Evolution in the News - March 2020
by Do-While Jones

One Mass Extinction Goes Extinct

Now evolutionists claim there were only four mass extinctions, not five.

Not surprisingly, evolutionary ďtruthĒ has changed again.

The best record yet of how biodiversity changed in the distant past has been created with the help of machine learning and a supercomputer. Among other things, it confirms that one of the five†great mass extinctions†didnít really happen.

It was thought the oceans turned toxic around 375 million years ago, near the end of†the Devonian period, wiping out many marine species including almost all trilobites. But the latest study shows no evidence of a sudden catastrophic change like†the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. Instead, there was a gradual decline over an immensely long time Ė around 50 million years.

ďThe late Devonian mass extinction isnít there,Ē says Doug Erwin at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. 1

There is no new evidenceóthere is just a new study. A different analysis of the same data came to a different conclusion. Which one is correct?

The new study used a supercomputer, so it must be correct! In fact, the only difference between a computer and a supercomputer is computational speed. A supercomputer can reach the wrong conclusion much faster than a normal computer can.

Computers know nothing. They just execute the instructions they are given. In this case, a supercomputer was used to compare fossils using criteria specified by a team of computer programmers who guessed the age and relationships of fossils. The computer just covers their guesses with a veneer of credibility.

The Fatal Fossil Flaw

Their analysis is based on this belief:

Fossils are used to date rocks. Because most species are only around for a few million years, if fossils of one species are present in rocks from different places, those rocks must be roughly the same age. 2

Thatís the unwarranted conjecture that was used as the basis of the study.

Creationists and evolutionists agree that fossils are formed by rapid burial, before the thing had time to decay or be eaten by scavengers. A rockslide could cause the burial, but a flood is the more common means of burial.

It doesnít flood very often here in the Mojave Desert, but it does happen occasionally. The August 15, 1984, flood was the most recent.

A few years before that, a friend of mine was returning from Los Angeles. She was a member of the China Lake Mountain Rescue Group, and had been trained in water rescue. She was driving north on the short stretch of Highway 14 where Highway 178 joins Highway 14. There was a heavy rainstorm in the Sierra Nevada Mountains just west of that section of road. Granite does not absorb water very well, so all that water funneled into a canyon, and turned into an eastward flowing river across the northbound highway. Her car was swept off the road down into the valley. Enough of the car was exposed that they found her body the next day. Even here in the desert, miles from any significant body of water, 3 living things can get buried by a flood.

If my survival-trained friend could not survive a flood, Iíll bet that during the last 50 years, a coyote or two has probably been buried by a flood. Iím also guessing that there must have been many more floods in the Amazon basin during that time, and some piranha fish must have been buried by muddy water during one of those floods.

Admittedly, those are just guessesóbut they are plausible guesses. The only thing I know for sure is that 12 years from now climate change will have caused the complete extinction of all forms of life on Earth. So, millions of years after that complete extinction, aliens from outer space might come to Earth. They could find fossilized coyotes in the Mojave Desert, and fossilized piranha fish in the Amazon basin. If those intelligent life forms arenít that intelligent, and therefore believe in evolution, they would conclude that the Amazon flood occurred millions of years before the Mojave flood because fish evolved millions of years before mammals.

It is true, you never find rock layers containing piranhas and coyotesóbut it isnít because they didnít live at the same time. It is because they donít live in the same place.

Back to the Story

Letís pick up where we left off.

Fossils are used to date rocks. Because most species are only around for a few million years, if fossils of one species are present in rocks from different places, those rocks must be roughly the same age.

Roughly really does mean roughly, though. Previous studies of how biodiversity has changed over time have only been able to divide the past into huge chunks around ten million years long.

Now Shuzhong Shen at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology in China and his colleagues including Erwin have produced a dramatically improved record in which each chunk is just 26,000 years long. They did this by taking a statistical approach developed around a decade ago and using it to analyse 100,000 records of 11,000 marine species whose fossils have been found in China and Europe.

This approach is so computationally intense it would take dozens of years to do this on a normal computer. Instead, the team developed special machine-learning procedures and ran them on the Tianhe-2 supercomputer. 4

They compared fossils found in China and Europe, and they must have found some differences. (If there werenít any differences at all, they could not have come to any conclusion.) They must have found some marine species whose fossils were in China, but not Europe (or vice versa). What a shock!

The team used artificial intelligence techniques to develop special procedures so that the Tianhe-2 supercomputer could learn to figure out how long each species lived, and whether or not they all went extinct at the same time.

There is no way to verify the supercomputerís results. But, since a supercomputer came up with an answer, it must be correct!

I spent 30 years (1975-2005) writing countless computer programs. Those programs had to be independently verified using experimental data. For example, we measured the flight parameters of a guided missile when we fired it at a target, and measured the trajectory it took. Then we used those flight parameters as inputs to the missile simulation program and compared the simulated flight path to the actual flight path. If they didnít match (and they seldom did the first time) we changed the computer program so that they did. But we didnít stop there. We fired another missile with different parameters at a different target, and compared the computed flight path to the actual flight path. We kept testing and modifying the program until the computer simulation gave the right results every time.

Computer simulations of fictional extinctions in the past are not (and cannot be) verified. They are meaningless. They donít prove (or disprove) mass extinctions in the past.

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Footnotes:

1 Michael Le Page, New Scientist, 16 January 2020, ďAI suggests Earth has had fewer mass extinctions than we thought.Ē https://www.newscientist.com/article/2230345-ai-suggests-earth-has-had-fewer-mass-extinctions-than-we-thought/
2 ibid.
3 China Lake is little more than a puddle with delusions of grandeur. It probably never gets more than 3 feet deep after a heavy rain.
4 Michael Le Page, New Scientist, 16 January 2020, ďAI suggests Earth has had fewer mass extinctions than we thought.Ē https://www.newscientist.com/article/2230345-ai-suggests-earth-has-had-fewer-mass-extinctions-than-we-thought/