At a Glance
- The editor of the Answers Research Journal has received and identified the first attempt at scamming the journal.
- The scam attempt was part of an online contest by evolutionists who want to mock creationist research.
- The scam submitter admitted he had been trying to fool ARJ—and he probably won’t be the last one.
The editor of the creation-centered Answers Research Journal has intercepted the first attempt at discrediting and ridiculing the journal: a fake geology paper that was submitted as part of an informal online contest.
Powered by Answers in Genesis, the Answers Research Journal is a scientific and theological forum for upholding and developing the Creation and Flood models. The fake paper, “A New Method for Determining the Maximum Age of Mostly Single-Phase Rocks,” didn’t scam ARJ editor Dr. Andrew Snelling, who immediately caught the 3,500-word paper and confronted the author electronically.
We won’t divulge the submitter’s name (which he lied about) or contact information, except to say he is a confirmed PhD materials scientist formerly affiliated with Queens University Belfast who says he has published papers in Physical Review B and Physical Review Letters. Submitting his ARJ paper, he wrote, “I have written a short article on a new method for determining the age of rocks that does not depend in any way on isotope decay. Some of the text is perhaps slightly technical. Still, I hope you would consider the paper for publication in Answers Research Journal.”
What did the paper purport to show?
The fake paper’s abstract read:
A new method is presented for determining the age of rocks composed mostly of one mineral. The method relies on a combination of computationally determined diffusion profiles and experimental determination of the composition profiles of actual rocks. By calculating how diffusion would slowly even out the concentration gradients of certain components within the rocks, one can put a maximum on the age of actual rocks from the remaining composition fluctuations found in experiments. Peak broadening in x-ray diffraction is used to experimentally determine the composition fluctuations.
A first application of the new method has been the dating of igneous rocks from Western Norway. Even with some very conservative assumptions, results show that the rocks must have been formed less than 10000 years ago. Less conservative assumptions would result in an even younger maximum age. This firmly places the rocks within the Creation framework and dispels radiometric dating results that shown an age of over 400 million years.
After looking at the paper, Dr. Snelling answered the submitter via e-mail, lodging several scientific criticisms of the paper:
- “[Y]ou state you are a materials scientist, but your knowledge of the geological subject you are supposedly writing about is highly deficient. . . . For example, feldspar is not silica, but a complex aluminosilicate. Granites are not just composed of feldspars, but 20-30% quartz. No granite I'm aware of from the literature contains >85 wt % SiO2, least of all alkali granite.”
- “Your paper . . . is deficient as a serious scientific paper. Any reputable journal would require a geologic map showing exactly where you obtained your samples. The western region of Norway is composed largely of high grade metamorphic rocks.”
- “I find your methodology highly suspect at best. The water content of rocks cannot be an indicator of age since formation, since water can be introduced at any time in a rock's history depending where it lies in the earth's crust. Then you claim you crushed the rocks to obtain x-ray spectrums of just feldspar, but to disaggregate the rocks like that doesn't allow for the spatial analysis you are claiming for individual grains, as per your claimed model. Besides, water diffuses into a grain from the edges, not from the centres.”
- “[F]eldspar grains crystallise dry from a magma (not lava), and contain no water when they form. Then one needs many hundreds of samples tested from many locations and of many relative ages, not just three.”
- “Clearly this is not serious scientific research of the calibre of that in your listed publications. Your reference list is woefully lacking to support the huge claims you are making for this alleged groundbreaking ‘dating’ method.”
- “[U]nless you can somehow seriously demonstrate in a proper and rigorous scientific manner and therefore convince me otherwise, I must reject your paper as bogus, and an attempt to claim a prize being offered on the Internet for successful deception.”
In his reply, the submitter clarified his job situation (which had also raised questions), then candidly admitted, “[W]ell spotted as far as the rest is concerned.”
Dr. Snelling told us, “I found it interesting that the blog contest offering a prize for a fake paper published in the ARJ listed many scientific disciplines in which the prize would be awarded, but left out ‘geology.’ This was either a mistake or a ruse admitting that a fake geology paper wouldn’t make it past the ARJ editor, which would therefore be either prophetic or faint praise!” He continued:
I was absolutely amazed that the perpetrator could have thought he would be successful with such an obviously bogus paper with such ridiculously poor methodology and clearly erroneous geologic and mineralogic details. What is sad is that this failed attempt demonstrates that evolutionists are prepared to sacrifice their scientific integrity to try to discredit creationists. However, we shouldn't be surprised, as there is no basis for moral behavior and integrity in the evolutionists’ worldview, which has spawned many recent examples of outright fraud in the scientific literature, even perpetrated by high-profile academics!
First of all, it’s interesting to note that evolutionists are apparently sleeping when it comes to awareness of creation research and journals. ARJ isn’t the first creation journal; it just received a bevy of publicity, probably largely due to attention on Answers in Genesis because of the Creation Museum; see News to Note, January 26, 2008, item #1, and News to Note, February 16, 2008, item #5.1 But such publications as the Creation Research Society Quarterly and the Journal of Creation, in addition to our own Answers Research Journal and our informal, semi-technical Answers in Depth, publish in-depth research from qualified scientists who attest to and contribute to the development of the Creation and Flood models.
More importantly, though, what does it say about evolutionists, who frequently accuse creationists of spreading lies, yet strive to upset a creationist journal through falsehood? Apparently at least some evolutionists have no qualms doing exactly what they accuse creationists of doing—but where are the academic ethics they clamor over?2
Instead of trying to play “gotcha” games through dishonesty, why don’t evolutionists take on the task of honestly understanding our research and worldview and then, if they have objections, explicating them politely without the vitriol and name-calling (and foul language) found frequently on anti-creationist websites (such as on sites that sponsored/popularized the spam-ARJ contest).3
Furthermore, evolutionists are effectively ridiculing creation groups for a problem that evolutionists have created: creationists are locked out of secular journals because such journals’ criteria exclude anything that questions Darwinian dogma. Thus, creationists have created their own publishing platforms to further research.
In fact, Ben Stein’s film Expelled took a closer look at how academic freedom has been steadily weakened by the dedication many have to the dogma of Darwinism, and how the result is that valid scientific research—even research that only vaguely speculates on or implies the possibility of any designer, let alone God—is never allowed to see the light of day (not in a scientific journal, anyway). It is no longer enough for evolutionists to teach their material exclusively in public classrooms; now, even the idea of creationists teaching and publishing in non-taxpayer-supported venues provokes the anger of Darwin’s legions.
Our prayer is that through this malicious incident, more people will become aware of the creation-upholding research published in such peer-reviewed journals as ARJ and recognize that the science that upholds the Creation/Flood model (the Bible’s model, that is) of origins is neither fraudulent nor shoddy. Perhaps more will also realize that just because our science staff is smaller than that of a major secular institution, that doesn’t mean our scientists are dunderheads.
Dr. Snelling and others involved with the Answers Research Journal, including the Answers in Genesis security team, will continue to be on their toes for any threats to the integrity of the AiG ministry, especially because we believe evolutionists will try again to make a mockery of creationist research. Please keep ARJ and its staff and contributors—and the entire Bible-upholding ministry of AiG—in your prayers.