Class Warfare Blog

August 25, 2017

Aliens … and Dinosaurs!

Having covered all of the ground possible … and a lot more, the Ancient Aliens TV show has hit a new high, or low, depending on your point of view. They kept many of the same people on staff, introduced some new folks, and they kept their normal whirlwind pace, one that doesn’t allow much time for consideration of the fabulous things they propose, such as aliens being the cause of the demise of the dinosaurs.

The main thrust of this episode is indeed that it might just be possible, maybe coulda been, that aliens eliminated the dinosaurs so we could thrive. I won’t comment on the “evidence” they present but there was one point at which the idiocy achieved new heights. They were developing a line of argument challenging the facts that humans are 2-3 million years old at best but “all” of the dinosaurs perished 65 million years ago, in what was considered an extinction level even involving a rather large meteor, landing in Mexico, but clearly dinosaurs and humans lived alongside one another … well, and aliens, too, of course.

They trotted out the éminence grise of this generation of unbridled thinkers, Erich von Daniken, to ask the question: If this was an event large enough to kill “all” of the dinosaurs, why did it kill off just the dinosaurs? (Apparently enquiring minds want to know.) Well, the event in question is called the Cretaceous-Paleocene mass extinction event and it resulted in about 75% of all species on the planet being wiped out, not “just” the dinos. And, it didn’t even kill off all of the dinosaurs! Many of the smaller theropods (what most of us think of when we think of dinosaurs), that is those under 25 kg/55 lb in mass, survived. Of course, the big beasties died.

The show then went on it’s merry way establishing that dinosaurs and human beings could possibly have lived together (mighta coulda). They didn’t mention Alley Oop in their arguments but they did throw in the Loch Ness monster and coelacanths. Right in the middle of this a talking head I didn’t bother to identify started bad mouthing radiocarbon dating, saying things like it was based on the production of carbon-14 in the atmosphere by cosmic rays (true) and that the rate of production may have been different millions of years ago (also true) and that these things could affect the dates on early human and dinosaurs remains (uh, not so much). If you want to know why I was puzzled, Dear Reader, read on.

Carbon-14 Dating: A Primer
All radioactivity-based dating methods are based upon a factoid of radioactive isotopes (kinds of elements): they all decay in a pattern involving a half-life. A half-life is an amount of time in which a radioactive sample loses half of its radioactivity. Interestingly, the next halving of that sample’s radioactivity takes the same amount of time, as does the next even though there is less and less to lose. This creates a situation that is summarized in a rule of thumb: a radioactive isotope can be used to date object as much as 10 half-lives back in time. The amount of radioactivity in a living animal cannot be very high in the first place. Comic books aside, radioactivity in high doses is typically lethal. So, all living plants and animals start out with only tiny amounts of radioactive elements in their bodies. Then after one half life, half of it is gone (unless it is replaced which in the case of carbon-14 happens because we eat carbon atoms in all of our food and plants absorb carbon dioxide—this, of course, stops when the plant or animal dies). After two half lives, only a quarter remains because half is lost in the first period and half of what is left was gone after the second. After the third half-life one eighth is left, after the fourth, one sixteenth is left, etc. After ten half-lives 1/210 is left. As a percent that is a little less than 0.1%. Since very little was started with, at this point close to zero is left, so there is basically nothing to measure.

So, what is the half-life of carbon-14 you ask? (You’d better!) It is 5730 years. Ten times this number is 57,300 years. This is the time span that radiocarbon dating can be used. That won’t get you back before Homo sapiens begins (200,000-300,000 years) let alone back to the large theropods getting killed off 66 million years ago. This is a classic smokescreen tactic, used often in this show. Throw anything you got against the wall and see if it sticks.

The Problem With All of This
As you are probably aware, Americans are not the most scientifically-literate people on the planet. As more and more of this bushwah is passed off as some sort of legitimate argumentation (It is not!), people are going to more easily believe the bullshit our governments peddle us. Global warming? That’s a hoax perpetrated by greedy scientists looking for grants. Dumping mine wastes laced with toxic heavy metals, not a problem. The Earth cleans itself. Lead in drinking water? A little bit is okay; go ahead and drink it.

The Exxon Corporation has released documents showing that 80% of the studies they undertook or analyzed showed that global warming/climate change was real and had real negative consequences. At the same time, 80% of its marketing budgets on the topic went to casting shade on the topic (for decades). Their problem is that one of the greatest sources of the climate change problem is the burning of petroleum products, which is what Exxon is in business for.

 

9 Comments »

  1. Typical for that show. The entire cast of which reminds me of the old saying, from my high school days and probably way back before I was born; “If you cannot dazzle them with your brilliance, blind them with bullshit”. Oh man, does that cast ever sling the bull.
    Yes, sadly, far too many Americans are very much in need of a good education that must include at least basic science classes.

    Like

    Comment by davidambrose66 — August 25, 2017 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  2. I’d like to see what numbers shows like this get.

    Like

    Comment by john zande — August 26, 2017 @ 5:26 am | Reply

  3. Sighentiffic litteret? Ha! We are bearly literate litteret!

    I would postulate that shows such as the horrid AA, as well as most shows on the H and D channels these days, cuts to education, the simplification of school testing, along with the smokescreen tactics of tobacco and petroleum products are exactly the sort of dumbing down of our country that would promote the election of our wonderful president.

    Make em stoopid for lack of education, keep em stoopid with the tv, and the people in control easily maintain the status quo.

    Like

    Comment by shelldigger — August 26, 2017 @ 8:11 am | Reply

    • Having barely competent, pliable workers seems to be the future plans of the plutocrats now running the country.

      On Sat, Aug 26, 2017 at 8:11 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 26, 2017 @ 8:28 pm | Reply

  4. “They trotted out the éminence grise of this generation of unbridled thinkers, Erich von Daniken, to ask the question”

    You had me rolling with this turn of phrase!

    Like

    Comment by liquidheliumblog — August 26, 2017 @ 9:49 am | Reply

  5. Quite frankly, it’s amazing to me that you’re able to even watch 5 minutes of this garbage, let along enough to write a blog post. *Gag* is my reaction just seeing the show title on the TV guide.

    Like

    Comment by Nan — August 26, 2017 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  6. Indeed, I occasionally dumpster dive into the show, especially after a round or two or three with my old friends Margo and Rita just for a grin or two. However, I also like Godzilla and all Japanese Monster movies as well. Can’t beat Godzuki for the highest of camp! I couldn’t last more than 10 minutes before the maximum stupidity of it ruined what was a good buzz. Hate it when that happens! I am impressed with your tolerance level.

    Like

    Comment by Holding The Line In Florida — August 26, 2017 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, but Godzilla movies acknowledge their camp origins. This show seems to be aching to be respectable.

      On Sat, Aug 26, 2017 at 5:41 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 26, 2017 @ 8:29 pm | Reply


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