Evolution doesn’t make you smart

Charles Darwin, father of modern evolution, source of two prime secular falsehoods in America today.
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So Rafi Letzter, writing in Business Insider, wonders “why so many smart people don’t believe in evolution.” He rightly questions a study suggesting if you’re smart, you should believe in evolution. But he then fails to follow through with what his own analysis suggests.

This paper, from Dan Kahan of Yale University and Keith Stanovich of the University of Toronto, started the trouble. The authors re-examined a study from a year ago correlating Cognitive Reflection Test scores with belief in evolution. The original authors suggested the better you are at cognitive reflection, the more likely you will reject design for the origin of life.

What is cognitive reflection?

The two papers give three examples—riddles, actually. To solve them, you must see beyond the obvious and work out the logical. For instance: a bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? If you answer ten cents, the obvious answer, you flunk. If the bat costs a dollar more than the ball, then the bat costs $1.10 and the two items cost $1.20. Instead: let x represent the cost of the ball. Then x + ($1.00 + x) = $1.10. Working it through, 2x = $0.10, and x = $0.05.

Take another riddle the social scientists did not use in their test. You live in a house having all southern exposure. A bear walks past your house. What color is the bear? White—because where else, except at the North Pole, would a house have all southern exposure?

Two kinds of rationality

The authors of that first paper suggested people accept evolution because strict reason demands it. In other words, only intuition suggests that “all functional systems, including living beings, originate in intentional agency.” If you can’t get past that, you have set a limit on your rationality. Not so fast, say Kahan and Stanovich. They broke the original sample down by the holding, and the strength, of religious convictions.

Kahan and Stanovich concluded many “smart” people will still insist life starts with an intention to build it. Such people will stand firm in their convictions, and use all the logic tools they have to express those convictions. (Social scientists call these opposing concepts “bounded rationality” and “expressive rationality,” respectively.) And whether those convictions are religious or secularistic, doesn’t matter. So people who score higher at solving such riddles won’t necessarily abandon creation (or intelligent design) for evolution. Instead, whatever they believe, they will defend the more militantly.

What this means

Mr. Letzter, commenting on this, wrote:

Folks who reject science, like the brilliant, infuriating Talmud scholars in my life, might not simply do so because they lack the brainpower to grasp it. Instead, they seem to arrive at their religious skepticism by their own extreme powers of persuasion — a highly developed ability to convince oneself that, rationally, the thing you believe is right. Oddly enough, that’s the very same route that leads many secular people to place their faith in science.

What a scary thought.

Mr. Letzter gets it half right. That thought should scare people. Those who believe in evolution can no more defend their position as “rational” than can those who believe in creation. Earlier in his article, Mr. Letzter confidently holds that “evolution is the foundation of all modern biology [and] medicine.” He cites this reference – from the United States Public Broadcasting Service. (More particularly, it comes from that bastion of Boston Brahmindom, PBS Television Station WGBH.) But the paper he cited should have warned him to consider this possibility: that is a matter of opinion.

Why people really believe in evolution

Mr. Letzter laments that “only 50% [of US adults] believe in evolution” in the latest Gallup poll. Why, he asks? Don’t people “realize” that “evolution is the foundation of all modern biology [and] medicine”? Can’t they see the results of 157 years of “thorough investigation”?

What thorough investigation? The only investigation we have seen, is an application of the “expressive rationality” of Kahan and Stanovich. People want to reject God, so they will seize upon any teaching that discredits and obviates Him. Aldous Huxley expressed it up-front in his essay Ends and Means:

I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do.

For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.

To paraphrase the great actress Katharine Hepburn, as Amanda Bonner, Attorney-at-law, in Adam’s Rib:

Now you have it! Judge it so!

To continue: a strong belief system stands behind a creation advocate. Apply that same rule to an evolution advocate, to be intellectually honest.

Look at the facts

Does evolution really found all modern biology and medicine? First, how living systems work does not derive from how living systems came to exist. Evolution might inform how biologists classify living things. But no biologist can point to a single insight in how things live, that they had to change because someone found a link in the chain of life “out of order” in the fossil record. Current news abounds with stories of new findings “forcing a rewrite” on human evolution. That will not change a single diagnosis, treatment model, or treatment plan.

Furthermore, if evolution founds modern medicine, then all doctors should agree on how to treat common diseases. They don’t. At least two schools of human physiology have sprung up. Though both claim a foundation in evolution, the two sides oppose one another. In fact they oppose one another as bitterly as do “global warming” alarmists and “denialists.” Conventional or allopathic theorists and practitioners think they can improve on evolution. Alternative practitioners, like Joseph R. Mercola, D.O., heap scorn on that idea. Don’t tamper with a system that has stood the test of time, they warn. Creation-advocating doctors, by the way, say: don’t mess with the work of the Master!

No investigation

The Ernst Haeckel drawings, a famous example of science fraud in the name of evolution

Ernst Haeckel’s comparative-embryology drawings, as copied by G. J. Romanes in 1892.

And who has “investigated” evolution? Never has any evolution advocate had to defend the proposition as rigorously as a PhD candidate must defend his dissertation. In fact, the fundamental proposition doesn’t even stand the test one applies to a master’s thesis. The world has, instead, seen fraud after fraud after fraud after fraud after fraud after fraud after fraud. Piltdown and Peking “Men” spring to mind. So do the Ernst Haeckel comparative embryology drawings. Whether these frauds still inform the discussion of life origins, doesn’t matter. (By the way, the Prentice-Hall Biology textbook still has the Haeckel Drawings, at last report.) What does matter is that no creation advocate has ever perpetrated such a fraud. This reviewer challenges any evolution advocate to show any creation-supporting fraud as great as Piltdown or Peking “Man” or the Haeckel Drawings.

Fraud aside, evolution has only opinion to support it. Consider this profound statement: “all functional systems, including living beings, originate in intentional agency.” Why shouldn’t living beings originate in intentional agency? How did this become mere irrational intuition, something to get past to prove one is smart? For answer, turn to Aldous Huxley. Then consider: not one scientist has ever defended the notion that living things can come about by chance alone. No one has shown how life would inevitably arise, under the “right” conditions. Never mind that living beings are the most complex functional systems, by several orders of magnitude, by any reasonable standard whatsoever. So what makes them exceptional? James Perloff, writing in Tornado in a Junkyard, uses the analogy of a tornado ripping through a junkyard and assembling a modern airliner. In fact, something as simple as a cell is still more complex than any airliner.

Why don’t they test it on themselves?

One thing more that Mr. Perloff did not notice: an evolution advocate “basking in x-rays in hopes of ‘mutating to a higher state.’” We see that in comic books and cheap science fiction. From The Incredible Hulk (Marvel Comics Group) to Protector (Larry Niven’s Known Space), entertainers exploit this theme. But no scientist has ever defended it. And still fewer real scientists would dare test the proposition on themselves or their families.

We can settle this

Let’s repeat that: we can settle this debate now. Walter T. Brown, of Phoenix, Arizona, has put forth the most comprehensive, and comprehensible, theory on the most violent event this earth, and the solar system, have ever known. This theory explains many of the same things those expressive hyper-rationalists we call “evolutionists” cite as “proof” of evolution per se and the long time frames their theory assumes. And unlike those who advocate for evolution, Brown offers to defend his theory against any detractor, or even a tag team of detractors. He also offers the sum of one thousand United States dollars to anyone who will accept his challenge, or find someone who will.

So let an advocate for evolution come forward, to explain why living beings, alone among functional systems, indeed the most complex of functional systems, not only need not but cannot have originated in intentional agency. Let him (or her) then explain why life had to arise, in the wild, on some world, but cannot arise today, on this world. (Even panspermia, of either kind, needs another origin world, if not our own Earth.) While they’re at it, let them explain how dust clouds can converge from three or more directions, then collide and accrete to form our own solar system or any other. Let them explain why the “giant impactor” that “produced” the Moon did not simply destroy the Earth. (But first let them explain where it came from!)

But let’s have an end to the facile notion that believing in evolution makes you smart or shows you are smart. Because it does neither.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

46 Responses to Evolution doesn’t make you smart

  1. […] Reprint from Conservative News and Views […]

  2. MatthewJ says:

    ” What does matter is that no creation advocate has ever perpetrated such a fraud. This reviewer challenges any evolution advocate to show any creation-supporting fraud as great as Piltdown or Peking “Man” or the Haeckel Drawings.”

    It seems like there’s a built-in out, there, but what the heck. Here are some frauds used as support by creationists. You already asserted that “(w)hether these frauds still inform the discussion of life origins, doesn’t matter.”

    Glen Rose mantracks – not human footprints
    Paluxy Man tooth – not a human tooth
    the Meister print – not a fossilized sandal print
    Duane Gish’s claim of human/chicken/bullfrog protein homology – claimed but never supported; claim oft repeated
    False creationist claims regarding the kneejoint of the Lucy skeleton – e.g. Lucy’s knee was found over a mile from the rest of the skeleton
    Ron Wyatt’s Ark ‘discoveries’ and other archaeological findings
    the Ica stones – modern engravings of dinosaurs and men together, advocated by
    Harold Hill’s ‘NASA found a missing day’ story – a rehash of earlier, false ‘missing day’ claims.
    the Acambaro ceramics – clay figurines similar to Ica stones, defended by Don Patten and others
    the Alvis Delk footprint
    Darwin’s deathbed recantation – oft repeated, no evidence, almost certainly a complete fabrication
    the Calavaras mine skull – fraud perpetrated by local miners; championed by creationists

    I also heard that there was a guy who found some golden plates in a hillside in New York State. He said that those plates recorded the history of a group of people who left the Middle East after the confusion of languages at Babel. I’m not sure if you would consider him a creationist, or if you would consider his golden plates a fraud, though. Maybe neither. His followers seem to lean toward creationism, though.

    A number of these instances are famous enough that CMI addresses them specifically as “discredited” and “fallacious,” even “fraudulent”, while embracing others.

    A point about the Kahan paper, which I found interesting: among the most religious, belief in evolution and CRT score were not correlated. Thus, among the strongly religious, there is consistent lack of belief in evolution across all CRT levels. In the less religious, however, belief in evolution does strongly track with CRT; enough so that the trend holds when both groups are combined. If both more- and less-religious groups were just adopting the ‘party line’, then why the upward trend among the less-religious? Why aren’t the trend lines both flat, and parallel?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      First, the items you listed are matters of opinion – and dispute. Nothing more. None of those rise to the level of Piltdown Man, in which someone assembled bones from several primates and passed them off as “early human.”

      Now concerning the finding you mentioned: your argument assumes as absolute, blasphemous fact that living beings did not repeat NOT originate with an Intentional Agent. (Note the individual form, not the collective.) That is your intuitive opinion, in which you classify living beings in the general category of “things originating in the wild” and include that, by some magic you never tried to elucidate, Nature just ginned them up. That certain papers, bearing the imprimatur of “reputable scientific journals,” put it exactly as I just put it, is final shame to the community of scientists. It is the least logical position they could have taken. It is a travesty of logic and science.

  3. MatthewJ says:

    Well, there’s the out I expected.

    It still seems odd to say that whether Ron Wyatt found Noah’s gravesite, or the Ark of the Covenant, or a sample of Jesus’ blood, or did not find those things, is just a matter of opinion. Do you believe that he found all those things? Is it a matter of opinion whether NASA found a missing day in their calculations? Do you believe that Joseph Smith was guided by angels to find and translate golden plates written in Reformed Egyptian, or do you think that was a fraud? When the purveyor of the Ica stones says that he forged them, and shows how he did it, and why, is it a matter of opinion as to whether they are fraudulent?

    What’s your beef with Peking Man?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      My beef with Peking “Man” is simply that it is another cobbled-together “specimen” of various ape parts, just like Piltdown Man. And one that, I believe, conveniently disappeared.

      The evolutionistic cabal that now dares call itself “the” scientific community asked for this “treatment” I now give them. They made up their minds that they would summarily reject God as an explanation, or the Bible as Historical Fact. Instead they insist that origins are an inevitable, totally “wild” process, with no intelligent agency involved. Either that, or that ours is simply the Luckiest Universe Among an Infinite Variety. When they do that, they don’t do science. They do political philosophy – or politicized philosophy. In fact they call it methodological naturalism.

      When those Brahmins and mavens are ready to talk, and consider the evidence without regard to worldview, then and only then will I restore to them the respect they claim they earned. But not unless, and not until.

      And any one of them can start by accepting the Walter T. Brown Written Debate Offer.

  4. Fathis Munk says:

    Your section about why scientists don’t bask in X-Ray makes me wonder if you actually grasp what evolution is. You admit yourself this is the way it is represented in trashy sci-fi. That’s because that is not how it works at all. Maybe that’s why no scientist has ever defended it (why would we defend something so wrong) and also why no one ever tried it.

    Also FYI, PhDs in evolution totally exist and evolution is actually a big part of my own PhD. They get defended without any issue because they have all the arguments they need.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      No, they haven’t. Your reviewers will never ask you to defend the fundamental principle of the Grand Evolutionary Paradigm. That’s because they already accept it. No one has ever challenged, or defended, that paradigm against a rigorous opposition.

      The elements of the Grand Evolutionary Paradigm are uniformitarianism, abiogenesis, and common descent. By uniformitarianism I mean here the notion that all physical processes working on earth today, have always worked, at the same rate, since time immemorial. That’s why you cannot or will not conceive of a single event that deposited all the strata from the bedrock up in a single year.

      I will assume here that you will breeze by your dissertation defense and get your PhD. All right, I will set you a challenge to, and test of, your academic courage. I repeat here the Walter T. Brown Written Debate Challenge. Let’s see you defend the Grand Evolutionary Paradigm to him. If you and/or any number of your colleagues think you can slay the creationist dragon, here’s your chance. Will you take it?

  5. Fathis Munk says:

    My PhD will contain arguments, both physiological and genetic that concur with the principles of Evolution. Those arguments will definitely be examined by my reviewers. They will be added to all the other arguments that have been published and that are based on cold hard facts (for example genome analysis).

    We do not believe all strata can be from a single year because we can date the strata by diverse ways and all of the ways of dating them concur. Why would the principles of physics have changed since the earth was created ?

    I will not debate Walter T Brown because there is simply no point in it. No debate will prove your cause right, debates merely show who can convince an audience better. It doesn’t prove anything. Proof is supplied only by peer reviewed research. Furthermore there is no point in debating with someone who’s mind is not open enough to admit he may be wrong.

    I’d like you to answer to the first part of my comment. What does the whole self irradiation part do in the article ? It serves no purpose but to build a fantasy strawman to feel smug about.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      You demonstrate intellectual cowardice, sir. “Peer review” suffers from this inherent flaw: no paper, that challenges the fundamental understanding the “peers” share about where the universe, the earth, and life came from, will ever pass “peer review.” “Peer review” has become another synonym for gatekeeping. The other synonym is: censorship.

      Even if “all the ways of dating them concur[red]” that wouldn’t make them right. If two clockmakers each check his clock against the other’s clock, both could still be wrong. And those dates do not concur. I suggest you read Austin’s 1996 paper, “Excess Argon in Samples of Dacite from the Mount Saint Helens Lava Dome.” Or Snelling’s 1993 paper, “Radiometric Dating in Conflict.” Or the RATE Group’s paper finding discordant isochron dates in the exposed strata of the Grand Canyon.

      And in any event, Dr. Brown proposes that magnitude-ten-plus earthquakes, acting on buried quartz, produced the radionuclides that we not only see today, but rely on for establishing deep time. Dr. Brown and I suggest the entire scheme for radiometric dating of geological strata requires re-examination.

      I find your argument for refusing to debate Dr. Brown intellectually facile, specious – and, as I repeat, cowardly.

      Furthermore, I would not be so quick to dismiss the self-irradiation example. Now perhaps no one could hope to mutate oneself by such action. But Robert A. Heinlein, in Starship Troopers, described a planet “like Earth, but retarded” by reason of the lack of cosmic-ray bombardment on that planet. His central character and narrator then theoretically asks, “Will the people of that planet dose themselves with X rays so that their offspring, several generations down the line, will be able to keep up with the rest of us?”

      If that kind of proposal strikes you as radical and counterintuitive, it should. But in fact it follows logically from the principle of radiogenic mutation as the prime driver of evolution.

      And when you say “there is no point in debating with someone whose mind is not open enough to admit he may be wrong,” you describe yourself, not Dr. Brown. In my own association with him, over six years, I have in fact known him to revise certain elements of his theory after I personally have pointed out some inconsistencies. Whereas I put it to you that you do not dare admit you may be wrong. And the reason you do not so dare, is the same reason Aldous Huxley gave for deliberately propounding a view of human existence as meaningless.

  6. Fathis Munk says:

    I’ll stay focused here because there are some points that really aren’t worth discussing with you in this context :

    If you actually read scientific literature you would know that controversial papers that go against the dogma do get published if they are based on hard fact. For example look up Laura Manuelidis and her papers about prion associated diseases, defending the hypothesis that prions are not actually involved.

    Considering that all the dating methods used are wrong all over the world is also hilarious in that the defense of creationism requires you to make so many defensive assumptions. Hmm I wonder why.

    Robert Heinlein was a writer of sometimes questionable Sci fi and not a scientist, I really don’t understand where you’re going with this argument? Evolution is driven by sexual reproduction and faulty cell machinery mostly. Even evolution due to irradiation comes back down to faulty repairs by the cell machinery. Not all of evolution is due to x-ray if that is what you’re getting at, in which case it would once more show how little you know about the theory you reject.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      I simply cannot take your word at face value. If you have read any of my articles going further back than the one you lit upon, you’ll find a case in which an EM technician discovered viable osteocytes in a Triceratops bone. He mentioned this finding, and some of the implications, to some of his students. (He taught classes in electron microscopy.) One of those students laid information with a higher-up in his department. And that higher-up burst into his laboratory and RANTED AND RAVED AND SCREAMED AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS, “WE DON’T WANT ANY OF YOUR CREATIONIST [male bovine stool] IN THIS DEPARTMENT!!!” Undaunted, he submitted his findings for publication in Acta Histologica. By the most incredible blessing, Acta published it. And within days of his appearance, this person lost his position.

      That, is censorship. Nor is he the only one. So don’t tell me a creation advocate doesn’t risk his position for going against the fundamental principles of evolution. These are deep time, biological ylem, and a single ancestor of all of life.

      Laugh if you will at the notion that dating methods have their basis in a flawed principle – indeed, a lie, agreed upon. You will not validate them by so acting.

      This illustrates the central point: origins science (the science of where the universe, this earth, and life came from) has split into two warring camps. You and I are warriors on opposite sides of the front line. If you would see an end to this war, someone from your side will have to accept Walter T. Brown’s debate challenge. Until that happens, Dr. Brown and I, along with all the others actively working on our side, will have to conclude that you and your colleagues do not want a debate. You want to declare something settled that is not settled and can never be settled without a comprehensive debate examining all those three fundamental principles I mentioned, and evidence militating against each.

  7. Fathis Munk says:

    I agree that this story should it be true (no reason for me to take your post at face value either), this is censorship and I oppose it. However the paper was published so he put his findings out there, the big scary peer review did not censor him. A real quick Internet search actually directed me to an article in Nature talking about a similar case, so the dinosaur cells are not something kept quiet by the evil peer review.

    Declaring dating methods to be a lie that everyone agreed upon (as with most conspiracy theories this strikes me as unlikely) also doesn’t validate your position.

    The debate is pointless because that is not how you settle scientific discussions. To take your war analogy, how many wars were settled by single combat? It’s an obvious trap you hide behind to claim superiority and victory because on the field of actual scientific discussion and publication, your position is untenable.

    If you want to debate about something, I would like to know how viruses factor into creationist theory? How come HIV was unknown for most of human history? How do you explain recombinant strains like the one originating from a polio vaccine strain? How do you explain quasi species of viruses all bearing mutations compared to each other? How do you explain ERVs? Viruses evolve extremely quickly, at speeds that can be observed during a human lifetime.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      The censorship that you finally decried, happens more frequently than you care to admit.

      Now about those dates: did you even read the Austin and Snelling papers I mentioned? How can you explain why samples from a lava dome, laid down ten years earlier, produced apparent ages varying from half a million to 2.8 million years? Why didn’t GeoChron Laboratories complain about improper sampling before Austin published his findings? How do you explain why a fossilized tree should “date out” at 37,000 years while the surrounding basalt dates out at a million years? Why the disparate and out-of-order dates at the Grand Canyon?

      The debate is necessary because your camp have settled upon a narrative and never once required anyone to defend that narrative with anything approaching the supposed rigor of a dissertation defense.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      About those viruses: you might as well explain to me the place of viruses in the theory of biological evolution. If “the first genes were mutated viruses,” how could they survive without cells to prey upon? How indeed could even the first virus self-assembled, containing as any virus does information sufficient for ten Libraries of Congress?

      And I wouldn’t look too closely into HIV if I were you. Your argument assumes HIV arose in the wild. Certain reports have crossed my console suggesting it had its origin, not in the wild, but as a biological warfare project. (Indeed, had I been a Soviet “bug marshal” in those days, I could not have designed a better weapon.) Even laying that aside, how long do you think human history has lasted? Seven thousand years, tops. So why should that virus have surfaced any sooner than it did?

      Last of all: by offering the tremendous speed of adaptation of viruses to new environments, you undermine the basic argument for deep time: that it is necessary to the production of the present diversity of life.

  8. Fathis Munk says:

    I admit I didn’t have time to look into the papers yet. Geology is not my speciality so if I want to have an accurate reading of them I’ll need to sit down and do some research.

    You saying this kind of censorship happens often doesn’t make it true, there is nothing to admit here. Show me data and I’ll admit that it is absolutely contrary to the idea of science to censor these people, I have no issue with that. (I also resent your usage of “finally”, I have never said I was in favour of such policies. I am in favour of peer review and in the example you gave the article made it past peer review, making it a very weak argument against the system)

    Please stop coming back to the debate. I have made clear what I think of it, a debate shows only who arguments better, not who is right. There have been and will be debate between evolution and creation, they will never prove anything. It’s an empty proposition that does not lead to a fruitful discussion.

    I’d still like you to answer to my questions concerning virology. I am genuinely curious as to how you would explain it in the context of creationism.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      No, “please,” no. I am going to come back to the debate again and again. As long as you are on my comment space, I will continue to answer you the same way: if you’re so confident that creation is “all wet,” then accept the Walter T. Brown debate challenge and encourage others to do the same. Brown explains absolutely every piece of evidence your geologist colleagues use to substantiate their “deep time” premises, and many other pieces of evidence you never even thought could be relevant to the history of the earth itself. Until someone can genuinely knock those arguments down, the entire premise of billions of years of evolution and pre-history stands about as solidly as would a house of cards.

      You are good enough to allude to “specialties” in science. I submit the over-specialization in science, and the demise of the generalist (of whom Leonardo da Vinci was the first and maybe most famous example), lies at the root of all kinds of failings of origins science. Specialists concoct new explanations without regard to the violence those explanations do to the scientific laws known chiefly to practitioners of other disciplines. The true generalist can see all the world as an integrated system. That is what Walter T. Brown has accomplished.

      The article in question has a link to Brown’s site. On that site you can read his on-line book. There you can verify what I told you about the explanations he offers. You can even check the references. In that on-line book you can read:

      • Why radioactive materials are most likely to have formed on the earth itself. And not radioactive elements only, but every odd-ball isotope, light or heavy, that we know today.
      • Why the life span of humankind fell ninety percent in eleven generations – and how to test the proposition that explains this decline.
      • Why comets, meteoroids, and asteroids came from earth, and therefore cannot be responsible for the presence of the earth’s oceans (or the deuterium they contain), or the presence of gold and other heavy minerals that surely would have sunk to the earth’s core had the earth ever been molten through-and-through. (And therefore why any company seriously proposing mining operations in the Asteroid Belt should have to answer to the Securities and Exchange Commission for securities fraud.)
      • Why trans-Neptunian objects must in fact have formed from material launched from earth.
      • How the Moon became the pockmarked body we know today, and what also bombarded many other bodies in the solar system.
      • Why I can confidently say this violent event happened 5300 years ago, give or take a hundred.

      And if you still think he’s “all wet,” you can tell him why you think so.

  9. Fathis Munk says:

    HIV as a man made virus is a nutjob conspiracy theory and using it in your argument is hurtful to your cause. I might as well say that I have seen people claim to disprove the existence of God scientifically. Does this reinforce an argument? No.

    The origin of viruses is still a big question and no one claims to have an answer. One theory however is that they result from parasitic cells simplifying themselves until reaching the very basic viral structure (rickettsia might be a transitionary form for example).

    How would you explain that for 7000 years (hah) HIV and aids was an unknown disease. It doesn’t really make much more sense.

    The tremendous evolutive speed of viruses (which has nothing to do with x-ray BTW) is specific to these organisms and doesn’t preclude that other organisms evolve much more slowly. Evolution is closely linked to length of generations.

    Please address the emergence of recombinant virus strains, for example in influenza or polio. These are an example of evolutive processes where new genome combinations appear and prosper if they offer a selective advantage over the other combinations.

    You also conveniently omitted endogenous retroviruses which are sequences of viral origin embedded in animal genomes. By comparing genomes you can find insertions shared by different animals of the same family indicating that an ancestor was infected and the viral genome inherited. This genome then often underwent mutations that are clearly distinct in different animals existing today.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Actually we’re talking about 5300 years, give or take a hundred. That’s how long it’s been since eight human beings, and mating-pair specimens of every bird and land animal, disembarked from a barge over 500 US Customary feet long after the waters from the most violent event in the history of this planet, receded.

  10. Fathis Munk says:

    1. that is complete fabrication and absolutely impossible if only because of the number of species existing on earth. (and then saying to assume HIV arose in the wild is wrong, oh boy). I am Catholic born and raised, though I am agnostic now. I believe the Bible is a book full of valuable teachings. I believe a lot of it is based on facts. I do not think it is an accurate retelling of history.

    Anyways, your comment doesn’t really relate to anything we were discussing? Something as prevalent as HIV would still have been detected much earlier had it existed at the time.

    Actually this raises a very interesting question. What about strict human pathogens? Did these 8 people carry all human diseases? All human viruses?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      So you deny the Great Flood. Then explain why the two most clock-like comets known to astronomy, Comets Halley and Swift-Tuttle, were most likely both at perihelion 5300 years ago, give or take a hundred.

      I submit you turned agnostic because your hoity-toity “scientific” mentors encouraged you to doubt the Bible and break with the faith. Yours is a case in point on the harm the Grand Evolutionary Paradigm does to people of faith. It causes them to lose it. Aldous Huxley would be beaming. So would Roger Baldwin, founder of the mis-called American Civil Liberties Union. So would Saul (Rules for Radicals) Alinsky. Not to mention Karl Marx.

      Remember where HIV is supposed to have come from: the African jungle. If it didn’t come from a laboratory somewhere, then it came from a part of the jungle known only to the natives until recently. In other words, thoroughly uncivilized. Even the Roman Empire did not penetrate that deeply. The disease originally called Gay-Related Immuno-Deficiency, now called Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome, can claim modern airlines as its vector. (Indeed, every case of AIDS in North America is traceable to a flight steward working for Air Canada, who continued to infect people even after authorities tried to tell him to stop, and brazenly said, “Arrest me!”) Until then, the natives probably were more likely to fall by their fellow natives’ hands, or to some other jungle disease, before the complications of AIDS brought them down.

  11. Fathis Munk says:

    The concept of the universal man is great, however it is utterly impossible nowadays. Our knowledge is so vast without specialisation you are going to oversimplify anything you talk about. You can dabble in a lot of subjects but will be master of none. To say otherwise is to have no idea about science today.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Why don’t you test that? Read Walter T. Brown’s In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood and tell me whether you think he’s oversimplifying.

  12. Fathis Munk says:

    I deny that the great flood happened precisely as described in the bible yes. I believe in allegory.

    You do not know me and my turning agnostic preceded my interest in natural sciences by a couple years, so wrong on that point.

    How did HIV get into that jungle if everything was reset by a big flood? How come it never showed up during triangular trade when shipboard of slaves from black Africa were shipped to the US? Especially a virus like that, relatively discreet until you die from something else.

    Please tell me, did Noah’s family carry all diseases?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Well, I believe over-allegorization is another enemy of the faith.

      Did the slave trade reach that deeply into the jungle? Can you show that it did? I put it to you that the jungle grew impenetrable except by twentieth-century technology.

      How certain micro-organisms turned pathogenic probably involves more than bacteriology and virology. I submit it includes human nutrition also. Nutrition generally, but especially in America, has suffered at the hands of a pell-mell pursuit of convenience. Viruses our pioneer ancestors could defeat easily through their own immune systems, defeat us today. Because we eat more poorly and more recklessly today than our ancestors did. So symbiotic organisms that Noah and his family might have carried, became pathogenic in the last century.

  13. Fathis Munk says:

    I truly believe you are wrong on the whole nutrition part but let’s admit it’s true. What about the plague? What about all the diseases that have been deadly for thousands of years?

    Not all diseases started a hundred years ago. Many of them have been known for much much longer. Jesus himself healed lepers if I remember correctly. The old testament makes reference to several kinds of disease. Your explanation doesn’t really hold up. Unless these microorganisms have evolved from a benign form to a pathological form after the flood? :)

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      The Black Death was another accident of overcrowding and travel.

      Now to address your telling me I don’t know you, and that you lost your faith two years before you “took an interest” in evolution. Do you mean to tell me that you never heard of the word evolution before you lost your faith? I heard the word evolution in what was then called “elementary school” and is now called “lower school.” If your scientific colleagues did not dissuade you from your faith, then your grammar, middle, and high school teachers, and likely your fellow pupils, must have done. That is yet another harm of modern government schooling.

  14. Fathis Munk says:

    Please stop making assumptions about my life. You don’t know anything about it and it reflects poorly on you to try and fit me into your preconceptions.

    How come viruses all have systems to subvert the immune system if they are supposed to be symbiotic by God’s design? Pathogenicity is not something that just happens because the microorganism feels like it. There are well characterised genetic systems underlying it. Inoculate a well fed individual with a potent pathogen and he’ll die just the same. Also even just the suggestion we are more vulnerable to disease nowadays is shocking coming from a MD, it is absolute hogwash.

    Also what about leprosy and other plagues in the OT/NT? And what about ERVs as markers of evlution? I talked about ERVs above and you ignored it.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      I say you cannot refute anything I have said about the likely effect of evolutionary teaching on your life. Because if you could, you would.

      More to the point, I can directly attest to the deleterious effects of evolutionary teaching on my spiritual life. I did not know what parts of the Bible to trust, or not to trust. That is, until I examined critically the truth claims for uniformitarianism. And found them false.

      I have one last thing to say about pathogenicity. You overlook the influence of sin on the world. But of course, you declared you cannot know whether God is Real or not. So as a corollary, you cannot know the reality or unreality of sin, either. Sin, within the meaning of the Bible, would be a foreign concept to you. And I assert that sin is the reason things go wrong with God’s Creation. It is the monkeywrench in the machine. But that concept is as foreign to you as the notion of a special place in the universe for the earth to Edwin Hubble – and just possibly to yourself as well.

  15. Fathis Munk says:

    My personal life is of no interest to yours. It is not because I do not want to talk about it that it proves you are right. That’s not how this works, but logic doesn’t seem your strong suit. It might have been a factor in your life, but I am not like you (thank god for that hah).

    Sin being the cause of disease is a major cop out and you know it very well. That’s why you led with your nutrition crap hoping I wouldn’t be able to know it doesn’t hold up when compared to the past where malnutrition was much more common since food was much more rare.

    By the way I looked into Walter’s works and saw he was a major proponent of the Hydroplate theory. This indeed shows he knows nothing about science and oversimplifies not only one but several fields in order to reach his conclusion. Hydroplate has been proven to be impossible both by evolutionists and young earth creationist. Even on your side people say this isn’t possible.

    I notice you still haven’t addressed anything about ERVs. I guess I should not be surprised.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Walter T. Brown is not only “a major proponent” of the Hydroplate Theory. He is its originator. His debate challenge is all about challenging anyone to punch holes in his theory if he can.

      The opposition to the Hydroplate Theory on the creation side, sadly, falls into the heading of invoking miracles where the Bible attests none. The Hydroplate Theory in fact holds the Flood did happen, was global in scope, and had to happen, given the initial conditions. The miracle would have been its permanent forestalling. But the Fall of Man prevented that. I don’t know whether I can establish that someone set off a high explosive in the wrong place, and set off the final stresses that would cause the crack in the original single land mass that let out the ocean underneath it – or not. I do know God gave Noah 120 years’ advance warning of the event (Genesis 6:2) and then gave Noah a design for a ship that would keep him, seven other human beings, and specimens of every kind of land animal and bird then extant, alive during the event. That was the miracle.

      If you think he “knows nothing about science and oversimplifies not only one but several fields in order to reach his conclusion,” prove it and then talk about it, big shot. Let’s see you step up to the plate and take him on. “Gird up thy loins like a man.” Job 38:3.

      In fact, no one, and I mean no one, has “proved [his theory] impossible,” as you allege. Every argument anyone has made against it, assumes initial conditions that contradict his. Assumes, not establishes. Asserts, not proves. Not only that, but signs that the Flood and all its incidental events, including the ejection-into-space of as much as four percent of the mass of the earth, and the formation of the trans-Neptunian objects, must have occurred as he said they did. And when he said they did: 5300 years ago, give or take a hundred.

      And because things happened as he says, you and your colleagues, and for that matter your examiners, have no leg to stand on when you assert deep time or any particular sequence of descent from a universal ancestral species, population, or whatever Flavor of the Month you or any other evolutionist chooses to call it. It means deep time cannot have passed. It explains every radionuclide anyone has ever used to “establish” deep time, from carbon-14 to uranium-238. Not to mention the oddball isotopes, light and heavy.

      Now, Doctor-to-be. That is your challenge. No one has ever found in himself the alimentary, gonadal, or any other kind of fortitude for it, though some came close.

  16. MatthewJ says:

    Boy, a fellow misses a day or two and the conversation ranges all over the place.

    I’m still curious as to whether you believe that Ron Wyatt found Noah’s Ark as well as the Ark of the Covenant as well as Noah’s gravesite as well as the blood of Jesus. And whether Joseph Smith possessed golden plates that he translated miraculously.

    It’s incongruous that Walt Brown decries peer review but only wants to debate with fellow PhDs. Why not debate any beauty school dropout that comes along?

    “viable osteocytes in a Triceratops bone” – not even the authors claim that the soft tissue that they found was viable. Sloppy reportage on your part, or wishful thinking?

    “the first genes were mutated viruses” – you placed that in quotation marks, as though somebody here said it. But nobody made that claim. Nobody has ever made that claim, so far as I know. Perhaps you could provide a citation?

    “containing as any virus does information sufficient for ten Libraries of Congress?” You’ve made similar statements before, in different contexts. I’ll point out yet again that it’s wrong. The Library of Congress has about 200 terabytes of information in its print collections (200 terabytes = 200 trillion bytes). The largest viral genome sequenced to date has about 1.3 million base pairs, which amounts to only ~317 kilobytes. The human genome has about 3 billion base pairs, or roughly 725 megabytes of data. Nowhere near a single Library of Congress. I only mention it because you keep repeating the error. While I’m at it, the travel centroid of the world isn’t in Israel, either.

    “Indeed, had I been a Soviet “bug marshal” in those days, I could not have designed a better weapon” An oddly self-deprecating statement, since HIV takes years to lead to AIDS, making it pretty useless as a biological weapon. What does the HIV rate in the former Soviet states look like compared to the US? Not so great a weapon, eh?

    “Specialists concoct new explanations without regard to the violence those explanations do to the scientific laws known chiefly to practitioners of other disciplines.” An interesting comment. Consider that the lab that Walt Brown uses to support his claim that piezoelectric discharges caused the formation of all of Earth’s radioactivity also claims to have synthesized novel elements with molecular weights north of 400, and half lives on the order of days, AS WELL AS having generated magnetic monopoles! All done with electric discharges! You can read their self-published reports if you doubt me. I wonder why nobody else can replicate their findings? It would certainly do some violence to the scientific laws known, etc.

    “Then explain why the two most clock-like comets known to astronomy, Comets Halley and Swift-Tuttle, were most likely both at perihelion 5300 years ago, give or take a hundred.” Oooh! I know this one! The answer is that they weren’t. Walt’s technique for arriving at this date is fundamentally flawed, even when assuming that his starting conditions are correct. Now, ST and Halley were _possibly_ both at perihelion 5300 years ago, but then again once you get out beyond ~3900 years ago, every single year has a roughly equal chance of hosting a Halley-ST closest temporal approach. There’s no peak at 5300 years ago. So there’s that.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Walter T. Brown wants to make sure no one can criticize him for debating an “unqualified dilettante” or some such thing. And he definitely wants to take on the very sort of person who thinks he’s smarter than he, and smart enough to punch holes in his theory. And of all the possibly qualified opponents, I would have expected you to take him on first. You could get the answers to most of the questions you pose by first reading his book, then accepting his debate offer. And you can start by showing me why “there’s no peak at 5300 years ago.”

      That “the first gene was a mutated virus” is something I heard in biology class in high school in 1974. That’s what people were teaching then. Do you wish now to dispute that claim? And if that’s not the current claim for the origin of genes, what is?

      Magnetic monopoles? Did you find that in Walt Brown’s book? If so, please cite chapter, page and paragraph. This is the first time I have ever struck the phrase “magnetic monopole” or its plural in the context of the Hydroplate Theory.

      Lastly: the trouble with biological weapons is that they often turn around and bite the creators, or the civilization they mean to guard. HIV, if it were such a weapon, would be a case in point.

  17. Fathis Munk says:

    Oh the hydroplate theory has been debunked by numerous people. For example : http://paleo.cc/ce/wbrown.htm

    But lets talk about more fun thought experiments. If a flood wiped out all life on earth except on the arc, how did animals get to the Americas or Oceania? How did animals from wildly different environments survive on a single ship? What did these animals eat while waiting for the plants to grow again?

    ” I don’t know whether I can establish that someone set off a high explosive in the wrong place, and set off the final stresses that would cause the crack in the original single land mass that let out the ocean underneath it – or not.” Wait so pre flood humans had access to massive explosives that can crack the crust ? Is that somewhere in the bible ?

    The amount of species known nowadays is about 10 million. So 20 million animals found room on this boat ? And that’s animals, what about the insects ? They are much much much more numerous. Add all the plant species and the number skyrockets even more.

    “Not only that, but signs that the Flood and all its incidental events, including the ejection-into-space of as much as four percent of the mass of the earth, and the formation of the trans-Neptunian objects, must have occurred as he said they did” Please source your claims. I too can say that evolution proves absolutely everything. Doesn’t make it true.

    Also please don’t tell me your bilogical knowledge actually stopped at what they taught you in high school because boy, did we find out interesting stuff afterwards. You consistently dodge ERVs, how do you explain that in linked species (let’s take cats and dogs) you can find traces of the same infection at the exact same locus that has then undergone different mutations that are specific to cats or dogs ? This strongly implies their last common ancestor was infected by a retrovirus and the evolutive destiny of it was then different over time.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      None of those people at the link you named, found the alimentary or the gonadal fortitude to accept Brown’s debate challenge or to debate him on his terms. All they offer is just another party line.

      The “migration objection” you raise could as equally apply to evolution, unless you now claim that deposits of biological ylem existed in all extant land masses and that life generated spontaneously on each one. Furthermore, you forgot about the post-Flood patriarch named Peleg. “For in his days the earth was divided.” Land bridges, that still existed immediately after the Flood, washed away later. Such a land bridge allowed the ancestors of the Canadian First Nations and the American Natives to cross from Siberia into Alaska. From Alaska they of course migrated south. (The Aztec, Maya, and Inca peoples built cities that so strongly resembled those of ancient Egypt that Thor Heyerdahl had solid grounds to suspect they were ancient, and forgotten, Egyptian colonies.)

      Your next argument assumes pre-Flood civilization either did not exist or else had not progressed beyond the nomadic. Let me remind you that ancient Rome had a lot of technological advancements, which people forgot after the final fall of Rome in 454 A.D. You cannot set an upper limit on the technological development of pre-Flood society. They could have achieved space flight on a twentieth-century level, for all you know or can prove.

      Next you try to claim the Ark wasn’t big enough to hold all the specimens. First, “kind” need not mean “species.” The production of modern species from the relative handful of “created kinds” that existed 5300 years ago (give or take a hundred) is an active field of research in creation circles. Of course, I shouldn’t expect you to know about things like that. Did you really think all creation advocates hold that God made every species at the beginning, that exists today or has ever extinguished itself between then and now? Nothing could be further from the truth. We recognize that speciation does occur – within limits. We believe God created about as many kinds as there are taxonomic families or maybe taxonomic genera. At least one of us has calculated how many of these, counting land animals and birds only, could fit on the Ark. He found a mating pair of each could fit with room to spare, even allowing for grain bins, waste disposal systems, and, of course, the bilge. See here for further details.

      I’ll jump ahead to dispose of the issue of the ERV’s. I believe that’s part of your boast that creation advocates propose no species has changed since Creation. I’ve already put paid to that one.

      And last: you and your colleagues do assert that the Grand Evolutionary Paradigm explains the origins of not only life but also this earth and the universe of which it is a part, and of every other part of the universe. Including the meteoroids, the comets, the asteroids, and the trans-Neptunian objects. With regard to these last: on the occasion of the discovery of another large TNO, a companion to Sedna, an astronomer actually said to Dr. Brown that the twelve largest TNO’s all have the same, or nearly the same, arguments of perihelion. (Look up “argument of periapsis” in any reference on orbital mechanics.) She went on to say: “Any theory of the origins of these objects, must account for that fact.” In other words, it cannot be a coincidence. Dr. Brown and I apply the Fleming Rule: once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and the third instance sets a pattern. Why should all those orbits break north of the plane of the ecliptic at the same angle? In fact, when you consider all TNO’s as a class, they have one of two arguments of perihelion, spaced 180 degrees apart. That ought to suggest to you that they all got a boost into their orbits from a massive body at about the same place each time. The best candidate body is, of course, Jupiter. But they had to fly into Jupiter from the plane of the ecliptic. So they all came from the same place, and not from any dust cloud formed from the collision of three clouds of supernova remnants. Read Dr. Brown’s chapter on the Origins of Asteroids, Meteoroids, and Trans-Neptunian Objects, and you will see another rich body of detail.

      Cats and dogs linked? Maybe by location. But I never heard of a viable cross between, say, a panther and a wolf. Felidae and Canidae are two different kinds, and always have been.

      Retroviruses provide an interesting narrative. But that’s all they provide. More to the point: 5300 years is plenty long enough to diversify from maybe one species per taxonomic family to the wide variety of species we observe today. But it wouldn’t be nearly long enough to go from biological ylem (“primordial soup”) to all the modern species. Even 7,000 years wouldn’t be long enough. That’s why your side has to claim 4.5 billion years, or at least one billion years.

  18. Fathis Munk says:

    I know I’ve said I’d ignore all your calls to debate but I’d just like to say you clinging to it like to a lifebuoy is childish.

    But… what is speciation if not evolution, an animal changing to adapt ? Especially if there was only a handful (nice scientific term by the way) of “kinds”. I’ve looked through the link you provide and the info does not seem to be on that site. I see your sourcing is as rigourous as conservapedia’s. Please link to the actual part of that site.

    I’ll leave the discussion of astronomy to people who know what they are talking about, let’s come back to biology. 5300 years is not nearly enough. Looking at sequence divergence among carnivora alone the estimated start of radiation is about 60 Mya. ERVs are more than just a nice narrative. How do you explain that all carnivora have a retrovial genome inserted at the exact (base perfect) same locus in their genome ? The envelope has been preserved with a ratio of synonimous to non synonimous mutations that clearly indicate selective pressure to keep this gene working. The rest of the provirus bears mutations that are different among all carnivora. But the provirus itself is clearly the same, the sequence similarity is way way too high.

    These ERVs have 2 LTRs that are not identical, even just that implies that random mutation happened on these sequences because 2 LTRs are always perfectly identical in exogenous retroviruses, because of the way they replicate.

    Landbridges are an important part of our view of the world too and if you don’t even know that, I don’t know what to tell you.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      “Evolution,” in the context of this article, means more than speciation and adaptation of a given kind to an environment.

      “Evolution,” to me, means goo to you. It tries to trace our ancestry all the way back to a substance most call “primordial soup.” I call it “biological ylem,” to distinguish it from the physical ylem of Gamow and Alpher, the hypothetical condensed first state of matter.

      “Evolution” says we are no better than the man-like or simian creatures of the African jungle. No wonder the Nazis once tried to blend gorillas with human beings.

      And most of all, “evolution” means “there is no God.” No wonder it would appeal to an agnostic like you.

      My mission, which I have wholeheartedly accepted, is to debunk this concept in all its variations.

      No one has to “disavow” me, whether someone “catches” me or not.

      And my Mission Orders are indestructible and subject to Divine preservation.

      And last of all, I don’t rely on luck.

      (With apologies, of course, to Bruce Geller.)

  19. MatthewJ says:

    Walt Brown is absolutely within his rights to only debate astigmatic Sagittariuses with red hair, but he should at least admit that what he’s doing is peer review. Or gatekeeping. Or censorship, if you prefer.

    Do I wish to debate the claim that you were told that genes evolved from mutated viruses forty-two years ago? Sure, after you debate my claim that in 1978 my cousin said that he had a girlfriend in Saskatchewan. In other words, no. I think that your memory is faulty, and/or that you misunderstood what you were told, or that you had a bad teacher who told you something wrong. If you can provide a citation of a high school textbook from the 1970s claiming that genes arose from mutated viruses, I will of course stand corrected. But then so would the book.

    I did not claim that the references to superheavy elements and magnetic monopoles came from Brown’s book. I said that Brown cites a particular lab’s experiments as proof of the piezoelectric nucleosynthesis portion of his hydroplate theory. If you are curious about this, as I was, you follow Brown’s reference (to the Proton-21 Electrodynamics Lab, in Kiev) to their website, and look through their other publications addressing their nucleosynthesis work. There you can find their claims about synthesizing stable superheavy elements (atomic weight up to ~500) and magnetic monopoles. Incidentally, they also claim that their nucleosynthesis process only produces _nonradioactive_ elements (“without alpha, beta, or gamma activities”). This is perhaps because they are seeking funding to continue their work, and wish to promote it as a way to process nuclear waste into safe, nonradioactive products (“In this case, similarly to nature, the products of laboratory nucleosynthesis contain practically no α-, β-, or γ-active isotopes, which opens the possibility of using the discovered physical phenomenon for the reprocessing of radioactive and toxic wastes.” It’s also in their ‘About Us’ statement: “Scientific-research Electrodynamics Laboratory (EDL) was established in 1999 by a group of private investors within a scope of a venture project on creation a safe and effective technology for radioactive waste utilization. The project was based on an innovative and original conception on initiating an extreme conditions for nucleosynthesis process ignition in a super-dense cold substance”). Sadly, this rather contradicts Walt Brown’s claim that nucleosynthesis in this fashion generated _all_ of the Earth’s radioactive elements. You can find the papers yourself at:


    I would recommend their “Superheavy nuclei research”, “Full-Range Nucleosynthesis in the Laboratory”, and “Experimental observation and analysis of action of light magnetic monopoles on multilayer surfaces” to begin with. I know you won’t be put off by the fact that they self-publish and/or publish in journals like Infinite Energy.

    Regarding biological weapons – sure, they often backfire on the ones that use them. My point was that your statement “I could not have designed a better weapon” is absurdly wrong. To make a disease into an effective weapon, you would want it to be highly contagious, highly virulent over a tactically useful time period, and to not persist for long in the environment once the enemy has been incapacitated. You would also want to have effective preventatives or treatment for your own military and civilian populations. For HIV, the only criterion that it meets is that doesn’t persist in the environment like, say, anthrax or tetanus. HIV makes for an absolutely miserable biological weapon.

    Anyhow, on to the comet argument. I’m tempted to ask you for the third time to answer whether you think Ron Wyatt found both Arks, Noah’s grave, Jesus’ blood, etc., and whether Joseph Smith translated golden plates with miraculous stones before proceeding, but since I find the math here so interesting I’ll continue to wait for your answer on those questions and just proceed.

    First, I believe that Brown’s method of projecting cometary orbits backwards in time without actually modeling their gravitational interactions with planets and anchoring the model to recorded observations is unphysical, and akin to predicting how long it would take you to drive the length of Manhattan Island based on how long it takes you to drive from your garage to the end of your driveway. Still, we can stipulate to all of Brown’s starting conditions and see whether his claimed result matches what would happen if his starting assumptions were applied rigorously.

    To recap, Brown observes that cometary orbits are variable, and that for Halley and Swift-Tuttle (ST), multiple observations over many years allow us to define a mean period as well as a sample standard deviation from that mean for each comet. Brown then oddly assigns a _constant_ period to both comets, and projects these constant periods back in time to find the point at which they come closest to one another: call that the ‘closest approach’ (actually, he searches for the closest approach over a particular window of time). Once he has found the point of closest approach between Halley and ST perihelia over his search window (which will always fall on a unique date, given that the starting dates and periods for each comet are _fixed_ in this analysis), he then claims that that closest approach must lie between the 27th Halley orbit and the 22nd ST orbit. He then attempts to reintroduce the period variability that he had previously discarded by applying the standard deviations of the mean orbital periods specifically to the dates of the 27th Halley and 22nd ST perihelia to generate that peak around 5300 BC. His trick of shifting the starting dates of the backwards projection without varying the periods of the comets does nothing to correct this fundamental error, which lies in ignoring the variability of the periods in his first analysis.

    Here’s the error in a nutshell. Brown is saying the following: IF these comet orbits are CONSTANT, THEN the shortest sum-of-squares wait between perihelia is a FIXED DATE, between FIXED PERIHELIA (27th Halley, 22nd ST). Then he performs an unrelated calculation, of the following form: IF these comet orbits are VARIABLE, following a particular statistical distribution, THEN the dates of two GIVEN perihelia follow the following DISTRIBUTIONS, and the MEAN of those distributions follows this THIRD DISTRIBUTION: centered on 5300 BC with a standard deviation of ~100 years.

    The _appropriate_ way to perform this test, given the same starting assumptions, would be to ask a different, but fundamentally more accurate question: IF these comet orbits are VARIABLE according to a particular distribution, WHEN is the closest approach between perihelia over the search window? There is no general analytical solution to this sort of question; it is like a three-body problem in gravitational systems. You can, however, _simulate_ the behavior of comets with variable periods, and you can find a date-of-closest-approach for those _simulated_ orbits. If the simulation is run many thousands of times, a scatterplot of those dates-of-closest-approach can be generated. If Brown’s analysis is correct, the scatterplot should show a nice tight Gaussian peak around the 5300 BC mark. When simulated, however, we see that because the cometary periods are variable, the closest approach of the comets does not always lie between the 22nd ST and 27th Halley perihelia. Frequently (indeed, in simulation, most of the time) it lies between other pairs of perihelia, and the distribution of simulated closest-approach dates is actually quite a complex shape.

    In principle, the simulation works like this: you are given a start date for each comet, a starting period for each comet, and a means to modify the starting period using the known standard deviation of that comet’s mean period. You step off the perihelion dates sequentially by subtracting the starting period from the starting date, then modifying the starting period according to the rule, subtracting again to get the next perihelion date, then modifying the modified period, subtracting again, etc. The length of the period takes a one-dimensional random walk around its starting value. This is the simulation method that Brown uses himself in his ‘method C’ on his ‘Calculations that show comets began near Earth’ website page. Brown applies it to find the distribution of dates for a given perihelion for a single comet (ie ‘what does the distribution of dates for a predicted 19th Halley perihelion look like?) but he does not extend the method to both comets simultaneously.

    Once you have generated a unique list of simulated perihelia for each comet using the above steps, you can compare those lists and look for a unique date of closest approach using the sum-of-squares method. Each set of simulations will give you one such date. Some of these closest approaches will be very close, even closer than Brown’s 5300 BC approach; some will not be particularly close, but each simulation will give you one clos_est_ approach date in the same way that Brown’s spreadsheet does in Step 2 on the page mentioned above. As an interesting side note and speaking just from memory, I believe that Brown’s closest approach is at about the 70th percentile of the approaches found through simulation – that is, about 30% of the simulations show tighter approaches than Brown’s – but I’d have to dig through a bunch of old files to find the exact number. I might well be misremembering.

    This process is then repeated as many times as you wish, building a list of closest approach dates. If you generate a few tens of thousands of such runs, and plot out the closest approach dates, you see that there is no nice Gaussian distribution of dates around 5300 BC, which is what Brown’s analysis supposes. The actual distribution defies simple description, but there are a few discrete peaks starting around 1400 BC that quickly shorten and spread out as you go further back in time, such that they essentially merge into a constant baseline out beyond 1900 BC. Go farther back than that, and every year has roughly the same likelihood of being a closest approach year. Intuitively, this makes sense because the distributions of predicted perihelia dates for the two comets are so spread out that far back that they overlap themselves to an immense degree; if you see comet Halley in a given year that far back, it’s only slightly more likely that that’s the nth perihelion than the n+1, n-1, n+2, or n-2th perihelion. They all overlap significantly.

    If you like, I can provide you with a copy of a commented program that can be run on a free statistical software package, and you can check out the results yourself. It might be best if we can reach agreement about the principle of the program before delving into the specifics. To wit: would you agree that given Brown’s starting assumptions of starting date, period, and sample standard deviation of period change, a simulation program could be written, _as Brown did_, that would generate a list of simulated comet perihelia for each comet (ie dates for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. perihelia before a given start date)? Further, that one such simulated list for Halley could be compared to a list from Swift-Tuttle to arrive at a simulated date of closest approach? And that repeating this simulation process thousands of times would produce a distribution of simulated dates of closest approach? And that if Brown is correct in his analysis, this method should duplicate his results and show a Gaussian peak at around 5300 BC with a standard deviation of about 100 years?

  20. MatthewJ says:

    “That ought to suggest to you that they all got a boost into their orbits from a massive body at about the same place each time. The best candidate body is, of course, Jupiter. But they had to fly into Jupiter from the plane of the ecliptic.”

    No, no, a thousand times no. If they got their boost from Jupiter and they are on closed orbits, then they have to eventually come back in and cross Jupiter’s orbit again. But the TNOs don’t ever come back in and cross Jupiter’s orbit. To get boosted out by Jupiter and then stay out there, something else already out there would have to catch them, after which time they would all have to return to cross _that thing’s_ orbit.

    Please repeat after me: you can’t do a ballistic gravity slingshot around an object and end up on a bound orbit without eventually returning to the orbit of that object.

  21. Fathis Munk says:

    @MatthewJ, wow you impress me, I could never pour as much effort into discussing this in this context. It’s just not worth it. Only a certain sense of morbid curiosity keeps me asking questions.

  22. Fathis Munk says:

    What’s the point ? Let’s not kid ourselves, if I were to give you clear definite proof of evolution you’d still laugh at it and dismiss it on some stupid reason. “Oh no, clearly this does not work because all physical laws were different 6000 years ago”

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      You couldn’t give me “clear, definite proof” of evolution, or of the deep time upon which it depends, if your life depended on it.

      If you could, you would gladly accept the debate Dr. Brown proposes, and go on to fame and fortune as the lead author of the definitive book proving evolution once and for all. That book would surely win you the Nobel Prize, or at least the Pulitzer Prize. What do you think the Written Debate Offer is? It’s to debate the merits of the Hydroplate Theory in writing, with the object of collecting all those writings in a book!

      Go ahead and call me an overgrown kid, if it means that much to you. I suppose it’s only fair. For I observed that you were and remain a coward.

  23. MatthewJ says:

    By the way, I believe that Brown’s argument against this simulation method will be that not every simulation run produces a closest approach that is tighter than his 5300 BC closest approach. And that it’s a pain to execute in Excel. Which facts are true, but irrelevant to whether or not it is a valid method. Such findings are only a problem if one presupposes that there _must_ be a distribution of closest convergence dates that is very tight, well ordered, and which falls in the range of dates that Brown is already willing to accept as Biblically plausible. The null hypothesis is that there is not such a distribution.

    As I recall, he ran nine (!) simulations of the type I describe in Excel, over a smaller search space than he allowed for his original fixed-period analysis, and rejected the technique because the results did not match his, and none of the nine simulations produced a convergence that was as close as his 5300 BC convergence. Which I don’t find surprising, or troubling. Simulating the two comets one time and not ending up with a tight closest convergence could just be bad luck in the draw of the variables that vary the comet periods, even if his hypothesis was true. If that’s just bad luck, though, then repeating the process 500,000 or a million or ten million times should give you a much more accurate picture. And guess what: if ten million simulations say that it’s rare for you to _ever_ have a really tight convergence over your search window, that’s telling you something important. And that thing is not that the closest convergences that you find are the only ones worth considering. Further, if the 10 million closest convergences that you _do_ find don’t cluster around a particular date, that’s telling you something too.

    In reviewing my calculations, I see that Brown’s 5300 BC closest convergence was actually in the 92nd percentile of simulated convergences, not the 70th. My memory was faulty, and I apologize for the error.

  24. MatthewJ says:

    It’s interesting that the more I read from the Proton-21 Electordynamics Lab website, the worse things look for Brown’s theory. The following exchanges are from their FAQ section:

    Question: “In traditional physics the nuclear reactions are typically accompanied by formation of unstable radioactive nuclei with different half-life times, the presence of which being detected by the residual radiation. Why this does not happen in your case, at least as a result of fluctuations?”

    Response: “In our case the main reason for the absence of unstable radioactive nuclei products is the mutually correlated character of the nuclear transformation in the system that is consistent in space and time. In such a system many (possibly, all) fluctuation processes can be completely suppressed. The absence of radioactive nuclei in the collapse products is a direct consequence of the principle of harmonization that reveals itself in the invariable satisfaction of the variational principle of realization of the most optimum path to the final state. Only the most stable states appear along such path. The specific mechanism of correlated nuclear transformations is related to the specificity of the interaction of nuclei and electrons in the synchronously compressed superdense medium in the bulk of the target. It is worth mentioning that similar effects of suppression of the uncorrelated nuclear reactions are well known in nuclear physics. One of the examples thereof is the Kagan – Afanasiev effect comprising complete suppression of the inelastic channels of a nuclear reaction when the incident neutron beam interacts with the ordered crystalline lattice in the direction of the Bragg diffraction angle. Under such conditions the inelastic channel of the reaction of interaction of a neutron with nuclei of the lattice is completely suppressed (neutrons are not absorbed by the nuclei), and the efficiency of the elastic channel (the channel of resonance scattering) grows very strongly. The effect of lattice is such that the nuclei of the target remain in a nonexcited nonradioactive state. Similar nuclei taken individually absorb neutrons very strongly and become radioactive after such absorption. The explanation of this effect is based on the correlatability and coherence of the neutron beam interaction with a periodic crystal. ”

    Question: “In some of your papers you conclude that in the course of the nuclear reactions that you detect, the radioactive nuclei are not produced but, in a way, are “consumed” (the experiments with the radioactive cobalt). This makes such processes a prospective technology for the utilization of radioactive waste. What could be, in your opinion, the mechanism of this process?”

    Response: “In our experiments, the nuclear transformations pass through the stage of collective and strongly correlated states leading to the complete collapse. In the collapsing volume, nuclei lose their individuality. We think that something similar to a giant macronucleus or, more exactly, an electron-nucleus macrocluster is formed. After a number of global transformations, such a macrosystem begins to decay with the emission of new nuclei. By simplifying the situation, we may imagine that, at the first stage of the transformation, all the interacting nuclei “are broken” into individual nucleons with the simultaneous formation of the giant electron-nucleus macrocluster. Then these nucleons form other stable daughter nuclei which leave the volume of the parent macrocluster. Since the process of formation of new nuclei runs comparatively slowly and in the mutually consistent mode, only stable nuclei are formed (unstable radioactive nuclei are formed only in fast pulse processes, when their formation occurs without mutual consistency). Upon the comparatively slow (as compared to the duration of ordinary pairwise nuclear reactions) formation of nuclei, which corresponds to the adiabatic mode, only maximally stable nuclei are synthesized. Such nuclei are nonradioactive. In this case, it is not essential whether the initial nuclei were radioactive or stable. For this reason, such a reprocessing (utilization) of radioactive nuclei will result in the creation of stable nuclei. It is necessary to note that the absence of radioactive nuclei in the products of a collapse is also a direct consequence of the principle of harmonization that is revealed in the invariable choice of the most optimum and, therefore, deterministic path to the final state. Such a path can be realized only in comparatively slow adiabatic processes (which are observed in our system) and never occurs in limitedly fast, pulse processes, in which the factor of randomness is of a great importance.”

    So Proton-21’s experiments, if we accept their claims, do not produce radioactive elements – in fact they “consume” them, with only maximally stable nuclei being synthesized. So what is the source of Earth’s radioactivity?

    On the other hand, if we are _not_ to accept their claims, then why rely on them as the only citation for the piezoelectric nucleosynthesis portion of the hydroplate theory?

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