A Whale of a Tale


To be honest, I’m not sure if what follows below is as a result of ignorance, stupidity, barefaced lying, or a simple misunderstanding of the facts. I’ll leave that to you, Dear Reader, to decide. However, it is fun to watch a dyed-in-the-wool creationist grasp at any straw to prove his pet theory.

To give you some background, it all started off with a fairly innocent article, explaining how scientists had found fossilised whales in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Now there’s a few things I want to point out from the various sources, quoted in the wing-nut article, by resident nut-job Terry Hurlbut, that I’m about to discuss below:

Ok, let’s leave it there for now. Suffice to say that all three sentences above have been taken from the articles used to back up Terry’s “story.” And that Caldera, Chile is described as a “port city in the Copiapó Province of the Atacama Region in northern Chile” and Bahia Inglesa as “a village and beach located near the port of Caldera in Atacama Region, Chile. Bahia Inglesa is renowned for its white sands and warm waters.”

Ok, so that set the scene – let’s get down to the crazy.

Enter Terry Hurlbut, everybody’s favourite creationist and the man who thinks that the Great Flood actually happened… albeit in a very strange way. This is the man who believes that tectonic plates are a liberal invention (presumably along with relativity) and that the Flood was caused by great underwater reservoirs bursting forth, with enough force to turn the earth into a giant nuclear reactor (thus explaining carbon dating, etc), and to crater the Moon with icebergs blown free of Earth’s gravity… all this while a little wooden boat sailed safely on the surface. To say that Terry is very much into creationism, is like saying Michael Jackson was very much into plastic surgery and single gloves. So much so, in fact, that Terry is one of the directors of the Creation Hall of Fame. (An undertaking which fails miserably in the name stakes, when you compare it to the Creation Museum and Taxidermy Hall of Fame of North Carolina

In true creationist fashion, Terry is quite happy to grab anything and twist its meaning to prove that the Flood actually happened… in this case, it’s the fossilised whales. Terry is a great one for leaping to a conclusion – in his opening paragraph he states: The desert whales of Chile’s Atacama Desert pose an embarrassing riddle for paleontologists: they testify directly to a global flood.”

Now, outside of Terry’s own… ahem… creation about the Flood, the find is not an embarrassing riddle for the scientists. It might be a riddle, but that’s what science is about at the end of the day – solving riddles, or at least coming up with answers that don’t involve “A magic man in the sky did it.”

He then goes on to state that the Atacama Plateau, is 13,000 feet above sea level (which would require oxygen if you were in a plane) and thus the only way that they could have landed there, is if they were carried there as a result of the flood… and presumably boiled to death in the giant nuclear reactor. However, this is where is gets a bit wonky – you see Terry happily goes on to assume that the plateau formed first, then was covered by the Flood, leaving the bodies behind to fossilise. His argument boils down to the fact that “How did eighty whales wash ashore, half a mile inland, and at an elevation greater even than the height of the Empire State Building?

Now, setting Terry’s confusion (I’ll be generous and give him the benefit of the doubt) about the location and altitude of the find to one side, there is actually a very, very simple answer. Sadly, given that Terry is incapable of considering anything greater than 6,000 years in duration, it’s an answer that doesn’t even cross his mind: the fossils ended up there, thanks to Nature.

You see, the scientists estimate that the fossils are around 7 million years old. Without going into Douglas Adams-esque explanations, that’s a long time… a VERY long time in which things can happen… especially when you take into account the fact that Chile is a land of volcanoes and earthquakes. The simple, natural rhythms and rumblings of the earth could quite easily have moved the whales’ grave a few hundred feet – after all, the Himalayas didn’t exist until India bumped into Asia, so what’s a few feet above sea level. Once you throw in the changing sea levels, which although higher today than during the last ice age, are probably lower than they were 7 million years ago and the location of the bones is hardly a mystery… and certainly not an embarrassing one, as creationists would have you believe. It’s an embarrassment of scientific riches maybe, but that’s about all.

Now, when scores of people descended on the comments section of Terry’s post, justifiably going, “WTF?!” Terry was forced to backtrack slightly, especially as his own sources were being quoted back at him. Funnily enough, conservatives and creationists alike often seem to think that people won’t read the sources they use to back up their “arguments.”  Clearly, the claim of the fossils being around 13,000 feet just didn’t wash… especially when you bear in mind that they’d been located near the coast. However, Terry – once again through ignorance or deceit – found an escape route.

The Associated Press article captioned several pictures, describing the fossils’ location as being in the  “Atacama desert near Copiapó.” Terry immediately leapt on this, claiming – rightly that the city is 40 miles inshore and 1,200 feet above sea level.

However, he’s conveniently ignored all the other references – especially those I listed at the start of this article. Copiapó is the provincial capital of the area, and as Terry rightly said, home to the amazing rescue of the Chilean miners last year. However, it is nowhere near Bahia Inglesa (or certainly not as near as Caldera is) and is certainly not “half a mile from the surf.” One can assume that these are pesky facts that don’t back up Terry’s assertion and can be therefore safely ignored. We’re still waiting for his latest update on this mess – and really, a mess is only what one can call it. It’s a great example of when your brain runs on God, instead of thinking for yourself.

You see, the problem is that Terry HAS to describe what happened in terms of Flood Geology (which, by the way has been disproved… by Flood Geology!), thus he needs to fossils to be miles inland and really high. Where they are now could be explained away by a tsunami, which doesn’t have much to do with God. Here’s how it all happened, accorind to Terry (I’m not going to comment, because… well… you’ll see) :

And when was the Atacama Desert underwater? During the Global Flood, of course. The Andes are in fact part of a much longer chain of mountains that stretches from the Yukon Territory to the tip of South America. Those mountains formed when the continental plate holding the Americas crashed and buckled. (That in turn happened after the event that formed the Mid-Atlantic Ridge shoved the Americas westward—hard.) When such high mountains form, they sink. As they sink, the land around them rises. The rise of the Colorado Plateau trapped two great lakes, which later spilled their contents and carved the Grand Canyon. The rise of the Atacama Plateau and other lands downslope and to the west, we now know, trapped the desert whales. Large amounts of sediment buried them, and the dry winds preserved their remains for thousands of years after that.

In related news, Conservapedia sysop Brian Macdonald eventually deleted Terry’s link-whoring of his article on their main page, stating “Removed the news item completely. The whales were found near the coast along Route 5, about a mile or so north of Caldera. The proof of that is the photos of the site which show a large body of water (Caldera Bay), something that does not exist near Copiapo.” What will Terry do?

UPDATE: Ah, don’t be expecting Terry to admit his mistake ay time soon. As he says:

If you people are wondering why no “retraction” is forthcoming, here’s why: Journalistic ethics do not oblige me to issue a retraction on no person’s word except from a side that already has multiple problems with the truth. Especially when that side can’t get its story straight.

Stay classy, Terry. Of course, if you want to throw journalistic ethics around, remember this” journalists report facts – they don’t twist the facts to suit their on agenda and they certainly don’t make stuff up.

It’s worth pointing out that Mr Ethical Journalist deleted my posts and banned my account from commentating when I pointed this out to him. Clearly he didn’t like having to explain how a town 40 miles inland, could also be “half a mile from the surf.”

Update 2

Terry apologised! Well… sort of. He blames AP for posting the wrong town’s name (conveniently forgetting that he ignored ALL the other references to the correct towns) and still clings to the hope that it’s an embarrassing problem for scientists. Best of all, he can’t see to comprehend that what was a beach 7 million years ago, is now 1 kilometer inland.

About PsyGremlin

PsyGremlin is a former Conservapedia sysop (although the position was earned nefariously), stand up comedian, DJ, and is currently a self-employed financial adviser, who impersonates a responsible adult at least 5 days a week. However, highlighting and poking fun at the crazies out there remains his first love. Well besides pork crackling. And custard. And cricket.
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15 Responses to A Whale of a Tale

  1. brxbrx says:

    Wow, He thinks he’s a journalist? Reality check: when a journalist takes someone else’s story they stick to the facts.

  2. Norseman says:

    Man he squirms and squirms. He tries to act like he knows something about dating fossils, then just assumes things so it would kinda work in his favor. He’s even telling others that he thinks they’re lying to him! What irony!

  3. Kels says:

    Ah, Terry’s science understanding is a riot, and gets funnier the more you press him on it. So basically, you’ve a magnitude 13 or greater earthquake (funny the Noah story doesn’t mention it, given that he kept a “detailed log”) which itself would kill damn near everything, not to mention global tsunamis, electric current racing through the mantle (death by electrocution everywhere you look), so strong it transmutes elements worldwide (given how you don’t just find uranium, etc. at the epicenter of said earthquake, but all over), and that’s even BEFORE the deluge starts since the water’s still up in the air, superheated apparently, and ready to fall back down with a vengeance along with every meteor ever to leave a mark on the planet.

    They build wooden barges STRONG in those days!

  4. Kels says:

    Say, where does Terry get this thing about there being no radioactive ores being found in the oceans? I can’t see any reason why there wouldn’t be.

  5. Pi says:

    Terry didn’t apologise, he just clarified how he is still right – even though the central plank of his thesis has been pulled out from under him.

  6. PsyGremlin says:

    @Kels: Watching Terry doing science is especially fun, because everything has to link back to Flood geology, and he keeps forgetting what he’s said in the past. In his other post on earthquake detection, he claims in the comments: “I said that the electrical activity (piezoelectric, actually) in the earth’s crust was able to synthesize trans-lead elements and other radionuclides. I did not say that nuclear fission took place.”

    Actually, he does say:
    The Global Flood produced earthquakes of incalculable magnitude, enough to generate tremendous piezoelectrical potentials and essentially turn the earth into a fast-breeding nuclear reactor.
    http://www.examiner.com/creationism-in-national/an-alternative-supply-of-carbon-14

    @Pi: Terry is a typical fundie – he’s never wrong, which just makes him look all the more foolish, especially when he can’t seen to grasp how much a shoreline can move in even a few thousand years….

    • Kels says:

      Given how much radioactive ore is in the earth (counting what we’ve removed via mining) and how widespread over the entire globe, that must have taken a HUGE amount of energy to make that much. I don’t think pizoelectric cuts it any more.

      Are synthesized elements of that sort even persistent, or do they break down again (assuming the lightning thing he extrapolates from is even true).

      • PsyGremlin says:

        That’s the problem with arguing with guys like Terry. Outside of Googling like mad, I don’t have the knowledge to counter the garbage he puts out there. Of course, he doesn’t understand it either, but is merely regurgitating the crackpot theory of some creationist. However, the minute you say “Terry, this is a crock of shit!” his and his ilk’s) reply is always along the lines of “Oh, are you a geologist? If not, then you can’t argue the facts. And if you are, then I’m going to make some new shit up.”

  7. Pi says:

    I thought Michael Jackson was into beer and whisky?

  8. Kels says:

    Shorter Terry: Research confuses me

  9. Kels says:

    Wow, I think Terry has now thrown out all of astronomy from Kepler onwards. That’s pretty impressive.

    • PsyGremlin says:

      I seriously hope Terry never closes down the comments section on his blog – that’s where the true comedy gold is. I love how his standard reply when presented with facts is “I reject that out of hand.” He seems to think there’s one massive conspiracy out there – then again, coke will do that to you. That and the eyes… oh god! The eyes!

      • Kels says:

        That whole thread has gone from gold straight into platinum level stupidity. So he’s simultaneously against evolution, tectonics, continental drift, planetary physics AND vaccinations, all in the same comments thread. And I probably missed something along the way. Absolutely astounding, it’s hard to believe anyone could be that stark raving stupid.

        I think he’ll keep the comments open though, he seems to be running on sheer pride at this moment and isn’t likely to back down. Funny to see someone this incompetent, so absolutely certain they can’t be wrong.

        • Pi says:

          Sadly enough, most of these are linked in his mind as lies that are used to prop up evolution. The fact that some of them were discovered hundreds of years before evolution was proposed does not phase him.

          The flu shot is classic crank magnetism, he is going on about vitamins scaring off the virus or something, maybe he doesn’t even believe it is caused by the virus, rejecting germ theory wouldn’t be out of order next. Maybe he cures cancer with large shots of Vitamin C as well (I shit you not a Nobel prize winner reckons that works).

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