A Creationist Fraud Exposed
by Ken Harding
original at - http://web.archive.org/web/20001011143215/www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Temple/9917/evolution/parice.html
During an email exchange with a creationist layman, he brought up a statement that the universe was less than 10,000 years old, and he said that there was evidence to back this up. He wrote:
"A few years back, with the Hubble telescope there was a study done on "super nova expansion" which was to show a very old age for the universe. The study turned on these scientists and pointed to a very young age for the universe. About 6,900 years was the conclusion. This information was kept secret for an entire year because they want time to debunk themselves. If you were watching this was plastered all over the news. I haven't heard any more about it."
I told him that I thought it was ridiculous, and that such a claim absolutely needs a source. He replied back with:
"The source for the info is Dr. Parice of John Hopkins University. This information was released to the national press in 1994.
Dr. Parice said: "This was a disaster for the whole way that astronomers are developing the idea of an old universe."
Back to the "old" drawing board. It would seem scientists reject data that would support a young universe since it doesn't make sense to them. The only reason it has to be old is to give life time to evolve. If you assume there is no God (a false assumption) then you must conclude an old universe. Yet much of the evidence doesn't support this."
Okay, I said, but that is still hearsay. I took it upon myself to do some research. I told him that I searched the entire Johns Hopkins University website (http://sd-www.jhuapl.edu) and found NOTHING on a "Dr. Parice". Not one word. Nor was there any word of him on the Hubble Space Telescope website (http://www.stsci.edu). So, still unable to verify anything he said, I asked him again, where did you get this information from? He replied:
I remember the whole thing on the news. Was a big deal.
My source is:
This Week in Bible Prophecy,
PO Box 583,
Niagara Falls, NY 14302
All right, now we're getting somewhere. I found the website for "This Week in Bible Prophecy", http://www.twibp.com/TVArchives/tw190.html, and I found the article. Here is the relevant excerpt:
"Let me tell you what the team leader, Dr. Parice of the John Hopkins University said. When he showed the national press, this is in November of 1994, photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope, he said this: "We expected the image to be covered wall to wall by faint red stars. There were just a handful there. This was a disaster for the whole way that astronomers are developing the idea of an old universe."
Those red dwarfs just have to be there because the models can't be wrong because the model of a star is so simple. A red dwarf particularly is very easy to model on a computer.
"They are very long lived. There should be that large number of red dwarfs there, but they are not there. That is just one evidence for a young universe. There are lots of others from astronomy."
This just didn't sound right. After I had asked some knowledgeable friends for some help tracking this down, I received another citation from: http://www.twibp.com/interviews/proofs/kdavies/kdavies.s21.html, an article quoting creationist Keith Davies.
"Todd Lowe of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Arizona said, "Listen. We knew this was a shocking result. That is why we spent over a year trying to debunk it ourselves before we went public". Now I mentioned that the Hubble Space Telescope was filled about the end of 1993. Among the first observations were those connected with the age of the universe and as I said, observations of stars like red dwarfs, and they spent a year before they would even announce to the public the results of their observations. Another astrophysicist from Stanford University, Andre Ling said, "If we really trust the data we are in disaster."
When astronomers say things like that, "we are at out [sic] wits end", "we must be close to a breakthrough", "we're in a disaster situation if we trust the data", and "this is a shocking result", then something is happening. What is happening is that that [sic] the data fits a young universe. Now when I say a young universe, I really mean a young universe. I mean a biblical young universe of the order of 10,000 years or less. Let me tell you what the teamleader, Dr. Parice of the John Hopkins University said. When he showed the national press, this is in November of 1994, photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope, he said this: "We expected the image to be covered wall to wall by faint red stars. There were just a handful there. This was a disaster for the whole way that astronomers are developing the idea of an old universe." Those red dwarfs just have to be there because the models can't be wrong because the model of a star is so simple. A red dwarf particularly is very easy to model on a computer. They are very long lived. There should be that large number of red dwarfs there, but they are not there. That is just one evidence for a young universe. There are lots of others from astronomy."
At this point, I wrote an email letter to several Johns Hopkins astrophysicists to see if they were aware that Johns Hopkins University was being used to support claims of a 10,000 year old universe.
Please excuse this intrusion, but I was wondering if you could help me.
I am trying to track down a source allegedly given by a Johns Hopkins scientist, supposedly an astrophysicist, which is, I believe, being used in a very unethical and nonscientific way.
I have already searched the JHU website, and can find no reference to this individual or statement. The statement is being used by a "scientific" creationist to support his notion of a 10,000 year old universe.
[statements as quoted above]
Were you aware that the Johns Hopkins Space Department is being used in this way, to support the idea of a 10,000 year old universe? Have you ever heard of a "Dr. Parice" associated with Johns Hopkins? Is there anyway I can check if this individual exists? I would like to catch these folks if they are fabricating this information.
Any help you can give would be most appreciated.
In the meantime, Timothy Thompson of NASA sent me the information that started to shed light on this problem. One problem I had tracking this quotation down was that the creationist source misspelled the scientist's name. It is not Dr. Parice, but Dr. Paresce. And it was released in 1995, not 1994.
The paper cited below comes from the ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL 440:(1) 216-226, 1 FEB 10 1995. The following was not written by me, but Timothy Thompson. Dr. Paresce does not claim here that the absence of Red Dwarfs in "Globular Cluster NGC-6397" (NOT THE WHOLE UNIVERSE), means the universe is only 10,000 years old. In fact, he offers an explanation for the situation. It began to look like creationists have indeed fabricated another whopper.
One of the key behavior patterns of the young-Earthers is that they latch onto every perceived hiccup as if it were the death knell of an old universe, vastly overestimating the strength of the adverse content of their argument. Here is the abstract of the Paresce et al. paper.
VERY-LOW MASS STARS AND WHITE-DWARFS IN NGC-6397
PARESCE F, DEMARCHI G, ROMANIELLO M
ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL 440:(1) 216-226, Part 1 FEB 10 1995
Deep WFPC2 images in wide bands centered at 606 and 802 mm were taken with the HST 4.6' from the center of the galactic globular cluster NGC 6397. The images were used to accurately position similar to 2120 stars detected in the field on a color magnitude diagram down to a limiting magnitude m(814) similar or equal to m(1) similar or equal to 26 determined reliably and solely by counting statistics. A white dwarf sequence and a rich, narrow cluster main sequence are detected for the first time, the latter stretching from m(814) = 18.5 to m(814) = 24.0 where it becomes indistinguishable from the field population. Two changes of slope of the main sequence at m(814) similar or equal to 20 and m(814) similar or equal to 22.5 are evident. The corresponding luminosity function increases slowly from M(814) similar or equal to 6.5 to 8.5 as expected from ground-based observations but then drops sharply from there down to the measurement limit. The corresponding mass function obtained by using the only presently available mass-luminosity function for the cluster's metallicity rises to a plateau between similar to 0.25 and similar to 0.15 M., but drops toward the expected mass limit of the normal hydrogen burning main sequence at similar to 0.1 M.. This result is in clear contrast to that obtained from the ground and implies either a substantial modification of the cluster's initial mass function due to dynamical evolution in its lifetime, or that very low mass stars are not produced in any dynamically significant amount by clusters of this type. The white dwarf sequence is in reasonable agreement with a cooling sequence of models of mass 0.5 M. at the canonical distance of NGC 6397 with a scatter that is most likely due to photometric errors, but may also reflect real differences in mass or chemical composition. Contamination from unresolved galaxies, which cannot be reliably identified with our filters, makes it difficult to meaningfully compare the observed white dwarf luminosity function with its theoretical counterpart.
Simply put, red dwarf stars hang around for as long as 100,000,000,000,000 years. So naturally, if you are a creationist, you say that in an old universe red dwarfs should dominate.
So along comes regular astronomer Paresce, and he finds that the red dwarf abundance in this globular cluster is lower than expected. Huzzah cry the creationists, an old universe disproved by an old universe astronomer because there aren't enough red dwarfs, and obviously that can't be true in an old universe.
But of course it's just plain stupid. For one thing, our friendly creationists appear not even to have read the abstract I posted here, where the authors tell us ...
This result is in clear contrast to that obtained from the ground and implies either a substantial modification of the cluster's initial mass function due to dynamical evolution in its lifetime, or that very low mass stars are not produced in any dynamically significant amount by clusters of this type.
Naturally the young-universer does not even acknowledge that an explanation was offered, and they certainly make no attempt to criticize the explanation offered. It is well known in astronomy that globular clusters, open clusters, and "field stars" (non cluster stars in the galactic disk) are distinctly different populations; globular cluster stars are older and yellower, open cluster stars are younger and bluer, but all stars in the same cluster are about the same age, but field stars span a large range of ages. There are all kinds of problems with low mass stars in a globular cluster, not the least of which being that low mass stars can be dynamically flung out of a cluster by close approaches to the clustered massive stars, or on the other hand (as implied by the authors here) they just don't form as readily in a dense cluster environment.
Of course the other objection is that the stellar population is not static since the big bang; stars are created and destroyed. Many creationists argue hotly that stellar evolution as "never been observed", the same manner of argument used against biological evolution. But the counter argument is that the Hertzprung-Russell diagram is about as clear an indication of stellar evolution as you can get (see http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/8851/hr.html ). As the high mass stars die off they are replaced by new ones. So we do not expect them to be "gone".
As for the supernova remnants, Keith Davies (self taught astronomer; his degree is in education) assumes that supernova remnants (SNR) should be visible for millions of years (wrong), that we see all or most of the ones it is possible to see (wrong again), and so derives from these very bad assumptions a very large number of SNRs in various states that we "should see" but don't.
Obviously, Davies never went SNR hunting in a galactic environment, but I have. For one thing, an SNR becomes essentially invisible, even in a non-crowded environment, within 1,000,000 year tops, maybe less, depending on the specifics of the supernova and environment. But in practice they become essentially invisible long before.
The galaxy is full of distracting clutter, and full of stuff that looks just like a SNR but isn't. We don't know *exactly* what a SNR looks like, and we never know were the SNR are a-priori. So when you go looking for SNR you will in practice see only a fraction (maybe a small fraction) of those that can possibly be seen, because you are in essence doing a blind search in a cluttered and confused environment. So Davies' ideas of how many SNR there should be, and how many of them we should see are both vast overestimates of reality.
Feel free to repost, spread around, whatever.
NASA/JPL Terrestrial Science Research element
Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer.
Atmospheric Corrections Team - Scientific Programmer.
By this time I received a reply from my letter to the Johns Hopkins Space Department:
Needless to say, I am distressed that the Johns Hopkins APL Space Department is identified with the claims of creationists. We have had nothing to do with the quotes. The sources cited can be traced to a press release by the STScI, and their response is found below. Bob Brown of STScI forwarded your message to Carol Christian, who traced it to the press release. Many thanks for looking out for the interest of the science community.
Dr. Stamatios M. "Tom" Krimigis
Head, Space Department
Applied Physics Laboratory
Johns Hopkins University
11100 Johns Hopkins Road
Laurel, MD 20723-6099
FAX: (240)228-5969 / (443)778-5969
From: Carol Christian
Sent: Wednesday, May 5, 1999 4:54 PM
Subject: Re: FW: A favor requested (fwd)
Bob and Tom
The press release being referred to is available through the HST web site, and I would have expected that after searching JHU, Ken Harding would have searched http://www.stsci.edu choosing the press releases page. They are numbered chronologically. The scientist was Dr. F. Paresce and the quote is totally out of context and inaccurate in the stated conclusion. Also, if the dark matter research is suggesting a younger universe, it would be a small percent younger- not changing the age of the universe from several billion years to several thousand!
I direct you to the actual press release in November 1994 below.
- C. A. Christian
FAINT RED STARS MISSING FROM A GLOBULAR CLUSTER
By coincidence, Paresce pursued the search for faint red dwarfs after his curiosity was piqued by an HST image taken near the core of the globular cluster NGC 6397. He was surprised to see that the inner region was so devoid of stars, he could see right through the cluster to far more distant background galaxies. Computer simulations based on models of stellar population predicted the field should be saturated with dim stars -- but it wasn't.
HST's sensitivity and resolution allowed Paresce, and co-investigators Guido De Marchi (ST ScI, and the University of Firenze, Italy), and Martino Romaniello (University of Pisa, Italy) to conduct the most complete study to date of the population of the cluster (globular clusters are ancient, pristine laboratories for studying stellar evolution). To Paresce's surprise, he found that stars 1/5 the mass of our Sun are very abundant (there are about 100 stars this size for every single star the mass of our Sun) but that stars below that range are rare. "The very small stars simply don't exist, " he said.
A star is born as a result of the gravitational collapse of a cloud of interstellar gas and dust. This contraction stops when the infalling gas is hot and dense enough to trigger nuclear fusion, causing the star to glow and radiate energy.
"There must be a mass limit below which the material is unstable and cannot make stars," Paresce emphasizes." Apparently, nature breaks things off below this threshold."
Paresce has considered the possibility that very low-mass stars formed long ago but were thrown out of the cluster due to interactions with more massive stars within the cluster, or during passage through the plane of our Galaxy. This process would presumably be common among the approximately 150 globular clusters that orbit the Milky Way. However, the cast-off stars would be expected to be found in the Milky Way's halo, and Bahcall's HST results don't support this explanation.
"There must be a mass limit below which the material is unstable and cannot make stars. Apparently, nature breaks things off below this threshold" does not sound at all like: "This was a disaster for the whole way that astronomers are developing the idea of an old universe."
It was not Dr. Parice from Johns Hopkins University, but Dr. Francesco Paresce of the Space Telescope Science Institute and the European Space Agency. Why the substitution? It certainly made it harder to track down the actual statement! I contacted Dr. Paresce directly, to inform him of the situation and get his comment. Here is his reply:
Many thanks for your message concerning the use of my name and results to buttress the claim that the universe is younger than 10,000 years. They must be desperate indeed and I need to be particularly charitable to believe that they simply misunderstood me rather than simply fabricate the whole thing to suit their purpose. Of course, I never said or wrote the things attributed to me in this regard. In fact,try as I might I still cannot figure out how or where the age of the universe ever comes into the results I was describing.
I don't think I need to repeat what you and Carol Christian wrote already to put things in the proper astrophysical context since it is right on the money. All I can say is that, again bending way over backwards to try to understand where this misconception may have come up, I can only think that they may have gotten a whiff of the dark matter issue and mixed things up probably on purpose but just possibly naively. John Bahcall and I at a NASA press conference in Washington both made the point that any dark matter explanations that were then fashionable based on the existence of faint red dwarfs had to be wrong because we could not see them in the required numbers. I am sure we also used expressions like the "embarrassment for astronomers of not knowing where 90% of the matter of the universe was" and even things like "skeletons in the closet" to describe where we put things we did not understand etc etc. But all of this had and still does not have absolutely anything to do with the age of the universe which is still to be sure quite a controversial issue but certainly not at the level of 10,000 years. I don't think there is any reason known to man presently that allows one to believe the universe is younger than 10 billion years or so. The argument is whether its 10 billion or 15 or 20 billion as you well know I'm sure.
I hope this helps. Don't hesitate to contact me should you require more info. By the way, they are probably referring to Tod Lauer rather than Todd Lowe.
All the best
Sparked by Dr. Paresce's comment about Tod Lauer, I tracked him down as well. And, as I suspected, the statement is taken out of context. What follows is the response from Tod Lauer, of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Arizona. Dr. Lauer says he may have made such a statement, but it was in regard to a different phenomenon (large streaming motions of galaxies superimposed on the over all expansion of the universe, and NOT the absence of red dwarfs), and has nothing to do with the age of the universe-- it is totally taken out of context.
My work has had absolutely nothing to do with suggesting such a ridiculously short age of the universe.
Now as it happens, I actually may have said something like the above quote in a popular article about work I did with Marc Postman (STScI). Marc and I found evidence for large streaming motions of galaxies superimposed on the over all expansion of the universe. Our result was surprising because the coherent flow was very large in amplitude and spatial scale, and as such was not predicted by theory. If our result is true, and sadly there have been plenty of other observational work that suggests that it is not, then there would be an interesting problem for understanding the formation of structure in the universe since the big bang. Because we knew our result was controversial, we worked very hard to check it in all possible ways over a full year before going public. Our result has nothing at all to say about the big bang itself or the age of the universe - indeed one of the ironic results was that our observations separately showed the hubble expansion itself to be highly linear with distance (as expected) to an accuracy that had not been done previously. In short our work has been completely misrepresented by people who clearly have no regard for the truth.
I also note that since I have seen some of these pages I have tried to contact the authors with regards to what I've stated above. Some have been responsible and removed the pages. Some have not.
For more information (at a technical level) see http://www.noao.edu/noao/staff/lauer/warpfire/
Our major work was published in early 1994, and the "Lowe" quote may have been in a Time or Discover magazine article from about that time. Again, though I may have said something like it, it does not refer to anything in the context in which it is used.
I also suspect the other quotation to be fraudulent-- "Andre Ling of Stanford" (does he mean Andrei Linde?) I'm looking into it. So much for scientific and journalistic accuracy.
"This Week in Bible Prophecy" has been emailed and informed of this web page.
To Whom it may Concern,
This message is in regards to http://www.twibp.com/TVArchives/tw190.html and
http://www.twibp.com/interviews/proofs/kdavies/kdavies.s21.html, which claim to have statements from a 'Dr. Parice' from Johns Hopkins University that support a young universe.
This claim is false. I have contacted both Johns Hopkins and Dr. Paresce. Both have denied any connection to the claims you have made for them. Documentation is located at:
In light of this new, correct information, will you remove the inaccurate passages? This information will be widely distributed over the internet.
I await your reply.
So, will they remove the inaccurate articles?
That remains to be seen. Creationists aren't well known for exposing errors in creationism, nor are they well known for correcting or retracting errors that are exposed by non-creationists. The author of the pieces, creationist Keith Davies, has similarly been notified.
In the meantime, this web page will serve as a reminder not to take creationist claims (especially when they are quoting scientists) at face value. You must always track down the source.
Go here for more examples of creationist fraud and deception: http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-creationists.html
Last Updated: 6/10/04