Don’t even pick up The Epoch Times.
The Georgia Straight has raised the Skeptic North ire a few times now with credulous anti-vax and homeopathic articles, but the average edition of the Straight contains one credulous article and a bunch of left-wing bias, all buried after about 5 pages of pure ads.
The Epoch Times meanwhile, which is available nationwide for free, online, and for paid subscribers, takes the credulity cake with their latest edition.
That’s right, over half of their “science and environment” page is dedicated to anti- or pseudoscientific rubbish.
And this from a paper that looks and feels like a real newspaper. Of course CanWest has a history of anti-evolution and anti-global warming stances, so perhaps The Times is just trying to catch up through mimicry.
So let’s do quick dissections of the crap that prompted me to write this piece:
From the LHC article:
After a year’s delay, scientists at the world’s biggest accelerator have restarted an experiment to recreate "Big Bang" conditions that had sparked suggestions the Earth would be sucked in by millions of black holes.
The entire 2012 article mentions how the movie loosely mentions a few prophecies then delves into them without a single interview or fact check:
On the winter solstice of 2012, the sun will align with the dark rift of the Milky Way …Only in the last five years have scientists discovered that there is indeed a black hole in the center of our galaxy. [“…” in original]
Black holes again! Those things are scary! Too bad that one is a whopping 25,000 light years from the centre. Given Newton’s handy discovery of gravity being proportional to 1 over the square of the distance, that means that we’re not going to start plummeting to the centre of the galaxy regardless of how the galaxy turns. In fact, if you read that “dark rift” horseshit right, you could assume that we’d see slightly less mass between us and the big, bad black hole, and the gravitational force would actually be less in 2012 (to a crude approximation). Earth has been in the Milky Way for 4.5 billion years, and will continue to sit here for another 5 billion or so until the sun eats us up (or ejects us from the solar system).
Einstein affirmed Charles Hapgood’s theory of Earth crust displacement, that the Earth’s shifting crust will cause the north south poles to shift toward the equator. Recent research by geologists Adam Maloof and Galen Halverson proves that a polar shift has happened before, at least twice in the distant past.
Is this just a coincidence or are these prophetically accurate warnings?
Yes, it is a coincidence. I like how Einstein is trotted out for no reason other than to make the “polar shift” idea sound credible. Einstein corresponded with lots of people and he was “electrified” by Hapgood’s ideas of polar shifts, which has since been replaced by the widely accepted plate tectonic theory. “Pole” shifts still
It’s nice that they trot out the geologists, since Maloof wrote an explanation for National Geographic of how polar shifts will not result in 2012 like catastophes:
it would take 1-100 million years to accomplish a 50 degree pole shift. In other words, although pole shifting may seem rapid to a geologist, it would still be imperceptible to human generations and even to whole civilizations.
Pole shifting is a fascinating and important process in geological history, but will have nothing to do with the Mayans or with 2012.
Great research their Epoch Times. They end with this dire warning though:
But one fact remains certain—if indeed the poles were to shift and worldwide havoc were to ensue, the sight of tsunamis ripping apart cities, earthquakes splitting through supermarkets, meteors spewing from volcanic eruptions, and massive floods … will not be entertaining at all. This is, after all, a story about humans trying to survive what simply cannot be survived.
That fact is not certain. That is a distortion, a lie, and bad reporting.
Next they challenge the notion that CO2 is causing global warming, implying that no research has been done in climatology in 53 years!
While looking at some old copies of Life magazine in an antique store in the spring of 2008, I came across a very interesting article from August 1956 about the fear of global warming. It reviewed many possible causes for the phenomenon, including increased levels of CO2. There seems to be nothing new today that goes beyond this 1956 article.
Perhaps don’t read Life magazine for science then? The “journalist” then trots some discredited crap about sun cycles, the belief the world has been cooling for 4 years (not exactly the definition of climate…), this lie:
During the late 1960s and 70s, the press, the public and many “scientists” were worried about global cooling and the return of an ice age.
Well, perhaps not a lie, since he did put scare quote around scientists, a review of the literature proves that this was more a public misperception than what real scientists (note the lack of quotes) believed.
Then there’s this:
What about greenhouse gases? As noted in the Scientific American of July 2004, atmospheric methane gas remains in minuscule concentrations of only about 1.7 ppm, CO2 is roughly 220 times as concentrated at the planet’s surface (although, still at a very low 0.038 percent), while water vapour is a whopping 6,000 times as plentiful. Surely, the sun’s effect on atmospheric water vapour plays a much stronger role in global temperature variation than does CO2.
Just 1.7 ppm for methane, 374 ppm for CO2 but 10000 ppm water! Wow those are crazy numbers! Too bad they’re fucking meaningless to climate change.
Yes, water does affect global temperatures, but it’s really hard to change atmospheric concentrations of water, whereas to change CO2 and methane requires simply burning crap constantly since the middle of the nineteenth century. In fact, in the past 5 years, CO2 concentration has increased by 3% alone, and by 25% in the past century. The fact is we do not live in the same climate as we did 100 years ago.
Unfortunately this was only Part 1, with the second part promising to discuss “melting glaciers and ice sheets, long-term weather forecasting, and political support for CO2 reduction.” I somehow doubt real science will be reported.
Finally, the evolution article follows Carl Wener (no, not the German watercolourist, this one has a doctorate in medicine), the seemingly sole winner of the Norman D Jones Science Award, who later went on to preach biblical creationism (not mentioned in the “science” article).
Werner doubts evolution because the “laws of chemistry would preclude life from forming by itself.” After a fun “life-long adventure” (it obviously didn’t last a lifetime since he’s still around to talk about it, maybe he needs to keep searching), he decided there was no evidence for evolution and now makes up lies against science.
The entire article is an advertisement for the creationists book “The Grand Experiment” and finishes with these quotes from Werner,
“Basically what I read in the college textbook was in contradiction to what I was finding out in the field when we did the interviews with the scientists. So there was great disparity between what was written and what the reality was,” Werner said.
“There’s a lack of candor in the universities on this one topic. It is kind of a closed topic. Scientists are unwilling to discuss it openly because of fear of repercussion.”
Scientists are always investigating evolution. How about read a real book on evolution, learn that we know a lot more than just fossils (which we have lots), and stop shouting persecution when you’re just wrong.
Usually when a newspaper tries to present creationism, it’s usually a point-counterpoint that results in a draw, with a real scientist at least getting interviewed. Epoch Times, you fail even the basic test.
I’ll end with this note: The main readership of The Epoch Times are Chinese populations (seeing as how the paper was founded by Falun Gong members and routinely attacks the atrocious human rights record of the Chinese Communist Party), meanwhile, nearly all North American skeptics groups are predominantly white, middle-class males(even in Vancouver where nearly 20% of the population is Chinese). While some attention has been paid to the gender discrepancy, race has been an even greater taboo.
If we want to grow as a movement, we need to take action to diversify beyond our limited appeal. Clearly there’s credulity in other cultures, but there’s also skeptics. We’re more alike than we are different and we only limit our potential by not reaching out to skeptics of other cultures.