Diatoms From Outerspace? How Not to Find Life on Comets

| 55 Comments

By now most of you will have seen the breathless reports that claim alien life has been found in cometary debris collected by a high altitude balloon during the Perseid meteor shower. The facts however are far more mundane.

A fragment of diatom caught in the upper atmosphere by the sampling ballooon. Image Credit University of Sheffield.

You can see the actual research the news paper reports are based on  here. The summary in the conclusion of the paper is a bit less triumphal than the news reports

“To conclude we note that the results presented here provide unequivocal evidence that a diatom fragment has been found in the lower stratosphere.”

Yes. That’s the whole paper basically. “We found a diatom fragment, it’s unlikely that diatom fragments can last that long in the high atmosphere, therefore it came from outer space”

Despite all the images of weird looking blobs in the newspapers they have one, count it, one, fragment of a diatom (a kind of algae with hard shells, they found a bit of the shell). No alien DNA, no other evidence except this one fragment (most of the pictures in the press reports aren’t even of the actual diatom fragment, but random dust particles). The authors even admit it looks like a terrestrial diatom fragment.

The authors entire argument rests on it being unlikely that chunks of diatom can last in the stratosphere for a long time.

Cometary dust, almost certain to not contain diatoms.

Except it is not that unlikely. We know that diatoms are ubiquitous in atmospheric dusts, indeed the worlds largest source of atmospheric dust is diatomaceous earth, let alone marine and other surface water droplets. Contamination of forensic and other materials with extraneous diatoms is a perennial problem. So extreme caution is need when interpreting these sorts of results.

Diatomaceous dusts can travel long distances, from the Sahara to Great Britain, and diatom containing droplets can travel far and be wafted high up.

So high that Diatoms are thought to play important roles in forming nucleation centres for rain clouds. While the authors claim there is no known mechanism for getting big dust particles that high, the very ubiquity of diatomaceous dusts, their presence at high altitude in cloud formation, and the ability of cloud air currents to loft material high into the sky make it plausible that diatom fragments could be lofted high but turbulent air currents.

Another mechanism for getting diatoms high in the air is volcanic eruptions.  Despite authors claim that there were no volcanic eruptions before the balloon flight, the volcano Bata Tara in Indonesia has been exploding continuously since March, producing huge ash plumes).

Another issue relating to the contamination question is appropriate controls. While the authors had a good control for the ground based contamination of the sample cabinet, they did not do a control flight when there was no meteor shower, so we do not know if they would have picked up any diatom fragements in the absence of meteor dust.

Also, there is the question of WHY an algae that has evolved to live in marine or fresh water environments is on a comet in the first place, a frozen ball that spends most of its time far from the light of the sun is hardly the best place for things that photosynthesise in liquid water. Algae live in some very extreme environments, but spending your life frozen in a vacuum in the dark just doesn’t make any sense algae wise.

The authors claims that comets have a “watery environment” is cause for head shaking, Comets are mixtures of ices (water, carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide amongst others) which is normally frozen at the temperature below that of dry ice (frozen CO2), when the ices heat up during the comets fleeting visit to the Sun they don’t go liquid, but sublimate. Hardly the best environment for a marine or river organism.

The Journal of Cosmology has form for publishing articles on life from outer space with very weak evidence. You can see my discussion of a previous paper from a different group claiming bacterial fossils in a meteorite here http://pandasthumb.org/archives/201[…]m-beyon.html

Comets may have bought the building blocks of life to a primitive Earth billions of years ago, but  modern diatoms living on current comets? No.

You can see the Bad Astronomers sceptical take here, and Physorgs commentary here

55 Comments

Given that these researchers include Fred Hoyle’s collaborator, Chandra Wickramasinghe, it would not be inappropriate to note that this observation could conceivably result from a tornado in a junkyard.

Kevin B said:

Given that these researchers include Fred Hoyle’s collaborator, Chandra Wickramasinghe, it would not be inappropriate to note that this observation could conceivably result from a tornado in a junkyard.

Kevin B wins the Internet!

So, to summarize, the authors have a pet hypothesis to explain how a diatom test got onto a weather balloon, i.e., that IT CAME FROM SPACE on a comet.

And in explaining their hypothesis, they eliminate all of the other possibilities of how said diatom could have gotten into the atmosphere by ignoring them, and explain why a diatom would be living on a comet through an inane and verifiably false assertion of liquid water being present on comets.

Hmmmmm…

Kevin B said:

Given that these researchers include Fred Hoyle’s collaborator, Chandra Wickramasinghe, it would not be inappropriate to note that this observation could conceivably result from a tornado in a junkyard.

That depends if there were magic space virii, or not.

We found life on earth!

We can spin it, though…

Nazi aliens in space. Will they find Elvis?

Glen Davidson

“On account of the very short residence time of particles of diatom size and mass at these heights, we argue for its incidence from space, with a probable origin in the watery environment of a comet.”

Ok, it’s a very tough life for a diatom at 27km above the Earth, so obviously it originates in the extremely easy and carefree luxurious life of diatoms in friggin’ space. Sounds convincing to me…

The authors entire argument rests on it being unlikely that chunks of diatom can last in the stratosphere for a long time.

So, this is either evidence of an ET origin for a water-dwelling algae, or it’s evidence that some of our atmospheric particulate transport models may be wrong.

Well, I know which one I’m betting on.

If it’s just a fragment, that indicates that the critter didn’t do all that well up there.

Henry J said:

If it’s just a fragment, that indicates that the critter didn’t do all that well up there.

Maybe it was a Larry Walters diatom.

If this gets wider attention, an expert in diatoms will notice and kindly provide an identification.

OK, not a diatom expert here, but it took me 5 minutes to find a similar one. From this small diatom survey, click on plate #10, and look at species #19. Even if this is the wrong species the holes and ridges are very similar.

It seems to me the relevant questions are these:

What counts as peer review at the Journal of Cosmology? Is it a real journal?

On the bright side, we can’t blame NASA this time.

SWT said:

Kevin B said:

Given that these researchers include Fred Hoyle’s collaborator, Chandra Wickramasinghe, it would not be inappropriate to note that this observation could conceivably result from a tornado in a junkyard.

Kevin B wins the Internet!

But now that he’s won it, what’s he gonna do with it? ;)

Good skepticism here from the author of the thread. YEC says thanks. By biblical creationist beliefs its impossible for life to exist outside earth. First because the bible says Gods spirit came upon the earth and gave it the spark called life. No reason to think anywhere else. then the biiger point that the effects of Adams fall bringing destruction and death to our earth and the universe makes impossible the rest of the universe to have escaped the fall and so being punished is unreasonable. No one out there. The universe is actually, in christian belief, the original eternity. We were meant to live forever, as we do in the afterlife, but in this universe. only adam changed that. so the universe is undeveloped real estate for a eternal mankind eternally reproducing. WE would make one day the one trillion mark in population. So we needed elbowroom. In fact by this time we shouldn’t merely be communicating around the globe with internet but between planets in the nearest galaxies. paradise lost.

I wondered how long it would be before we were graced by one of Byer’s word salads.

By the way, Booby, you thoroughly missed the point. No one was implying that life does not exist elsewhere in the Universe. Enough said.

This fellow Wainwright appears to be totally bonkers.

“The particles are very clean,” added Professor Wainwright. “[Cosmic] dust isn’t stuck to them, so we think they came from an aquatic environment, and the most obvious aquatic environment in space is a comet.”

Right. The most obvious aquatic environment is … a comet.

You know what else is an aquatic environment? The Atlantic Fucking Ocean.

Wickramasinghe.

Still crazy after all these years.

Maybe Chandra got some of his super-intelligent insects to design his balloon. They’re smarter than us, he’s figured out.

I’d like to shove a 747 up his tornado.

daoudmbo said:

“On account of the very short residence time of particles of diatom size and mass at these heights, we argue for its incidence from space, with a probable origin in the watery environment of a comet.”

Ok, it’s a very tough life for a diatom at 27km above the Earth, so obviously it originates in the extremely easy and carefree luxurious life of diatoms in friggin’ space. Sounds convincing to me…

This comment wins the thread

Robert Byers said:

By biblical creationist beliefs its impossible for life to exist outside earth.

Life may very well exist beyond Earth, people not adequately understanding how diatoms get into the atmosphere does not negate the possibility of life in the rest of the Universe.

This is from the Wikipedia entry on Wickramasinghe:

During the 1981 scientific creationist trial in Arkansas, Wickramasinghe was the only scientist testifying for the defense, which in turn was supporting creationism.[65][67] In addition, he wrote that the Archaeopteryx fossil finding is a forgery, a charge that the expert scientific community considers an “absurd” and “ignorant” statement.[68][69]

Clearly, it is a tiny little fragment of the Roswell UFO.

This also might be of interest: Milton Wainwright is rewriting the history of science, but no one is paying attention. What a pity.

It’s Not Darwin’s or Wallace’s Theory

INTRODUCTION

This essay is devoted to history of the development of the theory of evolution, via the process of natural selection. It is provided in response to what I believe is censorship by a small, but highly influential, part of the current academic community. This belief has been strengthened by my recent, unsuccessful attempts to get published my work on Darwin. Over the last six months or so a paper on the admission by Darwin and Wallace that they were beaten to natural selection role has been forwarded, in the normal way, to four academic journals and a shorter version has also been sent to a UK magazine devoted to the popularisation of biology. In all cases, the paper was summarily rejected without reviewer’s comments; no reasons were given for it having been denied any serious consideration. This experience has led me to conclude that any academic article proving that Darwin did not originate the theory of evolution, via natural selection, will be censored by the scientific community. This situation reminds me of the story (perhaps apocryphal) about the Russian scientist who stated that in the Soviet Union, he could criticise Darwin, but not the Government, while in the West, he was able to criticise the Government, but not Darwin. In the light of this experience, I have decided not to waste further time submitting the first article, given here, to the normal peer review process; instead I have produced this pamphlet (given here on the Web) for general circulation. Ironically, censorship has forced me into the ways of scientists of the past, who often published their ideas in booklets like this one.

You can read the full thing here: It’s Not Darwin’s or Wallace’s Theory

Rhazes said:

This also might be of interest: Milton Wainwright is rewriting the history of science, but no one is paying attention. What a pity.

It’s Not Darwin’s or Wallace’s Theory

INTRODUCTION

This essay is devoted to history of the development of the theory of evolution, via the process of natural selection. It is provided in response to what I believe is censorship by a small, but highly influential, part of the current academic community. This belief has been strengthened by my recent, unsuccessful attempts to get published my work on Darwin. Over the last six months or so a paper on the admission by Darwin and Wallace that they were beaten to natural selection role has been forwarded, in the normal way, to four academic journals and a shorter version has also been sent to a UK magazine devoted to the popularisation of biology. In all cases, the paper was summarily rejected without reviewer’s comments; no reasons were given for it having been denied any serious consideration. This experience has led me to conclude that any academic article proving that Darwin did not originate the theory of evolution, via natural selection, will be censored by the scientific community. …

It was most probably rejected because all of the earlier sources for concepts like natural selection (Patrick Matthew, for example) are well known and have been widely discussed in the historical literature on the history of evolutionary biology. Milton Wainright seems to think that he discovered them. There are already many books on this.

“Another issue relating to the contamination question is appropriate controls. While the authors had a good control for the ground based contamination of the sample cabinet…” What good control? They did one control flight and found zero particles of interest. They did one real flight and found one particle of interest. Could someone explain how they achieve statistical significance with those observations?

I just have to comment on how insanely naive and ignorant it is to conjecture that life exactly like terrestrial diatoms is falling to earth from outer space.

Panspermia - essentially the idea that very basic biochemical molecules may originate in space and be involved in the origin of self-replicating life if they get to hospitable planets - is a respectable hypothesis. That’s a completely different idea. The idea that “fully formed diatoms” come from outer space is truly silly.

It’s common for people who are totally ignorant of biology to have a grossly exaggerated idea of how “simple” microorganisms are. Even a virus is complicated. Amoebae are diverse, highly evolved eukaryotes with active behavior, yet it’s common for people to think of them as barely more complicated than a simple chemical solution.

That particular self-serving human bias is common, but it shouldn’t be common in scientific journals, in any field.

ianfmusgrave said:

Robert Byers said:

By biblical creationist beliefs its impossible for life to exist outside earth.

Life may very well exist beyond Earth, people not adequately understanding how diatoms get into the atmosphere does not negate the possibility of life in the rest of the Universe.

Yeah, and… and… and unless HEAVEN is on Earth somewhere, then the Most Important Life of all – ETERNAL LIFE – exists outside Earth! Nyahh, Nyahh, take that, Bobby!

ianfmusgrave said:

Robert Byers said:

By biblical creationist beliefs its impossible for life to exist outside earth.

Life may very well exist beyond Earth, people not adequately understanding how diatoms get into the atmosphere does not negate the possibility of life in the rest of the Universe.

Byers is suffering from exactly the same type of delusion that FL has; he keeps reading words into the Bible that are not there. I see no texts in Genesis that state that ONLY Earth has life.

Rhazes said:

This is from the Wikipedia entry on Wickramasinghe:

During the 1981 scientific creationist trial in Arkansas, Wickramasinghe was the only scientist testifying for the defense, which in turn was supporting creationism.[65][67] In addition, he wrote that the Archaeopteryx fossil finding is a forgery, a charge that the expert scientific community considers an “absurd” and “ignorant” statement.[68][69]

Of course, the sole reason why Wickramasinghe believes that the Archaeopteryx fossils are forgeries is to defend his mentor’s, Hoyle’s pet hypothesis that the evolution of birds and mammals was jumpstarted by space-virii that rode in with the meteor that killed the Dinosaurs.

Wainwright is clearly bonkers, and probably a creationist.

Rhazes said:

It’s Not Darwin’s or Wallace’s Theory

This situation reminds me of the story (perhaps apocryphal) about the Russian scientist who stated that in the Soviet Union, he could criticise Darwin, but not the Government, while in the West, he was able to criticise the Government, but not Darwin.

You can read the full thing here: It’s Not Darwin’s or Wallace’s Theory

This idiot can’t even get his old wives’ tales right. He’s referring to the creationist story about a CHINESE paleontologist, not Russian, who says that in CHINA you can criticize Darwinism but not the government, while in America you can criticize the government but not Darwinism. Now he’s changed the country, and also replaced Darwinism with Darwin himself.

The Chinese paleontologist quote, if it were real, would probably have originated with Jun-Yuan Chen, a real paleontologist, though apparently not a creationist. Chen worked on pre-Cambrian fossils with Taiwanese biologist Chia-Wei Li, who is an ID proponent. The Chinese paleontologist quote could have originated as a paraphrase of a terrible stealth creationist article written by minister and Christian apologist Fred Heeren in the Boston Globe in 2000. That article was about on the Cambrian explosion, Chen and Li, and the 1999 stealth ID conference in China (which Heeren portrays as a science conference, concealing its ID origins). The conference is described more objectively by Nigel Hughes.

Here is Luskin’s take on the quote and its possible source. This is from the infamous letter where Luskin compared Eugenie Scott to Darth Vader, and himself to Luke Skywalker:

Luke Skywalker, er, Casey Luskin wrote:

The [Florida ID] conference [about the year 2000] was organized by Tom Woodward of Trinity College in Floriday (see his website at “www.apologetics.org”) and by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics [which published Of Pandas and People]. The keynote speakers were Tom Woodward, George Lebo, and phylo Scott Minnich and Paul Chien. The theme for the conference seemed to be the quote, “In China we can criticize Darwin, but not the government, in America you an criticize the government but not Darwin” Apparently this infamous quote was said by Chinese paleontologist Dr. Jun-Yuan Chen. I didn’t get the exact location or circumstances of the reference, but if anyone has it that would be great!

[Letter from Casey Luskin to Jonathan Wells. About 2000 [? Posted on the internet 23 November 2000.] Cited here. Note Luskin admitted the “Darth Vader” letter was his at Research Blogging.org.]

One must also wonder if the source for the quote could be Paul Chien, a senior fellow of the DI who is touted in the Wedge Document as head of their paleontology “research program.” According to Nigel Hughes above, Chien is a marine toxicologist at the University of San Francisco, so I don’t know why he would be in charge of their paleontology program. According to Hughes, Chien organized the 1999 stealth creationist conference in China, and according to Luskin, he was a keynote speaker at the 2000 [?] Florida ID conference.

Paul Chien was also co-author with Stephen Meyer of the 2001 article “The Cambrian Explosion: Biology’s Big Bang.”, later reprinted as Chapter 7 in Darwinism, Design and Public Education (2004). That was an early version of Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt and employs the same hoaxes. The 2001 article employed the scientific fraud of the infamous “Pitchfork Plot” which shows all phyla appearing at once.

The Wedge Document says this about Paul Chien and “the leading Chinese paleontologist”:

The Wedge Document Says:

[DI] Fellow Paul Chien has been asked by the leading Chinese paleontologist [Jun-Yuan Chen?? – Diogenes] to co-author a book with him on the Cambrian explosion (which has profoundly anti-Darwinian implications)

I know of no such book. I guess that “the leading Chinese paleontologist” might mean Jun-Yuan Chen (I doubt he means Xu Xing, expert on feathered dinosaurs who says Archaeopteryx is not a bird!)

This idiot can’t even get his old wives’ tales right. He’s referring to the creationist story about a CHINESE paleontologist, not Russian, who says that in CHINA you can criticize Darwinism but not the government, while in America you can criticize the government but not Darwinism. Now he’s changed the country, and also replaced Darwinism with Darwin himself.

It’s always worth noting that ID/creationist authoritarians either pretend not to be able to, or really can’t, grasp the concept of freedom of expression.

It’s utterly depressing to hear adults constantly confuse, or pretend to confuse, actual freedom of expression, with unfair privilege for their own expression.

We are truly dealing with people who are so narcissistic that they can deny basic reality.

Is the US government blocking access to AIG? Are evolution denial books banned from sale?

However, in America, we are free enough that, if you deny basic scientific reality, someone may use their freedom of speech to criticize you.

Far from being distressed by being prevented from “criticizing Darwinism”, they’re distressed that they don’t have the power to shut down those who criticize them.

Henry J said:

SWT said:

Kevin B said:

Given that these researchers include Fred Hoyle’s collaborator, Chandra Wickramasinghe, it would not be inappropriate to note that this observation could conceivably result from a tornado in a junkyard.

Kevin B wins the Internet!

But now that he’s won it, what’s he gonna do with it? ;)

I sent it back.

I had to call in the pest exterminators to deal with the troll infestation.

Looking at Wainwright’s own academic web site we find a photo of the balloon, with the caption:

A balloon used to sample the stratosphere for microbes in an attempt to demonstrate neopanspermia-the view that life (microbes) are continually arriving to Earth from space.

Remarkable coincidence that he would interpret the diatom test the same way! I kid you not …

harold said:

This idiot can’t even get his old wives’ tales right. He’s referring to the creationist story about a CHINESE paleontologist, not Russian, who says that in CHINA you can criticize Darwinism but not the government, while in America you can criticize the government but not Darwinism. Now he’s changed the country, and also replaced Darwinism with Darwin himself.

It’s always worth noting that ID/creationist authoritarians either pretend not to be able to, or really can’t, grasp the concept of freedom of expression.

See also: the meme that prayer is banned in school, the perception that marriage is under attack, etc.

When you combine the fundamentalist stripe of Christianity prevalent in the US today, already not the most widely-read or open-minded, and combine it with the natural reaction of the privileged whenever their special status is threatened, the mistaken cries of persecution tend to fly thick and heavy.

harold said:

This idiot can’t even get his old wives’ tales right. He’s referring to the creationist story about a CHINESE paleontologist, not Russian, who says that in CHINA you can criticize Darwinism but not the government, while in America you can criticize the government but not Darwinism. Now he’s changed the country, and also replaced Darwinism with Darwin himself.

It’s always worth noting that ID/creationist authoritarians either pretend not to be able to, or really can’t, grasp the concept of freedom of expression.

It’s utterly depressing to hear adults constantly confuse, or pretend to confuse, actual freedom of expression, with unfair privilege for their own expression.

We are truly dealing with people who are so narcissistic that they can deny basic reality.

Is the US government blocking access to AIG? Are evolution denial books banned from sale?

However, in America, we are free enough that, if you deny basic scientific reality, someone may use their freedom of speech to criticize you.

Far from being distressed by being prevented from “criticizing Darwinism”, they’re distressed that they don’t have the power to shut down those who criticize them.

After all, what’s the point of having freedoms and privileges in the first place if you can’t unfairly seize and squash other people’s freedoms and privileges as punishment for disagreeing?

“If life does continue to arrive from space then we have to completely change our view of biology and evolution. New textbooks will have to be written!”

ROFL

“If those are indeed testicles my aunt is concealing in her underwear, then my family history must be revised, as she is, in reality, my uncle!”

apokryltaros said:

After all, what’s the point of having freedoms and privileges in the first place if you can’t unfairly seize and squash other people’s freedoms and privileges as punishment for disagreeing?

Remember, the US Constitution originally gave white men the freedom to own African people as slaves (really only 3/5 people, apparently).

There are those who would like some “freedoms” like that back.

Having just registered to join PT, after being put onto this story by a colleague, I had a quick browse of the comments, as you do. I initially thought that the comments by Robert Byers were sarcastic until about the second or third line when the mangled English became ver apparent. Being a palaeontologist, I have a reasonable amount of experience with people of Byers’ ilk. This experience leads me to conclude that if geneticists ever find the gene, a mutation in which gives a person the propensity for having nutty religious beliefs, this mutation will also be shown to have a detrimental effect on the gene or genes) for language

trilobitologist said:

Having just registered to join PT, after being put onto this story by a colleague, I had a quick browse of the comments, as you do. I initially thought that the comments by Robert Byers were sarcastic until about the second or third line when the mangled English became ver apparent. Being a palaeontologist, I have a reasonable amount of experience with people of Byers’ ilk. This experience leads me to conclude that if geneticists ever find the gene, a mutation in which gives a person the propensity for having nutty religious beliefs, this mutation will also be shown to have a detrimental effect on the gene or genes) for language

Welcome Tril. We can always use more paleontologists. Have you read “Darwin’s Doubt”? You would only need to read the first few chapters because that’s the only part about fossils. The rest of it us the usual “information” mumbo jumbo.

Also, check out Rhazes’ compilation of critical reviews of DD if you haven’t already.

trilobitologist said:

Having just registered to join PT, after being put onto this story by a colleague, I had a quick browse of the comments, as you do. I initially thought that the comments by Robert Byers were sarcastic until about the second or third line when the mangled English became ver apparent. Being a palaeontologist, I have a reasonable amount of experience with people of Byers’ ilk. This experience leads me to conclude that if geneticists ever find the gene, a mutation in which gives a person the propensity for having nutty religious beliefs, this mutation will also be shown to have a detrimental effect on the gene or genes) for language

Don’t be too hard on his language skills, I believe he’s Quebecois (so English may not be his first language).

But fire away at his creationism. :)

Robert Byers said: YEC says thanks. By biblical creationist beliefs its impossible for life to exist outside earth. First because the bible says Gods spirit came upon the earth and gave it the spark called life. No reason to think anywhere else.

Kind of makes the whole “universe designed for humans” thing kind of moot huh?

Thanks Byers, we can count on you for self inflicted wounds.

trilobitologist said:

Having just registered to join PT, after being put onto this story by a colleague, I had a quick browse of the comments, as you do. I initially thought that the comments by Robert Byers were sarcastic until about the second or third line when the mangled English became ver apparent. Being a palaeontologist, I have a reasonable amount of experience with people of Byers’ ilk. This experience leads me to conclude that if geneticists ever find the gene, a mutation in which gives a person the propensity for having nutty religious beliefs, this mutation will also be shown to have a detrimental effect on the gene or genes) for language

Long ago I came to the conclusion that Jesus can’t spell. As you noted, so many of those who depend on his help can’t spell, or use standard English grammar, diction, or syntax. Thus I conclude that Jesus is unable to help them with such matters.

And Corollary One follows naturally: Jesus doesn’t know any modern science. The substantiation: Byers, FL, IBIG, etc.

Apparently the author of Genesis didn’t know any modern science, either. ;)

Henry J said:

Apparently the author of Genesis didn’t know any modern science, either. ;)

Not even state-of-the-art ancient science.

A challenge I’ve offered to creationists who maintain that the Bible is 100% scientifically accurate is to name a single fact of nature that wasn’t commonly known at the time, but that was ‘revealed’ in scripture. Something counter-intuitive would be nice, that had to be accepted on faith until science discovered the truth behind it many centuries later. Something like “The Earth circles the sun” would have been great. But no, every fact given was either obvious and commonly known, or was intuitively obvious but later shown to be DEAD WRONG.

eric said

trilobitologist said:

Having just registered to join PT, after being put onto this story by a colleague, I had a quick browse of the comments, as you do. I initially thought that the comments by Robert Byers were sarcastic until about the second or third line when the mangled English became ver apparent. Being a palaeontologist, I have a reasonable amount of experience with people of Byers’ ilk. This experience leads me to conclude that if geneticists ever find the gene, a mutation in which gives a person the propensity for having nutty religious beliefs, this mutation will also be shown to have a detrimental effect on the gene or genes) for language

Don’t be too hard on his language skills, I believe he’s Quebecois (so English may not be his first language).

No, Byers is not French Canadian and he says French Canadians are not real Canadians. He is also quite xenophobic when not simply racist toward immigrants– they’re not “real Canadians” like he is. Of course many of them write better English than Byers.

Just today he is at Sandwalk blathering about how real Canadians are descended from Puritan Yankees, thus explaining their inherent moral and intellectual superiority. Of course he does not express it in quite the same way, but with many more spelling and grammatical errors.

diogeneslamp0 said:

[Eric] Don’t be too hard on his language skills, I believe he’s Quebecois (so English may not be his first language).

No, Byers is not French Canadian and he says French Canadians are not real Canadians. He is also quite xenophobic when not simply racist toward immigrants– they’re not “real Canadians” like he is. Of course many of them write better English than Byers.

Ah, my apologies then; I stand corrected.

A challenge I’ve offered to creationists who maintain that the Bible is 100% scientifically accurate is to name a single fact of nature that wasn’t commonly known at the time, but that was ‘revealed’ in scripture…

A useful reference for these claims comes from the entry in RationalWiki. As is shown there, the claims are really very loose interpretations of a Hebrew passage, which is itself either vague, wrong, or was generally known anyway.

Another issue relating to the contamination question is appropriate controls. While the authors had a good control for the ground based contamination of the sample cabinet, they did not do a control flight when there was no meteor shower, so we do not know if they would have picked up any diatom fragements in the absence of meteor dust.

actually, with current technology this simply cannot be controlled for anyway, since meteors, as everyone knows, are constantly hitting earth’s atmosphere every day. they just aren’t typically obvious.

no way to control for that, so no way to falsify their hypothesis.

obviously, they would likely get diatoms on EVERY sampling run they do, but then they can claim that since meteors are indeed constantly hitting the atmosphere…

yeah.

these clowns aren’t worth the time of day.

neither is the “journal of cosmology” which NEVER was peer reviewed, and actually was up for sale by the clown who created it a couple years back. He wanted 100k for it IIRC. Oddly… it didn’t sell. go figure.

How us that even cosmology? It’s not cosmology. It’s xenobiology.

shorter Robert Byers:

No reason to think.

Just Bob said: A challenge I’ve offered to creationists who maintain that the Bible is 100% scientifically accurate is to name a single fact of nature that wasn’t commonly known at the time, but that was ‘revealed’ in scripture. Something counter-intuitive would be nice, that had to be accepted on faith until science discovered the truth behind it many centuries later. Something like “The Earth circles the sun” would have been great. But no, every fact given was either obvious and commonly known, or was intuitively obvious but later shown to be DEAD WRONG.

IMHO it is pointless to argue Biblical interpretations with those who are determined to find whatever they want in the Bible. Just look at the great variety of contradictory beliefs which people claim to find in the Bible.

The most that I would say is that nobody before the rise of modern science made a claim that the Bible supported heliocentrism, and that nobody, even today, ever came to the conclusion that the Earth was a planet of the Sun except from extra-Biblical evidence and reasoning; while, on the other hand, over that same couple of thousand years, nobody said that the Bible said anything about fixed species of living things. Perhaps the Bible is so obscurely written that only a small group of people in 20th century America found out the true meaning of the Bible, but that doesn’t seem to say much about the ability of the author(s) to communicate.

diogeneslamp0 said:

How us that even cosmology? It’s not cosmology. It’s xenobiology.

Behind pseudoscience panspermia lurks Cosmic Ancestry. This is Fred Hoyles belief in some being that possessed all genes, copies of which are being dispersed throughout the universe by interstellar vira particles. For such a being to exist requires overturning of big bang theory for steady state universe, hence the obsession with ‘cosmology’.

Andrew Kelman said:

diogeneslamp0 said:

How us that even cosmology? It’s not cosmology. It’s xenobiology.

Behind pseudoscience panspermia lurks Cosmic Ancestry. This is Fred Hoyles belief in some being that possessed all genes, copies of which are being dispersed throughout the universe by interstellar vira particles. For such a being to exist requires overturning of big bang theory for steady state universe, hence the obsession with ‘cosmology’.

But we know where genes come from and it ain’t outer space. So, no need to bias your cosmology.

Just Bob said:

Henry J said:

Apparently the author of Genesis didn’t know any modern science, either. ;)

Not even state-of-the-art ancient science.

A challenge I’ve offered to creationists who maintain that the Bible is 100% scientifically accurate is to name a single fact of nature that wasn’t commonly known at the time, but that was ‘revealed’ in scripture. Something counter-intuitive would be nice, that had to be accepted on faith until science discovered the truth behind it many centuries later. Something like “The Earth circles the sun” would have been great. But no, every fact given was either obvious and commonly known, or was intuitively obvious but later shown to be DEAD WRONG.

I am not a creationist, but here is something interesting from the Old Testament. As PT readers know, Genesis 7:11 describes torrential rain as coming from trapdoors up in the sky:

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.

By the time of Job, somebody has figured out that rain comes from clouds instead, probably by sitting on top of Mt. Carmel and observing the weather coming in off the Mediterranean. Here is Job 26:8:

He [God] binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them.

This example is not what Just Bob was looking for, but it’s refreshing to see the Old Testament authors make rudimentary scientific observations and modify their understanding of where rain comes from.

No, I haven’t read ‘Darwin’s doubt’. Life is too short to read this drivel as a matter of course. I sometimes do delve into the nether world of reality denial, but I find it too depressing as it convinces me that the human race is too stupid to survive

I found Darwin’s Doubt highly instructive. No, not about paleontology or biology. About the crap that IDiots are willing to pull. I recommend it. Be warned that it will probably take a while to read, as you will have to stop every couple of sentences to be appalled.

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This page contains a single entry by Ian Musgrave published on September 20, 2013 8:28 AM.

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