Saturday, September 7, 2013

#696: Robert V. Gentry


Honorable mention to Gail Gellman, manager for the country & western duo Sugarland, for this episode (also here). It’s not quite enough to merit a separate entry, though.

Robert V. Gentry is a different matter. Gentry is a nuclear physicist (that is, he has a masters degree; his dissertation work at Georgia Institute of Technology was not accepted), but first and foremostly a Seventh-day Adventist, young earth creationist, and member of the Creation Research Society. He is especially known for his claims that radiohalos provide evidence for a young age of the Earth (there’s a good FAQ on creationist obsession with radiohalos here). He has managed to get some publications in real journals, though curiously, none of these publications even touch on evidence related to his claims concerning the age of the Earth. But that does, of course, not prevent him from pretending that it does, or that it adds credibility to his creationist views (his work was criticized in Ronald Numbers’s excellent history of creationism. Gentry’s work has predictably gained quite a bit of popularity among other creationists; after all, Gentry is almost a real nuclear physicist in name.

But Gentry has, indeed, published papers related to his own creationist cosmology on arXiv. They were removed, however, after they were found not to satisfy even arXiv’s pretty low standards. He has also self-published a book, Creation’s Tiny Mystery, which geologist Gregg Wilkerson reviewed as being ”a source of much misinformation about current geologic thinking and confuses fact with interpretation.” Predictably, Gentry interprets dismissals of his work as discrimination.

Gentry was also a witness for the defendant in the seminal McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education in 1981, where he admitted believing that the creation account in Genesis is literally true. He held this belief ”because the scriptures have their ultimate source in the Deity or God … the original autographs are without error,” and said that ”until, such time as a falsification evidence comes in, then I will remain a Creation Scientist.” Given the number of ad hoc clauses he is willing to adopt for his hypothesis, it is pretty clear that no falsifying evidence could come in, even in principle, but Gentry apparently does not see the problem with that. One starts to suspect some rather good reasons for why his Ph.D. was not accepted.

As far as I can determine Gentry is still involved in fighting for teaching creationism in public schools, generally under the Discovery Institute stealth tactic of promoting ”academic freedom”. (He was at least present at the Dover trial as well).

Diagnosis: One of the hardcore crazies of the creation movement, and a stalwart defender of pseudo-science and anti-science for more than half a century – and apparently not giving up quite yet. Still dangerous, in other words.

1 comment:

  1. Please add a search engine from your widgets so people can look up specific pseudo-scientists. As one engaged from time to time with fundies, this site is useful for factual backgrounds on the so-called "experts" they rely on.

    ReplyDelete