Copyright © 1984, 1987, 1991 by Ian T. Taylor
TFE Publishing, Toronto
This book covers several broad topics:
I haven't yet paid much attention to the history, since old scientific theories are often obsolete, and new ones should depend only on the evidence that is valid today. I completely ignored the New World Order material.
I was impressed at the large number of mistakes in the scientific arguments. A quick skim turned up these as the most obvious ones:
The accusation in question was that Archaeopteryx didn't really have feathers. Supposedly, the feather impressions had been forged a hundred years ago onto a Compsognathus fossil so that museums would pay more money.
On page 155, we are told that "it is a true but extinct bird". These claims are incompatible. Is it a hoaxed dinosaur, or a true bird? Are feathers all that it takes to be a true bird?
In fact, the accusation was investigated and conclusively disproven. And for good measure, another fossil (with clear feather impressions) was found in 2005.
The scientific community is agreed that Archaeopteryx is a truly transitional fossil, equally reptile and bird.
On this page we find:
...these three most basic entities are not mutually exclusive. That is to say, no one entity can exist without the other two.
This is a vocabulary mistake, rather than a scientific mistake. "Are not mutually exclusive" means something else. It means that it is possible to have more than one entity at the same time.
Perhaps Taylor meant to say the entities "are mutually required."
In 1984, when this book was first written, the tentative estimate was 3.5 billion years. We now have fossil bacteria dated to 3.46 billion years, and as of 1996, there was a claim that could push that to 3.87 billion.
This whole section is based on Dillow's work: Taylor praises his book (in Note 22) as "massive and highly documented". Unfortunately, Dillow's book is a fantasy. Taylor echos the claim that there are "tens of thousands of other frozen animals in the north". In fact, less than fifty frozen animals have been found, and the number of whole carcasses is more like five. Even the whole carcasses did a fair bit of rotting before burial.
On this page we find:
"If there is sufficient time for adjustment the most brittle rocks under strong confining pressure can be forced to bend as if they were soft and plastic."There can be proof, and there is. For example, when a rockbed is stretched, any foreign things stuck in the rock will either elongate or shatter. Folded rockbeds often contain elongated sand grains, elongated pebbles, or even elongated fossils. The viscosities (!) of various kinds of rock have been measured, and are listed in modern texts. And if you want to see the flow of a solid in your own lifetime, simply visit a glacier. Fast glaciers can flow several feet in an hour.
The student of geology and ultimately the public are asked to accept this statement entirely without proof, as indeed for the very long times proposed there can be no proof.
For details see, for example, Structural Geology by George H. Davis.
On this page we find:
In an anticline the bent outside layers of the rock were in tension but are found to be generally unfractured and in many places not even cracked. The modern theory of fracture mechanics cannot account for this fact...
Geologists can and do account for this. Taylor has forgotten that the rockbed in question is buried. If the pressure from the overlying rock exceeds the tension, then all parts of the rockbed are under a net compression. Some parts are under more compression than others, of course, so given time and heat, the rock can slowly flow into a new shape.
How much pressure? Well, we can make sillimanite in the laboratory, but we have to use a pressure which is equivalent to being at the core of a mountain range, 50,000 feet down. Yet sillimanite is a fairly common mineral on the earth's surface. So, rocks that have been under pressure are not rare.
The rocks do sometimes fracture and fault in the process. The conditions that result in ductile deformation or brittle deformation have been studied in numerous laboratory experiments.
This section of the book defines and uses standard geological words like "syncline". So, we would expect all the geological words to be used correctly. But on this page we find:
With time and, it is said, pressure, these sediments crystallize (metamorphose) and become hard solid rock.
There are three mistakes in just this one sentence. First, when sediment turns to rock, the word is "lithify".
Second, crystallization isn't involved. Sediment turns into a sedimentary rock by "compaction" and "cementation".
Third, the word "metamorphose" does not apply, because that is a technical term. Taylor should know this, since he introduced the word on page 101. Heat and pressure can turn a sedimentary rock into a metamorphic rock. This is called metamorphism, but Taylor incorrectly calls it "metamorphosis" just a few lines later.
This claim is about the modern attitude to Darwin. It is incorrect in two ways. First, the statue is still in the museum in a well-lit, well-seen spot. And second, he is still held in high regard: for example, that museum has a whole new section called the Darwin Center.
On this page we find:
Today, with a much greater awareness of the complexity of the biochemistry of reproduction, it transcends all rational credulity to believe that man could have evolved at four separate locations and be interfertile, yet this remains as part of the current belief system.I am a scientist, and I don't recall any such scientific belief. So, I read the attached Note. Apparently Taylor's evidence for this claim is a sculpture at the Washington Episcopalian Cathedral.
NOTE: Mr. Taylor read this review in 1999, and explained to me that he was referring to the scientific belief of "the liberal church of today", rather than the scientific belief of scientists.
The theory doesn't say any such thing, and it never did. I notice that no reference is given for this false claim.
The theory actually said that evolution mostly acts on heritable variation between individuals. Mutation was (and is) considered to be mostly the long-term source of the variation present in a gene pool. Neo-Darwinian theory was a 1930's marriage between Darwin's ideas, and the mathematics of gene pools.
Secondly, mutations are normally trivial. For example, albinos are mutants. Is it observed that albinos must seek each other out to breed? No, it isn't.
NOTE: Mr. Taylor read this review in 1999, and responded on Usenet's "talk.origins". Apparently he deduced that evolution must operate in this strange manner, and therefore concluded that his deduction and the scientific theory must be one and the same.
This is a simple misinterpretation of what Gould said.
The exact quote from Stephen Jay Gould is given in note 3 on page 451. Gould was obviously talking about what he calls a Bauplan, a creature's overall architectural scheme. For example, a jellyfish or five-pointed starfish has a very different Bauplan from you and me.
The Gould/Eldredge quote is from 1977. Since then, Gould has often described Archaeopteryx as being transitional between reptiles and birds. For example, see page 144 of his 1991 book Bully For Brontosaurus.
Does this mean he has changed his mind? No, not at all. The quote is simply saying that both reptiles and birds have the same Bauplan - four limbs, head with neck, that sort of stuff. Big deal.
As for the quote being a "confession", it should be noted that no one thinks the starfish Bauplan evolved into the reptile Bauplan, or vice versa. Instead, it is the theory that those Bauplans are each independent inventions, and that the descendants of the inventors are strongly committed to their particular scheme. So, of course there are neither transitional fossils nor transitional forms between starfish and reptiles. Gould was talking about why no such transition had ever taken place. He was explaining the theory, not doubting it.
Eldredge does think that there are transitional horse fossils.
Taylor mentions 200 year old lava which was misdated as 22 million years old. He then explains that this was caused by "initial argon 40 contamination during the crystal formation".
This is incorrect. Funkhouser's article reports that the lava dated to an age of zero. To that dating method, 200 years is the same thing as "zero".
Funkhouser did obtain a date of 22 million years, but for some olivine rocks which were stuck in the lava like raisins.
Everything in this appendix was published before 1970 and is therefore suspect. I don't understand why a book published in 1984 (and updated in 1991) would give only numbers published in the 1960's. And, several of the items are particularly susceptible to contamination. For instance, coal seams often are groundwater channels. In the case of oil, all sorts of gunk goes down the borehole in the "drilling mud". More modern datings of coal and oil have been done, and produced a much different answer.
Some of these figures are reasonable on their face, and it is not clear why Taylor bothered to include them. For example, the La Brea and mammoth dates are consistent with the time period when mammoths and sabertooths were alive. Ditto for the Neandertal entries.
Mr. Taylor stated in 1999 on Usenet's "talk.origins" that Diprotodon was a dinosaur. Actually, it was an Australian marsupial, every bit as recent as mammoths and sabertooths.