Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Very bad creationist research

P.Z. Myers recently offered a critique of a biology paper published on the Institute for Creation Research website that was presented at the 1998 International Conference on Creationism in Pittsburgh, by Mark H. Armitage, M.S., then of the ICR Graduate School and now with the Van Andel Creation Research Center of the Creation Research Society (which is right here in Arizona, just north of Chino Valley, named after a deceased co-founder of Amway).

Myers observed:

Notice anything missing? Right, no results. That's a metaphor for the whole creationist movement right there. There are some photos imbedded in the methods section, but it's like a random set of random photos of random parasites this guy found in his fish; there's nothing systematic about it, and the photos aren't even very good — the SEMs are way too contrasty.

Since he has no data, he has nothing to evaluate, and his discussion is a rehash of review papers he has read that highlight the complexity of the trematode life cycle (and it's true, it is complex with a series of hosts), and that every once in a while raise a pointed question, such as, "What allows this cercaria to resist digestion within the fish stomach…?", which I would have thought would be reasonable kinds of questions for a grad student to actually, you know, study. If this had been my grad student, anyway, I would have told him to knock off the pointless microphotography and focus on one of these questions and try to answer something.


This paper is completely unpublishable by any legitimate science journal. I doubt that it could get past an editor, who typically screen out the obvious crackpottery, and no reviewer would be fooled by it; it's experiment-free and even its few observations are incoherent and pointless. Its conclusion reveals that the author doesn't even understand the theory he claims to be criticizing.

Myers' full critique is well worth reading, and if creationists read it, they might learn something about how science actually works.

Armitage responded to Myers with a sarcastic email that didn't bother addressing any of the actual criticism, prompting Myers to completely dissect Armitage and show him further to be an arrogant ignoramus. A commenter points out that Armitage managed to get a bad geology paper published in American Laboratory in 1997 (very similar to one which he had already published in the Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal in 1994, but which he failed to reference in the 1997 paper), which has similarly been completely shredded by a real geologist.

It's amazing that there are people who think creationists like Armitage are scientists.

UPDATE (April 3, 2008): Eamon Knight mentioned Armitage's CV, a version of which can be found here.

UPDATE (April 5, 2008): Armitage cc's P.Z. Myers on a response to an email, and demonstrates further cluelessness. The guy has actually written a book titled Jesus is Like My Scanning Electron Microscope.


Eamon Knight said...

Nice catch, I didn't get that far down in the Pharyngula thread. I did go and look at Armitage's CV, and was struck by the number of microscopy jobs and pubs he has had. It's striking that he seems to have dabbled both in geology (the Po-halo stuff) and biology (trematodes) -- but only enough to produce the standard ICR-style devotional material dressed up in scientifical language.

From that Am. Lab. smackdown, it looks like he's not even a competent microscopist.

jaga said...
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Jim Lippard said...

Previous comment had nothing to do with this blog post, but was an advertisement for the Hare Krishna creationist group, the Bhaktivedanta Institute, and specifically for its newsletter, Science and Scientist.

For some background information about Bhaktivedanta Institute and its founder, Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, who also founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), better known as the Hare Krishnas, read the book _Monkey on a Stick_, which you can get for $0.01 from, or read excerpts from here.