Logo shows magnified cross-section of a Polonium 218 halo in a granite rock. How did it get there? [halos.com]
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Chapter 9: Confrontation in the Courtroom

A Very Tiny Mystery

Q       To the extent that you are familiar with Mr. Gentry's work and that as you have reviewed it, would you consider him to be a competent scientist?
A I think Mr. Gentry is regarded as a competent scientist within his field of expertise, yes.
Q And you would agree with that?
A From what I've seen, that's a fair assessment of his work, yes. He's a very, did some very careful measurements, and by and large he comes [p. 121] to reasonable conclusions, I think, with the possible exception of what we're hedging around the fringes here, and that is his experiment to falsify his relatively recent inception of the earth hypothesis. We have not really discussed what his hypothesis is and what his challenge is, we've sort of beat around the edges.
Q Well, you haven't read his articles that he wrote since 1972, have you?
A No. That's true.
Q So if his hypothesis were in those articles, you really wouldn't be able to talk about it, at any rate, would you?
A His hypothesis, I believe, is pretty fairly covered in those letters between, exchange of letters between Damon and Gentry, and I can certainly discuss that part.
    That's a very current exchange of letters. It is just a few years old. And it is in that letter that he throws down to [sic, a] challenge to geology to prove him wrong. What I'm saying is, that challenge is meaningless.
Q Are you familiar with his [Gentry's] studies of radio haloes?
A No, I'm not familiar with that work at all.
Q But to the extent that work shows that evidence that these formations are only several thousand years old, you're not familiar with that?
A I'm not familiar with that, and I'm not sure I would accept your conclusion unless I did look into it.
Q If you're not familiar with it, I don't want to question you about something you're not familiar with.
A Fair enough. [Smith 1982b, p. 465, l. 14, to p. 467, l. 1]
Q I think you stated earlier that you reviewed quite a bit of creation-science literature in preparation for your testimony in this case and also a case in California, is that correct?
A Yes. I think I've read either in whole or in part about two dozen books and articles.
Q But on the list of books that you made or articles that you have reviewed, you did not include any of Robert Gentry's work as having been reviewed, did you?
A That's right. I did not.
Q Although you consider Gentry to be a creation scientist?
A Well, yes. But, you know, the scientific literature and even the creation science literature, which I do not consider scientific literature—It's outside the traditional literature—there is an enormously complex business. There is a lot of it. And we can't review it all.
    Every time I review even a short paper, it takes me several hours to read it, I have to think about the logic involved in the data, I have to reread it several times to be sure I understand what the author has said; I have to go back through the author's references and sometimes read [p. 122] as many as twenty or thirty papers that the author has referenced to find out whether what has been referenced is true or makes any sense; I have to check the calculations to find out if they are correct. It's an enormous job. And given the limited amount of time that I have to put in on this, reviewing the creation science literature is not a terribly productive thing for a scientist to do.
Q How many articles or books have you reviewed, approximately?
A You mean in creation science literature?
Q Creation science literature.
A I think it was approximately twenty-four or twenty-five, something like that, as best I can remember. I gave you a complete list, which is as accurate as I can recall.
Q And if there were articles in the open scientific literature—Excuse me—in refereed journals which supported the creation science model, would that not be something you would want to look at in trying to review the creation science literature?
A Yes, and I did look at a number of those. And I still found no evidence.
Q But you didn't look at any from Mr. Gentry?
A No, I did not. That's one I didn't get around to. There's quite a few others I haven't gotten around to. I probably never will look into all the creationists' literature. I can't even look into all the legitimate scientific literature. But I can go so far as to say that every case that I have looked into in detail has had very, very serious flaws. And I think I've looked at a representative sample.
    And also in Gentry's work, he's proposed a very tiny mystery which is balanced on the other side by an enormous amount of evidence. And I think it's important to know what the answer to that little mystery is. But I don't think you can take one little fact for which we now have no answer, and try to balance, say that equals a preponderance of evidence on the other side. That's just not quite the way the scales tip. [italics mine]
Q If that tiny mystery, at least by one authority who you acknowledge his [sic, is an] authority, has been said [sic, has said], if correct, [it would] call [in] to question the entire science of geochronology.
A Well, that's what Damon said. And I also said that I did not agree with Paul Damon in that statement. I think that's an overstatement of the case by a long way. I think that Paul in that case was engaging in rhetoric. [Smith 1982b, p. 467, l. 20, to p. 470, l. 14]

The above responses vividly illustrate the ACLU's attempts to demean the significance of my reports. Certainly my colleague could have studied them before the trial if the ACLU had wanted this to be done. Apparently [p. 123] the ACLU reasoned that it was safer to ignore them than to risk admitting that they had been studied without successfully refuting the evidences contained therein.

On the surface it would seem that having polonium halos in granites labeled a very tiny mystery—something scientifically insignificant—was one of the cleverest achievements of the ACLU at the trial. But it also involved a serious contradiction which, unfortunately for the State, slipped by unnoticed during Dalrymple's cross-examination. My colleague generally claimed ignorance of the details of my work, saying he hadn't read any of my scientific reports published since 1972. But if he hadn't read them, he couldn't possibly know much about the scientific evidences for primordial polonium halos. How then could he testify that polonium halos in granites were irrelevant to the issue of creation?

Even though the State didn't capitalize on this opportunity to pinpoint a contradiction in the ACLU's case, the States s incisive cross-examination did expose the inability of the ACLU to refute the evidence for primordial polonium halos and the falsification test. This had damaged the ACLU case and made it imperative for Attorney Ennis to conduct a redirect-examination of Dalrymple. As we shall see in the next chapter, my colleague gave some remarkable testimony during this redirect-examination and subsequent recross-examination by the State.

Readers should understand that it was imperative for me to respond to the various phases of Dalrymple's testimony if this book was to have any meaning. These responses have not lessened my personal respect for him.

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