A Classic Example of Misleading “Journalism”

View of Arkhangelsk, Russia at night (click for credit)

The headline at MSN is ominous:

It was 84 degrees near the Arctic Ocean this weekend as carbon dioxide hit its highest level in human history

Oh no! It’s sweltering in (or at least near) the Arctic! To emphasize the dire nature of this horrible news, the article goes on to say:

Over the weekend, the climate system sounded simultaneous alarms. Near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius). Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history.

To the average American, who was given a very poor education in both geography and critical thinking, that sounds so bad. It shouldn’t be that warm near the Arctic Ocean, should it? Of course it should! All you have to do is look at a compilation of the weather statistics for the city being discussed (Arkhangelsk, Russia). As you can see, since 1940, the highest temperature recorded at Arkhangelsk was 93.9 F (34.4 C). During that same time period, the highest May temperature was 86.4 F (30.2 C). Both of those are higher than the “alarming” temperature being discussed in the article.

Now these results are for all years since 1940. The recent, “abnormally warm” temperatures caused by global warming are setting those records, right? Wrong. You can click on various years, and you will find that the highest temperature on record (34.4 C) occurred sometime between 1960 and 1980. As you can see, then, there is nothing unusual about it being 84 F near the Arctic Ocean at this time of year. Most people don’t know that, and most people (especially those who blindly accept what the High Priests of Science proclaim) aren’t willing to do any investigation on their own to find out.

Of course, that’s what the author of this article is counting on.

Even Eyes Contain Bacteria!

Mouse eyes were studied in the article being discussed, but the results are probably applicable to many mammal eyes.

Writing about coral in the Journal Science, paleontologist Dr. George D. Stanley noted:

Symbiosis is the most relevant and enduring biological theme in the history of our planet.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, “symbiosis” refers to organisms of different species living together. There are three general forms:

(1) Parasitic symbiosis, in which one organism benefits and the other is harmed

(2) Commensal symbiosis, in which one organism might benefit but neither is harmed

(3) Mutualistic symbiosis, in which all organisms in the relationship benefit

I have written extensively on mutualistic symbiosis (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, for example). Not only does it fascinate me, but it was also the major scientific issue that led me away from atheism. When one sees the amazing mutualistic relationships that exist all over nature, it becomes clear that these organisms were designed to work together.

Bacteria tend to develop a lot of mutualistic relationships. Indeed, you would not be nearly as healthy as you are if it weren’t for the many mutualistic bacteria that live in and on your body. And while it is widely-known that you can find mutualistic bacteria in many parts of a mammal’s body, it was thought that you would never find them living in the eye for any extended period of time. That’s because mammal eyes contain an enzyme called lysosyme, which kills bacteria. However, new research indicates that at least one species of bacterium, Corynebacterium mastitidis, makes its home in at least some mammal eyes.

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What Is the Function of a Narwhal’s Tusk?

Three Narwhals swimming close to the surface of the ocean. The lead narwhal’s tusk is easy to see.
(credit: Dr. Kristin Laidre, Polar Science Center, UW NOAA/OAR/OER)

Back in April, I spoke at the Ohio Homeschool Convention. It is part of the Great Homeschool Conventions, at which I have been fortunate to be a regular speaker. This year, the convention graciously allowed me to do my favorite kind of presentation: A Question/Answer Session. I have done them at other conventions (see here, here, and here), and I always enjoy them, usually because I learn something. I open these sessions by simply asking for questions, and I tell the audience that the questions can be about anything. If I can’t answer a question, I am happy say the three words any scientist should be totally comfortable saying, “I don’t know.” I also tell them that if I have to say those words, I will try to find the answer later and post it on my blog.

That’s what happened at the Ohio Homeschool convention. One of the audience members asked me what a narwhal (Monodon monoceros) does with its horn. I had to tell him that I don’t know. I did tell him that it isn’t really a horn. In fact, it is an elongated tooth. I speculated about a couple of possibilities, but I couldn’t say anything for sure. That was a few weeks ago, and I have been pretty busy since then. However, I have wrapped up both the Thermodynamics course I was teaching at Anderson University, and the online classes I have been teaching this year, so I finally got around to investigating narwhals.

The short answer is that we still don’t know what a narwhal does with its tusk. The long answer, however, is much more interesting.

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Ignorant People Acting Intellectually Superior

Screenshot from the video being discussed.

We live in a nation that is shockingly ignorant of basic science. Yet, at the same time, some of the most ignorant people on the planet act as if they can speak for science. Take, for example, Bill Nye. Many people view him as today’s spokesperson for science, despite the fact that he displays his scientific ignorance time and time again (see here, here, here, here, and here, for example). I just ran across another example of ignorant people claiming to speak for science. It comes from the Jimmy Kimmel Live show.

It’s one of those fake public service announcements (PSAs) which attempts to demonstrate the intelligence of the people making the announcement while at the same time displaying the stupidity of those who disagree with them. This is a form of what is now called virtue signaling – the attempt to show others how virtuous you are, often by making fun of people who disagree with you. A screenshot from the fake PSA is given above. The spokesperson, “actor, director, and two-time sexiest man alive George Clooney,” is promoting an organization that attempts to educate ignorant people to give up their foolish beliefs. In the segment from which the screenshot is taken, Mr. Clooney says that your donation of $200 will “…teach ten @*!x&^ knuckle-draggers that dinosaurs existed, but not at the same time as people.”

Now, of course, anyone with a modicum of scientific knowledge should immediately see what is wrong with the graphic being shown. Those who believe that dinosaurs and people did not live at the same time cannot use carbon dating as a way of supporting their claim. Because of the relatively “short” half-life of carbon-14, carbon dating can only be used on carbon-containing items that are less than 60,000 years old. Given that the generally-accepted timescale has dinosaurs going extinct 65 million years ago and the earliest humans appearing about 200,000 years ago, “Basic F**king Carbon Dating” cannot tell us anything about whether or not humans and dinosaurs existed at the same time.

In fact, if one truly believes carbon dating, one has to believe that people and dinosaurs did, indeed, coexist. That’s because multiple dinosaur fossils have been carbon dated to between 23,000 and 41,000 years old (see here, here, and here). All of those values are well within the timeframe that the scientific consensus tells us modern humans existed.

Now, of course, those who desperately want to believe in the generally-accepted timescale will make up excuses for why you can believe most carbon dates, but not the ones done on dinosaur bones. Interestingly enough, however, at least some of those people don’t want to do further tests to see if their excuses work. But that’s not my point. To some extent, all scientists make up “just so” stories to prop up their hypotheses, so it’s understandable that those who are committed to the scientific consensus do so as well.

My point is much simpler than that. The makers of this fake PSA wanted to show that they are well-educated and intelligent because they simply accept what the High Priests of Science proclaim without investigating the evidence in any way. At the same time, they wanted to show that those who believe dinosaurs and people lived at the same time are stupid. Instead, they ended up demonstrating their own ignorance of the scientific data related to the issue. Unfortunately, because the High Priests are doing such a great job at keeping the general public ignorant of science, most people will have no idea!

Dr. Winston Ewert, Homeschool Graduate and Software Engineer

Dr. Winston Ewert
Back in July of last year, I wrote about what might be one of the most important genetic studies of the decade. It treated an organism’s genome like a large computer program that was put together using specific groups of genes as programming “modules.” The study showed that this view of the genome made more sense of the genetic similarities between certain animals than an evolutionary view. When I read the study and blogged about it, I did not recognize the author’s name and had no idea who he was. Later on, he contacted me and thanked me for blogging about his study. He also informed me that he is a homeschool graduate and used my courses in his education. I recently contacted him to see if he would be willing to be a part of my homeschool graduate project, and he graciously agreed.

Dr. Ewert was homeschooled K-12, as were his four siblings. Like many homeschoolers, his parents’ primary motivation was to school their children using a Christian worldview. However, unlike most of the homeschool graduates I have talked with and written about, he was homeschooled in British Columbia, Canada. This actually made access to university a bit more difficult for him. Most British Columbia universities weren’t “homeschool friendly” like U.S. universities, so when he graduated from homeschooling, he started his higher education at Kwantlen University College, which was pretty much the Canadian equivalent of a community college. After two semesters, he transferred to Trinity Western University to finish his degree.

He said he had developed a computer obsession by the age of 10, so he knew he wanted to study computers. At Kwantlen, he started studying computer information systems. He transferred to Trinity when he realized he should be studying computer science instead. Had he started out in computer science at Trinity, this would have made graduating in four years a bit easier. That’s the only real negative aspect he could think of regarding his homeschooling.

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