Darwin Was Wrong, Part 1: The Vacation

Darwin wasn't wrong. These losers are!

I had been planning to take a short vacation for a while, but I didn’t want to go away while the contractor was busy not fixing my condo. I knew if I left, what little he was doing would stop completely until I got back.

When I finally got to move back home, I knew I needed a vacation (because if you’ve been living in a hotel for nine weeks, the perfect vacation is to go somewhere and live in a hotel for another week! Gosh, I’m clever!)

I had to come up with something fast, because I had to take the vacation before things got busy at work again. Palm Springs was a possibility, but there isn’t enough to do there for a whole week. Where else could I go?

I have a lot of Google alerts set up on fundie topics. It’s how I always manage to bring you the best fundie moronitude. In one of those alerts, I saw a press release titled “So. Calif. to Hear How Darwin Was Wrong”:

SANTA ANA, Calif., Nov. 3 /Christian Newswire/ — While many people continue to believe in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, a group of scientists will present overwhelming scientific evidence against Darwin’s speculations.

That caught my attention. A bunch of fundie “scientists” are going to get together and pretend they’re Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney? (“Hey, gang! I have an idea! Let’s put on a show!”)

“We can perhaps excuse Darwin, given his ignorance about the true complexity of living organisms and about genetics,” said Dr. Baumgardner, a geophysicist whose career was as research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M. “Today’s knowledge of molecular biology, however, has made Darwin’s imagined single-cell-organism-to-man evolution indefensible.”

Hey, what happened to “molecules-to-man”? Did we finally beat that fallacy out of them? “Single-cell-organism-to-man” doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

Seven Ph.D scientists will highlight Darwin’s mistakes from genetics, geology, molecular biology, paleontology and other science areas.

They then list their panel of “experts”. I scanned the names, and a couple jumped out at me. First is Steve Austin! No, not that Steve Austin. And no, not that other one either. It’s this Steve Austin, the young-Earth geologist! This guy is genuinely and truly cracked. Here’s what they say about him:

[G]eologist Steven A. Austin, Ph.D., has traveled to southern Argentina to document Darwin’s geological mistakes. “Let nobody confuse you — Darwin was a geologist, but he was wrong about geology,” said Dr. Austin, who just returned from leading a Geological Society of America field trip to Mount St. Helens, Wash., where volcanic eruptions in 1980 and 1982 formed in just hours what many geologists had thought took much longer to form. “Mount St. Helens proved these changes can occur in days – not millions or billions of years.”

As you see, he believes that Noah’s flood formed the major geologic features, such as the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, in just a few days. (Actually, he doesn’t think Hoover Dam is naturally formed. It’s clearly the work of an intelligent designer.)

The scary part about the above excerpt is the revelation that the Geological Society of America, which claims respectability, is letting a young-Earth creationist lead their field trips. WTF, man? Seriously, WTF?!

Here is what the Geological Society’s own position paper on the teaching of evolution says about the organization’s beliefs:

  • Evolution and the directly related concept of deep time must be part of science curricula at all levels, including K–12, college, and post-graduate education. [emphasis added]
  • Creationism, whether in its earlier form as creation “science” or its more recent guise of intelligent design, has no place in a science curriculum and should not be taught alongside evolution in any science classroom.

The Geological Society has some serious explaining to do.

You can read more about Steve Austin in the article I wrote about him last year. It’s one of my better articles (Yes, I do have a few good ones!), so do yourself a favor and learn more about this intellectual helium-weight.

Well just being able to see Steve Austin was making this creationism seminar awfully tempting (or just awful, depending on your perspective), but there’s more!

Who else is on the list? Why none other than:

Yes!! I’m there!! Vacation solved!

[Next: Making plans. And taking precautions.]

16 Responses to “Darwin Was Wrong, Part 1: The Vacation”

  1. Tuff Cookie Says:

    Actually, quite a few people at GSA were aware of who Austin was, including the field trip organizers, and there was a lot of talk about whether or not to allow the trip. The consensus was that GSA could not base judgments on leader’s religious beliefs, but only on the content of the material they provided – and Austin’s trip summary didn’t include overtly creationist language.

    At any rate, the field trip was somewhat lame (you can see an account from a participant here), mostly because of the weather. Austin did hold some sort of creationist field trip prior to the meeting as well, where he doubtless brought out all his crappy science.

    Don’t jump on GSA for this – it was a touchy situation, and making a stink about it either way would have given Austin all the publicity he wanted. As it was, he ran a pretty forgettable trip that not many people noticed.

    On the other hand, feel free to smack him down if he tries to use the field trip to make himself look good.

  2. Ron Britton Says:

    Tuff Cookie:

    First of all, I love your blog name.

    The summary you link to was excellent. I see that Austin mostly kept his mouth shut about his YEC views. I’m a bit surprised, but as Pascal wagers, Austin is probably using this to pad his résumé.

    I don’t see how Austin could be seen as having the qualifications. Even if he has learned how to quote the scientific consensus when speaking to a secular crowd, he doesn’t have the deep understanding of the topic that a real geologist does. If given the choice, I’d want to be getting my information from somebody who truly understands the material, instead of merely having memorized it.

  3. Jeff Eyges Says:

    The Geological Society has some serious explaining to do.

    This is why I keep saying – nip it in the bud. NOW. Don’t let them into graduate science programs at real universities – because the exposure won’t change them, and they’ll only continue to spread their disease. Like cancer.

    On that note, I’m curious as to how Sanford, the geneticist from Cornell, acquitted himself.

    (Cornell, for f*ck’s sake – [grumble, grumble])

  4. Jeff Eyges Says:

    And Tuff Cookie, there is simply no way in which a creationist can properly present an overview of the Grand Canyon, or any similar formation, without relying upon his warped ideology. What do you think he told them – “Over there are some lovely sediment strata which just happen to be there, and about which I’m prohibited by the terms of my contract from telling you more.”? Please. His beliefs are integral to the matter, and Ron is correct – the folks at the Geological society have some serious ‘splainin’ to do.

    My supposition is that in this economy, they’re pandering to the growing segment of “Stupid with Disposable Income”. Which is why I say – don’t suborn them. Put a stop to it now, which includes keeping them out of legitimate science programs.

  5. Ron Britton Says:

    Jeff:

    If you read the summary that Cookie links to, you’ll see that most people on the trip didn’t seem to know about Austin’s stealth YEC views. I don’t know if the Geological Society approved the trip without knowing who he is, or if they couldn’t find a way to not approve it, based on the trip description that Austin submitted.

  6. Tuff Cookie Says:

    Ron,

    I agree on wanting to get the facts from a reputable geologist – that’s why I didn’t go on the field trip myself, even though I really wanted to visit St. Helens.

    Jeff – Ron’s got it right; I think GSA was stuck with not being able to not approve the trip. I’m sure they didn’t really want Austin in there, knowing who he was, but there wasn’t a whole lot they could do about it (aside from banning him after the fact if he went on a creationist rant of some kind). They just couldn’t exclude him based on something he hadn’t done yet. (Check out the field trip description, too – it’s pretty carefully worded to keep GSA from gathering any ammunition.)

  7. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Did you attend Sanford’s presentation?

  8. Thomas Says:

    Yeah, Darwin was wrong about quite a number of things. He was right about most of his primary assertions though. Moreover, are these wingnuts going to spend any time addressing the work of any of his inheritors that have since clarified and expanded the theories that Darwin began?

  9. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Jeff – I agree with you in that him leading this field trip was done only to pad his resume and legitimize his non-science.

    “Looky at me! I did all the schoolin’, I joined geological socities, and led trips. I’m an authority!”

    But, what could the society do? I’m not sure. But if it requires changing rules to kick him out, so be it. Yes, he will have a knee-jerk persecution complex. But how is that different than now? We already had Expelled! Do we want to open them into science circles because we fear them complaining? That’s better than helping legitimize their claims by building up credentials.

    Thomas – I, too, have wondered when they are going to begin addressing modern forms of evolutionary theory. Poor Darwin.

  10. Ron Britton Says:

    Jeff:

    Yes, I did see Sanford’s presentation. I haven’t written that article yet. I’ll have to look at my notes to refresh my memory.

    My recollection is that several people there had legit degrees. I’m hoping it’s a rare phenomenon that a young-Earth creationist manages to steal a degree from a reputable school.

  11. Jeff Eyges Says:

    My recollection is that several people there had legit degrees. I’m hoping it’s a rare phenomenon that a young-Earth creationist manages to steal a degree from a reputable school.

    This is what’s troubling me. It appears to be a growing phenomenon. After I attended that creationist lecture in August, given by the young man who went to Harvard then went to work for ICR, I learned that they have another employee with a Harvard degree. One of the speakers at the Darwin Was Wrong debacle was Marcus Ross, who two years ago received a PhD in Earth Science from URI – not Ivy League, but a real university with reputable scientists. It’s part of their wedge strategy, and it’s beginning to get out of hand. It needs to be stopped now. Yes, it will fuel their collective persecution complex, but who cares? As PL said, “That’s better than helping legitimize their claims by building up credentials.”

    As far as the Geological Society is concerned – I don’t necessarily sympathize with them for being caught in a difficult position. Why did they invite him to lead the trip in the first place? It isn’t as though there aren’t any legitimate geologists they could have asked.

  12. Ron Britton Says:

    As far as the Geological Society is concerned – I don’t necessarily sympathize with them for being caught in a difficult position. Why did they invite him to lead the trip in the first place?

    That’s my point, too. Did they not know who he is? If so, they aren’t doing sufficient background checks. Do they let anybody claiming to be a geologist run a trip? No legitimate organization hires somebody without verifying his credentials.

    If they knew who he was and hired him anyway, they aren’t standing behind their own published standards and therefore have no legitimacy as an academic organization either.

    Either way, they just discredited themselves.

  13. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Either way, they just discredited themselves.

    Yeah. I think that either they didn’t perform due diligence (which is inexcusable), or they’re trying to play both sides of the fence.

  14. Parrotlover77 Says:

    It’s part of their wedge strategy, and it’s beginning to get out of hand. It needs to be stopped now.

    Although I agree we need to stop this, as I said before. I wonder how we can pull this off? You can’t just ask somebody if they are religious as that is actual persecution and will backfire. Somehow there needs to be a way to see if they actually believe their research for the PhD they are applying. How do we do that? Serious question here.

  15. Demopoly Says:

    This is part and parcel of the problem with education today. You have PhDs, or Doctorates of PHILOSOPHY. That’s an ancient certification of approved THOUGHT.

    I find more value in technical certificates these days, as there is so much junk science going on that it’s getting really hard to sort through the chaff.

    In applying at grad schools I came upon a system of privileges that is unstated but painfully obvious. Not only are schools seeking CASH students, they actively discriminate against single parents and financial aid graduate applicants. I was told point blank a few times, pretty much the same words each time, that they “don’t want people like me” in their program.

    Apparently, higher education is reserved for those who are ‘deserving’ and have ‘earned it’. Whatever that means.

    I’d always thought, if you pass the tests, and carry the grades, there you go.

    Not so. I’m still taking online classes for an MSE because I can’t get into a bricks and mortar school. Honestly, I’d rather go for an IEEE/ASE certification of graduate level software engineering, or some other trade-certificate than a Doctorate. I actually have zero interest in continuing on to obtain a Doctorate in any field now.

    I’m going to search out and obtain specialty licenses instead.

  16. Parrotlover77 Says:

    I’m a big supporter of technical degrees and certifications (I have many) especially in IT. But I’m a bit skeptical of your analysis, Demopoly.

    First, the title of PhD, although archaic, does not imply that there is a rigid system of “approved thought” excepting that it (most of the time) rigidly follows the scientific method (in most cases, anyway). That’s a feature, not a bug. As long as you can prove your thesis, it’s all good. Of course, every school is different, but your rant about that sounds like something Ben Stein would say.

    Second, you mention online courses. Again, I am a fan as I’ve seen the online course material my wife is taking for some IT courses she’s going through. There’s some good stuff out there from reputible institutions. However, if you get an online degree from Phoenix University, you can’t expect to get into a PhD program at Harvard, if you catch my drift. Yes. The kids that sweated it out at the brick and mortars deserve it more, because it is harder and they have accomplished a larger task and (most importantly) proven themselves on the topic better.

    Anyway, good luck, but I don’t think your argument is a very good indictment of the post-graduate educational system in the United States, as flawed as parts of it may be.