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Turnabout is fair play

Category: CreationismFossilsScience
Posted on: July 6, 2011 9:14 AM, by PZ Myers

Phil Senter has published the most deviously underhanded, sneaky, subtle undermining of the creationist position I've ever seen, and I applaud him for it. What he did was to take them seriously, something I could never do, and treat their various publications that ape the form of the scientific literature as if they actually were real science papers, and apply their methods consistently to an analysis of taxonomy. So on the one hand, it's bizarre and disturbing to see the like of Ken Ham, Jerry Bergman, and Henry Morris get actual scientific citations, but on the other hand, seeing their claims refuted using their own touted methods is peculiarly satisfying.

Senter has published a paper in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology that takes their claims at face value and analyzes dinosaur morphology using their own methods. 'Baraminologists' have published a set of taxonomic tools that use as input a matrix of morphological characters for an array of animals, and then spits out numbers that tell whether they were similar enough to be related. You can guess what the motivation for that is: they want to claim that Noah didn't have to carry representatives of every dinosaur species on the Ark, but only representatives of each 'kind', which then diversified rapidly after the big boat landed to generate all the different species found in the fossil record.

The problem for them is that Senter found that it works far too well. Using creationist techniques, all of the Dinosauria reduce to…eight kinds. That makes the boat haulage problem relatively even easier.

Here is the summary diagram, illustrating the derived creationist tree of common descent. Oops.

creationisttree.jpeg
Summary of results of taxon correlation analyses across Dinosauria. Each boxed group of silhouettes indicates a group for which taxon correlation found within-group morphological continuity; for silhouette groups in different boxes, taxon correlation found morphological discontinuity between the groups. Dotted lines represent uncertainty as to whether morphological discontinuity is truly present. On the cladogram, triangles indicate paraphyletic groups.

At first, the results of the taxon correlation analyses appear to imply good news for the creationist world view, on several fronts. First, seven major dinosaurian groups (birdlike coelurosaurs, Tazoudasaurus + Eusauropoda, Stegosauria, Ankylosauridae, Neoceratopsia, Hadrosauridae and basal Hadrosauriformes) are separated from the rest of Dinosauria by morphological gaps (Fig. 15). Creationist inferences that variety within Eusauropoda (Morris, 1999) and Ceratopsidae (Ham, 2009) represent diversification within separately created kinds are congruent with these results. Second, each morphologically continuous group found by taxon correlation includes at least some herbivores. This is congruent with the creationist assertion that all carnivorous animals are descendants of originally herbivorous ancestors (Unfred, 1990; Gish, 1992; Ham, 1998, 2006, 2009; Larsen, 2001; McIntosh & Hodge, 2006). Third, although creationists have answered the problem of room on Noah's ark for multiple pairs of gigantic dinosaurs by asserting that only about 50 'created kinds' of dinosaurs existed (Ham, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2009; Morris, 1999), the problem is solved even better by the results of this study, in which only eight dinosaur 'kinds' are found.

Awww. I guess I'm going to have to become a creationist, now that the evidence shows that dinosaurs are related by common descent…oh, hey, wait. Isn't that what evolution says? And isn't that easier to accommodate within the idea that they did this over millions of years, rather than the freakishly unrealistic hyper-speciation within a few thousand years that the creationists insist on?

However, a second look reveals that these results are at odds with the creationist view. Whether there were eight dinosaur 'kinds' or 50, the diversity within each 'kind' is enormous. Acceptance that such diversity arose by natural means in only a few thousand years therefore stretches the imagination. The largest dinosaurian baramin recovered by this study includes Euparkeria, basal ornithodirans (Silesaurus and Marasuchus), basal saurischians, basal ornithischians, basal sauropodomorphs, basal thyreophorans, nodosaurid ankylosaurs, pachycephalosaurs, basal ceratopsians, basal ornithopods and all but the most birdlike theropods in an unbroken spectrum of morphological continuity. The creationist viewpoint allows for diversification within baramins, but the diversity within this morphologically continuous group is extreme. Also, the inclusion of the Middle Triassic non-dinosaurs Euparkeria and Marasuchus within the group is at odds with the creationist claim that fossil representatives of the predinosaurian, ancestral stock from which dinosaurs arose have never been found (DeYoung, 2000; Ham, 2006; Bergman, 2009).

So, effectively, these results, made using the creationists own tools, demonstrate a genetic relationship between a diverse group of animals that evolution predicted, and confronts young earth creationists with the problem of a kind of frantically prolific speciation that is unimaginably rapid. If species are that fluid and can change that rapidly, their own claims of fixity of species are patently wrong.

The final word:

The results of this study indicate that transitional fossils linking at least four major dinosaurian groups to the rest of Dinosauria are yet to be found. Possibly, some creationist authors will hail this finding as evidence of special creation for those four groups. However, such enthusiasm should be tempered by the finding here that the rest of Dinosauria--including basal members of all major lineages--are joined in a continuous morphological spectrum. This confirms the genetic relatedness of a very broad taxonomic collection of animals, as evolutionary theory predicts, ironically by means of a measure endorsed and used by creation science.

This is so wonderfully, evilly devious. Superficially, it seems to support creationist methods—but what it actually is is a grand reductio ad absurdam. Laugh wickedly at it now, but laugh even harder when you see creationists citing this paper in the future, as you know they will.


Senter P (2011) Using creation science to demonstrate evolution 2: morphological continuity within Dinosauria. J Evol Biol. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02349.x.

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Comments

#1

Posted by: Michael Hawkins Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 9:32 AM

That's a lot of work for the lulz.

#2

Posted by: Naon Tiotami Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 9:34 AM

One of the greatest papers I have even seen. Senter deserves an anti-creationist medal, who's with me? Can't the NCSE whip up something?

#3

Posted by: thefloatinglantern Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 9:36 AM

I love it! A few more studies in this vein (but just a few; scientists have real work to do) would be excellent.

My only complaint is that this doesn't help me when arguing with OECs. And it's wrong to refer to "creationists" as if all of them believed that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. Plenty of creationists don't.

#4

Posted by: Agi Hammerthief Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 9:42 AM

their own touted methods
isn't it more like "tortured methods"?
#5

Posted by: Alex, adv. diab. Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 9:43 AM

Second, each morphologically continuous group found by taxon correlation includes at least some herbivores. This is congruent with the creationist assertion that all carnivorous animals are descendants of originally herbivorous ancestors

I picture them laughing so hard while writing this. Great stuff

#6

Posted by: Cuttlefish, OM, CR Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 9:45 AM

At this rate, they'll need fewer dinosaurs than giraffes!

#7

Posted by: serendipitydawg Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 9:49 AM

It's a nice idea to undermine it in that way however, if you read the comments here, you will see that it won't ultimately work.

The first few comments are sensible and then the believers start rolling in and it becomes, "La La La La La jesus La La La faith La La La bible."

There is also a cracking comment around 142 that basically says, "Darwin was a poopyhead."*

Sad.

*Alright, it actually says:

Evolution is not true. It was founded by one man with a very huge ego.

#8

Posted by: Agi Hammerthief Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 9:57 AM

Superficially, it seems to support creationist methods — but ...
the creationists will not care about the "but"

anyone educated enough to understand the "but" will be laughing - but - how many of those who don't understand enough of it will swollow the creationists "it's oficially scientific now", without ever meeting anyone who can convincigly explain the joke them?

#9

Posted by: dgerard Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:03 AM

May I tout the RationalWiki article on baraminology, which I'm quite proud of:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Baraminology

Whenever people don't think they have enough stupid in their lives, I show then that and their brains blue-screen.

#10

Posted by: Cor (formerly evil) Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:05 AM

@Agi:
How many of those ignoranti will be wearing black robes and holding a gavel? How many will be state legislators looking to apply pressure to a university?

This was a joke, but the complete lack of publication was the thrust of argument in Dover and, IIRC, Louisiana.

We'll hear this paper cited again, I fear. We might hear it cited by our own school-age children someday.

#11

Posted by: Alex, adv. diab. Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:06 AM

Evolution is not true. It was founded by one man with a very huge ego.

They must think sequitur is a brand of detergent.

#12

Posted by: Le Havre en Chêne Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:06 AM

Expect the quote mining to commence in 3...2...1...

#13

Posted by: Somemadchef Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:15 AM

You just know they will have some stupid response, how the fuck can you reason with people who talk in tounges and run around their churches like lunatics every Sunday.

It just seems so exhausting at times dealing with these clowns. My son attends the local private christian school out of wamt for a better alternative in our town.The place is run by these crackpots and the kids are made to cross out anything in their books that contradicts the true age of the world. They recently did a project on the solar system and had to make sure the wrote in pencil that the earth is 6000 years old.

The principal at a parents evening stood infront of the entire parents body and with the conviction of a mad man proclaimed evolution was a lie and got a round of applause.To argue with anyone of the teachers is pointless as they just ignore you and refuse to hear your point of view.

Thankfully my son who is 9 is no fool and knows when to switch off and ignore the bullshit, he is an atheist of his own making I am proud to say.

I unfortunately with my wife who grew up behind the Iron curtain to card carrying communist parents get to attend these meetings on a regular basis.We often leave gobbsmacked that people who we know can actually be so stupid one of who is our family doctor. Now one would think that he of all people would understand evolution, I am waiting for the day I go for a consultation and he wants to start laying hands on me, he already says a little prayer after every consultation.

Trying to explain evolution to these people is like beating your head against the wall you just cannot get through to them they are so brainwashed.

#14

Posted by: Deen Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:20 AM

This reads like a quote mine waiting to happen.

Maybe we should train scientists to not use stylistic structures like "This appears to support their theory. However, ..." at all anymore. It's just to easy to take the first sentence and ignore the second.

Just use something like "While this may seem to support their theory, in reality..." instead. Much harder to take out of context, as it requires outright fabrication, rather than just lying by omission. Not that this will stop everyone, of course.

#15

Posted by: Alex, adv. diab. Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:31 AM

@Somemadchef

Holy mother of dog, good grief! Where do you live? If this school is the best in the region, I hope it has some other striking qualities? Can you send him somewhere else for higher education lateron?

#16

Posted by: strange gods before me ॐ homintern radfem Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:31 AM

We learn nothing, uncovering no new information about the world.

Creationists get another paper they can point to.


It's fun, but I hope nobody thinks this is useful.

#17

Posted by: Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:47 AM

How they'll read the conclusion:

The results of this study indicate that transitional fossils linking at least four major dinosaurian groups to the rest of Dinosauria are yet to be found. Possibly, some creationist authors will hail this finding as evidence of special creation for those four groups. However, such enthusiasm should be tempered by the finding here that the rest of Dinosauria--including basal members of all major lineages--are joined in a continuous morphological spectrum. This confirms the genetic relatedness of a very broad taxonomic collection of animals, as evolutionary theory predicts, ironically by means of a measure endorsed and used by creation science.

PS: I think it's absurdum, not absurdam.

#18

Posted by: https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmVT1LBhwmO9ej9LNg7a5e9d-AVJ8ezfmE Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:49 AM

And isn't that easier to accommodate within the idea that they did this over millions of years, rather than the freakishly unrealistic hyper-speciation within a few thousand years that the creationists insist on?

Is this the same creationists that complain about the 100 million year-long "cambrian explosion" as refuting evolution because too much diversity happened too fast?

#19

Posted by: Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:55 AM

When creationists can't decide among themselves whether a species belongs to a specific baramin, you know it's got problems. (Hyenas, are they dogs or cats?)

#20

Posted by: hall.curt Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:55 AM

I'd love to see this methodology applied to the Hominidae family. I predict that this would show only one species from Hominidae was necessary to take on the ark.
We know humans were on the Ark (the Bible says), so this means chimps & apes could have diversified from humans in the last 4000 years!?

#21

Posted by: John Harshman Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 11:07 AM

All very nice, but does this paper cite the response from baraminologists, notably Todd Charles Wood, the major force in that "discipline", to Senter's previous paper on the subject? Senter apparently misunderstood some important aspects of the methods, and since the current paper is paywalled I can't tell if Senter has addressed the critique.

You really should have read (and cited) Wood, T. C. 2011. Using creation science to demonstrate evolution? Senter's strategy revisited. J. Evol. Biol. 24:914-918. Which was a response to Senter, P. 2010. Using creation science to demonstrate evolution: application of a creationist method for visualizing gaps in the fossil record to a phylogenetic study of coelurosaurian dinosaurs. J. Evol. Biol. 23:1732-1743. So far, no response to Senter's new paper on Wood's blog, but we might expect one soon.

To my mind, a deeper flaw in baraminological methods is that they never even attempt empirical or theoretical justification for their use. They're just presented as useful, but the reasons are never specified. I suspect that deep down even they know they're just going through the motions.

But if you're going to point and laugh, at least do your homework first. There will be plenty to point and laugh at even when you're done, but it will be a more respectable sort of pointing and laughing.

#22

Posted by: serendipitydawg Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 11:07 AM

And the hits keep on coming; comment 289 from the BBC blog is where I stop reading because the accommodationism and stupidity are building and building:

I am neither a scientist nor a creationist. However I have looked into both creationism and evolutionary theory, and have come to the conclusion that with the evidence that we have, both need a huge leap of faith to accept. I await a better and more scientific theory that starts with the evidence and builds a case from there rather than starting with a theory and trying to make the evidence fit it.

Nobody mention quantum whatever you do or Derekt's mobile phone will stop working because he doesn't believe in it.

#23

Posted by: Matt Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 11:16 AM

Any way some kind individual could point me towards how I can get a copy of this paper? Or foward me one at moelarrycurrly4@yahoo.com?

#24

Posted by: thefloatinglantern Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 11:29 AM

@Matt #23: I just sent it to you.

#25

Posted by: Pierce R. Butler Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 11:46 AM

via serendipitydawg @ # 7: ...not true. It was founded by one man with a very huge ego.

Does that same logic apply to Matthew 26:10-11 -

When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.

For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.


?
#26

Posted by: roxchix Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 11:53 AM

I utterly fail to see the point of introducing the creationist methodology into a reputable paper. Absent the attempt at refuting creationism, is there anything novel at the taxonomic level in this paper, that could not be stated more plainly using classic paleontology tools?
I cannot find the August 2010 paper archived in Web of Science nor Georef, but there is a 2011 article in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology archived by Web of Science by Wood, TC of the Bryan college center for creation research claiming that Senter did not apply the method as creationists do, and that a more strict application of the method fails to prove the same point. By going through the references in this paper, I could find the reference to the original paper. I'm not sure if the problem is with WOS or Wiley- but, I can't get online access for Senter's 2010 paper (and my library is not deficient in resources), so I can't directly comment on the paper (which makes me wonder at just how this journal ranks).

All Senter's paper has done is to provide a justification for the words creation 'science', an imprimatur of recognition that what they do can be called science,justification of their methods, and inflated the cite metrics of the creationist papers. This kind of refutation would be best left to thought exercises on personal webpapges, I would think.

The first sentence of the 2010 abstract:
"It is important to demonstrate evolutionary principles in such a way that they cannot be countered by creation science". That will never happen. Creation science is not science, it provides a constantly moving goalpost since it is not based on a critical and logical evaluation of an objective nature, it is completely subjective, even when it wraps itself in the language of numbers and statistics. While it would be incredibly useful to force creation 'science' to pin itself down with a clear statement of it's processes and to get it provide falsifiable hypothesis, that will never happen either, because it is a fractured, amorphous collection of random ideas. provide an argument against one faction's incoherent method, and another faction will pop up and say 'that's not how we do it'.

Just be reading the abstract and summaries, I fail to see how this paper advances an understanding of paleontological science, and the references to creations 'science' seem merely gratuitous.

#27

Posted by: Deepsix Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 12:11 PM

This "study" is flawed from the begining. Everyone knows that Noah was able to fit the dinosaurs on the ark by using dinosaur eggs. One male and one female egg of each "kind", of course.

#28

Posted by: Cosmic Teapot Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 12:19 PM

There is also a cracking comment around 142 that basically says, "Darwin was a poopyhead."

You have more patience than me, I had enough when I read comment 11, Oliver Elphicks long chain of assertions and usual creationist distortions.

His rather basic web site links to AIG and the Creation Research Society, amongst others. His basic argument is if it goes against the bible, then it it false. Poor, deluded numpty.

#29

Posted by: serendipitydawg Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 12:34 PM

Cosmic Teapot @28,

I carried on for as long as possible and comment 289 quoted in #22 finally made me stop.

There was one that basically said, "Hey, atheists, can't you just like leave the religious alone to their beliefs?", and I managed to grit my teeth and continue, but 289 was a step too far.

I could feel the brain cells crying out for me to stop.

#30

Posted by: Markita Lynda: Healthcare is a damn right Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 12:41 PM

Evolution is not true. It was founded by one man with a very huge ego.
This goes very nicely with the contention that Darwin didn't invent anything because other people at the same time had similar ideas; therefore, God!

Two equal and opposing arguments annihilate each other in a puff of fairy dust.

#31

Posted by: Alex, adv. diab. Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 12:46 PM

Hey, atheists, can't you just like leave the religious alone to their beliefs?

Is "not as long as they are fucking up our planet, indoctrinating children with ignorance and dumbing down politics" an acceptable reply to that?

#32

Posted by: PZ Myers Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 12:48 PM

The paper explicitly cites Wood's reply, and counters it.

I concluded that the study demonstrated the evolutionary relatedness of these groups with each other and with basal birds in such a way as could not be countered by creation science. However, baraminologist Todd Wood subsequently pointed out that I had mistaken a mere visualization technique (CMDS) for a technique that a baraminologist would accept as a test of genetic related- ness. Taxon correlation is a method that a baraminologist would accept as a test of genetic relatedness. Wood (2011) restudied the Coelurosauria matrix using taxon correla- tion and found morphological discontinuity between three coelurosaurian groups: Oviraptorosauria, basal birds + Deinonychusauria and a group consisting of the remaining coelurosaurs. A baraminologist could therefore infer that three baramins had been identified.
Since then, the phylogenetic data matrix used in those studies (Senter, 2010; Wood, 2011) has been enormously improved by an overhaul that included a vast number of corrections and updates, detailed later. Most of the changes resulted from examination of a large number of specimens that I had not previously had the chance to study, at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) during a 2010 trip to Beijing. Enough changes were made to justify a new phyloge- netic analysis and a new taxon correlation study with the matrix, to see whether the technique would now identify greater morphological continuity through Coelurosauria.
#33

Posted by: RFW Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 12:49 PM

@Somemadchef #13:

I had an insight: the fundies' imperviousness to common sense, logic, and clear thinking is merely a symptom of future shock (vide Alvin Toffler). "Evolution" is merely a proxy for "dirty hippy", something to be despised and mocked for lack of a more concrete target for their unhappiness with progress.

There's even a scientific experiment possible to verify this view: breed a population of dirty hippies (there are still a few breeding pairs on Lasqueti Island, BC), parachute them into an anti-evolutionist stronghold, and see if the presence of the real thing reduces anti-evolution fervor.

You may need CITES certification for this, as Hippius dirtius is a highly endangered species with legal protection in Canada.

#34

Posted by: Alex, adv. diab. Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 12:55 PM

@RFW

Really, a 2500+ year old discipline (logic) a scapegoat for their unhappyness with progress? That's pretty sad.

If airlifting Hippies(TM) is too expensive (or fascist), one could voyage to the liberal heliopause around Austin/TX and investigate the cultural phenomena which occur there.

#35

Posted by: roxchix Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 1:09 PM

PZ- so that is another cite for baraminology. Apparently nobody at my institute has ever cared to request access to that Journal. I really don't care enough to request it through Docuserve. My point remains, baraminology is essentially a pseudo-science, so why pander to the creationists and try to apply a pseudo-science in place of well respected cladistic analysis? Without reading the paper I obviously can't speak to as to whether it advances some paleontological understanding, but it just seems like the wrong approach to take. If the baraminologists want to show that their technique has merit, let them try to do the research and analysis that would qualify it into entry into the legitimate literature. Leave the refutation to a website or something until the baraminologists get something published themselves that can be refuted point by point.

#36

Posted by: serendipitydawg Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 1:10 PM

Alex, adv. diab. @31,

Is "not as long as they are fucking up our planet, indoctrinating children with ignorance and dumbing down politics" an acceptable reply to that?

Indeed it is, and I hope someone made it - there was no way I was going to jump into that pool of stoopid, even if I could remember my user name :D

#37

Posted by: surgoshan Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 1:28 PM

Hamm and Bergman cite this, without any quotes or description, as proof that they're right in 3, 2, ...

#38

Posted by: realinterrobang Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 2:48 PM

Count me as another person who thinks this was a real waste of time, effort, and pages -- I don't think you can reason creationists out of their position (at least not the hard-core ones); they didn't reason their way in.

What the article led me to believe was that Senter was probably a creationist himself. If he isn't (and from the sounds of it he isn't), he's done a piss-poor job of his PR.

My boyfriend showed me the article, and I said, "Does this dude actually think this will help, or is he a creationist mole?"

#39

Posted by: mikmik Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 3:26 PM

Posted by: roxchix Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 11:53 AM #26
I couldn't agree more. This paper is far to subtle(as are all scientific methodologically produced papers) and intellectual most people to understand, let alone creationists. In fact, I recently read somewhere(I'll look) that scientific refutations not only (Ah! Skeptical Enquirer) imply the refuted topic is valid enough scientifically, in approach, as the real science used to refute, but people remember the refuted subject as actually being true/validated!
#40

Posted by: tko2 Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 3:38 PM

"ape the form of the scientific literature"

nyuk nyuk nyuk

#41

Posted by: stubotics Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 3:44 PM

I sent this article to a friend of mine who is a creationist. Here is part of his comment:

If the creationist hypothesis is true, created kinds [were] imbued with greater genetic potential, subsequently specializing and shrinking that potential, then the present is not the key to the past: present diversification rates do not inform us of the potential in Noah's day. Failure to engage the full hypothesis will result in knocking down a strawman.

To which I replied:
What is the evidence that created kinds had higher genetic potential (a heightened sensitivity to the effects of mutation that facilitates rapid evolution to novel states) in the time of Noah? Or is this just a necessary assumption in order for the creationist hypothesis to be true?

I await a reply.

#42

Posted by: No One Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 3:45 PM

Yaweh... master Dino sperm manipulator. Of micro-evolution of course. Because Macro is a tool of Satan and the demon possessed Dinos.

#43

Posted by: Stever Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 4:30 PM

Bona fide biblical scholars and archiologists, folks who have pretty much spent their lives trying to validate textual and historical assumptions promulgated by Judeo/Christian religions over the centuries, have been dwindling in number in the past couple of decades due to credibility problems.

Apparently, the more one studies the details of the numerous versions of the scriptures (translations and para-phrasings) and historical claims of the Bible, the more one accumulates the proof inaccuracies and inconsistencies, to the point that it becomes pointless to pursue as valid scholarship.

However, the faithful creationists, who are assuredly untutored in such in-depth study, happily understand and live the actual word of their god.

I would recommend a link to this book be affixed to their site as one for their summer reading list.

#44

Posted by: mdcaton Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 5:01 PM

Taking people's BS seriously - following the implications when they won't - is always a great technique. Kudos to Senter for this.

#45

Posted by: Alex, adv. diab. Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 5:19 PM

Stever,

While this is true, it is important to reiterate that even if the bible was perfectly self consistent and all historical times and places were right, this would not at all mean that any of the religious content is true or that its gods exist. Not by a long shot.

#46

Posted by: Zorku Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 6:07 PM

I used to try and do something like this on some forums. Had to be very one on one because each cretinist set the bar somewhere different and some had put so little thought into it that my questioning exhausted them before the big reveal but for everyone that would put up with me and actually sort of cooperate I was able to get admissions of "adaptation" bigger than the evolution of man from our last common ancestor with chimps.

The majority quit talking to me about the time I started pulling up observed instances of speciation to see if they'd fall into my trap by moving the goalpost back but I guess there was no helping that.

#47

Posted by: David Marjanović Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 6:09 PM

This is awesome beyond belief! It's especially awesome that the JEB (a journal with a high impact factor) doesn't think sarcasm is beneath it.

I utterly fail to see the point of introducing the creationist methodology into a reputable paper. Absent the attempt at refuting creationism, is there anything novel at the taxonomic level in this paper, that could not be stated more plainly using classic paleontology tools?

No, why? Refuting creationism was the very goal of the paper.

Besides, taxonomy isn't a science. Phylogenetics is, and Senter has done that in several previous papers.

I fail to see how this paper advances an understanding of paleontological science

The journal is called Journal of Evolutionary Biology. In fact, it doesn't publish much paleontology at all.

the liberal heliopause around Austin/TX

LOL in meatspace!

My point remains, baraminology is essentially a pseudo-science, so why pander to the creationists and try to apply a pseudo-science in place of well respected cladistic analysis?

Because cladistic analysis – phylogenetic analysis – preassumes that evolution has taken place.

The idea is to show the cretinists that their own methods demonstrate evolution.

I'm with comment 44.

#48

Posted by: Randomfactor Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 6:47 PM

#20 so this means chimps & apes could have diversified from humans in the last 4000 years!?

Bingo! There's a reason why the first US space chimp was named "Ham." And you thought the black skin was the curse...

#49

Posted by: Randomfactor Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 6:52 PM

Wait a minute...isn't there some cretinist named Ham, too?

#50

Posted by: roxchix Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 7:01 PM

David @47- I don't read much in paleontology or evolutionary biology journals, but would you really consider this journal high impact?
According to Web of Science, the Journal of Evolutionary Biology is smack dab in the middle.

And it's just semantics, but you must have a pretty narrow definition of paleontology, I'd think that anything based on morphological analysis of fossils could be suitably called paleontology, well in the sphere of overlap with evolutionary biology.

I'm still not convinced there's a legitimate reason to take flawed pseudo-science seriously enough publish a comparison like this. I'd think you could distribute the analysis widely enough without it.

#51

Posted by: Carlie of the lacy, gently wafting adjectives Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 9:13 PM

I think this was fantastic. One of the creationists' biggest mantras is that scientists ignore their findings and refuse to listen to what they have to say. Well, one did. And he found out it was full of shit. And published it. No way to claim martyr status now.

#52

Posted by: OnePumpChump Author Profile Page | July 6, 2011 10:23 PM

It doesn't matter how stupid you make them or their methods look to people who know anything about evolution. A fake endorsement of their methods is as good as real, because the people at whom the creationist message is aimed are not equipped or do not care to verify it, and purely on the level of credentials it checks out. And that's enough.

This is not an intellectual conflict, it is a propaganda war, and this is handing ground over to the enemy. Everyone here is having a good laugh, but teenaged fundamentalists and their pastors will either not get the joke or not care. It's just another plate for the faithful's armor.

#53

Posted by: Kseniya Author Profile Page | July 7, 2011 12:20 AM

Awesomeness. This will make a nice birthday present for someone I know.

#54

Posted by: HeavyMetalYogi Author Profile Page | July 7, 2011 12:52 AM

The creationists' analysis reminds me of the overcomplicated calculations used to explain retrograde motion of planets in the geocentric Ptolemaic system which are not needed in the much more simplified heliocentric model. I wish IDiots would just learn to apply Ockham's Razor, but they've built their beliefs of compartmentalization, rationalization, and denial.

#55

Posted by: paulmurray Author Profile Page | July 7, 2011 2:06 AM

For years, science has been asking the creationists to publish some work in a reputable journal. But the "baraminologists" are so incompetent that an actual scientist finally had to go "Screw it - if they won't do it, I will".

Nice.

#56

Posted by: DLC Author Profile Page | July 7, 2011 3:22 AM

I'm actually glad to see a systematic review of Creationist papers, citing them as if they actually had scientific "cred" to them. But what if some cretinist decides to do likewise with evo-devo papers ? Somehow, I'm betting that much hilarity would ensue were Ham or Hovind to try it.

#57

Posted by: David Marjanović Author Profile Page | July 7, 2011 6:35 AM

I don't read much in paleontology or evolutionary biology journals, but would you really consider this journal high impact?

Yes.

Systematic Biology, with more than twice that impact factor (sometimes three times), ranks as "crazily high".

And it's just semantics, but you must have a pretty narrow definition of paleontology, I'd think that anything based on morphological analysis of fossils could be suitably called paleontology, well in the sphere of overlap with evolutionary biology.

Most of paleontology is evolutionary biology. However, most of evolutionary biology is not paleontology; that's a reason why evolutionary-biology journals publish so little paleontology.

(The other is cultural – paleontologists tend not to submit their manuscripts to what they see as neontologist journals that their fellow paleontologists won't read.)

#58

Posted by: Rabid Monk Author Profile Page | July 7, 2011 10:10 AM

I wonder what would happen if this approach were applied to humans, other hominids and apes?

After all, one of the more common refrains from YEC's is "I'm not an ape!", or some variant thereof.

So the questions is if, using their own guidelines, they are apes.

#59

Posted by: Chris Booth Author Profile Page | July 7, 2011 4:56 PM

#54, HeavyMetalYogi:
Creationists are thin-skinned. They can't apply Ockham; it would give them Razor burn.

#60

Posted by: AJS Author Profile Page | July 8, 2011 8:40 PM

I bet this will inspire some creationist to write a follow-up. The idea being: start digging, but get out as soon as they start joining in. That way, you'll be somewhere safe by the time they realise they're stuck in a hole.

#61

Posted by: chris.young Author Profile Page | July 10, 2011 7:54 AM

The diagram you post shows basal Saurischia as a sister group to Sauropodomorpha but not to Theropoda. Is this a special Creationist version or has the world moved on since I last looked?

#62

Posted by: Uglyhip Author Profile Page | July 10, 2011 9:40 PM

Inspired by the creationists' belief in hyper-evolution (that, for example, all modern feline species could have arisen in 4000 years), I wondered about the bare minimum number of baramins (heh, say that three times fast).

If time isn't actually a factor in the rate of diversification, then Noah may as well take only a single cell. It would be identical to what the evilutionists think was the first life form, except magically capable of repeating the whole history of life as we know it — including those groups, such as Australopithecines, that so deceptively resemble humans. (Hmm, for purposes of the number of animals, was the first life form clean or unclean?).

However, the Bible does mention a few different groupings of life, mainly in the creation sequence(s), as well as the Flood story(/ies). So Noah has to take more than one.

I started to add up the minimum kinds up before remembering that one of the laws of the Internet is It's Been Done. Googling "minimum number of kinds" turned up this page as the first hit, rather surprisingly for such a non-specific phrase. Even more so, it's a creationist page. Anyway, it calculates 17 kinds minimum, though of course it doesn't consider that number remotely realistic.

In fact, the number can be fewer, since that includes plants and sea creatures, which the Flood account doesn't have Noah save despite the coming massive change to ecosystems. So my new calculation, based strictly on the Flood account, is 8 baramins total: two each of birds (just Corvus and Columbidae), livestock (some proto-ungulates?), wild animals (whatever that means), and ground-crawlers (whatever that means). Because the categories are described with plurals, there have to be at least two of each of them. Now, assuming that the non-bird and non-livestock kinds were all unclean, then there were just 46 non-human passengers total, plus the one magic cell to do the actual repopulating.

The creationists' unwillingness to proudly proclaim "Just 6 kinds!" is a shame insofar as it would make the whole ark job a lot easier to explain. I've known families of 8 people who manage numerous diverse pets at once, and family farms tend to have more than 32 animals. And really, you don't have to bend the Biblical narrative more than creationists already do. Forget that magic cell — instead of the hyper-evolution that YECs call "microevolution", or any evolutionary process at all, you simply postulate that God went ahead and re-created some species using the same cutting-edge "sculpt it out of dirt" method he used the first time. Why the heck not?

After all, the Bible says nothing about the creation or extinction of dinosaurs or a thousand other clades, nor things like the making of other planets, or black holes, or even the parentage of Cain's wife, etc. Creationists have to stick all that in with the incredibly feeble excuse that just because the Bible doesn't mention it doesn't mean it didn't happen right? (The same thing is done when the New Testament contradicts itself regarding how many people did thus-and-such; the Bible-thumpers basically respond with the same silly logic whereby all the months have 28 days.) So, there you go: A third instance of poofing each species (the first two being the pre-human population explosion and the creation of one example of each animal for Adam to evaluate as a companion).

It's true that if, right after Noah gets drunk and curses his son, God were to create or recreate some new varieties of rhino and beetle and evergreen, well, that would appear to trivialize the 40-day zookeeping efforts of Noah's clan. However, the fact that he could have done so all along trivializes the whole thing anyway, not to mention the hundred other options available to him. (Send prophets or angels to preach people out of their wickedness as Jesus supposedly did, or make all the evil people instantly vaporize, or send a special kind of water that only kills sinners, etc.) And of course the sheer overwhelming number of extinctions that must have happened since the Flood makes it a fractally worthless waste of God's.

===

Wait a second. Looked back at the original article. Exactly eight "kinds" of dinosaur. Exactly eight "humans" in charge of the ark. Coincidence… or something much more awesome?

It looks like Jesus wasn't the only velociraptor in the Bible. Rather, every single named character was a dinosaur, not a human. This explains so much.

#63

Posted by: Uglyhip Author Profile Page | July 10, 2011 9:44 PM

whoops; I kept redoing my math in that last one, as you can tell. 6 kinds, 32, 46, whatever, it's all nonsense anyway, except for the dinosaurs.

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