Pharyngula

High praise for British journalism

This is an amusing tale of creationist hypocrisy. Ken Ham is complaining that one of his staff members was “ambushed”, because he wasn’t given a solo interview, but had to share the discussion with a critic (meanwhile, Ham has no compunction about “ambushing”, in the same sense, scientific discussions). What I found most interesting, though, were Ken Ham’s complaints about the BBC.

This past week, Dr. Jason Lisle–our astrophysicist*—was invited to be on a BBC radio program out of Southampton , England (where I spoke a couple of weeks ago). We were told that it was just going to be an “examination of creationism.” Well, we are somewhat leery when it comes to dealing with the British media–by far, British journalists and commentators (and particularly those from the BBC) are the most mocking about biblical Christianity of all the media we’ve worked with over the years. We have had probably 20 different countries send reporters to the Creation Museum since we opened 22 months ago, and most of them have been fair and balanced in their coverage–but not so with the typical British reporter.

Take a bow, any typical British reporters reading this. Could you please come over here and give lessons to typical American reporters?

*You have to giggle at the idea of an astrophysicist who claims that the universe is only 6000 years old.

Comments

  1. #1 Gordy
    March 23, 2009

    Makes me feel proud to be British!

  2. #2 iago
    March 23, 2009

    having the Creationist Museum exist makes me feel embaressed to be an American.

  3. #3 Leanstrum
    March 23, 2009

    *Sings national anthem while standing to attention* (not a euphemism)

  4. #4 MarkW
    March 23, 2009

    Then again, for those people who don?t believe in God and there is no absolute authority, not telling the truth and deception would not be ethically wrong?as they have no basis for right and wrong! So , I guess we should say that this is just an example of BBC staff being consistent with what they believe!

    Headdesk.

  5. #5 Goheels
    March 23, 2009

    All Americans in favor of kidnapping British journalists and impressing them into service here say aye.

    Aye!

  6. #6 Christiaan
    March 23, 2009

    Hooray for Auntie Beeb!

    They’re also the only ones who asked Geert Wilders some real questions – the Dutch media always handle him with velvet gloves.

  7. #7 extatyzoma
    March 23, 2009

    ‘fair and balanced’, i wonder if thats because the other reporters didnt have a clue about biology either.

    i wonder if ham confuses realistic questions with mocking, eg ‘so wheres the evidence that kids played with dinosuars, coughh, hmm, ha, ha, HAHAHAHAHA, what a fucking insane imbecile, HAHAHAHAHA’

  8. #8 wheatdogg
    March 23, 2009

    The Beeb is an example of what journalism can do when it doesn’t have to depend on adverts to pay the bills.

  9. #9 extatyzoma
    March 23, 2009

    from hams article

    ‘Then again, for those people who don?t believe in God and there is no absolute authority, not telling the truth and deception would not be ethically wrong?as they have no basis for right and wrong! So , I guess we should say that this is just an example of BBC staff being consistent with what they believe!’

    its suprising then that the BBC didnt just chop off hams head and posted its consumption on youtube instead of practicing some subtle deception.

    silly old ham.

  10. #10 corpus.callosum
    March 23, 2009

    *Sings national anthem while standing to attention* (not a euphemism)

    Would that be ‘GOD save the Queen’?

    Let’s take a moment to crow over the success of our journalists and then get back to serious business of separating church and state!

  11. #11 Brian
    March 23, 2009

    Journalistic press gangs…? Brilliant!

  12. #12 Josh
    March 23, 2009

    having the Creationist Museum exist makes me feel embaressed to be an American.

    Me too.

  13. #13 Free Lunch
    March 23, 2009

    Remember, iago, that Mr. Ham was exported from the Commonwealth, being a former resident of XXXX, to the US because he wanted to make more money. Ken Ham knows he’s running a con.

  14. #14 Kobra
    March 23, 2009
    having the Creationist Museum exist makes me feel embaressed to be an American.

    Me too.

    Yeah, same here. :(

  15. #15 blueelm
    March 23, 2009

    Ugh. Still with the “fair and balanced” sctick. Fair and balanced = create false dichotomy.

    I’m so sick of this thought meme that any time there is a disagreement both sides are valid. Some things are just freaking WRONG!

    What’s funny though is I’ve been avoiding US news for so long I was hoping they might have gotten over it by now.

  16. #16 The Science Pundit
    March 23, 2009

    In other words, British journalists tend to be more objective when dealing with creationists. I get it now!

    Although I must add the caveat that British editorial boards impress me somewhat less. Remember that New Scientist ran that “Darwin Was Wrong!” cover. And it was the British station (Channel 4, I believe) that decided to name Dawkins’ mini-series “The Root Of All Evil” over Dawkins’ loud protestations (the final comprimise was to add a question mark to the end of the title–still wrong IMO).

  17. #17 Morsky
    March 23, 2009

    For verily doth speake ye prophete Moroniah, “Thou shalt not giveth the view of thy inter to ye tribe of Be’eb, for their harsh questionynge of the LORD’s truth doth be an abomination unto the LORD.” And ye menfolk riding ye dinosaures grunted in agreemente.

    How anyone in their right mind can, in this day and age, think the world is 6 000 years old is beyond me.

  18. #18 azqaz
    March 23, 2009

    Hey, PZ, I think instead of astrophysicist they meant “ass who failed physics”. Just a minor typo on their part really.

  19. #19 Jason A.
    March 23, 2009

    On the other line was perhaps America?s best-known evolutionist defender

    He’s so eager to throw that ‘ist’ on the end of evolution that he does it where it doesn’t even make sense.

  20. #20 AnthonyK
    March 23, 2009

    I feel that Jason Lisle should have the title “Astrophysician”. It combines the folksy woo of “astrology” with the generalised, medieval, doctorish “physician”. It could be a modern term for someone who looks into the stars, notes that they are still there, then advises you to wrap up warm and read the bible – possibly with a little general talk about cutting down on sin, particularly those of thought and flesh – hence the medical connotations.
    Who could possibly object to that?

  21. #21 DGKnipfer
    March 23, 2009

    @ Morsky

    They live only in the now. No past or future. And they’re trying to drag us into their world view.

  22. #22 Eidolon
    March 23, 2009

    Brian @11:

    Perhaps they could cruise the pubs at late hours and gather up the ink stained wretches while they are not able to put up a fight. Next morning…they find themselves shackled to desks at major media sources. Love the idea.

  23. #23 Hideki
    March 23, 2009

    Hihi Science Pundit

    Channel 4 is a commercial TV station, they have adverts and so on unlike the BBC so that was likely a draw viewers in to make more money from the ads decision

    New Scientist, meh, I stopped buying that 3 years ago, I’d read it religiously since school (early 90s) but it’s not the same magazine it was then. This isn’t the first time they’ve misleadingly proclaimed someone wrong on the cover either, they did it with Einstein while I was still buying it… but yes, again a commercial operation ~shrug~

    You have to remember the BBC is funded by the TV license so doesn’t need to worry about commercial interests at all, this gives them much more freedom (although not as much as I’d like, poor Greg Dyke -.-)

  24. #24 Mikewot
    March 23, 2009

    Excellent to see some balance for a change and that (one of the few times) someone doesn’t ignore the elephant in the room.

  25. #25 blueelm
    March 23, 2009

    Then again, for those people who don?t believe in God and there is no absolute authority, not telling the truth and deception would not be ethically wrong?as they have no basis for right and wrong!

    Ok dude, but then what’s your excuse?

  26. #26 latsot
    March 23, 2009

    “Take a bow, any typical British reporters reading this.”

    Sadly, typical British reporters do not have the slightest clue about science and wins like this are usually anomalies. There are many more sickening examples of loathsome British science ‘journalism’ than there are shining.

  27. #27 AnthonyK
    March 23, 2009

    Incidentally, for those of you who can get it, Andrew Marr’ss 3xI hour (!) BBC series “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” was fantastic viewing, despite his frequent use of the term “Darwinist”. The episode on eugenics and the final solution was particularly brilliant – pointing out, inter alia, that the Nazis thought they had destroyed Darwin’s idea that the human race was just one species.
    He also says, rather movingly I thought, that 150 years later we finally realise the importance of hotspots of evolutionary diversity, and specifically coral reefs; and the first person ever to conduct a scientific study of coral reefs was, of course, Charles Darwin.

  28. #28 Morsky
    March 23, 2009

    @20: I could. Astrophysician, heal thyself. :-P

    @22: I think they do have a concept of past and future, only it goes something like this.

    God makes world in 7 days -> God makes USA, world’s #1 nation ever -> Rapture

    It’s a stunted, crabbed and petty view of the world. That’s why it’s so sickening to hear the religious prate on about science destroying the enchantment and majesty of the world and eliminating the higher power. What they want is not an inscrutable absolute being but a magical buddy who’ll help them win the lottery or find a parking spot, comfort them when in times of need, hate all the people they hate and help little Jimbo’s team win the game – an earthbound, picayune deity concerned with the comparably insignificant.

  29. #29 Matt Heath
    March 23, 2009

    British journalists may be a bit less afraid of challenging religious claims than those of some other nationalities, but they have plenty of other forms of shiteness. I know of nowhere else with such a preponderance of credulous, PR-led “Pill for this/ Gene for that/ Equation for the other” stories passing for science coverage.

  30. #30 Dutchdoc
    March 23, 2009

    Then again, for those people who don?t believe in God and there is no absolute authority, not telling the truth and deception would not be ethically wrong?as they have no basis for right and wrong!?
    ” — Ken Ham.

    Ken Ham should be SO VERY HAPPY that he is SO WRONG, because I feel a strong urge to hit him over the head with an antique Ming dynasty vase for saying such utterly stupid things, but I fully realize that that would be a highly unethical and immoral thing for me to do, so I won’t do it.

    What IS it with people who, EVERY time they open their mouth, put their foot in it?

  31. #31 Strangebrew
    March 23, 2009

    How can a moron gain a Ph.D in astrophysics…

    Easy he lied in his exams!…How very Christian!

    I like this one from Hambone…

    We?ll keep the identity of our third visitor confidential,(Creationist apologetic mumbler) though it?s not at his request. He is getting his doctorate in anthropology and already teaches at a secular university, and he has become a good friend of our ministry. We don?t wish to jeopardize his pursuit of a PhD by naming him and possibly having him experience what Dr. Scripture went through in the 1990s.

    I suppose he be a looking for de bones of that Adam…easily recognized…tas got a rib missing!

  32. #32 latsot
    March 23, 2009

    “You have to remember the BBC is funded by the TV license so doesn’t need to worry about commercial interests at all, this gives them much more freedom”

    That’s not quite true. The BBC has to turn a profit, but is limited in what it can charge for the license, yet has restrictions that no other UK TV company has and can’t advertise (at least, not in the UK).

    This is an insane situation. The BBC is fundamentally selling the same kind of product as its competitors, but is at the same time in a completely different business.

    I’m not sure this gives them any more ‘freedom’ than any other company. They do produce some superb shows, though. Their flagship nature shows are head and shoulders above the competition. Perhaps this is made possible only by the anachronistic license fee and the unlevel playing field, but I doubt it.

  33. #33 notherfella
    March 23, 2009

    I don’t think we brits have better journalists or a more rational population particularly!

    But some of our more aged journalistic institutions are maintaining standards.

    Maybe there’s just more of a liberal-intellectual tradition that runs through the BBC.

    Much as I’m aware New Scientist isn’t flavour of the month right now, it’s at least nice to have a mainstream magazine with a large circulation that puts science on the front cover.

  34. #34 Ethan
    March 23, 2009

    You have to giggle at the idea of an astrophysicist who claims that the universe is only 6000 years old.

    No. You really don’t. Tears would be more appropriate

    Examining his output from the NASA ADS system I see that he did a PhD thesis on solar granulation and since then has published only a pedagogical article on understanding black holes. Still, it’s more sad than funny.

  35. #35 Dutchdoc
    March 23, 2009

    most of them have been fair and balanced in their coverage” — Ken Ham

    1. How can you be fair and balanced about something that’s neither?
    2. The LAST thing a creationist wants, is to see his world view being ‘balanced’ by a different view. There is nothing to be balanced: it’s his way or the highway.

    So I guess the creationist expression ‘fair and balanced’ actually means ‘polite and uncritical’.

  36. #36 Gordy
    March 23, 2009

    As far as KH’s “they have no basis for right and wrong!” thing goes, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone simply point out in response that morality is the basis of society. Humans benefit greatly from living in large, cooperative groups (societies). In order for this to be possible, they must respect certain rules such as not killing or stealing. If we didn’t do this, society would break down and we’d be worse off, so the basis of morality is membership of society – no god required.

  37. #37 JD
    March 23, 2009

    I keep thinking the stupidity will end a week from now or a month from now. It is eternal.

  38. #38 Vic
    March 23, 2009

    American “journalism” has to balance their stories with the views of their advertisers, or risk losing income. The BBC, being publicly funded, doesn’t have to worry about this.

  39. #39 iago
    March 23, 2009

    RE: #13 , Oh i know Ken was exported from the Commonwealth, I just wish he hadn’t come here. His level of wackaloonery is not something the world needs.
    Although I must admit ancient chariots drawn by velociraptors would be pretty kick ass.

  40. #40 Widgetas
    March 23, 2009

    Personally I’m regularly pissed off by the BBC by the way it panders to religious types: “Thought for the day” and various presenters using their time to hijack the airwaves by having some pious arse talk about how the world is going to the dogs without Jeebus.
    However, that isn’t journalism. So yay for the hacks who see the cracks.

  41. #41 AJS
    March 23, 2009

    The BBC have made a few high-profile mistakes, so it’s nice to see them getting something right for once. (Disclaimer: I have a bit of a pro-BBC bias, coming from a family with connections to the world’s greatest broadcasting organisation.)

    Almost nobody in this country believes that the universe is only 5770 years old, and “religious fundamentalist nutjob” means anybody who goes to Church both at Christmas and Easter.

  42. #42 Alan
    March 23, 2009

    Recently I caught a programme on the Beeb called “History of religion”, I think, but it turned out to be fronted by a scientist and from that perspective. Can’t remember his name. He went to Ken ham place and interviewed this “Astroboy” who was made to look extremely stupid. Catch it if you can.

  43. #43 Bostonian
    March 23, 2009

    I’ve always been very impressed with British journalism, aside from the very pervasive right-wing tabloid media. I remember a few years ago watching a Gordon Brown interview and I honestly couldn’t identify the political opinion of the interviewer. There were no party talking points in his questions, but there was real criticism that demanded tough answers from Mr. Brown … but again, it wasn’t particularly partisan, and it wasn’t done in a “Some people are saying” way either. Very different from the softball and bitter partisanship on this side of the pond.

  44. #44 Ginger Yellow
    March 23, 2009

    To be honest, the Beeb’s science reporting is usually pretty poor, and the website’s reporting is almost as bad as the Mail’s.

  45. #45 Pete Rooke
    March 23, 2009

    Don’t fool yourself:

    http://www.badscience.net/2009/03/venal-misleading-pathetic-dangerous-stupid-and-now-busted/

    The BBC does do wonderful things though. Thought for the day, songs of praise, the proms…

  46. #46 CosmicTeapot
    March 23, 2009

    Off topic, but it does involve the BBC News.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7959155.stm

    It’s good for a laugh ;)

  47. #47 10channel
    March 23, 2009

    I would suppose that this is due to a difference of the people. Surely the media in different countries are different due to what the people want: if people want nonsense, like in the U.S., the people will get it. That goes for 95% of the world as well.

  48. #48 DiscoveredJoys
    March 23, 2009

    Southampton – the City of my birth!

    Of course when your school was founded 450 years ago, Medieval walls still exist around the old town, the name is derived from Anglo Saxon roots (1200 years ago), and Roman remains have been found (from 1700 years ago), then ascribing the age of the universe to a mere 6,000 years seems irrational.

    Even more so when you can go to local museums and see fossilised mammoth teeth and wood dug out when dredging the estuary. Let alone the depth/height of the nearby chalk downs which filter the City’s drinking water (very hard water, tough on kettles and boilers and creationist timelines).

  49. #49 Drosera
    March 23, 2009

    From a link about the creationist take on carbon dating in Ken Ham?s article:

    When a scientist?s interpretation of data does not match the clear meaning of the text in the Bible, we should never reinterpret the Bible. God knows just what He meant to say, and His understanding of science is infallible, whereas ours is fallible. So we should never think it necessary to modify His Word.

    So this must be what their astrophysicist, Dr. Jason Lisle, believes:

    And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. (Genesis 1:16)

    The moon as an independent light source! Dr. Lisle probably also believes that the stars are really as small as they look and are much closer to us than those evil atheist astronomers would like us to think.

  50. #50 Amph
    March 23, 2009

    (alan @42)

    He went to Ken ham place and interviewed this “Astroboy” who was made to look extremely stupid.

    That must have been difficult.

  51. #51 KI
    March 23, 2009

    Songs of Praise:

    “I Love Trash” by Oscar the Grouch
    “I Wish I Was an Oscar Meyer Wiener”
    “Gimme Noise” by the Replacements
    “I Wanna Be Me” by Iggy and the Stooges
    “My Sharona” eeww OK I’m quitting this line of thought.

  52. #52 The Biologista
    March 23, 2009

    Tbh, aside from their clear stances on things like creationism the British media is certainly not all that grat when it comes to science. Just look at their coverage- or should I say creation- of the MMR autism scare in the UK. That was not restricted to the tabloids, although they shoulder the bulk of the blame for carrying it on for so long.

    Someone linked Ben Goldacre above. The day British science reporting is even vaguely decent he’s out of a job. He’s thriving, so that’s clearly not the case!

  53. #53 symball
    March 23, 2009

    for those americans who are upset about the creation museum- we have one too (all though not quite the same scale). there is a review here:
    http://the-red-ferret.blogspot.com/2008/08/portsmouth-creationism.html

    interestingly recursive- it started with a comment here!

  54. #54 symball
    March 23, 2009
  55. #55 Eidolon
    March 23, 2009

    The Ass-troll-physician is in trouble with the whole sun stood still bit as well as the moon as a light source. Since the bible refers to the sun rising and setting, then it follows that Copernicus, Kepler and the rest have it bass-ackwards. Can’t change what the bible says, so we’ve got it all fucking wrong.

    As for the Brit press – I cannot imagine any American media even having the stones to challenge any of the Creationist bilge.

  56. #56 Glen Davidson
    March 23, 2009

    fair and balanced in their coverage

    Trouble being that balance between truth and lies simply isn’t the least bit fair.

    Ham doesn’t know how to use words together properly, though that’s not the least of his failings.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  57. #57 Glen Davidson
    March 23, 2009

    though that’s not the least of his failings.

    Nor, for that matter, the greatest.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  58. #58 Ouchimoo
    March 23, 2009

    Take a bow, any typical British reporters reading this. Could you please come over here and give lessons to typical American reporters?

    Ya Seriously, I mean our media is looking up to a comedian for lessons. Anyone see a problem with this? I am so glad the BBC is on PBS btw, it’s the only TV source that I get my news from.

  59. #59 CosmicTeapot
    March 23, 2009

    Strangebrew @31

    You missed the second speaker, the Reverend Tony Breedon.

    Otherwise known as Sirius Knott Serious Nut, an irregular troll on this site.

    As a fan of Ken Ham, I expect him to show up on this thread any time soon to lambast PZ for his lack of respect.

  60. #60 FishNChimps
    March 23, 2009

    Let’s not get too happy about British journalism. The British media is as guilty of pandering to populism and churning out PR-generated hype as any other country’s.
    The treatment received by this creationist fool was due to a general British godlessness and cynicism, and a readiness to laugh at idiots (anyone in the UK sick of seeing a certain recently-deceased reality TV “star” will know what I mean).
    When Tony Blair’s spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, declared “We don’t do God”, he was speaking for more than just our discredited ex-PM’s cabinet.

  61. #61 SEF
    March 23, 2009

    Take a bow, any typical British reporters reading this. Could you please come over here and give lessons to typical American reporters?

    It’s hardly worth the bother. Most of the time the British meejah are hopeless at tackling falsehoods rather than promoting them (as you might recall from Ben Goldacre, if not from direct experience of them yourself). It’s just this one very narrow issue where the prevailing behaviour differs a little (perhaps the local boy effect of Darwin and Attenborough etc hasn’t quite worn off yet, despite American uncultural indoctrination of the world).

  62. #62 pete
    March 23, 2009

    Fair brings a tear to me eye, so it does. Gawd bless Aunty Beeb :-)

  63. #63 RickK
    March 23, 2009

    Interesting background on Dr. Jason Lisle.

    http://www.csharp.com/lisle.html

    Apparently while at Colorado he reviewed papers and didn’t take exception to timescales in the millions of years. Of course, his claim was he was keeping his real theories under wraps while at university.

    Poor Dr. Lisle – it’s just terrible how the mainstream science community strikes so much fear into the thousands of oppressed creationist scientists that they don’t feel they can even present their well-supported theories. Maybe we should have an amnesty day so they can all come out of hiding and be counted.

    “Dr.” Lisle has clearly sold out. He is SOOOO much more famous, SOOO much better paid, SOOOO much more important in his role as the only creationist astrophysicist than he would be giving daily tours at the Tuscon planetarium. He’s sold his integrity for that little bit of fame.

  64. #64 Leanstrum
    March 23, 2009

    corpus.callosum @ #10

    Yeah, we don’t really focus on the lyrics. It’s a meaningless thing, like “Ob-la dee, ob-la da”

    Or “Give peace a chance”

  65. #65 Leanstrum
    March 23, 2009

    I’m trying to get it changed to “We are the champions”. We love our irony, don’t we?

  66. #66 mayhempix
    March 23, 2009

    OT but it has a Brit connection and creationists like Ham and other believers are sure to tout this as proof god hates evolutionary biologists and the devil’s hand is at work.

    Son of Sylvia Plath Commits Suicide
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/24/books/24plath.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    Nicholas Hughes, the son of Sylvia Plath and the British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, killed himself at his home in Alaska, nearly a half-century after his mother and stepmother took their own lives.

    Mr. Hughes, 47, was an evolutionary biologist who studied stream fish and spent much of his time trekking across Alaska on field studies.

  67. #67 Al
    March 23, 2009

    Journalists typically haven’t been well thought of over here:

    “One cannot hope to bribe or twist
    Thank God! the British journalist
    But seeing what the man will do
    Unbribed, there’s no occasion to”

    It fair boggles the mind to wonder what the American sort are like….

  68. #68 Drosera
    March 23, 2009

    This assholephysicist now probably thinks the stars are pinpricks in the firmament enabling the light of Heaven to shine through.

  69. #69 Confused
    March 23, 2009

    If the BBC are so blimmin’ secular, how come they never get a humanist to speak on Thought for the Day?

  70. #70 Knockgoats
    March 23, 2009

    The BBC is fundamentally selling the same kind of product as its competitors – latsot
    No, it’s not. Commercial TV companies are (primarily, in many cases only) selling advertising space. The programmes they show are ways to attract viewers, and hence make their product saleable.

  71. #71 Bill
    March 23, 2009

    Bzzzzztttt! (That?s my projection warning going off.)

    James McGrath reports that Ham once did to him the same thing that Ham is complaining about now. I liked what McGrath reported to be Ham?s excuse: ??since the debate was to further God?s wishes, a minor deception of this sort was acceptable.? LOL!

  72. #72 Moggie
    March 23, 2009

    #5:

    All Americans in favor of kidnapping British journalists and impressing them into service here say aye.

    Oh, please don’t kidnap and enslave the entire staff of the Daily Mail and Daily Express, Br’er Fox!

  73. #73 Prometheus
    March 23, 2009

    DiscoveredJoys at #48 wrote:

    “Of course when your school was founded 450 years ago, Medieval walls still exist around the old town, the name is derived from Anglo Saxon roots (1200 years ago), and Roman remains have been found (from 1700 years ago), then ascribing the age of the universe to a mere 6,000 years seems irrational.”

    Don’t make excuses for them. I am from Oklahoma. I can not go South of where I live without passing through a Precambrian mountain range and over the Marathon outcropping. When they bury my relatives the kids sift through the red dirt looking for 11,000 year old Clovis points and bison fossils.

    The Boy Scouts and the 4-H clubs enter fossil finds in State Fair projects that would make Europeans weep. My mother has bookends of mammoth and mastodon teeth and my neighbors line their flowerbeds with giant ammonites.

    This summer we will travel a little North to escape the heat in a gypsum cave and look at how a few years have obscured our scratched initials (encouraged)on selenite crystal deposits and see for ourselves, by shining a light through them and calculating in our heads, the 200 million years they have been growing.

    I used trilobites for skipping stones here, 500 miles from the sea.

    In every creek bed and on every eroded hillside, my home is a geologic and evolutionary synopticon.

    Yet I share my home with people who think Apatosaurus and Pentaceratops were eaten 5000 years ago by hungry Native American tribes.

    Theirs is a willful ignorance it is unconscionable atrocious and nothing….absolutely nothing can excuse it.

    It is simply wicked.

  74. #74 Lambert
    March 23, 2009

    Just left this message at the “feedback” link of AiG.

    I know you won’t publish this comment about your silly posting at…

    http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/aroundtheworld/2009/03/21/bbc-radio-and-ambush-journalism/

    … you won’t publish it because you are afraid of criticism, which is why you have not enabled comments on your blog.

    Anyway. Can you actually spell hypocrite? You whine about the BBC’s methods and yet they are exactly the same as those that you and your friends make use of: bait and switch. As in the lies you wrote when inviting various real scientists to be interviewed about their work, when in fact you just wanted cheap footage for the execrable “Expelled”. Get a life fools.

    Of course it will never see the light of day.

  75. #75 Aaron
    March 23, 2009

    If you read the original article on Exploring Our Matrix — be sure to note Ham’s hypocrisy.

    The part I found interesting:

    What makes Ham?s complaints so incredibly ironic and hypocritical is that this is exactly what he did to me a year ago. I was scheduled to do an interview last year on a fundamentalist Christian radio show only to discover, upon going on the air, that Ken Ham was also on the line, ready to debate me. When asked why neither the host nor Ken had the courtesy to inform me that I was to participate in a debate rather than in an interview, I was told that they believed that I wouldn?t have accepted their offer had I been told the truth. When I questioned them about the deception, I was told that since the debate was to further God?s wishes, a minor deception of this sort was acceptable.

  76. #76 John Phillips, FCD
    March 23, 2009

    Iago, I am not an USAian but a Cymro and I am ashamed that creation museums are anything but a historical curiosity anywhere on this planet in the 21st. Century.

  77. #77 Anonymous
    March 23, 2009

    @Knockgoats:
    That’s what I meant by selling the same things but being in a different business. TV shows are coming out the end, but the BBC isn’t selling advertising.

  78. #78 Tom Coward
    March 23, 2009

    We lived in the UK for 5 years in the 1990′s. I grew to love British journalism, both print and broadcast, for their ‘no-holds-barred’ approach to celebrities and politicians. While they have more than enough ignorant tabloid journalism, at the other extreme they have excellent, well-prepared political journalists who take great joy in eviscerating bloviating politicos at all levels, from the Prime Minister on down! I would have given much to see Jeremy Paxman deconstruct George Bush or Dick Cheney on-screen!

  79. #79 minimalist
    March 23, 2009

    We were told that it was just going to be an “examination of creationism.”

    And so it was. It’s not our fault that creationism crumbles under the lightest examination, Hammy.

  80. #80 Steve Taylor
    March 23, 2009

    Is the who;e story made up ? I can’t find any reference on the massive BBC website ! Perhaps someone knows for sure?

  81. #81 SEF
    March 23, 2009

    If the BBC are so blimmin’ secular

    They’re not. They’re just not sold on creationism (yet…). Unfortunately, David Attenborough gave up his position of power a long time ago (because, understandably, he wanted to have more fun for himself) but his influence hasn’t entirely gone.

    The BBC’s Director General is a religious nutter (of the RC flavour) who made some evil promises to his fellow religious nutters. So there’ll be unmerited deference and air-time for religion for some time to come.

  82. #82 John Phillips, FCD
    March 23, 2009

    Steve Taylor, it appears it was for BBC local radio in Southampton rather than BBC national radio as one of Ham’s porkers was appearing/appeared in Southampton.

  83. #83 faux mulder
    March 23, 2009

    i SO want to smoke a fatty of primo shit and go to the creationist museum…
    don’t you people dare get it bulldozed for a carwash till i’ve had a gander and giggle.

  84. #84 Kniffler
    March 23, 2009

    I’ve been trying to find the programme (I assume it is BBC Radio Solent), but the rest of the programming is such vapid drivel that listening to it is quite painful.

  85. #85 Scott
    March 23, 2009

    Re: #48
    The mention of chalk got me thinking. Young Earthers insist that all geologic deposition formations, such as chalk, were laid down during the Flood. Given that the chalk deposits come from marine organisms, has anyone done the calculations to determine the density of said organisms that would be required to lay down the British Isle chalk deposits in less than a year? I could only find hints of it on talk.origins.

    Thanks.

  86. #86 Peter Ashby
    March 23, 2009

    Don’t be too up on our journalists PZ, the fact that the Beeb will bend over backwards to introduce ‘balance’ is not unreservedly wonderful. For eg you have medical doctors and professors having to justify the best science to woo mongers galore. Then there is the New Scientist being craven and not standing behind Amanda Gefter’s piece on how to tell a creationist piece of ‘science’ from the real thing.

  87. #87 Sili
    March 23, 2009

    Strange. Given Auntie Beeb’s fondness for telepathic parrots, quackery and threeheaded frogs, I’m honestly surprised that they don’t get along swimmingly with the Pigletfucker.

  88. #88 PeteHodge
    March 23, 2009

    Ken Ham is right. The British pres and particularly the BBC is unable to present an unbiased discussion on anything involving creationism without resorting to mockery.They are a public service broadcaster and as such have a responsibility to be fair to all points of view. Remember, this is the broadcaster that refused to carry an appeal for the people of Gaza who had been repeatedly bombed and attacked by Israel. Their argument, they had to remain neutral. But when it comes to the evolution/creation debate they take sides.

    No mater what evolutionists say, they follow a theory as to how things came into existence without divine intervention. Creationism is the theory that says everything came into existence through the actions of Divinity.

    We share the same evidences, but approach them from a differing perspective. Maybe we are both wrong, and that we are the result of intervention by little green men from outer space.

    Oh, and could someone please tell me when evolution started, with the big bang or later. Because lately I have been told by evolutionists that the big bang has nothing to do with evolution. Contrary to what I have been told repeatedly down the years.

    Make your minds up guys! But when our theory fails the litmus test of reality, then we have to make it up as we go along.

  89. #89 Peter Ashby
    March 23, 2009

    @PeteHodge

    Oh, and could someone please tell me when evolution started, with the big bang or later. Because lately I have been told by evolutionists that the big bang has nothing to do with evolution. Contrary to what I have been told repeatedly down the years.

    By whom? Possibly because when debating with creationists and other believers that start with evolution the discussion often veers off as the believers run away from evolution when people like me who are aware of and have the evidence and examples at their fingertips win the discussion. So the ‘what does your god do?’ question then goes further and further back in time with the believers harried all the way by scientists who know their stuff. The believers, their backs to the wall then retreat behind the ‘Big Bang’ and locate their god there away from where science can confidently stride. I have been part of many such discussions.

    For the record then, the Big Bang is only relevant to evolution in the trivial sense that if there were no stars with planets there would have been no earth for live to get started on (again not part of evolution) and then begin to vary and diverge under selection.

  90. #90 Jadehawk
    March 23, 2009

    I feel a strong urge to hit him over the head with an antique Ming dynasty vase for saying such utterly stupid things, but I fully realize that that would be a highly unethical and immoral thing for me to do, so I won’t do it.

    no, it’s ok, really. it’s a fake, you can see it right here…. ;-)

    anyway, good job British reporters for at least not supporting creationism. still, i can’t say that i like the Beeb all that much (even though BBC world still kicks CNN’s ass); I’m biased though, cuz they bought my favorite travel-guide company and are in the process of ruining it. there was even a wee bit scandal on that travel-guide forum because of censorship of posters’ comments…

  91. #91 Jadehawk
    March 23, 2009

    PeteHodge: learn what the word “theory” means in science. until then, your post is so much hot air. your precious creationism isn’t a theory, it’s not even a hypothesis.

  92. #92 Jadehawk
    March 23, 2009

    Oh, and could someone please tell me when evolution started, with the big bang or later. Because lately I have been told by evolutionists that the big bang has nothing to do with evolution. Contrary to what I have been told repeatedly down the years.

    dude, most likely everything you “have been told repeatedly down the years” is either bullshit, severely mangled, or bounced off your lack of comprehension. evolution started with the appearance of life on earth. however, creobots think that all science is “evolutionism”, and since science in general concerns itself with everything from the big bang on, you guys think that’s when evolution started

    also: star evolution != evolution. learn to distinguish names for things from the things themselves

  93. #93 DiscoveredJoys
    March 23, 2009

    #85 Scott

    Darwin himself addresses the issue of sedimentation rates and erosion rates in chapter IX in The Origin Of Species.

    He admitted that accurate figures were difficult to come by but reported that some observers estimated that sediment was deposited by the Mississippi at a rate of 600 feet per hundred thousand years. He also calculated that if chalk cliffs were denuded at the rate of one inch per century then the denudation of the Weald (near his home in Downe) would have taken around 300 million years – probably longer. Although this was only a rough estimate it gave him time enough for evolution to work.

  94. #94 DiscoveredJoys
    March 23, 2009

    #73 Prometheus

    Absolutely right. I was merely explaining the obvious age of the place where I was born.

    I now live in a village in the East Midlands only a couple of miles from the quarry where the first (identified) Precambrian fossil was found. There’s a cast of it in the nearby Leicester museum. It is not unusual around here to turn up Devil’s Toenails in the garden too.

    Damn evolution, everywhere you go you keep tripping over it. Creationists must walk around with their eyes shut.

    Oh.

  95. #95 Peter Mc
    March 23, 2009

    Ginger Yellow: yup, the BBC can be crappy in its science reporting, majoring on science as it applies to humans or climate and little else. Its broadcast science on TV (step forward Horizon) makes me want to poke my eyeballs out with lobster forks.

    Honourable mention to Richard Black the BBC website’s environment correspondent. An excellent reporter.

  96. #96 Heraclides
    March 23, 2009

    @10: Rule Britannia!, surely ;-)

    (Probably not the official anthem, but one that would make more sense in the context? But even Rule Britannia! nods it’s head to religion, too.)

  97. #97 Mu
    March 23, 2009

    In defense of the poor Dr., astrophysics is probably the easiest subject to get away with creationism. After all, there’s no fossilized big bang in some museum, and the addition of inflation/dark matter/dark energy haven’t made the standard model that much more intuitive.

  98. #98 Flawedprefect
    March 23, 2009

    This sort of thing makes me feel alot more comforted. Outside their small sphere of True-Believers, YECs and ID proponents really have no traction with the overwhelming majority of sensible folk. When they cry “foul” it’s usually on their own blogs or to their Mammies.

    Man, I had no idea that Genie Scott was such a threat in a “Oh NO! It’s Genie Scott! RUN FOR YOUR CREATIONIST LIVES!” kinda way. She seems like such a nice, polite lady…

  99. #99 Last Hussar
    March 23, 2009

    I’m going to defend the science on the Beeb- remember it has to be accessible for those who know little about the subject. It’s like saying ‘OK PZ- last year’s syllabus- compress it into 30 seconds for people who don’t know the subject’. The other option is not to put science on the news.

    This is the organisation that puts on programmes about sub-atomic physics, Fermats Theorum, and String Theory, as well as David Attenborough basically say ‘Evolution- WOW’. I wonder if the pro-evolution stance of the BBC would play well in the States?

    And yes, the tabloid press is all Right Wing (because of the owners, and laxer rules), but it was the BBC that broke the ‘Dodgy Dossier’- ended up spanked for it, despite now being proven right.

    That Palin interview- “Which magazines do you read” is ambush journalism according to the Right (hello MR Ham). How long would she have lased against Paxman, Snow, or Dimbleby. I once listened to Eddie Mair let a American woman moaning about abortion or evolution or something. He let her say everything she wanted, yet his questions while respectful, held up a big neon sign that said “WINGNUT”.

    Radio Four. That bastion of the Middle Class Opinion formers broadcast this

    http://lasthussar.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/an-angry-man-in-corduroy-says-it-best/

    at 6:30pm on a Friday, in its prime Comedy slot. That’s a quarter of the programme on ONE RANT.

  100. #100 CrypticLife
    March 23, 2009

    They are a public service broadcaster and as such have a responsibility to be fair to all points of view.

    ~PeterHodge

    !!!

    I guess you don’t know how American ultra-religio nutjobs feel about the fairness doctrine (which isn’t even “being fair to” or “giving equal time to” both sides, it’s merely presenting both sides).

  101. #101 'Tis Himself
    March 23, 2009

    @10: Rule Britannia!, surely ;-)

    How about Land of Hope and Glory or Jerusalem?

  102. #102 Qwerty
    March 23, 2009

    Of course Ken Ham complained. Eugenie Scott has bitch slapped Lisle before on CNN. And the hamster posted the transcript (with obligatory creationist footnotes) on this website.

    http://answersingenesis.org/docs2004/1201debate.asp

  103. #103 Goldenmane
    March 23, 2009

    Further down the page, Ham is crowing about how popular that clip of Shermer interviewing Purdom has been. Doesn’t seem to realise that it’s only popular like a train-wreck.

  104. #104 Nix
    March 23, 2009

    corpus.callosum@#10, the British institutionalized religion is a great thing. It’s a religion so milquetoasty that the vast majority of its adherents drift into agnositicism or outright atheism: a religion so all-inclusive that agnostics are accepted as priests. Thanks to the Anglican Church, religion is moribund in the UK. Long may it remain so.

  105. #105 Eliza
    March 23, 2009

    British media can swing wildly from being outstandingly good to horribly crap, but I think overall the BBC does a good job, and the country is richer for it. Because of its funding structure, it produces some programs that no one else in the world can (whilst, of course, also producing piles of poo), and on the whole manages to stay politically neutral.
    Stephen Fry gave a good overview of it on one of his itunes podcasts – episode 4, series 1. sorry I don’t know if you can link to itunes.

  106. #106 Stanton
    March 23, 2009

    Make your minds up guys! But when our theory fails the litmus test of reality, then we have to make it up as we go along.

    Creationism failed the litmus test of reality centuries ago.

    Since then, creationists, including Ken Ham, have demonstrated that they are wholly uninterested in either attempting to investigating reality, or even attempting to demonstrate HOW to investigate reality with a literal interpretation of the King James’ translation of the Bible. Furthermore, creationists have demonstrated that the only things they are interested in are using their faith in Jesus Christ to secure monetary and political profit, as well as turning their fellow human beings into unthinking followers.

  107. #107 GG
    March 23, 2009

    We should not be cheering this. They ambushed the guy. That should be unacceptable regardless of which side you are on or which side did it first. Gleefully encouraging this behavior when your side scores a point leads to the same kind of unproductive, tit for tat mentality we see in the Middle East (lesser scale, obviously).

  108. #108 'Tis Himself
    March 23, 2009

    GG,

    Your concern is noted.

    As James McGarth says:

    When I questioned them about the deception, I was told that since the debate was to further God?s wishes, a minor deception of this sort was acceptable.

    If Ham is willing to spring surprises and use “deception,” he should not whine when it’s done to him.

  109. #109 Tony Sidaway
    March 23, 2009

    Far from an ambush, the BBC’s chosen format with a representative of “both sides” of a controversial issue is required by both its own Broadcasting Standards and by those of OFCOM, the public regulator.

    Had the BBC engaged in “an investigation of creationism” where someone wasn’t present to give the scientific point of view, there would have been very loud and very justifiable complaints.

    Ham is just being a silly sausage as usual.

  110. #110 Tony Sidaway
    March 23, 2009

    That Marcus Brigstocke rant is superb.

    http://lasthussar.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/an-angry-man-in-corduroy-says-it-best/

    From its content it must have been broadcast in mid-July, 2007 when the Court of Justice threw out the case of Lydia Playfoot who tried to get a ruling on the right to wear a chastity ring in school. This is just one of a number of cases in which the religious right has striven impotently to knock a hole in our secular culture. Others are the case of Lilian Ladele, a registrar whose attempt to get the right not to marry gay people was tossed out on appeal, and Nadia Eweida, who unsuccessfully sued British Airways for religious discrimination because they did not permit her to wear religious jewellery. They make a bit of a noise,but they always seem to fail. Good.

  111. #111 melior
    March 23, 2009

    by far, British journalists and commentators (and particularly those from the BBC) are the most mocking about biblical Christianity of all the media we’ve worked with over the years.

    Because they’re Protestant you see, they can wear a little rubber sleeve on their John Thomases and have all the sex they want!

  112. #112 Jadehawk
    March 24, 2009

    Because they’re Protestant you see, they can wear a little rubber sleeve on their John Thomases and have all the sex they want!

    you do realize that creationists are predominantly protestant, right…?

  113. #113 ospalh
    March 24, 2009

    British journalists and commentators (and particularly those from the BBC) are the most mocking about biblical Christianity

    What about the Guardian? I guess Ken Ham doesn’t know about the Guardian.

  114. #114 Slugsie
    March 24, 2009

    Yup, British journos, gotta love them. They’re not afraid to call a spade a garden digging implement, and they’ll even call an IDiot an idiot.

    So, it appears they do have some uses. :)

  115. #115 Pat Silver
    March 24, 2009

    Over here the BBC is regarded as being heavily pro-religion, their usual idea of a balanced discussion on a religious subject is to invite to the studio representatives of the major religions but no atheist. Science/religion discussions usually result in a scientist who is a Christian (no I don’t understand that one either) being invited. Ham must seriously have upset somebody!

  116. #116 Ginger Yellow
    March 24, 2009

    “This is the organisation that puts on programmes about sub-atomic physics, Fermats Theorum, and String Theory, as well as David Attenborough basically say ‘Evolution- WOW’. I wonder if the pro-evolution stance of the BBC would play well in the States?”

    True, but Attenborough aside (and that is a big aside), all the good Beeb output occurs when it allows scientists to talk about their field of expertise, which is all too rare and often on BBC 4 or at best BBC 2. Most of the time Horizon is sensationalist/human interest/consumer advice nonsense dressed up as science, while the science news reporting is horrendous. I’m sure it’s on balance better than your typical US network, but you have to admit that’s a pretty low bar. If it weren’t for Attenborough, it would be pretty hard to argue that the Beeb’s overall output was a net positive for the public understanding of science.

  117. #117 Liberal Atheist
    March 24, 2009

    Fair and balanced? Sometimes, one of the sides is just wrong. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

  118. #118 Liberal Atheist
    March 24, 2009

    Also, whenever I read something about religious beliefs and Biblical creationism, I’m reminded by Monty Python and the Holy Grail…

    King Arthur: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Please tell me again how sheep’s bladder may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

  119. #119 Peter B.
    March 24, 2009

    From Ham-strung’s blog post on the subject

    On the other line was perhaps America?s best-known evolutionist defender, Dr. Eugenie Scott, whose organization has as its sole purpose to counter creationist efforts wherever they can and to uphold evolution.

    1. The “organisation” (presumably a reference to the NCSE) does NOT have as its sole purpose to oppose creationism. Rather, the NCSE exists to ensure that sound science subjects are the only ones taught in science classrooms, and that the teaching of science is free of interference from dogmas of ANY sort – religious or otherwise.

    2. Evolution is quite capable of “upholding” itself without the need for intervention by Ms Scott, the NCSE, or any atheist on the planet. It has successfully done so for at least 3.2 Billion years, and whether they like it or not, even the mighty fundamentalist Christian right will be totally unable to stop it.

    3. Please, please, please America, we Aussies don’t want old Hammy back. Sorry that you have to put up with his nonsense ramblings and silly creation museum, but lets face it, one or more of you obviously agreed to let him in. If he gets too much out of hand, arrange a nice cosy padded cell for him, but whatever you do, don’t let him abuse your children with his crazy ideas.

  120. #120 Peter B.
    March 24, 2009

    @PeteHodge #88

    Oh, and could someone please tell me when evolution started…

    Here is a good page to start dispelling some of your ignorance: The Evolution Fact FAQ

    On the other hand, I’m so glad you, an obvious creationist, were bold enough to make this admission…

    But when our theory fails the litmus test of reality, then we have to make it up as we go along.

    Thanks for the chuckle!

  121. #121 Peter Ashby
    March 25, 2009

    I agree that the Beeb can do good science. Last night it was Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (not Dennett’s book) an account of the moral, family and professional travails that beset Darwin in trying to get his theory published in an environment and form where it might see some acceptance. It was well done.

  122. #122 Faith's A Sin Of Pride
    March 25, 2009

    Creation Museum. John Boehner.

    Two infamous Cincinnati-based abominations.

    From the trenches here in Jesusland…
    My apologies to America !

    *hangs head, muttering*

  123. #123 faithless
    March 25, 2009

    Hey, don’t beat yourselves up too badly, yanks.

    I live in Southampton, and 20 minutes down the coast is the town of Portsmouth.

    Home of – wait for it, wait for it – a creationist museum!!

    Ta-daaah!

    That’s right, the US is not alone.

    I promise I’ll go and have a look at it and report back. It’s not to US standards, I can tell you that – very much smaller, no animatronics and probably only a teeny tiny museum shop – but, you know, anything you guys can do, we can do smaller. (Aircraft carriers, basketball players, etc.)

  124. #124 SEF
    March 25, 2009

    @ Peter Ashby #121:

    That’s not really science though. That’s history / drama / biography etc. Your hint should have been when you typed “an account of the moral, family and professional travails”. That’s how the BBC have ruined Horizon – by making it all into a formulaic, people-focused drama.

  125. #125 Margaret Nelson
    March 25, 2009

    Makes me proud to pay my licence fee.

  126. #126 KY_Prof
    March 25, 2009

    Why’s everybody so down on the Creation Museum? It is an astounding, mind-boggling, jaw-dropping experience — for young and old! faux mulder’s got exactly the right attitude about it — it is best experienced stoned — but even straight it is a wonder to behold. I tried taking some notes on those particular exhibits and ideas that were without any foundation in reason and rationality, and I had to give up. Everywhere I turned, each new exhibit, around every corner, more and more and more of it. Really, if you enjoyed the fantasy worlds of Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, or Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, this will top them all, because they BELIEVE IT’S TRUE! They do!

  127. #127 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 25, 2009

    We share the same evidences, but approach them from a differing perspective.

    Nope. Creationists ? every single one of them ? simply don’t know that the majority of the evidence even exists.

    BTW, only Christian apologists ever use the word “evidences”. All others treat it as a mass noun, like “sand”, “water”, or “information”?

    Maybe we are both wrong, and that we are the result of intervention by little green men from outer space.

    If you can answer the question “if I were wrong, how would I know?”, you’re doing science.

    If you were wrong, how would you know?

    Oh, and could someone please tell me when evolution started, with the big bang or later. Because lately I have been told by evolutionists that the big bang has nothing to do with evolution. Contrary to what I have been told repeatedly down the years.

    The definition of evolution is “descent with heritable modification”. So, what can evolve?

    What you’ve been told all those years you’ve been told by creationists who didn’t understand what they were talking about (but I repeat myself).

  128. #128 Spud
    March 26, 2009

    As an Irishman, I never give praise to the Brits if I can avoid it… (:P) But I gotta say, the BBC fucking rocks. Seriously.

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