He Submitted His Paper to a Journal… Are You Happy?

I’m not a scientist and I don’t claim to be one. At least I can admit that. Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis can’t seem to do the same.

He claims to have solved the “distant starlight problem“:

This is the issue of how starlight from the most distant galaxies is able to reach earth within the biblical timescale. Although light is incredibly fast, the most distant galaxies are incredibly far away. So, under normal circumstances we would be inclined to think that it should take billions of years for their starlight to reach us. Yet, the Bible teaches that the universe is only thousands of years old. Solutions have been proposed by creationists, but we haven’t had a definitive answer… until now.

Like I said, I’m not a science expert. But I know that science is about looking at the evidence and drawing conclusions from it. Lisle is starting with the conclusion (the earth is thousands of years old) and trying to match the evidence to it.

Bad scientist. Bad.

It gets better, though.

He hasn’t produced the paper yet and one critic faulted him for not submitting it to a peer-reviewed journal. But Lisle was ready with a comeback:

The same critic made the following comment, which I found amusing: “Jason isn’t submitting his paper to a prestigious science journal, the editors of which will send it out to be reviewed by experts of their own choosing”… But the really embarrassing thing for this critic is that, actually, I have already submitted the paper to the Answers Research Journal, and the senior editor has already sent it out to experts for peer-review. How embarrassing for the critic!

Yeah! Take that, you godless critic! He’s sending it to a journal run by Creationists. I wonder if they’ll accept it… (I also wonder: How bad would a paper have to be for that journal to reject it?)

This is even funnier when you read PZ Myers‘ post about this “discovery” from a couple weeks ago when Lisle made his initial announcement:

If he’s really made this amazing breakthrough, he ought to be sending his technical paper to more prestigious journals, like Nature and Science and Physics Review Letters and Cosmopolitan. Publishing in Answers Research Journal is an admission of failure.

I hope they do accept it. And publish it. Only because then it’ll be online for real scientists to pick apart and amuse themselves with.

For some reason, I don’t think physicists are shaking in their boots.

  • JD

    A “peer reviewed journal”, bazinga! I’m sure it’s more difficult than getting a study on unicorns published in Fairy Tales Quarterly.

  • littlejohn

    The significance of this should win him both a Nobel Prize and a Templeton! If the light can actually move faster than 300,000 kps, then obviously time travel into the past is possible.
    I’m not a scientist either, but I saw the first Superman movie, so I understand this stuff.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    I once had a study based on the dynamics of Captain Kirk and Spock as real people, published in Sci-Fi Monthly. It was peer-reviewed (read by other geeks) and everything!

    I for one am glad his crap is getting published, so it can be publicly laughed at.

  • Kris

    Even if the work were plausible, I don’t think Physicists would be “shaking in their boots”. If he were correct, he would almost certainly win a Nobel Prize. Physicists would certainly argue with their last breath, but they wouldn’t mourn.

  • Bob

    Creationist Peer Review:

    “Let’s see, Dr. Lisle says, ‘God did it.’ Yup, that’s right. Let’s PRINT THIS SUCKER!!!!!”

  • Lisa

    I love that they don’t allow comments on their site, I fail even to see a way to contact the author about the things they post. But that is how they want it to be, right?

    I also hardly see how getting a paper posted on your own network means anything. Why can’t he submit it to a real journal?

  • Lisa

    “When other qualified scientists with a correct biblical worldview offer constructive criticism, it can be very helpful in refining an article or technical paper.”

    But only then!

  • Rob Honeycutt

    Man! I’m really looking forward to this paper! This is gonna be goooood!

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    He would need to show that light only travels at the “speed of light” (in vacuums) near Earth but that it actually travels much much faster far from Earth (disproving Einstein).

    My money is still on Einstein.

    Last year my son studied the scientific method in his 6th grade science class. This paper might prove useful as an example of how NOT to do the scientific method.

  • http://imaginggeek.blogspot.com ImagingGeek

    Jason isn’t submitting his paper to a prestigious science journal, the editors of which will send it out to be reviewed by experts of their own choosing

    Another fail. When you submit a paper to a peer reviewed journal, you include a list of recommended reviewers (and can also include a list of reviewers to exclude).

    Generally, editors will follow those lists.

  • Michael

    My favorite part of all of this is that the “Peer reviewed journal” and his own website are sharing a domain name as well having icons everywhere telling us that this “Answers in Genesis” organization are supporting them both.

    …Really trustworthy.

  • Richard Wade

    I wrote a psychological thesis and submitted it to a peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Richard Wade’s Bestest Best Friends. (Wade Press, Volume 1, Number 1, Chapter 1, Page 1)

    They don’t have any qualifications in psychology, but I consider them my “peers” because we all have one important thing in common: We all think that Richard Wade is an Incredible Genius Beyond Human Comprehension. They must be very smart if they agree with me about that.

    Well, after a thorough and judicious review, they gave me two thumbs up, five stars, ten out of ten points, a Boyscout merit badge, an old Medal of Valor found at a garage sale, a plastic Oscar, and a World’s Greatest Counselor greeting card where they crossed out “Dad” and wrote in “Counselor.” They wrote rave reviews like “Brilliant!” “Groundbreaking!” and “A must-read!”

    So I think I have very solid evidence that my thesis is not just valid, but will utterly revolutionize the field, change the course of human history, and get me a lifetime fifty cents off discount at Starbucks.

  • Jonas

    Yes is this peer reviewed by his peers, or by another standard?

    Ok compare this amazing bit of potential new insight to the report at TAM8 Skeptics Guide to the Universe broadcast that the proton may have less mass than previously thought.

    Hint: The message is not — Easy weight loss guide become a skeptic, and drop your mass/weight without changing diet, or exercise because your fundamental particles will instantly weigh less.

  • Jeremiah

    Well it is easy to joke about it but I think this is actually a growing and serious problem because to a lot of people out there they are not going to know the difference between that creationist rag and a legitimate scientific journal. The creationists know that they don’t have to win over scientists, they just have to win over the public.

    This is why they do stuff like this. People object to them saying they are not scientists. So they build evangelical universities and hand out bogus degrees. People say their work is not published or peer reviewed, so they just start up their own magazines and journals. All this because then they know they can go up to a lay person and say “Dr. Bigshot with a Ph.D said in Answers Research Journal that the earth is really flat.” And to someone that is just busy living life rather then researching all this nonsense it will seem just as valid as “Stephan Hawking says black holes work like this.”

    It is a growing attempt to undermine science that will need to be dealt with because while it is easy for people ‘in the know’ to make fun of it, we aren’t the target audience.

  • http://therightatheist.blogspot.com Hortensio

    I wrote a psychological thesis and submitted it to a peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Richard Wade’s Bestest Best Friends. (Wade Press, Volume 1, Number 1, Chapter 1, Page 1)

    Well said, Richard, well said.

  • Hitch

    Physicists would be happy to not having to deal with it at all. Creationists trying to flood arxiv was bad enough. Better this stuff isn’t published at all.

  • Pingback: The Distant Starlight Problem… | From: Dan – Re: Everything

  • The “Eh” theist

    Even if his solution were found to be correct, and even if starlight travelled faster than the known speed of light and even if it reached the earth the day that the earth appeared (and so must still be reaching the earth at this speed else we are seeing starlight reruns-what a depressing thought)it still doen’t prove the existence of the god of genesis-it just means that our understanding of physics requires some major retooling.

    The best Lisle can hope for is to slightly increase the percentage of probability that god “may” exist-while other studies on prayer, common genetic heritage between humanity and other animals, etc keep plunging the probability meter back toward zero-what a sad goal to have chosen for one’s life’s work.

  • http://sitdcollins.wordpress.com Dan Collins

    I love how this guy almost certainly is seeking to replace a theory that works over all time and space and that is based on Maxwell’s equations with one that defines the nature of light based on it’s origin and it’s age, and that is not at all rooted in theory.

    I also loved how he thinks it’s okay to have other people with “a correct biblical worldview” perform peer review, instead of people who actually know what science is. But hey, he’s a creationist.

  • Erp

    The peer reviewing is almost certainly theological. Does the paper contradict how the reviewers understand ‘God’ (young earth, flood, bodily resurrection of Jesus and ascension into heaven, sun standing stilll for Joshua, etc.).

  • BeamStalk

    Yeah! Take that, you godless critic! He’s sending it to a journal run by Creationists.

    Not just by creationists, but by the same company Lisle works for.

  • Claudia

    I wrote a psychological thesis and submitted it to a peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Richard Wade’s Bestest Best Friends. (Wade Press, Volume 1, Number 1, Chapter 1, Page 1)

    Ahh, and its been cited many times by:

    - Hortensio et. al. J. of Sucking Up, 2009

    - Mehta et. al. Ann. Rev. Wadisms 2010

    - Claudia et. al. Wade is God Rev., 2010

    So not only did you publish in the peer-reviewed literature, you have a high impact factor!

  • fritzy

    As has been pointed out already, “Dr.” Lisle and his ilk are not concerned with convincing anyone beyond their “peers,” most of whom need little evidence to be convinced.

    The thing is, all they need is a handful of like-minded “scientists” and fundie politicians at the national and local level to push through “teach the controversy” text books into the public schools. This kind of non-sense is a lot more serious and a great deal more damaging than most people understand.

  • Matt

    It’d be more funny if his name was Jason Naperville.

    Sorry, Chicagoland joke.

  • BeamStalk

    Fritzy, sadly Lisle is a Dr from an accredited school, University of Colorado. He knows how science works and chooses instead to lie for Jebus. No need to quote his Doctorate like you have to with “Dr” Kent Hovind.

  • TychaBrahe

    In the book Job by Robert Heinlein, one of the characters (Rahab?) tells Alex that his universe was made 4000 years ago, but that it was created old. It was created with fossils and carbon dating evidence and starlight already in motion so as to give the appearance of having a much older ago. It is not explained why God wanted the Universe to appear old, but I note that most novels, plays, and movies start at some arbitrary point in time, with a history that goes unseen, although it is often discussed or alluded to.

    Why can’t creationists just offer this explanation? God made the universe 4000 years ago with light that had already traveled most of the 2 million light years from the Andromeda galaxy headed this way. He likes to watch archeologists and astronomers at work. Aren’t we all created in His image? That explains the popularity of The Big Bang Theory.

  • Matt

    I really don’t understand why they need to use science to “prove” how the light got to the earth and creationism is right. I mean… they’ve been on a role with the whole “god did it” shtick. Why can’t they just use that tired cliche again? It’s not like it’s any worse than the 10000 other times it’s been used.

    Q: How did the starlight from distant galaxies reach earth in such a relatively short time?

    A: God.

  • Claudia

    Argg ok, I know I shouldn’t have done it, but I actually made the mistake of looking at the websight and just have to vent:

    Scientific research takes time—a lot of time. A full-time research scientist might spend half a year or more working on a particular project, in order to write one technical paper about it.

    Half a year? If it takes you as a single researcher half a year to plan a research project, carry out experiments, do all the neccesary controls and repetitions and write out an acceptable manuscript for sending to referees you either A- Are studying a very narrow matter with very well established methods. B-Got incredibly lucky or C-Are a genius. There’s also D- Have no fucking clue what you are talking about and wouldn’t know a lab if it dropped on you.

    But that’s the way it has to be. Research must be thorough and rigorous; otherwise we may overlook an important fact that disproves the hypothesis in question.

    Absolutely, which is why creationists never bother to mention that their hypothesis is not falsifiable.

    Peer review is just as important for the same reason. When other qualified scientists with a correct biblical worldview offer constructive criticism, it can be very helpful in refining an article or technical paper.

    Read: When other people who have already pre-decided the conclusion they are after read my paper coming to the conclusion they are after they’ll be very happy.

    So, keep an eye on the ARJ website for the latest research on distant starlight and cosmology from within the biblical worldview

    There is no more cosmology within the biblical worldview than there is chemistry within the Hindu worldview or biology within the Buddhist worldview. There is either in accordance with the evidence or not, and any filter you put on aftewards just means you’re doing it wrong.

  • http://luckyatheist.blogspot.com Michael Caton

    I think it’s time to Sokalize this “journal”. Write a “Biblical science” paper and submit it to them. Make up an institution or creationist group or church if that’s what you need to convince them it can be trusted. Put a lot of fun stuff in there, maybe even in code. Then when they publish it, the fun begins.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

  • Avocet

    This sort of “peer review” reminds me of an old Wizard of Id strip. An accused pickpocket is to be tried before a jury of his peers. He refuses, saying “No way are twelve pickpockets gonna judge this boy.”

  • flawedprefect

    I am not a scientist. I am willing to stand corrected if my understanding of the peer review process is wrong. It is my understanding that journals are places where folks can submit research papers and have other scientists look over their work, compare it to other papers, established facts, available evidence, etc, and evaluate it based on a well-founded criteria (ie: as little human judgement or error as possible).

    At least this is the impression I get from folks who speak about scientific journals, on the basis of never having read one myself, or having seen the process at large.

    I think the best approach to illustrating how wrong a theory can be is precisely this process: have it submitted on the same grounds as ALL OTHER papers and be subjected to the review process. It stands exactly the same chance as all the other papers and is judged on the same merit as all other papers.

    This way, it can be dissected and thoroughly pulled apart just like every other paper is. This will immediately eliminate the playing of the persecution card, which they so love to play. Its flaws can be illustrated on the solid grounds of peer review.

    Personally, I find it sad that Lisle is attempting to find an independent line of reasoning to back up Bishop Ussher’s calculations of the age of the Universe based on adding up the ages of the characters in Genesis, when dendrochronology already disproves it by over 20,000 years, and that’s a calculation that doesn’t even require special relativity!

    PS: Apologies for the wikipedia links. If anyone knows a good peer-review journal to which I can link to the above, I’d be happy to read it. :)

  • Citizen Z

    I am not a scientist. I am willing to stand corrected if my understanding of the peer review process is wrong. It is my understanding that journals are places where folks can submit research papers and have other scientists look over their work, compare it to other papers, established facts, available evidence, etc, and evaluate it based on a well-founded criteria (ie: as little human judgement or error as possible).

    I am not a scientist, either, but I don’t think that’s entirely right. At least not the “compare it to other papers” or “available evidence”. My understanding of the peer review process is that they are simply looking for mistakes in methodology, either experimental or analytical. The evaluation and comparison with other papers is just something that is done the people who read these papers.

    I’ve heard it often described as a “low bar”, which makes the fact that creationist papers don’t make it past peer-review even more pathetic.

  • Brian Holly

    Oh, I just can’t wait to see this “solution!” I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas. This is going to be so deliciously ridiculous.

  • txindie

    It’s things like this that make ethical and robust journal articles only plausible. To anyone who has no education or experience in the peer review process, much less even where to look for factual and plausible journal articles, it’ easy for people like this to pull thewool over people’s eyes. In this case, he’s pulling the “sheep’s” wool over their own eyes.

  • Hitch

    arxiv used to be an open submission system where scientists could upload their papers before it went through peer review. Because science communication goes so quickly often work put there would already enter the scientific discussion and the publication became a formality to make it archival.

    However when creationists started flooding the site they had to introduce a minimal peer review system to keep complete drivel out of it. It’s really sad.

    Peer review usually implies that people who look at your paper are established experts in the field in which it was written. That is what “peer” means. That is if you write a paper on a very specific topic of microbiology, some established researchers that is on or very close to the topic will look at it and judge if it merits publication.

    Number of peer reviews vary but I would say 3 is typical.

    Typical review criteria are, is the paper sound/correct, does it contribute something new to the field, but also stuff like is it well-written (to scholarly standards) and does it fairly and sensibly discuss prior and related work.

    A real peer-reviewed paper can be considered vetted by expert on multiple key dimensions. The paper may still be flawed, contain mistakes, or promote a theory that later proves to not be the right direction, but the standard of that paper is much higher than something that has not gone through the process. It defines a base-line of quality. Papers that do not make it through peer-review have been found not publishable in its current form by expert peers.

    So to have a historian look at a physics paper would not constitute peer review. Or if a general editor reads a paper, that is not peer review.

    Within creationism that’s of course a perverted. Notion, sure you can find other creationists who will review a paper positively, but the flaw is that they themselves never have been established as credible authorities and good judges of the material.

    The reason why creationists create phony peer-review journal is because they have learned in debate that they get trumped by the claim that their work doesn’t even appear in peer-reviewed journals. It’s a shell-game for status.

    Unfortunately people who do not understand how to establish and review evidence and scientific merit can indeed be confused by this because peer-reviewed is peer-reviewed, right?

  • Hitch

    Oh another thing. I do not know anybody in my scientific circles who has never had a paper rejected. That is people who do real science, and work within the system cannot make it through the process sometimes. This should give you an idea how stringent the level of entry can be. Not every publication is the same though. Some are extremely competitive/selective and there is even a hierarchy of publications within the peer-review spectrum.

    In any case this journal is pretty much by definition not a credible journal.

    Here the conclusion of their “About Us” page:

    “It is our hope that the online publication of ARJ will encourage Christians with powerful results of the latest creationist research, providing them with new resources for use in their own research and education—and in their witnessing to the truth and authority of God’s Word.”

    Hmm yes. Any Muslim or Buddhist wants to try submit to this “reputable scientific peer-reviewed” outlet?

    It is part of the religious obfuscation machine, not much else really. They have learned the buzz-words to confuse the uninformed.

  • flawedprefect

    @ Citizen Z: “My understanding of the peer review process is that they are simply looking for mistakes in methodology, either experimental or analytical.”

    That should be enough to get it dismissed! lol.

    Reading the further comments, I have a better understanding of what peer review entails. I think this is what should be made clearer to laypeople such as myself. It’s invaluable info.

  • http://allusiveatheist.blogspot.com T Ray

    What’s the big deal? I solved it too. Or rather I made up an unfalsifiable excuse.

    Several thousand years ago when god created the universe he had everything much closer together. He then moved everything apart partially by moving the objects through space but more so by increasing the space between everything. This overcomes the problems with relativity, inertia, doppler effect…

    At some point god reduced the rate of cosmic expansion. And viola. goddidit. There’s no evidence for this. How could there be? but anyone willing to buy into the rest of the supernatural tripe obviously doesn’t require evidence.

    Should I submit my paper to the answers journal?


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