8th December 2011

“Lewis Black did a stand-up routine a few years back in which he said that a significant proportion of the American people think that the 'The Flintstones' is a documentary. Turns out he was right. Thirty percent of Texans agree that humans and dinosaurs lived on the earth at the same time.”

Professor David Prindle

29 Responses to “8th December 2011”

  1. Xhim Says:

    Did anyone ask why?

  2. Dan Says:

    Xhim,
    I’ve asked why. I never received a satisfactory answer however.

  3. Xhim Says:

    There was a dry riverbed in Texas which at a certain sediment level seemed to have human and raptor footprints mixed in with each other (not quite sure who was chasing who). It was discovered, but no scientists wanted to examine it closely enough to verify or disprove it. So it hung in limbo for years, but was cited widely in non-scientific literature. Finally a Christian businessman funded a scientific investigation so it could finally be taken out of the grey. The tests (no idea how they tested) declared the evidence insufficient to indicate dino/human co-existence, but were not universally accepted as valid, even by non-Creationists. In the meantime, of course, there was enough publicity (at least in certain circles) to keep it being talked about for years.

  4. Dan Says:

    Xhim,
    A few questions in response to that anecdote:

    (1) Where can I read more about this for more background information on this case?

    (2) Even as you tell it, that doesn’t mean anything. It’s inconclusive.

    (3) Why the interest in the first place? It doesn’t explain why, given the existing archaeological knowledge, anyone even thought that co-existence of dinos and humans was even remotely possible to start with.

  5. Xhim Says:

    Dan, be careful of writing off the evidence before you look at it. Of course it would be interesting if it was conclusive, but to say that co-existence is impossible is a statement of faith, not science. Yes, it flies in the face of everything we think we know about Archaeology. Yes, if it had turned out to be real, all the textbooks would have to be rewritten. But what amazes me is that the scientific community showed no interest in it for years. Was that an example of clinging to my own presuppositions no matter what? Was the avoidance fear of having to abandon something that they had invested themselves in? Scientists are also human, and tend to reject what is uncomfortable.

    I am sorry I can’t give you more background. This is a really old story, probably 20 years or more. If I could at least remember the name of the river you could google it.

    And yes, it was inconclusive and nothing was proven. But that is where the idea got popularized.

  6. Dan Says:

    Dan, be careful of writing off the evidence before you look at it.

    That’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s rather shocking that creationists have written off so much evidence before looking at it. For myself, I’m aware of the paleontological evidence, and I’m not willing to write it off. I’ll consider new evidence too, but give me some initial, unstudied anecdote and I WON’T just drop all of the accumulated knowledge that science has given us thus far UNTIL it’s been studied.

    Honestly, I’m rather disturbed that you think it’s ME who’s writing off evidence here.

  7. Scarlett Says:

    I suspect Hollywood is to blame!

  8. The Heretic Says:

    Oh come on (eyes rolling wildly) – Everyone knows that atheists have been burying dinosaur bones and manufacturing old fossil prints for hundreds of years. It is a huge conspiracy against the church. We do all of the crop circles too.

  9. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Xhim has demonstrated over and over again, slipping in a completely absurd idea with zero reference to any academic or intelligent reference in a vainglorious attempt to pass that off as a credible statement. Just pure unadulterated silliness.

    That is core to the micro strategy of the know-nothing religionista as demonstrated not just in this forum but on a larger level: Ken Ham’s Creationsist museum.

    There is zero evidence of dinosaurs in the t-rex/brontosaurus sense of the word dinosaur having every existed with bi-pedal hominids.

    Now if you want to get fancy and claim that birds are decendant dinosaurs then you will have to address the sticky subject of man evolving from apes.

    Dan you are deserving of Xhim’s apology but like logic and reason he is incapable of that.

  10. Jeff Says:

    I’m surprised that nobody picked up on the one problem with Xhim’s story – H. Sap and raptors co-exist today. Around here, next door to Hinckley, OH, we call ’em Turkey Buzzards when they come home in March. But we also have a number of different hawks, including red tails, and more types of owls than I care to count. (City raised, but living in the country. Got to watch them small dogs sometimes when certain shadows pass over. Almost lost my wire haired fox terrier to a bald eagle once.) Raptor and human tracks in the same strata have can have nothing to do with H. Sap and Dino’s in the same time frame.

    BTW, just a bit of evidence in the argument over climate change – the buzzards have been showing up earlier and earlier (only by a few days), but it’s starting to screw up the celebration, which is the township’s major day in the sun every year. Buzzard watchin’ brings in some tourist dollars every spring.

  11. Xhim Says:

    If I owe Dan an apology, I offer it gladly. And I certainly don’t deny that Creationists ignore uncomfortable evidence. We all do. It was Dan’s “Why the interest in the first place?” that threw up the red flag. I didn’t mean to be offensive, and I am not claiming that this little bit of disputed trivia is a deal breaker. I am simply pointing out our (dangerous) tendency – on all sides – to write off whatever may threaten our presuppositions without even giving them a cursory glance.

  12. Jeff Says:

    Sorry – I should have said “might not have anything to do…”

  13. Jeff Says:

    Before anyone takes it the wrong way, my point was that nobody had to be doing anything nefarious for the story to be interpreted wrong. Ever since Jurassic Park, most folks think that RAPTORS means the Velocoraptor of the movie – but there’s another type that would make the story perfectly true without any problems with the currently accepted science.

  14. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Jeff I did add

    “Now if you want to get fancy and claim that birds are decendant dinosaurs then you will have to address the sticky subject of man evolving from apes.”

    That this quietly slipped away, ignore by solomon and Xhim, doesn’t surprise me.

  15. Xhim Says:

    I’m afraid I had fallen into what Jeff brought up: identifying raptors with the velocoraptor from the movie. Since those weren’t buzzard tracks in the river I didn’t feel obligated to respond.

  16. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Of course Xhim, of course. I understand completely. It was the movie thing. Got it!

  17. CaptainZero Says:

    http://paleo.cc/paluxy.htm

  18. Dan Says:

    It was Dan’s “Why the interest in the first place?” that threw up the red flag.

    Why would it throw up a “red flat” for anyone with a basic background knowledge of paleontology??? Seriously, Xhim, are you really demanding that I “forget” the huge body of well researched studies that have already been conducted and take seriously a flimsy not-yet-studied example???

    Apparently you are!

    Come back to me with something not so flimsy as an unstudied anecdote, and I WILL consider it seriously. Give me this b*llsh*t, and I’ll think you’re a fool.

  19. CaptainZero Says:

    I’ve seen human footprints in the mud and the Paluxy prints don’t look human to me. More importantly, they’re also unconvincing to any scientist that’s looked at ’em. As with a previous quote, the “Flintstones Theory” proponents are relying on nothing more than assertion. And unfortunately, their ignorance obscures something much more exciting: Dinosaur foot prints! How cool is that?

  20. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    I went out and purchased some swim flippers and plodded threw some mud and then had my daughter walk threw the mud stepping near the flipper prints. I let the mud dry, made a plaster cast, and then sold the plaster cast to Ken Ham. The plaster cast is now displayed at the idiot, Oops! I mean the creationist museum.

    Xhim went to the creationsit museum, saw my plaster cast, and was immediately convinced that Jesus saved the world. Then he drank a diet Fanta orange and ate some Milk Duds.

  21. Xhim Says:

    You guys crack me up! Have I not adequately asserted the (at best) tenuous nature of the footprint thing? (BTW, thanks, CaptainZero for the link!) I didn’t find it particularly convincing myself. But it gives some background to the rather ludicrous Prindle quote. Considering the Paluxy is in Texas, and a lot of Texans would have visited the site or known someone who had, it is not so entirely unfeasible that 30% of Texans hold this view. Dan, I didn’t expect you to ignore “the huge body of well researched studies that have already been conducted and take seriously a flimsy not-yet-studied example.” But I was very surprised that you found the flimsy not-yet-studied example uninteresting.
    Those people who question or outright reject Darwinism have definitely been exposed to it. They don’t reject the evidence before they look at it. They reject it AFTER they look at it. Now, from your perspective that is voluntary blindness. But this discussion is starting to sound like a group of atheists doing what you claim religious people do: rejecting evidence or arguments out of hand before you even look at it/them.

  22. Dan Says:

    You guys crack me up! Have I not adequately asserted the (at best) tenuous nature of the footprint thing?

    Yes, and you were aghast that I took it as that.

    Dan, I didn’t expect you to ignore “the huge body of well researched studies that have already been conducted and take seriously a flimsy not-yet-studied example.”

    Yes you did. Or you wouldn’t have been shocked that I asked, “So why all the interest in this footprint thing?”

    But I was very surprised that you found the flimsy not-yet-studied example uninteresting.

    Did I not ask for more information???

  23. Dan Says:

    Also, Xhim,

    Those people who question or outright reject Darwinism have definitely been exposed to it. They don’t reject the evidence before they look at it.

    That’s news to me. I’d like to hear more or meet such a person, as I’ve never met a creationist who had seriously considered that one of their given assumptions – that the universe was created by a god – might actually be incorrect.

    And please keep in mind that I’m saying this as someone who graduated with a Bachelor’s in Molecular Biology from Lehigh University, AKA the university biology department where Michael Behe is a professor. Yeah, I attended seminars and had discussions with him as part of a semester-long course in Evolution vs Intelligent Design, with reading material including Gould, Dawkins, Behe, Denton, etc. I’ve also read extensively his work since then, and his testimony at the Kitzmiller vs Dover Board of Education. And through all of that I was never ever given the impression that he’d actually objectively considered the possibility that the Modern Synthesis* might be correct.

    *FYI – I find a lot of reasons to be annoyed by people who refer to Evolution as Darwinism, as though modern ecology and evolutionary biology weren’t completely transformed by the likes of Mayr, Simpson, Dhobzansky, Wilson and MacArthur, among others.

  24. Xhim Says:

    Wow, Dan. I’m impressed! Really, I am not being sarcastic. So when you cling to evolution, it is not because it is the only thing you have been taught. I accept that, and I respect you for it.
    Do you really think anyone is totally “objective” when they are confronted with a viewpoint that clashes with their previous standpoint? Were you, when you attended the E vs. ID class? I can say I am not. I have to force myself into the new perspective, and try to see it with other eyes, because my tendency is to reject out of hand anything that makes me uncomfortable. That’s why I participate in this site. It stretches me.
    BTW, if Darwinism is not the appropriate term, I’m kind of at a loss. I don’t like to say evolution, because I don’t know anyone who rejects that evolution takes place within a species or even genus. So up till now I thought the best way to express that would be to use Darwinism. Is “Modern Synthesis” a more appropriate term?

  25. CaptainZero Says:

    What people that don’t understand science fail to understand is that science has a mechanism for dealing with the biases that Xhim talks about. Of course we all have biases that make true objectivity at best an aspirational goal. But unlike religion, science encourages its practitioners to attack each other’s ideas. Only those ideas that survive the onslaught are elevated to the level of a theory. The more unsuccessful challenges a theory withstands, the stronger the theory is.

    With this in mind, the Theory of Evolution is one of the strongest theories we’ve ever come up with. The attacks against it have all withered under its explanatory power to the point where, while it’s ALWAYS acceptable for people to question it, there’s very little to be gained from doing so.

    The scientist that manages to disprove Evolution would be one of the most famous people in history. To suggest that they’ve treated Evolution (or any other theory) with kid gloves is, well, stupid.

    Finally, IF (giant IF) science ever manages to disprove Evolution, I and every other rational person will discard it as well. I don’t expect that to happen.

  26. CaptainZero Says:

    PS – I saw that Lewis Black routine in his HBO special. Really funny stuff.

  27. CaptainZero Says:

  28. Dan Says:

    Xhim,
    Why use the word “cling” to evolution? (Even if you’re not applying it to me.) It gives you away as a fool who ignores the body of scientific knowledge.

    Do you really think anyone is totally “objective” when they are confronted with a viewpoint that clashes with their previous standpoint?

    So all viewpoints are equivalent and empirically empty? Nonsense. Again, that gives you away as someone playing the fool.

    If you want a more detailed understanding of the Modern Synthesis, there are a few books out there that can help. In the context of the entire history of biology, check out Ernst Mayr’s The Growth of Biological Thought. It’s a deep read though, and over the head of most laypersons probably. But generally I think you’re trying to refer to phylogenic change. The principal concepts to learn for that phenomenon are cladogenesis, sympatric vs allopatric speciation, common ancestry, divergent vs convergent evolution, and descent with modification. Perhaps punctuated equilibrium too.

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