Sunday, August 5, 2018

#2050: John Nail

We don’t know much about John Nail, but at least Nail is a creationist – and apparently a teacher at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Sedalia, which is what makes us take note since his position gives him an opportunity to fill students’ heads with his deranged ideas. In 2013 he laid some of those ideas out in a response, in a Missouri newspaper, to an op-ed about how teaching creationism makes us dumber, unintentionally determined to show that the op-ed’s conclusion was entirely accurate. The letter, with critical annotations, is here. Apart from some strikingly idiotic, but common, creationist gambits (the lunar dust argument; although the influenza virus adapts to the environment it won’t turn into anything else), Nail does have some novel insights to contribute: “The word dinosaur means ‘large lizard’ [that’s false] – Ms. Dupuy [author of the op-ed], we still have large lizards.” That is apparently supposed to be some kind of gotcha point. Continues Nail: “In fact, large lizards were small when they were young. Noah could have easily had immature ‘dinosaurs’ on the Ark.” And of course, there is a conspiracy: “Natural Science museums do not show the rabbits, squirrels and other currently known animals whose bones were found with the dinosaur bones.” Well, they do indeed not, but not for the reason Nail thinks. Also, all the early hominid fossils are apparently hoaxes. Evidence? Yeah, right: evidence is a ploy of “scientists”, and no way Nail is gonna fall for that devious trick. “I could list many scientific reasons that macro-evolution makes no sense but we believe what we want to believe,” concludes Nail instead, who certainly chooses to believe whatever he wants to believe, regardless of facts, evidence or reason.

And to cap it off, Nail calls for teaching both sides and claiming that no one can know how the universe began since no one was there to see it, which is a spectacular display of ignorance about what science is and how it works*.

Diagnosis: Deranged nitwit, whose ignorance about the most basic facts of science, nature, reason and evidence is breathtaking even by young-earth creationist standards. That he is allowed to teach anythingto children is nothing short of a disaster.

*Look: Science is about the unobservable. That’s the point. Studying the observableis book-keeping. Science, on the other hand, is about testing hypotheses about the unobservable by investigating the observable consequencesof those hypotheses. That is, you derive currently available observationsfrom hypotheses about the not-directly observable, and then check whether those observations hold, thereby supporting or falsifying that hypothesis. And this you can do both for Big Bang and the theory of evolution. You can also do it for the idea that the universe was created in six days, but that claim is, as a scientific hypothesis, of course thoroughly refuted by the available observations.

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