Balloon Cat will sue you!

For some reason (perhaps because Stuart Pivar is a crackpot who threatened to sue someone who reviewed his book of pseudoscience unfavourably) this large and impressive balloon animal was tagged Pivar.”


Sunday Crackpot: Chonosuke Okamura

More people I’ve never heard of. Pharyngula commenter Lars Dietz says:

My favorite in this field is still the “work” of Chonosuke Okamura. Microscopic versions of recent vertebrate species … from the Silurian! An article with some illustrations is here: Okamura illustrations.

Apparently there was some excitement in the 1880s about fossils (crinoids, corals, sponges etc.) found in meteorites by Otto Hahn (not the nuclear physicist). Turned out to be another case of pareidolia.

From the link:

The Great Discoverer

Okamura did no less than discover the Silurian Period beginnings of all vertebrate life, including humans, 425 million years ago. Nearly everything he found was a new subspecies, whether the species was extant or extinct. Some examples are Gorilla gorilla minilorientalis (gorilla), Canis familiaris minilorientalis (common dog), Homo sapiens minilorientales (humans), Pteradactylus spectabilis minilorientalis (pteradactyl), and Brontosaurus excelus minilorientalus (a dinosaur).

Figure 4. Faces of minimen. (Okamura, 1983?, fig. 4.)

(Did I mention, that they were all diminutive, discovered through the eyepiece of Okamura’s microscope? In his description of the mini-man, he wrote, “There have been no changes in the bodies of mankind since the Silurian period… except for a growth in stature from 3.5 mm to 1,700 mm.”)

Figure 5. Miniperson holding a minibaby. (Okamura, 1983?, fig. 18.)

Hoo, boy! Microevolution vs. macroevolution, anyone?

Rhetorical tactics: the Dembski Dodge

Wesley ElsberryWesley R. Elsberry, in discussing possible responses to factual evidence, mentioned a several avoidance tactics. This is from a long discussion thread in, where Wesley summarizes the patterns of common arguments. I’ve extracted them from their discussion thread and highlighted them here: how IDists avoid responding to real-world evidence.

One of the tactics is a hallmark of William Dembski’s responses about evolution, so I’ve decided to call it the Dembski Dodge.

The one I want to talk about is described below.

Non-Evidentiary Responses

The other category of approach is to ignore, so far as possible, any mention or discussion of actual fossil evidence… There are many routes to achieving this end. The simplest is non-response. The challenged person may decide that not saying anything further is the best option…. Yet another strategy is to discuss theoretical issues as if theory did away with the need to actually look at the empirical data.

funny picturesAnd there you have it. That’s the entire point of Dembski’s argument: construct a mathematical will-o-the-wisp and point at it as though it were the evidence we vainly seek.

My brother used to tease young ladies by eliciting various random facts about them, such as their eye colour, height, dog’s name, home town, favorite food, best subject, number of siblings, and so on, then multiplying the probablility of all those things being true, and producing a mathematical proof that the sweet young things in question were so improbable that they might simply disappear at any time!

And that, in a nutshell, is Dembski’s approach to the facts of biology. However, Dembski cooks the books in his favor by insisting that all the calculated events must have happened simultaneously instead of accumulating over a period of time.

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