Pharyngula

Just in case anyone sensible in the Minneapolis/St Paul area feels like exposing yourself to the wild and crazy world of Minnesota creationism, here are the events coming up in February.

On the 17th, you can attend the creation science fair in the Har Mar Mall, and you can drop in to the Christian bookstore there (with a great selection of creationist claptrap in stock) to listen to a DVD debate. I think “DVD debate” just means they’ll be playing some noise from Ken Ham and Hugh Ross, and you can watch. Young Earth Creationists vs. Old Earth Creationists: frickin’ loons vs. nutty dingleberries. Entertaining stuff, but not for 6 hours.

DVD DEBATE

Saturday, Feb. 17th, 2007
Northwestern Bookstore (Har Mar)
Roseville, Co Rd B2 & Snelling

9:30 am – 11:30 am (sessions 1-4)
1:30 pm – 3:30 pm (sessions 5-8)
7:00pm-9:00pm (sessions 9-10 & discussion)

In conjunction with the
Science Fair at the Mall
Student Science Exhibits on display

Both Events Free

There are also monthly meetings of our local creationists. Anyone want to drop in and report back?

Creation Science Discussion Group
Northwestern Bookstore
Har Mar Mall Snelling & Co Rd B Roseville

Saturday February 24th 2007 7:00pm

Meet in the cozy conference room behind Customer Service

Group leader: Darrell Ayers
Isaiah312@aol.com 612-521-6431

TCCSA Monthly Meetings
Twin Cities Creation Science Association

http://tccsa.tc

And then we have a set of special seminars this spring. Oh, boy.

Tuesday, February 20, 7:30 pm
Bruce Malone of Search for Truth
“Explosive Evidence for Creation:
Mount St. Helens,”
Northwestern College
Totino Fine Arts Center, Room 116

Tuesday, March 20, 7:30 pm
Ian Taylor of Creation Moments
“How Smart Was Adam? (Could Evolution produce A Genius?)”
Northwestern College
Nazareth Hall Chapel

Tuesday, April 17, 7:30 pm
Dr. John Baumgardner of ICR
“Carbon 14 Dating & A Young Earth”
Northwestern College
Nazareth Hall Chapel

OTHER MEETINGS WITH DR. BAUMGARDNER
Wednesday, April 18, Noon
Bring Your Own Bag Lunch Seminar
University of Minnesota Chemistry Department

Wednesday, April 18, 2:30 pm
Seminar for undergraduate students and staff
Augsburg College Chemistry Department

The Mt St Helens talk will be tedious nonsense, the one on the intelligence of Adam could be Grade A Prime lunacy, and I have no idea why someone would talk about 14C and the age of the earth.

The Baumgardner seminar at the UMTC is a little odd; there’s no mention of it in the list of chemistry seminars. I know the creationists love to book auditoriums in the UM science buildings to give them that veneer of legitimacy, even when the scientists in those buildings are not endorsing that use and think the whole affair is a big joke, and this may be a similar situation. The Augsburg seminar might be a similar use of a university building, but since they don’t have an online list of seminars, it isn’t quite as easy to check.

I’m afraid I can’t quite see myself making the effort to attend any of these wacky events, but the TCCSA was nice enough to list some other, serious evolution-related events, including these two which I will be attending. Skip the creationist crapola and come to:

  • Understanding Evolution Tuesday, February 13, 6 p.m. Cafe Scientifique
    Varsity Theater, Dinkytown 1308 4th Street SE in Dinkytown, Minneapolis. $5 suggested donation
    A panel of University of Minnesota researchers discusses evolutionary biology and the history of America’s cultural response to teaching evolution. Learn about new research from Professor and science blogger PZ Myers, Bell Museum Director Scott Lanyon, and historian and biologist Mark Borrello.
  • Thursday, February 15, 2007 Flock of Dodos
    Filmmaker and evolutionary ecologist Randy Olson pokes fun at the battle between evolution and intelligent design. He travels to his home state of Kansas to consult his mother, Muffy Moose, and confronts her neighbor, a lawyer backing intelligent design.

Those will be far, far more informative and entertaining than anything the creationists will put on. Not as funny, perhaps, although Muffy Moose will give them a run for their money.

Comments

  1. #1 Paguroidea
    January 28, 2007

    Aren’t you the lucky one to be on such a mailing list? You really rate!

  2. #2 Steven
    January 29, 2007

    I think I might get a flight over the Atlantic just to go to some of those creationist meetings

  3. #3 Zeno
    January 29, 2007

    They’re just trying to wear you down, PZ. They know that the truth will set you free. (They don’t realize it already did.) I’m sure they’re praying for you.

  4. #4 Krystalline Apostate
    January 29, 2007

    It looks like the legions of the dimmed are flocking to your state.
    You have my deepest sympathies.

  5. #5 A fistful of doodles
    January 29, 2007

    Isn’t it odd that 3 billion years of evolution would produce a creature that doesn’t believe in evolution.

  6. #6 Kat
    January 29, 2007

    Wed 18th at lunchtime – do you have to bring your own bag so you can be sick into it?

  7. #7 llewelly
    January 29, 2007

    I have no idea why someone would talk about 14C and the age of the earth.

    As has been pointed out here before, biblical literalism requires pi = 3. If you solve Euler’s identity for e, and plug in 3 for pi, you get a value for e that has a non-zero imaginary component. This has complex consequences for the properties of natural logarithms, and thereby, radioisotope dates, as the age equation is traditionally expressed in terms of natural logarithms. So it’s no wonder biblical literalists find radioisotope dating confusing.

  8. #8 Ichthyic
    January 29, 2007

    Wed 18th at lunchtime – do you have to bring your own bag so you can be sick into it?

    no, but you do need to bring a mechanical laughbox so you don’t have to strain yourself needlessly.

  9. #9 Ichthyic
    January 29, 2007

    …on second thought, yeah, bring the bag too, just don’t put the laughbox in it (could get messy, and it might short out, causing possible harm).

  10. #10 Ernst Hot
    January 29, 2007

    Heh, bonus points for the special background :)

  11. #11 slpage
    January 29, 2007

    What – no ReMine yammering on about his ‘message theory’?

    He’s from the twin-city area…

  12. #12 Mike Haubrich
    January 29, 2007

    I will schedule attendance at the discussion group; the name Darrell Ayers sounds familiar to me and I want to find out if this is the same guy that is on the St. Paul Human Rights board. I found his aol member page. He owns a company called, cleverly enough, “Non Politically Correct” http://members.aol.com/isaiah312/ayers/npc.html with some Talibanist viewpoints on marriage.

    I have a feeling that the meetings at Augsburg and The U’s chemistry department are just a matter of reserving space in the commons area, and are not sponsored by either University.

  13. #13 Gerard Harbison
    January 29, 2007

    I have no idea why someone would talk about 14C and the age of the earth.

    I can illuminate. Baugardner and Russ Humphreys have been trying to get purchase out of the fact that accelerator mass spectrometry results on very old carbon samples (say coal from the Carboniferous) often gives non-zero counts. From talking to people who do AMS for a living, and reading reviews on the subject (and being married to a vacuum scientist) this surprises nobody. You get odd events that defect other nuclei into the carbon 14 channel; you get leakage from plastic components of the apparatus; you even get carbon coming off the walls of the stainless steel measuring chamber. The values are zero to within the accuracy of the measurment, therefore, but not actually zero.

    No experimental scientist would be in the least surprised to get a very small number for a measurement that should actually be zero; that’s why we have error bars. If you translate these counts to years, they come out to 10 – 15 half lives, or 60 – 90 kYa; everyone knows C-14 dating is invalid beyond about 50,000 years.

    Now Baumgardner, while he’s a theoretician, surely knows this also, and therefore his attempt to pretend it’s not artifactual amounts to fraud, in my opinion. I was thinking of pursuing this against him professionally, but I think he’s now retired.

  14. #14 Scott Hatfield
    January 29, 2007

    You know, PZ, I don’t blame you. Who wants to spend hours dealing with the nutjobs when you could be around real scientists, dealing with real science, etc.?

    But if someone like you doesn’t get in there and offer a calm and friendly rebuttal, it goes unchallenged. I seem to recall that both of us have little patience for those moderate believers who enable the craziness, but where does that leave the members of the scientific community who hear about the craziness and fail to speak out?

    That’s not a criticism. Everyone has to make their own choices about how they could be most effective, and most of us are probably ill-suited for that sort of work. But, if I was in your neck of the woods, I would definitely make it my business to crash one of these parties and be the contrarian.

    Hopefully, SOMEONE in your neck of the woods will read about these events on your blog, realize they have the knowledge and background to engage these folk, step up to the plate and do the thankless task of taking science to the pews.

    Thanks for all you do…SH

  15. #15 Kristine
    January 29, 2007

    I’m still getting those Bible verses at work, but not this.

    Potluck, Science Sunday, and Fun
    “Life in Outer Space: Just Add Water?”

    E.T. as pop rocks. That’s gonna be some potluck. I say, Go, and report back. ;-)

  16. #16 RedMolly
    January 29, 2007

    There’s a whole slew of this sort of tripe appearing in our local rag’s weekly “Faith Matters” events calendar. Apparently, there are at least three churches that have rotating creationist seminars… you can follow the trail of bilge from one house o’ worship to another.

    Does anyone who’s been to these sort of things have any tips for attendance, other than “Don’t bother?” I’d kind of like to go and take notes/ask a few questions, but I’m sort of afraid my head would explode.

  17. #17 Gerard Harbison
    January 29, 2007

    More info. on the Baumgardner vist to chem.umn.edu here

    http://tccsa.tc/calendar.html

    I may just email someone on the faculty and ask WTF.

  18. #18 remy
    January 29, 2007

    “How smart was Adam?” March 20
    Wish I could go to that one.

  19. #19 Steve Watson
    January 29, 2007

    For a few years starting around 1991, I used to sporadically attend events put on by our local Creationist bunch, a few of which led to posts on t.o (the aforementioned Bruce Malone was a recent local speaker). However, I eventually decided there were more enjoyable hobbies. I still get their newsletter, which is a regurgitation of smug ignorance gleaned from the ICR, Hovind, etc.

    Yes, they should be opposed, though I’m not sure that a lone skeptic asking questions from the back is the most effective way to do it (especially if I’m the lone skeptic).

  20. #20 Flex
    January 29, 2007

    “Carbon 14 Dating & A Young Earth”

    A common young earth creationist argument I’ve heard in the past (and a cursory search on talkorigins reminds me of it) is that the carbon 14 decay rate (and other radiometric constants) is not constant.

    To their minds, given that the earth is only 6,000 years old by definition, in order to accomodate the measured decay rate of carbon 14, they propose that the decay rate was different in the past.

    Then, by applying this untestable assumption of a changing decay rate to the data, they arrive at an age of the earth of 6,000 years old. Which is ‘proof’ of the age, even though the reasoning is entirely circular.

    I haven’t seen this argument in many years, but it’s been around for awhile. It’s one of the first creationist argument I read about when studying physics many years ago.

  21. #21 Scott Hatfield
    January 29, 2007

    Yes. I have more than a tip. I have a strategy, as follows:

    1) First, try to look relaxed and genial, even when they say things widely at odds with the facts.

    2) Next, at the earliest opportunity provide a fact that is at odds with the statement that is most glaringly, obviously false. Smile when you say it; it unnerves them.

    3) Having made the point that you feel that at least some of their science is not up to snuff, avoid further debate on this or that fact, because if you allow it to become factoid vs. factoid, you’ll lose most of the people in attendance, many of whom are probably willing to consider an alternative view if it comes from a friendly face.

    4) Instead, focus on the importance of everyone supporting science education. Appeal to their values: truthfulness, community interest, how science is a gift of reason that properly applied benefits all of us. If you can do that, you will have made a real positive impression while planting that critical seed of doubt, and that’s the best you can do in a single encounter.

    I hope that is helpful…SH

  22. #22 chris
    January 29, 2007

    I was curious about Darrell Ayers’ email address, which is either Isaiah 3-12 or Isaiah 31-2. Here’s the first one:

    3:12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

    Here’s the other possibility:

    31:2 Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.

    Which one do we think it is?

  23. #23 Mike Haubrich
    January 29, 2007

    I am going with this one, considering the stuff that he is selling, especially the article on Evolution and Women in the White House.

    “3:12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.”

  24. #24 Kseniya
    January 29, 2007

    Another aspect of the C-14 thing is that some creationists use the 50,000 year limit as “proof” that radiometric dating of far older objects and geological strata is by necessity highly conjectural. How they can honestly overlook the existence of reliable long-term dating methods is beyond me.

    Same old same old, I guess. Ignorance (willful or circumstantial), denial, delusion, or outright dishonesty are the only possible explanations.

    Sad, yet irritating.

  25. #25 Bill Butler
    December 27, 2008

    I guess I’ve made the Creationists’ “Enemies List” as I also got the E-mail invite. This is what I sent back:

    “Hi Darrell Ayers,

    The only debate is whether you are able to understand evidence or whether you are willfully ignorant and your mental capacity is limited to parroting religious fairy tales. Guess which group Darrell belongs to?

    Creationism = Willful Ignorance
    http://www.durangobill.com/Creationism.html

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