A Snail’s Tale: Debunking a Global Flood

Consider the plight of poor Discus macclintocki. Actually, in this story, both of them: snails.  A pair of lovers that would eventually become bit players in a Hollywood movie starring Russell Crowe.

Discus macclintocki

Discus macclintocki

Now an endangered species living mostly in Iowa, the two particular snails we’re speaking of are even more endangered at the moment, because they’ve just stepped… err… slithered, off the long plank of an ark that’s come to rest on Mount Ararat in what’s now modern day Turkey.

These two snails are having a bad day. It’s a 20 hour, 35 minute flight to the closest airport near the Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa (the only place we know they can survive) but airplanes won’t be invented for several thousand more years.

Map: Mt. Ararat to Iowa

A 10,050 kilometer journey

There are no buses or cars either. Not that a snail could drive.  They could hitch a ride, but  the only boat in existence has just been ditched on a mountain, where it will be found, unmoved, in multiple locations, over and over again, thousands of years later (6).

These snails need to get to Iowa, and they need to get there in a hurry. They can’t survive harsh temperatures, requiring a cool habitat such as the north-facing talus slopes of their eventual home, where the ground temperature rarely exceeds 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) thanks to underground ice caves that don’t exist where they’ve just been stranded, or anywhere along the route they must travel (4).

Another problem for Discus macclintocki is that there is no food for the journey. These snails feed mainly on leaf litter, but a global flood has just destroyed all life on the planet. The flood lasted for over a year (1) (2), so there’s no leaf litter left behind — it’s all soaked up and rotted away.

Hopefully, some type of miracle will happen and there will be leaf litter available when the snails reach Iowa, but they’re going to have to move fast. They’ve got at least 6,200 miles (10,050km) to cover (8).

The problem is, snails don’t move fast. They’re lucky they weren’t trampled by the elephants and other animals coming down the gangplank of the ark.   References from hypertextbook.com have snails moving between 0.013 meters per second (fast) to 0.0028 meters per second (slow) (6).  Let’s ignore for the moment that we have an ark full of hungry creatures that would love to feed on these slow-moving snails…

And let’s be generous and say that Discus macclintocki is a speed demon and moves at the faster rate, 0.013 meters per second. If this pair of snails doesn’t stop to eat, go to the bathroom, mate, or smell the roses, they can cover the 10,050 kilometers in 24.497 years.

24 years to make the journey to Iowa with no food, traveling non-stop. But there’s a problem.

The life span of Discus macclintocki is 5 to 7 years (3).

So maybe the snails, realizing they were never going to make it to the promised land, decided to stop and breed and let a future generation complete the journey.

But there’s a problem.

These snails reproduce by laying eggs in leaf litter, and require a cool habitat (~ 50 degrees F), and none of this exists where they’re stranded.

But let’s pretend a miracle happened, and the snails somehow found food and somehow survived the post-flood temperatures, and somehow lived much longer than the 5 to 7 years required to make the 24 year journey to Iowa. But…

You guessed it: there’s a problem.

It’s name is the Atlantic Ocean.

You see, snails breathe air, and they don’t swim.

(1)  Yes, Noah’s Flood May Have Happened, But Not Over the Whole Earth

(2)  How Long did the flood last?

(3)  Iowa Pleistocene Snail (Discus macclintocki)

(4)  IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Discus macclintocki

(5)  Speed of a Snail (The Physics Factbook)

(6)  Noah’s Ark Found in Turkey?

(7) WordPress Ready, Set, Done PingBack Link

(8) Latitude, Longitude, Distance Calculations
39.7019° N, 44.2983° E  (Mt. Ararat)
42.4981° N, 96.3956° W  (Sioux City, IA)
Distance 10050 km (6,244.78 miles)


Nurses Against Mandatory Patient Safety

I’ve just run across a post in a Facebook group that epitomizes my favorite Isaac Asimov quote:

“There is a cult of ignorance […] nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.”

Here’s the post, from a group known as Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines:
CaptureLet’s concentrate on the highlighted portion:   If you are a nurse or other health care provider in direct contact with patients, not only is it your employer’s right to know which medical diagnoses and/or vaccinations you’ve had, it is the patient’s right to know. 

You see, like bad advice, diseases can be passed along from person to person.  In the case of a medical provider who comes into contact with a lot of infectious disease, the odds of passing along the disease increases– much in the same way the odds of receiving bad advice increase for those coming into more frequent contact with the bad advice found in the Nurses Against Bad Vaccines forum.

Perhaps the nurse who wrote this gem of a post has never heard of contagious diseases such as Ebola.  If I’m a patient and my nurse has Ebola, he is carrying with him a near-certain death sentence (1) —  a highly contagious death-sentence during certain stages of the disease.  Certain death for him; very likely certain death for me.  I don’t have a right to know?  Really?

There’s a word for this idea, and that word describes the material that comes out of the back ends of male cattle after a long day of feeding.  (To prevent offending the delicate sensibilities of my readers, I don’t want to say the word “bullshit” in my blog.)


Back to the subject…

If my medical care provider has been diagnosed with an infectious disease, I have a right to know his/her medical condition.  Going back to the Isaac Asimov quote:  the nurse may feel that he/she has a democratic right to keep this information secret.  However, not realizing the danger he/she poses to me is scientific ignorance on the nurse’s part, and it does not trump the patient’s scientific knowledge.  Come to think of it, it doesn’t trump the patient’s rights either.

But What if the Nurse Isn’t Infected Yet?
Maybe an already-infected Ebola patient is an unfair example.  In the spirit of sincerity and fairness, let’s look at pre-infection cases involving more common infectious diseases that are preventable by safe and effective vaccines which are readily available: Influenza,  Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Chickenpox (2).  (Of these, Measles is particularly deadly in children (3), and Chickenpox can cause extreme complications (and even death) in adults (4).)

What the author of this Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines post is really campaigning against is getting vaccinated and/or making their vaccination status known.  Do I as a patient have a right to know if my nurse has been vaccinated, and/or demand removal from the doctor’s office of nurses who haven’t?

Pseudoscience groups have yet to come up with a shred of evidence that any vaccine I’ve mentioned here is dangerous, while study after study has shown that vaccinations are key to preventing the spread of these diseases.  I’ve blogged on this twice with exhaustive lists of references (5) (6).

If my nurse has not been vaccinated against infectious diseases, I have a right to know.  Because of herd immunity (7) and the fact that no vaccine provides a 100% guarantee, it’s especially important that an unvaccinated health care provider doesn’t come anywhere near myself or a loved one. To be blunt, I have a right to know if my nurse is a potential Typhoid Mary (8).

Health care workers are exposed to more potential virus carriers than you or I.  That’s a fact of life in the hospital or doctor’s office.  There’s a reason that experts recommended that the first people to receive the first Ebola vaccines be healthcare providers (9) — not only were they most at risk — they were the most likely to become breeding grounds for the virus and pass it on to other people.

Because a health care worker’s first priority is the care of the patient, and vaccines do not place the health care worker at risk, patients have a right to know if their health care provider is an unvaccinated breeding ground for a highly infectious disease.

Legal Precedent/Expectations
But is there a legal precedent for this?  Are there any other professions where both the employer and the consumer have a legal expectation to know the health status of the employee?

Well, yes.  As a matter of fact, there is.

Have you ever flown on a commercial airliner?  The health requirements for airline pilots are quite strict (10).  When an anti-vaccine nurse steps onto her flight from Dallas to Miami, she knows for a fact that the pilot in the cockpit is certifiably free of nearly two dozen serious medical conditions (11).   Why?  Because the health and safety of others are directly affected by the pilot.

If the pilot has a problem in flight, it very quickly becomes a problem for every passenger on the plane.

Sounds a lot like vaccinations, doesn’t it?  Any anti-vaccine nurses out there willing to fly on a Delta Airlines flight piloted by a woman suffering from angina pectoris, epilepsy, or substance abuse?   I didn’t think so.

So, no, a person whose work directly involves the safety of others does not have a right to expectation of privacy concerning health matters that would adversely and directly affect others, and/or engage in health behavior that would adversely and directly affect others.  Nurses, get your vaccinations.

In an upcoming article, I’ll be taking down some specific, dangerously false information being put out by anti-vaccine groups, including the hilarious claim that your best defense against the Shingles infection is repeated exposure to/infection by Chickenpox.  Until then, I’ll leave you with a photo of myself getting the 45th flu shot of my life, and encourage you to talk to your doctor and get one for yourself and your children as well.

I’m not dead yet!


(1) Medline Plus, Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever

(2) Vaccines.gov

(3) Vaccines to Prevent Measles

(4) CDC – Chickenpox Complications

(5)  The state With the Highest Vaccination Rate Has the Highest Infant Mortality Rate

(6)  Uneducated Chiropractor and Nurse Endanger Life of Three Month Old Child

(7)  Herd Immunity

(8)  Typhoid Mary

(9)  A looming problem: How to ration Ebola vaccines and medicines

(10)  FAA:  Pilot Medical Certification Questions and Answers

(11)  FAA:  Disqualifying Conditions for Pilot Certification

“The state With the Highest Vaccination Rate Has the Highest Infant Mortality Rate”

It’s rare to run across facts from an anti-vaccine proponent, so it shocked me when I found out this one was true:

maryjo-blurAccording to a 2010 CDC report on infant mortality, Mississippi led the USA with 9.62 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (1). Gleefully, anti-vaxxers point out multiple references showing Mississippi also leads the nation in vaccinating children, with rates at or better than 99.9% overall. For example see references (2) and (3).

As a scientist, I’m forced to concede facts, and here we have one:  the state with the best vaccination record is also losing children at the highest rate.

So what’s the problem here? Are vaccinations failing to protect the children of Mississippi as the anti-vaccination forum post claimed? Or, worse yet, are vaccinations somehow harming the children?

Well, as is often the case, just because someone is throwing a fact out at you, it doesn’t mean they’re being honest. I’ve always found this to be true of the anti-vaccination crowd, so I did a bit of research. My suspicions were confirmed, and what’s really happening in Mississippi is obvious.

Comparing Apples to Oranges
The problem is that Mississippi children are dying at birth, before they ever have a shot at vaccination (no pun intended). Or, they’re dying from causes that couldn’t be helped by a vaccine. For example, how do you vaccinate a child in the womb against a parent who smokes (smoking causes pre-mature birth, which leads to higher infant mortality)?

According to a 2013 Mississippi Infant Mortality Report (4), pre-term birth complications are the leading causes of infant death. Birth defects account for 19.1% of deaths, low birth weight/prematurity 15.2%, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) 10.6%… accidents, maternal complications, respiratory distress, and infections present at birth are all in the top 10 – none possibly preventable (or caused by) vaccines.

Let’s say this again because it’s the point anti-vaxxers intentionally choose to ignore: Mississippi infants are dying before they ever live long enough to get vaccinated.

Another major contributor to infant mortality in Mississippi is socioeconomic conditions. According to the same report (4), poor and un-insured women, teens, and African-American women are more likely to lose babies due to pre-term births.  For example, there are 14.1 pre-term births for white Mississippian women vs. 20.6 for blacks per 1,000 live births.  As pointed out two paragraphs earlier, pre-term birth complications are the leading cause of infant death in this state.

Why am I harping on about social and economic conditions in a discussion of infant mortality rates in Mississippi?  Well, we know they’re a contributor to higher infant mortality. Guess which is the poorest state in the USA? Yes, it’s Mississippi (5).   How do you vaccinate a child against a mother’s lack of access to proper pre-natal care?

The socioeconomic study is reinforced by a CDC study (6) that shows infant mortality rates nationwide for black women are more than twice those for white women. Why would this matter for infant mortality in Mississippi? According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Mississippi has the highest percentage of African-Americans in the United States (7).

Last but not least, exposure to cigarette smoke is known to have an effect on low birthweight, which in turn increases the risk of infant mortality (4). A 2013 Gallup poll places Mississippi third in the nation when it comes to addiction to cigarette smoking, behind only Kentucky and West Virginia (8). No wonder so many children are dying. How do you vaccinate a child against a parent who smokes?

So now we know why so many children are dying in Mississippi, and anti-vaccine nutters are comparing apples to oranges when quoting infant mortality and vaccination rates for the state.

But let’s not stop there – let’s compare vaccinated Mississippi children against unvaccinated children in other states.

Comparing Apples to Apples
Before poorly informed anti-vaccination campaigners started making their rounds, measles was a disease that was considered beaten. Now, thanks to unvaccinated children, it’s on the comeback, and people are dying (12).

In the news recently, the three states with the highest number of measles outbreaks were Ohio [138], California [60], and New York City [26] (9). How do OH, CA, and NY compare to well-vaccinated Mississippi when it comes to MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccinations?   If you’re anti-vaccine lady whose quote opened this article, you’re not going to like the answer:  Ohio, California, and New York lag Mississippi by 3 to 7 percent in vaccination levels (9).  And that lady needs to sit down now and hold on to her seat:

How many measles cases have been reported in highly vaccinated Mississippi?  In the last decade, there has been one confirmed case of measles in the Magnolia State.

To drive the point home, most of the 288 measles cases reported in the USA this year have been in unvaccinated persons or those with unknown vaccination status (9).  So Mississippi is clearly doing a great job, once the child lives long enough to get vaccinated.

If the anti-vaccine lady is still seated, she should stay there, because it gets worse.

Measles isn’t the only example for which we have hard evidence.  In 2012, the largest Chickenpox outbreak in the USA hit Vigo County in Indiana (11). 84 cases were reported in a county that usually sees less than 10 per year. Chickenpox can cause serious problems for older children and adults and is extremely contagious.

In 2012, the state of Indiana reported 469 cases of Chickenpox. Mississippi reported only 11 (13). Not surprisingly, Indiana ranks very poorly compared to Mississippi – approximately 7% less of the Indiana population is vaccinated against Chickenpox (3).  Again, when you look at the facts, Mississippi’s vaccination programs are working, while states with poor vaccination records are suffering the consequences.

When reading anti-vaccination posts in online forums and on Facebook, it’s best to keep an old saying in mind:

 “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure”

The quote has been attributed to various sources including Mark Twain, but regardless of who said it, the truth behind the Mississippi vaccination/infant mortality myth is nothing more than a phenomenon with a fancy name of false or illusory correlation: you simply take two numbers that have nothing to do with each other, and convince your audience that there’s a relationship between them.

I’ll close by a fun example of false correlation that everyone can understand, courtesy of the Spurious Correlation Generator at http://www.tylervigen.com: Did you know that taking anti-diabetic drugs is directly linked to your chances of drowning in a fishing boat accident?

Hey, anti-vaccine believers, the numbers don’t lie!


(1)  CDC Infant Deaths Per 1,000 Live Births, By State: 2010

(2)  Advisory Board Company Daily Briefing – States With the Best – and Worst – Vaccine Coverage (August 2013)

(3)  CDC MMWR Vaccination Coverage Among Children in Kindergarten –USA, 2012-13 School Year

 (4)  Mississippi Department of Health and Vital Statistics

(5) State & County Quick Facts, United States Census Bureau

(6)  Recent Declines in Infant Mortality in the United States, NCHS Data Brief, April 2013 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db120.pdf

(7)  Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals By Race, U.S. Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0056/twps0056.html

(8)  Gallup Well-Being: In U.S., Smoking Rate Loest in Utah, Highest in Kentucky http://www.gallup.com/poll/167771/smoking-rate-lowest-utah-highest-kentucky.aspx

(9)  CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

(10)  Mississippi Morbidity Report, Vol 24, No. 12. Dec 2008

(11)  Largest Chickenpox Outbreak in the U.S. Hits Vigo County in Indiana  (Huffington Post 11/27/2012)

(12)  World Health Organization “Measles”

(13)  CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Summary of Notifiable Diseases – United States 2012

Uneducated Chiropractor and Nurse Endanger Life of Three Month Old Child


It all started with a Facebook post in a forum named “Unvaccinated America”. A mother, claiming to be an “educated Registered Nurse”, reports she suspects her 3 month child has Whooping Cough (pertussis). After listing unsubstantiated, ineffective folk cures she’s tried (butter, oil, fermented cod liver, etc.), she asks THE INTERNET for advice on treating her child.

The obvious question here is “shouldn’t she have taken the baby to a doctor?” If you have time to shop for fermented cod liver oil while your child is dying, is a side trip to the doctor an inconvenience?

But it gets worse.

The mother proudly reports that she has never had her child vaccinated. Sadly, the first and best line of defense against Whooping Cough IS vaccination. The vaccine is safe and effective (see CDC recommendations in references at end of article). This illness could have been prevented. And a serious illness it is:

Whooping Cough is a highly contagious disease caused by a bacterial infection. Bordetella pertussis is the culprit. The bacteria’s effect on the body is violent coughing, often to the point that breathing becomes difficult or impossible. In children under the age of one, such as the baby who’s the subject of this article, the disease can be fatal.

It’s estimated that around 200,000 children die each year from Whooping Cough out of an infected total of 16 million. In the 12 year period beginning 2000, 255 children in the USA died from the disease. All but 34 of those were under 3 months old. Remember, the baby discussed in this article is three months old.

Half of babies who get Whooping Cough require hospitalization. 25% of those will get pneumonia, a second highly dangerous disease. Seizures and brain damage are common outcomes.

But it gets worse.

In the case of our endangered baby and the Facebook plea for help, ENTER “MR G.”, a self described “Doctor of Chiropractic”. If you thought that the mother was endangering her child with snake oil — err, sorry — fermented cod liver oil —was bad, Mr. G. makes it worse. Rather than recommending the proper treatment, which is immediate hospitalization and treatment with antibiotics, our friendly, misguided chiropractor takes us on an irrelevant journey of the nervous system, suggests removing sugar from the baby’s diet, and — by all means — get the baby to a chiropractor as soon as possible!!! And friends, wouldn’t you know it, Mr. G. just happens to have the name of a good chiropractor he can pass along if the mother will just private message him.

I’m sorry. Get the baby to a chiropractor?

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, perhaps a trip to the undertaker would be more appropriate. This baby is in the highest possible risk group for fatalities and is being denied every known working treatment. Will it even be alive tomorrow?

On October 1, 2014, less than two weeks after this article was written, an unvaccinated baby died from whooping cough in New South Wales, Australia.  This was the 3rd unvaccinated baby to die in New South Wales in the past 5 years.


About Pertussis:

About Vaccination:

Treatment After Infection:

CDC Fact Sheet for Parents:

Pertussis Worldwide:

Baby Dies from Whooping Cough:

1. Images of screen snapshots of facebook posts in a public forum are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

2. Image of the young boy with Whooping Cough courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Image Library (PHIL), image ID #6378

Original post from mother

Original post from mother, a woman claiming to be a Registered Nurse who has left her baby unvaccinated and now suspects it has Whooping Cough (pertussis)

Reply from "helpful" chiropractor

Reply from a chiropractor suggesting (according to established medical procedures — see references) every possible wrong treatment for an endangered 3 month old child.

Funny Horoscope of the Day

Funny horoscope of the day. You’ve got to be really careful when the moon aspects Uranus. I’ve already debunked astrology in a previous post so there’ll be no long-winded article here. Just read and enjoy the nonsense, remembering that this horoscope is supposed to be accurate for 1 in every 12 people on the entire planet. That’s five hundred ninety-three million, seven hundred fifty thousand people with anal lunar problems in one day. Proctologists are going to have a field day.10672247_323540441164642_5887971453034015339_n

Attention Diet Soft Drink Haters (Aspartame Myth Debunked)



Would you intentionally drink something that turns into methanol and formaldehyde in your body?


I’ve got bad news for you then. Head to your refrigerator and throw out all the fruit juices and fruit. Don’t forgot those tomatoes and tomato juice. Sorry to break the bad news, but citrus fruits and juices, just like the artificial sweetener aspartame (found in diet soft drinks) break down into methanol and formaldehyde after you eat/drink them.

The only difference is that the citrus fruits usually produce MORE methanol and formaldehyde.

It gets worse. Are you a beer lover? Do you like wine or mixed drinks? The ethyl alcohol in your drinks is eventually broken down into a close poisonous relative of formaldehyde known as acetaldehyde. So while you’re tossing out the fruit and juices, don’t forget the beer, wine, and bourbon. (There are of course other dangers of alcohol abuse. That’s fodder for another article. I just want to point out the formaldehyde issue here).

Now that you’ve thrown out the worst methanol and formaldehyde offenders, you can, in good conscience, toss out the diet soft drinks. OR KEEP READING 

It just so happens that our bodies are set up to naturally process everything that’s broken down by the digestive system when you eat a grapefruit, orange, tomato, or drink orange juice or diet soda.

True, you’re pushing even MORE methanol and formaldehyde through your system with some of the fruits than with the Diet Mountain Dew, but that’s OK — your body can handle that. There is no difference in the methanol and formaldehyde that comes from soft drinks and that that comes from citrus fruits. Period. Case closed.

In an upcoming post, I’ll be attacking another popular myth that’s back in the news lately, courtesy Dr. Oz.: do soft drinks cause cancer?

—————– References ————–

Relationship Between Aspartame, Methanol and Formaldehyde Explained
Bernadene Magnuson, Ph.D., Cantox Health Sciences International, for the Aspartame Expert Work Group (2008)
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics http://www.andeal.org/topic.cfm?cat=4089

Artificial Sweeteners: Is Aspartame Safe?
Harriet Hall
Science-Based Medicine http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/are-artificial-sweeteners-safe/

Aspartame and Formaldehyde (or not…)
Josh Dewald
What Does the Science Say?http://whatdoesthesciencesay.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/aspartame-and-formaldehyde/

Alcohol Metabolism: An Update
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Was the Grand Canyon Caused by a Global Flood?

Was the Grand Canyon carved by a global flood?


There are a lot of ways to debunk this myth. One is to look at the photos attached to this post. That’s the Colorado River winding its way through the Grand Canyon. See all those lazy “S” curves? That’s what slow moving rivers do over long periods of time. We see it everywhere on the planet. Keep this in mind as you read, please.

Now think about the Grand Canyon. It’s almost 300 miles long and around a mile deep. In spots it’s as much as ten miles wide.

Grand Canyon

Portion of the Grand Canyon from space. Note the 180 degree S-curves. (Image: NASA)

A rough estimate of the volume (how much rock it would take to fill the canyon) is 386,115,840,000,000 cubic feet. If you were kind to the global flood believers and assumed the entire canyon had been filled with light sandstone having a density of 2.8 g/cm3, the total amount of rock that would have to have been immediately gouged out by the flood would have weighed an amazing 33,746,194,212,283 TONS.

That’s over 33 TRILLION tons of rock in one fell swoop. And we’re assuming the rock is sitting there loose, waiting to be moved — which it isn’t — it’s bound to the surrounding rock.  This is supposed to be a non-technical discussion, but for those of you who remember high school physics, think back to Newton’s First Law of Motion: a mass at rest will stay at rest until it encounters a force great enough to move it.  Over 33 trillion tons of rock.  You just can’t get water moving fast enough to do the work, so the discussion should really stop here.

But let’s keep going, for the benefit of that one person out there who’s shouting “but then a miracle happened and the water moved really fast!”

Remember that picture of the canyon? Those slow, twisty “S” curves? Now, think about flood water moving at impossible speeds. Or just think about flood water moving at possible speeds. It flows FAST.

And what does our magically-fast moving flood water do?

It cuts straight lines.

Remember those “S” curves? The ones cut by slow moving water? Aha!

I had a creationist challenge me on this point once, after he claimed he understood Newton’s First Law.  Big mistake.  We know from this law that a mass (such as flood water) will always travel in the same direction (a “straight line”) unless acted on by an outside force.  We also know that if the mass (such as flood water) is acted on by an outside force, such as hitting rock, it will change speed.  It could change direction (be deflected), but that leaves the rock behind (no canyon!)  If the water slows down, it has no way of speeding up again, so it doesn’t have the necessary force to cut the rock (no canyon!)

So at this point you have to choose: was the flood water moving fast enough to move over 33 trillion tons or rock, or wasn’t it?  If it was, then it cut a straight line.  If it wasn’t, then it slowed down and couldn’t cut a 300 mile long channel in solid rock.

The Grand Canyon was carved over a very long time, slowly, as the Colorado River twisted its way through, eroding the rock, grain by grain, as it’s still doing today.

At this point, creationists will inevitably bring up Mount St. Helens, the Washington volcano that erupted in 1980, killing over 50 people and cutting a “miniature Grand Canyon” in the process.

The first thing creationists are forgetting/ignoring is that Mount St. Helens cut its “canyon” through loose volcanic ash and dirt, not rock.  That’s much, much easier.

The second thing creationists are forgetting/ignoring is that Mount St. Helens is approximately 100,000 times smaller than the Grand Canyon.  Using a 1/100,000th specimen cut in loose ash to as a model for a 300 mile long, mile high, 10 mile wide canyon cut from solid rock isn’t very good science.

But in the context of this article, perhaps the most important thing creationists are forgetting/ignoring can be best illustrated by comparing the photo of Mount St. Helens (below) to the photos of the Grand Canyon elsewhere in the article.  See all those straight lines cut by fast moving debris on Mount St. Helens?  See all the S-curves in the Grand Canyon?.

Mt. St. Helens from space

Mt. St. Helens from space. Note the straight lines cut by fast moving flood/avalanche debris.  Compare/contrast to the 180 degree twists and turns of the Grand Canyon in the other images. (Image: NASA.)

In a future post, we’ll look at the idea that the canyon wasn’t solid rock when the flood came. Believe it or not, there are people pushing the theory of a 300 mile long, one mile high, ten mile wide wall of mud. No, really!

(All images courtesy NASA. Used with permission).

Astrology Debunked: Why Uranus Shoots a Hole in an Ancient Myth

Most people are familiar with the 12 “signs” of what’s called the zodiac, an imaginary circle in the sky in which familar constellations appear — Taurus, Aquarius, Pisces, etc. Astrology claims that the paths of planets through the zodiac affect our daily lives. You’re assigned a “sign” based on the constellation the sun is in when you’re born.

The first problem is that there are 13 constellations in the zodiac, not 12. Poor Ophiucus was ignored, yet that’s where the sun is between November 29 and December 17. Those dates you see attached to horoscopes in the newspaper that tell you your sign? They’re wrong. If you’re born near the start or end of the dates for a given sign, you most likely aren’t really the sign you think you are. The sun was in another constellation on your birthday.

Astrologers claim all people on Earth can be divided up into 12 types that are all alike — or so incompatible they can’t get along (!) — and I’ve heard people claiming “I’m just like my friend Jane, we’re both Capricorns”… but when you check their birthdates, you find Jane was actually born when the sun had already crossed into Aquarius. Oops!

It gets worse. Because the Earth wobbles on its axis, where planets appeared in the zodiac when astrology was conceived isn’t where they appear today. Everything’s basically been shifted over by one “sign”. If you were a “Scorpio” a few thousand years ago, you’re now a “Libra”. Not very scientific, all this uncertainty!

Astrology claims that the positions of planets somehow have an effect on our daily lives. But when astrology was “invented”, only 5 planets were visible to the naked eye. Three more waited discovery (and then poor Pluto got demoted). If planetary positions really affected our lives, all those horoscopes written with 3 missing planets (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) were wrong.

But again, it gets worse. As of April 2014, astronomers have discovered 1,780 planets. What about them? If astrologers got it wrong with 3 missing planets, they’re now off by nearly 2,000. And to cut to the chase… nobody has ever presented evidence that the position of a planet has any outcome on your day — unless you count the fact that the removal of the planet Earth would cause a bad day for everyone 

It’s fun and entertaining to put astrology to the test. Read the horoscope in the first photo in this post to various friends and family. Ask if it applies to them. Only those born in a certain month should answer “yes”. You should get “no” from everybody else. Let me know your results and I’ll tell you which sign this is for…


Better Than Chemo, or a Modern Snake Oil Sale?


Today’s Bad Science post comes our way via the “Institute for Natural Healing” (INH), which promises a miracle cancer cure that’s better than chemo and “doesn’t attack non-cancerous cells”.

Not surprisingly, no medical research exists to back up these claims and the owner of the institute, Angela Salerno, has no medical education. According to her LinkedIn bio, she’s worked mainly in marketing. Ah… marketing… just a few clicks past the INH’s plea to drop just short of $100 on a membership to learn about these miracle cancer drugs are page after page of advertisement for “natural” supplements that will cure… well, just about everything.

Salerno’s “evidence”? A few people claiming they’ve been cured of cancer after taking her supplements. Sorry, that’s not scientific research, and she should be heavily criticized for claiming such research exists and never presenting it.

There’s even a promise of dropping 20 years from your age in 6 months! You can’t make this sh** up…. check out their web page.

Of course, we get the standard disclaimer, which you’d be well advised to pay attention to: ” The FDA has not evaluated these statements. None of the information or products discussed on this site are intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate or cure any disease.”

Damn straight!

Salerno and her institute have been accused of running scams on innocent cancer patients for quite some time now. A few links to ChicagoNow articles, which I think are particularly revealing, are at the end of this blog post.

Cancer is a very serious and danger group of diseases that aren’t going to be cured with unproven quackery. Please, if you or a loved one have cancer — or suspect you have — see a doctor immediately. Regular screenings for at-risk groups are important.

Further Reading