WorldNetDaily Supports Mark Armitage

Buffoon Award

The weekend is beginning spectacularly. The Drool-o-tron™ signaled us with its blaring sirens and flashing lights. The blinking letters of the wall display said WorldNetDaily (WND). That esteemed journalistic organ was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo displayed above this post.

Their headline is Scientist fired for making dinosaur discovery, and it has this subtitle: “Finding undermines belief behemoths roamed earth 60 million years ago.” You know what they’re talking about.

Last week we posted Scientist Fired for Finding “New” Dinosaur Fossil. Since then, the same story has been reported by the usual fringe religious websites of interest to creationists. The next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:

Mark Armitage, described by his supporters as a “scientist,” is an electron microscopy technician who, according to California State University, Northridge (CSUN), was a temporary hire between 2010-2013. While on a fossil hunt in Montana, he found a large triceratops horn.

Back at CSUN, he examined his fossil and saw what he believed to be “soft tissue.” In July 2013 a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Acta Histochemica, published his article: Soft sheets of fibrillar bone from a fossil of the supraorbital horn of the dinosaur Triceratops horridus.

He subsequently lost his job is now suing CSUN. He claims he was fired because his discovery indicates that dinosaurs roamed the earth only thousands of years ago. It’s an old creationist issue. The TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims discusses the claim that dinosaur fossils with “red blood cells” have been found, and we’ve posted about the subject before — e.g., Dinosaur Fossils Found with Hot Red Meat?

Armitage’s lawyers are the Pacific Justice Institute, who have handled at least one other creationist case — Caldwell Litigation Against UC.

This is a copy of the complaint that was filed: Mark Armitage vs. Board of Trustees of the California State University, et al. (21-page pdf file). You can check the court docket here Los Angeles Superior Court to see what’s been filed. If you go there, click on “Access your case” and enter case number BC552314.

In our first post about this, we noted that a press release about the lawsuit, issued by the plaintiff’s attorneys — University Silences Scientist After Dinosaur Discovery — plus the complaint they filed, were the only sources of information at the time, because CSUN wasn’t making any statements and they hadn’t yet filed anything in court. Therefore, all the “information” being reported was from the plaintiff’s side of the case. Nevertheless, all the rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth creationist websites were “reporting” that a “scientist” had made a discovery that “proved” creationism, and for that he was fired.

Today’s WND article follows the same pattern. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

A team of attorneys is jumping to the defense of a scientist who made the stunning discovery of soft tissue still attached to a triceratops skeleton, undermining the belief that dinosaurs roamed earth 60 million years ago, and was then fired.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! They give a link to what they say is Armitage’s biography. It’s at a website called Creation Ministries. Hey — it’s an impressive biography. It says:

Mark H. Armitage earned a BS in Education from Liberty University and an MS in Biology (parasitology) … at the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, CA. He later graduated Ed.S. in Science Education from Liberty University and is a doctoral candidate there.

[…]

He is a lifetime member of the Creation Research Society where he has served on the Board of Directors since 2006.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! WND doesn’t say anything else that isn’t in the press release issued by Armitage’s lawyers, and we’ve already discussed that material, so we won’t trouble you with any further excerpts. But it’s good to see that Armitage has WND solidly on his side. With support like that, it’s only a matter of time until the university surrenders, and the ungodly theory of evolution is — at last! — exposed as the lie it has always been.

Well, there’s the possibility that the university may try to put up a defense. We’ll be watching for it, so stay tuned to this blog!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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30 responses to “WorldNetDaily Supports Mark Armitage

  1. WND’s producers, without a sceptical bone to their individual and collective body, appear to have soft tissue everywhere except where it counts — and even there it’s soft, though only metaphorically. Antiquated fossils, the lot of them.

  2. Pete Moulton

    Oh, I disagree, Con-Tester. They’re certainly sceptical enough about any actual scientific evidence, to the point that they misrepresent whatever evidence they can’t ignore outright.

  3. Please, please, O Grand Ole Designer, may the Discoveroids take up Mark Armitage as their next Martyr for ID Poster Boy! Please!!!

  4. But did he find soft tissue, and where is that tissue now? Can any of this be verified? Or might it be just part of his chicken sandwich that he drooled on the bone?

  5. docbill1351

    Oh, it gets better and better. This from a creationist website:

    In middle May of 2012, Mr. Armitage went to a dinosaur dig in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana. This dig was conducted with Dr. Kevin Anderson (fellow young-earth creationist) and guided by Mr. Otis Kline (also a young-earth creationist). The dig was being done expressly to find dinosaur bones to break them apart to find soft tissue. Pieces of horn, rib, and vertebrae, presumably from Triceratops, were discovered on this dig, and the specimens were studied at CSUN.

    The key here is “Otis Kline.” He runs the Foundation Advancing Creationist Truth (FACT) in Glendive, Montana. He’s got a museum and everything. For $100 he’ll take you to a dig where you can find fragments of T-Rex, Triceratops, Hadrosaur, turtles, and others. Perfect for families, children and church groups, so they say.

    The location is a big mudstone and highly eroded (shale?), but soft stuff. They were hacking at it with pick axes, shovels. Everybody found something. It’s a giant, jumbled bone bed.

    The bottom line is that whatever sample Armitage found it’s just junk and he’s trying to publish his science fair quality nonsense as real science. No wonder CSUN didn’t want their name associated with this rubbish. I’m willing to bet Armitage was warned off doing something like this and went all coppedge on them.

  6. The funniest thing about all this is that even if it were found that somewhere on Earth a remnant population of dinosaurs had survived into historic times, it wouldn’t prove squat about whether evolution has occurred. After all, many of the animals of Australia and New Zealand at least superficially resemble ancient mammal species found only as fossils elsewhere. They’ve survived because Australia became physically isolated before placental mammals arose. And they are now increasingly threatened with extinction because such mammals (dogs, rabbits, etc.) have been introduced by humans.

    In order to undermine evolution, creationists would have to show that those fossils which have been scientifically dated by various means (radioisotope ratios, stratigraphy, etc., etc.) as tens of millions of years old were really only tens of centuries old. They’re welcome to try, but I wouldn’t bet anything I couldn’t afford to lose on their succeeding.

  7. Eric,

    I will go one step further. If I looked out my window right now and saw a triceratops in my backyard I would certainly be very surprised but it would not lead me to believe that the Theory of Evolution is wrong. There is nothing in the TOE that requires dinosaurs to be extinct, we have come to that conclusion by learning from fossil remains that such creatures once existed but since there do not seem to be any around now, they are most likely extinct. By the same token if human and dinosaur fossil remains were to be found in the same strata it would be an incredible discovery. However it would not challenge the TOE if the human and dinosaur fossils were found in Pleistocene formations. It would only support the creationists if the human and dinosaur remains were found in Mesozoic age rock formations.

    Paleontologists think that dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years because their fossilized remains have never been found in geological formations younger than that. A triceratops in my backyard would not mean the creationists are right, it would simply mean that at least one dinosaur has somehow survived unnoticed to this day.

    To falsify the TOE the creationists have to find the fossil remains of an organism in rock layers that date from a time before that animal could have possibly existed. A good example is that very elusive Cambrian rabbit. I will actually concede that having to produce a Cambrian rabbit is a little unreasonable since all Cambrian life forms found to date lived in the water where a rabbit is unlikely to be found. I will take the creationists seriously if they can produce a fossil of a Cambrian trout.

  8. One of the references in the full paper is M. Armitage (sole author), Scanning electron microscope study of mummified collagen fibers in fossil Tyrannosaurus rex bone, CRSQ, 38 (2001), pp. 61–66. Before you get to impress, let me point out to you that CRSQ his Creation Research Society Quarterly. How this got past the reviewers, I don’t know. Armitage is listed as the senior author. The other author’s address for the current paper is given as Arkansas State University Beebe, but I could not find his name among the faculty and staff there.

    From my own, admittedly non-expert, reading of the full paper (thanks to ordinary university position) he does appear to have shown the existence of organic structures, chemical composition unknown (and unknowable, since he incompetently coated them with gold for microscopy contrast before carrying out the appropriate analysis), probably collagen associated with the bone, of which there are other examples.

    None of which has any bearing on why he lost his job. I find it interesting that he was publishing in 2001, but still a “Ph.D. candidate” in 2014.

  9. But in reply to Stephen above, and to be fair to the creationists (why?), this is relevant because it is agreed that what creationists call the conventional date for the fossil is over 65 million years old, they claim that preservation of soft tissue features shows that it is much younger, and they infer that the conventional dating is wrong. This is a different argument, and logically if not factually a better argument, then the argument that might be brought against TOE if Seve to find a non-avian dinosaur roaming around in his backyard.

  10. Richard Bond

    Eric Lipps: there are no native terrestrial mammals in New Zealand. As he argues in the Origin, Darwin considered this characteristic of oceanic islands as strong evidence in favour of his theory.

  11. @PaulB

    Kevin Anderson is listed in the Dept. of Biology at Ark. Beebe. Got his PhD from Kansas State. Also this:

    He is currently the Director of the Van Andel Creation Research Center (funded by the Creation Research Society), and is a past senior editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly.

    In addition, he is the project director for the Creation Research Society’s soft dinosaur tissue study (iDINO), which recently published the first phase of results in Acta Histochemcia. He is a member of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the Creation Research Society (CRS).

    Good old yeeeecky YEC!

  12. Thanks. I didn’t do a good search, obviously. I have now found him here: http://www.asub.edu/academics/divisions-programs/mathematics-&-science/biology/faculty

    and here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kevin_Anderson8 which lists one publication, not relevant to the dino horn stuff.

    A search on Creation Research Anderson gives http://www.creationresearch.org/vacrc/centerinfo.html , also http://christiananswers.net/creation/people/anderson-k.html which places him at USDA Ames and credits him with 20 publications (presumably including his important work reported in CRSQ). More on that at http://creationwiki.org/Kevin_L._Anderson

    He is director of the Van Andel Creation Research Center, http://creationwiki.org/Van_Andel_Creation_Research_Center, and argues at http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/articles/41/41_4/bact_resist.htm, using Behe-like arguments, that bacterial resistance isn’t really evolution.

    I fear we will be hearing more of him, especially when it dawns on ASU Beebe just what he’s really up to.

  13. docbill1351

    From another charming creationist website is this:

    After paying the landowner $3,000 for the fossil, the scientists hauled it to their lab to see if it contained any unfossilized soft tissue the ravages of time might have left untouched. After giving the fossil an acid bath that dissolved the hard material, they found—sure enough—soft tissue and structures that appeared to be original dinosaur cells.

    Keystone Cops science all the way.

    It appears that K. Anderson keeps his creationism to himself and teaches to the syllabus at Beebe. Seems quite a step down from his previous position at Mississippi State. Maybe he didn’t make tenure. His publication record is faint, but that’s what happens to creationists in academia. Their delusions destroy their career every time.

  14. EDTA, IIRC, rather than acid, but that’s detail. What’s crucial is that morphology was the ONLY thing they studied in their residues. They didn’t even do an EDX analysis (though their electron microscope was presumably capable of it) to see there was no bone left. If I’d been refereeing,I’d have balked.

  15. Mark Joseph

    This clown shares my name, and the university (CSUN) at which I also work (teaching math part-time). How depressing. At least I don’t share his creationism!

  16. docbill1351

    @PaulB

    If you were a referee for that pay-for-view, open science, on-line, for profit journal you’d starve! Elsevier published a LOT of rubbish. That paper is buried deeper in the Internet than the triceratops’s horn was in that mudstone.

    Justice done, though, it cost the fool $3000 AND his job!

  17. Thanks, Paul Braterman, for tracking down Kevin L. Anderson, and providing the link to info on the Van Andel Creation Research Center — which is little more than a shack in the Arizona desert. (Check out the link in Paul’s post above — it’s a hoot.)

    The Van Andel Creation Research Center gets its money from The Jay Van Andel Foundation. Jay Van Andel is one of the co-founders of Amway — that wonderful company whose business model includes accusing their main competitor, Procter & Gamble, of being run by devil-worshipers. Guess those ol’ creationists just can’t keep from lying.

  18. Coppedge’s and Armitage’s actions are going to make it very difficult for any creationist to find employment — in any capacity — at any legitimate college, university, or research facility of any kind. The best way to avoid being sued for unfairly firing a creationist is to avoid hiring them in the first place.

  19. There is something profoundly unsurprising about a cofounder of a gigantic pyramid scheme also being benefactor to a cretinist “research” facility…

  20. @ retiredsciguy The credit for tracking Anderson down goes to docbill1351 (see above); given that info, the rest was a couple of easy googles, with help from creationwiki (sp?)

  21. Paul, you are right, but your work turned much of interest; and thank you, docbill.

    (Note of passing interest — whenever I type “docbill” without a capital “D”, my computer wants to autocorrect to “docile”. Hardly fitting, I think.)

  22. Can anyone comment more fully on the science of the Acta Histochemica article? This is the first time I remember seeing a reference to “non-fossilized material” in a paper of this type.

  23. Briefly, it is the electron microscopy carried out on material left after, it is claimed, all bony material has been chemically removed.

    At best, it shows the shape of non-bone remaining material. There is precedent for this, as collagen can survive attached to the surface of dinosaur bone.

    At worst, it shows nothing at all. Analytical methods could have been used to prove that all the bony material had been removed, but on my quick reading of the paper, this was not done.

  24. The field photo of the “horn” showed a redeposited cracked and badly preserved fossil inappropriate to use for their analysis. But there was a much better reason to fire Armitage. Armitage was a “permanent part time technician.” That means he was never legally a full-time employee regardless of his hours, or years worked. It means that he would never be promoted. It means that he could be terminated from employment at any time for any reason- or none. The addition of “permanent” to the job title meant that he got benefits which was very generous.

    This is a bottom rung job.

    A part time technician does not get to do independent research using University facilities. Armitage was making free with facilities that a junior faculty member would have had to have requested permission to use. There was a considerable amount of equipment, staff time, and lab stockroom supplies used on the one hand, and a total lack of funding or authorization on the other. And, as this “research” is already published, there is no possible way that those costs can be recovered. Armitage potentially stole $thousands$ from the University, unless he paid out of pocket. (I’ll take bets he didn’t).

    That will get you fired pronto.

  25. Thanks for your insights, Dr_GS_Hurd.

  26. docbill1351

    Here’s a link to the paper.

    In the paper they describe finding the fossil, breaking it and detecting soft material. Right there in the field! They also described little roots in cracks in the fossil but ruled out contamination. Yep, they dug themselves up a juicy dinosaur bone!

  27. docbill1351

    There is no indication in the paper where the work was done so the Hitachi clue is a good indication the work was NOT done at CSUN.

    No acknowledgements in the paper about location or funding.

    However, they did publish using CSUN and Ark. State addresses which would indicate to a “normal” reader that the work was done at and under the auspices of those institutions. Doing work in your basement and publishing it on your department letterhead might be a career limiting move.

  28. docbill1351, You also need to read the “complaint” and put that information together with the article. “Thereafter, Plaintiff studied the fossils in the CSUN lab … ” 6:9-11.

  29. docbill1351

    The plot thickens!

  30. docbill1351’s comment up above informs me that my write-up on the Armitage situation got linked to by Uncommon Descent. That might explain why some people really bad at commenting have been commenting on my write-up…

    Over there I was agreeing with Dr. G.S. Hurd that Mr. Armitage’s own lawsuit claims that Mr. Armitage was using CSUN equipment and materials to do his research. If this happened, then the (unfortunately not-well-expressed) feedback from Mr. Armitage’s supervisor that “This is a science department and we will only have science here – none of your creationist projects” makes sense: Mr. Armitage was conducting a research project at his place of employment and his supervisor told him to stop. If Mr. Armitage wasn’t doing research at CSUN, then why would his supervisor say such a thing?

    It looks like Mr. Armitage got let go for a few reasons. Mr. Armitage may or may not have been told those reasons; so far all that we have is his own lawsuit and his own words. And, ya know, strangely enough, I can’t entirely trust young-earth creationists because when it comes to being honest they’re willing to be creative.