(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VI: Oceans O’ Creationism

After a long interlude with ACE, we’re now ready to jump in the deep end of our other creationist textbooks. Make sure you’ve got your scuba gear!

Science of the Physical Creation’s on about the oceans now. They begin their section on oceanography with Psalm 104: 24-25, because it has got the word “sea” in it, and sez God made it, therefore “God did it” is Science Fact. I suspect they’re doing this because there are only so many ways to work God into a discussion of seawater. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VI: Oceans O’ Creationism”

(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VI: Oceans O’ Creationism

Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel

Oh, joy, ACE weather forecasting! I forecast showers of creationist nonsense and gusts of boredom.

Our vocabulary for this section includes such difficult science words as chirp, cricket, mattress, and wispy. Bet you all remember struggling over these in your 8th grade science class, right?

Image is a drawing of a night scene, with stars in the top half, fading to midnight blue skies, and the silhoutte of tall grass at the bottom. At the center, white lowercase letters say "...crickets chirping"
Well, maybe not. But at least, thanks to ACE, we can define that noise and what’s making it.

The cartoon is cutting-edge humor, as always.

Image is a cartoon strip in two panels. The first panel is an aerial view looking down at two boys playing basketball. One is sinking the ball in the basket while saying, "Racer, when you plant a garden, why should you not plant onions next to potatoes?" The other boy is saying, "I don't know, Ace." In the next panel, Racer now has the ball and is dribbling, while we see Ace from the back trying to block him. Ace is saying, "So that the potatoes will not cry their 'eyes' out!" and Racer is saying, "Ha-ha!"
Cartoon from page 12 of ACE Science PACE 1089.

I’m so glad my parents didn’t send me to an ACE school. I’d have either died of pathological boredom or stabbed my eyes out with a pencil. Anything to get away from these awful jokes.

Anyway. So we’re back with Dad and Ace, just after the whole barometer convo, and Dad is keen for Ace to know that there’s more to forecasting than a barometer. He also wants us to know that “the laws that govern weather are orderly.” That’s quite a simplistic view of matters. Or maybe they’re defining “chaos” as “order.” It’s true that we’ve gotten better at forecasting, but even if we become capable of measuring almost every condition at particular moments in time, there will still be a considerable level of uncertainty to our forecasts, because weather is a chaotic system. Tiny perturbations have large effects. Butterflies and all. Continue reading “Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel”

Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel

(Repost) Adventures in ACE XII: Wibbly about Water

It’s about time we finish with the risible ACE PACE 1086, and the subject matter segues nicely into the chapters on oceans we have coming up in our other “science” textbooks. Besides, after last week’s installment, I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats wondering if the Loyaltons are about to go splat against a mountain. So let us continue our flyover with them, and see where we end up. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in ACE XII: Wibbly about Water”

(Repost) Adventures in ACE XII: Wibbly about Water

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XLII: Wherein Creationism Leaves Us Cold

Welcome back to the world according to BJU’s Earth Science 4th Edition!

The Ark has landed, the waters receded, and the animals disembarked. Every living thing is busy making lots of little hyper-evolving babies, which the BJU folks assure us is ever so much more Biblical than plain ol’ slow and gradual evolution.

Now they’re on about Ice Ages. Well, the Ice Age. And it’s hilarious.

You see, ice ages aren’t biblical. And they’re forced to admit that “the Bible doesn’t mention an ice age…” But there’s all this physical evidence, see. Even the “creationary geologists” are forced to admit that they “see clear evidence for a glacial period after the Flood.” They can’t unsee it. They can’t pretend it’s not there, or is actually something else. They look at those old “moraines, U-shaped valleys, and sculpted land features known to be formed by glaciers,” and can’t pretend they’re actually something else. So the “creationary geologists” add an Ice Age to the creation story, even though ice ages aren’t anything God saw fit to mention in the Genesis account.

Gosh. Isn’t there somewhere in the Bible that warns against adding stuff to it? Continue reading “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XLII: Wherein Creationism Leaves Us Cold”

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XLII: Wherein Creationism Leaves Us Cold

Hey, Earth Scientists! Share Your Predictions of What Won’t Happen in 2017

Whilst I was soliciting ideas for blog posts, Anne Jefferson came up with an excellent topic:

It’s New Years – make predictions for what geology things WON’T happen in 2017. The magnetic pole won’t flip. Yellowstone won’t erupt. There won’t be record high Arctic sea ice. Scientists won’t suddenly admit that climate change is a Chinese hoax.

This topic is marvelous. I love it. But I don’t want to do the predicting alone: I want to hear your prognostications, too!

Here are a few of my predictions for 2017: Continue reading “Hey, Earth Scientists! Share Your Predictions of What Won’t Happen in 2017”

Hey, Earth Scientists! Share Your Predictions of What Won’t Happen in 2017

What’s New at Rosetta Stones: Moon Geology, Flash Flood Survival, and More!

It’s been a busy week over at Rosetta Stones, since I neglected the poor thing all month. If you’ve been wanting some tasty geo to sink your teeth into, that’s the place!

Marvels and Mysteries of the Moon

With John Glenn’s passing earlier this month, my thoughts turned to space. People don’t think of the stars when they think of geology – I mean, it’s all about Earth, right there in the name. But the earth is made of star stuff. And the way gravity works, it turns that star stuff into rocky little worlds all over the universe, perfectly suited for our good science of rock-breaking. Geology isn’t limited to the planet it was born on and named for. And we can take it all over space and time.

One of the first places we took it was our own moon. John Glenn is among the people who got us there: without his pioneering flight, without the early successes of astronauts like him (not to mention the legion of scientists, engineers, and computing women behind him), there would have been no Moon landing.

We got there. We grabbed some rocks. We made some nifty discoveries. And believe me, green cheese might be a pretty tasty substance, but it’s nowhere near as delicious as the things the moon is actually made of.

Instant Peril: Flash Floods (and How to Survive Them)

The eleven European tourists exploring Antelope Canyon on a fine summer day in 1997 probably never considered drowning in a desert slot canyon to be a possibility. They may have known that water carved those sandstone walls into fantastical curves and angles. But it wouldn’t have seemed like an ongoing process. Why would anyone be thinking of water, standing on dry sand, with shafts of sunlight spearing through from the narrow opening above? Despite it being the height of the Arizona monsoon season, it wasn’t raining.

It started with the sandy silt on the canyon floor leaping six inches into the air. Tour guide Pancho Quintana and his group heard a roar so loud it drowned out screams. The solid rock walls shook. They began running, trying to find a place to climb out. And then they were hit by a wall of water that filled the canyon to a depth of eleven feet. Bodies were thrown into the walls. People might find a grip for a few seconds before debris or other bodies hit them and tore them away, tumbling them down the canyon. Pancho was the lucky one: despite the water and rock tearing off his clothes and skin, he managed to get a foot wedged in a crevice. The rest of the people with him, his tour group and another, were swept out of the canyon and into Lake Powell. Some of their bodies have never been found.

How? How could water suddenly appear from nowhere and end almost a dozen lives in a few minutes?

Troubling Signs for Science under Trump

We’re getting a clearer picture of how science in America will be treated under Trump. It’s horrifying. Our scientific endeavors are under severe threat, as is our environment. Scientists and those who support science have every reason to be concerned about the next several years.

Here’s a small taste of what we’re dealing with under Trump.

The Astonishing Climate-Changing Power of Plate Tectonics

Oh, how I struggled with this particular Accretionary Wedge topic:

What geological concept or idea did you hear about that you had no notion of before (and likely surprised you in some way).

I mean, there’s a lot. All the hijinks that go on in subduction zones constantly astonish me. The idea that rocks in the mantle flow without being actually molten, and that rocks have any sort of elasticity to begin with – I found that incredible. I had no idea when I first started studying geology just what temperature and pressure could do to minerals. I mean, I knew there was such a thing as a metamorphic rock, but my eyes popped when I learned more of the details. It seems like every time I read a book on geology, there’s something new and astonishing.  For instance: whilst reading a book about caves for a bit of the world I’m building, I found out there are places in the world with natural caves formed in salt. I had no idea that happened.

So yes, I’m spoiled for choice.  But I think the one thing that’s made my eyes pop the most is the idea that plate tectonics affects climate.

What’s New at Rosetta Stones: Moon Geology, Flash Flood Survival, and More!

(Repost) Adventures in ACE XI: Tommyrot About Topography

We are, at last, almost at the end of the breathtaking inanity that is ACE Science* PACE 1086. So far, we’ve seen a really inept drilling project, watched them mutilate Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes, suffered through their igneous ignorance, had to spend two posts on their sedimentary nonsense, and dealt with their metamorphic misconceptions. At times, it’s seemed like we’ll never get through debunking this unfathomable ignorance. But we’ve only eight pages and two topics to go! Racer and his dad are finally flying home! Stick with us and we’ll get there – if the Loyaltons’ plane doesn’t crash. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in ACE XI: Tommyrot About Topography”

(Repost) Adventures in ACE XI: Tommyrot About Topography

(Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XLI: Wherein There is Ungodly Static

Geez, if I were a fundamentalist Christian parent reading this chapter, I’d be getting pretty concerned that the Science of the Physical Creation writers are just phoning the creationism in. I mean, yeah, they’ve paid some lip service to God, but nothing really meaty. And now that we’re on to Transferring Charges, a quick glance through the pages turns up no obvious God-talk at all.

The first couple of pages is just straight-up talk of how inducing electrical charges works. Then they talk about detecting electrical charges, and pretty much my only complaint is that it might have been nice if they’d told us a bit more about Sir William Gilbert, who is one of those fathers of modern science who were doing fascinating things and bringing a branch of science into being. He happened to be doing so while Shakespeare was coining words and phrases and entertaining the masses. He’s one of the fathers of electrical engineering, and has a unit of magnetic force named after him. He also figured out that the earth is magnetic and has an iron core.

Neato. Continue reading “(Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XLI: Wherein There is Ungodly Static”

(Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XLI: Wherein There is Ungodly Static

(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education

I didn’t post to Rosetta Stones for most of November because America’s election of the least qualified president in our history has me scrambling to assess and mitigate the damage. Much of what he’s done so far doesn’t yet touch on geology, which is what that blog is mainly concerned with – but we will be talking about the threat to our national parks, and there will doubtless be impacts on the USGS and other agencies responsible for essential geological services like volcano monitoring, seismic studies, and similar, which we’ll address.

Trump is already showing which direction he’s taking the country’s public education. If you care about kids being taught science, you’d best gird yourself for a war, because we’re going to have to fight to preserve our children’s right to a strong STEM education.

To begin with, Trump’s Vice President, to whom he plans to delegate most of the actual presidential work, is an evolution-denying Christian extremist who wants creationism taught in public schools. He’s also brought all his political power to bear on overturning the will of Indiana voters while he pushes for expansions of school vouchers and charter schools.

Trump also plans to slash NASA’s earth science division, which would not only cripple our nation’s climate change research, but also have a terrible impact on earth science research.

That rather sets the tenor for what’s to come.

But Pence is merely the beginning. It gets worse. Continue reading “(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education”

(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education

(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education V: Wherein We Map for God

Honestly, you’d think something as prosaic as mapping could avoid Godification. Science of the Physical Creation doesn’t even bother with a chapter on cartography: maps are maps, and they’ve nothing to say about them.

Earth Science 4th Edition, however, devotes a whole chapter to the subject. And yeah, it gets goddy.

Image is a pastel-colored hand-drawn map of Jerusalem from 1650. ZION is printed in the bottom center-right.
Yes, possibly even as goddy as the Thomas Fuller map of Jerusalem. Image courtesy Geographicus Rare Antique Maps via Wikimedia Commons.

The chapter starts out fine: instead of a creationist cartologist, we get a nice demonstration of the power of maps, using, of course, Dr. John Snow’s cholera map. And the BJU staffers who wrote this chapter, at least, aren’t completely anti-vax. They discuss how government agencies use maps to track down areas with high disease rates, and say that targeting vaccination programs toward “areas with high rates of infections” is “far more effective and costs less than vaccinating a whole population.” Which may be true with rare or not easily transmitted diseases, I suppose, but I do wish their emphasis had been on getting everyone vaccinated for the common stuff. Herd immunity is an important thing. Still. At least they’re not taking this opportunity to say never vaccinate. Small mercies.

They do a fine job explaining what maps are, and scale, and perspective. But for some reason, there’s a textbox on Progressive Creationism right smack in the middle. I have no idea why. It’s nothing to do with maps, and they don’t even try to relate it. They just yammer. And it’s obvious they don’t like those progressive creationists, no sir. You can tell from this question: Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education V: Wherein We Map for God”

(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education V: Wherein We Map for God