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'55 Science Paper Retracted to Thwart Creationists

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the falling-on-his-sword dept.

Science 858

i_like_spam writes "The New York Times has up a story about a paper published in 1955 by Homer Jacobson, a chemistry professor at Brooklyn College. The paper, entitled 'Information, Reproduction and the Origin of Life', speculated on the chemical qualities of earth in the Hadean time, billions of years ago when the planet was beginning to cool down to the point where, as Dr. Jacobson put it, 'one could imagine a few hardy compounds could survive.' Nobody paid much attention to the paper at the time, but today it is winning Dr. Jacobson acclaim that he does not want — from creationists who cite it as proof that life could not have emerged on earth without divine intervention. So after 52 years, he has retracted the paper. 'Dr. Jacobson's retraction is in "the noblest tradition of science," Rosalind Reid, editor of American Scientist, wrote in its November-December issue, which has Dr. Jacobson's letter. His letter shows, Ms. Reid wrote, "the distinction between a scientist who cannot let error stand, no matter the embarrassment of public correction," and people who "cling to dogma."'"

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Celebration/Mourning (5, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118857)

This retraction is to be simultaneously celebrated and mourned. Celebrated in the sense that we have a true scientist who will hold up the scientific process and make every effort to prove himself and the community of scientists wrong in order to make the science stronger. When we have individuals that fail to attempt to prove their work as incorrect, we have to acknowledge that they are being driven by other motives and they are not to be trusted.

This noble effort is also to be mourned because of the manipulation and steering of science to fill political goals driven by lack of scientific understanding in the wider community.

Likely result (5, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118905)

The creationist zealots will likely take this bit of news, and embrace it as evidence that the scientific community is trying to be deceitful by withdrawing a "clearly correct" paper, for political reasons.

The amount of confirmation bias that people can exhibit when their passions are challenged is incredible.

Re:Likely result (5, Funny)

vought (160908) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118973)

The amount of confirmation bias that people can exhibit when their passions are challenged is incredible.


I can think of about 25% of the U.S. population who prove your statement incontrovertibly true.

Re:Likely result (3, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119383)

Funny, I thought Bush had a 30% approval rating.

Re:Likely result (4, Funny)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118983)

The amount of confirmation bias that people can exhibit when their passions are challenged is incredible.

Are you talking about the "humans caused global warming" crowd?

Re:Likely result (2, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119013)

[quote]The amount of confirmation bias that people can exhibit when their passions are challenged is incredible.[/quote]

This, ofcourse, only applies when your opponent is involved. You, on the other hand, are never wrong. You never have a fault in your logic and you do not suffer from even the most common logical imperfections. You are perfect.

Re:Likely result (2, Informative)

gomiam (587421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119279)

And then you notice this scientist _retracted_ his paper, thus admitting he made a mistake. Perfection, anyone?

Re:Likely result (0, Redundant)

wolff000 (447340) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119313)

WOW what a very Buddhist frame of thought. Very, very, zazen! I know it is probably not what you meant but it just really jumped out at me. Anyway, I am glad to see real science being respected. I just don't get how someone can read mythology and say this is science. It boggles the mind. There are just far too many sheeple out there.

Re:Likely result (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119367)

This, ofcourse, only applies when your opponent is involved.

Do you normally make a habit of putting words in other people's mouths, or are you making an exception in this case?

Re:Likely result (2, Interesting)

Speefnarkle1982 (901875) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119125)

"The creationist zealots will likely take this bit of news, and embrace it as evidence that the scientific community is trying to be deceitful by withdrawing a "clearly correct" paper, for political reasons."

Sounds like this guy has already done what you're proposing they'll do:

"Vance Ferrell, who said he put together the material posted on Evolution-facts.org, said if the paper had been retracted he would remove the reference to it. Mr. Ferrell said he had no way of knowing what motivated Dr. Jacobson, but said that if scientists "look like they are pro-creationist they can get into trouble.""

Seems no matter what logical steps one takes to bring the truth to light, there will be someone else turning it around for their own interests.

 

Re:Likely result (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119403)

"Vance Ferrell, who said he put together the material posted on Evolution-facts.org, said if the paper had been retracted he would remove the reference to it. Mr. Ferrell said he had no way of knowing what motivated Dr. Jacobson, but said that if scientists "look like they are pro-creationist they can get into trouble.""


Ah yes, another favorite tactic of the pseudo-scientific con-artists. "I can't say why he's doing it, but here's why he's doing it..."

Ironic curiosity (5, Interesting)

JeanPaulBob (585149) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119159)

The creationist zealots will likely take this bit of news, and embrace it as evidence that the scientific community is trying to be deceitful by withdrawing a "clearly correct" paper, for political reasons.

The amount of confirmation bias that people can exhibit when their passions are challenged is incredible.
Hmm. Out of curiosity, on what basis are you determining that such a slant would be incorrect? Obviously, you're right that confirmation bias would lead to that slant, but that doesn't say anything about whether it's correct--nor would your own biases to view such a slant as zealotry.

Where is your own opinion here coming from? Do you have the knowledge & understanding of the facts of the situation to know that such a slant would be wrong? Or does it just fit your own nice package of preconceived notions?

Re:Ironic curiosity (1)

gomiam (587421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119391)

Well, the GP's notions may be preconceived, but it seems they are supported by cold hard facts. Creationism, on the other hand, recurs to asserting that a few thousand million years (billion years in US-speak) worth of coincidences can't bring life as it is now. Yeah, sure, because throwing the dices a few million times can't result in the series that actually happens.

Re:Likely result (0)

halivar (535827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119165)

Or we'll just say that nothing is written in stone, and the papers you publish today may be retracted tomorrow when you change your minds. I don't have a stake in the original paper anyhow (never heard of it), so I don't care either way.

This is more a blow (in the long term) to the idea that science yields objective truth, IMO.

Re:Likely result (2, Informative)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119299)

It won't be retracted 'when you change your minds'.

It gets retracted when either an error is discovered in it, or new evidence is discovered which contradicts it.

This is the way science works. It is based on evidence, not beliefs.

Re:Likely result (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119331)

And the discovered error changes your mind. I didn't want to get into a semantic snit. The guy wrote something that he believed in '55 but doesn't believe today. The beliefs of established science evolve. And they are beliefs.

Fact's don't change with time. This man's beliefs about the survivability of primordial compounds did.

Re:Likely result (5, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119387)

<blockquote>Or we'll just say that nothing is written in stone, and the papers you publish today may be retracted tomorrow when you change your minds.</blockquote>
Papers are retracted when there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary of their conclusions... most of the time that happens when new facts emerge as the science progresses.
<blockquote>This is more a blow (in the long term) to the idea that science yields objective truth, IMO.</blockquote>
I think the bigger concern is that you look for "objective truth"(tm)... There is no such thing - there is only "best approximation" based on the evidence thus far obtained. Science and the scientific method just happen to provide the best framework for making reasonable judgments about the real world, based on theories, the only measure of the success of which, is their PREDICTIVE CAPACITY.

If you come up with a better system, let me know. Until then, I'll be happy with an idea, rather than a belief-based "objective truth", thank you.

Re:Likely result (2, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119421)

This is more a blow (in the long term) to the idea that science yields objective truth, IMO.
That's because, in a way, it doesn't. Science only yields the current truth, tomorrow everything we believe could be wrong. As the TFA says:
"The idea that all scientific knowledge is provisional, able to be challenged and overturned, is one thing that separates matters of science from matters of faith."

I believe that this a good thing, a lot of people dislike uncertainty, however.

People retract stuff all the time... so what! (2, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119327)

Even Einstein cooked his own theories because they did not fit his religious beliefs. After a while he came around and retracted his cooked theories.

In the 1960s, tectonic plate theory was poo-pooed as being bulshit. The PhDs of the day would ridicule tectonics and instead forwrd their own highly implausable theories. These same learned people later withdrew their claims as anti-tectonic claims became unsustainable..

Folks, science advances and so does knowledge. Material, particularly that based on opinion rather than experiment, is subject to change.

Anyone that relies on old theories may as well sign up as life members of the flat earth society.

Why? (1)

Tibixe (1138927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119069)

What's the point of doing that? He could just say "I think what I stated there is true, and even then I don't think that proves anything creationist say."

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119199)

Because, if you RTFA, you'll see he found errors in his paper. It just so happens those incorrect assertions are being used by creationists as validation of their beliefs.

The paper was written 52 years ago (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119339)

It probably isn't considered "true" anymore. In fact, there could have been something in there that, when combined with some other little fact could be used to bolster the creationists point. Of course, for me to test that little hypothesis would require that I RTFA, and I'm not about to risk that!

Re:Celebration/Mourning (3, Insightful)

ironwill96 (736883) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119079)

You're right, it should be celebrated and mourned. To me, it is bothersome that the Scientific community would celebrate it as thwarting "those who cling to dogma".

Dogma implies that people of faith are following something merely because it is pushed by a church and hammered into their skulls, not that people are capable of independent thought and coming to their own conclusions. As a person who does believe in some faith, I seem to be in a small minority (maybe a less vocal group) on Slashdot, but all of these articles bring up the lack of tolerance of people with differing views on both sides - both from people who support some version of Creationism and from those who hold to strict Scientific beliefs. I tend to compromise in the middle which I guess makes me a sell-out to both sides, but at least i'm clear about where I stand.

I hope that both sides can be more capable of independent thought and not snipe at each other constantly, it is child-ish and something that I thought we could have outgrown by now.

Re:Celebration/Mourning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119209)

Except you know for the thousands (if not millions) of supporting scientific facts available to support evolution and science, while the creationists (or "intelligent designers" as they apparently are now) have no proof for their hokey concepts and then use and twist science to make it seem like they indeed do. If you want proof of this, look at the creationist museum and tell me they aren't a little insane.

thought is the enemy of belief (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119285)

Science is a process of discovery, theory, test and adjustment of theory. It is absolutely and demonstrably independent. That's how it advances.

Belief is dogmatic. Independence of thought is not generally welcomed.

What middle ground? Neither thoughtful nor believer?

Loser.

Re:Celebration/Mourning (4, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119311)

You're right, it should be celebrated and mourned. To me, it is bothersome that the Scientific community would celebrate it as thwarting "those who cling to dogma".

I am unaware of any scientist who is celebrating this as a thwart to "those who cling to dogma". What we are celebrating is the willingness of a scientist to retract his own work when it failed to be held up to scientific investigation and contained errors. The willingness of the classically trained scientist to search for veracity and be enthusiastic enough to put their work up for criticism by ones colleagues while also be willing to retract work that cannot be held as scientific fact is what is to be celebrated.

Re:Celebration/Mourning (5, Informative)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119401)

Actually, every person who believes in a creation story really is basing this belief solely on dogma. There is absolutely no evidence supporting any of the supernatural claims in any of the genesis myths of any of the worlds' religions. None.

Scientists believe knowledge comes from evidence and the logical conclusions derivable from that evidence.
Religious people believe knowledge comes from "faith" (aka "it is written"), which is the polar opposite of evidence.

The so called "moderate" religious people exist in a state of mind called "cognitive dissonance" whereby all knowledge is derived from evidence and logic EXCEPT knowledge pertaining to topics they have been indoctrinated from birth to accept due to faith. This is your textbook dogma.

Don't take a textbook definition of dogma and call it anything else. That's really disingenuous of you.

Re:Celebration/Mourning (1, Troll)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119089)

I hope someone mods the parent up because I can identify with his statement. I'm someone who would self-identify as a Christian, but someone whom has serious concerns with most of the theories (which last time I checked are `theories` not absolute dogma), presented by both sides of the table. I definately belive in microevoultion (differentiation in specices), but recognize that there is more data than the average BIO101 professor would like to content regarding data that `does not fit` the macroevolutionary model most are fighting for or against. (e.g. irreducable complexity, cataclysmic geological events, etc.)

By education, I am a student of Sociology and it is so frustrating to me that so many sciences (such as the social sciences) there is an implicit understanding of the world based entirely on evolutionary biology. For example, there are a number of Sociological precepts that are born assuming the immutibility of evolutionary biology. Unfortunately, since these researchers aren't evolutionary biologist, they don't get presented with data that would impact `higher order` theories from which theirs implicity or explicity depents upon.

I think it is a sad state of affairs when sciences are so unwilling to debate, content with theories, hypothesis and even data that challenge the status quo. I know this is a debate that is often veiled by religion, but... what about AIDS/HIV, in that there is a large body of evidence (data) and conflicting theory (that HIV is not the cause of what we call AIDS,www.aliveandwell.com) which is almost unheard of in mainstream society where the masses should be making informed decisions regarding their health. I'm not saying I'm totally convinced by this theory but we live in a time when an alarming number of competing scientific theories (in particular with `central theories`) are relegated to the fringes rather than engaged with.

Re:Celebration/Mourning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119123)

Mourned, in that he caved in to the evolutionist dogma.

There is no possibility whatsoever that life arose from dead chemicals, not in six thousand years or eighteen billion years. It is absolutely impossible. Give it up. Find a new theory.

Re:Celebration/Mourning (4, Informative)

SleptThroughClass (1127287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119147)

The New York Times is wrong again. He did not retract the entire paper. He retracted "two brief passages" [americanscientist.org] . Besides, there is recent evidence that water existed early in the Earth's formation so his assumptions about the Hadean environment might be obsolete.

Re:Celebration/Mourning (1)

brentonboy (1067468) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119385)

How is it in "the noblest tradition of science" to retract a scientific paper on the grounds that it supports a theory that you don't like? This is not science at all, but dogmatism. You may say that he retracted it because of the errors he found, but that is clearly not the case--it was to thwart the creationists. Wouldn't it have been better to make a clarification?

Futile Effort (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118899)

The retraction came about when, on a whim, Dr. Jacobson ran a search for his name on Google. At age 84 and after 20 years of retirement, "I wanted to see, what have I done in all these many years?" he said. "It was vanity. What can I tell you?"
That's vanity? No, the only thing he's missing is a bottle of Jack Daniels & that's how I spend my Friday nights!

But in all serious, this is going to be a pretty futile effort. It's greatly appreciated but it's probably going to backfire. This could be spun as 'lawyers' forcing a scientist's views out of sight, a scientist that's just trying to tell the truth. The same lawyers that have orchestrated the dinosaur bones found across the world.

And the character assassination from the Creationists will most likely consist of 'waffler' and 'flip-flopper', two terms I have no idea why they even exist.

This is the sign of a man of the highest quality in my eyes. I only wish that everyone--especially the politicians--look to him for guidance in how to 1) take ownership of something when you're wrong and 2) fix it.

Re:Futile Effort (1)

vought (160908) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119015)

The same lawyers that have orchestrated the dinosaur bones found across the world.

Silly, everyone knows it's the Illuminati hiding all those dinosaur bones. Lawyers just create the smokescreen.

Re:Futile Effort (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119291)

And the character assassination from the Creationists will most likely consist of 'waffler' and 'flip-flopper', two terms I have no idea why they even exist.


Let me explain. There are three methods by which we determine the credibility of a statement:
- Logos: The logical properties of the statement.
- Ethos: The credibility of the speaker.
- Pathos: The emotional response to the statement ("gut feeling")

In the world of science, Logos rules. It doesn't matter if Jesus or Hitler say, "2+2=4". It also doesn't matter how anybody feels about "2+2=4"; regardless, it's mathematically true, and you don't find truth much stronger.

Outside of the world of science (to the chagrin of scientists and all rationally-minded people everywhere), ethos and pathos carry some rhetorical weight.

Somebody says: "The lives of the people in Iraq are returning to normal."
- Do you think it's true if George Bush says it on TV?
- Do you think it's true if the Washington Post prints it?
- Do you think it's true if you see it on FOX News?
- Do you think it's true if you hear it on Air America Radio?

I certainly would assign different credibility ratings to each of those sources.

Now directly to the point. In the domain of logos, 'waffler' and 'flip-flopper' make no sense. Changing one's position based on new information is the basis of increasing knowledge. On the ethos and/or pathos side, people like consistency from their speakers. People who change their "position" on something are seen as less reliable ("They were wrong before, they're probably wrong again.") and perhaps corrupt ("He's been paid off by X, of course he's backpedaling on his earlier statement.")

Finally, consider that each domain has it's purpose. In the lab, borrow sparingly from pathos for a "hunch" and use logos for everything else. At the pub, use pathos to find a girl to take home, and use ethos/logos in the morning. (Also note that the girl who doesn't go home with you may be using ethos to raise her credibility as a good mate. In which case, use logos to try to find her again.)

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Re:Futile Effort (2, Funny)

Chr0me (180627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119407)

'waffler' and 'flip-flopper', two terms I have no idea why they even exist.
I think they're archaic for "one who makes waffles" and "one who wears shoes such as thongs and geta," like cobbler and haberdasher. Normally we would now say Waffle House employee and beach-goer, samurai, or hippie.

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21118901)

_0_
\''\
'=o='
.|!|
.| |
goatse thwarts creationists [goatse.ch]

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21118917)

They'll just stick to their usual 2000 year old documents. "The older the better", they say.

Overeactions 'R Us (-1, Troll)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118921)

Who retracts a paper because someone cites it out of context? Has this man been hiding from the real world for 55 years, being previously unaware that citations out of context are part and parcel of journalism and Media Matters?

Re:Overeactions 'R Us (5, Informative)

hansraj (458504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119017)

If you RTFA, you would see that he reread his paper and found many errors that no one else had found yet. He retracted the paper because of the errors. Of course he might have other motives but that is anybody's guess

Re:Overeactions 'R Us (5, Informative)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119029)

The nature of the citations made him re-read it, and realize he'd made factual errors. Those errors were being used to support the arguments of the people citing the paper. So he retracted it to remove those errors from circulation.

Re:Overeactions 'R Us (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119055)

For a man who's devoted his life to furthering knowledge about evolution and who's revered darwin for all that time, finding out that a paper which has legitimate errors in it is being misquoted can be disheartening. If Stephen Hawking were to find out that one of his papers were being quoted to "disprove" Relativity, or Richard Feynman were misquoted as saying that quantum physics is impossible and stupid, I'm sure they would have the same reaction.

Re:Overeactions 'R Us (1)

Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119133)

To be fair, the fact that he found errors in his paper also contributed to him retracting it.

From the article:

Things grew worse when he reread his paper, he said, because he discovered errors. One related to what he called a "conjecture" about whether amino acids, the basic building blocks of protein and a crucial component of living things, could form naturally.

"Under the circumstances I mention, just a bunch of chemicals sitting together, no," he said. "Because it takes energy to go from the things that make glycine to glycine, glycine being the simplest amino acid."

There were potential sources of energy, he said. So to say that nothing much would happen in its absence "is totally beside the point." "And that is a point I did not make," he added".

Another assertion in the paper, about what would have had to occur simultaneously for living matter to arise, is just plain wrong, he said, adding, "It was a dumb mistake, but nobody ever caught me on it."

i'm confused on the timeline (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118925)

he paper, entitled 'Information, Reproduction and the Origin of Life', speculated on the chemical qualities of earth in the Hadean time, billions of years ago when the planet was beginning to cool down to the point where, as Dr. Jacobson put it, 'one could imagine a few hardy compounds could survive ... creationists cite it as proof that life could not have emerged on earth without divine intervention.

Wait, so is the earth billions of years old, or 6000 years old, as told in the bible?

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (1, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118939)

Where in the bible does it state that the earth is 6000 years old? Can you please quote this?

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (5, Funny)

RedACE7500 (904963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118995)

It's somewhere near the back.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119007)

That's what I thought.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119043)

It does not state anywhere in the bible that the earth is 6,000 years old.
neither does retracting a paper change my faith that God created the earth. The same faith held by Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Last time I checked, the "scientists" were outnumbered. Our documentation is far older than anything they have.

some more preaching to the choir (1, Troll)

techstar25 (556988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119277)

If I gave you two books which contradict each other:
Book 1, I tell you was written 150 years ago and since it's publishing, has been generally accepted as fact by millions of people.
Book 2, I tell you was written 2000 years ago and since it's publishing has been generally accepted as fact by billions of people.
Which could be assumed to be true?


Book 1 is a "The Origin of Species".
Book 2 is the Christian Bible.

Either way, I have two books in front of me, neither of which _I_ personally can prove as fact, so I'm taking somebody's word for it that it's true. Who do I believe?

Re:some more preaching to the choir (2, Funny)

halivar (535827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119377)

Which one has the coolest pictures?

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119301)

... and the Earth is flat!

That used to be a global belief but just because it's popular doesn't make it true.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (1)

s.bots (1099921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119325)

Using your bible/koran/faith book "documentation" as a valid reference for measurements is roughly equivalent to myself stating that "Since book XXX claims to be a true story, and lots of people have been conned into believing this story, it must be true. Even in the face of your evidence (fossils, carbon dating, etc.) I will maintain that this story is true."

Masses of believers can't create their own 'truth'

GOD IS GREAT, RELIGION IS NOT.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (1)

vought (160908) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119065)

Can you please quote this?

Somewhere between the 900-year-old guy and the two loaves and fishes that fed a multitide. I think it's right after the water that turned to wine.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119075)

Where in the bible does it state that the earth is 6000 years old? Can you please quote this?

This site [answersingenesis.org] should provide you with the answer to your question. In particular, this document [answersingenesis.org] lays out the argument quite nicely.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (2, Insightful)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119215)

No single verse in the Bible states the age of the Earth. Nor does the Catholic church, or any other organized church, deny Evolution. Unaffiliated Christians on the other hand...well they're all over the place. I went to Catholic school and we learned about evolution. Fuck, read Genesis and you'll see that the creation story pretty much mirrors evolution anyway. First there was nothing, then stars formed, light, planets formed, fish, then animals, then man. It's the same damn thing morons.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (2, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119399)

That's hilarious. I like this bit

Here's what I mean by this: I understand that the Bible is a revelation from our infinite Creator, and it is self-authenticating and self-attesting. I must interpret Scripture with Scripture, not impose ideas from the outside!


I guess what he meant to say was

Here's what I mean by this: I understand that the Bible is a revelation from our infinite Creator, and it is self-authenticating and self-attesting. I must interpret Scripture with Scripture, not impose ideas from the outside! Apart from the idea that the bible is a revelation from his inifite creator and is self authenticating and self-attesting


It's really hard to understand how people can be so completely deluded.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119093)

That depends on if you are an old-earth creationist or a young earth creationist. Progressive creationism vs 7-day. Some creationists tout that God used evolution in 7 non 24hour periods. Other individuals contest that Adam and Eve were much older than suggested (how long would it take you to denounce a perfect being that catered to your every whim?). The 6-10K comes from calculating the lineage of christ which Jews were very good at keeping accurate, which is a fact whether you believe in Yahweh or not, Jews love their saturdays :)

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (1, Troll)

halivar (535827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119101)

It's a double-standard. Evolutionists object (rightly) when creationists use tenuous logic and pseudo-science to poke holes in their science, but have no objection to making stuff out of thin air (or, in this case, grabbing some random Charismatic's pet "theory" on how old the earth is) to poke holes in Christian theology.

It is long past the time for us to pretend to have expertise in each other's fields of interest. I don't know jack about evolutionary theory, and the GP doesn't know jack about the Bible. I also don't think either of us cares enough to fix that.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119415)

but have no objection to making stuff out of thin air (or, in this case, grabbing some random Charismatic's pet "theory" on how old the earth is) to poke holes in Christian theology.

Making reference to the Ussher chronology [wikipedia.org] is neither making stuff up, nor grabbing some random Charismatic's theory. If you hold that the tale of Genesis is literally true, you get a certain span from the lineage from Adam through to Solomon. If you can then use historical records to date Solomon, you get Adam picking apples around 4000 BCE - give or take a millennium or two, depending on which versions you go by.

Or, of course, one can hold that Genesis is no more literally true than Shinto or Cherokee or Egyptian or Taoist creation myths.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (2, Informative)

gringer (252588) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119103)

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=bible+age+earth [google.com]

Here's the top ranked page for me:
http://www.albatrus.org/english/theology/creation/biblical_age_earth.htm [albatrus.org]

which uses the following passages for reference:
  • Ezekiel 4:4-7
  • 1 Kings 6:1
  • Gen 12:10/ Exodus 12:40/ Gal 3:17
  • Gen 12:4
  • Gen 11:11-26
  • Gen 5:3-32

It seems like most of the dates are not explicitly mentioned, but they can be grafted onto a skeleton of known historical events (such as the fall of Jerusalem)

[I haven't actually checked these out myself....]

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119137)

Revelations, where it has the book and the seven seals (or chapters). The books has the history of the earth, the seals each correspond to one thousand years. We're near the end of the sixth, the seventh is the end of the world as we know it followed by the millennial reign.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119295)

he books has the history of the earth, the seals each correspond to one thousand years.
I'm gonna need a citation on this.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (2, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119201)

A couple of theologians named Ussher and Lightfoot (not Gordon) ran the numbers between Adam and a known historical event (the Babylonian exile), using all the "This dipshit begat that dipshit" lines and arrived at an approximation of 6000 years (October 23, 4004 B.C. to be exact). A similar timeline had been roughly accepted long before either theologian, but they "locked it down."

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119297)

Those who believe the earth is 6000 years old are a sub set of creationists; young-earth creationists. They only accept conclusions that match those they've already come to from a very selectively literal interpretation of the bible. If it's not in the bible, or derivable from the bible, it can't be trusted. If it conflicts with the bible, it's wrong. The 6000 years old thing isn't in the bible itself by the way; it's derived by counting up all the generations of people mentioned in the bible, then hand-waving average ages to come up with a total length of time since genesis. These people simply aren't vulnerable to a logical or scientific counter-argument, as they simply ignore both as inconsistent with their existing world-view.

Many creationists - not all, but most - take the bible literally to some extent. The bible says God created the world, and everything on it. Therefore any scientific discovery or theory to the contrary must be wrong, because God did it, because the bible says so. Some of these construct logical sounding arguments, trying to exploit gaps in knowledge or plain contradictory papers to sway the undecided or gullible that God did it. Ths act is a direct attempt to pull away one of their logical-sounding crutches, and is to be both applauded and mourned at the same time.

It's good that scientists continue to expand our knowledge and understanding. It's bad that they have to resort to things like this to prevent non-scientific believers exploiting science's greatest strength - legitimate dissent and questioning of theories - to spread confusion and flat out lies.

Re:i'm confused on the timeline (1)

monkeySauce (562927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119305)

Obviously the bible is correct. This anomaly can be attributed to Plato's ten....millionfold error; or to primitive mechanical clocks of the age, that ran really, really slow.

Sigh (1)

Reader X (906979) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118971)

As though this is going to stop anyone. Reason has long since fled discourse on this topic and many others.

Re:Sigh (1)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119191)

Oh no, Reason is alive and well. It's just that once you're crazy enough to believe the teachings of a 2000 year old cult, you're too far gone for it to reach you.

Of course this only proves science is wrong (1, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118977)

I'm fairly sure the reaction will be that "see? Science erred and it will err again, only The Book is infallible".

You can't discuss with religious zealots.

Re:Of course this only proves science is wrong (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119365)

To be honest I wouldn't expect this latest bunch of zealots to be so on the nose - they are much more devious. What is more likely is that they will claim that this is Scientists involved in a cover-up & attempting to suppress scientific "facts" by withdrawing them.

The real danger with the "ID" mob isn't that they are throwing bibles at people - it is precisely that they are not. They don't want bibles anywhere near the textbooks due to the US constituation - so instead they have attempted to metamorphosis into a pseudoscience to spread their religious message. Thankfully it has spectacularly failed to work.

precedence? (1, Offtopic)

forestbrooke (1171427) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118981)

isn't that a bad example, to scientific method as such? If he believe that what he said/published was true, should he worry about the repurcations, as a scientist? His job it to tell what he knows and what he can prove. I am not questioning his intention, but I don't think 'intelligent design' guys will need to go for the 'correct interpretation' of any theory.

Re:precedence? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119035)

I agree with this. If he still thinks the data and the conclusions of that data are correct why would he pull it? If anything it gives creationists a stronger foothold in their argument.

If science can prove that creationists are wrong it must do it at all points or it provides a loophole for the creationists. The divine will of God is a harsh enough hurdle to overcome. Why are people cheering for a guy who is only making it harder for science to stand on it's own?

Re:precedence? (2)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119161)

I agree with this. If he still thinks the data and the conclusions of that data are correct why would he pull it?
If you RTFA, you will find that he acknowledges significant errors in the paper.

Re:precedence? (2, Informative)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119167)

Read the article: Their citing it made him rexamine it, and spot factual errors he hadn't caught 52 years ago.

Fantastic! (2, Funny)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118993)

So now as a creationist all I need to do is take my least favorite scientific postings, twist their words to say what I want them to and viola they get retracted and denounced! Wow, why didn't I think of this before?

Re:Fantastic! (4, Funny)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119057)

So now as a creationist all I need to do is take my least favorite scientific postings, twist their words to say what I want them to and viola they get retracted and denounced! Wow, why didn't I think of this before?
What you are missing is that the original author of the paper acknowledged significant errors in it. Also, where did the music ("viola") come from? I didn't see any reference to music in the original story.

Why did he do it? (4, Insightful)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119041)

If he discovered clear errors and retracted it for that reason, that's fine, if somewhat tardy.

If he retracted it just because creationists quoted it, that's an example of the same dogma religious zealots are critisized for.

MOD PARENT UP! (0, Flamebait)

Facetious (710885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119253)

Well said. We all see religious zealotry, but it exists in almost all academic fields as well (mathematics excepted). We just turn a blind eye to it if said zeal matches our own point of view.

Re:Why did he do it? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119287)

I'd quote the unambiguous evidence from the readily available article, but I'm afraid that being presented with facts would just enrage you.

When will creationist realize? (2, Interesting)

arakis (315989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119051)

When will creationists realize that you can't prove divine intervention any more than you can prove flying purple unicorns? Why can't they just stick to a doctrine of faith and belief?

Re:When will creationist realize? (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119195)

Because there are a ton of people out there who
A) Misunderstand faith - on both sides; and
B)The world is full of people who refuse to look at anything without physical proof (and don't understand that faith is contained in that outlook as well).

I stepped back from the creation/evolution debate a long time ago. I chose that I am going to remain unsurprised if either view is right in the end, because the God I worship can work any way He wants. People don't come to Christ because evolution was disproven to them or Creation was proven, they come because they figure that there is Something Else that matters a heck of a lot more.

By the way, I'm more or less a Biblical literalist. I'm not ignorant about the debate that goes on, I'm just concerned that there is very little reasonable reaction from either side, and it's two paradigms that can't - and may never - completely understand each other.

Re:When will creationist realize? (1)

Dues (786223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119213)

Proving flying purple unicorns would be easy... if only they weren't invisible :-/

Re:When will creationist realize? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119223)

When will creationists realize that you can't prove divine intervention any more than you can prove flying purple unicorns? Why can't they just stick to a doctrine of faith and belief?

When they trade in their dogma for faith.

Re:When will creationist realize? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119355)

Perhaps they just like picking mean spirited fights for no good reason. If you weren't such a 'tard, you might have figured that out yourself.

Errors passed peer review (1, Flamebait)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119085)

Of course, now with the admission that Jacobson has since discovered errors in his original paper, creationists will call into question all scientific papers - after all, if errors such as those in his paper can get through, who knows how much false information is in the scientific literature!!!

that is precisely the problem with creationists (2, Insightful)

non (130182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119091)

they don't understand evolution. in fact its a lot like compound interest; start with a little and wait a long time and eventually you'll have something. the following statement, for example, amounts to precisely that in my eyes.

'one could imagine a few hardy compounds could survive.'

thats all it takes. and yes, given enough time, they could turn into some sexually-reproductive organism, which, to use my earlier example, would be like getting monthly compounding ;-)

i frankly see no reason for this retraction. there is no 'ammunition' here in any sense.

Re:that is precisely the problem with creationists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119321)

And apparently the problem with evolutionists is bad examples. "See, creationists believe in this thing called a bank that will give you interest on depositied money based on their intelligent manipulation of the money. Evolutions deny banks exist and say compound interest is accrued when you put money under a mattress."

Seriously (1)

untree (851145) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119121)

Sometimes I think the gods of /. get bored and try to find stories that will start flamewars.

Re:Seriously (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119175)

There are no gods of /. Cmdr Taco evolved from monkeys! Or vice-versa.

Re:Seriously (1)

Facetious (710885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119369)

But Zonk was brought by aliens.

The really pathetic part of this... (4, Interesting)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119135)

The really pathetic thing is that, if I read the article correctly, the creationists aren't even interpreting his findings correctly. He basically says that as the earth started to cool, chemical compounds could arise that would remain stable in the environment, and that it would take some source of energy to assemble them into something more complex. In contrast, one creationist web site mentioned by the article describes the paper as meaning that "within a few minutes, all the various parts of the living organism had to make themselves out of sloshing water." Nothing like a little creative misinterpretation to give your dogmatic nonsense the air of scientific legitimacy.

Re:The really pathetic part of this... (1)

Gregb05 (754217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119189)

Citation needed, I love reading that kind of stuff.

Good riddance (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119173)

And the blatant lies of the scientific community come tumbling down, one by one.

i would like to make a retraction (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119257)

in 1998 i made an inflammatory post on slashdot in a discussion thread about the merits or lack thereof of windows 98. people have used that post to claim that i am a troll. i am not a troll, i am in fact a lurker. by retracting that post i am able to assert that

thank you for your attention

Because of "creationists"... (2, Insightful)

Empiric (675968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119259)

...he's retracting his paper?

Is his paper right, or wrong? If he's claiming the first and retracting it, science is harmed, not furthered. If it's wrong, retraction should happen anyway.

This is really irrational. I understand the motivation to find any position of anyone on the planet that decries "creationism" and post it, but do you really want to overtly demonstrate your complete dependence on it in that way, while committing some really obvious non-sequiturs along the way?

Re:Because of "creationists"... (1)

Arcturax (454188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119397)

From reading the article, he had more or less forgotten about the paper (I mean it is like 52 years old now!) and seeing it quoted on creationist websites moved him to go back and re-read it. He found several glaring errors and thus retracted the paper. He probably would have done this a long time ago, but had simply forgotten about it. I mean can you remember everything you wrote back in school in detail? I know I don't and that was less than 10 years ago.

Amazed (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119319)

Cheers to the good professor who is caring more about science as a whole than public embarrassment. Sadly I'm not sure how much this is going to do - zealots are notorious for quoting studies far after they're retracted (for instance the original study which claimed MDMA caused brain damage was retracted two months later after it was discovered that the chemical administered to lab animals was pure methamphetamine, and not MDMA - yet the study is still cited by watchdog groups and the DEA). Your average reader isn't going to bother checking citations either. Sad :(

Oh well. Back to Hebrews 11 and faith (0, Offtopic)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119357)

Unfortunately, some Christians in their attempts to fight the world feel compelled to try to convince everyone that science is wrong. As Christians our job is to share our own testimonies and the gospel -- Christ died on the cross to reconcile us to God. The Holy Spirit is in charge of convincing us of God's existence. I don't spend my time trying to convince people that scientific theory is bunk. I think science is wonderful. The Bible tells us that all good things come from heaven above. Let's see scientists create life without matter. And, in fact, Jesus knows who will listen by faith and who won't. John 10:14, 15: "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me -- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father -- and I lay down my life for the sheep." But the Bible also warns us about placing our faith in the wisdom of any particular age: "Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." (1 Corinthians 3:18) By saying "he should become a fool," the Apostle Paul is referring to faith in God. 1 Corinthians 1:25: "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom..."

Original retraction letter (4, Informative)

crumley (12964) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119395)

The original retraction letter [americanscientist.org] is inspiring. I am glad that Dr. Jacobson set the record straight, even though it would have been easier for him to ignore his earlier mistakes.
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