On Skepticblog yesterday, there was a post about what would happen if you put your hand into the LHC’s proton beam, sparked by a YouTube interview of physicists at the University of Nottingham by Sixty Symbols, an amazing cooperation between science and journalism that tries to show the “human side” of physicists who are really, really interested in what they do.
At 42 seconds into the video, in the background, you can see the typical professor’s office: messy shelves of notebooks and books and papers. One big, green book with gold lettering on the spine stands out: “Atlas of Creation.”
I have that book too. It was given to me by a biologist friend, to whom it was sent unsolicited. It’s a four-kilogram, 700-page outsize tome filled with beautiful color photographs of animals and fossils. Unfortunately, each page’s purpose is to ‘prove’ that evolution never happened, because the modern-day animals all look exactly like their fossilized relatives (they don’t, though.)
The book’s epilogue tells a little more about the author’s philosophy: Not terrorists or Nazis, but Charles Darwin himself, was responsible for the World Trade Center attacks and the Holocaust. The solution to all this evil brought about by scientists and their evolution? It just happens to be the author’s religion.
Sound familiar? Where did the book come from? The Creation Museum in Kentucky, USA? Who paid for it to be printed on glossy paper and sent around the world? Pat Robertson? Not at all! Harun Yahya, the pseudonym of a Turkish religious nutcase and former Holocaust denier, wrote it and distributed it unsolicited to schools, universities, and research institutes in many different countries around the world, presumably at the expense of an unknown and very wealthy backer.
I keep the book around as a hefty reminder that just because something looks professionally done, doesn’t mean it’s not bullshit. Also in case I need a really heavy doorstop. I was amused to see that I’m not the only one.