Evolution – Distortions & Misconceptions by Creationism Supporters

Creationism as a Distortion of Reality

Some months ago, on another forum, I joined a discussion about creationism titled The Controversy About Evolution .  A writer I’ll call Denial was one of those who actively denied basic concepts of evolution. Let’s take a closer look at  Denial‘s arguments. (Please note, there is nothing personal in these attacks. I am just using her writing to illustrate some of the problems that occur over and over in these discussions.)

Denial:What scientific community are you referring to that is virtually unanimous? I am not a scientist by trade, but my degree is in physics, and I personally know a whole lot of people who are scientists (as in, with PhDs and careers in the hard sciences) who believe things happened as Genesis says, and without having to make complicated explanations about how time was expressed in language.

There are few biology scientists who do not support evolution, and those few, such as Michael Behe, have not published their objections in peer reviewed journals. Behe’s professional work in biochemistry does not address evolution at all. Instead he and other creationists use public media to make their arguments rather than presenting actual research in support of their spurious and unsupportable claims.

It’s sad, but true, that there are a number of non-biology scientists who are ignorant of modern biology, and who take a creationist view. But just as biologists are not quantum mechanics, physicists are not automatically qualified
to comment scientifically on evolution. [Of course they have every right to proclaim their religious or philosophical beliefs.]

Denial:Look, if you start with the assumption there is an all-powerful God, He could make things any way He wanted, including the way things are. There is nothing irrational about that. On the other hand, if you start with the assumption there is no God, you have to start inserting huge amounts of time to get around the real life evidence in front of all of us, that nobody ever sees things getting better on a large scale.

This paragraph illustrates the dangers of of mixed metaphors. First the concept of an all powerful god is, by definition IR-rational – that is, it is beyond rational understanding, aka ‘supernatural’. That’s why god has no place
in scientific discussions or science classrooms. Beyond this, her claims in this paragraph fall apart on geological, biological AND physics misstatements. First, we know from overwhelming physical evidence that the earth is billions of years old, and the hundreds of millions of years that life has existed has been more than adequate to produce the variety of life we see. It’s only young earther’s who have a problem here.

Second, the ‘nobody ever sees evolution’ is a straw man argument — we shouldn’t expect to see processes that takes thousands of years to happen in our lifetimes and therefore science does not claim that evolution is fast enough
to be witnessed overnight. But, in actuality, there are cases where we can see evolution in action, such as the Galapagos finches and cichlid fish of Lake Victoria. Of course, the ‘enlightened’ creationist response is to accept these
examples of what they term microevolution while continuing to deny ‘macroevolution’. In fact, there is a continuum of evidence that demonstrates evolution over the course of millions of years.

Denial:Everything runs down. It’s one of the most fundamental laws of physics.

This is the statement that jumpstarted my need to write a full rebuttal since it encapsulates the problems I warned about before. This is an ancient, yet perpetual creationist canard – invoking the 2nd law of thermodynamics. [It’s
interesting how creationists chose only the pieces of science that support their view]. It illustrates the danger of moving from one area of science to another . But there was a very important caveat that was ignored here – the 2nd law, aka entropy, only works in CLOSED systems. Earth and its life forms are not a closed system, since we’re continually bombarded with solar energy. Under these conditions, there can be local areas of decreasing entropy (that is, the organizing involved in growing living organisms), even though entropy is increasing in the entire system. So the argument that life could not make complex forms from simple ones is not supported by the 2nd Law. To say otherwise is to willfully ignore the facts of science.

As an aside, one of my favorite mnemonics for the 3 laws of thermodynamics:

  • You can’t win
  • You can’t break even
  • You can’t get out of the game

Denial What is really going on, is that the majority of scientists in universities say they believe in evolution, because their jobs are at stake otherwise. If you look at scientists in other careers where there is more freedom to think, you will find a whole lot of scientists who believe in everything along the spectrum from intelligent design to just plain what the Bible says.

First, this is pure speculation, unsupported by any evidence . The majority of scientists believe evolution because it is a FACT, not because their jobs depend on it. There is no evidence for this alleged conspiracy and no one has ever presented evidence of job loss because of these religious beliefs. Second, there is no evidence that biologists have less freedom to think than other scientists. Third, the ‘spectrum from intelligent design to just plain what the Bible says‘ is in fact an extremely narrow band, and is entirely outside the realm of science. And finally, ‘a whole lot’ is, at best, a
nebulous term – I’ll close by throwing out my own unsupported claim that, in fact, we find very few creationists among scientists.

Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution

 

How the Renaissance contributed to the Scientific Revolution

Unintended Consequences of the Renaissance

The re-birth of learning during the Renaissance had many unintended consequences. Historical fiction if well done can demonstrate this.  Dorothy Dunnett while re-telling the story of Macbeth in ‘King Hereafter’describes what Phillip Bobbitt calls the transition from Princely states to Kingly states where the ‘monarch’ might actually hold little land, and whose power relied on holding together an amalgam of territories that had no natural borders (Eg, the widespread and disjointed Hapsburg Empire). Her Nicolo and Lymond series are excellent portrayals of politics and economics in these times. These states were supported by concepts from Greek Philosophy such as Plato & Aristotle’s ideas of government, and especially Aristotle’s ideas that nature could be deduced from first principles. No need for experiment. This reliance on revealed truth rather than observation and experiment gave way first with the Protestant Reformation, then with the experiments of artists and proto-scientists like Leonardio da Vinci and Vesalius artists and proto-scientists like Leonardo da Vinci and Vesalius.

Ultimately, the Renaissance started a series of revolutions – First , Copernicus and Bruno rejected the received idea that the earth was the center of the universe. Later scientific exploration showed that even the sun was only a tiny star amid vast galaxies. Finally, Darwin, standing on the shoulders of early scientists like Hooke, Galton, Newton, and Leibniz, knocked human beings from their pedestal as god’s primary focus, by showing that we are but one species in the sprawling network resulting from evolution.

Teleology, if not theology was dead.

Science & Democracy evolve from the Renaissance

Another consequence of Renaissance ideas was the concept that man might make his own rules, not being ruled from above. Venice had a constitution that was more republican or oligarchical than democratic. Various smaller experiments in city-state communes of medieval Europe followed, including the long struggles against Medici domination in Florence described by Machiavelli in The Prince. The 17th century saw further concepts democracy in philosophy and practice, especially in England and the new Dutch Republic. But it was the enlightenment of the 18th century that gave violent birth to the major democratic revolutions in America and France. What had started with Kings employing painters to glorify their reigns ended by replacing those dynasties with modern democracies.

Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Trilogy

Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Trilogy is a magnificent journey through 17th century Europe. Politics, and especially economics, are major foci, as the characters learn and adapt to the evolving capitalist system of venture capital and stock markets, Kings and Princes take a back seat to merchant traders and entrepreneurs.

 

Fernand Braudel – Civilization and Capitalism
15th-18th Century.

Fernand Braudel’s epic 3 volume work is Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century. These are heavy lifting,
both physically and mentally, but well worth it, and you can see the influences he had on Dunnett and Stephenson when they prepared their fictional narratives. Braudel’s scope is phenomenal, touching details across centuries of history and different civilizations. Fantastic maps and charts illustrate the concepts, along with period pictures.

Starting with human life in the centuries before industrialization, he examines the machinery of exchange as a whole, from barter to the most sophisticated  capitalism. After a survey of the instruments of exchange, he then moves on to look at the effects of markets on the economy. Eventually, traders cease to be mere movers of goods from one place to another and start to build production facilities in far off places. Again echoed by  Dunnett & Stephenson

• Vol. I – The Structures of Everyday
• Vol. II – The Wheels of Commerce
• Vol. III – The Perspective of the World

Books – Geology

Roadside Geology

This is an excellent series, combining general geologic information with detailed road trips (sometimes in your home city), that describe a state’s geology.   The books offer general geological information that you can read at home, but are most useful for the detailed descriptions and tours they describe for your state.  for example:  Roadside Geology of Washington

Annals of the Former World — – John McPhee —   describes geology in lucid terms, and makes the topic come alive.  This book is structured as a journey across the US at the 40th parallel, describing the geology as he travels, but it becomes much more than just a bare scientific description.  McPhee is one of our best writers. I’ve read many of McPhee’s articles in the New Yorker that form the basis of this book, and they’re excellent. Oddly, the only books that envision the power of tectonic events as well are the Mars Trilogy of Kim Stanley Robinson

George Orwell describes a boarding house kitchen table in geological terms:
At the bottom there was a layer of old newspapers stained by Worcester Sauce; above that a sheet of sticky white oil­cloth; above that a green serge cloth; above that a coarse linen cloth, never changed and seldom taken off. Generally the crumbs from breakfast were still on the table at supper. I used to get to know individual crumbs by sight and watch their progress up and down the table from day to day.



Map – 1975 – World Ocean Floor, Physical World

Map – 1985 – Shaping of a Continent – Tectonic plates

Map – 1978 – Heart of the Grand Canyon

Map – 1998 – Physical Earth – Continental Drift


Map – 1995 – Earth’s Fractured Surface -World Ocean Floor


Map – 1969 – Pacific Ocean Floor


Map – 1971 – Arctic Ocean Floor


Map – 1955 – Atlantic Ocean


Map – 1990 – World Ocean Floors: Arctic Ocean


Map – 1967 – Indian Ocean Floor


Map – 1992 – World Ocean Floors: Pacific Ocean

Book – Noah’s Flood

More on the Noah’s Ark myths

While not directly linked to the Black Sea story, here are some good sources
for debunking the various Mt Ararat urban legendsThe only wooden ‘boat parts’ that were actually dated went back to the 7th c CE, and it turned out that piece of wood had been carried there by a villagerThere’s some speculation that local monks built wooden structures on the mountainn in the 4-7th c CE to lure gullible tourists.The numerous other reports have failed to actually produce evidence for their claims.
Noah’s Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About The Event That Changed History by William Ryan and Walter Pitman (Jan 25, 2000)An unfortunate title for an excellent book, since many people may assume this is just another creationist rant. It’s most definitely not — instead, it’s a highly readable account of 30 years of scientific work that describes the
Black Sea flood that occured about 7500 years ago — milllenia
after any Noah, but at a time when human civilizations did inhabit the shores of
that sea. The authors are actively involved in this work, and bring together
many different scientific fields, along with discussions of anthropology and
myth. I’ve read widely in all the fields covered here, and the authors did an
incredible job of getting it all down in less than 300 pages. I only wish it
were longer!I’ve seen many misuses of this book by fundamentalists and creationists in
newsgroups, so it’s well worth seeing what the authors REALLY are saying.
There’s much more interesting things in the book than whether the bible got this
one right, but in any case, this book demonstrates that at best, the
Bible copied its flood myth from Gilgamesh and other Sumerian myths that might have
been based on a much older oral tradition. In almost any detail, the bible story
is still wrong (all the earth covered, all life destroyed, one family saved, all
animals riding a small boat, etc, etc)…

China – Ancient Astronomy

In the middle of modern Beijing a medieval astronomy masterwork holds its own. It’s been renamed Beijing Ancient Observatory and is on the southwest side of Jianguomen crossroad in Dongcheng District of Beijing .When I had asked our local guide about it, he said it wasn’t open anymore. Despite his assertion, I wandered the short distance from our hotel and found it both open and quite interesting.

The observatory is located on the roof level of a small building. First built under Kublai Khan a short distance away, the current observatory was completed in 1442 and used by Ming and Qing astronomers. As the Emperor was considered the Son of Heaven, the movements of the heavenly bodies were an important affair. It was taken over by Jesuits in the 1600’s and still has 8 Ming dynasty instruments on the roof – They are, according to the museum “celestial body equipment, equator theodolite, ecliptic theodolite, horizon longitude equipment, quadrant equipment, Simple Phenomena equipment, horizon theodolite ” Most interesting are the dragons and other creatures cast in bronze, that support the various pieces.

Download the  Dragons of China image collection

The observatory itself is located on a 15 meter tall brick platform and about 40 x 40 square meters wide, which is actually one of the few remaining pieces of the the old Ming Dynasty city wall. Interesting in itself, it once ran around Beijing. As I entered, a guy motioned me to go up the obvious stairway to the rooftop, while another guy came up and asked if I wanted to see the astronomical instruments. Saying yes, he led me around the back where there were several replica copies (“Made from fiberglass, not original”), and then just happened to come to his shop that sold compasses and seismographs (along with an eclectic selection of jewelry, bronzes and snuff bottles.) Telling him I’d return afterwards, I went back to the stairway where the other guy was still waiting, and now yelled “UP!” in an I-told-you-so manner. Turned out he had his own shop, too, at the top of the stairs.

Instrument Purpose 
Celestial globe determine the time in which the celestial bodies will rise and set; as well as the altitude and azimuth of the bodies at any given time
Armillary sphere measures the coordinates of the celestial bodies. Constructed of two bronze disks— the ecliptic armillary tracks the sun and the equatorial armillary tracks all other bodies
Quadrant measures the altitudes and zenith locations of the celestial bodies
Theodolite measures altitude and azimuth coordinates of celestial bodies
Astronomical sextant measures the angular distance between celestial bodies
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures
Dragons and other mythical creatures

 

 

On the way back to the hotel, I wandered thru small park, watching card players, bicycle repairmen and dominos games. The card game was similar to Uno and rummy, with card & run matching, but never did get all the rules. Tempo and delivery of cards varied from a casual flick to a defiant slap of a run of cards. Never seemed to affect subsequent play, though, and while there seemed to be a winner for each hand, no cumulative score seemed to be kept. Over at the dominos, similar variations in slap technique were observed, and here the loser would step out to let someone else in for the next round.  

17th century astronomy / astrology

More Museums
More Dragons

More China

Elements of Architecture

Critical Thinking

Glendower:   I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur:        Why, so can I, or so can any man 
                              But will they come when you do call for them?

                                                         –Henry IV, Part 1

Science evolves, Faith is static

As science evolves it finds better and better ways to describe the real world. On the other hand, superstition and pseudoscience continue to muddle the waters. Science is the rational, incremental pursuit of knowledge. The only real way to progress is to design and conduct studies, report the results in peer reviewed journals and proceed to the next question. Problems come in interpreting the results, of course, and journalists have a responsibility to fairly represent the studies’ conclusions – often they’re taken out of context or oversimplified

Unfortunately, as the American public becomes less scientifically literate  more people can be misled [not helped any by those who think creationism is a science]. Basic statistics should be a part of everyone’s education, probably more important for people than geometry or trig or calculus. Critical thinking is required if we’re to have an informed populace. And it matters because anyone can vote, serve on a jury, etc, no matter how ignorant [ie, lacking in facts, not stupid]. The solution is not to narrow the franchise but rather to raise the level scientific knowledge and other important information in everyone’s daily life. This involves not only information but also how we organize that information.

Critical thinking gives us the tools to evaluate information and it’s a process that can easily be learned. In a way pseudoscience and beliefs in paranormal are some of the easiest fallacies to debunk. At first many of these claims appear to be invulnerable, but once you learn which questions to ask these claims are easy to deny. I first started reading the Skeptical Inquirer when Martin Gardner talked about it in his column in Scientific American in the 1980s. By investigating claims of the paranormal using scientific methods it’s easily shown that basic scientific methods deny these extraordinary claims.

Most of these creationist canards are examples of logical fallacies, so studying them can help understand and expose fallacies in other fields, especially given the ‘alternate facts’ approach of the Trump presidency

More about Creationist arguments

Creation Myths

For example the book of Genesis can’t stand up to a rational, scientific reading – it’s actually a conflation of at least 2 earlier creation myths and the order of creation is different in each story this – in one place it says man was created after the animals, in another that animals were created first – it also says light was created before the sun which is the source of our light. These errors show problems in using an ancient text to describe the modern world.

By allowing the religious to define atheism many thinkers have been forced on the defensive. Atheism is not firm knowledge that there is no God, for who can prove a negative? Rather atheism is merely the acknowledgment that we find no evidence FOR the existence of any god. Some would call this agnosticism but there’s really no difference. It’s not an easy or comforting conclusion, but, it means we need to seek a moral basis somewhere other than “do this or you’ll go to hell!”

Skeptic Magazine and Free Inquiry are other sources for developing your critical thinking skills.
Science is under attack from many quarters these days. These books give some excellent introductions and explanations of some of the more common misconceptions and misguided attempts.

 

“The distaste for” progress” and machine-civilization which is so common among sensitive people is only defensible as an attitude of mind. ” George Orwell

Here are several books that focus on specific areas of irrational thinking and also show that the right has no monopoly on faulty thinking. These books give some excellent introductions and explanations of some of the more common misconceptions and misguided attempts.The Secret Origins of the Bible Tim Callahan

Proof of Creation

The Evolution of God

Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality
Quite a mouthful of a title, but an excellent book debunking ‘Goddess spirituality’s fraudulent promises of a newage of peace and justice.   Davis “exposes the complete want of archaeological evidence for this claim, revealing the ovement’s nineteenth century roots in radical Romanticism” (from the jacket)
cover
Higher Superstition : The Academic Left  and Its Quarrels with Science.. A thorough examination of the results of applying a confused literary philosophy to science.   Covers postmodernism, feminism, radical environmentalism, multiculturalism and AIDS activism — each of these areas has tremendous strengths, but the deconstructionist approach (aka political correctness) often leads to absurd positions.  None of these discussions can be dismissed with soundbites, and this book is heavy going in places, but essential for anyone trying to work or think within modern science and academia. cover

Life’s Dominion – Ronald Dworkin  – arguments  on deciding the taking of life – abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment
Heisenberg’s War – scientists’s responsibilities during war

Related work:

One of the more absurd and inane ideas is that of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution.  ID has no scientific backing – there’s no actual research supporting it, there’s no peer reviewed articles [as Michael Behe one of its chief proponents admitted under oath in the2005 trial in Dover PA. ]  So it’s sad to see Northwest Great Books Institute  include Behe’s  Darwin’s Black Box as one of its selection for their annual meeting in Bellingham WA.

Dinosaur Books

Best dinosaur museums in the world!
National Geographic Maps of Science and Dinosaurs  
Jurassic Challenge: Dinosaur Trivia Game and database

Dinosaurs of the East Coast =David B. Weishampel & Luthor Young;

An absolute “must have” for those dinophiles living on the eastern seaboard. The writers take the reader on a voyage of discovery of east coast dinosaurdom. The knowledgeable dinophile will find the early going is a rehash of previous knowledge of the East Coast dinosauria with its dinosaur tracks, the initial discovery of the world’s first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton “Hadrosaurus folkii” in 1858 and Cope vs March. However the recap makes an interesting “deja vu” with a full explanation of terminology in layman’s terms in order not to confuse the casual reader. Descriptions are given of the various dinosaurian groupings and cladistics are relied upon to explain much of their inter-relatedness.

The layout of the book takes you from the beginnings of east coast paleontology (chapters 1-4) to a description of each “age” of dinosaurs as known in the eastern US (chapters 5-8). Discussion is done not
only on a dinosaur by dinosaur basis but on a state by state basis. This keeps the reader in touch with what was going on “not only when” but “where” as well. In addition there are copious illustrations,
tables, and maps to keep a “foreigner” (read that non-easterner) aligned with the area and the animal being discussed whether from Nova Scotia or South Carolina. The 9th chapter is devoted to the modern seekers on the east coast (state by state and formation by formation with maps) and what and where they are finding things. The 10th chapter is devoted to “dinosaur mysteries” and comes up with the “media-accepted” solution of asteroid impact as the final killer.

I found the book made some assertions as though they were fact when really they were based upon speculations or stereotypes. For example, ankylosaurs are described as “slow, sluggish, and low on brainpower – it’s a good thing ankylosaurs were so well armored!” (p15). Perhaps but not proven.
. . for example – some might consider armadillos as slow and low on brain power but I have witnessed them exhibit the ability to literally leap in the air 18″ when startled. Not a “slow and sluggish” move!! Also they mentioned that “Pachycephalosaurs were the head butters of the Mesozoic with a thickened skull and other skeletal modifications that must have served as shock absorbers for head-on collisions”. (pg 15). It is my understanding that this speculation has had some serious opposition
referring to the alignment of the neck vertebrae and their inability to withstand the shock of the collision.

Roger Fry

Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs Michael Novacek.

Ulaan Bataar, Dalan Dzadgad, Baishin Tsav, Hurrendoch, Saynshand, the Nemegt Basin, Ukhaa Tolgod, the flaming mountains of Gurvain Saichan. . .the names ring so foreign in our ears yet they somehow stir the spirit of the adventurer in all of us. With this book you can put on the sound track of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, settle back in your chair, open to page one, and embark upon a well written adventure that includes both science and danger.

Michael Novacek is both Provost of the American Museum of Natural History and an accomplished writer. I expected to open a book and read a pleasant but mundane account of the first six western” expeditions to the Gobi Desert in almost 60 years but was absolutely surprised and captivated by Novacek’s creative writing that grabbed me from the first paragraph and compelled me to continue to read on and on.

The book opens with the expedition’s first trip in 1990 to the “Flamuung Cleefs” (in the words of Dr. Demberelyin Dashzeveg their Mongolian host and world-famous paleontologist). The narrative picks up as
their Russian GAZ truck driven by a Mongolian driver nicknamed Mad Max is about to embark into the dune country of the Gobi. And like the wind in the Gobi, the book never lets up.

To describe all of the information that is included in the book would not only be nigh impossible but would ruin the journey and adventure for you. Novacek takes the reader into the heart of the Gobi desert, from the thrill of the “first” find, to the boredom of traveling hour after hour under tough circumstances, to the discovery of their “Xanadu”, the fabulous Cretaceous setting at Ukhaa Tolgod. The format of the book is a chapter describing each of the six expeditions with as little tedious detail
as possible. Sandwiched between each “expedition” chapter is a chapter devoted to science and the meanings of the discoveries. The science in these intervening chapters does not “throw off” the
non-professional reader and still includes details and concepts to sustain the interest of the avocational paleontologist as well as the professional.

The discoveries that have come from these expeditions have shed new light on what we know about the animals of that age. Perhaps the most publically known specimen is the Oviraptor entombed upon his/her nest. However lost among the media hype of this extraordinary find are the superlative mammal skulls and skeletons, the likes of which have never been seen before. These tiny skeletons (some less than 7″ long) are providing new insight into the “middle third” of mammalian life on Earth.

I highly recommend this book for those who are interested in the aspect of field work and who dream of finding their own “Xanadu”. Novacek and company traveled to the Gobi, suffered heat, exhaustion, biting flies, dust storms, bad food, and an unstable political situation to bring back treasures only dreamed about by most of us. Is this book worth reading? . . . it is worth re-reading!

Roger Fry

Dinotopia books:

  • Hatchling(Dinotopia, No 3); Midori Snyder;
  • River Quest (Dinotopia); John Vornholt
  • Sabertooth Mountain Dinotopia Digest Novels , No 5); John Vornholt
  • Thunder Falls (Dinotopia Digest Novels , No 6)
  • Windchaser (Dinotopia); Scott Ciencin
  • Dinotopia : The Official Strategy Guide (Secrets of the Games Series.)
  • James Gurney’s Dinotopia Pop-Up Book James Gurney
Science Books – Reviews & Recommendations

Dinosaurs of the World

Do you know your Abelisaurus from a Zingongosaurus?Take the Jurassic Challenge — the Online Dinosaur Trivia game

It’s tougher than an Ankylosaurus! Harder than a T Rex’s toenails! This game will challenge the best! Yet, because of extensive use of pictures and multiple choice even parents will be
contenders! To bone up for the next questions, browse the biggest and best dinosaur database — over 400 dinosaurs available, with details on their classifications, where they were found, size, weight and other topics. More than 100 full color images by professional artists. Dinosaur Trivia presents more than a dozen different questions categories about dinosaur names, diet, origins, classification and time periods.  An excellent way to learn.The unique Cascoly Trivia engine ensures that questions will always be fresh — there are billions of possible questions, so you won’t tire of this game before the next asteroid hits. Great for dinosaur lovers of all ages, teachers, students and anyone else interested in painlessly testing and increasing their knowledge of dinosaurs and their world.

TriceratopsParasaurlopholus

Best dinosaur museums in the world!
Dinosaur books
More Science Books – Reviews & Recommendations

Map – 1997 – Human Evolution – National Geographic Map – 1989 – March Toward Extinction
Map – 2000 – The Peopling of the Americas Map – 1993 – North America in the Age of Dinosaurs

Evolution – Books & Resources

Charles Darwin and the Origin of Modern Biology
Creationism exposed
Misconceptions about EvolutionMore Maps and charts of  evolution, plate tectonics and geology
Map – 1997 – Human Evolution – National Geographic Map – 1989 – March Toward Extinction
Map – 2000 – The Peopling of the Americas Map – 1993 – North America in the Age of Dinosaurs

More Maps and charts of  evolution, plate tectonics and geology

The Evolution of God

The Beak of the Finch

This book explains one of the most famous examples of evolution – Darwin’s finches. The original population from the mainland Ecuador became isolated on the Galapagos islands, and different paths led to variants; eventually if isolated long enough the variants can be recognized as separate species

Meanwhile, on the mainland any beneficial changes would quickly spread through the entire population, so that group would also differ from the original colonizers. The book follows current researchers in the Galapagos

Species is really an artificial construct – for most large animals, it’s easy, say, to tell lions from tigers. but yaks and cattle interbreed and their offspring are backcrossed leading to many intermediate forms. Thus you’ll never ‘see’ a species jump out of nothing. it’s only after the 2 populations have changed enough that you can declare there’s a new species

Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors -Nicholas Wade.
An excellent recap of the last half century of research into human origins.

Easily the best book on evolution for the non-scientist since ‘Beak of the Finch’. ‘Before the Dawn’ will be familiar to anyone who reads the NY Times Tuesday Science section – many of the discussions in the book started as articles Wade has written over many years there. Now he synthesizes those pieces and shows how a new consensus is developing and how once heretical theories like Greenberg’s on language are being supported by new research in genetics and molecular biology. As others have mentioned, some of his suggestions need more support, but in a time when scientific ignorance is getting worse, this is a great book to recommend for anyone.

Evolution of Cooperation
Robert Axelrod — If living things evolve through competition, how can cooperation ever emerge? Despite the abundant evidence of cooperation all around us, there existed no purely naturalistic answer to this question until 1979, when Robert Axelrod famously ran a computer tournament featuring a standard game-theory exercise called The Prisoner’s Dilemma. To everyone’s surprise, the program that won the tournament, named Tit for Tat, was not only the simplest but the most “cooperative” entrant. This unexpected victory proved that cooperation–one might even say altruism–is mathematically possible and therefore needs no hidden hand or divine agent to create and sustain it.Wisdom of the Genes
The intersection of genetics, evolutionary science and molecular biology has produced remarkable findings in recent years. Jumping genes–pieces of DNA that move about the chromosomes–have been found to play an influential role. Parasites that actually live inside DNA can trigger mutations. Many biologists, among them UCLA professor Wills, believe that the process of evolution has grown easier over the eons because certain gene patterns turn some species into ever-more-agile adapters to environmental changes. How
butterflies mimic look-alike cousins, the mix of marsupial and placental mammals in Australia and South America and the reign of the therapsids during the 50-million-year stretch before the dinosaurs are some of the intriguing phenomena Wills discusses in this lively primer of modern evolutionary theory. He uses apt analogies and examples but avoids oversimplification. Illustrations.     From Publishers Weekly

The Evolution Game in Action:

 Science Fictionalized:

Hopeful Monsters shows the interplay of biology, physics, philosophy and politics. Skipping the usual banal comparisons, we’re embedded in the period between the world wars. Themes of uncertainty, quantum mechanics and relativity weave the plot. Following a British boy and a German girl, the book proceeds in a series of back looking narratives that take place in the major cockpits of the 1920 – 1930s – from Weimar Berlin to Bolshevik Russia and Civil War Spain. With Fascism and Communism playing for dominance across the continent, politics is brutal and vital. But the characters also try to find a way to create a meaningful life. Significant characters whose views permeate the book include Wittgenstein, Heideigger, the Lamarckian scientists Kammerer and Lysenko, Einstein, and many others. Never a didactic presentation, the novel presents a clear understanding of the major intellectual trends of the 20th century. Others have set their stories in this fermentive period but usually just as a background. Here it’s an essential element to the plot.

Great for book club discussions – you’ll find no end of ways to interpret and discuss this book

Science Books – Reviews & Recommendations

Science Resources

Science & Nature Resources

Play our online
Food Chain Game
Ecomaster A diverting yet challenging ecology game in
which you bid for and trade animals based on their abilities to thrive in
different environments.
Critical  Thinking, and Pseudoscience Science is under attack from many quarters these days.  These
books give some excellent introductions and explanations of some of the more common misconceptions and misguided attempts.

 

Creationism Exposed – Fallacies Explained

Why do creationism’s supporters still argue about evolution?

Over the years I’ve participated in countless discussions with creationism supporters about evolution. My background is in basic science, but I later moved to computer programming analysis and design. Among many of my friends who pursued careers in science, there was a basic belief that evolution was such an established fact that there was no need to engage in discussions with those who denied evolution. Unfortunately, as the decades have passed, there are still many otherwise intelligent people who remain ignorant of the basic fact of evolution. If this were simply a personal preference or belief, it wouldn’t be troubling. But today’s world requires citizens to make decisions based on science when voting, serving on juries, or setting educational standards. We can’t afford to remain the only developed nation in which such a large portion of the population rejects evolution. We are destroying our environment as the right wing continues to ignore the FACT of global warming and the US loses its once high standards of education

When creationists enter the argument, they invariably use a variety of devices – some rhetorical, some seemingly logical or scientific. But in just about every case these arguments turn out to be misleading, lacking evidence, misstated or outright lies. The following is a presentation of some of Creationism’s biggest hits. Incredibly [or perhaps sadly], I’ve been able cull all my examples from just one discussion at http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/101355  The quotes in italics are from that earlier discussion.

Most of these creationist canards are examples of logical fallacies, so studying them can help understand and expose fallacies in other fields, especially given the ‘alternate facts’ approach of the Trump presidency.

 

“Evolution is just a theory”

Dictionaries can be confusing, while science is precise, and the scientific concept of a theory is not just some daydream; it’s a hypothesis backed up by evidence and has the ability to be falsified by new experiments. Some theories become so solidly defended that they become know as ‘laws’ although scientifically that’s not a precise term. Thus we have Newton’s Laws of motion and gravity, which are really just extremely well founded theories. Einstein and others expanded these laws with Quantum theory, that now has very strong evidence. In biology, there is nothing that has the solidity of evidence that the ‘theory’ of evolution holds. So the ‘just a theory’ argument shows either an ignorance of science, or an attempt to mislead by using varying definitions.

For those playing at home….

Take any substantial creationist attack on evolution and count how many of these tactics are used

“Evolution can’t explain how something came from nothing”

Typical argument: If you can answer how, life EVOLVED out of NOTHING. … not beginning with that one-celled organism that is proclaimed to be the first fruit of the tree of life, but THE NOTHING THAT CAME BEFORE the one-celled organism…. HOW DID NOTHING COME ALIVE?…

Creationists often confuse evolution and origin of species with origin of life itself. Evolution ONLY deals with what happens after life is present. There are theories of how life began, but that is a separate area and evolution will not be affected by the outcome.

“One swallow means it’s spring”

Creationists somehow are able to ignore thousands of scientists who agree about the fact of evolution, but then grasp at statements from some one person who disagrees, concluding that therefore evolution must be wrong.

An example:

I might have selected Anthony Flew, a former atheist, but I chose another rather highly esteemed authority on the subject: Dr. Richard Lumsden, whose degrees were earned at Harvard.

What I also know is that: Darwin was ‘just one man’ too. Moreover, the scientific facts structured during his lifetime were not ‘evolved’ enough to prove or disprove his “THEORIES” at that time. Since then, the fabric of science has developed in such leaps and bounds now that another HUGE SCIENTIFIC Ex-Atheist Figure “Anthony Flew” has also changed his mind based on the findings related to genetic DNA/RNA structures.

A particularly unfortunate choice of heroes, since Flew, an atheist turned deist did not reject evolution, but merely held the entirely logical belief that a ‘god’ was behind what we perceive as science. Like Einstein, this is a philosophical argument, ultimately about the origin of the universe, and doesn’t affect the story of billions of years of evolution.

“Give both a chance”

Similar to the previous argument, this one makes the seemingly reasonable argument that fairness dictates we present ‘both sides’. I’d be willing to agree with this, as long as we weight the arguments – I’d guess there are more than 10,000 scientists for every 1 who believes in creation. So if we give equal daily time to each ‘side’, we’d have science present its case for about thirty YEARS before we’d hear from the isolated creationist/scientist.

This is the usual argument over teaching creationism in schools. When they are offered the chance to present creationism in a philosophy or comparative religion class studying various creation myths, creationists invariably walk away.

“There is no missing link”

A Genealogical Tree has leaves on the branches. There is the human in question at one end, then the parents of this person, then the grandparents, but each branch has leaves, provided that the parents had more than one child and each child had children. As the person digs deeper and discovers more members of the family, be they alive or dead, the branches and the leaves grow thicker, more full.

But where are the leaves on the ‘evolutionary tree’? There are none. Why? Because there are no links. There is no evidence of anything. No matter if the Scientific effort is archaeological, genetic, biological, mathematical and so on.”

Despite constant new discoveries of transitional fossils, creationists continue to make this claim. They demand to a see something that is half-man / half-ape, when again, this is a claim evolution does not make. Instead humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor.

“The odds are against it”

Another very popular creationist ploy:

“For reasons that are beyond my articulation skills to explain… and while this platform defies the scientific efforts to prove itself, with odds AGAINST an occurrence such as spontaneous generation having been calculated by scholars in a formula that measures somewhere at 1 to the 141st exponential power… in other words ‘non-existent’, this premise is perceived as a viable condition for the remaining processes of evolution to exact themselves….

is that the same way no actual link has been found to exist between man and his supposed cousin the ape, so no such possibility of creating life from an element lacking life, exists. No matter what type of advanced ‘lifeless’ elements are utilized, no matter what type of laboratory devices are available, life cannot be generated from nothing.

These are a few of the ‘facts’ that I find more than interesting, because they are irrefutable.”

Besides that last statement which makes a claim totally unsupported by anything previously discussed, this is the classic argument from incredulity

“gee, i cant imagine how this happened …THEREFORE it never happened”

These mathematical claims ignore the actual science – evolution is not totally random, but relies on natural selection to speed up the process.

“Absence of evidence is proof of existence”

This example evolved from a claim that a particular scientist later rejected evolution. Other participants pointed out there was no evidence for this claim. Here’s the creationist response:

“I’m certain he has books, articles or other documentation to the foundational structures undergirding his change of mindset. The thing is, NOT EVERYTHING is on the internet… (well not yet at least). So, you may find what you are looking for from the University where he last taught, or in a biography, or published diary (if one exists).

The fact that you are having trouble finding any documentation related to the reasons behind why he changed his premiss may not mean such writings don’t exist, only that they are not easily accessible.”

“Evolution defies 2nd law of thermodynamics”

However, Albert Einstein, said, “‘No matter how carefully we examine the energetics of living systems we find no evidence of defeat of thermodynamic principles.” *

Despite the fact that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is immutable, the Scientific community continues to experiment with that which is beyond them. In fact, a formerly unknown species can be made using the “law of deformation,”. This application then has the ability to cause some functional body systems to be “suppress(ed)” producing “monstrosities” instead of genetically enhanced creatures.

Such a structure is consistent [sic] with the Law of Thermodynamics. Still, the experiments continue.

This is one of my personal favorites – it usually shows up on day 3 or 4. This argument does nothing to falsify the fact of evolution, and is usually presented by someone who couldn’t tell you what the actual laws of thermodynamics are. those who actually know the laws, may appreciate this updated version, easier to remember:

1. you can’t win
2. you can’t break even
3. you can’t get out of the game

The 2nd law only holds in a closed system, and in an open system such as the earth’s biosphere, entropy may indeed have local decreases without affecting the overall tendancy of entropy to increase . It’s amusing to watch creationists try to defeat one scientific fact by misunderstanding another one.

“Evolution denies god”

This is less common, but still frequent:

“One of the biggest reasons, besides the lack of evidence, that I do not believe in Evolution is the fact that many people who do, have “exiled God” from the equation. “IF” Evolution is a possibility, as far as I’m concerned, GOD IS IN THE EQUATION.

Another reason I fail to believe in Evolution is because many who do propose such a ‘theory’ to be the viable manner in which human life was formed, act as though they have the ‘facts’. They don’t. However, I may be wrong. Proof would better help me understand if I am wrong.”

This is just the argument from false premises

  • evolution denies there is a god
  • god is real
  • therefore evolution is false

“Darwin was a Nazi”

Guilt by association is a common fallacy, but this form of the argument is particularly egregious and mendacious:

“Evolutionary theory” is not “grounded in human beings… as such. Darwin’s assumptions were grounded in something no one really wants to mention, that is: The man (Darwin) who came up with the theory of evolution actually uses this theory to propose “the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life”.

For this reason, people such as Adolf Hitler were great admirers of this ‘unproven theory’. In fact, Hitler is said to have dedicated much thought to accomplishing a philosophy that may have been spawned from the concepts of Darwin.”

“Bible claims anticipate science”

“I am sure there are many scientists who are Christian, or any other religion for that matter, who take their personal morals and beliefs (coming from their religion) and apply those to what they are studying. I am sure the Bible has played a role in many things, and the claims that the Bible stating that touching a dead body will make you ill lead to people washing their hands after touching the sick and the dead is not that far fetched of a claim”

Often after claiming they don’t take the Bible literally, creationists point to alleged historical or even scientific accuracies of the Bible. Then they make the unsupportable leap:

  • The Bible is correct about X
  • Therefore the bible creation story is true too

But the examples used are at best, nebulous:

Numbers 19:11

‘He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days.’

Apparently the good doctors and scientists ignored that small piece of advice, and women died as a result.

People of all faiths do science, but the results are due to science, not their faith Few if any scientists pray that their experiments will work; and even fewer search the bible for possible research topics. The bigger picture is most cultures define treyf , but for thousands of years people still died from bacterial and other diseases. The mere fact that some text said ‘be clean’ has nothing to do with modern medicine.

Similar over-reaching claims are made for ancient technologies :
“archaeological discoveries give evidence of the very advanced techniques in history, practices such as brain surgery, for which there was no technology”

The writer was referring to skulls showing evidence of trepanning. This wasn’t brain surgery in the modern sense – it’s drilling a hole in the skull – in former times it might be used to release humors or demons. This may relieve pressure from subdural hematomas, but is unlikely to cure migraines or other diseases and is hardly comparable to modern neurosurgery

“Argument from ignorance”

Commonly used in discussions of complexity, eg, the development of the eye. This is the argument from ignorance: I don’t understand X, therefore Y. It is a logical fallacy. Organic molecules are abundant in the universe, and on the early Earth they found conditions that were conducive for life, and life arose. The process isn’t fully understood, but to give up trying to find out how it happened and to say “God did it,” admits defeat and accepts ignorance. (Besides which it just pushes the process back one step with the forbidden question “Where did god come from?”

“Scientists are wishy washy”

Actually, I don’t recall encountering this one before.

Creationists want a definitive answer. During the discussion there was this lament:

Why must evolutionists ALWAYS have to include ‘may’ ‘could’ possibly’ and any other number of less than definitive words in their statements?
In something as relevant as this, ‘may’ is not satisfactory, can you say a definite does, or will?

Scientists must be PRECISE, so those terms are appropriate for discussing science – unlike those who KNOW there is a god [and often also know all others are false], for example, entropy truly MAY decrease in some places while overall it will increase, as expected. Many facts of science are based on probabilities – eg, while no individual weather event can definitely be blamed on human- caused global warming, the FACT of significant global warming, combined with the known FACTS of the human contributions to global warming justifies the conclusion that some/many/most of the extreme weather events witnessed over the last decade MAY be caused by such human intervention. this gets back to OP’s constant demand for unambiguous ‘proof’ which is impossible

I realize it’s tough for some people to realize that there are few black & white issues in the world, but that’s just the way it ‘may’ be [possibly].

“Scientists don’t respond to creationists”

In truth, proponents of evolution know that it cannot withstand open criticism. Furthermore, they know that evolution cannot be tested nor is it any more scientific than intelligent design; in fact, it is less so. Therefore, in order for them to keep it ensconced in textbooks, they must suppress criticism of it and not allow its varied and numerous flaws to be considered critically. The situation that has arisen due to this irrational adherence to evolution is nothing short of “abnormal and undesirable in science.”

This sort of argument is dishonest – first quoting out of context [using a creationist website rather than the actual original source], then extrapolating from a 60 year old quote to claim something for which the writer presents no evidence — where is there such evidence of suppression? All the evidence is on the other side — eg, Texas textbook committees refusing to let evolution even be discussed in American science text books. The next sentence often concludes that since they won’t debate, evolution must be false.

It is true that most scientists 50 years ago, and many still today, were/are disparaging of creationist critics — a big reason for this is that they understood that any educated person could not possibly fail to see the reality of evolution. They underestimated the willful ignorance of the American public, especially when fueled by fundamentalist rantings, so they didn’t see the need to react more positively.

But ultimately, none of these creationist out of context quotes address the fact that evolution is true. At the same time, none of creationism’s proponents offer evidence for their argument that creationism is scientific. In politics, you can win with a negative campaign that proposes no ideas of its own, but that’s not how science works.

“Misquoting scientists”

The atheist paleontologist, Stephen Jay Gould, once said:

‘Our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational and objective “scientific method”, with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots is self-serving mythology.’

Anyone who has actually read the works of Stephen Jay Gould would realize this was not a refutation of evolution, as Gould was one of the most avid advocates for evolution, both as a scientist and a popular author for the general public.

“Distortions of science”

’Once again, we join the discussion in progress:

…which in turn causes people to become immune to antibiotics, which in turn allows for mutation of the virus, which is actually a genetic loss, not improvement. Bacteria becomes resistant to drugs because they lost information… The antibiotic cannot lock onto the ribosome of the bacteria because that ribosome is lost in mutation… resistant only to the particular drug that caused the mutation.

 

This is scientific gibberish:
* people don’t become ‘immune’ to antibiotics – the attacking organisms become resistant
* that does NOT lead to the virus mutating
* for neither virus nor bacteria is this a loss – rather it’s a gain in function
* antibiotics do not work by attaching to ribosomes or they would also kill the infected host
* if a bacteria ‘lost’ its ribosomes it would die

Beyond these mistakes, the writer misses a very basic fact — evolution does not make anything do anything. instead, natural selection allows the preferential survival of organisms that HAVE ALREADY mutated, when they can do better in the new environment. unlike invoking a creator, the process is totally random, ruled only by the laws of science. In this example, the mutation that allows resistance is already present when the organism confronts the antibiotic challenge.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing:

there was an analogy held to by Aldous Huxley. … A proponent of Evolution, he made a remark about a monkey being able to type out the Complete Works of William Shakespeare given enough time. However, THE SCIENCE OF MATHEMATICS refutes such a possibility. What’s more, the theory of Evolution evolving from a one-celled live, organism IF THAT WERE EVEN PLAUSIBLE, into a complex, fully developed human cell, according to THE SCIENCE of MATHEMATICS, sits at a statistic with an exponential value of 1 to the power of 1000., which is SO REMOTE THAT EVEN THE ODDS OF A MONKEY EVENTUALLY (over millions or billions of years) TYPING OUT just ONE SHAKESPEAREAN PLAY ARE MORE REALISTIC.

There are examples of the Mathematical Equations, including factors associated with the numbers a person would be looking at (and comments made as a result of what is posted) for such a SCIENTIFIC FACT

Of course, the writer didn’t actually do the math, but was yet again quoting from a creationist website. Besides the questionable attribution to Huxley, the argument once again distorts the basic concepts of evolution.

“KINDS”

Typical creationist claim: “We are discussing the ‘General Theory of Evolution’ (GTE), which was defined by the evolutionist Kerkut as ‘the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form.’

It is erroneous, then, to say that a human-tampered banana is proof, that human-tampered farm animals are proof, that a virus adapting to a virus is proof of GTE.

Show me, using the scientific method, evidence of a banana becoming something other than its kind, or a cow becoming something other than its kind, and you can claim evolution to be scientific”

Kind is a biblical not scientific term – often used to declare that we never see, as above, cows becoming ‘something else’. First creationists try to redefine the terms by supplying their own definitions, then they ‘disprove’ evolution by tossing out absurd statements. Evolution doesn’t claim that cows will suddenly become a different ‘kind’, but rather, over many generations, AND some sort of selective pressure, the population of cows may become different enough that eventually there are 2 distinct populations, which may eventually be recognized as species. The African jungle elephant is one example of this phenomenon. . A quick summary:

* mutation causes changes in genetic data

* changing environments apply different stresses

* natural selection results in reproduction of forms best adapted to new conditions

All the above come from just one discussion on Hubpages, but the distortions and misquotes used by creationists are similar wherever they pop up [not surprising really, since they habe no actual science to back up their claims]

For some of the best discussion and documentation of the creation & evolution debates, check out Talk Origins, one of the oldest ongoing newsgroups, pre dating the internet.

 

Ok, I’m well beyond the top 10 originally promised, but I couldn’t resist. And all these remember are from just 1 site. The internet can be a powerful tool, but it also makes it easier to perpetuate misinformation, distortions and outright lies. My intent here is not to start yet another creation – evolution discussion, although all comments will be welcome and accepted. Rather to provide some analysis for when you’re presented with these common ploys when you encounter these arguments.

Proof of Creation

#Proof of Creation

#In the beginning there was the computer.

%>Let there be light!

 

And God said

 

#Enter user ID

 

%>God

 

#Enter password.

 

%>Omniscient

 

#Password incorrect. Try again.

 

%>Omnipotent

 

#Password incorrect. Try again.

 

%>Technocrat

 

#And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Sunday, March 1.

 

%>Let there be light!

 

#Unrecognizable command. Try again.

 

%>Create light

#Done

 

%>Run heaven and earth

 

#And God created Day and Night. And God saw there were 0 errors.

 

#And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Sunday March 1.

#And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Monday, March 2.

 

%>Let there be firmament in the midst of water and light

 

#Unrecognizable command.   Try again,.

 

%>Create firmament

 

#Done.

 

%>Run firmament

 

#And God divided the waters. And God saw there were 0 errors.

 

#And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Monday, March 2.

#And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Tuesday, March 3.

 

%>Let the waters under heaven be gathered together unto one place and let the dry land appear and

 

#Too many characters in specification string. Try again.

 

%>Create dry_land

#Done.

 

%>Run firmament

 

#And God divided the waters. And God saw there were 0 errors.

 

#And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Tuesday, March 3.

#And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Wednesday, March 4.

 

%>Create lights in the firmament to divide the day from the night

Plate Tectonics

Plate tectonics:



Map – 1975 – World Ocean Floor, Physical World

Map – 1985 – Shaping of a Continent – Tectonic plates

Map – 1978 – Heart of the Grand Canyon

Map – 1998 – Physical Earth – Continental Drift


Map – 1995 – Earth’s Fractured Surface -World Ocean Floor


Map – 1969 – Pacific Ocean Floor


Map – 1971 – Arctic Ocean Floor


Map – 1955 – Atlantic Ocean


Map – 1990 – World Ocean Floors: Arctic Ocean


Map – 1967 – Indian Ocean Floor


Map – 1992 – World Ocean Floors: Pacific Ocean

What’s New – Book Reviews

Book Reviews – Recent additions & updates