YEC paleontologist presents old earth research at GSA

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Marcus Ross is a young-earth creationist who was recently awarded a Ph.D. in vertebrate paleontology by the University of Rhode Island. He now teaches at Liberty University, which (IIRC, according to the acknowledgments in his dissertation) partly supported his doctoral work. Ross claims that he can both be a YEC, using his credential to bolster his teaching of Flood geology, and also work honestly in the framework of orthodox geology simply by switching “paradigms” according to (audience) context.

Ross presents work at standard geological conferences, and Joe Meert, a geologist at the University of Florida and a long-time creationism watcher, recently attended a presentation by Ross on correlating Cretaceous ammonite fossils in order to more firmly date the mosasaur fossils that were the topic of his dissertation research.

At the end of the presentation Meert asked Ross how he squared his YEC beliefs with a presentation that dated fossils to millions of years ago. According to Meert, Ross answered, “My talk had nothing to do with a global flood or a 6000 year old earth so your question is irrelevant.” When Meert pressed, Ross replied (Meert’s paraphrase)

Ok, for everyone in the audience who doesn’t know it, yes I am a young earth creationist who believes the Earth is 6000 years old and a global flood took place. However, I am not speaking as a young earth creationist here. When I speak at young earth creationist meetings I use a different framework than when I speak at the Geological Society of America meeting.

What struck me was Meert’s comment that several people felt sorry for Ross for being pushed to acknowledge his YEC beliefs and wondered why Meert was so harsh with him. Meert’s response is perfect:

Marcus Ross is just one of many two-faced creationists and I’m going to call them out on this hypocrisy any chance I get.

Read Meert’s whole post as well as Meert’s earlier post on Ross. I hope the student he mentions who went on a field trip led by Ross and two other YEC geologists does a guest post on it.

263 Comments

But I thought Marcus Ross was, like, a superhero or something. (And that his superpower was honesty.)

Maybe I’m confusing him with other superhero creationists who are honest and admit that evolution makes sense and creationism doesn’t. I forget. I know there’s a couple of them around here. And they are well respected for their honesty superpowers.

what kind of nonsense is “use a different framework” ? That is simply a confusing way to say, “Sometimes I say one thing, sometimes I say another thing. They are mutually exclusive but I am smart enough to know that if I tell stupid lies in front of other PhD geologists they will laugh at me, so I pretend to believe science when I am talking with them. Later, when I talk with other YECs, I tell them what I really think.”

I think two things are going on in their minds. First is kind of like a what-if game. What if reality really IS the way things are, then how would it all work? That takes research and hard work, but it’s based on the pretense that reality is real, and we know better. And second is, as Joe said, the tactic of fabricating credentials of the “see, real scientists accept and respect the creationist viewpoint” variety.

I suppose there is some vague parallel with mathematicians who prove all manner of theorems within nonreal axiom systems. The rules of the creationist “framework” resemble the rules of Calvinball.

Years ago, I had a colleague, a half-way decent scientist, who professed to be a biblical literalist. I asked him if he really thought that adulterers should be stoned to death. No, he said, Jesus canceled that commandment when he said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

And before that? I asked. Yes, he said, we do not understand, but before then it was appropriate to stone adulterers to death, because God said so.

Utterly baffled, I went to a psychologist I knew slightly and asked him how a trained scientist could possibly hold such views. Compartmentalization, he said; sometimes it is pathological.

So is this case is pathological? I asked. He paused and thought for a while before answering, Yes.

I have never heard of Marcus Ross before, but I have a suspicion that my psychologist acquaintance would give the same response if I asked him.

I think it goes beyond compartmentalization. The fact that he has not produce any papers showing how the research also supports a young earth means that either: 1. He believes in an old earth but doesn’t want to give up an comfy job. 2. He believes in a young earth but knows that the evidence currently overwhelming supports an old earth

In either case he is lying to the world.

386sx said:

Maybe I’m confusing him with other superhero creationists who are honest and admit that evolution makes sense and creationism doesn’t. I forget. I know there’s a couple of them around here. And they are well respected for their honesty superpowers.

I think one of them cut up a Bible or something. He was looking for something in the Bible (I forget what) and whenever he found it he cut it out. And when he was done with it, there wasn’t any Bible left. Ergo, creationism. However, he was a very honest creationist superhero whose superpowers were honesty and denial.

386sx said: I think one of them cut up a Bible or something. He was looking for something in the Bible (I forget what) and whenever he found it he cut it out. And when he was done with it, there wasn’t any Bible left. Ergo, creationism. However, he was a very honest creationist superhero whose superpowers were honesty and denial.

That was Kurt Wise. Link is to Richard Dawkins’ essay on him titled “Sadly, an Honest Creationist.”

Yep thanks that’s the guy!

There is more going on here than probably meets the eye.

Since the 1960s, very little has changed among YECs with their misrepresentations and fabricated pseudo-science. The game with them has always been to taunt real scientists into debates in order to climb onto their coattails and gain “credibility and respectability.” Ever since the science community stopped taking their bait, creationists have had to seek “legitimacy” by other means.

They have no intention of being credible and respectable; they want the appearance of legitimacy among the rubes that follow them. And if that means presenting papers at real scientific conferences, they will find a way to climb onto the work of others to do so. You can bet that once these idiots have established themselves as credible among their followers, their real scientific output will cease.

We are still seeing this with the crop of young PhDs over at AiG; they just make up crap.

And it is also important to note the tactics of the late Lee Attwater, his protégé, Karl Rove, Michele Bachman, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and the rest of the wrecking crew at Fox Noise. When they are called out, they simply double down and tell bigger lies more frequently. Where, and from whom, did they learn they could get away with this crap?

Yeah, these people are psychopaths; and they find resonances among the ignorant and fearful to the point of building those psychotic “armies of the night” that will march like zombies to form the theocracy these leaders crave.

The scientific community is going to have to be far more vigilant and take a much harsher stand against these charlatans than they ever did in the past. Any ground that gets ceded to ID/creationists will be only that much harder to take back.

YECs especially will not hesitate to attempt to wreck the reputations of people in the science community. People have tended to underestimate the meanness and sneakiness of these hucksters in the past. That is a mistake.

Yes, use the paradigm that works when meaningful science has to be done, and back to the faith-based claptrap when lying to the faithful must be effected.

It is true that different interpretations are possible. Essentially, all creationist interpretations should be called misinterpretations, at best. They are not honest interpretations of the evidence at all, and no one can do science with them (obviously, ID included).

Glen Davidson

Mike Elzinga said: The scientific community is going to have to be far more vigilant and take a much harsher stand against these charlatans than they ever did in the past. Any ground that gets ceded to ID/creationists will be only that much harder to take back.

That’s why I found the reaction of some of the conference attendees that Meert reported to be problematic. They thought Joe was being harsh when he called Ross out on his YEC beliefs.

As others have noted, when Ross says that he “uses a different paradigm” he simply means that he lies.

We don’t know which audience he’s lying to.

He unequivocally lies, though, to one audience or the other. If he “doesn’t know” he’s lying, that would only make me deeply concerned that he might be either a sociopath or delusional. If he does know he’s lying, then he’s an ordinary sleazeball.

I believe that his scientific work needs extra scrutiny. He has a record of saying different things to different audiences; the thing each wants to hear. Science always needs to be on the lookout for frauds, and we already know that this guy is a fraud.

And please note that I’m sympathetic to the audience here. If he had expressed a religious belief that was not directly in conflict with his own scientific work, I’d be supporting him.

Oops -

We don’t, of course, have any reason to believe that Ross’s scientific work is fraudulent.

By “already know he is a fraud” I meant that we know he makes contradictory statements about creationism in different venues.

His scientific work doesn’t need “extra” scrutiny; ideally, the ordinary level of scrutiny will be sufficient to see if it stands the test of time.

Apologies if I was unclear.

There is more going on here than probably meets the eye.

This observation seems almost silly, since creationists approach science the way stage magicians approach magic. The entire goal is to create false impressions, and many creationists are very very good at it.

To the average American, with the average American understanding of science, the tension between actual science and creation-science boils down to a swearing contest. The audience is simply not equipped to evaluate the competing claims, except by looking at people’s degrees. They couldn’t understand a scientific paper, they have no grasp of publications or what’s involved with them, the phrase “null hypothesis” sounds like meaningless doubletalk.

But the American people ARE very sensitive to fairness, to letting “both sides” get a “fair and equal hearing”, to certain standards of politeness and under what circumstances straight challenges are gauche, etc. The American public, hopelessly ignorant about the substance of any disagreement, has little choice but to look at the style, the format, the appearances. Which makes creating false ones essential for the creationists. And they realize it, and work at it diligently.

After all, the goal of science is to add to human understanding. The goal of creationism is power. If you need respect to gain power, and you can steal that respect and lie successfully about it, you have power. You win.

If anything about creationism WERE what meets the eye, it wouldn’t last a week.

When I present or publish my work, I believe I am offering valid data, valid conclusions from the data, and the best explanation I’m aware of. I would consider it extremely unethical to present a paper if I didn’t believe its conclusions were valid.

If I’m on record taking a particular position and I present a paper that contradicts that position, asking me to reconcile those positions is totally fair game, and I had damn well better be able to explain the change. Saying “Oh, the previous conclusion was just from a different viewpoint” simply wouldn’t fly.

Flint said:

To the average American, with the average American understanding of science, the tension between actual science and creation-science boils down to a swearing contest. The audience is simply not equipped to evaluate the competing claims, except by looking at people’s degrees. They couldn’t understand a scientific paper, they have no grasp of publications or what’s involved with them, the phrase “null hypothesis” sounds like meaningless doubletalk.

We have been seeing a steady erosion of science and technology in this country since at least the 1970s. There have been the Carly Fiorinas and Kodak managers of industry, the steady increase in the percentage of PhD degrees in science and engineering going to students from other countries – who are now more often returning to their countries.

We have seen basic manufacturing and foundational technology being sent to other countries and the development of complete amnesia about how to do basic stuff here. I have even encountered Deans of Education eradicating all prerequisites in community colleges, with similar trends going on in a number of universities.

Not only has postmodernism affected the thinking of many who are now in leadership positions in our colleges and universities, but we are actually seeing concerted efforts on the part of extreme right-wing groups to destroy the bullshit detectors of every citizen in the US.

Somewhere in the world, science and human contact with reality may continue to survive; but it is unlikely to be here in the US within this next century unless rational people and the scientific community start getting up some backbone and start really fighting back.

An associate from the National Center for Science Education was at the field trip, and is hopefully writing his response as well.

Gary Hurd said:

An associate from the National Center for Science Education was at the field trip, and is hopefully writing his response as well.

Good to know. It’d be helpful to have a couple of accounts of it.

It is somewhat disheartening that no one at the Univ. of RI thought to question the contradiction in Ross’ approach. One would think that during the whole of his education there, the YEC crap might have come up.

what kind of nonsense is “use a different framework” ?

It means he’s a liar. He even lies to himself and has made peace with his dishonesty. Doesn’t he have even the remnants of a conscience? I feel sorry for his students. I feel sorry for the parents shelling out hard-earned money in these difficult times for their kids to study with a huckster. Is the University able to do anything about him?

Liberty University? What are they going to do about it? Kiss him and tell him to keep up the good work?

Correction: I goofed! I now realize that he teaches at Liberty U where lying faculty are welcome. But he still should stay away from non-creationists and keep his lies in creationist institutions where they belong.

RBH said:

That’s why I found the reaction of some of the conference attendees that Meert reported to be problematic. They thought Joe was being harsh when he called Ross out on his YEC beliefs.

I would be curious to know if any of these “concerned” attendees were YECs.

A number of years ago, at a meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers, we had some “concerned” attendees from Liberty “University” (I looked at their badges) objecting to a talk critical of allowing creationism in the science curriculum.

It would not surprise me if gangs of these YECs are showing up at legitimate science venues in order to make the claim that they are participating members of the scientific community.

And I would bet that they are supporting each other and grabbing opportunities to “debate” in settings that make it look like they are doing real science. Their favorite trick of goading scientists into debates in front of lay audiences hasn’t been working too well for them lately.

So I would certainly applaud and encourage the critical questioning by Joe Meert. In fact, if creationists are going to play these games, they should be nailed right on the spot and in public where there are no naive audiences of rubes to back these creationists up. Send them back to their “labs” with their tails between their legs; along with a paralyzing dread of ever attending another scientific conference.

Scientific conferences don’t need to put up with their kind of bullshit.

So in other words, “when I’m talking to biologists, a bat is a mammal; but when I’m talking to biblical literalists, it’s a bird”.

MikeMa said:

It is somewhat disheartening that no one at the Univ. of RI thought to question the contradiction in Ross’ approach. One would think that during the whole of his education there, the YEC crap might have come up.

The NYTimes story I linked to in the OP has some comments from faculty there.

Well, as it happens, I have an up-coming debate with ICR’s Steve Austin. I was pissed that AGS had co-sponcored the field trip. I know that Austin and the rest of these YEC twits use their meeting visits as “professional acknowledgement” for their creationism, when in fact their YEC beliefs are carefully hidden from sight.

I spread a little joy around.

Mike, I’m pretty sure that the person who followed me in the questioning was not a YEC. He saw how flustered Ross was and I think he felt sympathy and said “I have drawers and drawers of ammonites that you might want to include in your analysis.” as an attempt to turn the conversation away from YEC’ism. I have to believe, though I don’t know, that this was the typical “Well, if only he studies more he’s bound to see that YEC’ism is wrong”. It’s kind of like thinking “Well maybe John Wayne Gacy won’t be so bad if he sees that little boys are really fragile beings”.

Gary Hurd said:

I spread a little joy around.

Tee hee!

Will your debate with Austin be recorded/streamed?

J Meert said:

I have to believe, though I don’t know, that this was the typical “Well, if only he studies more he’s bound to see that YEC’ism is wrong”. It’s kind of like thinking “Well maybe John Wayne Gacy won’t be so bad if he sees that little boys are really fragile beings”.

Indeed, I think nearly all of us have been there; I certainly was for a while back in the 1970s.

But just watching creationists turn right around and reuse refuted material in new venues was the turning point in my naive sympathy back then. Since then, I have watched the gritty determination of these characters to mangle every scientific concept they can get their hands on. They know what they are doing; and that makes it all the more grotesque.

Just Bob said:

4.5

Not very entertaining, but “Creationism will overthrow evolutionism, as it is now, within our time” ranks quite high on the pathologically self-deluded scale.

In the documentary about the Dover ID case Philip Johnson admitted that he had given up on anything changing within his lifetime.

I can guess, not at your concerns, but at your motivations, Ikky. Let me know your research on using pain, mockery, derision and scorn as an inducement to learn works out, in practice. Maybe you’ll reverse the findings of the last hundred years or so of education theory, just like Byers with biology. And if you don’t, no doubt you’ll enjoy trying.

Let me know your research on using pain, mockery, derision and scorn as an inducement to learn works out, in practice.

I sent you a form to fill out in the mail.

Henry wrote:

“It’s interesting that you would complain about the loss of science and technology in the US, but totally ignore that evolution has been taught exclusively in our government schools for over 50 years now. Plus, you have the mainstream media and legal system on your side.”

What we have is the Constitution of the United States on the side of science. Do you really want that to change? We have had creationism exclusively taught in tax free churches for over two hundred years now because of the same Constitution. Do you really want that to change?

“According to some humanists, the education of American children isn’t the top priority. It’s getting rid of their religious superstition.”

Actually all real educators care about is educating. If you take care of that, you won’t have to worry about religious superstitions now will you? Once people learn the value of logic, critical thinking and empiricism, you won’t have a problem with superstitious nonsense anymore. Why would you want people to deny reality and believe in lots of mutually exclusive fairy tales anyway? Do you really think that that will make the world a better place?

henry said:

raven said:

henry proving nothing:

According to some humanists, the education of American children isn’t the top priority. It’s getting rid of their religious superstition.

Citation needed here. Sounds like something made up by a right wingnut kook…

http://www.amazon.com/Radical-Chief[…]r_1439155089

Wow, you’re even further off than Raven predicted. Raven said your source for thinking humanists are out to destroy religion was probably some right wingnut kook. But he/she at least assumed you had some on-topic source. Raven never guessed your “source” was a book written by a right-wing pundit that is on an entirely different subject altogether! I have to applaud you on somehow sinking below the low quality bar Raven set for you.

When someone questions your claim that humanists have eliminating religion as one of their top priorities, you support your argument by resonding with a quote by a prominent humanist saying their top priority is to eliminate religion. Linking to a Kurtz book on how Obama is a socialist is just plain idiotic. Don’t you get that?

Is this thread degenerating?

RBH said:

Is this thread degenerating?

Past tense…”has degenerated.”

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

Afraid so RBH. Am grateful Steve P. hasn’t “drived by” again:

RBH said:

Is this thread degenerating?

Dave Luckett said:

Let me know your research on using pain, mockery, derision and scorn as an inducement to learn works out, in practice.

FWIW, I’ve seen it work, and I’ve had it work with me. Is it not similar to motivating in sports? Some players need some hand-holding and encouragement to get with the program, others need a swift kick in the ass. I would tend, however, to defer to family members’ judgement as to what would work best for their’s.

Ron Okimoto said:

Just Bob said:

4.5

Not very entertaining, but “Creationism will overthrow evolutionism, as it is now, within our time” ranks quite high on the pathologically self-deluded scale.

In the documentary about the Dover ID case Philip Johnson admitted that he had given up on anything changing within his lifetime.

Oh, but Robert Byers is way smarter than that Johnson guy.

Just Bob said:

Oh, but Robert Byers is way smarter than that Johnson guy.

Are you implying that you are in a position to comment on their relative sartorial skills?

Science Avenger said:

Dave Luckett said:

Let me know your research on using pain, mockery, derision and scorn as an inducement to learn works out, in practice.

FWIW, I’ve seen it work, and I’ve had it work with me. Is it not similar to motivating in sports? Some players need some hand-holding and encouragement to get with the program, others need a swift kick in the ass. I would tend, however, to defer to family members’ judgement as to what would work best for their’s.

Thank you for that much.

I would submit that the evidence for the effectiveness of the use of actual pain and other suffering as an aid to learning is that it doesn’t work. The victim merely learns to avoid the source of the pain, which in this particular case would be me. Sentimental of me, no doubt, but I would regard my sister’s avoidance of me as an undesirable outcome.

And consider what you are advocating: the infliction of pain and other suffering as a means to an end. There’s a word for that practice.

“Torture”.

Think about it.

Dave, you keep saying “pain and suffering” when you mean “being told that you are wrong”. Why?

This Meert huy is just doing another species of EXPELLED to fight what they can’t fight intellectually.

I’ve never criticized the science of his talk. I thought it was quite good and always have been accepting of allowing YEC’ists to present at GSA and AGU. Sorry that you are too dense to understand that.

These guys attack creationists for not enough degrees and then attack after degreedism is fulfilled.

Never said that.

Creationism will overthrow evolutionism, as it is now, within our time. Simply smarter intersested people are paying more attention and smelling there is achievement in attacking and destroying these old biological ideas from ancient days.

You don’t bother with history, do you? The ‘OLD BIOLOGICAL IDEA’ is young earth creationism. The idea was quite popular in the 15th-19th centuries, but was overturned when scientists (who were largely sympathetic to the young earth paradigm) realized that it just did not fit the evidence. YEC’ism is not about moving science forward, it’s about moving religion backwards.

No, I do not.

Here is the relevant portion of my original post:

My dearly beloved sister has conversations with our dead parents, quite often. (…) She sees them, hears them.

How am I supposed to react to that? I said, once, plainly, that I think she is deluded. She shook her head and said that she was sorry that I could not see. And that was that.

In response to that question, Icythic posted this:

(The link was to a video of George Carlin, billed as “the funniest man on Earth”, mocking and deriding people’s conventional attitudes to death.)

I responded:

I know that this is somewhat foreign to your worldview, Icthyic, but in our family we don’t regard mockery as admissable for discourse, not even when we think another is wrong.

Now, notice that the term used so far was “mockery”. Carlin’s monologue was certainly, undeniably that.

To resume: Icthyic responded:

maybe the fact that your family apparently takes their delusions seriously is the reason you can’t find a way to talk to your sister about hers?

just a thought.

This is simply a sneer, and I called it one. Now came the vital change in terms. Icthyic said:

ridicule is indeed a valid and time tested technique of persuasion.

sometimes pain teaches, if that’s your concern.

So. Icthyic acknowledged, and defended, the use of pain - his word, not mine - as a “technique” of teaching, and, it would appear, of “persuasion”.

That is, he defended and attempted to legitimise the deliberate infliction of actual pain and the suffering caused by derision and mockery (and, please, do not attempt the disgraceful and shoddy “words will never hurt me” defence of all bullying) as an aid to learning.

This was actually amplified by Science Avenger in the following comment:

Is it not similar to motivating in sports? Some players need some hand-holding and encouragement to get with the program, others need a swift kick in the ass.

With that, we are no longer in the territory of emotional and psychological suffering. This is actual physical assault.

Pain and suffering. Yes. This is pain and suffering. I mean pain and suffering, because that is what is being advocated here.

This is actual physical assault.

because of course “swift kick in the ass” has to be literal, right?

you’re an unbelievable twit sometimes, Dave.

If I’ve got the wrong idea about Science Avenger’s plain meaning, let him withdraw the words. I notice you haven’t withdrawn yours, Ikky.

True, I can be over-literal sometimes, especially about bullying. It revolts me. If that’s being a twit, then colour me twit. Coming from you, Ikky, I regard the term as a compliment.

I regard the term as a compliment.

you’re welcome, then.

are we friends now?

… I would like to note that while I started with an offhand reference to a bit of ridicule regarding the delusions of “the dead looking after us” (Carlin is DAMN funny, I miss him), you have proceeded to take this all the way to the implication that those that disagree with you are promoting physical violence as a means of educating someone.

You might want to ask yourself why you did that.

Ikky, you didn’t advocate the use of physical violence, just “pain”, which I took, in your case, to mean emotional and psychological pain. You said,

ridicule is indeed a valid and time tested technique of persuasion.

sometimes pain teaches, if that’s your concern.

Yes, indeed. That is my concern. That you think that ridicule and the deliberate infliction of psychological and emotional pain is a legitimate aid to learning.

That is not an implication. It was overtly and explicitly stated. You said those words.

I can see why you would wish to withdraw that now. The only way to do that, though, is to say so specifically.

That you think that ridicule and the deliberate infliction of psychological and emotional pain is a legitimate aid to learning.

http://www.iwp.edu/news_publication[…]on-terrorism

ridicule is an instrument that has been used for eons to influence the beliefs and behaviors of others.

it IS an effective technique.

Think of what happened to the board members in Dover, Dave. why did they get voted out on their arses after the Kitzmiller trial became public? Why did the same thing happen to the board members in Kansas after they had the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt, and tried to change the definition of science itself?

because they were tired of being ridiculed for being the next creationist stronghold; of being the butt of the joke; of being cast as rubes.

yes, Dave, sorry to break it to you, but ridicule has indeed been very effective in modifying behavior historically.

it’s YOU that chose to focus on the “pain” issue.

I merely presented a technique, in humorous form no less, that actually MIGHT WORK to cure your sister of delusional behavior.

so, now I say, fuck off with your accusations and your strawmen, I’m tired of making fun of them.

Ichthyic said:

This is actual physical assault.

because of course “swift kick in the ass” has to be literal, right?

you’re an unbelievable twit sometimes, Dave.

Perhaps you two need a room?

Stuart Weinstein said:

Ichthyic said:

This is actual physical assault.

because of course “swift kick in the ass” has to be literal, right?

you’re an unbelievable twit sometimes, Dave.

Perhaps you two need a room?

Padded.

This thread has indeed degenerated. I’ll close comments in a minute or two.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on November 7, 2010 12:45 PM.

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