Saturday, May 26, 2007


An ABC News Poll reveals that 60% of Americans believe that god created the Earth in six days. Not that what Americans believe can change science or natural history. But such idiocy can wreak havoc on nearly everyone and everything else.



Yabba-Dabba religion!

A rather pathetic extravaganza is taking place this weekend in Kentucky. A freak show, with the oxymoronic appellation “Creation Museum”, opens this weekend. [1]

This funhouse for the fancifully deluded has been ridiculed by most serious scientists, serious writers, and pretty much everyone who ever sat in a science class. The Los Angeles Times skewers it best in this editorial:

Yabba-dabba science

Note to would-be Creation Museum visitors: the Earth is round.
May 24, 2007

THE CREATION MUSEUM, a $27-million tourist attraction promoting earth science theories that were popular when Columbus set sail, opens near Cincinnati on Memorial Day. So before the first visitor risks succumbing to the museum's animatronic balderdash — dinosaurs and humans actually coexisted! the Grand Canyon was carved by the great flood described in Genesis! — we'd like to clear up a few things: "The Flintstones" is a cartoon, not a documentary. Fred and Wilma? Those woolly mammoth vacuum cleaners? All make-believe.

Science is under assault, and that calls for bold truths. Here's another: The Earth is round.

The museum, a 60,000-square-foot menace to 21st century scientific advancement, is the handiwork of Answers in Genesis, a leader in the "young Earth" movement. Young Earthers believe the world is about 6,000 years old, as opposed to the 4.5 billion years estimated by the world's credible scientific community. This would be risible if anti-evolution forces were confined to a lunatic fringe, but they are not. Witness the recent revelation that three of the Republican candidates for president do not believe in evolution. Three men seeking to lead the last superpower on Earth reject the scientific consensus on cosmology, thermonuclear dynamics, geology and biology, believing instead that Bamm-Bamm and Dino played together.

Religion and science can coexist. That the Earth is billions of years old is a fact. How the universe came into being and whether it operates by design are matters of faith. The problem is that people who deny science in one realm are unlikely to embrace it in another. Those who cannot accept that climate change may have caused the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago probably don't put much stock in the fact that today it poses grave peril to the Earth as we know it.

Last year, the White House attempted to muzzle NASA's top climatologist after he called for urgent action on global warming, and a presidential appointee in the agency's press office chastised a contractor for mentioning the Big Bang without including the word "theory." The press liaison reportedly wrote in an e-mail: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA."

With the opening of the Creation Museum, young people will be getting another side of the story. Too bad it starts with "Yabba-dabba-doo!"

The Author recognizes that parents in America have the legal right (but not the moral right) to indoctrinate their children with any lunacy they desire. Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs (yet Eve fell for a snake). The earth is 6,000 years old. Fairies put money under kid’s pillow in exchange for shed teeth.

But in the Author’s opinion, subjecting young and curious minds to patent lies in service of a mythology of induced ignorance is close to child abuse.


To offer parents and kids a different path, the Author encourages kids of all ages to link to the following on-line article. Below are the opening paragraphs to a wonderful article in the British Newspaper The Telegraph:

Roger Highfield reveals some kitchen experiments to inspire the next generation of Einsteins, Curies and Darwins

Einstein once remarked that a childhood "wonder" that deeply affected him was an encounter with a compass. Little Albert was mystified by what deflected the needle and this little experiment forged his lifelong fascination with invisible forces that led to general relativity, his remarkable theory of gravity.

And the great Charles Darwin was also inspired as a boy when told he "could produce variously coloured polyanthuses and primroses by watering them with certain coloured fluids". Later, the pioneer of evolutionary thinking said the experiment "fixed itself very firmly in my showing that apparently I was interested at this early age in the variability of plants."

Great minds continue to be inspired this way So we asked some of them to suggest home experiments that might infuse an enthusiasm for science into the next generation ....and then filmed our Science Editor, Roger Highfield, and a team of young helpers, trying to make them work.

Here are some examples from the on-line article:

Defying gravity

Can four people lift a fifth person using only their fingers? It doesn't seem possible but it can be surprisingly easy. Another Prof Richard Wiseman experiment, this one deals with how many fingers can make light work.

Measuring the speed of light

It is the fastest thing in the universe and, remarkably, you can measure it in your own home. This experiment comes from Simon Singh, best selling author and physicist. The amazing thing is that all you need is a microwave, a ruler and some chocolate buttons.

The imploding can

Children tend to be obsessed with making things explode, but what about making something implode? This dramatic suggestion from Adam Hart-Davis, the TV presenter, explores the terrifying power of ordinary atmospheric pressure.

The great toothpaste challenge

Can you get the bands in stripy toothpaste to jumble as they come out of the tube? Scientific theory suggests they should if the toothpaste is moving fast enough. This is one of Adam Hart-Davis' more messy home experiments!

Calculating the speed of light based upon measurements taken in a microwave oven is incredibly easy and relatively accurate. The experiment is done with metric measurements, so budding scientists may need to convert the results from the metric system to the English system. (The only reason that this is required is that the US, a fading science and technology power, still resists the logical and straightforward Metric system.)

For metrically-challenged Americans, here is the conversion factor:

299792458 meters/second * .00062137 mile/meter = 186282.04 miles/second [2]

Spend the next rainy day withy your children, grandchildren or other kids working these experiments. The world of the rational will thank you. The world of the irrational will benefit, despite their recusancy.


[1] Some deluded, but purportedly “well-intentioned” individuals in the Author’s hometown, Ligonier, Indiana, are attempting to turn an abandoned factory into a creationist museum (There is a marvelous irony here, is there not?). Listen to these Bronze-Age idealogues:

The second floor of Discovery Express will house a unique history and science museum," say the PR materials from the museum.

And unique doesn't begin to describe it

" It will feature interactive exhibits designed for all ages. Guests will explore the days of creation, the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, and the Tower of Babel. There will be opportunities to learn how science and history confirm that the Bible is trustworthy and accurate in all that it teaches."

[2] The Author had several good science teachers, and at least one not so good science teacher. Professor Dennis Kauffman, teacher Brooks Frymier and Max Wysong where excellent teachers. However, when the Author took Biology in high school at West Noble High School in Ligonier, Indiana, he cannot recall the teacher discussing the established science of evolution.