# 10262: the number creationists can’t write

What an amusing find: a grad level course taught by creationists that claims it is impossible to write out 10262 in decimal notation, which prompts Tiny Frog to immediately commit heresy by writing it out. You’ll burn in hell for that, Tiny Frog!

That’s not the only lunacy on the creationist page. Try these:

• Probability experts point out that if the chances are greater than 1 in 1050, it will never happen.

• There is absolutely no chance that the creation could have happened by chance (as you point out in your mathematical computations). Although, if there is theoretically a one in 10262 chance that the world could have happened this way, then in the everlasting eternity of time this (the current universe) could be that one in 10262 chance. In order for probability to be put in effect, there needs to be an actor. E.g., in order for a set of dice to come up snake eyes, someone needs to shake and throw them. If I place the dice on a table, what are the chances that I will get snake eyes? None. That is, none until someone acts on the dice. God needed to be present as an actor in the beginning or nothing could have happened.

• The truth is that God made you and me. One day we will all give an account to Him of our lives. Why is it important to believe in the Creator and not in evolution? What impact will that have on our eternity?

• Evaluation: Students will be monitored by teacher observation during the classroom discussion, group work and answering the appropriate questions. Reflection paragraphs will be collected. The teacher will try to determine the students’ new courage and ability to defend their belief in the Creator.

Right. This is what creationists consider to be good science.

1. MikeM says

Doesn’t this mean no one has ever won a lottery?

Fascinating.

2. Dustin says

impossible to write out 10262

Probability experts point out that if the chances are greater than 1 in 1050, it will never happen.

I think my brain just aborted all of the math it ever knew. At least, I think that’s math running out of my nose…

3. sailor says

“This is what creationists consider to be good science.”
No wonder they are so pathetic.

4. Hank Fox says

Take a look at that “lesson plan” and count all the letters, statements, Bible study instructions, writing assignments, discussions, and mined quotes … then think about this note at the top:

Creation vs. Evolution (one class period… approx. 45 minutes)

I’m not a teacher, but … damn. That seems like an awful lot to cover in one short class period. I mean, they don’t give themselves time to adequately teach even their own lies.

5. uknesvuinng says

Speaking of creation “science,” this came up on FSTDT today: “Creation science is not for the creationist it is for the decieved.”

Unintentional honesty for the win.

6. says

I have to take exception to this post, PZ. I believe the choice of fonts is making the creationist-side of things look a little too serious.

7. says

Probability experts point out that if the chances are greater than 1 in 10^50, it will never happen.

What are the chances that any particular individual would be conceived? Consider all the sperm and ova that have been produced, then factor in all the random events that led up to your ancestors meeting each other (I would not be here had my father not gotten a wrong phone number in the early 1950s), and my father wouldn’t have been here had his father not been on a delayed train earlier in this century, etc. I shouldn’t be here either, but here I am.

Freakin’ misuse of probability, grumble, grumble.

8. MikeM says

Sorry, I read that as 1050, not 10^50.

Red face. Going away now.

(Since I retracted that, does that make me a Creationist?)

9. AtheistAcolyte says

I suppose, in one particular way of looking at it, one could see it as true. If you took thin strips of paper and wrote 1 with zeros after it all the way across the paper, as the website suggested, and then made enough strips to make them add up to 10^262, then you would fill up the universe with tiny strips of paper. (Assuming you could write a googol on one of these strips, you’d need 10^162 strips)

Still lunacy, but in certain interpretations correct.

BTW, PZ, your Donorchoose campaign is now up to 200 donors, as you hoped. Congrats!

10. wildcardjack says

Isn’t the bulk of the christian mathematical argument sort of a Heisenberg-Anthropic principal fallacy?

“I order for the universe to exist, it requires an observer”

“Oh really. Who specifically?”

“God”

“Why?”

“Becaws!”

11. says

Isn’t 10^262 just a one with 262 zeros after it?

How would that fill up the universe?

12. True Bob says

Not what they really mean. They mean giving the talking point answers to the phony questions.

Here’s an appropriate question: “What are you, stupid?”

13. Kseniya says

If the zeros are as big as they guy who made the claim, then yes, they’d fill up the universe. Paradox!!!

14. Phy says

MikeM, a Creationist would have attacked PZ for the use of misleading notation in an attempt to discredit the creationism movement.

15. says

Ha ha, yeah PZ, you just believe matter. Writing it out doesn’t make the number real or anything.

So Tiny Frog thinks he’s smart just because he can write it all out. That doesn’t mean that he knows how to make that many dots or whatever, or that his brain contains that number.

That’s evolutionists for you. Only God can make numbers real, and only God makes it so that evolution can’t happen. But when God decrees that evolution didn’t happen, PZ just wants to write it all out as if it did happen, and call it science. Like figuring out how it could have happened means it did happen.

16. Jacob Frelinger says

once again, python shows how its better then every thing else, and now is apparently better then god…

print '1'+''.join(['0' for i in xrange(262)])

100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
00000000000000000000000000000000000000

I hope I didn’t accidentally destroy creation.

17. Kseniya says

[wishes she could type without making errors]

18. Ex-drone says

The lesson plan states:

Instructions to Class: There are basically two religions in this world that are competing for your mind – Christianity and evolution.

Hey, they gave us status over Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and all the rest.

19. uknesvuinng says

@#8

Not even close, dude. Creationists don’t retract, they deny ever making the claim in the first place. And if they can’t do that, they spin the claim into meaning something different and pretend they were right the whole time.

20. says

(Since I retracted that, does that make me a Creationist?)
Posted by: MikeM

Have you ever observed a Creationist retracting a claim known to be false?

21. says

Probability experts point out that if the chances are greater than 1 in 1050, it will never happen.

I recall this quote from my Jehovah’s Witness days. It is included in their book “Life, how did it get here, by evolution or creation?”

As one can imagine, my scientific literacy back then was somewhat less than that of my cat. I remember using that exact quote incessantly when arguing against evolution.

/shakes my head with a big sigh, then smiles broadly, realising how far I’ve come from those dark days.

22. negentropyeater says

“Probability experts point out that if the chances are greater than 1 in 10^50, it will never happen.”

Strange : 1 is bigger than 1/10^50. Does this mean that if the Probability of a particular event is 1, it will never happen ?

Theorem 1 : the probability that a creationist misuses the use of probabilities tends towards 1

There is a symptomatic phrase on that webpage :
“There are basically two religions competing for the minds, hearts, and loyalties of intelligent man. One of the religions is Christianity; the other religion is evolution.”

Theorem 2 : a believer in a particular type of religion only tends to consider as rational people of similar faith and atheists.

23. Dustin says

No, MikeM, you were still right. Your chances of winning the lottery are greater than 1 in 10^50. Your chances of flipping a coin and having it come up heads are greater than 1 in 10^50. The chance that the sun will come up tomorrow? Greater than 1 in 10^50.

Creationists don’t seem to understand fractions.

24. says

“This is what creationists consider to be good science.”

But they know it’s bad math right?

25. Inky says

#15 Glen Alan Davidson:

… *deep breath*
What??

All your gibberish on electrical field consciousness aside, your posted comment indicates that you don’t accept evolution, yet your linked webpage talks of shark evolution.

Everyone else: glance through his http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic/content.htm,
and point and laugh. What exactly is neuronal “data” in the way that he’s talking about it? Is it in binary?

26. raven says

Why is it important to believe in the Creator and not in evolution? What impact will that have on our eternity?

Well, zero obviously. Idiots don’t know their own religion.

This FWIW, could be considered Bad Theology. But it isn’t even that, it is just wrong. The NT says salvation is by faith, good works and faith, or good works, depending on which quote mine you quote. Nothing in there about evolution or believing in lies. In fact, there was something about lying but that was dropped when the 10 commandments went to 8.

These morons claim the bible is inerrant even though it contradicts itself even in key places. Then they just make stuff up and invent a malevolent religion and claim it is Xianity.

It’s also a false dichotomy. One can believe in a creator and evolution and most Xians do exactly that.

27. says

A friend of mine, years ago, gave me one of Kennedy’s books to read (I think it was called “Why I Believe”). It was laughably bad, whether it was discussing how scientists think solid materials can store all the vibrations they receive (so, wow, the stones really could cry out!) or how a caterpillar turning into a butterfly is evidence for how we are reborn after death.

Everyone should read it, because – honestly – don’t we all like to laugh?

28. Gerald says

Look at this sequence of letters:
juwidhjsoqjskxoiaoqpdjfdmldcjskapwij. There was less than 1 in 1^50 chances (1/26^36) that this exact sequence could happen, but it did! Oh noes, what have I done??

29. Azkyroth says

Inky:

Ordinarily I’d patronizingly link to the dictionary.com entries for Sarcasm, Irony, and Blockhead, but given that the creationists have been steadily eroding the possibility of distinguishing their arguments from parody, I’ll give you a break.

30. says

By my reckoning, the 10^50 claim gives us an upper limit of 166 times a coin can be flipped. There are just over 1.87e50 possible sequences of 167 heads and tails, and they’re all equally likely. So every possible outcome of 167 coin flips has probability less than 1/10^50, and thus can never happen.

31. says

@#9

Actually I just did it on one strip of paper that I tore off an 8.5×11 sheet. I did admittedly use the long dimension.

32. AlanWCan says

Wait, aside from all the other lunacy, you have someone purporting to be providing lesson plans to teach children (in schools??) who lets slip this little gem: “How was the Grand Canyon was formed?” My grammar nazi bells all started ringing at once. I think that sums up the degree of academic rigour quite nicely.

33. says

#15 Glen Alan Davidson:

… *deep breath*
What??

All your gibberish on electrical field consciousness aside, your posted comment indicates that you don’t accept evolution, yet your linked webpage talks of shark evolution.

Everyone else: glance through his http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic/content.htm,
and point and laugh. What exactly is neuronal “data” in the way that he’s talking about it? Is it in binary?

Dipshit, learn what a parody is, and for Chrissake, don’t be so incredibly stupid that you can’t think through the modifier “neuronal” and the noun “data”.

And I thought the creationists were stupid!

34. says

#15 Glen Alan Davidson:

… *deep breath*
What??

All your gibberish on electrical field consciousness aside, your posted comment indicates that you don’t accept evolution, yet your linked webpage talks of shark evolution.

Everyone else: glance through his geocities.com/interelectromagnetic/content.htm,
and point and laugh. What exactly is neuronal “data” in the way that he’s talking about it? Is it in binary?

Dipshit, learn what a parody is, and for Chrissake, don’t be so incredibly stupid that you can’t think through the modifier “neuronal” and the noun “data”.

And I thought the creationists were stupid!

35. AlanWCan says

What exactly is neuronal “data” in the way that he’s talking about it? Is it in binary? I think it’s measured in timecubes.

36. RamblinDude says

baf: Nice. I knew there was an efficient litte counter argument out there that I could wrap my head around.

37. says

What exactly is neuronal “data” in the way that he’s talking about it? Is it in binary? I think it’s measured in timecubes.

I think the unstupid know what it means, and understand the issues of measurement confronted by neuroscientists.

The rest, well, they cover up their own ignorance with a yawping sneer.

38. CJO says

Anybody else thinking “The Nine Billion Names of God,” by Arthur C. Clarke?

39. says

The dice analogy is hilariously nonsensical. Let’s dive into that.

If I place the dice on the table, isn’t it possible that the dice would be snake eyes? If I shake and throw the dice, does that mean that I have no control over the outcome? What I think they’re trying to say is that a creator (the roller of the dice) causes randomness. Therefore God exists.

40. Tim says

Actually, the depressing gibberish on the course site doesn’t surprise me. I once worked with a woman who had just earned her bachelor’s in marketing after years of working in the field and taking night classes. Having gotten my own graduate degree part-time through great effort, I was ready to congratulate her heartily for her accomplishment. I asked her what she learned in her business courses that experience alone hadn’t taught her, and to my astonishment she replied “nothing”. Imagine that – learning nothing new in 122 hours of coursework. But then she flabbergasted me again by saying “But I did learn a lot from the Bible study courses.” That’s when I mentally vowed never to work with her if I could help it.

She had no grasp of probability or statistics, which is stunning for a marketing major in today’s world. But she’s not atypical in this respect. I’ve found that few people, even those with advanced degrees in the sciences, have any grasp of probability or proper use of statistical tests. Creationists certainly don’t. They constantly misinterpret basic probability theory, confusing classic “coin flip” probability with ordered occurrences. They assume that every possible occurrence has a predefined probability, but that’s not at all the case. If I am trying to guess an English word from having the first letter, my chances of guessing it are not the same as if I have five letters. I know English syntax well enough to make good guesses as to the remaining letters, and not all letters qualify. The laws of physics and chemistry impose such constraints on all natural occurrences, making simple probability calculations impossible. They might be better off attacking the problem using a Bayesian approach, but I have yet to meet a creationist who know what that is.

41. Master Mahan says

(Since I retracted that, does that make me a Creationist?)

Quite the opposite, MikeM! A scientist admits their error and learns from it. A creationist tries to convince everyone else that it’s math that’s wrong.

This is wonderfully absurd, and not unexpected. When you believe 1=3, a lot of equations are going to get fubared.

42. Akitagod says

Oh! So THAT’S where this crap is coming from!
This editorial was printed in a local paper much to my amusement the other day: http://www.idahopress.com/?id=1386
Note that it was a presentation at a Nazarene University. Also, I’m sure all of you in academia will appreciate the obvious conclusion the author believes you’ll eventually reach and decide, collectively, to lynch those who support Darwin’s theory of evolution. . . yeesh.

Welcome to Idaho! Get a rope!

43. Flynn says

As an antidote, read Slucid’s comment again, and know that there are other readers here who are also struggling into greater understanding of science. Ignorance, and even creationism, is not necessarily permanent. I also found evolution impossible to believe once. I was an atheist but I had the idea that evolution could not work, that there was something missing. And there was something missing. In my head.

I come here for the bile but I stay for the learnin’. Keep dishing it out, all of you.

44. Carlie says

The teacher will try to determine the students’ new courage and ability to defend their belief in the Creator.

I’m still trying to figure out the grading rubric for this one. Does the teacher jump out at the students in the hallway dressed like Julia Sweeney and see how much they flinch? Do the students have to run a gantlet quoting Bible verses? Do the students have to put their hands over their ears and sing “lalalalalala” all together?

45. RamblinDude says

Flynn: You’re not alone. There is something about evolution that throws people regardless of their other beliefs.

When I was in high school, (long ago) I casually mentioned in class one day that Eskimos tended to be shorter and stockier because that particular body shape retained more heat, and therefore, tended to survive the cold better. They had evolved a better body shape for their environment. Several of the students–and the teacher–started laughing at the concept, “Oh, right, all the skinny ones got cold and died out!” Guffaw, laugh, chortle, etc.

Now here’s the thing: some of these were “A” students, among the smartest kids in the school!

46. Chris R. says

Should an institution even be given a .edu domain name if they shovel this bullshit? They need a new one labeled .moron

47. Ryan says

#30

By my calculations 52! is larger then 8e67.

I think this means every time you shuffle a deck of cards you perform a feat 800000000000000000 times harder than god creating the universe.

Is that why Las Vegas is known as Sin City?

48. belgian says

oh noes! the site is down!
YOU CANNOT WRITE IT
CREATIONISTS WIN
MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA
…sigh…

49. Master Mahan says

This editorial was printed in a local paper much to my amusement the other day: http://www.idahopress.com/?id=1386

Merely glancing over the article Akitagod linked to, I notice that the writer has interpreted 10^262 as “the number 1 followed by 2,600 zeros.” Math sure is tricky.

50. Inky says

Okay, so for those that had to point and sneer that I mistook Glen’s website seriously: 1) I didn’t have time to read through the whole damn thing on the electric fields of consciousness, and 2) parodies can be hard to distinguish from general pseudoscience and creationist crap. So my MOST HUMBLE AND ABJECT APOLOGIES, for crying out loud, and thank you, Glen, for raising the level of the discussion by calling me a dipshit.

See how much gets lost in the translation? Now go back to patting yourself on the back for your superiority.

51. says

… you would fill up the entire known universe with paper before you could write that number

Okay, this is a garbled verson of something from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. Sagan was discussing a googol (10100), which is a large but easily written number. But then he talked about a googolplex or 10 raised to the power of a googol (10^10100). Sagan then said that a piece of paper a googolplex was written on would not fit within the known universe.

Looking something up is beyond creationists.

52. Benjamin Franz says

If you want your brain to start leaking out your ears, go to the main web site for the college at http://www.dordt.edu/ and check out their academic degree programs’ pages (the page PZ linked to is just some outreach course they want to teach to middle school students).

You will find such gems as the “Reformed, Christian Mathematics Program at Dordt College”

A quote from that page:

At Dordt College you’ll receive personalized, quality instruction and advice from Christian professors who are committed to helping you develop your talents in mathematics. We’ll provide you with excellent technical preparation in the basic areas of mathematics while helping you see the subject in a new light–illumined by a biblically based, Christian perspective.

Christian mathematics? :O

53. PMembrane says

Okay, this is a garbled verson of something from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.

The What the Bleep film featured a hideously garbled version of the La Pérouse-Tinglit encounter mentioned in the final Cosmos program. (The Tinglit thought the ship was a raven god, WTB somehow decided that they couldn’t see the ship at all, as seeing it would require a paradigm shift or some such gibberish. Perhaps they were thinking of an SEP field.)

Not to mention a garbled version of Flatland (also mentioned in Cosmos) which depicted a “flatlander” under its own power flipping back and forth around a vertical axis like a PAC-MAN character.

Poor Carl.

Neko ni koban…

Sigh.

54. SteveM says

As ridiculous as the creationists understanding of probability is, I am even more amazed at the ridiculous “refutations” of it that have been posted here. Yes, a shuffled deck of cards represents one combination out of 1:52! but to use this to refute the creationist claim you can’t just shuffle one deck. that just represents your target pattern. Now, calculate your expected waiting time before you get exactly the same arrangement in a second shuffled deck.

Also, saying that it is impossible to write 10^262 obviously refers to it being able to write a quantity of 10^262 marks of some kind, not the “1 with 262 zeroes” number.

As for the dice on the table, the point is the dice are sitting on the table, probability does not apply until they are randomized.

55. DangerousDan says

#48: By my calculations 52! is larger then 8e67.
My computer’s calculations agree with you: about 8.07×1067. But I disagree with your conclusions.
According to creationists:

Probability experts point out that if the chances are greater than 1 in 1050, it will never happen.

So, according to creationist theory, you cannot shuffle a deck of cards, because each possible ordering of the cards is too improbable to ever occur. Not surprising, as creationist theory doesn’t have to conform to reality.

If you apply Creationist understanding of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics in the same way as they apply it to evolution to demonstrate that evolution cannot occur, you can present an interesting argument that snowflakes cannot form naturally and that fertilized egg cells require divine intervention in order to progress to multicellular life forms.

The two competing schools of thought come up with different conclusions:
According to the theories of evolution, humans evolved from unintelligent apes. The evidence includes the fossil record and genetics.

According to the theories of creationists, humans are devolving to unintelligent apes. The evidence includes the existence of creationists.

56. RamblinDude says

Wouldn’t you have to calculate the waiting time for repeating the shuffle pattern of every shuffle? I mean, according to the postulate, the odds are the same on all of them, (impossible), so if any one of the shuffle patterns ever repeated, it would disprove it.

I’m not into math but it seems like you could disprove it in a shorter time this way.

57. PMembrane says

SteveM:
Also, saying that it is impossible to write 10^262 obviously refers to it being able to write a quantity of 10^262 marks of some kind, not the “1 with 262 zeroes” number.

In fact, the latter is precisely what it refers to:

scientists have computed that to provide a single protein molecule by chance combination would take 10^262 years. Take thins pieces of paper and write “1” and then zeros after them – you would fill up the entire known universe with paper before you could write that number.

58. says

The odds of 1 in 10^262 are extremely far fetched. It would be like rolling 262 ten-sided dice and coming up with all snake eyes. That’s an extremely low possibility.

If you rolled multiple times. Rather than a 1 in 10^262 you would have a N in 10^262 chance of reaching your goal. This is extremely unlikely and we might eventually roll it but it would take longer than the universe has existed.

However, this assumes we lose the ground we gained, why do we need to do that? We don’t. Nature doesn’t! So the first roll we should on average get around 26 snake eyes, the following roll should have ~23 rolls and so forth. Rather than roll for longer than the universe will exist we should finish up in about 50 rolls and still have time for lunch.

The odds of getting Yahtzee (all 1s) in Yahtzee are 1 in 75 if you’re trying for it. Though, if you had to reroll everything every time it would be 1 in 7776 and the game would take longer than monopoly! We aren’t scaling the cliff-face of mount improbable here, we’re walking up the gradual backside. The odds of evolution working are 1 in 1 and the only variable is time.

59. NonyNony says

The thing that boggles my mind is the idea that probabilistic events have to have an actor or else they can’t happen. I suppose if you’re going to invoke “God” as the actor for every event it becomes hard to argue against that idea, but still, the stupid burns. The particular path of a comet arcing through the solar system has to be observed or it doesn’t happen? Every lightning strike has to be witnessed or it can’t happen? Really?

I mean, I guess that might be an answer to “if God is so powerful, why does evil exist?”, though it’s kind of a let down to have the answer be “because God’s too busy watching the universe to make sure it keeps working.” Kind of a bum job for God to basically be the guy who keeps the log of everything that happens anywhere for all eternity, isn’t it?

60. AttemptingReason says

Check out the syllabus that frog linked to! It’s hilarious. It cites a bunch of scientists to “prove” that evolution is a religion and creationism is a legitimate idea. Unfortunately, only about 3 of the men cited lived past 1950 (some died in the 1800s) and of them the was freaking Duane Gish! Also, the guy that they cited as being “one of the greatest scientists America has produced” Louis Agassiz, was famous for his theory that the different human races were created separately, and “endowed with unequal attributes,” according to Wikipedia.

61. JohnnieCanuck, FCD says

SteveM, you have to pay closer attention. We know the creationist meant that 10262 is a number greater than the number of atoms in the knowable universe, or however else one cares to make such a number real to a layman. We also know that the calculation of the probability to be this quantity was bogus in the first place.

The creationist’s example is wrongly stated, as pmembrane shows in that quote. The humour here is that someone pretending to be scientifically knowledgeable has made a blatant error that casts doubt on their having any scientific understanding whatsoever.

Not only that, but the reason for fabricating the argument in the first place was to show that scientists don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to evolution.

Creationists often make the argument of incredulity based on poorly considered probability statements.

You are witnessing the guilty pleasure known as Schadenfreude.

62. truth machine says

I suppose, in one particular way of looking at it, one could see it as true.

Yeah, just as one could see any false thing as true if one looks at it in one particular erroneous way.

Now go back to patting yourself on the back for your superiority.

It doesn’t take any superiority to recognize that Inky is an idiot.

saying that it is impossible to write 10^262 obviously refers to it being able to write a quantity of 10^262 marks of some kind, not the “1 with 262 zeroes” number.

Ditto for SteveM. The claim is that 10^262 can’t be written in decimal notation, not unary notation. Why would anyone write 10^262 in unary? What does that have to do with the probability of a 1/10^262 event? SteveM doesn’t say, being too eager to tell his betters how poor they are at math.

63. truth machine says

We know the creationist meant that 10^262 is a number greater than the number of atoms in the knowable universe

Which is completely and utterly irrelevant, quite aside from the bogosity of the number. It’s trivial to write a program that picks a random 871 bit number. The odds of picking that particular number is less than 1 in 10^262. It isn’t schadenfreude, it’s a refutation. Sheesh.

I suspect what he did was read 10262 somewhere, did not realise there was a difference between 262 and 262, and so blathered on this stupidity.

65. truth machine says

Yes, a shuffled deck of cards represents one combination out of 1:52! but to use this to refute the creationist claim you can’t just shuffle one deck. that just represents your target pattern. Now, calculate your expected waiting time before you get exactly the same arrangement in a second shuffled deck.

It’s sadly amusing to see someone here commit a classic creationist mistake — confusion between a priori and a posteriori probabilities — in claiming that a refutation of a creationist claim is erroneous. SteveM seems also unable to parse simple English; “if the chances are greater than 1 in 10^50, it will never happen” doesn’t mean “if the chances are less that 1 in 10^50 that something happened, it will never happen again”.

There’s nothing more arrogant than some ignoramus “correcting” the valid claims of educated people. “worse math” indeed.

66. truth machine says

As for the dice on the table, the point is the dice are sitting on the table, probability does not apply until they are randomized.

I think it’s possible that SteveM is even dumber than Bob DeGroot.

67. truth machine says

I suspect what he did was read 10262 somewhere, did not realise there was a difference between 262 and 262, and so blathered on this stupidity.

No that’s not what happened, and wouldn’t explain his claim.

68. truth machine says

Okay, so for those that had to point and sneer that I mistook Glen’s website seriously

No, moron, his web site is serious, but his post here was obvious parody.

69. Craig says

I find the God based Math class appealing. It would have made Abstract Algebra much more tolerable if I could just write down “God made it that way” as the answer to each proof.

70. DangerousDan says

I just noticed some other lunacy on the creationist page that PZ referenced:

1. Consider the following information. After you hear what these renowned scientists have said, be prepared to describe how evolution can be considered a religion.
a. Professor Louis T. More: “The more one studies paleontology (the fossil record), the more certain one becomes that evolution is based on faith alone.” – from an evolutionist

e. Dr. Duane Gish: “Evolution is a fairy tale for adults.” – from a noted Biologist

According to Wikipedia, “Duane Tolbert Gish (born February 17, 1921) is an American biochemist, a young Earth creationist, former vice-president of the Institute for Creation Research,”
And if you don’t believe Wikipedia, look to Answers in Genesis, which lists him as a “Creationist Biochemist”. Couldn’t these ignorant dishonest —folk* find enough quotes from actual evolutionists to take out of context? Oh, and More’s quote comes from about 1925, and he was an advocate of Lamarkianism. I’ve no doubt that they’d have dug up something older, but couldn’t find one.

Mockery in depth of Creationist misquoting can be found at the Tiny Frog blog which focuses on Atheism, Evolution, Skepticism, in an entry titled “D. James Kennedy’s: Why I Believe

*I know that merely calling them folk is lame, but I couldn’t find an appropriate synonym for fucktard.

71. TigerhawkVok says

I have no idea where they even *get* that number. I mean, we can *very* easily create amino acids in the lab, and furthermore, we can find simple amino acids and organic compounds on bloody ASTEROIDS in our solar system! It also doesn’t then take into account the volume of Earth’s oceans, time spans, changes in entropy/enthalpy, etc.

Nor does it take into account the huge number of reactions that can take place in the universe. For purely chemical reactions (assuming R_{universe}~14.7e9 Lyr, r_{atom}~1e-10 m, ~1 ns), you can ballpark a maximum number of reactions at 5e135. Neglecting all sorts of weighting factors like higher and lower temperatures, chemical potential, etc … and also assuming a fully packed chemical lattice for a universe. But that also just the visible universe, and I’m making the assumption that god crazies probably don’t want to hear that even our *universe* is probably nothing special. Just a quirky quantum effect, really.

What, I’m a physicist, so sue me. Now I have to work on some spherical cows in a vacuum…

Oh, and for the record: 156! is about 1e14 times greater than 1e262. And 156=52*3 . Munch on that for a while, and enjoy boggling creationst minds with card shuffles.

#16 Jacob Frelinger

There’s a shortcut for that: `print “1” + 262*”0″`

Or even the exponent notation: `print 10**262`

73. DiEb says

Sir Cecil Wakely (check out his credentials- K.B.E., C.B., LL.D., M.CH., Doctor of Science, F.R.C.S., past president of Royal College of Surgeons of Great Britain)

Check out the credentials, but first, write down his name correctly:
Cecil Wakeley

74. truth machine says

print “1” + 262*”0″

perl: print “1” . “0”x262 or print “1”, “0”x262

print 10**262

ruby: ditto

Objectives: By the end of this lesson, each student will be able to defend, in logical debate, why they believe in creation (and not evolution).

Teach the controversit… , um, … controversial!

… I mistook Glen’s website seriously … I was being facetious.

Woot!

Objectives: By the end of this lesson, each student will be able to defend, in logical debate, why they believe in creation (and not evolution).

Teach the controversit… , um, … controversial!

… I mistook Glen’s website seriously … I was being facetious.

Woot!

“Teach the controversit… , um, … controversial!” – Teach the controversy… , um, … controversial!

Another joke dead at the feet of an empty coffee mug.

“Teach the controversit… , um, … controversial!” – Teach the controversy… , um, … controversial!

Another joke dead at the feet of an empty coffee mug.

79. franz dibbler says

One of Terry Pratchett’s characters was fond of saying that
one in a million chances occur nine times out of ten.

80. Sampo Rassi says

Is it just me or has the tone of discussion around here gotten a lot less kind than it used to be?

81. katie says

Gah…don’t they know that God doesn’t play dice? Or are they done pretending that Einstein was a Christian?

82. David Marjanović, OM says

The Tinglit thought the ship was a raven god

Tlingit.

Also, the guy that they cited as being “one of the greatest scientists America has produced” Louis Agassiz, was famous for his theory that […]

I didn’t even know that. I knew about him as one of the last halfway respectable creationists. He came very, very close to evolution, for example believing that God used the “sauroid fishes” of the Devonian as a template when he created the first land-living vertebrates in the Carboniferous. Agassiz died in 1873.

Is it just me or has the tone of discussion around here gotten a lot less kind than it used to be?

You’ve merely watched truth machine become unhinged and pointing out 6 times, almost in a row, that he thinks someone who made an honest mistake* is not merely wrong, but incredibly stupid.

* Not everyone is familiar with Glen D. Not everyone has been a Pharyngula reader for months.

83. David Marjanović, OM says

The Tinglit thought the ship was a raven god

Tlingit.

Also, the guy that they cited as being “one of the greatest scientists America has produced” Louis Agassiz, was famous for his theory that […]

I didn’t even know that. I knew about him as one of the last halfway respectable creationists. He came very, very close to evolution, for example believing that God used the “sauroid fishes” of the Devonian as a template when he created the first land-living vertebrates in the Carboniferous. Agassiz died in 1873.

Is it just me or has the tone of discussion around here gotten a lot less kind than it used to be?

You’ve merely watched truth machine become unhinged and pointing out 6 times, almost in a row, that he thinks someone who made an honest mistake* is not merely wrong, but incredibly stupid.

* Not everyone is familiar with Glen D. Not everyone has been a Pharyngula reader for months.

84. Caledonian says

Is it just me or has the tone of discussion around here gotten a lot less intelligent than it used to be?

Fixed it for you.

And yes, it has. That’s the predictable result when we turned from critiquing other people’s stupid faiths and to praising the stupid faiths of most of the people on the board.

85. says

Louis Agassis,

“one of the greatest scientists America has produced”

was a great, but outdated scientists that France produced. Late in his career he came to the U.S. for a tour and stayed for the adulation. He was horrified by being near black people and decided on emotional grounds that they could not be related to him by evolution.

86. Sastra says

Help me out here, but my understanding is that many of the creationist (and fine tuning) statistical errors are based on the problem of drawing a target around the arrow after it’s been shot. First, you

1.) Pick out something which already exists which you consider special, important, or significant (life, your own existence, whatever)
2.) Calculate the possibility that it might not have happened: think of other options, or generate them somehow, and then add or multiply them together
3.) Call that “the odds against it happening by chance”
4.) Conclude that this thing must therefore be something very special, important, and significant indeed
5.) So Someone must have selected it in advance, out of all those other options where it might not have been

I’m not up in statistics like some of the rest of you, so I’m not sure if this is what’s called “frontloading” or not: they pick out something important and then end up concluding it’s important. But from what I can tell this often seems to be what’s going on (it might take an ordinary ignoramus to figure out what they’re doing).

87. negentropyeater says

Sastra,
you understand correctly.

Let me give a concrete example :
take a standard dice.
What is the probability that one rolls exactly :
1,1,3,5,6,1,2,6,4,1
well that’s 1/6^10.
So now, roll the dice ten times, if you get that exact sequence, you will be entitled to feel very very lucky (or beleive in God).

Second experiment :
Roll the dice ten times, and write down the sequence : let’s say you get
4,4,5,6,5,1,2,3,4,5
Question Q : “What is the probability that I could draw exactly that sequence ?”

Well, the creationist in his great wisdom goes, but wait the probability of drawing exactly that sequence is the same as the first experiment, 1/6^10, so very very unlikely. So God must exist.

As you noted, asking the question Q after having carried the experiment doesn’t make any sense. But that’s exactly what creationists do all the time.

88. woozy (I can't see my own eyeballs! Surely that disproves evolution!) says

1) This type of probability and exponential notation zero herding is incrediably easy.

2) This arguments of extreme probabilities are probably creationists’ strongest argument.

3) They get it so totally wrong.

It’s not hard. 10^262 can not be written with single tick marks (or counted to one at a time; or is greater than the number of electrons in the universe (or so I assume is the implication); or etc. etc.)) With eponential reduction it can be written in decimal format it can be written easily as 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

which can be written more tersely via exponentiation as 10^262. If they did make a mistake and meant 10^10^262 which would be couldn’t be written decimally as it’d have 10^262 digits and 10^262 cant be written with tick marks. But we can exponentiate as 10^10^262. I can make an even bigger number 10^10^10^262 if you like really big numbers. *this* number not only can’t be written as a decimal, it can’t be written as 10^x where x is decimal! WOooooh…. eerie! Now a **really*** ***really*** big number would be 10 ^ 10^ 10 ^ ….( 10^262 times) This number can’t be written as decimal or in exponential! Course we could define a new notation 10E262 for such a concept (2E3 = 2^2^2 = 2^4 = 16; 3E5 = 3^3^3^3^3 = 3^(3^(3^9)) and so on.

And all this means….? Who the hell knows. So *WHAT* if we can’t write 10^10^262 as a decimal? Here are some more things we can’t do: Write the sound of a pig being run over by a fire engine using only the right hand keys of an american keyboard; Grow bananas in arctic climates; and eat our own intestines.

It’s one thing to give a bad argument but it drives me nuts when I hear psuedo-statements meant to sound like arguments but people who seem to not understand what arguments even are.

There’s an annoying factoidule (not even worthy of being a factoid) going around here saying “If every house in California were to replace five incandescent bulbs with CFT bulbs, it’d be equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the roads”. Huh? For what period of times? It’s not even wrong. It’s utterly uninterpretable.

===
Statements I’ve heard that were sincerely meant to convince me of something:

“Crystals were forming in the ground before the Egyptians were building the pyramids.”

“Tomato eaters born before 1900 are all dead or in very poor health, frequently frail and in diminished capacity.”

“I put a rusty nail in a glass of water mixed with this dish detergents and the rust started flaking off.”

“Christ didn’t eat sugar.”

“For every minute Napolean was alive, one person died.”

89. woozy (I can't see my own eyeballs! Surely that disproves evolution!) says

1) This type of probability and exponential notation zero herding is incrediably easy.

2) This arguments of extreme probabilities are probably creationists’ strongest argument.

3) They get it so totally wrong.

It’s not hard. 10^262 can not be written with single tick marks (or counted to one at a time; or is greater than the number of electrons in the universe (or so I assume is the implication); or etc. etc.)) With eponential reduction it can be written in decimal format it can be written easily as 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

which can be written more tersely via exponentiation as 10^262. If they did make a mistake and meant 10^10^262 which would be couldn’t be written decimally as it’d have 10^262 digits and 10^262 cant be written with tick marks. But we can exponentiate as 10^10^262. I can make an even bigger number 10^10^10^262 if you like really big numbers. *this* number not only can’t be written as a decimal, it can’t be written as 10^x where x is decimal! WOooooh…. eerie! Now a **really*** ***really*** big number would be 10 ^ 10^ 10 ^ ….( 10^262 times) This number can’t be written as decimal or in exponential! Course we could define a new notation 10E262 for such a concept (2E3 = 2^2^2 = 2^4 = 16; 3E5 = 3^3^3^3^3 = 3^(3^(3^9)) and so on.

And all this means….? Who the hell knows. So *WHAT* if we can’t write 10^10^262 as a decimal? Here are some more things we can’t do: Write the sound of a pig being run over by a fire engine using only the right hand keys of an american keyboard; Grow bananas in arctic climates; and eat our own intestines.

It’s one thing to give a bad argument but it drives me nuts when I hear psuedo-statements meant to sound like arguments but people who seem to not understand what arguments even are.

There’s an annoying factoidule (not even worthy of being a factoid) going around here saying “If every house in California were to replace five incandescent bulbs with CFT bulbs, it’d be equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the roads”. Huh? For what period of times? It’s not even wrong. It’s utterly uninterpretable.

===
Statements I’ve heard that were sincerely meant to convince me of something:

“Crystals were forming in the ground before the Egyptians were building the pyramids.”

“Tomato eaters born before 1900 are all dead or in very poor health, frequently frail and in diminished capacity.”

“I put a rusty nail in a glass of water mixed with this dish detergents and the rust started flaking off.”

“Christ didn’t eat sugar.”

“For every minute Napolean was alive, one person died.”

90. daenku32 says

10^262 is really just e^(262*ln(10))

91. truth machine says

You’ve merely watched truth machine become unhinged and pointing out 6 times, almost in a row, that he thinks someone who made an honest mistake* is not merely wrong, but incredibly stupid.

No, he didn’t simply make an honest mistake, he accused everyone else of offering ridiculous “refutations” and using worse math. So your characterization is, as usual, not honest itself.

92. Tim says

I think Sastra has it right. It can be a serious mistake to look at an occurrence and then backtrack to a probability of it happening. This is the “prosecutor’s fallacy”. It happens most often when probability, a realm of mathematics that deals with large numbers, is misapplied to individual cases. There are statisticians who will argue that probability has no application at all to individual cases.

If one were to refute a creationist use of probability, it might be tempting to meet them on their own ground. For example, pointing out that one-in-a-billion events happen more than six times a day, on average. However, this is a mistake. The flaw in the creationist argument is that it relies on oversimplified probability calculations, mostly involving independent events, like those around dealing cards or throwing dice. But true probabilities are rarely so neat. What was the probability that my ex and I would produce a daughter who was interested in art and collies? Any calculations would be mere parlor entertainment, not a model. There are thousands of factors, almost all of which are interactive. I think it can be taken for granted that any probabilistic arguments about the origin of the universe are twaddle.

93. David Marjanović, OM says

was a great, but outdated scientists that France produced.

Switzerland.

No, he didn’t simply make an honest mistake, he accused everyone else of offering ridiculous “refutations” and using worse math.

He made an honest mistake and drew logical conclusions from it that happened to be wrong because his premise was wrong.

But even if you were right, and he were a malicious liar, then…

So your characterization is, as usual, not honest itself.

I would have made an honest mistake in misunderstanding the situation. Surely you are capable of grasping that? Surely you are able to understand that, while you may be surrounded by idiots, you are not surrounded by assholes?

94. David Marjanović, OM says

was a great, but outdated scientists that France produced.

Switzerland.

No, he didn’t simply make an honest mistake, he accused everyone else of offering ridiculous “refutations” and using worse math.

He made an honest mistake and drew logical conclusions from it that happened to be wrong because his premise was wrong.

But even if you were right, and he were a malicious liar, then…

So your characterization is, as usual, not honest itself.

I would have made an honest mistake in misunderstanding the situation. Surely you are capable of grasping that? Surely you are able to understand that, while you may be surrounded by idiots, you are not surrounded by assholes?

95. melior says

Here are some more things we can’t do: Write the sound of a pig being run over by a fire engine using only the right hand keys of an american keyboard;

oink!

96. Rachel I. says

This “school” has somehow acquired accreditation. Like, their “Reformed, Christian Engineering Program” has met with ABET… The school as a whole (?) is accredited by some group called the North Central Association… and they have a goddamned “Biotechnology” degree.

I’m gonna puke.

97. woozy (God is Good with only one O! Alert the Press!) says

Here are some more things we can’t do: Write the sound of a pig being run over by a fire engine using only the right hand keys of an american keyboard;

oink!

Well, the thing is a pig doesn’t really sound like “oink”. If it did we could do an Electric Company profile with a pig…

“Buh—”
“——————–oink”

“BOINK!”

And we’d all have a good laugh.

But in actuality a pig sounds more like “QH-Qh-qh-Qu-anghh” and when run over by a fire-engine it sounds more like “NhgH-EEE0-ungh-EEEE-oooooh Nhge-EEEO-ungh” only that’s not even close.

We have no way to accurately transcribe the precise sound of a pig being run over by a fire-engine. From that we can conclude …. the sound is significantly different from the standard range of sound of spoken english words.

Likewise we can not write 10^260 in unitary (check-mark) notation. From this we can conclude …. 10^260 is a very big number.

Quite frankly I find both conclusions rather trivial, unsurprising, and utterly perplexing as to what possible relevance anyone may think this have to any thing.

98. woozy (God is Good with only one O! Alert the Press!) says

Here are some more things we can’t do: Write the sound of a pig being run over by a fire engine using only the right hand keys of an american keyboard;

oink!

Well, the thing is a pig doesn’t really sound like “oink”. If it did we could do an Electric Company profile with a pig…

“Buh—”
“——————–oink”

“BOINK!”

And we’d all have a good laugh.

But in actuality a pig sounds more like “QH-Qh-qh-Qu-anghh” and when run over by a fire-engine it sounds more like “NhgH-EEE0-ungh-EEEE-oooooh Nhge-EEEO-ungh” only that’s not even close.

We have no way to accurately transcribe the precise sound of a pig being run over by a fire-engine. From that we can conclude …. the sound is significantly different from the standard range of sound of spoken english words.

Likewise we can not write 10^260 in unitary (check-mark) notation. From this we can conclude …. 10^260 is a very big number.

Quite frankly I find both conclusions rather trivial, unsurprising, and utterly perplexing as to what possible relevance anyone may think this have to any thing.

99. DangerousDan says

I will now take the time to point out that the creationist page that started this thread now results in a 404 error: “The requested URL /266.543units/grandcanyon/Day 5/biblelesson1.htm was not found on this server.”