I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Quarrel over age of Grand Canyon

Update: NPS "gag rule" about the canyon's age has been exposed as a hoax.

A group calling itself "Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility" (PEER) reports,

Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces , more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

While I think that it is wrong to bar giving an official estimate of the geologic age of the canyon, I also think that it is wrong to request censorship of the book. PEER is no better than the fundies in this regard.

The PEER report also says,

Park officials have defended the decision to approve the sale of Grand Canyon: A Different View, claiming that park bookstores are like libraries, where the broadest range of views are displayed. In fact, however, both law and park policies make it clear that the park bookstores are more like schoolrooms rather than libraries.

Good grief -- now they're saying that park bookstores are more like schoolrooms than like libraries. How can a bookstore and a schoolroom be compared? The visitors to a bookstore are not a captive audience. There is no "peer pressure" to buy or examine the creationist book.

Records released to PEER show that during 2003, Grand Canyon officials rejected 22 books and other products for bookstore placement while approving only one new sale item — the creationist book.

This information is not of much use without descriptions of the other 22 books and/or the reasons for rejecting them.

More information and discussion are at:

National Center for Science Education: here (gives a good history of the controversy) and here

PEER: here

Panda's Thumb: here

Pharyngula: here

Uncommon Descent: here

Question: In Zion National Park is a canyon called the Zion Narrows. It has vertical walls, is 16 miles long, up to 2000 feet deep, and at times only 20-30 feet wide. Anyone have any ideas as to how this canyon might have been formed by natural erosional forces?

Selling the book does not imply National Park Service endorsement -- otherwise the sale of a book by any bookstore would imply endorsement by the bookstore. BTW, there is a law that requires NPS Civil War battlefield sites to endorse and promote the idea that slavery was the primary if not the sole cause of secession and the Civil War. We shouldn't have government-endorsed versions of history (except that the events at a particular battlefield can be presented factually and objectively).

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7 Comments:

Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

Question: In Zion National Park is a canyon called the Zion Narrows. It has vertical walls, is 16 miles long, up to 2000 feet deep, and at times only 20-30 feet wide. Anyone have any ideas as to how this canyon might have been formed by natural erosional forces?

The Zion Narrows is the premier example of a "slot canyon". These have rather exacting requirements for their formation, which are more prevalent in southern Utah than anyplace else in the world. Here is a superb reference to them.

Their formation requires that flash floods be the dominant eroder, with little contribution from other agents such as weathering (so an arid climate helps). The hosting rock is generally sandstone, in massive formations such as the Navajo sandstone. A vertical crack plus a good gradient gets them started. Thanks to the crack, the water is able to tunnel downward, barely widening the crack as it goes. The sandstone is also somewhat permeable, so that instead of runoff outside of the watercourses (which would cause side erosion), the water seeps in.

I have been into the Zion Narrows as far as Orderville Canyon, to Coyote Gulch, and the Paria River (unfortunately not as far as Buckskin Gulch, which is pretty remote).

A somewhat similar mechanism operates in limestone caves, where cracks in the limestone serve to focus the erosion downward and the water has unusually high erosive power due to the solubility of the limestone in weak carbonic acid.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

One does have to wonder why the NPS would be selling such a book. It has more to do with the limits (if there are any) of human stupidity, than with the Grand Canyon.

Which are you gonna believe -- the Bible, or your lying eyes?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said,
>>>>> The Zion Narrows is the premier example of a "slot canyon". . . . . Their formation requires that flash floods be the dominant eroder, with little contribution from other agents such as weathering <<<<<<

It seems that flash flooding would affect only the duration of water erosion rather than the mechanism of water erosion.

>>>>>> A vertical crack plus a good gradient gets them started. <<<<<<

You'd need a pretty long continuous crack to get the canyon started -- 16 miles in the case of the Zion Narrrows.

>>>>> Thanks to the crack, the water is able to tunnel downward, barely widening the crack as it goes. <<<<<

It seems that there ought to be more side erosion rather than the water just drilling straight downwards. Whatever. Just something to think about.

>>>>>>One does have to wonder why the NPS would be selling such a book. <<<<<<

The book is sold by the Grand Canyon Association, not the NPS. The NCSE reported,

The bookstores are operated by a non-profit organization, the Grand Canyon Association, under the supervision of the National Park Service. According to a spokesman for the NPS, the book was unanimously approved for sale by a panel of park and gift shop personnel.

Also, the book was moved away from the natural sciences section --

According to the Times story, following protests from the park’s interpretive staff, "A Different View" was relocated from the natural sciences section of the bookstores to the Inspirational Reading section

One of the reasons why the store wants to stock the book is that it is a good seller.

The people who are trying to get rid of the book are real control freaks.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 2:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> It seems that flash flooding would affect only the duration of water erosion rather than the mechanism of water erosion. <

It only seems that way if you are totally ignorant of the mechanism. It doesn't take much to see the difference in high and low velocity geological activities. In the case of depositional activities it becomes even more obvious but the trail is there in erosional activities as well.

> You'd need a pretty long continuous crack to get the canyon started <

The key word is "Started". It takes only a small crack, not 16 miles to get started.

> Just something to think about. <

You should try thinking. Then perhaps even you could understand the process.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

VIW said,
>>>>>> It doesn't take much to see the difference in high and low velocity geological activities. <<<<<

There has to be high velocity to get water erosion in hard rock, unless there is chemical erosion, which is not a factor in these slot canyons.

>>>>> The key word is "Started". It takes only a small crack, not 16 miles to get started. <<<<<

If the crack has no outlet, the water in it might not flow at all, or the crack might lengthen very slowly if at all.

>>>>> You should try thinking. <<<<<

I do. You should try it sometime.

We should take closer looks at things that we have for too long taken for granted. Like co-evolution.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> There has to be high velocity to get water erosion in hard rock, unless there is chemical erosion <

So you don't understand geology either. Not much of a surprise.

> If the crack has no outlet, the water in it might not flow at all, or the crack might lengthen very slowly if at all. <

I find it difficult to believe that you were once an engineer. This goes even further to indicate that you are not the real Larry Fafarman, who lost his engineering registration.

> We should take closer looks at things that we have for too long taken for granted. <

You have taken a closer look and still can't understand them.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007 2:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Fake Dave said...

You're welcome.

Thursday, January 04, 2007 9:34:00 PM  

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