This one doesn’t need much commentary from us, because it’s really just one big joke. That won’t stop us from making a Curmudgeonly remark or two, however. It’s found at the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page.
The title of ICR’s article is Do People Live Longer among Trees? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Could living near trees possibly affect human health? Increasingly, studies indicate that trees can improve human health. Evolution doesn’t expect this, but biblically speaking, trees and people have close ties.
They’re serious, dear reader. Stay with us; the article continues:
New research included steps to demonstrate that living longer was not linked to living among trees, but instead linked to more sensible factors “like income, race, and education,” according to the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service based in Portland. But the researchers found that cardiovascular health clearly declined in people from very different ethnic, income, and educational backgrounds in the absence of trees.
They provide a link to this press release from the USDA Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture: Tree and human health may be linked It’s about a study of one incident:
In an analysis of 18 years of data from 1,296 counties in 15 states, researchers found that Americans living in areas infested by the emerald ash borer, a beetle that kills ash trees, suffered from an additional 15,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 6,000 more deaths from lower respiratory disease when compared to uninfected areas.
Although the study shows the association between loss of trees and human mortality from cardiovascular and lower respiratory disease, it did not prove a causal link. The reason for the association is yet to be determined.
Interesting, but thin gruel indeed. Notably, there is no context for those numbers. We’re not given the figure for total deaths in those 1,296 counties, or the figures for deaths from those particular causes in earlier years. We have no idea what the percentage of increase in such deaths may be — it could be statistically significant, or it could be trivial. Perhaps it’s due to an aging of the population. Although the press release says “when compared to uninfected areas,” we are not given any figures for counties that were not infested by that beetle. From the limited information available, we can’t make any judgments. It’s possible that deaths everywhere from those causes have risen somewhat during that period, beetle or no beetle — or maybe not. Anyway, back to ICR:
What is the real cause of these phenomena? The researchers don’t know, but the data fit with the strange idea that broken trees may lead to broken hearts.
Yes, that is certainly a possibility. Let’s read on:
In the evolutionary mindset, what survival advantage would people have from just seeing strong trees? And how can evolution explain people’s health deteriorating when trees wither?
Excellent questions! But are the beetles and the tree deaths the cause of the human deaths, or are they the only the visible symptoms of some underlying cause? ICR doesn’t worry about that, so neither shall we. Their article continues:
In contrast to evolutionary origins myths, trees play a surprisingly strong role in actual human history. The book of Genesis uses the word “tree” 28 times, for example. Its fourth instance occurs in Genesis 2:9: “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” So, right from the beginning, trees were identified as sources of food and of beauty.
Powerful evidence! Hey — we found a listing of the Top 100 Bible Nouns. Gold and silver are on the list, but not trees. Make of that what you will. Here’s the end of the article:
The Bible also says about the believer, “His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.” Clearly, God made trees for the purpose of bringing pleasure to people. Are researchers uncovering evidence of this God-made link between man and trees?
Much to think about! There is no more appropriate closing for this post than a link to an old poem by George Pope Morris: Woodman, Spare That Tree!
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