Pharyngula

The worst article on Ardipithecus yet

The dishonor goes to ABC News, which put together an appalling mess of an article that gives credibility to creationist denialists. Right from the beginning, you know this article is bunk.

But despite the excitement from the paleontology community, another group of researchers, many of them with advanced degrees in science, are unimpressed by Ardi, who they believe is just another ape — an ape of indeterminate age, they add, and an ape who cannot be an ancestor of modern man for a range of reasons, including one of singular importance: God created man in one day, and evolution is a fallacy.

The whole article is like that: they cite Creation Ministries International, the Institute for Creation Research, and Answers in Genesis, puffing up the credentials of these loons and credulously reporting their dissent. None of these fellows is any kind of researcher, all are looked upon as utterly crazy, and there is no reason to consult any of them on a science story, let alone dedicating a long article solely to their batty position (they quote one of the real researchers just once, saying that the discovery was an important find — but it is more to lend weight to the parade of nutcases declaring it trivial.)

They give a lot of space to Answers in Genesis, especially to one of their pet frauds-with-a-degree, David Menton.

“What creationists believe about human origins we get from the Bible,” said David Menton an acclaimed anatomist and also a creationist. “The creation of the world takes place on page one of the Bible. If you throw out the first page of the Bible you might as well throw out the whole thing. If you can’t live with the first page then pitch out the remaining thousand pages.”

Menton is not an acclaimed anatomist. His sole claim to fame is his weird belief that the earth is only 6000 years old. Although, I must say, I agree with his sentiment here: the first page is metaphorical, poetical nonsense and should be thrown out, and the rest should be tossed right after it. But what really annoys me is the patent disrespect for knowledge in these people. Ardipithecus is a genus that lived over 4 million years ago. Shouldn’t there be a little bit of awe at that? Not from the ICR.

“This is a meaningless discovery of another ape. As far as the creationist community is concerned, this is a big yawn. There is nothing about Ardi that has anything to do with the evolution of man,” said John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas.

Menton just keeps on bringing the dementia.

Menton believes scientists sat on the Ardi discovery for over a decade just to roll it out during the Darwin anniversary. He questions the ability to accurately date any fossils more than a few thousand years old, let alone millions, and he said the condition of the skeleton was so incomplete and fragile that serious research was almost impossible.

Menton said Ardi’s skull and feet are exactly the kind of skull and feet you would expect an ape to have and have none of the features of modern humans.

“Evolutionists want to call Ardi ‘ape-like.’ This creature is ape-like, because she is an ape. Just call it an ape,” he said.

The biggest problem Menton has with Ardi is her estimated age. The Earth, he says, is no more around 5,000 years old, a number creationists have estimated by counting the generations of man named in the Bible from Adam to Jesus.

“Evolution is supposedly based on science, but the science does not prove what they want it to. Creationism is not based on scientific observation but on God’s word. God created everything in six days, and that’s it.”

Errm, the scientists all agree: Ardi was an ape. They say it right out. They’ll also tell ‘acclaimed’ anatomist Menton that, based on the anatomy, we humans are also apes. We also regard the even older last common ancestor of chimps (which are apes) and humans (also apes) to have been an ape. Therefore, any transitional form between an ancient ape and a modern ape is expected to be an ape.

What did Menton expect? A frickin’ giraffe?

As for the rest…anyone in the 21st century who rants about the earth being 6000 years old and unthinkingly accepts the scientific authority of an ancient book cobbled together by tribes of sheepherders really needs to be shuffled off to a rubber room.

So what is ABC News doing getting a story on a serious scientific issue from a series of lunatic asylums? I don’t know. Who is this ‘journalist,’ Russel Goldman, who scribbled up this gullible slop? I don’t know and I don’t care, except that I’ll know to throw anything else he writes in the rubbish.