The Gross National Debt

Sunday, May 21, 2017

It ain't over because it ain't settled

You might have heard about the geeollygist who wants to pull rock samples from the Grand Canyon, but got kicked to the curb.

Here ya go:


The Grand Canyon is an average of a mile deep and several miles across at the widest point. Current thinking (and current thinking will be VERY important in a moment) says the Colorado River did not do all it.

The GC is also a focal point of creationists and non-creationists. One side says it cannot be millions to billions of years old. The other side says it has to be that old.

Which is it? Damfino. I have problems remembering what I did last week. No one knows. Even SCIENCE! says we're not sure.


Andrew Snelling, a geeollygist, wants to collect a few rocks from the GC to examine them.

We are talking about a hole in the ground where you can hide mountains and have room left over. About 5.45 trillion cubic yards.

Some perspective. The average dump truck holds 10-14 cubic yards of dirt. An Olympic swimming pool holds 3,300 cubic yards of water. The average politician is several cubic yards of fertilizer. We could dump every politician in the planet into the Grand Canyon and have room left over. We'd also create the world's biggest hazardous waste dump.

Professor Snelling wants to collect some rocks for examination, about 2 backpack's worth. But even if he came out with a semi load, no one would notice.

Why does he want to collect and examine rocks? Because he does.

The science is never settled.


The Grand Canyon is a national park, overseen by the federal government. As such, it is public property. Visit any time you like. Hike around, Shoot the rapids. But don't take home any rocks.

You can request permission to take rocks out of Grand Canyon. Many people have done so. This is for research purposes. Professor Snelling filed an application to do so. His application did not specifically state why he wanted rocks, only that he wanted to study them.

The science is never settled.


The professor's application was rejected.

"Snelling sued park administrators and the Department of Interior, which administers the national parks program, because they would not grant him a permit to collect 50 to 60 fist-sized rocks."

The science is never settled.


The professor wants to study the rocks, presumably using the Scientific Method. There are two versions of the Scientific Method.

Mode 1: Study. Examine. State what you have found and say "this is based on the evidence we have right now." Repeat if needed. Other scientists look at your findings and talk about the results. Some try the same experiments. The science is never settled.

Mode 2: Ridicule. Insult. Denigrate. Ad hominem. Ignore. Destroy. Do not address the research, but do everything you can to bring ruin on the person presenting the research. "Being a scientist and a creationist is incredibly difficult. Believing that the world is merely thousands of years old, that humans magically appeared, and Darwinian evolution is a crock of shit is in direct conflict with almost every single scientific field out there." And so on.

Because the science is never settled. But a scientist's reputation can be shattered.


Snelling is a bona fide geeollygist. (See link on his name above). He's got the degrees. He's got the field time. He's got the published papers. He's got the background to make the rock request legitimate. But the science is never settled.

So, he wants to do research. He applied for permission to haul out some rocks.

The science is never settled.


While I can't tell you exactly why his app was rejected like Michael Jordan on defense dismissing bad layup, I can refer you to this comment from The Atlantic (link to the whole story above). "...all three overwhelmingly denounced the work as not scientifically valid, a criterion the park also uses to evaluate proposals. Snelling, who holds a Ph.D. in geology, did not disclose his Answers in Genesis affiliation, nor did he explicitly say he wanted to prove the Grand Canyon is young in his initial permit application, but the reviewers became aware of his reputation."

If these three other geeollygists rejected his app based on religious grounds, they engaged in the second form of the scientific method. Rather than attack the science, they went after the man.

Did they break the law too? Hard to say. It will be interesting to see what the courts find.

Regardless, the science is never settled.


In addition to non-settled science, there is the whole issue of the government mixing religion into policy.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment says government cannot do something that establishes religion or prevents people from having a religion. The three reviewers agree, based on The Atlantic article, that Snelling has a bona fide religion, at least according to the US understanding of it.

As the GC is a national park, it is subject to federal law. Taking out rocks of the GC is subject to federal law. Federal law is subject to the First Amendment.

Snelling wants to take out rocks to study them under the first form of the scientific method. If his application was rejected because the three reviewers object to his creationist views, they have violated Snelling's First Amendment rights.

If they rejected his app because of SCIENCE! then they are ignoring the idea that the science is never settled.


If the three reviewers will present their reasoning to reject Snelling's application, I want to read it.

I'll bet you they said no because they think Snelling is an idiot, which is the second scientific method and also a violation of the US Constitution.

And, the science is never settled.

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