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Ham on Nye February 6, 2014

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Brain Glitches, Responses, UbiDubiKids.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

There’s been so much discussion of the recent “debate” between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, so I’m not going to do a full review.  Bill did a good job, and Ken Ham was exactly the ideologue that I expected him to be. For a full commentary, see elsewhere.

But during the debate, there were a couple of things that Bill missed saying, and I was practically jumping up and down in my seat, saying “C’mon Bill, there’s a really good point I want you to make here, and you’re not making it!”

The first one is probably a small thing, and it’s where Bill missed Ham’s direct misrepresentation of the results of a radiometric dating test on a lump of lava containing carbonized wood. (I have not researched the particulars of this claim, I’m just discussing what was claimed at the debate.)  Ham claimed that the stone had been dated at 45 million years, and that the carbonized wood had been carbon dated at 45,000 years.  And Bill didn’t catch the glaring error here.  Carbon dating can’t go farther back than about 45,000 years or so, so if you use that test on something way older, the only result you will get back is 45,000+, and it can’t say how much older than that the sample is.  If you use the wrong tool to do your measuring, you get unhelpful results.  To me, this is like trying to weigh an elephant using a bathroom scale that goes up to 300 lbs.  No matter how accurately calibrated the scale is, if you try to weigh an elephant on it, the only answer you’ll get is “more than 300” or “off the scale”.  If you try to claim that the scale said that the elephant weighs 300 lbs, therefore the scale is useless, you’re just wrong.  And to claim the radiometric date of a rock sample can’t be correct at 45 million years old because a carbon date came back as 45,000+ is also just wrong.  And I’m pretty sure that someone would have pointed this out to Ham at some point, which makes him not only delusional, but a liar.

The second one, though, is a huge point that I really wanted Bill to hammer home.  Ham claims that creationism is science, but it cant be, because he is doing it backwards.  People doing real science start with the evidence, and draw their conclusions from the evidence, even if the results are not what they expected.  They then test their conclusions against the real world, and if they don’t hold up against all the evidence the conclusions are modified or thrown out.

Ham starts with his conclusion, then looks for specific evidence to back it up, and ignores everything else.  And he said flat-out that there is nothing that would get him to change his mind about his conclusion.  As a result, he’ll never discover anything new about the world.  That’s not how you do science, that’s how you do confirmation bias.  And that’s why his creationism is not a valid subject for science class.  I wanted Bill to really tackle him on this, and he didn’t.  Of course, Ham did a lot of Bill’s job on this, by stating that there’s nothing that could ever change his mind.   But I think Bill should have directly said “You’re doing it backwards” at some point during the evening.

p.s. I also have to point out that I love the way Bill kept referring to the venue as a “facility” and never once called it a “museum”.  Nice touch, that.

p.p.s. During the evening, Ken Ham actually said this: “Now, the Bible says, ‘If you come to God believing that He is, He will reveal Himself to you, and you will know.’ ”   He said it twice during his talk.  UbiDubiKid#1 was watching it with me, and she almost fell out of her seat laughing each time.  In between being overcome with fits of laughing, she said, “He’s just made the perfect circular argument!  Decide you believe in god, and then you’ll know there’s a god!”



1. john zande - February 6, 2014

“Facility” was good, but so was “Ken Ham’s Creation Theory.”

ubi dubium - February 6, 2014

Yes, I liked that one too!

john zande - February 6, 2014

Hey, pop over to this blog and read the thread. I really don’t have any patience for this person commenting, but you might.


ubi dubium - February 6, 2014

I went there and left a couple of comments, but I’m pretty sure your commenter is a dyed-in-the wool Ham disciple (even though she claims not to be), and so it’s pretty much banging my head against a wall. But the lurkers out there need to see strong rebuttals to the standard claptrap, so I tried.

john zande - February 6, 2014

Good job. Thanks. i really don’t have much patience for that level of willful ignorance.

john zande - February 6, 2014

I love your Steve list, but I fear it’s way, way, waaay over her head.

Did you actually read some of the “professions” listed? Plastic surgeon, pediatrics…

john zande - February 6, 2014

Dentists! There are TWO Dentists!!!

2. muggleinconverse - February 6, 2014

I really need to find the secular equal of ‘hallelujah’ because I would type it here in capitals with lots of exclamation points.

ubi dubium - February 6, 2014

I often use “RAmen” for that.

muggleinconverse - February 6, 2014

Indeed. In that case…


ubi dubium - February 6, 2014


3. LEjames - February 6, 2014

The title of this post is making me think of opening up a deli next to the creationist facility…museum.

4. Arkenaten - February 7, 2014

Lets hope they have a rematch.

Ham on Nye with relish?

5. Sabio Lantz - February 7, 2014

starting from a conclusion and never discovering anything is such a huge common habit of us all — but pretending that is science ….

6. R. L. Culpeper - February 10, 2014

I enjoyed watching this debate, but I came away feeling like Nye could have done better. I, too, immediately caught the Carbon Dating snafu, but then again it’s fairly minor.


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