Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Pseudopapers

Dear Constant Readers,

Wow, I can't believe that I haven't written a thing since the 20th of last month. I'm not sure if people are frantically waiting for something new to come out; but I certainly have a bad enough guilt complex making it necessary for me to at least write something. I've come back to school and already feel buried under everything sooooo it looks like I'm going to have to fulfill my prophesy of writing on much shorter subjects.

While researching this not-too-distant post I couldn't help but notice a hit on Google Scholar which seemed a bit...off. Browsing through it showed the 1977 Zuiyo Maru catch in various poses and apparently concluded that it was a marine tetrapod, and plumped for a plesiosaur of course. Despite appearing as a scientific journal article it was in fact from the reputable "Creation Research Society Quarterly Journal", hmm. Now I find the whole idea of looking at religion from a scientific perspective to be a bit "sticky", but I'm sure PZ Myers' Pharyngula will provide more than adequate commentary for those looking for it.

What I am interested in is bad information and how its sneakiness can fool people. To be perfectly blunt this website provides the final word on the identity of the Zuiyo Maru carcass as a basking shark. But for reasons that elude my logic, some (hopefully not many) religious people really want "dinosaurs" to be alive so they can...uh...rub it into the face of those evil-lutionist biologists? I still have no idea why they think this is supportive, but the point is the authors are willing to go to great lengths to "convince" people that this is something other than a (relatively) mundane carcass.

The paper, which is evidently not an objective ministries-style parody, is briefly mentioned and dismissed by Kuban excellent site, for good reason too. Here is an example of the reasoning in this pseudopaper: sharks have myocommata in between muscle segments as does the carcass - but, the authors note this Egyptian seal seems to depict a plesiosaur-like creature with that very structure! For those of you that clicked the link you might be as confused as I am I see a crocodilian complete with bulging head and tapering snout intersecting with a design pattern or possibly shadow. But that's the point, its highly interpretive and very poor resolution. Did they consult Egyptologists and their opinion? Of course not! This is just plain delusion. I have seen a very interesting paper (perhaps to be discussed later) that used art, but the analysis was in depth, high resolution, and actually believable. And this is only the start...

They claim that a pair of "symmetrical upper fins" disprove the basking shark idea since sharks evidently do not have not. It seems like they mean to say it has both a pair of pectoral and dorsal fins, but there are only three fin-like projections visible in the photograph (two pectoral and one dorsal). As evidence of their bizarre proposed anatomy they use this modern Australian artwork as evidence as well as a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster. I will admit that this paper is too strange to follow very well at all and it just gets worse. It proceeds to quote Bibles passages and throws out the convincing biochemical evidence on the basis that a plesiosaur may have had identical biochemistry to a basking shark. Do I even dare go on? Other creationists have accepted that this is a shark, and I really don't see how not complying with this idea is going to affect religious beliefs. It is amazing that they had the audacity to dress this up as a scientific-looking document and then proceed to write the usual pseudoscientific gibberish in a dry "authoritative" tone. A look at their webpage reveals that they "disprove" just about every aspect of science hinting at an age of the earth more than a few thousand of years old or that creatures evolve. Yeesh.


On a better note, I did happen to come across this paper by an actual journal that made some very interesting discoveries about a famous cryptid. There seem to be a lot of subtle (read: geeky) in-jokes here, and of course reading the fine print gives it away. Sigh, if only the Creation paper had fine print too...


-Cameron

1 comment:

Caitling said...

Yes, sadly school does seem to cut out on your time spend writing about monsters.

I'm a firm believer that all, if not most, mundane carcasses are simply carcasses, if they're not zombies, leave them alone.

Wow, once you use quotes from the bible....even wower, I looked at the website...it's like a bad joke, I hope it is one.