BPSDB: Sal Cordova solves his math problems by changing constants February 18, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in BPSDB, Science, wingnuts.
I can’t resist getting in on this one. After all, I’ve been mocking anti-science idiots since the early days of this blog. When the subject matter requires, you can expect a detailed debunking of anti-science nonsense, but as you’ll see, that won’t be today: Sal did the work for me.
In his latest in the series with possibly the greatest ironic name of all time, “Advanced Creation Science,” Sal Cordova has discovered something: math is easier when you change constants until you get the result you wanted. If only I’d realized this sooner, I could have done much better in math. Whenever I lost points on a test due to a wrong answer, I could have argued, for example, that pi=3, and moved on with my life.
See, Sal has a big problem: he’s a Young Earth Creationist, but we can see stars that exploded long before Sal thinks the universe was created. It’s hard to argue for a 10,000 year old universe when there are stars that had already died long before that point. So Sal’s decided to argue that the speed of light has slowed down drastically,* thus explaining away the problem–if disguising “a magic man done it” with a BS “theory” can be considered an explanation:
For YEC to succeed, however, it may be necessary that our current conception of the laws of physics, the very conceptions formed by Einstein and his three creationist heroes, may have to be re-written. [...]
Now, an open speculation proposed by obscure YECs like Barry Setterfield and myself is this: the formation of the filamentary structures of galaxies in the universe, and the galaxies themselves was the result of Birkeland currents flowing through plasma in the backdrop of a decreasing speed of light.
But it didn’t take long for commenters on his blog to point out problems with this “variable speed of light” idea, and Sal was, almost immediately, forced to disassociate himself from Setterfield’s work. What was old Sal left with?
I don’t agree with all that Barry Setterfield has written, and I think Dr. Jellison has successfully cast doubt on major sections of Barry’s work, enough for me to rejection[sic] them.
But not all of Barry’s ideas are irredeemable.
In contrast, I’m of the opinion, the Big Bang is now irredeemable as a viable physical theory.
So two comments gets him to give up on “major sections” of his pet “theory,” while he thinks others are sound–though of course he does not elaborate on which he still holds (way to avoid pinning yourself down, Sal!). But the Big Bang theory he dismisses out of hand as “irredeemable.” It seems his evidential standards are as variable as he thinks the speed of light is.
The greatest irony here is that Sal’s claiming his “model” is used to resolve difficulties in galaxy formation. So he’s proposing a solution which has no empirical evidence, and which is already discredited. And he’s doing so because real science–which develops answers to real-world puzzles–doesn’t sit right with him. Rather than deal with that, he’d rather have the speed of light change by many orders of magnitude, which it would have to to make a 10,000 year old universe appear to be billions-of-years-old, in order to avoid coming to the rational conclusion.
So all that is very sad and illustrates the danger of the kind of illogical thinking that YECs like Sal thrive on.
But all is not lost. Sal might not have a future in real-world science, but he’d fit right in in the fictional reality of Futurama:
Professor Hubert Farnsworth: These are the anti-matter engines I invented. They allow my spaceship to travel to distant galaxies in mere hours.
Cubert J. Farnsworth: That’s impossible. You cannot go faster than the speed of light.
Professor Hubert Farnsworth: Exactly. That’s why scientists increased the speed of light in 2208.
Cubert J. Farnsworth: Also impossible.
I’m a professor, for God’s sake!
Unfortunately for Sal, even this wouldn’t solve his dilemma, because science only sped up the speed of newly emitted light–the old stuff still travels at the old speed, which is why there’s a thousand-year delay in catching reruns on Omicron Persei 8. So poor Sal’s ideas aren’t even workable in fiction.
* This is an old, long-discredited creationist canard. Sal’s just dressing it up with a pseudcoscientific post hoc explanation for evidence which discredits his beliefs.
[Update: Sal has responded--sort of--in a comment to one of his own posts. But all he says is that the Institute for Creation Research isn't very credible. Since the ICR wasn't event mentioned in my post--but only referenced in the talk.origins link, I guess Sal doesn't have much to add. It's all a little sad: yes, Sal, ICR is a crappy organization full of liars. And even THEY can recognize that VSL is only a thin attempt to cover for measurements that discredit the YEC. When even ICR agrees with scientists who say a claim is far too unsupported for use--even for use in defense of a YEC position, then maybe it's time to stop using that claim.]