Saturday, May 14, 2016

Taking Down An Annoying "anti-Evolutionist" On His Dinos Co-Existing With Humans Bunkum

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While Charles Pierce's 'Idiot America' skewers Americans who actually believe that humans could have co-existed with dinosaurs,  he missed all the loons in Barbados who accept the same codswallop.  One of these characters whose letters feature prominently in the Barbadian press is Roger Marshall.( I have also had media battles with Mr. Marshall - a self-declared "anti-Evolutionist" - for over 25 years now.)

Not long after arriving in Bim I encountered Marshall's latest letter to the Barbados Advocate editor (‘Genesis Foundation of Christianity Still Strong’, April 10,  p. 11).  As usual there were so many outlandish claims made for his already scuttled creationist codswallop that it would take a text book to refute them in depth – but I confined myself to primary themes, main points. The letter was subsequently published after we left in the May 5 edition of the Advocate. The main content of the letter is shown below:

Let’s begin with the claim the “Earth is only a few thousands of years old”. (He says “probably 6,000-10,000) according to Genesis. ) It ought to be obvious that radiocarbon dating totally refutes this foolishness, but perhaps not in Marshall’s mind – or perhaps he himself isn’t familiar with the principles of radioactive dating. (Say as elaborated in A-level physics).  But to be blunt, there are no dinosaur bones found for which accurate dating has them only six to ten thousand years old.  Leaving even that aspect out, Marshall is oblivious to the fact the climate six to 1ten thousand years ago was simply too cold for dinosaurs to survive, whether Brontosaurus, Allosaurus, Diplodicus or Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Indeed, Luis Alvarez’ seminal work with the identification of a massive asteroid strike 65 million years ago (validated by Iridium in key fossil layers) disclosed that once this monster (6 km) object hit, the dinos were not long for this world.  The massive impact equal to billions of megatons equivalent of TNT would have resulted in gigatonnes of dust hurled into the atmosphere blocking out the Sun in a nuclear winter type scenario (similar to what would occur today if all 9,400 -odd nuclear weapons were detonated in a war – say between the U.S. and Russia).  The blocked sunlight not only limited photosynthesis, resulting in the mass extermination of the plants that the herbivorous dinosaurs needed (affecting the meat eating dinos like T-Rex next) but sent temperatures plummeting to levels to which the reptiles couldn’t adjust.

Even if the dinosaurs had survived that asteroid impact, they’d never have survived subsequent Ice Ages that gripped most of North America and Eurasia. (Maybe Marshall doesn’t accept Ice Ages either).

Also figuring into the mix is the fact the Sun operates according to nuclear fusion reactions.  Given the computed nuclear cross section reaction rates we can compute the Sun had been going for at least 4.5 billion years – which immediately destroys the pet Genesis claim the Earth (and cosmos) is only a few thousand years ago.

Marshall next makes much of the dinosaur “soft tissue riddle” where in March, 2005, “paleontologists were stunned to find that the soft tissue of a dinosaur was preserved within a fossil from Tyrannosaurus Rex”.

But this can be easily explained without invoking the malarkey that “dinosaurs and humans lived contemporaneously”. For example, it has since been found that  the iron in their blood formed minuscule iron nanoparticles. This according to a recent paper (Nov. 26, 2013) appearing in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biologic Sciences. The process also releases free radicals involved in aging. But according to the authors (Mary Schweitzer and colleagues at the Univ. of N. Carolina), the free radicals released caused proteins and cell membranes to tie in knots, “basically acting like formaldehyde”. As we know formaldehyde preserves tissue, in this case by cross-linking the amino acids that make up proteins.  The key takeaway? Prof. Schweitzer and her colleagues found that the dinosaur soft tissue is closely associated with iron nanoparticles in both T Rex and another species, Brachylophosaurus Canadensis. The scientists tested their theory using modern ostrich vessels, soaking one group in an iron rich medium, e.g. soaked in red blood cells, and another soaked in water. The former remain recognizable even after two years.

The experiment does not prove this process was applicable to preservation of dinosaur soft tissue but it does provide a naturalistic explanation which is the paramount attribute of all good science. It is far superior to any supernatural explanation or one that appeals the less understandable (in terms of context) to account for a peculiar condition or event. In the latter case we say the person commits the fallacy of ignotum per ignotius, or using the less well understood to make sense of the poorly understood. This, I believe, is the fallacy Mr. Marshall commits in his letter.

Finally, Marshall never considered what would have occurred if the dinosaurs had actually been herded “two by two” into another mythical entity he's convinced existed – “Noah’s Ark”.   Well, just a few of those pairs would have sunk the craft under their combined weight – and that’s even before all the pairs of mammals, other reptiles etc. made it on. A myth sinking another myth!!

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