Monday, 27 April 2015

Trillions of Stone Tools - a commenter rebuts a YEC spin

It is hardly surprising that YECs will do anything to try to wave away the overwhelming evidence for an ancient human and prehuman existence on this planet. The comments at Naturalis Historia with reference to the error in the PLoS ONE article show this YEC tendency in clear sight. This comment in particular caught my eye. It began by pointing out that one of the commenter who raised the question of errors in the PLoS ONE article was a YEC, then continued:
He’s currently discussing the calculation error in this paper at a creationist Facebook group (here:, where credulous readers will interpret it as a mighty blow against evolution. Unless they make some effort to look for your blog (which they’ll need to do, since Mark has not provided a link to it) members of the group will be left with the impression that Mark was the first to notice this error and that the article has been removed as a direct consequence of his intervention.
Mark is careful not to inform his readers that the error was already picked up by a commenter on your blog more than a month ago, that you responded to the pickup as soon as possible, and that he is therefore late to the party. Additionally, Mark has concealed from his readers the fact that you have followed up your original reply to him, explaining why the article will now remain on your blog.
In private correspondence with me, Mark has claimed that the identification of this error ‘removes one faulty argument in favour of evolution.’ I do not find his claim credible.
The reported comment by the YEC that this error 'removed one faulty argument in favour of evolution' is puzzling as it does nothing of the sort. The main evidence for human evolution does not come from the density and volume of stone tool artifacts, which is not 'evidence' for evolution per se, but evidence for stone tool manufacture over a considerable period of time, one inconsistent with a recent creation of human beings. Rather, it comes from areas such as:
The growing sophistication of stone tools seen as as we move from the Oldowan to the Acheulean to the Mousterian industries and beyond do provide valuable information about ancient human behaviour. However, the density of stone tool artifacts is not evidence for or against human-ape common ancestry (again, we see the YEC failure to differentiate between evolution as fact, theory, and path), and any YEC who implies that it is, and that eliminating it would weaken the scientific consensus on this point betrays a superficial grasp of the subject.

Any YEC who really believes that the scientific evidence excludes evolution will need to do more than misrepresent the subject within the obscurity of a Facebook page. As vertebrate palaeontologist Per Ahlberg pointed out when discussing tetrapod evolution with a denialist:
OK, fine, if that's what you think, why don't you marshal your arguments into a paper and submit it to a scientific journal? I'm serious: the Intertubes is all very well for discussing ideas in a general way, but if you have a real scientific point to make you need to get it out in the form of a proper paper in a peer-reviewed journal. Otherwise it won't be taken seriously.
While special creationists in our community fail to get their arguments "out in the form of a proper paper in a peer-reviewed journal", there is simply no reason for those who are intimately aware of the evidence for evolution to take their claims seriously, particularly when their comments show that they are unfamiliar with what mainstream scientists regard as evidence for human-ape common ancestry.