Talk:Ken Ham

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Arbitration Committee Decisions on Pseudoscience

The Arbitration Committee has issued several principles which may be helpful to editors of this and other articles when dealing with subjects and categories related to "pseudoscience".

Principles
Four groups


'A frequently debunked/refuted creationist claim'[edit]

I question whether this edit [1] is appropriately encyclopedic. It is claimed the earlier edit transgressed guidance on in text attribution WP:ITA, which states 'Care should be taken not to mislead the reader by implying that, because the claim is actively disputed by only a few, it is otherwise supported.' The claim seems fallacious, many dispute that the soft tissue is young, and that is very easy to reference.[2][3]

There are other problems with this edit:

  • First, the original sentence already describes that this is evidence KH adduces to support his assertion the Earth is young, other parts of the article make it abundantly clear that this is disputed by the mainstream scientific establishment, this additional clause is somewhat tautologous.
  • Second, it gives the misleading impression that what has been refuted is the actual existence of the soft tissue, (plus 'red cells' and biochemical components), not the young earth creationist interpretation of these facts. This inadvertently risks strengthening Ham's contention that interpretations are conflated with observed data.
  • Third, the edit gives no impression of the widespread surprise of mainstream investigators at the discovery of such apparently 'young' material, not least the author of the paper herself, who repeated the examination 17 times before daring to publish it.[4]
  • Fourth, the reference substituted [5] is less accurate than the creationist source originally used in four respects: first because the first reference comes from KH and represents his own opinion, second the talkorigins site [6] is currently both inaccurate and out of date, and only confirms why there should be widespread shock that proteins and short 10 bp segments of dsDNA should be found from ancient specimens 'DNA has never been recovered from any dinosaur' (in fact there are now 4 lines of evidence that short segments of DNA exist in dinosaur samples [7], as well as fragments from type 1 collagen, osteocalcin, probably some form of phosphoprotein, chondroitin sulphate proteoglycan, and possibly also cystatin have been found[8] amongst others. The creationist report at least give considerable time and detail to credit the counterargument given by the original discoverers for a multi-million year preservation of these samples (however implausible that explanation may appear).[9] Other creationist sites have also reported on this, [10][11] indicating that KH's view is widely held by other creationists.

I propose restoration of the original source (as RS for KH's opinion) and replacement of the partisan and inaccurate talkorigins reference[12] with the original publications given above. Cpsoper (talk) 16:08, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

DNA has NOT been found in 65 million year old Dinosaur fossils, nor should we expect to find it past 1million years old, regardless of what you claim about the misrepresented citations you have presented. Some of those are behind a paywall but MH Schweitzer has been on record confirming that those bones are old.--Adam in MO Talk 23:29, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
Although there isn't evidence of DNA in dinosaur fossils, that doesn't mean that we can simply say "Oh, the claim is easily debunked". I agree with Cpsoper that the edit in question is unencylopedic and should not remain due to the reasons he mentioned above. Luthien22 (talk) 01:13, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
Adam, you may wish to discuss your opinions with the authors of the paper I cited, here surely we should stick to facts. They cite four lines of evidence that DNA has been isolated in bone. Even the abstract reads 'multiple lines of evidence for material consistent with DNA in dinosaurs'. This of course is not the same as sequencing. Cpsoper (talk) 20:27, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Dinosaur soft tissue, cellular structures, collagen and evidence of DNA fragments[edit]

The following sentence seems highly questionable.

He supports his view with biblical scripture,[32] dinosaur soft tissue, cellular structures, collagen and evidence of DNA fragments[33][34][35][36] and claims of catastrophic inundation.

The sources are primary and an implication is given that these new, novel theories presented in primary papers are accepted fact rather than fringe theories that have not recieved substantial evaluation much less acceptance in their fields. Unless or until "dinosaur soft tissue, cellular structures, collagen and evidence of DNA fragments" have been reviewed and evaluated by secondary scholarly sources they should probably not be in the article or at least be qualified. Also I don't think he "supports his view" with the information in the studies cited but with his own proposed interpretation and questionable understanding of the ideas presented in the cited studies some of which he could surely not have been refering to based on dates. - - MrBill3 (talk) 05:09, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

I changed it so that we focus on the rhetorical argument which is Ham's typical approach. jps (talk) 16:08, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
This edit removes the substance of his argument, and replaces it with a vague general description. This serves to impoverish the information on the page. No one disputes that the interpretation of the data is at issue, nor that the data is the fruit of mainstream work, so why not mention what the data itself actually is? Cpsoper (talk) 22:22, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
The clause 'claims of catastrophic inundation tied to his belief ' also introduces infelicitous repetition, 'he believes...tied to his belief'. As to the newness of the findings, the oldest paper is at least 10 years old, there has been considerable academic and media interest and widespread international comment. Try these for example [13], [14], [15], [16] Cpsoper (talk) 22:34, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The problem is that Ken Ham doesn't have citable substance in his arguments about scientific data and scientific results because he can only refer to the rhetoric of his approach. He does not publish in the areas where one would find such arguments bing made. The relevance of the data to anything related to Ken Ham's beliefs is only attested to by Ken Ham and he admits that he likes to choose evidence that is mainstream. That's the major point (and, I would note, there are many more arguments he makes that have nothing to do with soft tissue). Also note that "he believes..." and "...tied to his belief." are in two different sentences. jps (talk) 15:52, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

He has no 'citable substance'? It's quite clear from the secondary sources I've quoted that these very findings were 'shocking' and 'surprising' to their discoverers. Creationists have 'hijacked them' as being convenient data to support their opinions, according to the Smithsonian magazine. You've removed the details of what the actual data is, not what the interpretation is, and impoverished the data in the page without proper justification, and on these grounds I have restored them. I would agree there is a case for adding general comment from mainstream sources on the same findings, and the citation from Ham's own centre describes the value of iron in acting as a preservative, per Schweitzer's work. Cpsoper (talk) 20:36, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Ken Hamm has hijacked many stories in has rather voluminous blogs and talks. Highlighting this particular idea in the text is unwarranted. jps (talk) 15:41, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
4 references, including a secondary source the same editor had requested, have been removed, along with other details directly pertinent to the subject of the page's own directly cited views. Coatracking is illustrated by 'paragraph after paragraph' of material, in a way that obscures the subject, and it does not seem undue to outline in a handful of words explaining just what reasons this subject himself has repeatedly given for what he believes, this edit [17] serves to impoverish the reader's insight and understanding. Cpsoper (talk) 21:31, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Ham has been an active creationist for decades. He has supported his view with a huge range of arguments, rhetoric, innuendo, and scriptural interpretations. To pick one or even a few out requires a strong source that says that such are his signature arguments. Since there isn't a lot of attention paid to Ham's ideas, there isn't a lot of analysis of this sort. Perhaps there is, in fact, none. jps (talk) 14:26, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Not so difficult. AiG cites soft tissue data as 'no 3' in their list of evidence supporting a young Earth [18] after two geological phenomena. It's easy to see why, when you look at some reactions that Schweitzer's findings must be 'nonsense', because of the antiquity of the samples.[19] An editor at Talk origins also still believes DNA could not and has not been isolated in dinosaurs.[20] A short mention of the specifics is appropriate for the article. Cpsoper (talk) 22:26, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
You'll need to find someone independent of Ham himself (that is not Answers in Genesis) which identifies this particular argument as relevant to Ham's biography. So far, you have failed to do that and this set of links certainly does not make your case. jps (talk) 00:42, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
The AiG website and Ken Ham are notorious for taking valid references and distorting what they say. An example of this would be taking a comment by Neil DeGrasse Tyson from the series Cosmos, a worksheet from a site to help teachers and conclude that "Students told to worship the sun" <https://answersingenesis.org/public-school/students-told-to-worship-sun/> CanadianLinuxUser (talk) 01:11, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
So Ham and AiG are not RS for Ham's opinion after all? As to the example you cite, CLU, there's extensive verbatim, contextual quotes from the sources they are critiquing, students are encouraged 'to revere the sun and stars' as the sole and entire sources of their origin and our sun-worshipping ancestors 'were far from foolish', that 'we ourselves are stardust'. That seems to come pretty close to encouraging worship to me. The quotes contain materialist fideism. It also flies in the face of historic theistic and deistic polemic against animists, and many monotheists of all categories see these statements idolatrous and blasphemous, as well as factually inaccurate. Can you indicate the distortion please? Cpsoper (talk) 15:06, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Please. The argument is not that Ham and AiG are distorting Ham's opinions. The argument is that you are choosing your favorite claim of the many possible of Ham's to highlight in this biography without any justification from a reliable source that this particular claim is more noteworthy than any other. jps (talk) 23:01, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
Revere... my humble opinion is synonym to be in "awe". I am in awe that the sun could "burb" tomorrow and kill all the satellites. "Fart" and kill the ozone layer but I sure do not pray to sun in hopes that it does not do so. When one knows the power the sun has you can't help but revere, or respect if you prefer, just how big that thing and powerful it is. Find me one... just one quote where scientists are teaching a prayer to the sun to students so that it does or doesn't do something and I'll agree with worship. In the meantime, it's just more "tribble droppings" from Ken Ham that instead of accepting the truth of science, he will find crap to vilify scientists for nothing. CanadianLinuxUser (talk) 02:15, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

The referenced article by Ken Ham begins like this:

We’ve heard so many times from secular groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) or the Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) that students in science classrooms in public schools can’t be taught about creation, as that would be teaching religion in government-funded schools. And yet, such secular groups do support students being taught religion in the public schools. In fact, the government is actually allowing a religion to be imposed on public school students, and using our tax dollars to do it. Imagine if public school students in their science classes were encouraged to worship the sun. And yet this is happening! But how do they get away with it? Well, they just call worshipping the sun “science,” and then claim they can teach this “science” in the public schools!

I would think it would be obvious to most people that Ham is distorting the facts to claim that students are actually being taught "religion" in public schools in this fashion. Regards, AzureCitizen (talk) 15:33, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks, on the contrary, it shows just how widely & unconsciously a well defined fideistic religious position, that of materialism/animism, has been embraced, often without regard to its long known and well mapped moral and spiritual consequences, and in remarkable disregard of the history of empirical science, but we digress. Cpsoper (talk) 15:44, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
"God created the heavens and the earth". Ken Ham could have used Neil deGrasse Tyson's statement as "proof" that scientists have shown that it's one creator creating the earth and the sun but he can't do that. If science is right about that then they could be right about other stuff as well. He has to vilify science and scientists to show that his statements of pseudo-science are the one and only truth. CanadianLinuxUser (talk) 02:24, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
If I am reading you correctly then, you are in agreement with Ham's position, and believe that science is being taught as a religion in America's public schools? Regards, AzureCitizen (talk) 15:47, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Gents, amusing as these varied interjections and distractions may be, can we focus on the question in hand, 'you are choosing your favorite claim', with respect it is not mine, it is AiG's third claim, and one in which many mainstream observers have expressed difficulty if not absolute rejection of conventional explanations. What's inappropriate about including a brief reference to that in the text? Other than that it may be somewhat inconvenient data for now? Cpsoper (talk) 09:30, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
It's on a list published by AiG but I don't see a source that indicates that it is Ken Ham's personal 3rd favorite claim. I do see you seem to have a particular fondness for it. The inappropriateness of including this particular claim is that it causes the BLP to serve as a WP:COATRACK for this claim. Find a source (Bill Nye's book, perhaps) which details which of Ham's claims are most prominent and we can include a brief reference to that in the text. But just cherrypicking the #3 on an arbitrary "Top 10 List" that posts articles by people other than Ham is not appropriate for this biography. jps (talk) 15:00, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
I've explained already why the description of coatracking is hardly appropriate to a few terms here. AiG is Ham's organisation, it's their choice to cherry pick, and their order of ranking. It's entirely fitting here, along with a brief description of the geological beliefs, which make up no.s one and two. Cpsoper (talk) 14:01, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
Find the reliable, independent source which identifies this particular list as relevant to Ham's biography and we'll continue the conversation on how to include it. Until then, you're just not getting it. jps (talk) 14:34, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't see why we need an independent source when both Ham and AiG are RS for his opinions [21], and not the facts but the interpretation is in dispute. However since we've finding it difficult to reach a consensus I will put it out to rfc. Cpsoper (talk) 22:59, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
We need an independent source to identify the prominence of the claim in the context of the biographical fame of Ken Ham. AiG is a sprawling behemoth of a website and picking one or two pages from its archives to highlight is inappropriate unless we can identify that those particular pages are relevant to Ham's biography. They aren't relevant simply on our say-so. jps (talk) 13:47, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

Rfc Edit specifying 'dinosaur soft tissue, cellular structures, various proteins and evidence of DNA fragments'[edit]

I seek comment on whether: 1/ this edit [22], particularly the words 'dinosaur soft tissue, cellular structures, various proteins and evidence of DNA fragments' removes pertinent material to Ham's views or 2/ whether the removed clause violates WP:UNDUE or 3/ WP:COATRACK. Please address each question: 'No, Yes, Yes' in the case of the last editor for example. Cpsoper (talk) 22:59, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

  • Comment: No, No, No. However, I don't regard the inclusion or deletion of that text as very important to the topic; essentially it deals with matters of detail. What is more important is that the tone of the discussion of Ham's views in the article is polemical and adversarial. Apart from the question of how such an approach puts Ham into an artificially sympathetic light, such appraisal and appeal to scientific consensus as support for the contrary view is not part of our role as an encyclopaedia. Personally I am weary of such tedious dog fighting, and will not attempt to adjust the text off my own bat, but if explicitly requested I'll give it a bash. Otherwise suit yourselves, but try to avoid permitting a talk page to overflow with trolling for exposure for creationism such as has become routine in other exchanges of this type. I suggest that in the context of this RFC, any argument in favour of one view or another, rather than the wording of the article, be regarded as disruptive. JonRichfield (talk) 06:54, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment RfCs are supposed to be easy to understand and straightforward questions. This one is not. It's pretty clear that the consensus above is to not include the special pleading of certain points made by Ham in the article unless there are secondary and independent sources that highlight such claims. jps (talk) 15:05, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment The bot summoned me. I don't want to hash out how 1, 2 and 3 are pertinent to the edit, for the reasons mentioned by jps. I see other issues with it though. Adding, "selection of mainstream scientific findings that he reinterprets to fit his worldview" isn't good, because it isn't neutral, and is likely SYNTH. Ken Ham is a Young Earth advocate. All we can do is describe what NPOV sources say what he claims. Does that answersingenesis.org site say Ham reinterprets science to fit his worldview? Bigger issue: what kind of source is answersingenesis.org? Does it meet our criteria for NPOV?

"Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth."

I noticed that it was included as part of the edit, and repeatedly in the article. I also noticed that a legitimate Smithsonian ref about T-Rex being 68 million years old was removed in the edit. Now that was good, because the ref was being used to support Ham's views, which clearly is misleading. Look, it isn't easy to write an article like this, because it requires suspension of disbelief in over a century of science. I find that too challenging. I can't add anything further, I'm sorry.--FeralOink (talk) 04:24, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Item 1. I don't think the material is pertinent. I don't know whether Ham does. Item 2. Is it the removed clause, or its removal, that is thought by some to violate WP:UNDUE? Item 3. Same as 2, but for WP:COATRACK. General Comment: The article should state Ham's views, and mention that they are not compatible with what most scientists believe. It is not the right place for a referenced debate on whose view is right. The material on soft tissue etc. should not be in the article. Maproom (talk) 09:19, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for this, for clarity, the clause was excised because it was considered 'undue' to the page to cite Ham's views about the interpretation of this data, the data itself being unarguable, whether it is undue to include the clause, is the question - which you've already answered unambiguously, ditto 'coatrack'. Cpsoper (talk) 10:55, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
  • No, yes, no. Adding those words would be to give undue weight to a fringe view.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 00:11, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: I'm going to reiterate the sentiments of others above that the form of this RfC is convoluted, counter-intuitive and would be likely to only confuse matters, if not for the fact that the issue at hand is of such a WP:SNOW quality that consensus has come through as pretty clear, not withstanding the confusing structure of the inquiry. In the future, I'd advise Cpsoper to formulate any RfC's with a single straight-forward question if possible; that easily could have been done in this case, by asking whether the edit itself should be maintained and providing the issues of weight and coatracking as context in discussing the positions that have been put forward on the manner of the edit itself.
All of that said, no the edit in question does not remove essential information and yes, leaving the removed content in would unambiguously constitute weight and coatracking issues. Snow I take all complaints in the form of epic rap battles 06:35, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Is science a conspiracy?[edit]

This edit changes

His claim that the universe is approximately 6,000 years old, based on his interpretation of the Bible, is contradicted by evidence from astronomy and from the Earth's fossil and geological records...

to

His claim that the universe is approximately 6,000 years old, based on his interpretation of the Bible, is refuted by the scientific consensus which cites evidence from astronomy

(Emphasis added.)

Is there a cabal of scientists refuting Ham? Or is there just scientific evidence? I'd say the latter. Guettarda (talk) 23:38, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

The age of the Earth is not an "opinion". Evidence from geology, astronomy clearly shows that it's more than 6500 years old. There is debate to the actual number of years the universe is. (13.798 billion years plus or minus 370 000 years ). There is consensus AND evidence that clearly shows that 6500 is too small (even 10 000 years is too small). CanadianLinuxUser (talk) 23:47, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
Of course. All I was saying was that the edit by User:1990'sguy makes it sound like there's some entity, the "scientific consensus" which "cites evidence" disagreeing with Ham. When in reality, most scientists working on this stuff have never even heard on Ham. Guettarda (talk) 23:58, 19 January 2015 (UTC)