There are a lot of people in the tiny town of Glen Rose who believe that the world is perhaps 6,000 or 7,000 years old. It might seem like a hard belief to maintain, especially when your town is criss-crossed by dinosaur tracks that are roughly 113m years older than that http://econ.st/IZr38W
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- I've decided my last comment should be to thank thefor putting all these great articles up on G+. I've been an avid Economist reader for years now and it's fantastic to see them embrace social media. I just wish the quality of my comments matched the quality of their writing.Apr 18, 2012
- +Paul Hemmings I think you're referring to radiometric dating in general (such as the various uranium/[daughter], the rubidium/strontium, potassium/argon, argon/argon, etc. dating methods), and not to C14 specifically, because in fact the C14 method can only be practically used out to about 60,000 years or so because of its relatively "short" half-life of about 5,730 years. Of course, in terms of archaeology, C14 is certainly quite sufficient to blow young earth creationism out of the water. But in regard to the other radiometric dating methods, more appropriate to geological research, we have voluminous data about various geological strata which show that these features have been around, as you point out, for millions and billions of years. Young earth creationists are deeply into denial-of-reality mode in order to cling to their personal religious beliefs. It's really quite sad.Apr 18, 2012
- This difference between belief and faith is that faith is held despite evidence that contradicts it. Belief in the scientific process is very different from faith in religion.
One might have faith that the world is 6,000 years old - because there is lots of evidence to suggest that it is much, much older than that. However, one might believe that dinosaurs existed millions of years ago, for which there is huge evidence.
Faith ignores facts. Belief is built on facts.
However, I also think it's really important not to be absolutist about scientific methods. They do not yield 'truth'; but they provide an important framework for our understanding of the world that has proved itself time and time again.Apr 19, 2012
- Thank you. And that is my point. It is not a "truth" or a "fact' that those dinosaur prints were put there 135 million years ago. The article states that as a fact, and uses that fact to imply that those that have a different belief must be wrong because of the assumed "fact" or "truth".
Maybe those prints were put there 500 million years ago. Maybe they were put there 5000 years ago.
What we have is a hypothesis that they were put there 135 million years ago. But it can not be scientifically proven that they were--because we can't repeat it.Apr 19, 2012
- Uh... The fact that the relevant geological data (stratigraphy) and physics data (radiometric dating) is rather more complex and voluminous than whether or not a fuel injector gives your engine more power does not change the fact that it's a fact that the fossil prints are far less than 500 million years old, and far more than 5,000 years old. Ignorance of the relevant scientific facts does not excuse false beliefs. Furthermore, people who boldly make such declarations as "Maybe those prints were put there 500 million years ago, maybe they were put there 5000 years ago" demonstrate two things: (1) They don't know what they're talking about (that's the ignorance of the relevant scientific details), and (2) they possess a nefarious attitude - in this context, typically motivated by personal beliefs in false religious doctrines - that it's okay to make bold declarations despite the fact that if they were to be genuinely honest about it they'd have to say they didn't really know enough about the subject to be making such declarations in the first place.
Don't take this as a personal attack, because it is not. I'm just saying it like it is.Apr 19, 2012
- Actually that did seem like a personal attack to me. But sometimes saying "you don't know enough to know that you don't know what you're talking about" is an accurate statement. I'd already seen the meanings of "theory", particularly in the scientific context, and "belief" grossly misinterpreted throughout and decided it was best to ignore this behavior rather than challenge it openly. I don't think it should be our job to freely dispense the education in science and scientific methods that we apparently have failed to provide at public expense up until now. As a further problem, an underlying law (in Tennessee) that has spawned this debate does not appear to be questioning the provision of that science education as it relates to evolution in particular. What it is doing is acknowledging that a lot of people don't understand this science and are angry or perceive controversy. Given that there are a lot of places where people are angry and perceive controversy in other fields that have far more immediate bearing on public policy than the indirect effect of how we teach a particular subject within overall science courses at the junior high level, I tend to worry a little more about those.
This sort of argument is annoying certainly, and its commonality is depressing (when one considers it as part of a broader problem of education and science as in need of great attention for which this is but one symptom among many), but it's not like a misguided belief in creationism has to have a great deal of immediate impact on anyone's life. A misguided belief in drug interdiction tactics or the supposed perils of immigration or international trade does have impacts on many people's lives.Apr 19, 2012