1,000 Years in a Day
When I first called to ask about the schedule for Dr. Sharp’s presentations, the woman on the phone urged me to attend Tuesday’s afternoon seminar, 1,000 Years in a Day. “It’s the one he really wants people to come see. It’s about Mt. St. Helens.” Well, shucks, I’d be happy to oblige. Unfortunately, geology is not my cup of tea. How will I be able to pay attention, I wondered? I won’t be able to tell, other than the fact that Dr. Sharp’s mouth is moving, if what I hear is accurate or not.
Luckily, it turns out I knew someone whose cup of tea was geology —fellow Globe blogger Jim Stone! We whisked ourselves to the auditorium, nabbed some front row seats (there wasn’t nearly as many people this time—mostly retirees, well-dressed children and their guardians) and whipped out our notebooks and cameras. See, old media? We bloggers got this journalism stuff down PAT!
Since Jim is the expert, I will let him handle parsing out facts and the falsehoods of Sharp’s geology. Even so, I really had trouble paying attention to this seminar. It had less lashing out at reality, and more rehashing what the bible said, than yesterday’s. We had some babbling about the nature of time according to the Bible (my notebook page on this section just says “TIMECUBE”), some of Dr. Sharp’s vacation slides, mangling the history of geology (Charles Lyell wasn’t a geologist because the title didn’t exist yet, you idiot), more insinuation that change and adjusting beliefs in the light of new evidence is BAD, the Ark again, implying that only a flood could rapidly bury all those fossils, a WHOOOOOLE lot of projection (“Evolution is a religion! Scientists pontificate!”). At several points I zoned out and started scribbling monsters instead of notes. I snapped back when he discussed the Smithsonian Institute’s Morgie, as he finally allowed his sputtering lunacy to surface. “In the nation’s capital they are INSTRUCTING your children—INSTRUCTING them!—to ‘touch their primitive momma!’ A few blocks from the WHITE HOUSE!” RAAAAAUGH SHARP SMASH!
Say what you will though, Dr. Sharp has at least one redeeming feature: he seems to have taste regarding Branson’s entertainment value. Which is more or less zilch, aside from the view.
An eternity later, with a little over ten minutes to spare, he finally got to the freaking volcano. Jim was in the zone, his notetaking a blur. We reached the plugs, and it was finally over. I turned to Jim and asked, “Am I right? Was that all just nonstop lies?” Jim nodded, “Ooooh yeah”. We took some goofy pictures of ourselves with the fossils, and left for Denny’s to recount the logical atrocity we just witnessed.
Missing Links and Other Evolutionary Assumptions
Jim and I can both be described as not especially religious. My friends A and K, however, are. They were open to a lot of the points creationists have, but others turned them off from the subject completely. I admit to worrying about how they would be received, as it’d be pretty obvious to the rest of the audience that they worship the wrong God, being Muslims and all. Luckily, I ended up not having to worry; more on that later.
Amusingly, before the show, the kid next to me was rattling off all he knew about dinosaurs to the woman he was with. You know all the things about T-rex from yesterday? He got them all right from memory. If only he came yesterday, he would have been in for a treat.
This time the ball was back in my court, as we were returning to evolution itself. Today’s thesis was that missing links totally, 100 percent did not exist. Most of the core themes that his arguments hinged on tonight, were erroneous from the start. Evolution is not a “ladder of progress”, it’s adapting to whatever natural pressures are applied to the population.The eye is not irreducibly complex. “Living fossils” are not the same thing as their ancient counterparts and are affected by evolutionary forces as well.
Finally, of course, there are indeed transitional fossils. See my Archaeopteryx post for an example of how Dr. Sharp deals with the obvious ones. Aside from handwaving away certain facts about Archaeopteryx and its ancestors (the latter of which he depicted as scaly, not true doc!), he also redefines “transitional fossil” into something it’s not so he can debunk it. This is my quick Photoshop reconstruction of the animal that Dr. Sharp revealed was a “missing link”:
I think I could stop right now if I wanted to. Dude is clearly wrongity wrong wrong wrong, and maybe insane. Your take home message is this: this guy thinks that whalecow is what evolution predicts. Also, T-Rex ate coconuts unspecified plant matter NOT COCONUTS BECAUSE THAT’S SILLY.
There was also a lot of quote mining in this presentation. Quote mining is a practice, infamous with creationists, of just stringing together out-of-context quotes to make scientists sound like idiots, conspirators, or secret anti-evolutionists. An example was a quote by Stephen Jay Gould, made to sound like animals suddenly appeared fully created in the fossil record. What was omitted was what Gould was describing, his hypothesis of punctuated equilibrium. He uses “suddenly” in the context of deep time, which may be thousands of years. He also did this for Darwin, Stanley Miller, and a whole bunch of other scientists.
We were running out of time, so finally he addressed hominids, much in the same way he dealt with everything else. “Oh, this was a hoax, this was a mistake, this bone was found in different sediment (lie), I know a guy who looked like a Neanderthal, this was just a human, this was just a monkey.” Plug, and out. Good, this is starting to get tedious.
Me and my friends went out to look at the merch and talk to Dr. Sharp. As said before, A and K didn’t encounter anything worse than stink eyes and a guy who was a little touchy-feely, which was a relief. Ayesha had a lot of qualms with the presentation, but also agreed with finer religious points, and Dr. Sharp himself was courteous and attentive when she asked him questions about God and time. Everything went smooth. We went to Sonic and talked about conspiracies and John Carpenter movies over fish sandwiches.
Tomorrow is the last day! What surprises await our hero? Featuring a special surprise guest, or two, or several…tune in tomorrow, same Kablam time, same Kablam blog!