Saturday, February 03, 2007

Stellar Evolution redux

It looks like FTK has responded to my post on Stellar Evolution.

And surprise, surprise; She didn't like it.

So let's address her points.
You need to read more carefully. I am quite sure that Brown knew about the form of energy loss you are talking about [mass outflows from newly forming stars] when you were still in diapers. The trouble is that energy loss from existing stars does not form new stars.
Mass outflows have been known for a very long time. However, I never claimed that jets and other forms of matter removal from already formed stars would hint at the formation of new stars. What I stated is that Brown's claim is that to form new stars, we need to rid the collapsing cloud of excess energy. One way to do this is through mass outflow. We see just such mass outflows in regions where we expect to see newly forming stars. Thus, the problem of energy loss is greatly accounted for.

Now, if FTK would like to offer a reason beyond Brown's "just-so" story that energy loss can't happen, I'd be quite happy to hear it. But instead, Brown, in his endnotes section has quotes that are more than two decades old; Sufficiently old that many of the recent advances in the study of stellar formation had occured. Since the publication of the 1986 text he cites, we have observed mass outflows. The field looks to be a very fertile one as a quick search of the Astrophysical Data System reveals.

Her next criticism is that I took exception to a part of Brown's writings that made absolutely no sense. The part in question:
If [O class] stars evolved, they should show easily measurable characteristics such as extremely high rates of rotation and enormous magnetic fields.
I suggested that this made no sense, and for the sake of space, didn't bother to quote the rest of the paragraph which offered a rather lame explanation claiming that massive O-class stars should have high rotation rates as well as massive magnetic fields, yet offers no justification for this. Stars, as they collapse should "spin-up" but mass outflows and jets, addressed already account for this excess angular momentum.

FTK then objects to my mentioning of protostellar disks, which look to be collapsing, as indicators of new star formation. The claim, taken from Brown, is that we should be able to see new stars "turning on" when we compare photographic plates taken decades ago to images taken today. For all her complaining about my lack of reading, it seems she managed to skip an entire paragraph in which I addressed this issue:
Stars form inside nebulae, enshrouded in dust and gas. Thus, the process is somewhat hidden from us. The process also takes a much longer time than the death of a star. As such, it's difficult to define a time when a star is "born". We've seen things that are forming into stars. We've seen stars that are formed. We've seen fuzzy things that are somewhere inbetween. But the birth of a star is not like flicking on a light switch. Furthermore, when the process is complete, there's not as much of a mess left behind. The excess gas is not being superheated by shock waves and glowing brightly for us to easily identify newly formed stars.
She then goes on to say:
Granted, there are some "theories" and animations floating around out there as to how this might have occurred, but certainly they are ~speculative~. Give me some solid evidence.
*Sigh* When will creationists stop abusing the word theory?

As far as evidence, talks like this one show that new telescopes are able to detect the faint dust shells around stars, which is entirely consistent with what the theories of stellar formation predict. Prediction with observed evidence, right there.

Undoubtedly, there is still much work that needs to be done in this area. There's already many tantalizing clues such as the one Mollishka pointed out: That newly formed stars appear in rings. Does this factor in, and if so, how? Scientists aren't saying yet. But to claim that just because scientists don't have every answer premade for you that the entire theory must be wrong as Brown and FTK claim, is a complete disregard for how science works.

Her next nitpick is in regards to my analysis of the sources. For the section on massive stars near the center of the galaxy, there are four citations. The first two are from 2003, which is quite recent. I addressed the first, stating that Brown quotes the intro, and subsequently ignores the explanations put forth there after. I didn't check the second, but suspected the same situation. Since I was writing my response at nearly 3 in the morning, I didn't bother to look for the full text of the second article to confirm this but have done so now (it can be found here). Again, the article mentions several explanations, all of which Brown overlooks, trying to pretend that scientists are completely clueless so he can pretend it's impossible.

The third one is the only of the four that I called "horribly outdated". The date is not listed in this section, nor a title, journal, or any other information aside from the author (Ibid) and a page. Thus, I can't recall where I found the publication date for this source and until I can track it down again, I will retract my claim that it is outdated.

In regards to the last point, as I stated in my previous post, the author deliberately misinterprets what the author is stating. Yet despite the quote mining as demonstrated by Brown's blatant ignoring of the main thrust of nearly every article, FTK still finds it "quite convincing." Again, it's quite sad that she finds flawed arguments that basically state "we haven't figured it out, thus we can't figure it out thus the whole thing is wrong" to be convincing in any regard.

Another claim that I addressed of Brown's is that globular clusters could not form because the first stars would blow out the gas and dust necessary to make the rest. I pointed out that, despite the claim, we see new clusters in the process of forming and listed several. They form from interstellar clouds. If Brown was right, we shouldn't see them forming, yet we do. Thus, his claim that the first stars should prevent the rest from forming is directly contradicted by many clusters such as the ones I listed.

Her response?
Brown is talking about globular clusters, not interstellar clouds.
What Brown is talking about is the formation of globular clusters. This means interstellar clouds. Thus, yes, he is talking about these clouds and my mentioning of them is completely topical.

She then goes on to point out that globular clusters are much smaller in diameter than clouds. Again, FTK fails at reading. I already accounted for this, by pointing to tidal stripping. Pity she missed it.

So what does she do next? Another favourite creationist trick: Move the goalpost.

If you can't win on one claim, throw another at your opponent and hope they don't have time to react. Funny that this is the same trick we see other pseudo-scientists like Hoagland using...


From there, FTK goes on to make some more general points. In response to my introduction to the section in which I analyzed the sources Brown used, in which I quoted Forrest showing that Creationists are fond of outdated sources, FTK replies with a non-sequitor whining about how much she hates Forrest. She then disagrees that creationists like their antiquidated sources. However, let's take a look again at the sources. I broke them into 4 categories.
Old (greater than or equal to 20 years old): 3
Middle (between 19 and 7 years old): 3
New (7 or less years): 8
Unknown (No date listed): 1

If we take the ratio of new to old sources as Forrest did, this gives us a ratio of 2.6 almost that of reputable journal article. But if we discount any sources that are nothing more than quote mined material (ie, all the articles in which Brown pulls out a quote and then ignores the possible explanations), then the ratio falls to less than one, bringing it in line with other creationist material.

There must be some problem with FTK's counting method since she found 39 citations within 7 years. Given that the article she asked me to review didn't have that many, I suspect she's changing the rules.

So having ignored all these faults, FTK goes on to attack my credentials stating,
Five years isn’t jack squat in comparison to the credentials of Walt Brown. Besides those credentials, he has researched these issues for over 25 years.
After 25 years, I'd expect Brown to have a little more understanding of the literature. I'd expect Brown to understand that having not figured out every last detail does not invalidate a theory. I'd expect Brown to do better than selectively quoting and dishonestly pretending that there are no possible explanations. I'd expect Brown not to deliberately ignore new sources that invalidate his claims.

Yet he fails to do any of this. So while he certainly has impressive credentials, they don't count for much in the face of such massive intellectual dishonesty.

Lastly, after completely skipping over arguments, missing the point of others, moving the goalpost, engaging in ad hominems, what's left for FTK?

She moves the goalpost again. Her final claim is that I have no place to talk unless I've read the entire book.

Sorry. I'm not playing her silly game. FTK asked me to look at one article. I did. I read the article. I checked the sources. I looked for the originals where available. I too spent several hours doing so. And I found it pathetic.

I have no need to read the whole book to realize the flaws in these specific arguments. Nor do I have the time. Unlike FTK, I don't have kids to take up my slack or do my homework while I pull on threads of authors that I've already found to be intellectually bankrupt.

Updated to reflect user comments on sources

15 comments:

Jeremy said...

Jon-

"Ibid" is short for "ibidem" which is a Latin word for "in the same place." It is an expression used in bibliographies when authors repeatedly cite the same source. In Brown's bibliography, each "Ibid" refers to the previously listed source.

Per FtK's incessant requests, I have actually read most of Walt Brown's book. What you are describing here in regards to stellar evolution is exactly what I noticed in regards to Brown's treatment of biological evolution.

Dr. Walter Brown knows just enough about the subjects he criticizes to make "scientific" sounding arguments. Unfortunately, those who know even less about science than Brown are easily fooled because his conclusions match their preconceptions.

I once analyzed one of Dr. Brown's claims in detail. His "response" was quite telling.

Jon Voisey said...

Thanks for pointing that out Jeremy. I guess I'm too used to ApJ format to be familiar with the "ibid" notation.

Regardless, it doesn't much change the general point of the arguments: That Brown seriously misprepresents the articles he cites, ignoring arguments in order to support a distorted view of the body of evidence.

aka...Forthekids said...

Jon,

Please edit the following:

1. I ~DO NOT~ "hate" Barbara Forrest. You need to change that word.

2. Regarding citation dates, you need to change the numbers to the following:

Old: 3
Middle: 3
New: 8
Unknown: 1

There are other things I should correct, but hopefully people will read my response carefully as it answers some of your accusations.

Your "moving the goalpost" accusation doesn't bother me because if people take the time to follow the links on the initial page I offered you, they'll get my point.

As for quote mining...whatever. I've given my view in regard to that accusation several times now.

Something you need to keep in mind is that Brown does not (by any means) suggest that he has all the answers, but there are problematic issues with the evolutionary paradigm and it doesn't aid the advancement of science to try to push something into a slot that it may not be able to fit into comfortably.

Good luck with all your classes this semester.

Best regards,
~ftk

mollishka said...

Wow!! My words got twisted and misinterpreted by a creationist! Sweet! Considering how not worth my time they are, that's pretty special.

I'll have to put it on my resume.

John said...

Jeremy
Dr. Walter Brown knows just enough about the subjects he criticizes to make "scientific" sounding arguments.

My friend and I like to call them "sciency", a la "truthy".

Coragyps said...

Heh. Attacking your "student of astronomy" credentials in favor of a mechanical engineering PhD from the 1940's. Yeah, that makes Walt a cutting-edge cosmologist, all right. Orbital mechanic, too, with those launched-by-steam asteroids out there past Mars.....

Milo Johnson said...

"As for quote mining...whatever."

Well, if that isn't a hallmark of enormous intellectual integrity, I don't know what is...

Michael said...

Wow, the post by Brown is complete nonsense. We do the math on this stuff! Astrophysics is rigorous as hell. The theory of stellar evolution is based directly on evidence from spectroscopy, polarimetry and about 90 other corroborated and independent techniques in a multitude of bandpasses. We have observed many stars evolving, Eta Carinae as one example, and have witnessed star formation all over the freaking place.

Go here:

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abstract_service.html

...and type in stellar evolution and you get 365000 articles. We haven't just proven that stars evolve, we have dissected it and understand it in minute detail, in most cases based on first principles and verified by peer-reviewed observations. We have models that are ridiculously successful in making predictions with events such as novae, supernovae, pulsating variables, white dwarf systems and gamma-ray bursts.

Fuck...

beepbeepitsme said...

I know absolutely nothing about stellar evolution. But having said that, is it possible to send soem of the whacky creationists to their own solar system where they can play god somewhere else?

les said...

Having seen FtK's worship of Walt before, I'm surprised she hasn't suggested that if you just call him up, he'll resolve all of your trifling concerns with his reconstruction of numerous fields of science. Quite persuasive, I understand.

Jon Voisey said...

If you look at the post she made, she did in fact suggest that I call him up. However, I already know the tactic he uses from reading his writing: "You don't know everything, so you know nothing, thus God."

Apparently FTK finds that "quite convincing" so I have no interest in calling him up to let him claim victory with terrible logic.

iampdavis2@comcast.net said...

Quick question re stellar evolution - Take a system similar to HM Cancri; how does a system like that evolve?

Thanks.

les said...

Having seen FtK's worship of Walt before, I'm surprised she hasn't suggested that if you just call him up, he'll resolve all of your trifling concerns with his reconstruction of numerous fields of science. Quite persuasive, I understand.

Coragyps said...

Heh. Attacking your "student of astronomy" credentials in favor of a mechanical engineering PhD from the 1940's. Yeah, that makes Walt a cutting-edge cosmologist, all right. Orbital mechanic, too, with those launched-by-steam asteroids out there past Mars.....

Jeremy said...

Jon-

"Ibid" is short for "ibidem" which is a Latin word for "in the same place." It is an expression used in bibliographies when authors repeatedly cite the same source. In Brown's bibliography, each "Ibid" refers to the previously listed source.

Per FtK's incessant requests, I have actually read most of Walt Brown's book. What you are describing here in regards to stellar evolution is exactly what I noticed in regards to Brown's treatment of biological evolution.

Dr. Walter Brown knows just enough about the subjects he criticizes to make "scientific" sounding arguments. Unfortunately, those who know even less about science than Brown are easily fooled because his conclusions match their preconceptions.

I once analyzed one of Dr. Brown's claims in detail. His "response" was quite telling.