Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XLIII: Wherein A Beka Outsmarts Insane Clown Posse

Fucking magnets, how do they work? Well, Science of the Physical Creation is about to ‘splain, or at least sum up. We should invite Mssrs. Bruce and Utsler to attend the lesson. Pretty sad when creationists know more about a well-understood scientific phenomena than a couple of pathetic white boy clowns, innit?

Meme shows a screenshot of a shouting man in a white clown costume with black and white clown makeup. Caption says, "Fuckin' magnets, how do they work?"
We should be on the lookout for Eurocentrism here. The section on Magnets and Magnetism starts off talking about how the Vikings used lodestones to find north. This ignores the fact that the Chinese had been using lodestones since around the second century BC and had figured out how to make a compass from them for navigation by the 11th century (and perhaps earlier).

Tell you what, I’m real sick of white people pretending they invented all the things, when people of color had actually been doing them a lot longer. And yes, I will demand better of even white evangelical creationists. The Vikings were no more Christian than the Chinese at that point, so I know the SPC folks are capable of giving credit to non-Christians.

There’s a delightful introduction to magnets, which explains that electrons, planets, and even galaxies can act as magnets. They tell us how we can detect magnetic fields with a compass, and visualize them with iron filings. Several illustrations show us what the fields of disk, bar, and horseshoe magnets look like. And they not only tell us, but show us by using more filings, that opposite poles attract and same poles repel. The law of magnetic force is shown. We learn that even magnets can “overcome the gravitational force of the entire earth” at close range. They finish up this first bit by talking about magnetic permeability, which would probably make ICP heads explode, because it’s a little weird.

Now it’s time to talk about the earth as a magnet, and they’re kind enough to finally mention that the “magnetic compass appears to have been invented independently in China and Europe in the 10th [sic] Century,” which is a little better than ignoring the Chinese altogether. But they still don’t want to give the Chinese credit for inventing it first (which we have solid evidence for), or that the Arabs likely introduced compasses to Europe after picking them up in China (which many historians think, but we don’t yet have proof of). No, they need the Europeans to be at least as clever as those non-white folk, if not more so, so they twist facts. Shame.

Image shows an antique Chinese compass. An outer brown rim surrounds a black inner ring inscribed with Chinese characters. The center is a white circle with two needles mounted in it.
Chinese compass, made in China during the 19th century
On display at Port-Louis naval museum, accession number 1 NA 32. Image and caption courtesy Rama (CC BY-SA 2.0 FR)

Sir William Gilbert reappears to discover that “the earth itself is a magnet.” Facts about the magnetic field are presented, such as that its North Pole is actually an S-pole and vice versa, and those poles are not only hundreds or thousands of meters from the geographic poles, but also wander. The writers explain that the poles of a magnet are named for the direction they seek, which is why the North magnetic pole is actually an S-pole.

Then their Eurocentrism strikes again, as they give explorer and genocidal brute Christopher Columbus credit for discovering magnetic declination (“the angle that a compass needle deviates from true north”). But the Chinese were over 700 years ahead of the Europeans on that.

They seem a bit obsessed with William Gilbert, because they circle back and give him credit for investigating magnetic dip and inventing the first dip needle, when actually an instrument maker by the name of Robert Norman had been making them first, and in fact did the first formal study of magnetic dip. I think they got so excited reading Gilbert’s book that they forgot to look any further.

Anyway, I’m sure y’all know that magnetic dip is rather important to paleomagnetism. So it’s quite neat knowing more of its history.

Now, I’m aware that creationist claptrap has been remarkably thin on the ground in SPC lately. My darlings, I promise you that dry spell is about to end in a deluge. But we are going to save that for next time, because I want to give it a post all to itself. It’s so dense and concentrated in its nonsense that I believe it deserves an actual sporking.

This will be so deeply satisfying.

And then we’ll have the unparalleled joy of watching the A Beka folks explain exactly how magnets work, thus proving creationists are less ignorant than ICP.

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XLIII: Wherein A Beka Outsmarts Insane Clown Posse
The Bolingbrook Babbler:  The unbelievable truth is now at