Talk:Counterexamples to an Old Earth

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Archive index also created. JonM 00:49, 22 December 2011 (EST)

Major earthquakes are doubling every 40 years?

This claim should come out because it's false. Proof that it's false can be found here:[1]. For example between 1900 and 1909 there were 120 major earthquakes; between 2000 and 2009 there were 99. 100 years and no doubling - in fact, a 20% decrease. It doesn't help our case to make arguments that can be demonstrated to be false in 5 minutes. --MandyC 18:57, 23 October 2011 (EDT)

That database appears to depend in part on the amount of property damage, which would distort the results beyond recognition.
Large earthquakes increased by 20% over the past decade, which fits almost perfectly the estimate of doubling every 40 years.--Andy Schlafly 19:03, 23 October 2011 (EDT)
They've doubled every 40 years if you only go back 40 years. If you go back 110 years they've stayed constant or decreased slightly. That database includes ALL major earthquakes; property damage is just one of the criteria you can search on. --MandyC 19:10, 23 October 2011 (EDT)
Actually I'm wrong. They've increased by 80% in the last 30 years. They've only increased by 20% in the last 40 years. They've stayed constant over the last 110 years. Numbers fluctuate but is always about 100, +/-30, per decade. There is NO INCREASE in major earthquakes and we shouldn't be claiming there is, because we can easily be proven wrong. --MandyC 19:14, 23 October 2011 (EDT)
The table in the cited reference shows an increase factor of 1.5-4 every 38 years, and recent trends confirm a substantial increase over the past few decades. The statement seems well-supported by the table and recent data.--Andy Schlafly 19:56, 23 October 2011 (EDT)
Yes, but the cited reference contradicts its own cited reference, which is the USGS earthquake data (found in the NOAA database.) There has been a substantial increase per decade since 1980, a MINOR increase per decade since 1970 and no increase whatsoever since 1900. The 1970s had exceptionally low earthquake activity and the increase since then is a statistical phenomena known as regression to the mean; it's the same numbers trick that makes it appear that speed cameras placed at accident blackspots reduce accidents. Anyone can cherry-pick figures to prove anything, but the long-term increase simply isn't there. There were more severe earthquakes between 1900 and 1910 than between 2000 and 2010. --MandyC 20:13, 23 October 2011 (EDT)
However you decide to constrain the categorical cutoffs for statistical analysis, they are quite irrelevant to the discussion on the age of the Earth. One need only investigate the actual cause behind any earthquake (crustal strain accumulation) to realize that earthquake frequency in the 20th century is meaningless to this debate. You cannot extrapolate this trend into history, because 1) there is no statistically significant trend in the first place, and 2) there is no physical basis for doing so. Point number 2 is most pertinent. --RainyD 01:07, 2 May 2012 (EDT)

Today the study Global risk of big earthquakes has not recently increased was published: the authors show that the earthquakes of the last hundred years fit well into the model of a homogeneous Poisson process, i.e., there is no increase of the number of big quakes. Together these facts suggest that the global risk of large earthquakes is no higher today than it has been in the past. AugustO 17:50, 20 December 2011 (EST)

AugustO pulls out the heavy artillery: The Poisson distribution! The material on multiple regression and the Poisson distribution were my favorite parts of the last statistics course I took. :) Conservative 22:08, 20 December 2011 (EST)
AugustO, the article states, "The global rate of M≥8 earthquakes has been at a record high roughly since 2004." Its conclusion that earthquakes have not been increasing based on its view that "no plausible physical mechanism predicts real changes in the underlying global rate of large events." They need to spend more time studying and learning from Counterexamples to an Old Earth. Of course there is a plausible mechanism: increased disorder affects the Earth just as it affects everything else.--Andy Schlafly 00:08, 21 December 2011 (EST)
Mr. Schlafly (Andy? What's the etiquette when user name = real name?), respectfully, I believe your short quotations from the abstract of the paper distort the context in which they were made. Here's the surrounding context:
We examine the timing of large (magnitude M ≥ 7) earthquakes from 1900 to the present, after removing local clustering related to aftershocks The global rate of M ≥ 8 earthquakes has been at a record high roughly since 2004, but rates have been almost as high before, and the rate of smaller earthquakes is close to its historical average. Some features of the global catalog are improbable in retrospect, but so are some features of most random sequences—if the features are selected after looking at the data. For a variety of magnitude cutoffs and three statistical tests, the global catalog, with local clusters removed, is not distinguishable from a homogeneous Poisson process. Moreover, no plausible physical mechanism predicts real changes in the underlying global rate of large events. Together these facts suggest that the global risk of large earthquakes is no higher today than it has been in the past.
(your quotations emphasized). I believe their point is that it isn't enough to simply note that there have been more large earthquakes now than previously. In any random sequence there will always be some strange results, but we can't look at those anomalies in isolation. For example, if we flip a coin a thousand times and it's overall about 50-50, but the last 10 flips are all heads, we shouldn't immediately assume that the coin has recently become biased. Instead, we should consider the likelihood that chance alone could generate such a streak. I don't know enough about the math to evaluate their conclusion, but I think their premise is sound and I think you've mischaracterized it.--JustinD 01:04, 21 December 2011 (EST)
@Conservative: just take another course on statistics and you may find out the distinction between the Poisson distribution and a Poisson process.
@Aschlafly: increased disorder affects the Earth just as it affects everything else that's not a plausible physical mechanism, that's a philosophical statement.
AugustO 02:08, 21 December 2011 (EST)
Entropy is physics, not philosophy. If you don't think increased disorder affects the Earth, then please explain your view on whether perpetual motion machines are possible.--Andy Schlafly 23:30, 21 December 2011 (EST)
It also relates to the second law of Thermodynamics, which states that Entropy in a system must always increase. NickP 00:17, 22 December 2011 (EST)
Actually no; it states that entropy in a CLOSED system cannot DECREASE. It doesn't have to increase; it can remain constant. --HarryPagett 17:13, 22 December 2011 (EST)
  • If I ask you: "How does a grandfather clock work?" and you answer with "gravity", you are somewhat right. But your answer isn't helpful, as you aren't describing a mechanism, you only invoke a general principle. That's not enough, a plausible physical mechanism has to be described in a little more detail. The same holds for answering the question: "What is the reason for earthquakes to occur?" with "entropy".
  • Even though the the laws of thermodynamics hold, you can observe places on Earth where the entropy locally decreases - even without the help of an intelligent agent: Look a sky - do you see clouds? They show that water isn't distributed uniformly throughout the atmosphere. And even though there is the tendency to get to such a uniform distribution, we don't get rid of clouds. Why? Because new clouds are created. How do these abnormalities arise? Because there is an energy gradient, provided by the Sun, powering the water cycle.
  • The same is true for processes in the Earth: here, an energy gradient is given by the radioactive elements.
  • without these effects, the increasing entropy wouldn't result in more and bigger quakes, but in less and smaller, as disequilibria would be resolved over time.

AugustO 10:09, 22 December 2011 (EST)

Are you saying that earthquakes are partly caused by radioactive decay? That's interesting. I thought convection currents were the main factor.--CPalmer 10:24, 22 December 2011 (EST)
Indeed. But what creates the convection currents? The heat from within the Earth, mainly caused by radioactive decay. AugustO 10:31, 22 December 2011 (EST)
August, increasing disorder affects all processes. I didn't see a response by you to my perpetual motion machine question. Earthquakes, regardless of their mechanism, reflect the truth that perpetual motion machines are impossible. The corollary is that earthquakes must be increasing, just as disorder does for an attempt at a perpetual motion machine.--Andy Schlafly 11:55, 22 December 2011 (EST)
But earthquakes AREN'T increasing. They fluctuate from year to year but there just isn't a long-term increase. The trend is stable. --HarryPagett 14:02, 22 December 2011 (EST)
Exactly. It doesn't seem very helpful to discuss how or why earthquakes are increasing in frequency before we determine whether or if they're increasing. And the paper cited by AugustO claims that there is no increase, despite recent appearances. So before we talk about radioactive decay or tectonics, we should decide if the study is to be trusted. If it is, there's little benefit to discussing mechanics. --JustinD 16:34, 22 December 2011 (EST)
In addition, the other examples August listed were not closed systems; tectonics is a closed system. NickP 12:13, 22 December 2011 (EST)
No, it's not. --FrederickT3 12:44, 22 December 2011 (EST)
Let me clarify: We have a heat source at the center of the Earth, resulting mainly from decay of radioactive nuclei. We also have a heat sink at the surface (dissipation of energy due to earthquakes, volcano eruptions, a bit of radiation, etc.). Tectonics is caused by the temperature gradient inbetween, an open system. --FrederickT3 15:39, 22 December 2011 (EST)


  • August, increasing disorder affects all processes. As does gravity. This is a general principle, to get a physical mechanism you need to fill in some details.
  • I didn't see a response by you to my perpetual motion machine question. I thought my remarks on entropy were clear enough. But let's get back to your question: If you don't think increased disorder affects the Earth, then please explain your view on whether perpetual motion machines are possible. Of course, increasing disorder affects the Earth, just not the way you imagine it. Perpetual motion machines aren't possible. But an isolated system doesn't become more violent over time, it becomes more boring :-) All the models of things which were thought to be perpetual mobiles by their creators slowly grind to an halt, they don't disrupt themselves in quakes.
  • The corollary is that earthquakes must be increasing, just as disorder does for an attempt at a perpetual motion machine. That's not a corollary, that is just wrong, and won't become true just by repeating it like a mantra. For an earthquake to happen, you have first to built up tension in a place - and that means lowering the entropy locally, using energy. When the earthquake happens, the energy stored is freed, entropy rises again.

AugustO 16:48, 22 December 2011 (EST)

Entropy does cause disruptions to mechanical systems, and not simply due to friction and slowing down. Your comment acknowledges that entropy exists and that perpetual motion machines are impossible, but then stops short of recognizing why. The Earth's rapidly rotating system and other internal dynamics must be increasingly disrupted by entropy, and that does not necessarily mean merely slowing down in a mostly frictionless atmosphere.--Andy Schlafly 14:47, 26 December 2011 (EST)
  • Entropy does cause disruptions to mechanical systems, and not simply due to friction and slowing down. Well, if I throw a grenade into the aforementioned grandfather-clock, we get a fine example of such a disruption. But machines (and mechanism) are generally not halted that way.
  • Your comment acknowledges that entropy exists and that perpetual motion machines are impossible, but then stops short of recognizing why. Do you expect me to know why the laws of thermodynamics hold?
  • The Earth's rapidly rotating system and other internal dynamics must be increasingly disrupted by entropy, and that does not necessarily mean merely slowing down in a mostly frictionless atmosphere. Who says so? The Earth is gradually slowing down, the heating through radioactive elements is declining (though ever so slowly, as the half-lives of the elements involved are so great). Why do you expect a more volatile behavior? Again, simply saying "entropy" isn't enough, you should describe a mechanism: the current model of continental plates driven by convection currents doesn't lead to such a conclusion.
  • Will you ever give us a similar mechanism explaining what you think is an increase in the rate of earthquakes? I doubt it. It's like the whole sad ἰδού-affair: you may have convinced yourself that you gave satisfying answers to all question, when in fact those were only superficial - or plain wrong (I'm still waiting for a scholarly source which backs up your translation!)
AugustO 15:40, 26 December 2011 (EST)
Perpetual motion machines are not impossibly simply because of friction, or dispersion of energy. Disorder increases and that is the fundamental reason that perpectual motion machines are impossible. Many of the finest systems imaginable eventually fail for reasons unrelated to energy dispersion or friction.--Andy Schlafly 21:04, 1 January 2012 (EST)
Please give some examples! ¨AugustO 01:40, 2 January 2012 (EST)


Conclusion

  • There is no evidence for a doubling of earthquakes every 40 years.
  • In fact, there is evidence that the rate of major earthquakes hasn't changed over the last hundred years.
  • Aschlafly's proposed "mechanism" (increasing entropy) wouldn't result in an increase of major earthquakes, so even from this "model" we wouldn't expect to see such an increase.

I alerted Aschlafly to these points (in my answer above) at his talk-page and he is aware of this comment ;-)

Now, I'll outcomment this "counterexample". Please keep in mind that deleting false information is not an act of censorship!

AugustO 10:00, 26 December 2011 (EST)

User:ScottDG reverted my edit, stating: Open your mind, August. Aschlafly says so, that's good enough for me. I don't think that this is enough to justify the reversion of a well-substantiated edit. AugustO 12:08, 26 December 2011 (EST)

Is it just me or do "Open your mind" and "Aschlafly says so, that's good enough for me" seem to be a bit on the contradictory side? In any case well done for getting that incorrect claim out of the article, and let's hope it stays out. --Uxbridge 13:49, 26 December 2011 (EST)

Rates

I find it interesting to note that some of the attempts to disprove the Old Earth theory are based upon assuming that the rate by which various factors change are constant. This does seem troubling when a core element of a number of articles (Old Earth, Age of the Earth, etc) is an attack on the assumption that radioactive decay rates have been constant.

Just a few examples include: There's the assumption that the moon is receding from the Earth at a constant rate, that human intelligence has declined at a constant rate, that the rate of the decline of biodiversity on Earth has been constant, and that the rate at which land has fallen into the oceans has been constant. This does somewhat undermine the points this article is trying to make. Adambro 11:48, 10 January 2012 (EST)

Dog Races

Dog races are somewhat artificial creations: a garden which isn't tended to runs to seed, a building not kept in shape becomes a ruin. Nothing of this is an example of an Old Earth, just for relatively recent neglect. That should be obvious.

AugustO 09:53, 11 January 2012 (EST)

too many repeated removals of certain entries are being done; discuss first on talk page

The problem aren't the removals: these are generally discussed here on the talk-page. The real problem is the unilateral reinsertion of debunked examples without any discussion.

AugustO 09:56, 11 January 2012 (EST)

Historical Counterexamples

The oldest direct evidence of life -- written documents, clothing, remnants of civilizations, tree rings, etc. -- is no older than about 3000 B.C.

  • There are tree rings which are older than 3000 B.C (see dendrochronology) - I think that for the bristlecone pines you will find a fully anchored chronology of 8,500 years - going back to 6000 B.C.
  • There are many reports about older clothing, woven textiles are date to be from 6000 B.C. [1]
  • And there are other older remnants of civilizations, i.e. Lascaux

But of course you can claim that these things can't be dated probably, as no one of the contemporaries has written about them: this reduces your point to:

The oldest written documents are no older than about 3000 B.C.

I'll change the page accordingly. AugustO 16:55, 29 January 2012 (EST)


These claims that you cite are far from persuasive and even reinforce the underlying point: the oldest direct evidence of life is consistent with an Young Earth, not an Old Earth. Note that the NY Times had to run a correction on its story, and at any rate even it admitted that "no other piece of prehistoric cloth produced earlier than 6000 to 6500 B.C. had been found anywhere in the world."--Andy Schlafly 19:14, 29 January 2012 (EST)
Note that the NY Times had to run a correction on its story, That is misleading (at least), as the correction had nothing to do with the content of the article, but the illustration:
Correction: July 19, 1993, Monday An artist's rendering in Science Times on Tuesday, showing the weaving method believed to have been used in the earliest known piece of cloth, depicted the pattern incorrectly. The pairs of weft, or horizontal, strands probably wound around each other as well as around the warp, or vertical, strands.
Older clothing has been found, made from leather of fur. I just gave this example of woven cloth, which contradicts your statement in the article. Please change the article accordingly, as it is protected. Thanks.
AugustO 02:22, 30 January 2012 (EST)
I'm not aware of any "Old Earth" finds of any clothing, and your recent statement lacks sufficient detail or citation.--Andy Schlafly 02:41, 30 January 2012 (EST)

your recent statement lacks sufficient detail or citation - as does your statement in the article, BTW! Could you add some? And have a look here. AugustO 02:49, 30 January 2012 (EST)

References

  1. NYTimes 1993: Site in Turkey Yields Oldest Cloth ever Found

Earth's magnetic field

Mr. Schlafly, you wrote: "The magnetism of the Earth is vanishing so quickly that it will disappear in 1,500 to 2,000 years". I don't see how this contradicts the scientists' hypothesis that the Earth is billions of years old, since they think that the magnetic field regularly reverses itself link source. I think the readers would benefit from a clarification of this point. GregG 12:43, 27 April 2012 (EDT)

Agreed. The article you cited, Mr. Schlafly, states that "this could imply a reversal of the Earth's magnetic fields".
14:00, 27 April 2012 (EDT)
If magnetic fields would reverse themselves over thousands of years, then that is even more evidence for a young earth. Scientists think that many species, from turtles to birds, rely on a constant magnetic field to find their way.--Andy Schlafly 20:09, 28 April 2012 (EDT)
What precludes the possibility that the population changes over time as the magnetic field slowly changes to adapt to the new magnetic field? GregG 20:18, 28 April 2012 (EDT)
Scientists claim that a moderate magnetic field is essential for many species to find their way around. If that magnetic field disappears, then those species go extinct. They wouldn't exist today. It's that simple.--Andy Schlafly 20:41, 28 April 2012 (EDT)
I'm no evolutionist, but Andy I think in this case you are severely underestimating nature's (God given) ability to adapt and find a way to survive.BruceDownUnder 20:50, 28 April 2012 (EDT)
That "God given" ability requires a young Earth. Many, many species go extinct every year - something that is also downplayed by people who deny God's existence.--Andy Schlafly 21:16, 28 April 2012 (EDT)
And many more continue to thrive, despite changes to their environment. I am surprised that you underestimate God's creation, Mr. Schlafly.BruceDownUnder 22:06, 28 April 2012 (EDT)
I don't underestimate God's creation. Entropy is part of it; the Book of Hebrews, perhaps the most intellectual book in all of history, explains that God created the earth and the universe to wear out. See Book of Hebrews (Translated)#1:10-11. God presumably does not plan to spend eternity on this particular creation.--Andy Schlafly 22:21, 28 April 2012 (EDT)

A mathematician's take

Hello, I find this to be an interesting article, but I must take issue with the following claim:

If each of 43 counterexamples has merely a 10% chance of being valid -- an underestimate -- then the probability that the Earth is billions of years old is only 1%.

I understand what you are trying to do here (0.9^43=0.01). However, you a making the assumption that all these observations are independent, when in reality, they are likely highly positively correlated. Instead of calculating Pr(A and B)=Pr(A)*Pr(B), you should be doing Pr(A and B)=Pr(A)*Pr(B|A).

For example, in this article, I count four entries in the "Geology" section that talk about the persistency of bodies of water. Under your math, these four alone indicate that there is only a 65% chance of an old earth. However, these three are likely to be highly, or even perfectly, correlated. If we assume they are all perfectly correlated (which they are not, but just for illustration), then there is a 90% chance of an old earth.

Another way of looking at it is from the other perspective. Let's say Radiocarbon dating and universe expansion calculations point to an old earth, and only have a 1% of being true. Under your math, their is only a 98% chance of a young earth. However, that means there is only a 99% chance of the earth being young OR old, but since those two events completely specify the probability space, it should be a 100% chance. But, since we are wrongly assuming independence, our math is wrong.

I don't think it's necessarily a bad point you are trying to make here. The math, however, is flat wrong, and we shouldn't give a quantification for something we have no way of quantifying.

Just my two cents. EricAlstrom 12:26, 4 May 2012 (EDT)

You raise an interesting point; a lack of independence among variables does affect the probability of the outcome. But that effect is offset by the greater likelihood (more than 10%) that those indicators of a young earth are correct.--Andy Schlafly 16:11, 4 May 2012 (EDT)
I would like to come in on the side of EricAlstrom here. For one thing, his analysis of your use of probability theory is bang on, and in no way does your response answer his points. Even deeper, your basis for "the likelihood of the counterexamples being greater than 10%" is based purely on your own opinion. Why exactly are these counterexamples more likely to be correct than radio carbon dating is to be false? Dan W 5 May 2012

AGW if true, would prove a young earth

If the earths systems were so unstable that a very very small amount of carbon released by humans could disrupt them, then they could not have lasted billions of years. --HHB 13:44, 4 May 2012 (EDT)

Only 99% certain?

I see you have doubts about your chosen theory Ashafly. I would have thought a Bible believing Christian like yourself would have no doubts about the Creation account as told in Genesis. What contradictions in the Bible have convinced you to believe that the Biblical account may not be 100% true? EJamesW 15:29, 4 May 2012 (EDT)

EJames, entries on a wiki are collaborative efforts. Also, this particularly entry does not utilize faith.--Andy Schlafly 15:55, 4 May 2012 (EDT)


What do you mean? I don't understand about your statement about 'utilizing faith'. Is the Biblical account of Creation 100% true or not? If you feel you can't commit to 100% you must have serious doubts. EJamesW 16:11, 4 May 2012 (EDT)

Template

The page is protected from editing. Could a sysop replace the list in See also with {{Counterexamples}}? Cipe 11:13, 22 August 2012 (EDT)

Done. Karajou 11:18, 22 August 2012 (EDT)

Magnetic Field of the Earth

In this article there is a claim that the earth's magnetic field is weakening so fast, that extrapolating back in time, there is no room for an old earth since the intensity would have melted the earth. However, this isn't true. Earth's magnetic field changes strength and even reverses sometimes, (Gee et al. 2000; Gubbins et al. 2006) so this claim should be removed.

An increase in the frequency of large earthquakes is not a counterexample to an old Earth

If large earthquakes are getting more frequent then there will be more of them in the future, and there were fewer of them in the past. This suggests that the Earth cannot exist for much longer in the future. But it doesn't say anything about how long the Earth has existed in the past. So this is clearly a bad example. I'll remove it if no-one objects. --Occultations 22:45, 11 February 2013 (EST)

I've removed the counterexample based on the growing number of large earthquakes. If we compare it with some of the other counterexamples:

  • The intelligence of humans is rapidly declining, therefore the Earth is young.
  • The age of onset of graying of hair or balding is rapidly decreasing, therefore the Earth is young.
  • The age of onset of cancer is decreasing, therefore the Earth is young.
  • The number of natural, pure-bred dogs is decreasing, therefore the Earth is young.
  • The strength of the Earth's magnetic field is decreasing, therefore the Earth is young.
  • The flow of water in the Colorado River is decreasing, therefore the Earth is young.
  • The frequency of large earthquakes is increasing, therefore the Earth is young.

it's clear that it doesn't fit the pattern. It looks like it was just a mistake. --Occultations 16:32, 13 February 2013 (EST)

It turns out that I can't edit Counterexamples to an Old Earth. Could someone else please do it. --Occultations 16:35, 13 February 2013 (EST)

The earthquake counterexample does fit the pattern because it shows the Earth is not in a steady state, but is in a period of transition.--Andy Schlafly 23:28, 14 February 2013 (EST)
If earthquakes come in cycles, then it would not argue either way. Wschact 00:27, 15 February 2013 (EST)
So the Earth is in a period of change, ok, but you can't conclude that before this period of change there was nothing because the Earth didn't exist. Maybe there was a period when the frequency of large earthquakes decreased, or stayed the same. Why should this 40-year doubling go on unchanged for 6000 years? And this counterexample definitely is different from the others, in that something is increasing, whereas in all the others something is decreasing. I think this counterexample is much weaker than the others, and should be dropped. --Occultations 17:13, 15 February 2013 (EST)

Young Earth

If it takes only one counterexample being true to disprove Old Earth theories, it must also take only one counterexample to disprove Young Earth theories. You might want to address that. I'm just saying......

The interior of the earth is as hot as the sun -- far hotter than atheists thought

  • How is a core temperature of about 6,000°C, give or take 500°C far hotter than 5,000°C?
  • A second question: Andrew Schlafly, you wrote that Biblical scientific foreknowledge predicted this, as Earth and heat were created prior to the Sun. What do you mean by this? How does this prediction work?

--AugustO 18:21, 28 April 2013 (EDT)

Fast Erosion

Mountains erode faster than atheist geology previously thought - "no speed limit". [2] Add that to list perhaps? JamesWS 20:20, 17 January 2014 (EST)

Terrific discovery. Please add your insight to the list!--Andy Schlafly 21:12, 17 January 2014 (EST)
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