(Tier 1) Adventures in ACE XXIV: Cloudy With a 100% Chance of Fail

Welcome back to ACE Science PACE 1088! Last time, we saw the lengths God would go to in order to ruin a hot air balloon ride. Now we’re on to Section Two, where getting even the simplest facts right is completely beyond the ACE writers’ ability.

We start with vocabulary and cartoons! Oh, joy! Science words for this section include frisbee, hedge, and mare. You know, even if you grant some leeway and say that vocab in a science course can include other unfamiliar words, this is still ridiculous. These are the equivalent of eighth graders. They already know what a fucking frisbee is. And if ACE-educated students aren’t allowed to know what frisbees are until puberty, I think it’s time for the adults to sit down and think about where they went completely off the rails.

Now comes the cartoon, which, in the tradition of the other PACEs in this series so far, has bugger-all to do with anything. It’s just a way for the ACE people to showcase their remarkable lack of a sense of humor.

Image shows a boy and a girl, both African-American, standing and talking against an orange background. The girl is giving the boy some serious side-eye in the first panel. The boy is holding a blue-covered book, and is saying, "Miriam, this book says the former rulers of Russia were called Tsars and their wives were called Tsarinas. I wonder what the Tsar's children were called?" The next panel shows Miriam and the boy have switched places. Miriam is saying, "I don't know, J. Michael, maybe Tsardines?"
Cartoon from the beginning of Section Two of ACE PACE 1088.

Whelp. At least they’re people of color. Don’t get too excited, though, cuz we’re spending the rest of the section with the white people.

A bunch of the fine upstanding white Christian families are having a Founder’s Day* picnic. Racer is, like, so good at Frisbee that he can make it “float through the air like the clouds in the sky.” This strained simile leads the boys to talk about clouds. ACE dialogue is uniformly terrible, but this is even worse than usual. The boys sound like pompous robots reciting pre-programmed prose. And they use the word “distinguish” three times in three sentences. Gah.

They also get the simplest fucking facts wrong. Luke Howard presented his cloud classification scheme in 1802, not 1803. The paper was published in 1803, but they didn’t say published, they say he developed his classification system, so I shall happily nitpick.

I just have to show you this sentence:

“Some people refer to cirrus clouds as ‘mares’-tails’ because cirrus clouds resemble the long hair of a mare’s tail, especially when the mare is running.”

Not only is that sentence clunky, amateurish, and full of redundancies, it’s purportedly spoken by a young boy to his mates. Begone, foul writing! I abjure and abhor thee!

They say cirrus clouds only occur at or above 20,000 feet, but that’s true only for the tropics. They occur at 16,500 feet and above in temperate regions. Then the writers call the lunar halo “moon dogs,” when those are actually spots on the halo, not the halo itself. They don’t appear to know that a thunderhead is a cumulonimbus cloud – they call them “towering nimbus clouds.” Also, those can top out at 75,000 feet, not 55,000.

Of course, they can’t go long without spewing religious crap:

“The fact that cumulus clouds sometimes look as though they could produce more rain than they actually do reminds me of the type of person described in Proverbs 25:14: ‘Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.”

Image shows a small white dog with tan patches around its eyes and ears. It's sitting at a table and giving the camera a sidewise look. Caption says, "Srsly?"
The info-box on tornadoes is just a mess. Tornadoes are caused by colliding air masses. They happen when a mass of cold air traps a mass of warm air near the ground. You need differences in temperature and humidity, a supercell thunderstorm, and strong wind shear to cook up a tornado. They’re not caused by a “sudden decrease of atmospheric pressure.” And their explanation of why houses explode in tornadoes is laughably simplistic – it’s so much more awesome than a simple pressure difference (which is why you can’t save your house by opening the windows). But hey – maybe they got one fact right. Maybe Job meant “tornado” when he said “whirlwind.” Except, Israel only experiences tornadoes once every fifteen years or so, and Job didn’t live where they happen. So maybe he was actually talking about dust devils, which means they’ve achieved a 100% failure rate in their “Facts from Science.”

At least Reginald gets stratus clouds pretty much right. But he’s blurted out so much info that Pudge is overwhelmed. So Reg gives him some tricks for remembering cloud names before going back to infodumping. Remarkably, he manages to get the rest of his cloud facts right.

At lunch, Racer tries to turn the talk to spy planes, but Reginald snatches the opportunity to babble about the layers of the atmosphere. You know I love knowledge and the sharing thereof, my darlings, but by now I’d be seriously reconsidering inviting Reginald to picnics. Also, whatever book he claims to be getting his facts from has the wrong measurements for things like the troposphere. So not only is he being boring as fuck, he’s spewing misinformation everywhere.

They’ve gone a few pages without God-talk. So they stop to dump some in:

“The ozone blanket reminds me of the hedge God placed around Job,” commented Bill. “Satan was not able to harm Job and complained to God, ‘Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?’ (Job 1:10a). Dad says that if we trust God, we will also have God’s hedge of protection around us.”

Yeah. Cuz that worked out so well for Job, didn’t it?

Reginald tells everyone that “many industries and automobiles give off much ozone,” which is much wrong: they release nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds which react with sunlight to form ozone. At least he’s right about it being a pollutant when it’s in the troposphere.

But Pudge don’t care: he wants to talk about spy planes, or at least the part of the atmosphere they fly in, since Reggie won’t shut up. This is where we really get to laugh at their spy plane “facts.” They claimed it could go Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) – the fastest spy plane ever, the SR-71 Blackbird, actually set the record at Mach 3.2. They claimed it could fly all the way up to the mesopause (50 miles, or 240,000 feet). It actually tops out at 85,000 feet. That’s the stratosphere, folks. Their spy plane is a complete fantasy, much like their science.

Image shows the SR-71 Blackbird flying over snow-capped peaks. Caption says, "Creationists don't get me."

We shall pause here at the mesopause (although not in a spy plane), and enjoy a hearty laugh at their expense. Join me next time, when we complete our layered investigations and see how badly they manage to mangle atmospheric chemistry.


*I asked the ACE group I’m in WTF this “Founder’s Day” thing is, because the season depicted in the cartoons doesn’t match the Founder’s Day I’m familiar with. ACE survivors tell me this was most likely a celebration for the founding of the church, school, or town.

(Tier 1) Adventures in ACE XXIV: Cloudy With a 100% Chance of Fail