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Occam's Razor Says No Way Jose! (Plus Numbers Can Lie! )

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Posted by Kyle on September 11, 2002 18:01:45 UTC

Hi Sam,

A very revealing paper! (...of just how far creationists will go to defend their beliefs, that is!)
It certainly looks like science, it even feels like science... but that whiff of ‘agenda’ betrays the ruse... it doesn’t smell like science.
One reason why I say that is because it ignores a pervasive principle of science called the ‘Law of Parsimony’ (aka Occam’s Razor), which governs both hypothesis-formation and conclusion- formation (ie. explanations). Although it’s not a real 'law' (it’s more of a ‘principle’), it instructs us not to make more assumptions than the minimum necessary ones.

For more on Occam’s Razor:

Anyway, the competing proposition that the moon is 4.5 billion years old, roughly the same age as the Earth, comes from (among other things) lunar rock samples that the Apollo missions collected—the oldest samples date to 4.5 billion years using accurate radiometric techniques.
The young Earth hypothesis (based on the moon’s apparently thin dust layer) involves too high a stack of assumptions, too many unknown variables and therefore the hypothesis is not parsimonous.

According to that fundamentalist paper, Peterrsson collected his data in 1957 using 45 year-old techniques. He collected a limited amount of data on how much space dust might fall in a tiny section of Earth in a given time. He then assumed a corresponding annual rate.
And then to multiply this questionable annual rate by 4.5 BILLION years (!) to arrive at the "expected" thickness of the accumulated dust layer on the moon over this duration—well that is capricious at best and statistically- manipulative at worst.

That kind of number-manipulation has to be watched for all the time. Lobby groups are sometimes very good at it. Let’s say a lobby group wants to outlaw the ownership of dogs as pets. They can search records/ databases and find a small town somewhere that happened to have an unusually high number of reported dog bites in one week. Let’s say 10 in one week. They can multiply this by 52 to get the "annual number of dog bites" per town (10 x 52= 520). They can then divide the population of the town by this number (let’s say 26,000 people/ 520 = 50 ). They can ask for a ban on dogs, citing statistics that show that 1 out of every 50 people in the U.S. will be bitten by a dog each year. Or that in the US (population 290 million people) there is an average of almost 6 million dog bites per year. Or they may divide 6 million by 365 days and claim that "over 16,000 Americans are bitten or mauled by dogs daily".

Or my favorite, "...someone is bitten by a dog in the US every 6 seconds..."

The point is: numbers can lie if they are manipulated the wrong way. Also, numbers can be manipulated to basically say anything you want. The moon dust calculations based on questionable data from 1957 (that was wildly extrapolated) falls under this category.

Why go through all that trouble when we have accurate radiometric data? Can you say "agenda" ?


Some other points (more technical):

-Moon dust very likely gets "cemented" to the surface rocks and the underlying regolith by constant cratering and compacting of the surface by meteorites and by icy comets. Some of it would literally melt from any impacts large enough to form a crater.

-The fact that astronauts didn’t ‘sink’ is not necessarily evidence of a thin dust layer. I hope to be walking on a beach on some tropical island come February... I don’t expect to sink up to my neck in sand, but does that mean that the sand is only 2 inches deep?
And finally, every major impact (that forms a large basin) will create ejecta with enough velocity to escape the moon’s gravity... meaning that a lot of surface dust is ejected into space with large meteor impacts.

Nice try though!

Best regards, Sam!

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