Tuesday, November 4, 2014

#1199: Brian Thomas

We’ll note the name Marc Thiessen and move on.

Brian Thomas is, according to his bio, a “Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research,” and young Earth creationist. Indeed, Thomas is the source of most of the content that comes out of the Institute’s website on a day-to-day basis (excluding their various magazines etc.). According to the bio, he specializes in biology, problems in evolution, origin of life, and dinosaurs, though his forays into astronomy and cosmology are frequent. He does, apparently, have a masters degree in biotechnology, and has a background as a school teacher, but, needless to say, those qualifications do not quite put him in the position he wants in order to authoritatively ponder the questions he likes to, well, not ponder, really, but rather have knee-jerk, preset opinions about.

Mr. Thomas’s primary contributions to the ICR’s website is his Daily Science Updates, or ICR News (same thing, apparently). The articles tend to cover some-weeks-old news on matters scientific that Thomas attempts to shoehorn into a creationist framework (unsurprisingly usually rather desperately). And no, the content rather quickly reveals that Thomas does precariously little research on the topics at hand, apart from looking at the press release and paper itself. A good example (among many) might be his article “Distant Watery Planet Looks Young”, which asked whether the red dwarf orbiting exoplanet Gliese 1214 b could have held on to its atmosphere for billions of years against the solar wind while orbiting so close to the star, and lamented that “[T]he scientific literature typically does not ask questions like these,” which is false, but – you know – persecutions of Christians and all that. A typical example of Thomas’s densely moronic approach to scientific findings is here (and here). Thomas also weighed in on the discovery of the Australopithecus sediba, classifying it unhesitatingly as an ape (without much further thought) and thereby avoided even the caution of the AiG.

A brilliant example of how Thomas approaches science (first, decide what the conclusion is; second, try to find one piece of evidence that fits; third, ignore everything else) can be found here. The topic is a recent article in Geology pointing out that the surface of Venus is relatively young, on the order of a few hundred million years – Thomas’s screed doesn’t link to the original article, for obvious reasons. Instead, he concludes that “[s]ecular geologists anticipate that additional measurements may help resolve the vexing Venusian riddles, but satisfying answers may never come without something more substantial than just new data.” Oh, yes. We should instead conclude that Venus is young (Thomas says less than 10,000 years; researchers say the surface of Venus – not the planet, mind – is about 750 million; no real difference), and forget about all those other planets and all that other data.

Here he tries to deal with the Flood, in particular the existence of several flood myths, many of which far older than the Bible. Here, on the other hand, he argues that the genetic afflictions caused by intermarriage is proof that our genes must have been better in the past (Adam and Eve; the Noah bottleneck, and so on). In other words, we are not better off genetically now; hence, evolution is false. Egad! And here is his critique of the new Cosmos series; short version: Tyson is biased since he accepts a scientific rather than a creationist approach to the data.

Some of Thomas’s articles are rewritten with the help of fellow science writer Frank Sherwin to appear in the ICR’s monthly newsletter, Acts & Facts. These pieces are intended for a general audience, and are less “specialized”, but the scientific accuracy tends not to be better.

Diagnosis: Standard fare creationist. He is probably a nice guy, but he is severely delusional as well, and – though we don’t know the readership of those ICR newsletters – he is at least relatively productive.

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