doesn’t stay in the liquid rock. So we should have only two kinds of rocks–rocks that have only a tiny percentage of its K40 decayed that were maded since Creation, and rocks that have 72% or more decayed, which were made AT creation.

    Here we have a testable prediction, ladies and gentlemen. And of course experiment has already disproven it; rocks are found with many ages.

  18. Thanks for that criticism, Gabe. You spent far more time on a creationist source than I was willing to do.

  19. RetiredSciGuy

    Duh. The paper cited by George Tippett appears to have gotten its “science” from Origins Resource Association, which according to their website, “is a nonprofit organization of scientists, educators, and citizens concerned about what we see as the brainwashing of our society into an unquestioning belief in evolution. Our mission is to furnish resources to help counter this trend.”
    Origins Resource Association was referenced in footnotes on page 1 of the paper.

    No wonder it smelled fishy.

  20. From the article: “[One assumption made] is that only one variety of each radioactive isotope is generated and the half-life of that variety can be exclusively used to extrapolate back to the starting point.”

    Do the paper’s authors really think that nuclear scientists aren’t aware of isomers? That’s laughable.

    RetiredSciGuy – another marker this is a creationist effort is that they predict something fairly easy to test (a heretofore unknown short-lived isomer of K-40…with an 80% intensity!!!) but show no interest in actually testing it. They could get some accelerator time and actually produce some K-40 and see if there’s a short-lived isomer, but they don’t bother.

    Well, actually, let me take that suggestion back; there’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. K-40 has already been produced in accelerators countless times and the branching ratios for the various decay modes are known in great detail. For example, an EC decay mode was discovered in 1968. So, 50+ years of already-collected accelerator evidence shows their hypothetical isomer doesn’t exist, they just seem to be ignoring this fact.

  21. eric says:

    From the article: “[One assumption made] is that only one variety of each radioactive isotope is generated and the half-life of that variety can be exclusively used to extrapolate back to the starting point.”

    It’s no secret that elements can have more than one isotope, each each its own half-life. For example, see this in Wikipedia: isotopes of uranium. Uranium -238 has a half life of 4.51×10^9 years. Uranium 235 has a half-life of 7.13×10^8 years, and uranium-234 has a half-life of “only” 2.48×10^5 years.

  22. Gabriel Hanna

    It may be confusion on the writer’s part, but I don’t read them as saying that there is more than one isotope and that’s why dates don;t work. Rather, they are saying that the SAME isotope can have different half-lives, using bogus physics they made up to back that statement, and dismissing perfectly good, massively-experimentally-backed physics with handwaving.