The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

A Creationist Exposed
Chris Stassen
[Last Update: March 7, 1994]

Other Links:
The Institute for Creation Research
Visit the web site of the organization that Duane Gish represents.
Creationism: Bad Science or Immoral Pseudoscience?
Joyce Arthur, writing for Skeptic Magazine, examines the questionable methods used by Duane Gish and other prominent "scientific creationists."
Creationism and Error
Scientific creationism differs from conventional science in numerous and substantial ways. One obvious difference is the way scientists and creationists deal with error.
Duane Gish and Creationism at Rutgers
This exchange between Richard Trott and Duane Gish appeared in a student newspaper at Rutgers University.

Here is an exercise for anyone who wants to claim that creationists have any interest in giving honest information to people:

Call the ICR's publishing house (Master Books) at 619-448-1121. Order catalog item "CRESAM," a sampler of creationism pamphlets, for $2.95 (plus $3 s/h). Read "Have You Been Brainwashed?" -- you will receive four copies, so you can get three friends to participate and split the costs.

In it, you will note claims of human and dinosaur footprints together at the Paluxy River site. Also, note claims that the Precambrian is void of fossils. (See below for evidence that Gish, the author of the pamphlet and very influential in the ICR, knew the latter claim to be false as of 1985.)

Call a noted scientific publisher, say, Sinauer or W.H. Freeman. See if you can find a book that uses Piltdown or Nebraska man to build a case for human evolution. You will fail.

Now, tell me: based on the results of your exercise, which side cares about presenting "facts"? Which side is diligent about refusing to propagate misproven or misleading "information"? Why do you think this is so?

Below is a written transcript that I made from a videotape of the Gish/Plimer debate in 1988. Plimer obtained a copy of the same pamphlet, and hammered Gish for the inaccuracies in it.

These are from the video tape of the March 18, 1988 debate between Ian Plimer and Duane Gish. The debate took place in Australia; the video tape has been converted to American TV format and my own copy is an unknown-number-of-times removed from the original and is of mediocre quality (especially the sound).

When I am not sure of a word, it appears with a question mark following. Editorial remarks are in [square brackets]. All punctuation is my own invention, which I use in an attempt to convey the flow of the talk.

Note that Plimer, in my opinion, was overly aggressive and mean-spirited in this debate. I don't think that he conducted himself well during much of the debate. However, in my opinion he thrashed Gish mainly due to the same pamphlet which is discussed above.

Plimer's statement during his 45-minute debate speech

What I want to now talk about are some of our scientific publications which come from our (?) creationists. The creationists will not allow refutations by scientists. They will not allow a process of improving or correcting. I use the same principle.

[I am not sure what Plimer means by "[using] the same principle." Either he is saying that he won't allow a "process of improving or correcting" either, or he is saying that he is using the same principle of investigating creationist claims as he had been using earlier in his talk.]
And I use our friend's book, or booklet -- it's more like a comic -- which is called "Are You Being Brainwashed?" [Plimer gets the title wrong, I think] I go to page 8. There is a diagram there that says, "precambrian: void of fossils." That is a lie. The precambrian is not void of fossils; the precambrian is extremely rich in fossils. He [Gish] has come to the country where there are many precambrian fossils going back to 3 thousand 3 hundred million years ago.

On the same diagram, he says the "earth's crust" is "void of fossils." That is a lie. Every fossil found on this planet is from the earth's crust. That is from his book, "Are You Being Brainwashed?" page 8. We also see on the same page, the Cambrian; a geological time period some time ago. And I quote, "The billions of fossils found are all of highly complex forms of life." That is a lie. There on one simple diagram we have three lies. That is their scientific publication. [The diagram appears to be unchanged in the current copy.]

We turn now to page 9. And we read, "not a single indisputable multicellular fossil has been found anywhere in the world in a rock supposedly older than Cambrian rocks." That is a lie. But what (?) we see is a repetition of these lies, all the time. "You don't find fossils in old rocks; you don't find fossils in old rocks; you don't find fossils in old rocks." And eventually someone believes them.

So we've read two or three (?) pages and we've got ourselves four lies. And we have an interesting situation here.

[Plimer digresses for a while about Australian creationist Andrew Snelling who claimed that precambrian rocks are rich in fossils. I omit that section because it is not relevant to the pamphlet, other than in showing that some creationists contradict Gish.]
And continuing with page 9, "billions of highly complex animals... just suddenly appear, with no signs of gradual development from lower forms." That is a lie. So we now have 55 words and 5 lies. One lie every 11 words in his publication.

Gish's response during his 10-minute rebuttal period

Now, furthermore, Dr. Plimer quoted from my book, or little "Brainwashed" booklet, written 17 years ago. It's a little, ah, book, you might call it a comic-style book, it's not written in comic terms at all, but it was written 17 years ago.

And at that time, according to Dr. Preston Cloud, one of the world's leading evolutionary geologists, there were no undoubted precambrian fossils. [crowd noise] That's what he said. [More crowd noise] And I quoted, many years ago, Dr. Cloud to that effect. Because he said, first of all, you would not know, you could not establish whether these rocks were precambrian or cambrian... some of these rocks [oops! -CS]. And furthermore there were many pseudo-fossils that had been discovered.

Now, since that time, as I described in my debate, there are many published reports of micro-fossils in precambrian rocks. And furthermore, the Ediacaran which I did describe in my talk, is supposed to be precambrian. I discussed all of them in my book, "Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil Record," which was published two years ago.

[Note here that Gish is saying that he knows now that there are precambrian fossils, and that he has known it for at least a couple of years.]
Why didn't Dr. Plimer consult this book? [crowd noise] Why didn't he see what I had written that is up to date? To accuse me of lying is terribly, terribly wrong. I stated the facts as I knew them then, as Preston Cloud and others have stated. In this edition [waving book], 1985, 15 years later, I have published what I described in my lecture. Dr. Plimer completely ignored what I said in my lecture, and what I said in my book, to try to accuse me of lying.

Plimer's response during his 10-minute rebuttal period

[crowd noise] This little book seems to have caused a little trouble with our friend. It was written 17 years ago and he refuted it. Why is it I could buy it outside, 20 minutes ago? [crowd noise]

[And the ICR is still selling it without correction or disclaimer. Gish got hammered for distributing the pamphlet in 1988. He admitted that he knew no later than 1985 that some of the claims in it were false. Why is the ICR still selling it?]


Wesley Elsberry received the following letter from Larry Sites on March 7, 1994:

This is, I believe, the file that includes the Gish-Pilmer debate about the lack of truthfullness in Gish's "Brainwashed" comic book. If you can easily contact the appropiate author above, let him know that the ICR has FINALLY updated this booklet. Apparently all the flack about it on the information superfreeway has had an effect. The copy I got at the ICR's 2-25-94 has clarified their position on pre-cambrian fossils and eliminated unambigious claims of dino with man footprints at Paluxy. The new version is undated as near as I can tell, but must have been created within the last 6 months or so as the copy I got at the ICR office then was dated 1986 and still included the claim, "fine clear tracks of dinosaurs and man".

We're making progress! Now if only they would do some science instead of just responding to it.

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