Thursday, November 25, 2004

Creationists: The Stupidest People On the Planet Week (Day Four)

Memo to Creationists: YOU ARE STILL DUMB.
Welcome to Creationists: The Stupidest People On The Planet Week: Day Four. Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you've checked in before the L-Tryptophan hit your brain, or you might find yourself agreeing with the creationists, who believe that as recently as 500 years ago, Thanksgiving was celebrated by eating Triceratops, mashed potatoes, and gravy. If you can count the number of things wrong with that sentence, congratulations! You can count higher than a creationist!
We know the creationists are out there. We know they're not that bright. And we know that, in a few small communities, they are gaining a toehold by getting "intelligent design" bullshit into textbooks or classrooms, thanks to a few highly-placed godly types on school boards. But schools aren't the only place the Six Thousand Year Universe People are pulling their crap. It's a big wide world, and hey, we've had a science-hating born-again president for four years...
I'd like to introduce you all to Tom Vail. whose middle name is probably not "Iwaseducatedforyearstonoa". Tom Vail works at the Grand Canyon. You remember the Grand Canyon. Like dinosaurs, the Grand Canyon is a bit of a gigantic, pesky thorn in the side to creationists, because, well, we know how fast erosion is, we know how deep the Grand Canyon is, and when you do the math, you come up with a number a lot bigger than 6,000. Or... do you? It's ACTUAL CREATIONIST QUOTE TIME!
"For years, as a Colorado River guide, I told people how the Grand Canyon was formed over the evolutionary time span of millions of years. Then I met the Lord. Now I have a different view of the Canyon, which according to a biblical time scale, can?t possibly be more than a few thousand years old."
Now, that's just fine. Well, not FINE, I mean, he is, after all, wrong, but he's wrong on a personal and individual level as a result of "having met the Lord". The Lord never shows up to my parties. Although to be fair, I haven't invited him into my heart, because as this website clearly shows, my heart is not nearly big enough to host the kind of party the Lord would show up to. He's welcome at my apartment anytime, though. He doesn't even have to bring snacks.
The problem with Tom Vail is that he feels so strongly that his life in the Grand Canyon has been a lie, that he has compiled a book. "The Grand Canyon, A Different View". Creationists like terms like "different view" or "alternate view", because those sound much nicer than "wrong". I would love to be able to present my bank with a book entitled "Five Minus Three: A Different View", in which, through rhetorical wordplay, ad hominem attacks, and general ramblings, convince them that five minus three is in fact FOUR, and that my checking account should be retroactively adjusted accordingly.
But even that's not so bad. People are free to write any book they can get paid to (or themselves pay to) publish. But Vai's "Grand Canyon: The Talking Out Of My Biblical Ass View" is being sold. At the Grand Canyon. By bookstores affiiliated with the National Park Service. You know, the branch of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?!
This did not escape notice. When the NPS's head of the Geologic Resource Division found out about it, he tried to get the book out of National Park Service stores, feeling that it is not the government's place to be actively promoting pseudocientific, religious hoohah. Or, at least, it wasn't. Before 2000. According to Time Magazine, the park service overruled the decision, promised to lead a high-level review of the book, never actually performed that review, and it appears that the Bush Administration is actively ensuring the book stays on Park Service shelves.
Unlike it's anti-science views on global warming, pregnancy, and STD prevention, the Bush Administration's 4,500 year old Grand Canyon won't get anyone killed, unless some poor fool does the math the other way, figures it can't possibly be more than a few feet deep, and jumps in. But it's egregious, and shows that whether out of true belief or just pandering to the base, the idiocy that is creationism, like so many other idiocies, stretches all the way to the highest office in the land.
Tomorrow: It all comes to a screeching end, as you learn things about your fellow man that even the last election could have taught you.