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Live-blogging the Nye-Ham spectacle

Might as well — we’ll see if this embedded video actually works when the countdown is complete, and then we’ll comment as it goes.


Before the debate starts, I looked around a bit for opening statements, to get an idea of how the debate will go. Bill Nye has given away his strategy: he’s focusing on the actual debate question, Is creation a viable model of origins?, and plans to talk about how creationism is useless for leading us to new ideas and testing models experimentally. That’s good. That’s a solid foundation he can ‘win’ on. Ken Ham, on the other hand, is talking about how there is observational science (true science), and historical science, which is not only a totally bogus distinction using criteria invented by creationists, but doesn’t even answer the debate question. Expect much talking past each other. Nye will talk about science appropriately. Ham will be blowing dogwhistles for his audience of true believers.


Called it. In Ham’s opening statement, he trots out this nonsense about historical and observational science; claims that atheists have hijacked the word “science”. He also brings out a video of an engineer who is a creationist, therefore creationists can be scientists. Too bad he couldn’t find a real biologist.


Nye’s opening statement: he’s got five minutes. Why is he going on and on about bow ties?

Oh, good: he’s going straight for Ham’s premise, talking about how CSI makes no distinction between historical and observational science. It’s all about studying events in the past using evidence in the now — great example!

Talking about billions of believers who do not accept Ken Ham’s view — also a good idea to carve Ham away from his self-mounted pedestal as the representative of gods.

Bow ties were worrisome, but he’s off to a good start.


Now we get 30 minutes of Ham. Right off: video of Raymond Damadian, one of the contributors to the development of the MRI, who declares himself a biblical creationist who believes in a 600 year old earth. Then we get a video of Danny Faulkner, an astronomer who works for AiG, who claims that nothing in “observational science” contradicts the bible. He mentions again the engineer from the opening, Stuart Burgess, who works on satellites, and we get another video from him.

So far, there’s nothing but evidence by assertion and authority. These guys have no relevance to the question, and one is an in-house crank paid by AiG.

Christ. More historical vs. observational science. Is this all he’s got, testimonials and invented distinctions in science? Nye effectively shot those down with his CSI example.

You weren’t there. This is all he’s got, isn’t it? So he’s just going to repeat it over and over.


Now Ham is claiming that he and Bill Nye use the same evidence, and just have different interpretations. NO! Ham selectively ignores almost all of the evidence. He’s simply lying here.


Oh, god. Now he’s claiming he has evidence confirming the bible stories: evidence that intelligence produced life, that creatures reproduce after their kind, that there was a global flood…wait a minute. No, he doesn’t have evidence for that.

He’s getting specific. The biblical “kind” is equivalent to the Linnaean taxonomic category of family. He’s also claiming that there are limits — dogs will always be dogs. He cites a recent paper on dog evolution, showing a diagram of a tree generated from the genomic data, and then claims the collection of squiggles creationists draw of trees of descent (with a discontinuity at the Flood) are the same! No, this is so sleazy. The dog tree is based on real data. Any arbitrary tree would not work. The AiG tree is evidence free, and has a flood bottleneck not seen in the scientific tree.

And then, as is typical, he claims the creationist picture is confirmed by observational science. Liar.

Another testimonial: Andrew Fabich, a microbiologist. Who teaches at Liberty University. He’s there to claim that Lenski’s experiment doesn’t show evolutionary change, it’s just a switch that gets turned on and off, the information was already there.

Now it’s time to slander: He cites the racism of Civic Biology, a terrible book that promoted eugenics in the Scopes era. So? These conclusions have been rejected by most modern scientists.

Jesus. Bible quotes. Prophecy. Fuck.

MORE OF THIS HISTORICAL/OBSERVATIONAL NONSENSE. Jebus. This isn’t a legitimate distinction as used by Ham.

Ham is incoherent. Now it’s all about abortion and euthanasia and the gospels and salvation. These points are not relevant to the question. Why are they using a debate format if Ham is free to simply ignore the topic under discussion?


Nye, finally. He begins with fossils, having found specimens right there in Kentucky — millions of layers of ancient life. Ice cores: 680,000 layers that demonstrate an interval of 680,000 years. This is a nice example of the data that Ham ignores. Would require 170 winter/summer cycles per year to fit into 4000 years. Trees that are older than 4000 years. Layers in the Grand Canyon — wouldn’t there have been churning and bubbling if they were laid down in one great flood?

Shows a slide of hominid fossils. Where do we fit? Isn’t it obvious there are more than just one species there?

He’s really hammering on the evidence Ham neglects — it’s good, Ham isn’t going to be able to answer it all. It’s an evidence-based Gish gallop!

Nye is making more good points about the absurdity of a big wooden boat holding 7000 kinds for a year.

Tiktaalik: an example of a prediction from evolutionary theory. Creationists have nothing similar.

Nye is giving examples of the predictive power of real science: the Big Bang, cosmic background radiation, etc. Rubidium and strontium and radioactive decay: radiometric dating is important and causally explainable.

Now he’s refuting that astronomer from Liberty University: there are billions of stars more than 6000 light years away. He’s focusing on the evidence for the age of the earth, which makes Ham’s claims ridiculous.

No jebus in his closing argument, just a plea to respect the importance of science for their children.

Now we get 5 minute rebuttals.


How does Ham deal with the age of the earth? You can’t observe the age of the earth. YES YOU CAN. Then he adds up the genealogies in the book of Genesis. What? Whoop-te-doo.

Christ. His example of the flaws of radiometric dating is a sample that was dated at 45 million years by potassium-argon, but when it was sent…for…radiocarbon dating (I’m getting stupider just hearing this)…they got a different date! Well, yeah. Carbon-14 decays much more rapidly and you can’t date specimens beyond about 50,000 years.

Amazing argument: the bible says god created everything and it was good, and tumors and death are found in fossils, therefore they must be less than 4000 years old.


Nye flubs it. He suggests that those 45,000 year old trees actually were that old, and it was just older rock above them. He’s not familiar with bogus creationist arguments. He’s not doing as well at this responsive, interactive stuff as he did in his prepared remarks, because he’s not used to dealing with these routine and often refuted creationist claims.


Ham replies to Nye’s explanation of the 45K year old trees by saying they were encased in basalt. That’s true. That’s what’s annoying: Nye should know you can’t use carbon-14 to date 45 million year old samples.

We didn’t see those tree rings forming or those ice layers being laid down. Nope. But we know how they get laid down. Your interpretation requires absurdities like 170 winters per year.

Noah’s Ark wouldn’t twist and be unstable because it had three layers of wood. Right. Show me that in your bible, Ham.


Nye repeats the figure of 680,000 ice layers. States that the most fundamental difference between them is that scientific assumptions are based on evidence, not invented out of whole cloth. WHy should we accept Ham’s assertion that natural laws changed 4000 years ago — his model requires that everything, stars in the sky, species, the surface of the earth, underwent a radical change in how they worked 4000 years ago. Why should we believe him?


Oh, no. Q&A from presubmitted questions from the audience, for 45 minutes. I’m dyin’ here.


First question is about cosmology. Ham has no problem. Jesus.

Nye talks about natural laws that explain the movement of the stars and planets. Point, Nye. Asks if Ham can come up with a prediction.


Question 2: where did the atoms of the big bang come from? Nye: We don’t know, let’s try to find out. Talks about Perlmutter’s measurements of distances and motions.

Ham’s answer: we do know. It’s in the Bible. The audience laughs. Bible, bible, bible, bible.


Q3: What evidence besides the Bible does Ken Ham have? Ham: the majority don’t decide the truth. The appendix is important. If the Bible is right, then we have predictions based on that. He is incapable of answering the question. He’s a babbling idiot.

Nye kind of goes off on a tangent, too, pointing out that scientists embrace disagreement, just show us the evidence.


Q4: How does consciousness arise from matter? Nye: I don’t know. I would say I don’t know either, but nevertheless, it does. We have an approach to figure it out. Nye also talks about how we can experience the joy of discovery and are looking for it.

Ham: it’s in the Bible. Idjit. See Q3.


Q5: Ham, what would change your mind? I’m a Christian. God has shown me clearly through his word, and the person of Jesus Christ… None of that answers the question. Also says Nothing anyone can say will convince me the word of god is not true. So I guess he did answer it: Nothing.

Nye: We would just need one piece of evidence. Then he lists a long litany of things that if evidence were brought, he would change his mind, fundamentally. Asks Ham again to make a useful prediction.


Q6: Nye, what other evidence besides radiometric dating do you have for the age of the earth? Radiometric dating is pretty convincing, but also deposition rates. Many steps in evolution of speices. Like asking, “if things were any other way, they would be different.” So it’s silly to exclude dating methods.

Ham says something about dating meteorites to get the age of the earth, as if that somehow invalidates it. Dating methods are full of contradictions, and most of them contradict billions of years.

Q7: can you reconcile rates of continental drift today with how fast they had to have gone thousands of years ago? They believe in catastrophic plate tectonics.

Nye points out that a century ago it would have been easier to answer…before continental drift was discovered. It’s a conclusion about the past based on evidence now.

Q8: Favorite color? Nye: green. Ham: blue.

Q9: How do you balance evolution with the second law of thermodynamics. Nye points out that we have a huge source of energy called the sun.

Ham: energy and matter cannot produce life, no matter what energy you have. It requires god. He babbles on, apparently the second law didn’t operate before the Fall.

Q10: Ham, how would you respond to evidence that the earth was more than 10,000 years old? He says you can’t do that. There is nothing in observational astronomy that contradicts a young universe.

Nye points out that yes, we can demonstrate the age of the earth. We’re supposed to just take Ham’s word for the age? Are you sure that life cannot arise from non-life? What can you predict? What can you provide us that tells us something about the future?

Q11: Can science and religion be reconciled? You just know Nye is going to avoid this one, and he does, pointing out that there are billions of people who use science without believing in a young earth. Ham is an unusual exception.

He sees no incompatibility between religion and science.

Ham says science needs god. Christianity and science go hand in hand.

Q12: Do you believe every word in the bible should be taken literally? His answer: what does literally mean? He thinks of it as “naturally” — some of it is poetry, it should be taken as poetry. He makes much vague noise on this one.

Nye points out that Ham takes what he likes as literal, what he doesn’t like as poetry.

Q13: Have you ever believed that evolution was accomplished through a higher power? Nye says you cannot prove or disprove a higher power, but intelligent design has a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of nature.

Ham claims no new function has ever been demonstrated in evolution.

Q14: Name any organization (other than church or park) that is using creationism to produce a product. Ham’s answer: everything relies on god, and old time scientists were all creationists.

Nye repeats the request for predictive examples from creationism.

Q15: Since there’s all this evidence that humans are getting smarter by evolution, how do you explain how ancient people weren’t dumber? Nye just rejects that: we’re not getting smarter, there’s no evidence for it. Being smarter isn’t a necessary consequence of evolution.

Ham’s rebuttal is blind cave fish. He seems to think that’s not evolution. I want to point out that the blind cave fish did have a new function: expansion of tactile sense in the jaw.

Final question: What is the one thing on which you base your belief?

Ham is predictable: the bible. Only the bible talks about the origin of the earth and animals and on and on. It’s a very specific book. (No it isn’t: it does all that in a cursory few pages.)

Nye: the information and the process we call science.


I can’t believe I sat through 2 hours and 45 minutes of that.

Nye was better than I feared, but man, he missed some key points. Every single thing Ham said was obvious, predictable, and said by him a thousand times before; he was inflexible and unable to say a single thing that would change his mind. Someone more experienced with this crap than Nye would have had rebuttals right at his fingertips.

But Nye was enthusiastic and passionate, which was great. He might have reached a few people out there, and in a few places, I think he was effective at communicating the quantity of evidence that refutes Ken Ham. All Ham had was his habit of falling back on the Bible, which is more than enough for some people.

Comments

  1. nurnord says

    Indeed PZ, and as we are speaking of a creationist debate (one side, of course) please read my comment #18 on the “What do you get when animals multiply?” post !

  2. Rich Woods says

    @Marcus #2:

    If the off-licence hadn’t just closed I’d be up for a drinking game. As it stands, all I’ve got left in the house is tea.

  3. paulhands says

    We can just post “BZZZSSTTT” each time Ham lies or makes shit up, or uses his pre-selected audience to his advantage.

  4. says

    Well, I am not sure about this. It is not like we are watching a discussion on temporal disparity between Apatosaurus and Tyrannosaurus. It is Tyrannosaurus and Homo sapiens timeframe of existence that is at stake here.

    PS: Between 13-16, Feb’14 there is the CP+ Camera and Photo Imaging show in Yokohoma JP. Even though I know just one Japanese word, I will hear that out (http://www.cpplus.jp/en/).

  5. says

    Every time Bills eyebrows go into ‘explaining to children’ mode: Take a shot.
    Every time Bill looks like he wants to sigh but holds it in stoically: Take a shot.
    Every time Bill slaps down a Ham-er (argument from ignorance) with a fact: Take 1/4 of a shot.

    If you’re not drunk by the end of this, you have an amazing liver and/or are some kind of scottish/irish/russian super-hybrid drinker.

  6. nurnord says

    PZ PZ PZ PZ PZ PZ PZ PZ READ THIS !!!!!!!!!!
    Jerry Coyne included a link on his Nye/Ham debate post for the debate. ‘Nick’ commented the following regarding that link…

    “WARNING (posting at top so people see this)

    debatelive.org is an AIG owned URL so I recommend people watch it at one of the other places that will be streaming it… I’ll probably go to MSNBC.com or WCPO.com. Some Youtubers have also set up live streams.

    I began to suspect this when an acquaintance said that he had registered at debatelive on Saturday and was immediately spammed with emails from Answers in Genesis. I just verified it by checking Whois for domain ownership. Registered by AiG 14 Jan 2014.

    Don’t give them the hits.”

    WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THE LINK YOU HAVE PROVIDED ?!

  7. nurnord says

    Thanks PZ, that’s good to hear…the kettle is on now ready for this. I do hope it all runs smoothly (the live stream, but whilst I’m at it, the Nye side too).

    Take care.

  8. says

    With the way the topic was written, Nye should have just said “No”, dropped mic and walked off the stage and left Ham there blinking.

  9. Geral says

    Ham was good while he was defining science…Then he showed a picture of a timeline with Adam and Eve and I don’t see it getting any better.

  10. moarscienceplz says

    So Observational Science can be used to confirm Historical Science but only if it agrees with the Bible?

  11. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    Didn’t even get thru Ham’s intro before I started yelling at the screen. This is going to go downhill fast.

  12. paulhands says

    Bill Nye is killing Ham….with facts…..not that I expect him to win, given where he is.

  13. tfarmer001 says

    I would like to define terms…”historical” bullshit means anything a creationist said in the past. “Observational” bullshit means anything I observe a creationist saying in the present.

  14. skepticalpete says

    I’m not a scientist, but I enjoyed science class immensely in my school years. And I’ve learned enough about science since then that I couldn’t bear Ham for more than a minute or so there. You all have much stronger constitutions than I do…

  15. beatgroover says

    Wow, appeal to authority much? Ham can’t stop name-dropping random gullible scientists

  16. Portia, walking stress ball says

    The Atheist Lobby! “Creationists are bullied out of the scientific community and silenced by Big Atheism” was on my bingo card.

    Honestly, how does presenting scientists who happen to also believe bullshit help?

    And now it’s the C.S. Lewis gambit for “God created logic, therefore I don’t need logic. QEMFD”

  17. says

    My last tweet: #creationdebate creationist scientists prove only that smart people can believe stupid things. It is not evidence that creation is viable

    __________
    Groan:
    “molecules to man”
    “we have the same evidence”

  18. woozy says

    @28. Um, stars that are further than 6,000 light-years away are “nothing to dispute the world is 6,000 years old”.????

    I’ve never heard Ham speak before. I’m irrationally annoyed that his voice is pleasanter than I thought it’d be. (It’s unfair; my voice sounds like a rusty gate. I guess it doesn’t mean anything but somehow it doesn’t seem fair…)

  19. Portia, walking stress ball says

    Shorter Ken Ham: “We can’t know anything, therefore I know you’re wrong and I”m right!!!”

  20. tfarmer001 says

    A creationist after forcing himself on a sexual victim: “Look, we’re just going to have to disagree on the interpretation of the data. You may say that you were rejecting me, but I interpret your actions as inviting me in. My starting point for this argument is that I’m irresistible.”

  21. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    I could never do what Nye is doing right now. I couldn’t sit there with my mouth shut and listen to Ham lie and bullshit without strenuously objecting. DAVE SMASH!!

  22. Geral says

    “If a tree fell in the woods, how did you know it made a sound?? You weren’t there”

    -Hypothetical Ken Ham example

  23. moarscienceplz says

    Note how the graphics reinforce the idea that this is simply a struggle between two men’s opinions.

  24. says

    “Not all species of dogs [on the Ark] – just two.”

    So, Ham believes in extremely rapid God-guided hyper-evolution within “kinds” over 4000 years – but not unguided evolution between “kinds” over 4 billion.

    What a class-A maroon.

  25. paulhands says

    Now Ham’s saying evolution is hijacked by secularists….so he’s trying to redefine the word. He’s an egregious liar.

  26. Geral says

    His picture of dog species from the study was measured in thousands of years. It was in intervals of 10 thousand years…

  27. moarscienceplz says

    Ham didn’t see the various species of finches arise, but he can accept that it did. Huh.

  28. Dana Hunter says

    Shorter Ken Ham: “I don’t grok science – I just like to con people into thinking I do by using 12 billion words.”

    Alas, have to go back to work and can’t watch the whole thing. Hoping it will be available on YouTube for a day or two… or that some nefarious bugger figures out how to record and send it to me. *suggestive cough*

  29. says

    Friends,

    I’m very interested in listening to 30 minutes of Ken Ham dribble, and I’m impatient for Nye’s presentation. Ham seems to be repeating the old canards that we’ve heard a million times before. So out of sheer boredom I’ve put on Suicide’s “The Second Album + First Rehearsal Tapes” record on a gentle volume underneath the live stream…. and you know what… it’s goddamn brilliant. Now Ham’s presentation sounds/feels like some sort of paranoid performance art.

    I propose choosing your favorite stoner album and underscoring this section of the debate to varying humorous effect.

    ~ Peter Z.

  30. Portia, walking stress ball says

    I’m having flashbacks to my homeschool anti-evolution biology education…

    I’m hoping I get the square on my bingo card that says “If one type of animal worked, why would God redesign? Ergo, the animals look related. Duh.”

  31. Jacob K says

    Wait, is he using racism as evidence that Darwin was flawed? Like, as opposed to the bible?

  32. says

    If creation implies 1 race of man, why doesn’t it imply one race of “dog kind”? How many races of “dog kind” did Ham show in a previous slide? Heck, it even included a picture of a bear as “dog kind”!

  33. says

    All the “can’t know anything” stuff is straight out of Sye Ten Bruggencate’s playbook. Coincidentally, Bruggencate is doing his own live commentary on YouTube. I won’t link to it, if you’re already screaming at Ham you don’t need this guy in your life.

  34. One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login says

    Ham is smooth, he has a good announcer’s voice, and he is trying hard to sound judicious and reasonable. The videos of “real scientists”(tm) who are creationists are impressive in their confidence. His challenge “name an invention that couldn’t have been made without atoms-to-humans evolution” was striking. All told his performance is excellent. I hate his guts, but he is doing an excellent job that will please and impress a lot of people.

  35. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    This is a fucking sermon, it is in no way relevant to the debate topic.

  36. Jacob K says

    Can anybody name a character in Genesis that had a one man, one woman marriage? I’m pretty sure they all were polygamous.

  37. paulhands says

    Now he’s saying evolution justifies euthanasia????

    Life begins at fertilisation????

    He HAS to be lying – no one is this stupid.

    And now he’s claiming to be a science teacher…..

  38. gshelley says

    isn’t that an outright lie about the Lenski experiment? haven’t they found the mutations involved

  39. Portia, walking stress ball says

    My feed buffered for a few minutes and from the looks of the other comments I’m a bit behind now. I apologize for the delayed rage. But.

    “Get rid of spare cats, get rid of spare kids. We’re all animals”

    What he means is, get rid of spare women, who will die of illegal abortions.

    I hate him so much.

  40. moarscienceplz says

    gshelley
    “isn’t that an outright lie about the Lenski experiment? haven’t they found the mutations involved?”

    I’m pretty sure you are right. Only 1 flask out of 12 evolved the citrate capability, and in fact there were 2 separate mutations that enabled it, as I recall.

  41. tfarmer001 says

    Folks, Daz has a point. We’re in this place, and this place has a moderate amount of rules. We may not always agree with what’s defined as acceptable, but we should do our best to follow those rules.

  42. paulhands says

    Nye is doing well, but it won’t matter – facts aren’t important here, and Ham has the audience of half-witted creotards on his side.

  43. woozy says

    Ham never addressed viability.

    ===
    Rebuttal. THe bristlecone pines are at an altitude of 10,000 feet and in California. So Ararat wasn’t the only point above the flood… just the only one in a thousand mile radius.

    … jes’ sayin’

    (I love the idea that the bristlecone pines are old enough to have been the product of original creation. I intend to use that in a fantasy story some day…)

  44. beatgroover says

    Bill is staying on topic, that’s about the best he can do considering the audience.

  45. moarscienceplz says

    I don’t get Nye’s argument about the skulls. I think he is trying to say that all of them are hominids, but how would this audience be able to tell that?

  46. paulhands says

    Nice point about the rate of formation of kinds. The audience is just hostile.

    11 per day, and not enough time. Good stuff.

  47. moarscienceplz says

    Nye blew it with the 11 new species argument, too. These people don’t think God is obligated to create new species at a steady rate.

  48. says

    “This…facility.”

    I’m very glad Bill didn’t refer to it as a Museum.

    Also, I think he used Comic Sans when presenting the post-Ark maths :)

  49. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Ham has a refutation for the kangaroos-to-Australia problem in one of his books. Not good, but he has it.

    Glacial Lake Missoula! I lived in Missoula and have driven the outwash. Didn’t know what I was looking at then.

    Nye is hammering the ark itself. Good.

  50. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Nye missed the chance to mention how much money Ham is “needing” to build his ark.

  51. says

    Is it me, or does Bill’s time seem to be going much faster than Kenny’s? Oh right, I’m interested in what he’s saying.

  52. Owlmirror says

    Can anybody name a character in Genesis that had a one man, one woman marriage?

    Isaac and Rebekah, for one.

    Adam and Eve (his clone-sister), for two (although legend gives him another clone-sister-wife before Eve)

  53. woozy says

    “Ham has a refutation for the kangaroos-to-Australia problem in one of his books. Not good, but he has it.”

    What was it?

    To my mind, the variation, lack thereof, and predictability of distribution of the fossil record is the perfect doorway to evolution. It simply shows history and evolutionary change over history. Viable and irrefutable.

  54. paulhands says

    Oh, oh….Nye is talking about religion and the big bang…..they don’t like that in the audience. Only Ham has that right.

  55. says

    I love how Bill keeps referring to the “outside world” when talking about how actual scientists and non-crazy people approach science and evidence. Good to reinforce the insular nature and implicit fear of contradictory knowledge embodied by the Creation “Museum.”

  56. tfarmer001 says

    I can live with this, the debate topic was whether or not creation science is viable. Nye’s not trying to show proof for modern science in a night, he’s just trying to say, “Don’t buy this crap.” Foot in the door, start them questioning. He knows who he’s talking to.

  57. bortedwards says

    I still think Nye could hammer home on the “because-I-cant-observe-it-it-didn’t-happen” line that is the basis of Hams bullshittery with some analogy that, while not scientific, the audience might get.
    I’m not good at analogies, but something like:
    “although I can’t observe *in the present* that I had a hair cut this morning, the fact that my hair is short, and that if I cut other peoples hair *in the present* it has the same result, means that I can infer that I had a hair cut this morning.”
    as said, poor analogy, but think he could use an example that the creation-wits can’t just go ‘lalalala science gibberish” and ignore…

  58. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Woozy, the short version is that kangaroos went everywhere, but only survived in a few places, leaving no fossils. And the continents slid, after the flood, perhaps in the time of Babel. It’s shit, but he wrote it.

    I like that Nye mentions Ken Ham’s “followers”.

  59. Owlmirror says

    THe bristlecone pines are at an altitude of 10,000 feet and in California. So Ararat wasn’t the only point above the flood… just the only one in a thousand mile radius.

    Did he really say that? (I’m not watching the feed) Because that contradicts the bible, which says that the mountains were covered. No exceptions — not even Ararat. Ararat was exposed only after the flud waters were “assuaged”.

    (Old hands will remember Roger S’ “explanation” for the bristlecone pine that high: Vege-mats!)

  60. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Nye is talking about predictions. That is so close to prophecy that I love it.

  61. says

    Owlmirror – Never mind 10,000 metres… there’s Everest at “STUPID HUGE Metres”

    Unless plate tectonics occurred so quickly it gave my ancestors epic whiplash.

  62. Jacob K says

    Isaac and Rebekah, for one.

    Adam and Eve (his clone-sister), for two (although legend gives him another clone-sister-wife before Eve)

    I forgot about Isaac and Rebekah. I know there’s some debate about Adam and Lilith, but while not as strong as I had hoped, I think my points stands that citing Genesis as a source for traditional marriage is not really a strong case.

  63. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Ham has addressed the distant-stars issue in one of his books. Not well, but he has tried to cover it—it isn’t something he has never thought of.

    Nye for education. I am liking it!

    Getting applause at his ending.

  64. woozy says

    “THe bristlecone pines are at an altitude of 10,000 feet and in California. So Ararat wasn’t the only point above the flood… just the only one in a thousand mile radius.”

    Did he really say that?

    Oh, god no! That was entirely *my* argument.

    (I was joking, of course. I feel a particular fondness for the bristlecone pines which I’ve visited frequently.)

  65. Owlmirror says

    I still think Nye could hammer home on the “because-I-cant-observe-it-it-didn’t-happen” line that is the basis of Hams bullshittery with some analogy that, while not scientific, the audience might get.

    The analogy that I came up with was showing an old photograph of an old person, and asking (rhetorically) whether it made sense to say that this was a 3-month-old baby, regardless of the fact that we weren’t “there” when the individual was born (or died).

    After all, we make observations on how people age, all the time. We can sort of figure out approximate age ranges, and while we might not be sure that someone is over 70, we can be fairly confident that they’re over 50, and very confident that they’re over 30, and be absolutely certain that they aren’t a baby.

    We’ve made analogous observations on how lots of other things “age” (trees, forests, lake beds, rivers, river deltas, ice packs, etc)(just to stay away from radiometric dating). What makes those observations wrong, other than that they “contradict” the bible?

  66. moarscienceplz says

    45ka is basically the limit for c14 dating. It’s impossible to get a reading older than that. Another creationist lie.

  67. says

    I hope noone minds that I’m now just muting Ham. I’m home with my three year-old and she doesn’t need to hear dad’s expletives.

  68. Owlmirror says

    Unless plate tectonics occurred so quickly it gave my ancestors epic whiplash.

    But your ancestors must be descended from Noah, so they wouldn’t have been there to get whiplash!

    Descended from which son? Uh. . . Look! Over there! It’s a giant flying squid!

    /runs away

  69. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Ham’s PhD friends have been fellow-travelling for years. There are only a few.

    Panda and fruitbat teeth — in Ham’s book. Wrong, but in there.

    The glacier planes were exactly where predicted.

    Boat-building fail.

  70. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    “Shipwright”. I am loving Bill Nye. He is doing great, I think. Not perfect, but staying a lot calmer than Ham.

  71. roxchix says

    Nye’s geology is very disappointing, his astronomy is slighter better. And yes, he’s definitely unprepared for the YEC attacks on radiometric dating, he should have had much better initial slides about radiometric dating, and he should have been much more prepared to rebut Ham’s attacks on radiometric dating.

  72. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Oh. Nye is asking for a fossil between the layers, and Ham already gave him the wood in basalt.

  73. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Ham wrote about carbon dating. He knows enough to not have offered that wood in basalt thing.

  74. paulhands says

    Ham gets a question about an expanding universe, and preaches about gawd. What a buffoon.

  75. moarscienceplz says

    The appendix has not been shown to be “very, very important” for immune function. Yet another lie!

  76. Cuttlefish says

    For fuck’s sake, Ham is using scientific discovery to show that science was wrong. Where in the bible does it tell you to wash your fucking hands?

  77. woozy says

    I’m disappointed neither Ham nor Nye addressed the question as to what evidence other than the bible supports creationism.

  78. c4ramesh says

    Ham’s biggest argument against Nye’s arguments or evolution. – No you weren’t there!
    Ham’s biggest argument for Creationism. – Bible, which was written some thousands of years ago, before I was born, before you were born, before our fathers were born says so…

    How can someone use a same argument, so blatantly for his dogma and against science, and get away with it?

  79. says

    @168: moarscienceplz

    Hank_Says:

    Are you a net prophet or a gross prophet?
    ;-)

    I’ve never predicted a tennis game, but my wife frequently says I’m incredibly gross.

  80. cyref says

    I would like to see Ham cornered about his “there is a book out there” as it relates to germ theory. Why did his god create harmful bacteria – invisible to the human eyes he created – and not warn us about them? He could have at least made an Eleventh Commandment as an afterthought; “Thou shall wash thy hands” and thus save millions of humans from misery and death caused by undetectable life forms He created.

  81. MollyNYC says

    “As a Christian . . . . As a Christian . . . ”

    If Jesus were at the Creation Museum now, he’d beat the Ham into next Tuesday.

  82. gshelley says

    Having had a brief look around, it seems that Lenski doesn’t yet know what mutations led to the ability to metabolise citrate, unless a paper came out that I missed. It is still extremely unlikely that the ability was lying there for 30000 generations until a mutation turned the “off switch” to “on” and i suspect the Creationist just made that up

    That aside, who won?

  83. says

    It occurs to me that a good analogy for radiometric dating is that of an hourglass. It’s a good indicator of the passage of time, as long as there’s still some sand in the top bulb. Once it’s all fallen to the bottom, all you can say with confidence is that “more than an hour has passed”.

    It also occurs to me that this analogy is so obvious someone else must have made it.

    Sure enough it’s all over the place. Including the Answers in Genesis website! (They’re currently redirecting their whole domain to debatelive.org, so here’s a cache.)

    Interestingly, upon skimming the page, most of the technical details seem about right; though while the half-life of C14 is given (5,730 years), it’s viable dating range is only described as “thousands of years”, rather than the more accurate ~50,000 years.

    So Ham himself definitely knows that radiocarbon has a maximum date it will yield.

    Over geological time, radiocarbon dating is more like an egg timer. And you don’t use an egg timer to see how long your pot roast has been cooking!

  84. moarscienceplz says

    Ooh, I wish someone would ask Ham to explain the magnetic stripes on the floor of the Atlantic.

  85. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    I’ve started hearing the muted trumpet sound of the adults from the Peanuts cartoon when Hamy is talking.

  86. MollyNYC says

    “You can’t prove the age of the earth because how do you know the laws of physics didn’t change some time in the past?”

  87. bortedwards says

    Yep Hank, he’s got his little painted-in corner, and he’s just going to stand there chanting “bible, bible, bible” and not set a toe outside

  88. moarscienceplz says

    Owlmirror:

    Handbook of Queensland Geology talks about the find. The dating conflict comes about because it is impossible for c14 dating to give a reading greater than 50k years, so of course the Argon dating won’t match the c14 dating. It’s bad science to even try.

  89. woozy says

    This is the first I’ve ever heard that

    a) THe 2nd law of thermodynamics was not in effect before the fall.

    b) Lions weren’t just vegetarians before but were vegetarian during the flood as well. (actually, I guess if death was unknown they couldn’t eat *plants* before the fall…)

  90. draconius says

    It sounds like Bill is wonderfully honest and friendly. We might even have a few people reconsider their positions. :) Shoot, I’ll call it a “win” if just one person stops and at least thinks about it for a moment.

  91. bortedwards says

    I wish Nye would just point out that he keeps failing to address the question. He’s being too polite.

  92. says

    Draconius (#193), it’ll be interesting to see what supplemental material is added to the home video to try and prevent that.

  93. Wren, a Tru Hoppist says

    Has Bill Nye managed to not call the Creation “museum” a museum all night? If so, that’s remarkable!

  94. druidbros says

    I did not know Hammy was such a existentialist. Anything he cant observe which goes against his beliefs is wrong.

  95. moarscienceplz says

    Wow, scientists before Darwin were Creationists! I guess the debate’s done. No further comment needed.

  96. bortedwards says

    @Wren, best observation of the night!
    Bill has used language extremely well (e.g., “we on the outside”), much kudos.

  97. Olav says

    Just my impression: Mr. Nye does quite well, as good as is probably possible in this format.

  98. Daz365365 . says

    I don’t think Nye will change any mind in the room, but he has done well and this will be a good resource for evaluating and picking apart the feeble claims of the creationists.

    Well done Bill.

  99. moarscienceplz says

    Ohhh, so no other religion has a creation story? That’ll be news to most of the world.

  100. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Ham is really using his own book, The Answers Book, for this. Nye should have read it …

  101. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    That could have gone a lot worse. Now I need tylenol, I’m sore from all the Ham-inspired face-palming.

  102. Phil says

    Thanks so much for live-blogging this PZ; my lab meeting went until the last 40 min of the debate, and you filled me in on the important stuff. Looking forward to your dissection of the debate!

  103. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Ham covered the magnetic stripes on the sea floor in one of his books. Mostly by saying it wasn’t there, but he has covered it.

  104. had3 says

    I wish Bill would’ve started by saying he was there and that he observed evolution happening from the beginning and because Ham wasn’t, Ham cannot challenge what Bill is saying without resorting to non-observational science.

  105. says

    moarscienceplz

    Regarding parallax, according to this, parallax is only good for out to 400 LY. That said, it is the “bottom rung” of the cosmic-distance “ladder,” so to speak, and explaining cepheid variables etc might’ve been just a tad too much for the venue. I’m choosing to think of that as justified simplification.

  106. moarscienceplz says

    #217

    Ham covered the magnetic stripes on the sea floor in one of his books. Mostly by saying it wasn’t there, but he has covered it.

    Sounds more like he covered it up.

  107. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Nye did really well, I thought, for the evening. His prep work was sadly lacking—Ham was quoting some of his own writing from two decades back, and Nye didn’t have the refutations lined up. But he did really well for working on the fly, and he did show enthusiasm and politeness and sincerity, which will count for a lot among the Christians.

    Nye certainly did not lose, by any metric, and I think he succeeded in his own mission, which was to raise general awareness of Creationism and the problems it causes in this country. A lot of Christians are not aware of Ken Ham and his work, and they got to see him tonight. Which is what Nye was after, and which I think was worth it.

    I would have liked to see Nye put the boot in a few times, but he may have done more with a smile and a bow tie than by pissing off the populace. The fact that he wasn’t a “real scientist” may have kept this from giving any credence to the old argument that there is a scientific debate about evolution.

    Bill Nye did well, and probably did some good.

    PZ, it was good of you to post this and blog this. Thanks.

  108. Lithified Detritus says

    Could anybody make out what was that cheering at the end?

    Bill Bill Bill Bill…

    FTW

  109. Paul from VA says

    @Daz: re: parallax

    You might want to look into the results of the megamaser cosmology project… they’ve been able to measure geometrically the distance to galaxies of order 10^6 light-years away. It’s not quite parallax… you have to assume Keplerian rotation, but that’s the only assumption outside of geometry….

    Wikipedia on project/method

  110. moarscienceplz says

    #224 & 225
    Ah, thanks. So I guess they do allow heathens in their “facility” on occasion.

  111. Owlmirror says

    I have to admit, going by the second-hand commenting, that it sounds like Sastra was right: There was nowhere to go but up, for an almost-certainly mostly-creationist audience.

    Ham, of course, was all “Bible”… this and “Bible”… that and “Bible is enough…” and “It’s in the Bible”. And for the typical self-satisfied creationist, that’s all they need. They aren’t curious enough to cross-check what the bible actually says; they wouldn’t be interested in anything that Nye has to say.

    But I suspect that there are some people in the creationist crowd, mostly young, but maybe some older ones as well, who find that less than satisfying. Where in the bible? Why is the bible enough, when it doesn’t really say what Ham is saying? And why was Nye so confident about the evidence? What does the evidence really say?

    So maybe Nye did make some connections, and spark some inquisitiveness.

  112. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Paul from VA #228, thanks indeed. Seriously, folks, go read that article, and think about the differences between science and Ham.

  113. WhiteHatLurker says

    I can’t believe I sat through 2 hours and 45 minutes of that.

    I can’t believe anyone would. Thanks for doing that so I don’t have to. (Well, I wouldn’t’ve even if you didn’t, but there it is.)

  114. says

    On the subject of cosmology, I’ve just realised, somewhat to my own shock, that the latest book I own on the subject, Coming of Age in the Milky Way, is now well over two decades old. (where did the time go, ffs?) Can anyone recommend a replacement at about the same level of “popular but not too dumbed down”?

  115. gmacs says

    Okay, late to point it out, but Nye said that evolution wasn’t going toward anything other than what is best suited to the situation. He specifically said that evolution does not head toward a goal or pinnacle.

    Ham responds by saying that cave fish lost their sight. Therefore something became less fit. Y’know, unless you ignore the fact that eyes cost energy for the body to develop and are a hindrance when not needed.

    Seriously, Ham either only listens for buzzwords, or he expects his audience to do so. What he provided was an example of exactly what Nye was talking about, but he was saying it as if it contradicted with his statement. Great fucking Dagda on a pogo-stick, it is clear from that statement that he is willfully deceitful.

  116. gmacs says

    Oh, also:

    “That depends on what you mean by ‘literal'”

    Um… Wow… Ham is a fucking shyster. I wonder if he even believes the shit he says.

  117. tigerlily55 says

    I loved Bill saying “Let’s bring this back around to the original question” as he was starting his 30min. section.It seemed like the longer the debate went on the less Ham looked at Bill. Somehow not so cocky? And the faces Bill makes when Ham is answering are priceless.

  118. says

    augustpamplona wrote:

    If creation implies 1 race of man, why doesn’t it imply one race of “dog kind”? How many races of “dog kind” did Ham show in a previous slide? Heck, it even included a picture of a bear as “dog kind”!

    Hmm, that “bear” is a bush dog. What can I say, I saw it very quickly. In any case, to suggest that they are all the same “race” is ridiculous and if they are not it pretty much demolishes Ham’s weird idea.

    I mean, he’s actually sort of right about humans (in that 4000 years would have produced minimal divergence) and that is why what is shown in his slide of “dog kind” could not have been produced in 4000 years either.

  119. fulcrumx says

    I watched far too much of this thing. what a waste of time to everyone except Hammies. They’ll just get more money and fake prestige from the ignorant. All Nye did was promote a fool to fools.

  120. U Frood says

    I can actually see creationists posting the cartoon, saying “So True” and thinking it proves their point.

  121. ck says

    @fulcrumx,

    I disagree. The format may have been chosen in an attempt to reinforce the beliefs of the “True Believers”, but this may be one of the few glimpses that some young people in the audience ever get of what evolution is from the perspective of scientists without the creationist filter dictating 100% of the message. I don’t believe anyone seriously credentialed should debate Ham, etc. because it does look better on Ham’s resume than the serious scientist that debates him, but I also think that there is value in answering the creationists to their own audience.

  122. Pierce R. Butler says

    Jacob K @ # 69: Can anybody name a character in Genesis that had a one man, one woman marriage?

    How odd that nobody has yet brought up Noah, his sons, and their anonymous wives. Of course, they may all have had harems bigger than Solomon’s, and left the non-favorites behind (as Noah apparently did with his grandfather)…

  123. Random Mutant says

    @Daz #234, may I suggest The Fabric Of The Cosmos, Brian Greene. My edition is a 2008 Penguin. Popular but not dumb. Detailed too, at ~500 pages. Good luck.

  124. says

    Yeah, that was a weird moment when Ken Ham announced that only one man, one woman marriage was valid, and all those harem-style marriages in the Bible were…unbiblical. And he smirked smugly as he said it.

    So Abraham, Solomon, David…all unbiblical. Good to know.

  125. ChasCPeterson says

    pffft. First covenant/second covenant. Same reason Ham eats shrimp, and y’know, haam. The Old Testament is old, man. Nobody has to pay any attention to it except for the first few pages of Genesis, the stuff that got retconned as prophecy, and certain specific passages of Leviticus that damn the gays to an eternity of hellfire. Easy one!

  126. says

    His ‘Kinds’ thing was even weirder: in the slide, he suggested that Proboscidea was a ‘Kind’, indicating that it extends to at least the Order level. Consequently, under his own slide’s definitions, all of Carnivora has to be a ‘Kind’ as well, including canids and felids, both of which were also listed as ‘Kinds’ on his slide.

    Apparently, ‘Kinds’ just means ‘taxonomy at any level I find convenient’.

  127. ChasCPeterson says

    ‘Kinds’ just means ‘taxonomy at any level I find convenient’.

    Yeah, but to be fair, the same is true of Real Taxonomy too. Bird Orders are more like reptile Families, for example. DDMFM will probably be along shortly to remind us how many endemic bird species are in Mexico depepnding on what Species concept is applied. etc. Systematics is real, or trying to be, whereas taxonomy is always more or less arbitrary and convenient.

  128. Azuma Hazuki says

    I found a screen capture of Jason Lisle’s blog dated to 16 January where someone says he hoped that Ham was paying attention to Greg Bahnsen. Remember him, the presuppositionalist who made a career of bouncing on Cornelius van Til’s rotten zombie cock, before following him to whatever Hell lying shitbag apologists go to about a decade later?

    Ham didn’t. But this illustrates something I’ve been saying for a long time about this: evolution vs creationism is not a scientific debate, it’s a philosophical one. The Lisle crew tipped their hand with this one. We know Eric Hovind is also a fan, even if he did get the shit kicked out of him by a kid whose testicles still haven’t dropped when he tried it…

    If you have ever read van Til or Bahnsen, what will strike you is the utter arrogance and hubris that suffuse their writing. van Til outright says that it’s the duty of a Christian to take over science, and to do as Luther said and relegate reason to a “ministerial” role rather than a “magisterial” one.

    This constant, all-encompassing, blob-monster-like misappropriation of everything they come in contact with is a seminal feature of the presup style. It’s like watching an entire world be taken over by a zombifying virus. It is the essence of totalitarianism. That is what we’re up against, and that is why I keep pounding on how insane and dangerous these people are in the face of people telling me “oh most Christians don’t take presup seriously.”

    Well and good, but the ones who do wield disproportionate power, money, and influence. They are the Dominionists. It is high time we destroyed that method of apologetics; as Dan Courtney pointed out, it is a sign of frantic rear-guard action by people who realize they can’t win on evidence, but we must remember that a cornered animal is at its most dangerous.

    I am very worried that so few people treat this with the seriousness it deserves. Wake up!

  129. says

    Glad I read that so I don’t have to waste my time watching that.

    In terms of no new function, what about nylon-eating bacteria?

  130. nich says

    I think it is great that new ideas are being fed to people who are probably starved of them, but debates drive me bonkers. Like with Obama and Romney or that William Lane Craig guy and whatever PhD he has deigned to debate. Clearly I agree with Obama and with whomever opposes Craig, but the “winner” of the debate is often judged to be whoever whipped up the creamiest mounds of sweet, sweet bullshit. Imagine a cake baking contest where a contestant puts together a dazzling three tier cake, but flavors the frosting with shit and stuffs it with creamed corn vomit. No judge in the world would taste that cake and declare him the winner just because it looked pretty. But WLC can step onto a stage and serve up mounds and mounds of the prettiest bullshit you’ve ever heard and gosh darn if he isn’t declared the winner nine times out of ten. “But can’t you see that ain’t chocolate frosting your eating!?”

    Aggravating.

  131. gshelley says

    It occurs to me that Ham’s (paraphrased statement) that “I don’t care what the evidence says, I will believe anyway) kind of takes away from whatever impact his “look, there are some scientists” who believe argument – if he believes regardless of the evidence, why should the audience think they are any different?

  132. says

    We made it into a CFI Ottawa event, and had about 15 people over for it, with food and (of course) beer. Laid in a growler of a rather nice Scotch Ale for the occasion, and someone else brought a bunch of Beau’s seasonals. Which (again of course) led to the drinking game in which one took a swig every time Ham said anything predictable, which was a lot — I got through three glasses before all was done. Yes, you need to be at least a little under the influence to put up with Ham.

    Generally, I’ll concur with Greg Laden’s assessment linked upthread. They both did well w.r.t. their respective core constituencies, but with Nye probably doing better with the fence-sitters. Which counts as a win for the good guys.

    Points against Nye:
    – Harping on the the need for science literacy and innovation. For one, it’s an argument to consequences rather than evidence (though as an appeal to a certain segment of the audience, it makes sense as a talking point). But worse, Ham had his rebuttal ready in the form of Damadian et al pointing out how they are doing valuable science and technology while being YECs. Point to Ham.
    – Flubbing the wood-in-basalt thing; which shows how hard it is to be prepared against an opponent who will just make shit up.

    Points against Ham (meaning where he blew it, as opposed to where he’s wrong, which would be everywhere and at all times, of course):
    – Wasting time preaching the Gospel. But of course he has to, doesn’t he, when he’s got that many eye-balls available.
    – Equally wasting time scolding those heretic Christians who aren’t YECs. I keep asking how my younger evangelical self of ~35 years ago would react, and the answer is: “OK Ken, we can argue theology some other time, but if you can’t deal with the scientific evidence honestly (and I think I would have recognized his presup Biblicism as a dodge), then it’s all irrelevant. If you’re pushing me to make a choice, I’m not likely to jump in your direction”.
    – The Bible explains this, that and the other — no it doesn’t, it just asserts whatever. It doesn’t take lot of smarts to see the difference.

    Notable lie by Ham:
    – Darwin said there were distinct races; the Bible says there is only one. Except *everyone* in the 19th century thought races were real, and American fundamentalists notoriously hung onto the belief until quite recently.

  133. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Whoo! That took a while.

    Well, that went better than I expected. Nye was strong where I thought he would be and weak where I thought he would be (his rebuttal was shit), but nowhere near as weak as I expected. Ham basically had two arguments: made up distinctions between observational and historical science that allows him to deny evidence, and “Look! A Creationist scientist!”; again as expected.

    By any reasonable standard, Nye won that hands down.

  134. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @wren #197

    Has Bill Nye managed to not call the Creation “museum” a museum all night? If so, that’s remarkable!

    Yeah I noticed that too :) There was a lot of “This, er… facility”. He did well there, refusing to offer any sort of confirmation of Ham’s self-aggrandisement.

  135. says

    I love the fact that young earth creationism is so easy to gish gallop with facts, well played Bill. It’s sort of the reverse of the “god of the gaps in science” that more reasonable theists latch onto. It’s sort of “science of the gaps in the bible”.

  136. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @One Day soon I shall Invent A Funny Login #60

    His challenge “name an invention that couldn’t have been made without atoms-to-humans evolution” was striking.

    It was damn easy to answer. “All of them. Without evolution, we wouldn’t be here to invent things.”

  137. Rey Fox says

    I love the fact that young earth creationism is so easy to gish gallop with facts

    But is it easier than doing the proper Gish Gallop with lies?

  138. says

    @260: Also, Nye’s repeated use of “…in the outside world…” instead of “mainstream science” or “evolutionists” or one of the other terms the creationists use as framing. He’s telling them: You guys aren’t an alternative view in a legitimate debate; you’re fanatics who’ve confined yourself in a bubble where all information about the outside world is carefully filtered. Nice framing. (Yes, the f-word. Framing happens, it’s important, and this framing is both appealing AND accurate.)

  139. says

    You were in a position to ignore this, thus not giving any credibility to creationism, which is what it deserves, but like Nye, you chose to give this debate a platform. Why?

  140. Anri says

    jeremystyron @ 269:

    You were in a position to ignore this post, thus not giving any credibility to the creationism controversy, which is what it deserves, but, like PZ, you chose to give this post your attention. Why?

    (See how that works?)

  141. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @jeremystyron

    Clearly telling creationists that creationism is wrong because [facts] is giving credibility to creationism? You have a funny definition of credibility.

  142. David Marjanović says

    45ka is basically the limit for c14 dating. It’s impossible to get a reading older than that.

    If your sample is fucking awesome and your mass spectrometer is downright splendid, you can get to 50,000, maybe 60,000 years. That’s it, though. Rule of thumb: after 10 half-lives there’s nothing left.

    Yeah, but to be fair, the same is true of Real Taxonomy too. Bird Orders are more like reptile Families, for example.

    Worse. Bird orders aren’t like each other, and “reptile” families aren’t like each other either. That’s a big part of why different classifications are different!

    People used to argue a lot about “no, these are distinct enough to be classified apart” vs. “no, they’re close enough to be classified together”, splitting vs. lumping. The ranks – order, family etc. – are increasingly being abandoned.

    DDMFM will probably be along shortly to remind us how many endemic bird species are in Mexico depepnding on what Species concept is applied.

    From 101 to 249.

    Systematics is real, or trying to be, whereas taxonomy is always more or less arbitrary and convenient.

    Depends on what you mean by “systematics” – there are people who have explicitly equated it with taxonomy. I’d simply say that phylogenetics is real while taxonomic ranks are arbitrary.

    […] Greg Bahnsen. Remember him, the presuppositionalist who made a career of bouncing on Cornelius van Til’s rotten zombie cock

    …No. :-] While I *barf* appreciate your imagery :-) , you’re the only one here who follows these things. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard of either.

    But this illustrates something I’ve been saying for a long time about this: evolution vs creationism is not a scientific debate, it’s a philosophical one.

    …to the extent that you can call “who you gonna believe, my interpretation of the Bible or your lyin eyes?” a philosophical debate, yes. :-)

    I’m calling it for Bill Nye: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2014/02/05/who-won-the-bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-bill-nye/

    …Wow, you have a lot of creationists in your thread! So that’s where they go when they don’t dare approach Pharyngula anymore!

    Is this thing as hilarious as it seems?

    Yes.

    jeremystyron, you were in a position to ignore this, thus not giving any credibility to creationism, which is what it deserves, but like Nye, you chose to give this debate a platform. Why?

    Ooh, burn. :-)

  143. David Marjanović says

    DDMFM will probably be along shortly to remind us how many endemic bird species are in Mexico depepnding on what Species concept is applied.

    Importantly, species classified according to the same species concept are comparable. However, there is no family concept, no order concept, and so on.

  144. damiki says

    I’ve got to say, I was surprised at how weak Mr. Ham was. I know he starts out at the disadvantage of representing the much weaker position, but his performance was painful to watch. I found myself feeling sorry for this old man (and I’m 55!) struggling to justify an idea that grows increasingly more absurd every day.

    I’ll give him credit for so being consistent about citing the bible as his main source for everything. Frankly, I expected more subterfuge.

    I was also impressed with how calm, kind, and articulate Mr. Nye was. I think he might have sewn some seeds for science.

  145. ChasCPeterson says

    Worse. Bird orders aren’t like each other, and “reptile” families aren’t like each other either.

    heh. right.
    Within my career, for example, the family Iguanidae went from several dozen down to just 8 genera.

    phylogenetics is real while taxonomic ranks are arbitrary.

    Yes, that is what I meant.

    Importantly, species classified according to the same species concept are comparable. However, there is no family concept, no order concept, and so on.

    Yes, that remains an important distinction.