Heroes Under Fire

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Photos are from The History Channel story about the Camp Cabanatuan raid. There’s some background.

In December 1941 the Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, and a few hours later they attacked American air fields on Luzon in the Philippines. A few days later Japanese forces invaded the Philippines at Lingayen Gulf in the north part of Luzon. American and Philippine forces in the islands were not able to stop the invasion forces, and it was not possible to provide support or re-enforcements to the troops there. By April of 1942 the combined American and Philippine forces on Luzon had become trapped on the Bataan Peninsula and were forced to surrender. 72,000 American and Philippine troops went into captavity and were marched to prison camps over a three-day period to camps 70 miles away. Along the way about 20,000 prisoners perished from starvation, illness or (principally) murder by the Japanese.

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Conditions in the camps in the Philippines were brutal, and when American forces invaded the Philippines in October 1944, the Japanese made plans to prevent prisoners from being rescued. Most of the survivors were shipped to Formosa (Taiwan), the Japanese islands and other locations for use as slave labor. A directive from the Japanese command ordered the murder of the remaining prisoners in the Philippines to prevent their repatriation.

After the Japanese slaughtered almost 150 Americans in a POW camp on the island of Palawan by burning them alive, the decision was made to rescue those still in the Cabanatuan POW camp before they were massacred as well.

Eleven prisoners survived the massacre, and some made their way back to invading American forces. When the Americans learned of the Japanese actions and of the planned execution of the remaining prisoners they initiated rescue missions to save prisoners at the Cabanatuan camp and at Camp O’Donnell.

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Lt. Col. Henry Mucci had recruited mule skinners (drivers) from the campaign in New Guinea, and had formed a specialized ranger corps. Intense training had weeded out all but the best and the toughest, and the result was a force of 500 as the 6th Ranger Battalion.

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Mucci was a slightly-build fighter with a flair for the dramatic.

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When he got together a group for the Cabanatuan raid he brought along a film crew.

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American forces invaded Luzon along the same route used by the Japanese in 1941, and by late January they were within striking distance of the prison camps.

On January 28, 1945, 121 Rangers left their base and drove until they were within 95 kilometers (60 mi) of the camp, where they disembarked and prepared to walk the rest of the way. About five miles out, on January 29, they met up with Captain Juan Pajota and his 300 Filipino guerrilla fighters, who provided crucial assistance and intelligence about the surrounding area. Pajota also convinced Mucci to wait another day because many of the Japanese would be leaving the area that night.

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Once started, the group had to delay for 24 hours, because a large body or retreating Japanese soldiers was close by Camp Cabanatuan. Also, a large number of Japanese had encamped with the prisoners. On 30 January two of the raiding party dressed as civilians and scoped out the camp. As dark settled in, the main party crawled on their bellies toward the camp perimeter. It was flat and open ground all around the camp, and the time between sunset and the rise of a full moon gave them only two hours to make their approach. A P-61 night fighter distracted Japanese guards by flying low and feigning engine trouble. The plan worked.

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When the attackers were close enough they opened up on the Japanese guards, and quickly suppressed all watch towers and sentries. Shots from a .45 pistol opened the lock on the main gate, and the attackers rushed the camp.

The raiders killed over 500 Japanese soldiers, annihilating virtually all the camp’s contingent. They moved to the prison huts and roused the frightened prisoners. The prisoners had no advance notice, and they suspected a Japanese ruse to justify killing the prisoners. Previously, when two prisoners had escaped, they were recaptured. 18 other prisoners were collected, and all 20 were executed by the guards.

Compounding the element of surprise, the prisoners had been out of touch with the war for so long, they found it difficult to recognize their rescuers as Americans. Uniforms were different, helmets were different, weapons were different. The rescuers did not take no for an answer. Prisoners reluctant to leave the huts were removed by force, and everybody was herded out the main gate.

Then came the long march back to American lines. Many of the prisoners were too weak to walk, and more and more local carts were obtained. Locals gladly volunteered carts until more than 100 were employed.

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Trouble came on the return when the party encountered a village controlled by communist guerrillas. The communists refused to let the other Philippine guerrillas pass through, but American rangers with machine guns waded through the communist contingent and told them not to interfere.

 

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512 prisoners were rescued. Two died on the trip. One had a heart attack almost immediately and another succumbed shortly after. Two rangers were killed, including one by friendly fire. The trek back was shorter because the American lines had advanced in the mean time. It was 70 years ago today.

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The ordeal was not over for the Philippines. The battle for Manila began within a few days. Here, ever the sore loser, the Japanese army engaged in wanton murder of the civilian population.

Subjected to incessant pounding and facing certain death or capture, the beleaguered Japanese troops took out their anger and frustration on the civilians caught in the crossfire, committing multiple acts of severe brutality, which later would be known as the Manila Massacre. Violent mutilations, rapes, and massacres on the populace accompanied the battle for control of the city. Massacres occurred in schools, hospitals and convents, including San Juan de Dios Hospital, Santa Rosa College, Santo Domingo Church, Manila Cathedral, Paco Church, St. Paul’s Convent, and St. Vincent de Paul Church.

100,000 civilians died. Within the next few weeks I will post a memorial item about the Battle for Manila.

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Stupidity Writ Large

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Thursday I caught a bit of Erin Burnett Outfront on CNN. She had an interview with Doctors Armand Dorian and Jack Wolfson. The conversation turned into a shouting match about the measles vaccine, or lack thereof.

Owing to a number of people declining to be vaccinated for measles there’s been a recent outbreak of measles, particularly in areas rich with anti-vaccine sentiment. See the map.

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California is rife with vaccine craziness, which, unlike a lot of lame brain thinking, seems to cross liberal-conservative boundaries. Wolfson, out of Phoenix, Arizona, seems to be one of those who refuse to recognize the heavier benefit of vaccination. His attitude, at least in this sector, seems to be for letting nature run its course.

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Jack Wolfson, M.D.

 

Dorian was aboard to counter a lot of Wolfson’s nonsense, but his wisdom generally got lost in the back and forth. I’m just going to highlight Wolfson’s comments, because stupid stuff is what this blog is all about. I transcribed the following from the video. There are likely mistakes in the transcription, but the gist is captured accurately. First, Burnett asks a question. Then, Wolfson responds. Burnett’s comments are in bold.

Why are you opposed to the vaccine?

What I’m opposed to is the fact that we’re injecting chemicals into our children. This aluminum, mercury, sometimes aborted fetal proteins. There’s antibiotics in there. We’re doing something that is totally foreign, that is totally unnatural to our children. We’re experimenting on our children. Our children have the right to get infections. We have immune systems for that purpose.

As the doctor previously said, there were millions of cases, and rarely did anybody die from this. These are typically benign childhood conditions. We cannot sterilize the body. We cannot sterilize our society. We need to be affected by these viruses, bacteria.

He states that he is a board-certified cardiologist.

Whether it’s chicken pox, it’s measles, it’s mumps, rubella. Listen, there’s 70 people who have it right now. 80, whatever the number is. They’re not dying. These are benign childhood conditions that, once the child gets it, they will be immune forever.

You are artificially injecting chemicals to try and stimulate the immune system. That’s not the same thing. We all had chicken pox as children, and we’re all fine because of this. It is our right, and we’re not going to inject chemicals…

[Burnett mentions pneumonia, lifelong brain damage, deafness and death.]

Bad things can happen to anybody. We can be in a car accident. We can be in a toaster fire…

My view: Breath-taking inanity.

So, I’m thinking, “What do we need a doctor for?” You got a bad heart? Maybe it’s nature’s telling you that it’s time to die.

There’s obviously more to be said on this. Here’s something from the Washington Post:

It’s 6:30 p.m. in eastern Arizona, and an energetic doctor who has gained notice due to his disdain for vaccinations has just gotten home. It’s been a busy day. He’s already spoken to USA Today. He just did a segment on CNN. And he’s closely monitored his Facebook page, which has collected 4,000 “likes” in the span of 48 hours. But Jack Wolfson always has time to discuss vaccinations — his hatred of them and his abhorrence of the parents who defend them.

“Don’t be mad at me for speaking the truth about vaccines,” Wolfson said in a telephone interview with The Washington Post. “Be mad at yourself, because you’re, frankly, a bad mother. You didn’t ask once about those vaccines. You didn’t ask about the chemicals in them. You didn’t ask about all the harmful things in those vaccines…. People need to learn the facts.”

Not inclined to being mean-spirited, it is not my wish that Doctor Wolfson ever comes down with the measles.

Bad Joke of the Week

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Not yet

What a pity kulula doesn’t fly internationally – we should support them if only for their humour – so typically South African.

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Kulula is an Airline with head office situated in Johannesburg . Kulula airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight “safety lecture” and announcements a bit more entertaining.

Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, “People, people we’re not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!”

On another flight with a very “senior” flight attendant crew, the pilot said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants.”

On landing, the stewardess said, “Please be sure to take all of your belongings.. If you’re going to leave anything, please make sure it’s something we’d like to have.”

“There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane.”

“Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”

As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport , a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: “Whoa, big fella. WHOA!”

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in the Karoo, a flight attendant on a flight announced, “Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted.”

From a Kulula employee: “Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth . To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don’t know how to operate one, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised.”

“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, pick your favourite.”

“Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Kulula Airlines.”

“Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments.”

“As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses..”

And from the pilot during his welcome message: “Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!”

Heard on Kulula 255 just after a very hard landingin Cape Town : The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, “That was quite a bump and I know what y’all are thinking. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault, it wasn’t the pilot’s fault, it wasn’t the flight attendant’s fault, it was the asphalt.”

Overheard on a Kulula flight into Cape Town , on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain really had to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the gate!”

Another flight attendant’s comment on a less than perfect landing: “We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.”

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a “Thanks for flying our airline”. He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, “Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?”

“Why, no Ma’am,” said the pilot. “What is it?”

The little old lady said, “Did we land, or were we shot down?”

After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg , the attendant came on with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal..”

Part of a flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today.. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of Kulula Airways.”

Heard on a Kulula flight: “Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing.. If you can light ’em, you can smoke ’em.

Heart of Dimness – Part 1

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I’m going to continue to steal from Joseph Conrad for a title. Could be lack of imagination. Could be all the cool titles are already taken.

Anyhow, a few weeks ago I commented on a posting by creationist David Buckna on the True.Origin Archive site. This seems to comprise four pages, the first three of which encompass 31 questions or topics for discussion. Presumably each of these is a challenge of some sort to modern science, not limited to biological evolution. Page 4 is an extensive collection of activities students are supposed to undertake, said activities having an aim toward challenging modern scientific theories, particularly biological evolution again.

I’m going to work through these four pages, creating a separate post for each topic. This is going to be a long term project, maybe stretching out the remainder of the year. Readers’ patience is requested. I will start here with the first item:

For starters, there’s a cartoon. It’s cute. I’m going to reprint it. Here it is.

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Actually, “evolution” is still a theory. Just like gravity. In science a good theory is an explanation for a set of related facts. It’s testable, and it produces useful predictions that can lead to further study and progress. Please note the “DARWIN REPORT DUE” notice on the black board.

Creationists and some others like to associate modern theories of biological evolution with Charles Darwin exclusively. Facts are that the theory of biological evolution was around hundreds of years before Darwin. People wondered at the source of the varied species on this planet, and common ancestry was considered as a possible explanation. Serious studies of the fossil record even prior to the birth of Darwin gave still more serious consideration to the idea of common descent. But nobody could figure out a natural mechanism that would produce the branching of the evolutionary tree and the development of highly refined systems, such as the eye.

Independently of Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace came up with the idea of natural selection as the explanation. Darwin and Wallace published simultaneously in 1858. Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species in 1859.

Still, the mechanism for biological evolution was unknown. Darwin and Wallace provided only on part of the puzzle. The remaining part was the theory of genetics, developed by Gregor Mendel. Mendel did his work about the time Darwin’s theory of natural selection was being debated, but it was not reviewed by mainstream science until the first years of the 20th century when other researchers independently duplicated his work, and it was discovered that Mendel had done the first studies.

Regarding the teacher’s comment:

I grant you evolution was a theory to begin with… but it evolved into a fact a long time ago!

That’s a bit of creationist posturing. Truth is that evolution was a fact from the time it started happening on this planet and possibly on other planets. Since scientists started working with the theory of biological evolution over 150 years ago, the recognition of its factual basis has continually solidified. Although there may still be legitimate debate concerning the processes involved, the fact of biological evolution is well established. No valid scientific research has ever contradicted the fact of biological evolution.

I’ve done all of this, and I’ve only got through the cartoon. I’ve not even gotten to David’s item 1 on the first page. Before I get to that I need to diagnose the matter of a quote by creationist Phillip Johnson. That’s coming next.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

The Last Laugh

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So, I was watching cable TV, and it was an interesting news show. Then a commercial came on and it showed a woman in a supermarket. And she was talking to a milk carton. I mean carrying on a conversation with a milk carton right there in the aisle of the dairy section with people all around.

Well, that gave me a little chuckle, which is what it was supposed to do. And it got me to thinking of the kinds of things people will do for money. Like talking to a milk carton. It was humorous.

Later on I was watching a video, and it showed a man, along with some others, and he, they all were, talking to an invisible, mythical, disembodied person. And this was out on the street in front of the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. And there were people around looking on. And I thought that was humorous, as well.

Then I noticed something. The man I was looking at was a United States Senator. And I stopped laughing.

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Governors Acting Brilliantly

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Does Mike Huckabee qualify? I mean, he’s no longer governor of Arkansas. But he once was. I’m going to say that’s good enough.

So what’s Governor Huckabee been up to lately? I’m glad you asked:

During a speech earlier this month at televangelist Morris Cerullo’s annual conference, Mike Huckabee said that school shootings wouldn’t take place if public schools organized daily prayers, religious assemblies, Bible readings and “chapel services.”

There’s a video.

That’s some strong stuff. We wouldn’t have any school shootings in this country if we had prayers and Bible readings. And more. Who would have thought it would be such an easy problem to solve. The governor has a good memory about these things. He tells us how it used to be:

As a kid I remember we would have people come to our school and do assemblies and chapel services in a public school. And they would talk to us about Jesus. The Gideons would give us Bibles. And nobody got arrested. Nobody got sued, by the way. Nobody got hurt, either. Because we were bringing Bibles to school, people weren’t bringing guns to school except for the deer hunters, who left them in their trucks.

Well, that is impressive. Obviously it was a wonderful world that Governor Huckabee lived in and went to school in, so many years ago. I wonder where that was. I wonder when it was. I doubt it was over two hundred years ago in what is now Franklin County, Pennsylvania:

The earliest known United States shooting to happen on school property was the Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre on July 26, 1764, where three men entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and killed ten children (reports vary). Only one child survived.

Of course, that was an exceptional situation. That was hostile act by some Lenape warriors. How about a more real-to-life situation. How about 1850, again in Pennsylvania:

West Chester, Pennsylvania, At the Rocky Hill schoolhouse, students found their young teacher (aged about 18), Rachael Sharpless shot dead in the doorway of the school. George Pharoah, 19 years old, shot her while hiding behind a tree as she was unlocking the door.

How about 1853:

Louisville, Kentucky, The student Matthew Ward bought a pistol in the morning, went to school and killed the schoolmaster Mr. Butler, as revenge for what Ward thought was excessive punishment of his brother the day before.

Or 1858:

Baltimore, Maryland, the 15 year old son of Col. John T. Farlow (Baltimore’s Marshal of Police 1867-70), was shot to death during a Sabbath School gathering.

1859:

Oakland, California, Edward Carpenter accidentally shot himself dead while hunting on campus; he was one of the few students permitted to have a firearm at school.

1860:

Todd County, Kentucky, A son of Col. Elijah Sebree was shot dead by another student. Young Sebree was threatening the other boy and intended to kill him.

Enough of that 19th century stuff. How about modern times. 1900:

Danbury, Connecticut, After being repeatedly refused by Teacher Lillian Owen, Herbert Horton went to the schoolhouse and pleaded one last time. He then pulled out a revolver and demanded entry or he would kill himself. Miss Owen and pupils barricaded the door. Horton then shot himself in the chest.

Camargo, Illinois, Teacher Fletcher R. Barnett shot and killed another teacher, Eva C. Wiseman, in front of her class at a school.

Enough of that, as well. How about (nearly) modern times. Let’s just stick to 1952, three years before Governor Huckabee was born:

New York City, A 15-year-old boarding school student shot a dean rather than relinquish pin-up pictures of girls in bathing suits.

New York City, Bayard Peakes walked into the offices of the American Physical Society (APS) at Columbia University and shot and killed secretary Eileen Fahey with a .22 caliber pistol.

Lawrenceville, Illinois, After Georgine Lyon, 25, ended her engagement with Charles Petrach, Petrach shot and killed Lyon in a classroom at Lawrenceville High School where she worked as a librarian.

New York City, Rear Admiral E. E. Herrmann, 56, superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School, was found dead in his office with a bullet in his head. A service revolver was found by his side.

All this time I’m wondering at what point in his public school career did Governor Huckabee enjoy a Bible-rich, gun-free life. Madeline Murray filed her suit against the public schools in Baltimore in 1960, and in 1963 the Supreme court handed down its decision banning religious proselytizing in public schools. Governor Huckabee would have been about eight years old at that time. Supposedly he lived a Bible-free existence throughout most of his public school experience.

Supposing my presumption is wrong. Suppose that, despite the Supreme Court ruling, Governor Huckabee’s schools continued to violate the law and to hold prayers and Bible readings and such. What a gun-free time that should have been. I count about 19 school shootings in the United States between 1963 and 1973, about the time the governor should have gotten out of high school.

There are two possibilities:

  • Governor Huckabee has a short (or selective) memory.
  • He tends to neglect one of the Ten Commandments.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Heart of Stupid

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This all started several weeks ago when I came across a site with a page by creationist David Buckna. The site is hosted by the Institute for Creation Research, and the page title is Should Evolution be Immune from Critical Analysis in the Science Classroom? David posted 33 questions that should be brought up in science class, presumably to embarrass various aspects of modern biological science or else to nudge students toward considering the merits of creationism.

In response I posted a piece in which I attempted to address of each of David’s questions. What I got back was a response from David, and that initiated a series of comments and responses, of which this is my most recent. I soon assigned a title derived from a story by Joseph Conrad, and I’m keeping it for continuity.

Here’s the David Buckna comment of the day:

5. The references from “At the Water’s Edge” (p. 268) to Thewissen are from 1995 and 1996; the reference to Gingerich is from 1995.

http://creation.com/whale-evolution-fraud

http://creation.com/rodhocetus

http://www.thegrandexperiment.com/whale-evolution.html

*
I’m done.

Granted, there’s not a lot of context here. However, that’s the way it’s been in my dialog with David Buckna. I’m going to pursue what I perceive to be his argument, his challenge, whatever we call it. I’m doing this because that’s what this blog is all about. If it weren’t for people like David there wouldn’t be much for me to write about.

I’m pretending I’m seeing David’s comment for the first time. That’s easy, because it’s been so long ago that I’ve forgotten my initial reaction. I’m sure his reference to “Gingerich” relates to an earlier post of mine. I was citing scientific research that demonstrates macro evolution, and Carl Zimmer’s book At the Water’s Edge provides excellent references to such research. Zimmer traced the evolution of animal life in the water to land-dwelling life followed by the development of aquatic mammals from land-dwelling life. David’s reference is to this book.

Here is the pertinent section of Zimmer’s book:

Page 268

199    In his mind, they were furry crocodiles … ]. G. M. Thewissen, S. 1. Madar, and S. T. Hussain, “Ambulocetus natans, an Eocene cetacean (Mammalia) from Pakistan,” Courier Forschungsinstitut Senkenberg 1996, 191:1-86.

200    Gingerich has found at least three contemporaries … P. D. Gingerich, M. Arif and W. C. Clyde, “New archaeocetes (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Middle Eocene Domanda Formation of the Sulaiman Range, Punjab (Pakistan),” Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology 1995, 28:291-330.

201    They first measured the isotopes of oxygen … For living cetacean osmoregulation, see C. A. Hui, “Seawater consumption and water flux in the common dolphin Delphinus delphis,” Physiological Zoology 1981,54:430-440. For archaeocete osmoregulation, see]. G. M. Thewissen et al. “Evolution of cetacean osmoregulation,” Nature 1996, 381:379-380.

Despite David’s description, none of the Thewissen references date to 1995. These references are cited on pages 199-201. For interested readers I have posted those pages:

Here is the illustration at the bottom of page 201:

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So what’s it all about? David does not say. He points us to three links. I followed them down.

Here is an excerpt from the first linked page:

Whale evolution fraud

Another evolutionary icon bites the dust

by

Published: 12 April 2014 (GMT+10)

Museums and textbooks claim that whale fossils provide the clearest proof of evolution today (they have mostly gone cold on horse evolution because that story no longer withstands scrutiny). Three key fossils are Pakicetus, Amubulocetus and Rodhocetus, which are claimed to link a land animal with the whales known as Basilosaurids. Without these three the story collapses.

Dr Carl Werner, author of Evolution: the Grand Experiment, has checked out the claims made about these fossils, interviewing the researchers who published on them, and has discovered that none of these fossils holds up as transitional to whales. To be blunt, Dr Werner has discovered a pattern of fraud, or at the very least extremely wishful thinking and imaginative story telling that is not supported by the fossil evidence.

The short response is:

  • Ideas regarding horse evolution have not gone cold.
  • The link from land animals (Pakicetus, Amubulocetus and Rodhocetus) to whales and such has not been refuted.
  • Dr. Werner only says that he has uncovered a pattern of fraud. He has, in reality, done no such thing.

Here is an excerpt from the second linked page:

Rodhocetus and other stories of whale evolution

by

Asked for a good example of transitional fossils showing evolution, many evolutionists put forward whales. Museums and textbooks show pictures of creatures that supposedly show the evolution of whales from a land animal.

Key to this story is a fossil of a creature called Rodhocetus, which is portrayed as the first creature with legs changing into flippers and with the tail developing into a whale’s tail. Without it there is really no story, but recent disclosures undo the tale.1

Dr Philip Gingerich, who found the fossil, promoted the idea that Rodhocetus had a whale’s tail. The fossil is on display at the University of Michigan, but Dr Carl Werner noted that the part that would show the presence of the flukes (the rear wings) is missing.1He asked about the missing tail bones and how they knew it had tail flukes. Dr Gingerich replied,

“I speculated that it might have had a fluke … I now doubt that Rodhocetuswould have had a fluked tail.”2

There’s more, but one would hope that Don Batten, the person who posted this item, could make a stronger case than just a bit of quote mining.

Here is an excerpt from the third linked page:

Museum Models of Walking Whales
Don’t Match Fossils
Says Filmmaker Dr. Carl Werner

Widespread Problem Found at Top Museums
“Walking Whales”—
The Best Fossil Proof of Evolution, Overturned

Museums full of skulls, skeletons
and reconstructions that are false.

Skullduggery and False Skeletons at Top Museums

Brief Summary: Two scientists supplied the top museums in the world (AMNH, Carnegie, Smithsonian, NHM London, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, Melbourne Museum, Canadian Museum of Nature, Paris Natural History Museum, Naturalis Museum, Netherlands, Museo Storia Naturale di Pisa and many more) with “fossils” of walking whales, but it has now been revealed in television interviews that these “fossils” were made up. In exclusive interviews with these two scientists, they admitted (on camera) they attached whale body parts (flukes, blowholes, or fins) to land animals and supplied these altered fossils and diagrams to museums.

Because of the serious nature of this story and the institutions involved, a detailed press release documenting the interviews, the fossils and how the alterations were made has been included below.

Again, I hoped that David Buckna would have pointed me to some scientific research that refutes the evolution of land animals to whales. Instead he has handed off three links to creationist sites, sites that do not link to any serious research refuting the idea that whales derived from land animals.

Readers will note that neither have I cited any serious research, if you discount the references in the Zimmer book. My position on this is going to be: before I’m going to get serious about this issue, David is going to have to get serious. Posting links to creationist sites is not something that requires a serious response nor a lot of industry on my part.

Early when I started looking into David’s 33 questions I ran across a site that has four pages of such questions. My plan has all along been to dissect these four pages, and I will do that before I get back to the remainder of David’s comments.

Keep reading.

Bad Movie of the Week

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The interesting thing is I was so sure I saw this movie when it first came out. Apparently not. It turns out this is much your standard lizard movie, but with a twist. This time the lizard comes from outer space. It’s 20 Million Miles from Earth by Columbia Pictures in 1957.

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Lizard movie fans are in for a real treat this time. Special effects are by Ray Harryhausen, who has a cameo role.

Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen (June 29, 1920 – May 7, 2013) was an American visual effects creator, writer, and producer who created a form of stop-motion model animation known as “Dynamation.”

His most memorable works include the animation on Mighty Joe Young (1949), with his mentor Willis H. O’Brien, which won the Academy Award for special effects; The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), his first color film; and Jason and the Argonauts (1963), featuring a famous sword fight against seven skeleton warriors. His last film was Clash of the Titans (1981), after which he retired.

There’s a small Sicilian fishing village, and some fishermen are out in their boats pulling in fish when one hears a strange noise. It’s a space ship coming to make a hard landing in the sea.

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The brave Italians rescue two from the sinking space ship, and one of them is the commander, Colonel Robert Calder (William Hopper). The other man dies in the hospital. But first the American Air Force is concerned about their space ship, which has gone down near Sicily after a return trip from Venus. A phone call. Sicilian fishermen have rescued survivors (not many). Air Force officers rush to Sicily. Meanwhile young Pepe (Bart Bradley) spots a strange object that has washed up on the beach. He hides it behind some rocks.

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He shouldn’t have done that, because the capsule contains an alien life the space ship was bringing back from Venus. Of course, this had to happen, otherwise there would not be much of a plot. Anyhow, young Pepe takes the strange egg-like object from the capsule and sells it to a visiting Geologist,  Dr. Leonardo (Frank Puglia), who has a pretty grand daughter, Marisa (Joan Taylor). The egg hatches. Marisa and Dr. Leonardo are amazed.

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They rush to take the specimen to the Zoological Garden in Rome. Horrors, it escapes along the road. Colonel Calder and some troops recapture the beast, now grown immensely. Of course it grows rapidly. It’s from Venus, and things like that grow much more rapidly on Earth. Else there wouldn’t be much of a plot.

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Biology kicks in. Robert and Marisa find themselves strangely attracted to each other. It must be sex.

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The beast is taken back to the Zoological Garden in Rome. It’s really big now. It escapes. Again. This time, in true lizard movie fashion, it rampages through the city, ruining some of Rome’s famous ruins. Killing soldiers.

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But, as you knew it would all along, the beast finally takes refuge atop the famous Coliseum.

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Robert confronts the beast and inflicts a mortal wound with a bazooka rocket. The beast falls from atop the famous ruin to the street below, but not after tank gunners have inflicted additional ruin to the famous ruin. Marisa arrives at the scene by car. “Why?” you ask. “Because,” I answer. As shocked and amazed citizens of Rome gawk at the dead beast among the rubble, Marisa and Robert race toward each other, ignoring the carnage around them. It’s getting about time for some sex.

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This blog is called Skeptical Analysis for a reason. I did some analysis. The geography is pretty near correct. The Giardino Zoologico di Roma is across the river from the Vatican, which can from time to time be seen in the background. The ruins that get toppled are just downstream near the Coliseum. Nobody was fudging on continuity in this film. Scenes of the interior of the Coliseum are much as they are today. No surprise. This was produced in Rome.

I recorded the DVD from Turner Classic Movies. I’m bringing a copy to movie night in February.

Bad Joke of the Week

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There once was a powerful Japanese emperor who needed a new chief samurai. So he sent out a declaration throughout the entire known world that he was searching for a chief.
A year passed, and only three people applied for the very demanding position: a Japanese samurai, a Chinese samurai, and a Jewish samurai.

The emperor asked the Japanese samurai to come in and demonstrate why he should be the chief samurai. The Japanese samurai opened a matchbox, and out popped a bumblebee. Whoosh! went his sword. The bumblebee dropped dead, chopped in half. The emperor exclaimed, “That is very impressive!

“The emperor then issued the same challenge to the Chinese samurai, to come in and demonstrate why he should be chosen. The Chinese samurai also opened a matchbox and out buzzed a fly. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh! The fly dropped dead, chopped into four small pieces. The emperor exclaimed, “That is very impressive!”

Now the emperor turned to the Jewish samurai, and asked him to demonstrate why he should be the chief samurai. The Jewish Samurai opened a matchbox, and out flew a gnat. His flashing sword went Whoosh! But the gnat was still alive and flying around.

The emperor, obviously disappointed, said, “Very ambitious, but why is that gnat not dead?” The Jewish Samurai just smiled and said, “Circumcision is not meant to kill.”