Although creationists try hard to be media-savvy, relying on rhetoric to make their arguments, I can’t help but laugh at who qualifies as a star in creationist circles. While documentaries about evolution often feature people like Liam Neeson and Kenneth Branagh, z-listers like Kirk Cameron and Ben Stein are the best creationists can get, apparently. Apparently Charlton Heston did his part for the creationist cause, too, as I discovered while surfing YouTube this morning;
A planet where apes evolved from men dinosaurs lived with humans? According to the “scientists,” yes, even though the Paluxy “human” tracks have long been known to either be misinterpreted dinosaur prints or outright hoaxes. This isn’t the only idiocy that Heston is host to, however; the clip is from the 1996 program “The Mysterious Origins of Man” which aired on NBC (you can watch it yourself here). While creationist theology is not overtly present (although their familiar idiocy underlies the entire program) the purpose of the show is to case doubt on good science by focusing on a number of people with conspiracy theories.
Back to the tracks; the Paluxy “human” prints are either obvious hoaxes or modified dinosaur footprints. You get a good look at one of the fake prints for a moment, the print looking like it had been made by a giant plastic figure (where there’s no actual bottom of the foot, just the plastic outline of the shape) rather than a living human. The real identity of the tracks and a short history of the controversy surrounding them is available at TalkOrigins, and if you want to know more about the initial discovery than I certainly recommend the book Bones for Barnum Brown by the famous bone-sharp R.T. Bird.
Outside of the absurdity, though, there is something worth calling attention to in the video. John Lynch recently posted a snippet of an article on manufactroversies where the creationist crowd is likened to the ancient Sophists. Rather than actually having knowledge or wisdom they specialize in convincing people that they have more than reputable scientists do, taking on the mantle of scientific authority even though they have none. The opening statements of Carl Baugh, a creationist so out-there that even AiG doesn’t want to touch him, provide a good example. He says he was skeptical, that he wasn’t sure if he could believe that the human and dinosaur tracks were really found together. When he went out to the sites he misinterpreted metatarsal tracks for human footprints, workers even creating toes for the “feet” during their haphazard excavations. The video doesn’t tell you that part, though, and so Baugh appears to be doing what would be expected; meeting outlandish claims with skepticism and carefully studying the case to determine if it’s really true. It’s a sham, absolutely, but the fact that such clips keep appearing on YouTube by people who seriously believe in this nonsense illustrates just how influential pseudoscience can be. Maybe the Flintstones are more to blame for the present popularity of creationism, though; too many people took the theme song literally when it said they’re “a page right out of history”;