Pharyngula

So you can stop sending me email about it now. Also, dear gob, but I despise the Huffington Post. They’ve started this recent flurry of publicity for deranged loon Mastropaolo with an awful article on his tired old stunt of announcing a $10,000 prize for a debate — an article in which they blithely consult the Discovery Institute to get their opinion that both evolution and young earth creationism are unproveable assertions that can’t be tested by “observable science”.

I’ve known about Mastropaolo for almost 20 years now. He’s been on the same worn out horse all that time, doing exactly the same thing over and over again, and every once in a while some gullible news outlet gives him a breath of publicity and this crap starts up again. He was a noisemaker on the usenet group talk.origins, or rather, his amanuensis Karl Priest was there constantly promoting his master Mastropaolo in tedious, abusive tirades.

The Mastropaolo/Priest duo was cited in Richard Dawkins’ well-known article in which he explained why he doesn’t debate creationists. Not only is it a waste of time, but Mastropaolo is one of the best examples of an untalented, unqualified hack who wants to ride the coattails of other people’s reputations, and he has been flailing wildly for attention for a long time now. He is simply a typical ignorant creationist.

One small example of the level of competence we’re dealing with here. He claims to have disproven abiogenesis — one of his constant themes is that abiogenesis is a lie. You can judge the quality of his mind:

To test simply the alleged self-combining tendency of carbon, I placed one microliter of India (lampblack) ink in 27 ml of distilled water. The ink streaked for the bottom of the test tube where it formed a dark haze which completely diffused to an even shade of gray in 14 hours. The carbon stayed diffused, not aggregated as when dropped on paper. At this simple level there is no evidence that the “primeval soup” is anything but fanciful imagination.

He’s a young earth creationist. You want more evidence that he’s a dumbass? Here’s his argument to cast doubt on the age of the earth.

Evolutionists of the 19th century claimed that the Earth was millions of years old. Their estimates from nature, solar thermodynamics and ocean salinity ranged from 75,032 to 100,000,000 years old or 53,015,006 ± 45,199,699 years old (mean ± standard deviation). The evolutionists of the 20th century claimed that the Earth was billions of years old. Their estimates ranged from 200,000,000 to 5 billion years old or 2.61 ± 1.79 billion. Curiously according to the evolutionists, in one century, the Earth aged 2.56 billion years. It seemed strange that in 1921, according to them, the Earth was 1.5 billion years old and in 1991 it was 4.5 billion years old. In those 70 years, according to the evolutionists, the Earth and I as well, aged 3 billion years. According to the evolutionists, I am a 3 billion-year-old ambulating fossil.

No one in their right mind would want to debate this clown. Here, have some fun with this argument:

Let us extrapolate to the past and see what medical science specifies. Going backward in time we find the Earth’s human population ever diminishing until we arrive at an original couple. The medical evidence also reveals fewer and fewer genetic disorders until we find that the original couple, Adam and Eve, are genetically perfect. For every other complex life form we find their genetically perfect Adam and Eve in what would be a genetically perfect garden, Eden, with pristine Age of the Earth, Medical Science, Adam, Eve, Eden, and the Flood ©Joseph Mastropaolo 2004 3 air and water and soil, where longevity for humans is normally 900 years. We also have unimpeachable medical evidence that suggests the correlation of the curvilinear decline in post-flood longevity, from Noah to David, with the curvilinear incline of new genetic disorders. The data suggest that genetic disorders began to increase after the flood and that probably was associated with the diminished longevity to 70 years by the time of David. This suggestion is shown by the dashed line in Figure 1. Uncensored medical science confirms the Bible and destroys the lethal, psychotic, inverted-fantasy antiscience of evolution.

floodmutations
Figure 1. The correlation of the curvilinear decline in post-flood longevity with the curvilinear incline
of medically reported cumulative new genetic disorders supports Genesis and refutes evolution.

Right. Plotting the claimed ages of the Biblical patriarchs against made-up ‘data’ about new genetic disorders (also false; there’s no evidence of such a rapid increase in the frequency of mutations) … that’s this self-proclaimed ‘scientist’s’ idea of evidence.

He’s got a whole website full of this crap, and the amusing thing is that most creationists consider him to be on the fringe. He reminds me a lot of Jerry Bergman, and I’ll never waste another moment of my life debating him, either.

By the way, Mastropaolo’s debate challenge is rigged, anyway. He’s got the judges all picked out, and anyone who wants to debate him has to put $10,000 of their own money up front first…and he’ll pocket it when his kangaroo court declares you a loser.

Comments

  1. #1 Eric Lund
    March 28, 2013

    That’s an impressive quantity of weapons-grade stoopid there. He doesn’t understand the process of measurement refinement, he thinks that the chemical processes of creating life had to happen within 14 hours or not at all, and he seems to think that genetic disorders are created the moment they are first described in the literature. It’s so bad that it’s (not even)^N wrong, where N >> 1. I feel significantly dumber from having read that stuff.

  2. #2 Claudio Zardon
    Venice, Italy
    March 28, 2013

    Outrageous,, he’s got the gall to use a kangaroo court, even when the animal is patently not in the Bible!

  3. #3 Coozoe
    Chicago
    March 28, 2013

    Diminished longevity? Isn’t it growing? 70 years old? That was the longevity limit only recently.

  4. #4 MKS
    March 29, 2013

    ahh, it’d be more fun, PZ, to see you debate yourself; that’d make a sweet vid :3

  5. #5 Arctodus23
    The Human Genome
    March 29, 2013

    Ahh, I detect a Hovind tactic again…

  6. #6 Russ Couper
    New Zealand
    March 29, 2013

    If you are so confident that these guys are loons,debating them
    should put the thing to bed once and for all.For goodness sake do it.By refusing it makes you look scared and uncertain of your
    arguments.Maybe you are.

  7. #7 Harvey
    March 29, 2013

    RUSS:

    Even recognizing the possibility that such a looneytoon might have a valid argument to put forward provides him with undeserved recognition. Debating him, especially under his rigged circumstances, would allow him to raise his “stock” with the “young earth” creationist community to no positive addition to their understanding of reality.

  8. #8 Frank Lovell
    Louisville, KY
    March 29, 2013

    RUSS:

    Refusing to debate JoMo makes PZ look like a thoughfully wise scientist; JoMo is neither (did you not READ read the examples PZ presented of what passes for “scientific thought” in JoMo’s “mind”?)…

  9. #9 Claudio
    Argentina
    March 29, 2013

    hahaha you are a coward, you know that evolution is a lie, so do not want to face.

  10. #10 Anj Petto
    Milwaukee
    March 29, 2013

    It’s the right move. I had 2 encounters with this guy — mostly on his “new genetic disorders” offal. His claims are bogus, because he is using OMIM data, which report newly discovered LOCI for KNOWN diseases. Thus, these are not NEW genetic disorders, but simply genetic disorders whose molecular biochemistry has been newly uncovered.
    I tried to engage him once in person at a conference, and once through a 3d party (http://www.bibleandscience.com/science/debate.htm) on this claim and his conclusions that humans would go extinct by 2085.

    Waste of time. I’d rather be waltzing with bears.

    Anj

  11. #11 Serhat
    serhatks.blogspot.com
    March 29, 2013

    hmm thank

  12. #12 RLBaty
    March 29, 2013

    Forbes on-line contributor Peter J. Reilly has an interesting article out on the lastest Mastropaolo publicity stunt at:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreilly/2013/03/28/lets-have-judge-judy-tell-us-how-old-the-earth-is/

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  14. #14 Abm
    Vogon constructor fleet
    March 30, 2013

    Wow, no wonder even the Creationists think this guy is “fringe”. Those are some Time Cube grade arguments that don’t make sense on any level but “say anything to contradict science” and most Creationists gave up on that idiot-with-a-shotgun approach long ago (not that they really acknowledge proper logic of course, but still). Honestly I have to wonder if he is that odd combo of “genuinely nut so” and “trying to run a long con”. The $10,000 thing certainly suggests that.

  15. #15 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
    March 30, 2013

    If you are so confident that these guys are loons,debating them
    should put the thing to bed once and for all.For goodness sake do it.By refusing it makes you look scared and uncertain of your
    arguments.Maybe you are.

    You understand as little of science as you do of computers: you do not need to press Enter at the end of every line, line breaks are done automatically.

    Have you noticed that scientists never hold debates with each other? Instead, we write papers that explain our arguments at length, citing all necessary sources. At our conferences, we present our recent work in 15 minutes or less, followed by a few minutes for questions and answers, and then everybody waits for the paper to come out so they can evaluate the arguments in full.

    Debates instead show who’s the better rhetorician. If you’re right but you’re a worse rhetorician than your opponent, you’ll lose despite being right. Scientists don’t want to win, we want to be right. Therefore, we don’t debate. Debate is whatcha put on de hook to catch de fish. (Or de 10 grand in dis case.)

  16. #16 Charlie Murphy
    California, USA
    April 4, 2013

    i saw this article the other day, and wanted to see the arguments for each side.

    Where is the proof, evidence of the Big Bang, that we evolved from a monkeys ass…

    Where is the proof that we were created?

    I dont know much about different sceience dating methods, but seems like carbon dating is wrong? and what ever something else comes up with as in JoMo post that the Earth was 75k – 100M then 1.5 Billion to 4 Billion. Thats some pretty sketchy data and differences. Lets just pull Dates out of our asses!

    To us LAY People thats what it all sounds like. How / Why should we believe what PZ believes? Does PZ vs other Evo all equal out 100%? Or does the 100,000… Millions of Evo scientist all disagree and believe something different and come up, create or discover different reasons?

    Either way, Evo vs Create All Y’all sound like LOONs!

    So why believe that some accident created everything, and we all were a single cell… Or why believe something created us out of nothing.

    In closing… How old is the Earth really? and why is it +/- 6800 years or 1.5 to 5 Billion years. Or why not 50 Billion… 100 Million Trillion years old?

  17. #17 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
    April 4, 2013

    I dont know much about different sceience dating methods, but

    STOP! Stop right here. Go to the obvious place, the Wikipedia article on radiometric dating, and then come back.

    seems like carbon dating is wrong?

    *eyeroll* See what happens when you don’t go to the obvious place first? Carbon dating only goes back about 50,000 years (that’s 0.05 million years), because carbon-14 has such a short half-life. To figure out how old the earth is, you need uranium/lead, samarium/neodymium, and the like.

    The knowledge you’re yearning for is already out there. Google knows everything. Take a few hours and read.

  18. #18 Charlie Murphy
    April 5, 2013

    Thanks David!! just figured instead of googling and getting all the proporganda. I thought someone here could shed some light. I dont know if i really want to know everything about radiometric dating. Maybe a good place to start.

    Just looking for the cliff notes on why this guy claims 6000 years. People 100 years ago claimed 75,000 years then 100 million, then 200 Mil, then 1 billion then 5 billion next will be 50 hundred billion?

    There seems to be “blind faith” / “trust” of what we are being feed from either side. Unless i have the ability to radiometric date something… i have to trust the people that do that test and how they view the data. If there is any subjectivity to that. I just get turned off by how something can be 5 million to 7 million years old… Why not 7.25 million years. Why such a big range. Seems like the +/- is very huge.

  19. #19 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
    April 5, 2013

    just figured instead of googling and getting all the proporganda. I thought someone here could shed some light.

    :-) But how can you tell whether Google results or what I say is propaganda? You need to read both and compare them either way!

    I dont know if i really want to know everything about radiometric dating. Maybe a good place to start.

    Definitely.

    Just looking for the cliff notes on why this guy claims 6000 years.

    Easy: if you take the lists of ancestors & descendants in the Bible, and the lifespans given for them, at face value, and do some fudging to gloss over the gaps, you arrive at something like 6000 years.

    But there isn’t even a stone age in the Bible. To arrive at 6000 years or anything like it, you have to start from the assumption that everything in the Bible (never mind its internal contradictions) is true – and that’s just ridiculous.

    People 100 years ago claimed 75,000 years then 100 million, then 200 Mil, then 1 billion then 5 billion next will be 50 hundred billion?

    Nope. The methods are becoming more precise: the question is no longer whether it’s 1 billion or 6 billion, it’s whether it’s 4.56 or 4.57 billion.

    The same holds for the age of the universe: a few years ago the question was 10 billion or 20 billion, now it’s 13.72 billion…

    Unless i have the ability to radiometric date something… i have to trust the people that do that test and how they view the data. If there is any subjectivity to that.

    Well, you can learn to understand the methods well enough that you can tell how much subjectivity there is to it.

  20. #20 Charlie Murphy
    April 5, 2013

    Thanks David!!! im reading the Wiki over and over again right now!

  21. #21 G.Shelley
    April 5, 2013

    If you are so confident that these guys are loons,debating them
    should put the thing to bed once and for all

    If these people could be reached or persuaded by facts or logic it would have been put to be long ago. They can’t.

  22. #22 Alexandre
    Brazil
    April 5, 2013

    Well, it looks pretty solid
    but in a more general view
    what I see in this article is a scientist justifying his inability of defending his worldview in public
    to write some paragraphs of critic of a joseph mastropaolo’s website is not enough,
    quoting richard dawkins’ article is just to quote the lack of prepare facing a scientist that actually argues against evolution
    I see an angry manner against joseph in this article
    but at the end of the day, the author has just ”fled”
    nothing more

  23. #23 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
    April 6, 2013

    Alexandre, have you read comment 15?

    If Mastropaolo thinks he’s a scientist, let him write a paper that explains his argument in all detail. Then somebody can write a refutation.

  24. #24 Mark Weaver
    Missouri
    April 7, 2013

    Charlie Murphy, and other creationists confused as to why historical science and current science give different estimates of natural phenomena, should also read The Relativity of Wrong by Isaac Asimov. He explains the process of successive approximation that leads to more precise and accurate scientific explanation.

    Available here:

    http://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

  25. #25 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
    April 8, 2013

    Oh yes, that’s an absolutely great essay.

  26. #26 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
    April 8, 2013

    Speaking of which, it was found a few days ago that the universe expands a tiny bit more slowly than used to be thought. Already the age I gave, 13.72 billion years, was outdated; it’s now been revised from 13.77 to 13.82.

    I find it really remarkable that it’s possible to determine the age of the universe to within a hundred million years at all! :-)

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