Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Kevin Henke tackles John Woodmorappe’s TAB flood sorting mechanism

itsdemtitans
itsdemtitans
Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:42 pm by itsdemtitans

Hey people,

Two blogs in one month, eh? I’ve got a treat for you today. Back in 1983 creationist John Woodmorappe came up with a hypothetical flood sorting mechanism known as Tectonically-Associated Bioprovidences. It was set to explain problems with original ecological zonation hypothesis. In 1998, Geologist Kevin Henke tackled the paper. It reveals better than anything else how incompetent creation “geologists” are. However, it was hidden away in the archive of the Talkorigins newsgroup. After cleaning it up to better fit the format of this forum, I gained permission from Kevin to repost it here. Thanks, Kevin!

It’s a little hard to read without Woodmorappe’s figures in front of you, but there’s still plenty of Gold in it. Enjoy the read!

~Itsdemtitans

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Response to Woodmorappe’s Claims in his Paper: “A Diluviological Treatise on the Stratigraphic Separation of Fossils”

Kevin R. Henke, August 8, 1998

Note to reader: To fully understand my critique, you will have to obtain a copy of Woodmorappe’s paper and refer to the figures and tables in it.

John Woodmorappe (not his real name) first presented his TAB (Tectonically Associated Biological Provinces) concept in “A Diluviological Treatise on the Stratigraphic Separation of Fossils,” which appeared in the December, 1983 issue of the Creation Research Society Quarterly (CRSQ). The article was reprinted in his 1993 book, “Studies in Flood Geology.” Woodmorappe attempts to disprove the reliability of index fossils and explain away the geologic time table by evaluating the relationships between 34 groups of index fossils.

First of all, he can’t even get the time ranges of many of the index fossils correct. I randomly checked some of them in his Table 2 and found many errors and improper uses of index fossils: For example, he lists Monograptus with the Ordovician graptolites. However, Monograptus never lived during the Ordovician. It’s a Silurian index fossil! See Shimer and Shrock’s “Index Fossils of North America” (1987, 13th printing) p. 75, 77 or Moore, Lalicker and Fischer’s “Invertebrate Fossils,” McGraw-Hill, 1952, p. 731. As another example, Xenodiscus is a lower Triassic ammonoid(Shimer and Shrock, p. 569). Yet, Woodmorappe lists this fossil with the Permian ammonoids in Table 2. Also Dictyonema is not a suitable index fossil for the Ordovician, because it lived from the Upper Cambrian to the Lower Mississippian (Shimer and Shrock, p. 65).

I could go on.

Everyone makes mistakes, but Woodmorappe’s errors in Table 2 and elsewhere in this paper are too common for him to be a competent geologist. When I pointed this out to Woodmorappe in January 1998, all he could do was to say that he would recheck his references. It’s a little late. This rechecking should have been done in 1983, as part of “peer review” process of CRSQ. Woodmorappe also inappropriately uses rare vertebrate index fossils, such as Dimetrodon and dinosaurs, like Stegosaurus. These vertebrate fossils are very valuable and WHEN they’re found, they are useful. However, Woodmorappe must realize that two of the properties of a truly useful and relevant index fossil are widespread occurrence and frequent preservation.

It’s obvious that he did not consult tables, like the one in Mintz, Leigh W., 1977, “Historical Geology: The Science of a Dynamic Earth”, 2nd ed., Charles E. Merrill Publishing, Columbus, OH, p. 212, before he selected his 34 groups of index fossils. This table does not even recommend using vertebrates, since vertebrates are so rarely preserved. Forams, radiolarians, and other microfossils are much more useful than a large dinosaur that has little chance of being preserved and becoming a fossil. Also forams are found in more diverse aquatic environments than dinosaurs. Forams and other microfossils have a relatively good chance of being preserved, because of their diversity and small size. Dinosaurs are clearly inferior index fossils. Geologists learn all of this in second semester freshman Historical Geology 102 or related intro classes. It’s a wonder that Woodmorappe can draw any conclusions at all from his work because Table 2 indicates that he can’t read the contents of a simple paleontology book.

Woodmorappe responded to this paragraph through private email to Karl Crawford and me by simply stating:

“His [Henke’s] claim that I use ‘bad’ index fossils such as dinosaurs shows that he [Henke] does not know what he is talking about, or else he is deliberately trying to snow-job you. Everyone knows that dinosaurs can be used as index fossils if they are found.”

As shown above, I NEVER said that dinosaurs were “bad” index fossils. I called them inferior to invertebrates because they are not as well preserved. They are very good index fossils, WHEN they’re found. Also, Woodmorappe largely ignores ocean sediments and continental well cores in this study. Why does he do this? He emailed Karl and me and told us that ocean and well core (borehole) data were largely unavailable when he wrote this article in the early 1980’s. However, continental well core data for the Williston Basin and most other petroleum-producing areas have been available since at least the 1950’s or 1960’s. Useful information on ocean sediments has been available since at least the late 1960’s. Woodmorappe could have updated his article with ocean and continental well core data before it was reprinted in 1993. Ocean sediments are relatively complete back through the Cretaceous and better support evolution and the geologic time table than the largely eroded and nonpreserved continental rocks and sediments for the same time span. If Woodmorappe really wanted to study the validity of the geologic time scale, he should have looked at ocean sediments. Chapter 7 “Fossil Distribution and the ‘Ecological Zonation’ Hypothesis” in “Neglect of Geologic Data: Sedimentary Strata Compared with Young-Earth Creationist Writings” by old-Earth creationist Daniel E. Wonderly (Interdisciplinary Biblical Institute, 1987) talks about the problems that forams and radiolaria in ocean sediments present for advocates of “Flood Geology.” Wonderly’s chapter not only demolishes creationist claims about “ecological zonations,” but it also would put to death Woodmorappe’s TAB concept.

Well cores and fence diagrams are essential to obtain a 3-D view of the geology of an area. By largely ignoring these data and only looking at surface outcrops, Woodmorappe is certainly not going to find very many cases of index fossils from different periods in one locality, especially since he is only working with 34 groups and many of them are rare vertebrates. Woodmorappe is correct when he says that it is rare to have outcrops in one location that contain more than two geologic periods. This is because most rocks from a given period are very thick, often thousands of feet thick. Except for the Grand Canyon and relatively few other places, you have to drill deep within a site to reach the rocks of another period beneath the one or two on the surface. This is not surprising since the rocks of each geologic period often represent millions of years of net accumulation. In the oil-producing Williston Basin of western North Dakota, for example, it is not uncommon to go to a site with dinosaur fossils, index mollusk fossils, or turtle fossils on the surface ARRANGED IN THEIR EXPECTED GEOLOGICAL ORDER and drill down through hundreds or thousands of feet of rock containing numerous index fossils of different mollusks, brachiopods, etc. from at least SEVEN different geologic periods.

As an example, there are outcrops near the border between Slope and Bowman counties in western North Dakota (Township 135N, Range 106W). In that area, Champsosaurus is located in the Huff Member. Both just above (in the Tullock Formation) and below (in the Pretty Butte Member) are specimens of the index fossil, Viviparus, a snail. (For details, see: Frye, Charles I., 1967, “The Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.) So how did the Champsosaurus get sandwiched between layers with these snails? The outcrops include well-layered bentonite beds, which are weathered volcanic ash deposits. Also, the Huff Member typically contains very water soluble gypsum crystals. How did the ash beds settle and form extensively lateral layers during a violent Flood? Why weren’t the gypsum crystals dissolved and washed away by the Flood waters? Oil wells throughout the two counties go down into the Paleozoic, where brachiopods, trilobites and other marine invertebrates, many of them as index fossils, are present. You can see the intact fossils in the miles of drill cores from the Basin that are stored in Grand Forks, ND. It’s easy for Woodmorappe to draw false conclusions when he’s only working in one or two dimensions by studying outcrops (i.e., the surface) rather than working in three dimensions by studying well cores or using fence diagrams. If he was thinking in 3-D and using a larger number of index fossils with the correct time ranges, he wouldn’t be drawing such bad conclusions, such as: “index fossils shun each other geographically” (p. 154).

There’s no shunning in at least the Upper Midwest. I browsed through Shimer and Shrock’s list of gastropod index fossils and I easily found EIGHT index fossil species that are useful in the Fort Union and Lance Formations of western North Dakota and Montana. AGAIN, I was ONLY looking at GASTROPOD (“snail”) index fossils from ONE book and I was able to find: Viviparus raynoldsianus, Lunatia subcrassa, Campelona multistriatum, Valvata subumbilicata, Drepanochilus americanum, Pleurolimnaea tenuicostata, Planorbis planoconvexus, and Cylichna scitula. Woodmorappe incorrectly suggests in his article that index fossils are too spread out from each other to be reliable. Well, that might be true IF you’re only looking at a few of them and many of them are poorly preserved (i.e., rare) vertebrates! But, if you use common sense, as many INVERTEBRATES as possible (including down to the species level), and ocean and continental well cores, Woodmorappe’s assault on the geologic column crumbles.

Figure 1 on p. 135 is a bar graph that shows the percentages of fossil families and genera that are found in only one geologic period, just two periods and so on all the way up to the percentage of families and genera found in all 11 Phanerozoic periods. The bar graph shows that about 80% of some 19,805 fossil genera evaluated by Woodmorappe and over 30% of some 2,617 fossil families evaluated by Woodmorappe are restricted to one geologic period. That’s a lot of potential index fossils! Less than 7% of the genera and about 30% have life spans that include three or more periods. The immediate question that I have is how such a violent world-wide Flood could manage to so segregate or keep the fossils segregated. Why aren’t the vast majority of fossil families and genus found in 8 or more geologic periods? Woodmorappe attempts to deal with this creationist problem in this paper, but fails in my opinion through special pleading and the use of straw people arguments.

Woodmorappe also warns his readers that the genera and family results in Figure 1 may be biased because of subjective and inconsistent genera and family classifications and “circular reasoning” (p. 135-136). Even if minor adjustments are needed in taxonomic classifications or if the often touted and rarely supported creationist claims of “circular reasoning” are real in a few cases, the data in Figure 1 are clearly consistent with the geologic column. The fossil groups are segregated because they lived and died at different times, and they EVOLVED!

Woodmorappe notes that further exploration sometimes leads to the expansion of the life span of an index fossil. An example may be found in Mintz, 1977, p. 211, which states that the bryozoan Archimedes was once thought to only have lived during the Mississippian period. However, it’s now known to occasionally occur in Pennsylvanian and Permian rocks. Therefore, Woodmorappe (p. 136) argues that the results in Figure 1 may not be final.

Paleontologists are very familiar with this problem. This is why they look for fossil assemblages in previously unexplored regions rather than just relying on single index fossils. Geologists argue that using just one index fossil for a previously unexplored outcrop is unwise because there is a chance that the fossil may have lived earlier or later in this area than in other areas of the world. This could result in the improper dating of newly discovered sedimentary rocks (see Mintz, 1977, p. 210-217). This is why geologists use fossil assemblages of 5, 10, 24 or even more fossils. The chances that ALL 10, 24 or whatever number of members of a fossil assemblage lived in an unexplored area before or after they lived everywhere else in the world are remote. It does not surprise me that Woodmorappe doesn’t talk extensively about REAL WORLD fossil assemblages in this paper, because in the hands of early 19th century geologists, fossil assemblages were important in killing Flood Geology.

On Map 36, Woodmorappe plots “localized occurrences” of Jurassic ammonoids, Lower Carboniferous corals, Silurian brachiopods and graptolites and Cambrian trilobites on maps of Nevada, Utah, and Great Britain. He states (p. 150) that there are very few localities in these areas where three out of the four fossil groups occur within a few 10’s of miles of each other. But, why would any geologist expect to find locations that have three or four of these groups, since they don’t even have consecutive ages?!

For map 36, Woodmorappe includes Cambrian trilobites, skips the Ordovician, includes Silurian brachiopods and graptolites, skips the Devonian, includes Lower Carboniferous corals, skips the Upper Carboniferous, Permian and Triassic and includes Jurassic ammonoids. Why all the skipping? Woodmorappe’s larger maps (p. 140-146) indicate that Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, and Triassic index fossils are at least present in parts of Great Britain. What would these maps have looked like if Woodmorappe had included a thorough representation of index fossils from four consecutive periods, such as Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian? For creationists, would the results have been too good in illustrating the reliability and usefulness of index fossils?

Woodmorappe constructs some hypothetical examples of his TAB concept in Figure 4. Immediately, I wonder why he is using a hypothetical example rather than a reconstruction of an actual field location, like the Michigan Basin or the Williston Basin. Geologists have derived reliable paleogeographic maps that are useful in oil exploration. Creationists could try reconstructions as well. By not using a real world example, Woodmorappe is not allowing scientists to really evaluate his TAB concept and his claims against orthodox geology. He is being like William Morris Davis, who sat at a desk rather in the field and derived a “cycle of erosion” for landscapes. The “cycle of erosion” proved to have no extensive field support.

Initially, Woodmorappe (p. 158) divides the Phanerozoic into four divisions, I, II, III, and IV, (where, I = Lower Paleozoic, II = Upper Paleozoic, III = Mesozoic, and IV= Cenozoic). The Precambrian is included in I (p. 160). For Woodmorappe’s TAB concept to work, biogeographic zones must be strongly associated with certain tectonic provinces, thus the name: Tectonically Associated Biological [TAB] Provinces. Specifically, he argues (p. 158) that Lower Paleozoic strata would be associated with the most tectonically active areas. The Cenozoic deposits would be least affected by tectonic forces (e.g., Figure 5). Of course, there is no geologic evidence to support such a link. He attempts to argue for a link from information in Table 3 (p. 152-153, 158), but this “link”, if it really exists, could be explained as nothing more than erosional effects.

To argue that Cenozoic-Mesozoic deposits experienced less tectonic activity than Paleozoic deposits, Woodmorappe (p.158) claims that 57.4% of the total volume of Phanerozoic platform sediments are Cenozoic-Mesozoic and only 41.3% of the more tectonically influenced geosynclinal sediments belong to these two Eras. However, these percentages may have no statistical significance for Woodmorappe, since the Paleozoic lasted for about 375 million years and the combined Cenozoic-Mesozoic Eras represent only 225 million years.

Woodmorappe (p. 158) talks about how submarine topography and volcanic activity could affect biogeography. However, according to Woodmorappe’s claims, the Lower Paleozoic strata of Indiana or Iowa should have experienced more tectonic activity than the Cenozoic deposits of California, Oregon and Washington State. No way. For Woodmorappe’s TAB concept to stand even a slight chance of working, areas with rocks containing Lower Paleozoic fossils MUST ALWAYS have sunk further into the Earth’s crust than adjacent areas with rocks with Upper Paleozoic or younger fossils (see Woodmorappe’s paper, p. 155 and following). But, there is no basis to believe that this occurred.

Woodmorappe finally states (p. 158): “It should be emphasized that TAB’s did not arise from trial-and-error migrations [of organisms from one biogeographic province to another] but were present since the Creation and were based on teleological design.” When there’s inadequate scientific evidence, Woodmorappe invokes miracles to prop up his TABs. By comparing Woodmorappe’s Figure 6 with Figure 4, numerous contradictions become apparent. Notice that in Figure 6, Woodmorappe claims that IV/III/II/I is the most abundant TAB with about 28% of the Earth’s land surface. IV/III/II/I in Figure 6 is represented by TAB 3 in Figure 4.

However, his maps in Figure 4 show that this TAB would be relatively rare when compared with TABs 7 (I only), 10 (II only), 14 (IV only), or 5 (III only), since TAB 3 only occurs at the junction where IV, III, II, and I (TABs 7, 10, 5 and 14) meet (Woodmorappe admits that TABs like 3 form at junctions, see p. 162). Geometry 101 dictates that the intersection point of I, II, III, and IV polygons in Figure 4 will be smaller (i.e., a point) than the areas of each of the polygons that are part of the intersection. Therefore, Figure 4 or any other TAB maps that Woodmorappe could cook up dictate that TABs 7, 10, 14, and 5 should cover larger areas than their intersection point 3 or IV/III/II/I. However, Figure 6 indicates that 3 actually has a higher percent of the Earth’s land surface area than 7, 10, 14, or 5. By trying to expand TAB 3 and shrink TABs 7, 10, 14 and 5 to try to make Figures 4 and 6 consistent, Woodmorappe risks producing abundant false TABs like IV/II/III/I, which he admits are nonexistent to rare.

Look carefully at the cross sections in Figure 5 and you will see how currents could easily produce a false TAB of III/IV II in the center of basin II by depositing IV from the left before III from the right. It is only by special pleading and doctoring of the diagram could Woodmorappe eliminate this problem. But, all things are possible when you use imaginary cross sections instead of real ones. In Figure 5, Woodmorappe claims that rocks II and III are separated by a few 10’s of kilometers. Such distances are too short to be effective barriers to many organisms. If erosion did not purge the barriers, the migration of sea birds and terrestrial animals between the two marine environments could easily carry invertebrate eggs, forams, seeds, and other organisms that would cause Permian forams to noticeably mix with Cretaceous clams, like Inoceramus, for example. Thus, the migration of organisms in Figure 5 could also create many false TABs. (See Raup and Stanley, 1978, “Principles of Paleontology,” p. 404f, for discussions on the creative ways in which organisms may cross geographic barriers.)

As a real world example, I have asked Woodmorappe and/or Karl Crawford to apply the TAB concept to the Williston Basin of North Dakota. The Williston Basin contains abundant Late Paleozoic evaporites, which indicate dry climates that are completely incompatible with a raging Flood. Some creationists, like Nutting in his ICR,”Graduate School Thesis,” have,attempted to argue that the evaporites had a hydrothermal origin that was related to volcanism. But, except may be for wind-blown volcanic ash beds, there is no evidence of igneous or metamorphic deposits in the Late Paleozoic rocks of the Williston Basin. Woodmorappe makes more errors with his fictional examples in Figures 7 and 8, which deal with biostratigraphic distributions. In Figure 8, Woodmorappe attempts to show that index fossils are “incompatible” or, in other words, index fossils don’t tend to overlap at field sites. Since he is not basing his arguments on any real world examples in Figures 7 and 8, his arguments are nothing more than invalid straw people. But what makes the situation even worse for him is that he can’t even read his own figures. For example, in Figure 8, Woodmorappe claims that E1, I20; E3, I18; and E20, J14 are “compatible” or overlap stratigraphically. But Figure 7 shows that they don’t!

CONCLUSIONS:

The conclusions in Woodmorappe’s article are based on the improper use of index fossils, too few fossil groups, other fundamental errors and numerous contradictions between his imaginary figures. Because of these errors and a lack of real world examples in Figure 4, his TAB concept is geologically worthless. Woodmorappe needs to read some Geology 101 and 102 textbooks before he tries to apply his ideas to real geological features, such as the Williston Basin of western North Dakota. If he does, he will probably discover, as geologists did 150-200 years ago, that Flood Geology is crap.

Chemostratigraphy shows the geologic column is no flood deposit

itsdemtitans
itsdemtitans
Tue Dec 01, 2015 9:18 pm by itsdemtitans

The one thing that bugs me about creationism is they rarely put forth any real research (and what they do make is usually revealed to be crap based on shoddy data). They love to point out anomalies such as soft tissue remnants in fossils and claim that it’s flat out impossible for it to be there if the fossils are ancient. There’s no good reason to think this, as the processes which form the rock are far better established than long term tissue decay rates in dinosaur fossils.

But what I consistently notice is they’ll use things like soft tissue to try and advocate their position must be right by default. I mean, how else would you explain these discoveries???

I don’t know. Scientists are only just beginning to find out what mechanisms may play a role in preserving tissue remnants over long periods of time. But what needs to be made absolutely clear, and that creationists just can’t seem to get, is that even if we don’t know how these anomalies came to be, that does not prove their global flood at all. The simple fact is their global flood idea has been falsified over and over, and over, and over again. A falsified model, which I will show as conclusively falsified below, is not the answer.

Now then, how do we know, conclusively, that a global flood as advocated by YECs never happened? It’s all due to this lovely branch of geology known as Chemostratigraphy.

Chemostratigraphy is the study of the chemical variations within sedimentary sequences to determine stratigraphic relationships.(1.) This obscure subdiscipline in geology completely undermined every young-Earth interpretation of the geologic column. Before reading any further, I’d highly advise reading the crash course on chemostratigraphy at AgeofRocks.

To sum it up, Chemostratigraphers can use the ratios of certain stable isotopes, such as Carbon 12 or 13, to determine the chemical make ups of rocks and graph them stratigraphically. Often this is because the isotope ratios will record certain events from the time periods when the rocks were laid down, such as the carbon levels in the ocean.

Here’s the analogy from AgeofRocks:

Perhaps the best way to illustrate isotopes of carbon in the ocean is with a bowl of red and green M&M’s, where each color corresponds to a different stable isotope of carbon. For the sake of discussion, this bowl contains precisely 50% green M&M’s (light carbon) and 50% red M&M’s (heavy carbon), for a ratio of 1:1. Now, imagine you leave the room and return later to find that the ratio has shifted to 0.9:1.1, meaning the bowl has been enriched in red M&M’s. There are two possibilities that could explain the shift: either someone added a sample containing more than 50% red M&M’s, or someone removed a sample containing less than 50% red M&M’s. Perhaps you have a child, therefore, who prefers one color to the other, so every handful he takes is biased to that color. This process will leave the bowl preferentially enriched in the other color. If every handful contained precisely half green and half red M&M’s, then the ratio of green to red in the bowl would never change. Likewise, any process that removes carbon from the ocean will change the δ13C value of oceanic carbon, so long as the isotopic ratio of the sample differs from that in the bulk ocean.

Typically, we can use index fossils and radiometric dating alongside stratigraphy to determine that, for example, a rock layer in Nevada is the same age as a rock layer in southern China (perhaps they both contain a unique assemblage of Cambrian-aged trilobites). According to a flood geologist, these layers were deposited in a single year around 5000 years ago. However, they were not necessarily deposited simultaneously. So, if the fossils are in the same order, it has to be due to hydrological sorting or ecological zonation. Regardless of how the order arose, one thing is certain: if these marine organisms were all buried in a global flood, then all of them made their shells from the same ocean and the same reservoir of carbon with approximately the same isotopic ratio. So when fossilized shells of trilobites, brachiopods, mollusks, etc. are analyzed across the Phanerozoic (542 Ma – Present) for carbon isotopes, flood geology would predict that the levels of carbon found in all of these animals, regardless of where in the column, should have an equal amount of the same isotopes.

But this is not what we see. (3.) Instead, what we see are patterns of fluctuating isotopes. This is best illustrated by the graph from Veizer et al.,

https://ageofrocks.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/eac8d-veizer1999.jpg?w=500&h=307

The graph shows that the carbon-isotope ratio in carbonate fossils—and therefore the ocean itself—varied substantially over the past 500 million years. This is in direct conflict with what one would expect had these fossils all been laid down by a single flood. Because the carbon reservoir in the ocean is so large (today, about 39,000 billion tons of carbon), the color of this bowl of M&M’s does not change appreciably on a whim—certainly not in the space of a 370 days. It takes time. Thus, chemostratigraphy leaves the creationist idea of a global flood dead in the water.

To be through, I’ll use the possible immediate objections to chemostratigraphy here, with refutations:

The flood caused wild variation in carbon isotopes!

Variations in the carbon-isotope ratios of fossils are far too great to be explained by shifting ocean chemistry within a single year, meaning these organisms could not have lived in the same ocean at the same time. See the attached graphic above. There would also need to be a mechanism for the addition and removal of massive amounts of carbon isotopes (2.), making the idea even less likely.

What’s more, the pattern of carbon-isotope variations from Cambrian to Quaternary is the same across the entire globe. Whether you’re sampling rocks from Texas or Tanzania, layers of limestone determined to be the same age according to their fossil content also exhibit the same pattern of δ13C values over time. These values are invariably high for Permian-aged carbonates and invariably low for Ordovician-aged carbonates.Consider the fact that in order to increase the oceanic δ13C value by only 5‰ requires a sustained doubling in the rate of organic carbon burial for about 1 million years. There is no reason for any proposed fluctuations in the flood to have been spread out evenly across these deposits all over the globe, especially not if all the sediment (and any carbon by extension) was getting mixed up prior to deposition. The values should be highly variable, not identical across the globe.

The animals in these areas prior to the flood lived in unique basins with different carbon ratios. Therefore, seeing their values varied like this should be expected.

If variations between one part of the ocean and another could account for trends in carbon isotopes, then we shouldn’t find the same temporal trends in different parts of the world (e.g. China vs. North America vs. Australia). Also, we find carbon isotope values changing significantly within the lifetime of single species (e.g. of Cambrian trilobites (4.) ), so one couldn’t claim that all those trilobites just lived in a unique basin prior to the flood. In every environment, the relative change in carbon isotopes correlates well from one site to the next. Finally, we can examine both carbon and strontium isotope trends to ensure that carbon variations weren’t limited to a unique environment (strontium isotopes don’t vary from one basin to the next). (2.)

Chemostratigraphy provides the final falsification of a global flood depositing all of the geologic column. It instead provided a wonderful opportunity to examine the chemical environment of Earth’s past and is a testament to an ancient world.

References:

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemostratigraphy

2.http://ageofrocks.org/2014/08/23/chemostratigraphy-silent-objector-to-flood-geology/

3.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009254199000819

4.http://ageofrocks.org/2014/08/27/the-spice-event-global-disruption-in-the-late-cambrian-carbon-cycle/

“What about this document?” Holocaust deniers make me sick!

theyounghistorian77
theyounghistorian77
Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:43 am by theyounghistorian77

So, in the space of less than a week, I have caught out twice two different Neo-Nazi holocaust deniers on Twitter trying to use (or rather abuse) this ITS B.A.D Arolsen file against me (at the bottom of the post) in their mad claims that the true total of Jewish deaths is lower than the approx 6 million figure that I and every other scholar who is not a Nazi or a racist accepts as the truth (on a range of various sources; see Lucy Dawidowicz, “The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945″; Raul Hilberg, “The Destruction of the European Jews”; Peter Longerich, “Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews”; and Arno J Mayer, “Why did the Heavens not Darken?” among many many other excellent titles).

For those who do not know, the ITS B.A.D Arolsen is, as it says on its website, “a centre for documentation, information and research on Nazi persecution, forced labour and the Holocaust.” It’s an excellent service and I would recommend in the same vain “The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names” by the Yad Vesham Center which has painstakingly compiled “the biographical details of two thirds of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices.” For those who do not know too much about the Holocaust, I would highly consider you visit both websites together and fully digest them, so that one may begin to get an understanding of the actual vast scale of the tragedy of the Holocaust, for both document it. Unsurprisingly, no Neo-Nazi I have ever had the unfortunate luck to to run into has ever admitted to liking full documentation. It proves too much truth. Take for example the following written by General Commissioner Wilhelm Kube on 31 July 1942, which is arguably one of the most explicit documents about the Nazi mass extermination. No denier has ever managed to explain this one away to me, and I don’t expect any to. Thus far I have quoted it in all debates I have ever had with Neo-nazis, even on this very forum.

“In every encounter with partisans in White Ruthenia, it has been established that in the former Soviet part of the district general as well as in the former Polish part the Jews together with the Polish Resistance Movement in the East and the Red Army men of Moscow are the mainstay of the partisan movement. As a result of this, and in view of the danger to the whole economy, the treatment of the Jews in White Ruthenia is a predominantly political matter which, therefore, should not be solved according to economic but political angles. During detailed consultations with the SS Brigadefuehrer Zenner and the extremely capable Chief of the SD, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. jur. Strauch, we found that we had liquidated approximately 55,000 Jews in White Ruthenia during the last 10 weeks. In the Minsk-Land area, the Jewry was completely exterminated, without endangering the allocation of labor in any way. In the prevailing Polish Lida area, 16,000 Jews, in Slonim 8,000 Jews, etc., were liquidated. The preparations for the liquidation of the Jews in the Glebokie area were completely disrupted by the arbitrary action by the rear army area, which has already been reported to your office. In the rear army area , I was not contacted , 10,000 Jews were liquidated who were scheduled for extermination by us anyway. In the city of Minsk about 10,000 Jews were liquidated on 28 and 29 July, 6,500 of whom were Russian Jews , mainly old people, women, and children , the remainder consisted of Jews unfit for work, most of whom had been sent to Minsk from Vienna, Brno, Bremen, and Berlin in November of the previous year at the Fuehrer’s orders.

The Slutsk area was also ridded of several thousand Jews. The same applies to Novogrudok and Vileika. Radical measures still remain to be taken for Baranovichi and Hanzevichi. In Baranovichi, about 10,000 Jews are still living in the town alone, 9,000 of whom will be liquidated next month. In the town of Minsk, 2,600 Jews from Germany have been left over. Besides, all the 6,000 Jews and Jewesses are still alive who have been working, during the action, with the units who had employed them previously. Even in the future the largest Jewish labor force will be in Minsk, since the centralization of armament industries and the burden on the railways makes this necessary for the time being. In all other areas the number of Jews utilized for labor by the SD and myself will be fixed at 800 at the outside but at 500 if possible so that after the completion of the action 8,600 Jews will remain in Minsk and approximately 7,000 in the 10 remaining territories, including the territory Minsk-Land, which is already free from Jews. The danger that the partisans will, in future, derive any important support from the Jews will then have ceased to exist. I myself and the SD would certainly much prefer that the Jewish population in the district general of White Ruthenia should be eliminated once and for all when the economic requirements of the Wehrmacht have fallen off. For the time being, the necessary requirements of the Wehrmacht who is the main employer of the Jewish population are still being considered. The clear anti-Jewish attitude of the SD and the difficult task of the units in White Ruthenia to deliver again and again new Jewish transports from the Reich to their destination, both put an undue strain on the physical and spiritual strength of men of the SD and diverts them from their real purpose, which lies in the White Ruthenian region itself.

I should therefore be grateful if the Reich Commissioner could see his way to stop further Jewish transports until the partisan threat has finally been overcome. I must make 100 percent use of the SD against partisans and against the Polish Resistance Movement, both of which demand the use of the full strength of the SD units, which are none too strong as it is.

After the conclusion of the anti-Jewish action in Minsk, Dr. Strauch, SS Lieutenant Colonel, reported to me tonight, with justifiable wrath, that without any order from the Reich Leader SS and without notification of the commissioner, a transport of 1,000 Jews has suddenly arrived from Warsaw for use in this air fleet area.

I should like to ask the Reich Commissioner (who has already been advised by teletype), in his capacity as the highest authority in the Ostland, to stop such transports. The Polish Jew is, exactly like the Russian Jew, an enemy of all that is German. He represents a politically dangerous factor, the political danger of which exceeds by far his value as a specialized worker. Under no conditions must Wehrmacht agencies of the army or the Luftwaffe, be allowed to import, without the approval of the Reich Commissioner, into an area under civil administration, Jews from the General Government who might endanger the entire political work and security of the district general. I am in full agreement with the commander of the SD in White Ruthenia, that we are to liquidate every Jewish transport which has not been ordered or announced by our superior officers, so as to avoid further unrest in White Ruthenia.” – Source

so they always turn to tidbits, lunatics and distortions to make their case, tactics that are of course very familar to the Creationists on this forum and they easily belong in the same category of stupid (even if somewhat more offensive perhaps). This is what brings me to the following document you see now:

What do we have here? Although I will not say I am 100% sure on this namely because actually up until this week i hadn’t seen it, but I’ll take my cue from this which is another excellent website on Holocaust education and specialises in refuting denier arguments. From that I am inclined to believe we have a 1979 document taken out of context by the deniers that, in actuality, represents figures for applications to death certificates made by family members and relatives of the victims. Of course, if an entire family had died in the holocaust, there would be no one around left to make an application. Remember, this document comes from 1979, so it’s one thing the figures seen would be incomplete even in that department anyway by modern standards, families since would have made claims. It’s entirely something else that the figures within cannot describe final numbers of Holocaust dead like in the way the deniers are spinning this document.

In short Holocaust deniers makes me sick!

Evidence-based medicine: Introduction Part 1

Inferno
Inferno
Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:59 pm by Inferno

In my last post, “What’s the harm?”, I talked about the problems of taking medicine (or treatments!) that’s neither good nor bad for you. I also talked about “evidence-based medicine”, but didn’t really delve into that topic. I won’t do that in this post, either!

So what, you may well ask, do I want to talk about now? I want to give you a look into what a few doctors do and why their approach is deeply flawed. I’ll give one specific and not-well-known example of alternative medicine as well as some obstacles I found when investigating its efficacy.

In short, I’ll talk about why medicine needs evidence and why practitioners of alternative medicine might be reluctant to look for evidence. I apologise if the post is fairly long, but I need to flesh out my example to make sure you understand the practices behind it.

 

First, let me try to explain PsychoSomatic Energetics (PSE).

Watch this video. Read this page. (If you speak German, read this book. Or don’t, it costs money… Twenty pages are also available here.)

Done? Now what do you know about PSE? Not very much, I’d think. You know it has something to do with “energy blocks” and with measuring the “subtle energy field”. But how does it work?

Here’s where I come in. I’ve read the book and I’ve talked not only to people who’ve taken a seminar in PSE, meaning they’re qualified to test with it, but I’ve also E-Mailed one of the inventors of PSE, the ex-Wife of the guy in the video. What I will now lay out will sound confusing, mad even. If you don’t trust me, read the book and cross-check what I’ve said. If anything I’ve said sounds exaggerated or false, feel free to criticize me in the comments.

PSE is based on Freud’s psychoanalysis, basically issues from the past are said to influence your current health. In Freud’s case, that meant mental health, in PSE language mental health influences physical health. Up until now, the theory’s sound. Of course depressions and other mental problems can affect the body, but the effects can be hard to spot and even harder to treat.  That’s why psychotherapy is such a difficult field, why so many therapists have to take long vacations and why they are given the harshest, yet most self-preserving advice.*

Here, then, is PSE’s amazing promise: Not only can we find out what is wrong, and how much is wrong, but we’ll even be able to cure them in a relatively short time using homeopathic remedies. Now we haven’t yet looked into homeopathy, so we’ll assume for now that the remedies are 100% effective. That’s how generous I have to be just to take PSE seriously. So what should strike us about the above is this: It claims to cure all energy-related problems. Any remedy that claims to cure everything of anything can be almost immediately dismissed.

Now I’ve failed to tell you two things:
1) What does PSE supposedly treat? “Energy problems” is not very specific a term in this context. I’d refer you to Dr. Banis’ book, but that’s not very helpful: “Most illnesses are caused by blockades of the soul, which can’t be tested nor treated early enough. That’s what we try to counter with PSE.” If you found that illuminating: Congratulations, you’re smarter than I am.
I have talked to some people though, and their answer is the same: “Almost everything can be treated with PSE, if it’s found early enough”. I’ll be generous and say “Non-serious mental problems (slight depressions, slumps, feeling worn-out, etc.) and small boo-boos (coughs, “feeling unwell”, etc.) can be treated”.

2) What is energy and how does it relate to PSE?
Remember that PSE is bound to eastern traditional medicine. In that tradition, the body has “energy” and that energy is located in one of the seven “chakra-points”. That energy is generally an astral “energy”, a sort of “I’m full of energy”-thing, but recent attempts (Deepak Chopra et al.) have tried to make this “energy” a real energy, a physical force.
If you read the PSE-book I’ve referenced above, you can find at least three definitions of energy:
a) The above described astral energy
b) Magnetism, in this case the slight magnetic field around the body.
c) The energy we know from physics known as “force” and the energy we know from electricity known as “electric charge”.

According to PSE, we can measure the energy at every chakra-point on a scale from 1-100, with every one of those points further being divided into four “energies” known as “vital”, “emotional”, “mental” and “causal”. We don’t  need to understand them, we just need to know that according to PSE, if any one of those energies suffers (note: that’s 28 different measurements!) then we won’t have enough energy, which can either result in us feeling depleted (think of it as forgetting to turn off a light at home, it drains your money) or in us becoming sick (a light bulb pops due to it being overused). I won’t go to tell you that it’s then compared to the four “juices” of the body, also known as the “four temperaments“. That would just be mean and discredit the whole thing immediately.

In any case, back to PSE. Now that we’ve understood what is to be tested, we can see how it is tested. The process is relatively simple:

Take a machine, in this case the Reba® special test device and hook the patient up to it. You do that by placing the machine on a flat surface, lying the patient down next to them and attach a wristband to one of their wrists.
Next, you take an vial of the homeopathic remedy you want to test (one vial corresponds to one of the 28 levels I described above) and place it into the receptor of the machine. Note that at no point does the actual remedy get into contact with the device.
Having done that, you switch on the machine and test for the first of five levels. (100/5=20, so you test at 20, then 40, then 60, etc.) To do that, you (being the doctor) take the arms of your patients and lightly pull on them. (Arms outstretched behind/above your head) If one arm is longer than the other one (supposedly called “kinesiological arm-length reflex”), you know that energy is lacking.

Practical example: If you test vial one and your patients arms are the same length at 20, but one is shorter at 40, then you write down “20”, because that’s the “available energy level”. If they’re the same length at 20 and 40, but different at 60, you write down 40. And so on.

And that’s it, basically. You repeat that 28 times and write down the results. If they’ve got energy level 100 everywhere save for vial 28 (associated with “wrong thinking”), you give them remedy 28 to “boost their energy level” at that point. After six to twelve months, the patients come back and if they tell you that they feel better, then everything’s fine. If they don’t, you re-test them and give them more remedies.

Now obviously, there’s so much wrong with that, I won’t be able to go into all. A quick overview:

  • What is energy and why do they use so many different, conflicting definitions?
  • How can PSE supposedly treat “everything”?
  • How can we test if “chakra-points” really exist?
  • Why are they using outdated concepts like the “four-temperament” theory?
  • How does the test device work?
  • Is the arm-reflex reliable? (Hint: NO!)
  • Isn’t the whole thing a bit subjective?

But most importantly of all, I want you to focus on one very specific problem: Where’s the evidence that it works? Anybody can say that it works (more on that much later), but how can I prove that it does?

Here’s where PSE encounters some very serious problems. There are four!!! relevant studies to this, with a total sample size of about 2000-2500. That’s not a bad sample size, it should be enough to see if PSE works or not. Below are the four studies:

Schmetterlingsstudie – Butterflystudy

Banis R, Banis U: Psychosomatische Energetik – Ergebnisse einer Praxisstudie. Schweiz Zschr Ganzheitsmed 2004;16:173–178.
Holschuh-Lorang B: Psychosomatische Energetik in der Allgemeinmedizin – Ergebnisse einer Praxisstudie. Schweiz. Zschr. GanzheitsMedizin 2004;18,368–371.
Banis R: Multizentrische Praxisstudie zur Psychosomatischen Energetik. Schweiz Z Ganzheitsmed 2010;22:269–272.

If you look at them, they all document a large percentage of “good” and “very good” results. But didn’t I just tell you PSE had serious problems when it comes to evidence?

Yes, because the above is not evidence of anything. It’s worthless trash, not worth the bits it’s written in.
That may sound harsh, but I’ll explain myself and I hope you’ll share my view.
Take note, because this is what the whole post has been building up to!

Eye-witness testimony is the lowest form of evidence in science, especially so in medicine. You can get better without the medicine or treatment doing anything (placebo effect), you can think you’re getting better even though the evidence shows no benefit and you can think the drug as a whole is beneficial (just not in you) even when it’s actually actively killing people. In his excellent book Bad Pharma, Ben Goldacre documents (pages 140-143) the effects of a drug called Iressa on the general population. Basically, Iressa showed no real-world improvements for patients, yet they gave positive testimonies nonetheless.
So at the very least, we can expect PSE to look slightly beneficial just due to this misinformation or misunderstanding or whatever you would like to call it. We will also expect it to look more beneficial because of the placebo effect and, because often people go to get treated with nothing more than “feeling bad” or “anxiety”, even better because people care for them and talk to them.

None of that would matter if PSE were ever tested fairly, that is to say using real, measurable effects. Since none exist (bar the subjective “I feel well” from patients), we would at the very least expect PSE to be tested against a placebo. After all, we know how potent the placebo effect can be. No, none of that. After over 15 years of PSE having been practised, NOT A SINGLE study has been conducted comparing PSE to a placebo. I even went as far as suggesting a cooperative effort between Dr. Banis and myself, but that failed due to a number of factors. (She was interested and would even cooperate with me, but no suitable venue nor funding was found.)

This is what this post has been about: More than fifteen years of practising PSE have passed and we don’t even know the most basic thing about it: Does it work? (I’d say no, but then you shouldn’t take my word for it.)

So I asked a practitioner (or at least advocate) of PSE about the lack of evidence for PSE, not to mention the various pieces of evidence against PSE. What does she make of that?
Her response: “I don’t care about evidence, I have seen it work with my own eyes. And I probably wouldn’t change my mind if I saw studies to the contrary.”

This staggering lack of curiosity about the evidence is baffling. Why don’t you want to know if it works? Isn’t evidence something to actively seek out? And even if you don’t want to conduct the studies yourself, wouldn’t you at least like to know?
Interestingly, I was then chastised by nearly everybody at the table for daring to challenge a doctor and for being a “damn skeptic”.

So as of today, the evidence is still not in on PSE, but it most definitely is in on homeopathy and since that doesn’t work we can safely assume that PSE doesn’t work either. If new evidence comes along, I’ll review my view and make a second post on this issue.

For now though, I hope you’ve taken one thing away from this: Medicine needs evidence, otherwise we don’t know if something works or not. I’ll give specific examples for that in the next post, this one here was mainly to give one example of practitioners or advocates of alternative medicine being reluctant to seek out evidence against which to measure their medicine or treatment.

Beware of alternative medicine.
*In a lecture, future therapists were told the following: “Some day in the future, a person will walk through your door. This person will be extremely friendly and will immediately open up to you. They’ll tell you that you’re the only person who’s ever understood them and that all previous doctors just couldn’t find the answer but that they just know that you’ll be better. If that ever happens, THROW THEM OUT! They’re lunatics and you can’t help them”. -unsourced

Edited by Dean, 06/03/2013
Reason for edit: Spelling correction [1].

The Soviet Story, A critique (the first 20 mins).

theyounghistorian77
theyounghistorian77
Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:35 pm by theyounghistorian77

I’ve been eyeing up to do something about this film for a little while, and whilst i enjoy mocking those derive all their ideas about the Soviet Union from the likes of Beck and said film. I’ve decided to calm down enough now, to do a proper critique of this movie, which for the time being can be located here.

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Free GE

Aught3
Aught3
Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:34 am by Aught3

Forgive the indulgence, I read a rather infuriating story in the newspaper and I felt like a rant.

A recent story in the Dominion Post (Commercial benefits lacking in GE trials) reveals the genetic engineering trials being carried out by Crown Research institutions have lead to very few commercial gains. Plant and Food and AgResearch have paid over half a million dollars in application fees to ERMA and only one of the trials has resulted in royalty generating IP. To those familiar with New Zealand’s restrictive requirements for GE research, this outcome is hardly a surprise.

Despite decades of safe use around the world, GE and GMOs remain contentious issues in New Zealand. The regulatory environment alone makes it difficult to carry out even basic research, let alone the commercial research which scientists are now being criticised for not producing. Anti-GE spokeswoman Claire Bleakley decries that the benefit of GE research being completed in New Zealand is lost to the overseas companies. But if private companies are the only ones paying for the research to be carried out then it makes sense they are the ones who reap the economic benefit. Basic funding for GE research is simply not available in New Zealand, the funding bodies know there is little chance any innovation made will be allowed to be used.

If New Zealand wants its scientific organisations to produce applied science using GE technology then it must:
1) relax the regulatory environment so that research time and money is not being consumed navigating expensive legislation
2) fund GE projects so the IP is not captured by overseas companies
3) open the New Zealand market to GMOs so that the benefits of this technology can be accrued here

There is very little risk and huge benefits to allowing GE research to be conducted more freely. The longer New Zealand clings to the anti-GE label, the more we miss out on the exciting commercial opportunities. Rather than be GE-free, let’s free GE!

Cross-posted from IndoctrinatingFreethought.blogspot.com

Magnetic Madness

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:00 am by rabbitpirate

Recently my Dad was diagnosed as having arthritis in his knees. Now I should say right from the beginning that I am skeptical even of this, given that the diagnosis apparently just involved my Dad telling the GP that his knees still hurt after a fall he had a few weeks ago, the GP looking at my Dad’s trousers for a few seconds (he never so much as asked him to roll up his trouser leg) and then noting the fact that my Dad is over 60 and so concluding that the pain is therefore the result of arthritic knees. But I am not going to focus on this aspect of the story as it is what happened next that really got my skeptical juices flowing.

 

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Religion and support for torture

Aught3
Aught3
Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:01 am by Aught3

An interesting paper in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin details the conflicting influences of religion on support for torture. The researchers tested several possible relationships between these two factors including the influence of other variables such as education level and political conservatism. I found the results fairly surprising, let me know what you think.

The data collected was from two surveys taken in 2004 and 2008 asking 983 and 1,893 people respectively. The first effect looked at was the direct relationship between religion and support for torure. The researchers found a negative correlation on this point. That is, a religious person was less likely – on average – to support torture. This was described as an organic influence, something about the precepts of religion and opposition to torture were simultaneously appealing to the survey respondents.

However, the authors had also expected a discursive influence of religion and torture because of the popular view that religion and conservative politics ‘go together’ in the US and conservative politics lead to support for torture. When they separated out the progressive and conservative respondents, the moderating impact of religion was overwhelmed and a strong positive relationship between religion and support for torture was observed. A discursive relationship is one that arises through common perception, such as an ideological framework. Compare this to an organic relationship caused by innate features which people may not be consciously aware of. To show the three part relationship between religiosity, conservatism, and torture the researchers looked at one final factor: education level.

The authors of this study reasoned that conservatives with higher education levels would hold more consistent political views. Those with less education would be more likely to follow the common, organic, threads even if they were inconsistent with their stated political position. The data were consistent with this hypothesis showing conservative religious people who were highly educated were even more likely to support torture. So there we are, being religious is negatively correlated with supporting torture but being educated and politically engaged is positively correlated with it, at least if you are a conservative.

 

Malka and Soto (2011) The Conflicting Influences of Religiosity on Attitude Toward Torture. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

tp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=The%20Conflicting%20Influences%20of%20Religiosity%20on%20Attitude%20Toward%20Torture
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