Pseudo-science in your daily paper
Under the heading ‘Opinion’ in the London Daily Telegraph (DT), Dr H. Cronin voiced her admiration for Darwin while castigating young-earth creationism as a fringe fad.’ ‘Scientists’, she wrote, ‘are trained to think statistically, to value repeatability over anecdote, to construct telling experiments, to disentangle correlation from causation, to pounce on bias and root it out.’
So we scanned recent copies of the DT for instances of these objective scientists, and we were not disappointed. On the same page, Professor Efstathiou of Oxford, apparently ‘the galaxy formation expert’, considers how the expanding matter of the (hypothetical) ‘big bang’ might start to coalesce into galaxies.
‘One possibility is that there is a mysterious extra force at work in the galaxy, modifying the way it expands and helping galaxies to form. As well as producing galaxies, this would also allow the universe to be older than conventional theory allows.’
So much for ‘valuing repeatability over anecdote’!
At Sheffield University they tend to be more blunt than the Oxford chaps. Dr D. Hughes put his finger on it when he said: ‘For as long as they have been working on the subject, they have had too few facts, and this has given them a marvellous opportunity to say what they like.’
An obituary in the DT 10 days earlier featured Professor Jan Oort of Leiden. ‘He was, however, best known for his discovery in 1950 that the solar system is surrounded by a vast cloud of about 100,000 million comets at a distance of approximately one light-year. This huge cometary collection is called Oort’s Cloud.’
Now you might imagine it had taken the late professor most of his 92 years to count all those comets, but not at all. No one has ever seen one comet in Oort’s Cloud!
Then how did he allegedly ‘discover’ them? Well, they must be there because short-term comets last only a few thousand years, and the professor did not subscribe to the ‘fringe fad’ that the solar system is young.
Mind you, if you are in the business of discovering the Emperor’s clothes, why stop at a mere hundred billion comets? The DT eulogy continued: ‘Oort also discovered the existence of “hidden mass”, dark matter invisible to a conventional telescope, but which is now believed to make up more than 90 per cent of the cosmos, and which had deeply affected all calculations about the ultimate fate of the universe.’
Needless to say, no one has ever seen Professor Oort’s cold dark matter which is so necessary for the ‘big bang’ theory. So much for being ‘trained to think statistically’, not to mention ‘pouncing on bias and rooting it out’.
A few weeks before these stones appeared, DT reported that £70 million was being spent looking for extra-terrestrials in the Milky Way.’ Some think there may be 25,000 habitable planets out there. Life could have evolved in all sorts of undesirable ways, and we would certainly need to amend our immigration regulations.
Two weeks earlier the DT had reported that five nations were about to co-operate in a study of the planet Mars to ‘settle for ever the debate about whether there was once an advanced civilisation on Mars.’ I look forward to the day when the DT colour supplement will show the photos of Japanese astronauts greeting little green men to ex-change the latest lowdown on silicon chip technology.
On November 19, the DT objectively reported how Professor R. Dunbar of University College, London, following ‘research over the past two decades’, had shown that ‘language first evolved to enable women in ancient tribes to gossip’. Apparently gossip had taken over from grooming each other’s fur as a social activity some 250,000 years ago. The professor did his research by ‘scoring conversations during coffee breaks at University College’. How’s that for ‘constructing telling experiments’?
But for ‘disentangling correlation from causation’, you need look no further than the DT for August 26. Science writers Roger Highfield, Adrian Berry and Christine McGourty, reporting from the conference of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, revealed that humans had not come down out of the trees as generally believed, but had emerged from the seas.
Professor Michael Crawford of the Institute of Brain Surgery, London, observed, ‘It is no coincidence that babies are born knowing how to swim.’ The report continued: ‘He said the fact that humans were hairless and kept themselves warm with body fat rather than fur could be explained by their having evolved in water as recently as seven million years ago and not on the African plains.’
Then again, my granddad couldn’t swim, though he did have a walrus moustache. And if our forebears were bare, they couldn’t have taken up gossiping as a substitute for grooming one another’s fur. ‘All other theories about the origin of our species have reached an impasse’, said authority Dr M. Odent.
And the DT said that young-earth creation was a fringe fad.
- H. Cronin, Daily Telegraph (London), November 23, 1992.
- Daily Telegraph (London), October 5, 1992.
(Adapted from Creation, the Journal of the Creation Science Movement, 50 Brecon Avenue, Portsmouth, P06 2AW, United Kingdom. Used with permission.)