Print 62 comment(s) - last by MrHanson.. on Apr 28 at 3:32 PM

Gentry's polonium halos are a classic creationist argument. The claim that they somehow prove a young Earth was made by an untrained geologist and disproved 20 years ago, yet creationists still cite it as fact to this very day.  (Source: Talk Origins)
Desperate minds seek desperate arguments

In case you missed it, paleontologists, digging in South Africa have discovered the remains of a new species of hominid, Australopithecus sediba, buried in a cave.  This little discovery is of tremendous importance as anatomical evidence points to the species being a close evolutionary relative to man, perhaps even a direct ancestor.

I wrote a little story on the topic, analyzing the find, while briefly touching on the pertinent creationism vs. modern evolutionary theory debate that continues to rage to this day in America.  I expected the story to get a few comments.  I never expected, though that it would get over 575 comments, making it perhaps the most commented on story in 
DailyTech's history.

I think it's great that so many people are chiming in and sharing their thoughts, and I think its a real sign of our site's diversity and popularity.  However, amidst those comments I saw some that really bothered me as a person who has worked in the fields of engineering and biochemistry in addition to my time here at 

Take one reader, who writes:

Absolute Scientific Proof the Evolutionary Theory is Dead.
A story about two friends from day one." rel="nofollow

This comment was rated up to a 3, so obviously some people agreed with it.  However, the site and "proof" it cites, from a scientific perspective, are utterly worthless.

The site is full of inaccurate and egregious jewels.  Among them is the claim that granite is called a "creation rock" by geologists and can not be created on Earth today.  This is patently false.  If such a term were ever used, it has no place in the field of modern geology.  Further, granite is to this very day being produced in small quantities by metamorphism in amphibolite and granulite terrains.  There's nothing magical about it.

The other "friend" that the site refers to is polonium, a radioactive heavy element.  Polonium makes halos in granite, which a researcher named Robert V. Gentry claimed, starting in the 1980s, were proof that the Earth was only 6,000 years old, as the literal reading of The Bible claims.  Gentry was by all reports a decent researcher who was blinded by his obsession in proving creationism, which led to him reaching far outside his field of expertise (physics) into foreign fields like geology.

In this case, as with most of his arguments for a "young Earth" his "evidence" was shown to be completely wrong.  There was indeed uranium in the exact deposits Gentry sampled from, he just failed to follow basic principles of geological sampling.  Of course this is understandable -- Gentry was no geologist.  So his "proof" was just another red herring.

Here is a very informative read on the topic: "The Geology of Gentry's 'Tiny Mystery'".

The site also implies that there's something "magical" about polonium making its way into granite.  Consider that silicon dioxide, the primary component of granite melts at 1925 K, while 527 K.  Thus polonium would be molten and could easily make its way into cracks and crevices in granite that had cooled to a solid.  Again, the claims are patently false and there's nothing magical or unknown here.

Basic science invalidates many of the supposed "proof" of creationism and a young Earth.  Yet, while it's easy to disprove a bad argument, its hard to kill one.  As I mentioned, here was an argument that was literally disproved over two decades ago, but there's a site out there still using it as evidence and one of our readers are referencing it as fact.  And worse yet, apparently some in our readership were misled enough that they rated up the comment.

I don't have the time or energy to rebuke every falsehood set forth by a handful of the commenters in that thread, so I hope this was an informative example.

It's fine to believe whatever you want when it comes to evolution.  An all powerful deity such as Xenu or the Christian God, could in theory create a reality with evidence to the contrary of the creation itself.  Every single atom could have been set into motion perfectly to deliver an elaborate, yet misleading picture.  Yet to scientists, we must interpret the picture that we see, and that picture clearly points that evolution created the species we see today and that the earth is billions of years old, not 6,000 years old.  Believe what you want, but try not to reference false "facts" to justify your beliefs -- that's called spreading misinformation, and it's disingenuous.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

So many fallacies, so little time -
By AmPat on 4/14/2010 10:02:26 AM , Rating: -1
Robert Gentry is just a bit more than an 'untrained geologist'.
Gentry is a nuclear physicist who was employed by Oak Ridge for thirteen years. He is recognized as the worlds foremost authority on Polonium Halo's.

When Dr. Gentry started his research, he was an old earth evolutionist. His discovery of Po halo's in granite caused him to change his paradigm.

The Po halo's do NOT indicate a 6000 year old earth as the article claims. What they indicate is that the granite was not in a molten state as the prevailing paradigm claims, but rather that it was cool within minutes of it's formation. This does not fit the Old Earth scenario.

Gentry WAS a very respected scientist with many publications in prestigious journals prior to his paradigm shift. Now, he is attacked rabidly, as in this article, because he has dared to leave the religion of Old Earth Evolution due to scientific evidence against it.

If anyone cares to debate the scientific evidence regarding origins in a CIVIL manner, I suggest you come to Talk About Origins:

I hope to see you there, where name calling and flame wars are NOT permitted.

By clovell on 4/14/2010 1:48:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not taking sides here, because I'm personally not much concerned with the ultimate origin of my species, nor its ultimate demise - I just do the best I can in the short time I've got and then the rest is really out of my hands.

But, discounting a published nuclear physicist an 'untrained geologist' when the geology in question is directly linked to radiological effects at an atomic level is up there in the top ten most asinine premises you've ever posited, Jason. If the man was debunked, he was debunked - there's no need to exaggerate or manufacture any lack of qualifications.

Experts screw up. Stick to the science.

RE: So many fallacies, so little time -
By Donkeyshins on 4/14/2010 2:18:01 PM , Rating: 5
A nuclear physicist is not a trained geologist any more than a physicist is a physician or an art historian is an artist. It is possible to be extremely competent in your chosen field and know nothing about other related (or not-so-related) fields. Lord knows you see it all the time in the software industry.

RE: So many fallacies, so little time -
By clovell on 4/15/2010 2:14:31 PM , Rating: 2
Physicist and physician? We're more talking about something closer to biochemist and forensic pathologist. Art Historian as an artist? No - but how about an art historian writing a paper on general history? Art is often less revisionist than written history.

You still make a good point, but what I'm getting at is that this guy truly is close enough to the field (published expert on polonium halos weighing in on polonium halo geological dating) to be given consideration, and not dismissed out of hand. What Jason did there is a thinly-veiled ad-hominem attack - a logical fallacy, which is ironic given the topic of his rant.

By William Gaatjes on 4/16/2010 6:38:12 PM , Rating: 2

Polonium is a radioactive material that is formed from radioactive decay of other heavier radioactive elements.
These heavier elements form radio halos too.

By tim851 on 4/14/2010 3:29:32 PM , Rating: 2
If anyone cares to debate the scientific evidence regarding origins in a CIVIL manner, I suggest you come to Talk About Origins:

Are you that ONE Person 'Terry Trainor' that is talking to himself over there?

If so, you might consider turning that forum into a blog, because as it is it's ridiculous.

By RickK on 4/14/2010 6:18:19 PM , Rating: 4
Finding a tiny blackened ring in a piece of granite, and concluding the Earth is not billions of years old is like finding a silk dress in a Boston attic and concluding New England was colonized by Chinese, not Europeans.

A good scientist finding one tiny bit of contradictory evidence would look at the intrepretation of that evidence, and find MANY confirming lines of evidence before trying to overturn such a well supported paradigm as "Old Earth".

Gentry is clearly motivated by proving his religious beliefs, NOT doing good science. He has published what, 4 real papers? All of them thoroughly refuted by other scientists. Yet he goes on to develop his own cosmology??

He is a crank.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
-- Philip K. Dick

RE: So many fallacies, so little time -
By RickK on 4/14/2010 8:15:26 PM , Rating: 4
AmPat said: "When Dr. Gentry started his research, he was an old earth evolutionist. His discovery of Po halo's in granite caused him to change his paradigm."

Um... He's not a doctor, at least not of physics. He never completed a doctorate. He received an "honorary" doctorate from the Seventh Day Adventist Columbia Union College.

And it is interesting to note that he converted to Seventh Day Adventist at least 9 years before his first paper, and several years before his book says he started studying halos.

So, AmPat, the evidence indicates that you're wrong.

By Hieyeck on 4/15/2010 8:49:34 AM , Rating: 4
I hereby award you this honorary Doctorate in Zing from the Church of Evolution College.

Congratulations Dr. RickK.

Pay attention to this man AmPat, he's a doctor. He can't possibly be wrong according to you.

RE: So many fallacies, so little time -
By clovell on 4/15/2010 2:16:59 PM , Rating: 2
Oh damn - now see THAT is interesting information, and pretty damned useful. Jason shoul've used THAT in the blog post.

Nice deteective work!

By clovell on 4/15/2010 2:18:44 PM , Rating: 2
I should also say that given these facts, I stand quite firmly corrected.

By William Gaatjes on 4/16/2010 6:31:23 PM , Rating: 3
That forum website is a waste of time.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Latest Headlines

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Yahoo Hacked - Change Your Passwords and Security Info ASAP!
September 23, 2016, 5:45 AM
A is for Apples
September 23, 2016, 5:32 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki