Similarities Between Poor Quality Scientific Papers and Pseudoscientific Essays

In attempting to compile species descriptions, synonymy lists, and stratigraphic information for various papers and/or presentations I am working on I have noticed some oddly extensive similarities between the papers that I wish that I could ignore and some of the more technical essays promoting pseudoscientific positions (YEC, flat earth, various bad medical ideas, etc.). that I have read. All of the following examples of papers and researchers are from works that I have read or have seen cited, so names are generally of molluscan systematists, ecologists, biostratigraphers, or lithostratigraphers who worked or work on the southeastern United States.

I am wondering what among the possible components of similarity most causes that reaction on my part. Some of the options that have come to mind are:

  1. A shared belief in autoinfallibility, and it’s expression in the attitude that “I am right and everyone else is wrong when they disagree.”
  2. The related attitude of “The observations must fit my theories.” instead of “My theories must fit the observations.”
  3. The tendency of both types of works to make less and less sense the more they are researched and to make one feel like one is going insane trying to make sense of their arguments or claims.
  4. The presence of random errors that decrease credibility but do not advance the claims presented.
  5. Self-contradictions that are never acknowledged.
  6. The difficulty of arguing against works in detail because they are so fundamentally wrong.
  7. Introduction of terminology that mostly just confuses the reader.
  8. Use of error-prone data to argue against much more robust data.
  9. Ignoring disagreement.
  10. Responding poorly to criticism.

Examples of these include:

  1. Is exemplified on the one hand by Jules DuBar; and to lesser extents his students/proteges, their students/proteges, and Ed Petuch and his students/protegees. On the other by
  1. Appears in the one case in Jules DuBar outright lying about nannofossil and foram data to support his absolute dating claims (which was indirectly admitted to my grandfather after DuBar retired); and in the other in basically all claims about transitional fossils or stratigraphy from YEC sources.

  2. Good examples of papers that become harder and harder to understand with more work include most systematics works by Petuch, Bartsch, 1955, and MacNeil, 1938. Most elaborate systems for fixing problems in pseudoscientific models end up in this category as well.

  3. Appears in the wrong-by-definition components in the stratigraphic charts in several papers lead-authored by Petuch (Gelasian omitted, wrong age for Plio-Pleistocene boundary, etc.); and in the omission of “metamorphic” from rock types in one of the popular homeschool curricula which endorses YEC, or random unwitting misstatements from laymen arguing for pseudoscientific views.

  4. Huber, 2015 says that Galeommatoidea cannot on any present grounds be dividing into multiple familial-level groups, therefore they are all placed in Galeommatidae. He then divides the group into 14 subfamilies with no explanation for how this is different from familial-level divisions (Huber was mostly pretty good, but had significant idiosyncratic biases and errors). Claims about whether the flood was violent or calm or both are an obvious example from the pseudoscientific claims.

  5. This was most obviously visible to me in Petuch, 2004’s section on the ecology and paleoenvironment of the Waccamaw Formation, where he manages the spectacular feat of making every sentence except the ones listing species present completely wrong, and the other two error-filled, but not irredeemably so. Again, most complex arguments for YEC or flat-earth have this same issue.

  6. Introduction of terminology that mostly just confuses the reader includes Bartsch, 1955’s use of the term “Pseudogenus” for what he a species which he believed consisted hybrids between various species in two genera on account of its high variability, Petuch’s naming of every hypothesized subsea, barrier island chain, etc., and the “name every clade” approach to systematic naming (look up any group of dinosaurs or mammals for examples). It also appears in basically any sales pitch for quack medical items or pseudoscientific claims.

  7. The best examples of the use of bad data in the face of good data in my field are papers doing strontium isotope dating (easily contaminated by groundwater) on the southeastern US that contradict U-He dating (comparatively very hard to contaminate). Most of these studies give values that are noticeably too low (half to a third of what they should be), which is exactly what would be expected from contamination, given what the regional groundwater chemistry is like. Examples of this in pseudoscientific claims are present in most YEC claims about radiometric dating, ocean chemistry, and mutations; anything medical that cites one outlier study, etc.

  8. Many lithostratigraphy papers on the region ignore contradicting biostratigraphy data. On the pseudoscience side, look up anywhere on this forum where I’ve brought up extinction data, transitional fossils that I’ve found, or depositional patterns in regards to the implausibility of deposition by a single global catastrophic flood as proposed by Flood “Geology”. Or really any arguments involving evidence against a pseudoscientific position.

  9. Is most apparent in:

The authors’ response to responses and review of S. J. Maxwell, Dekkers, Rymer & Congdon, 2019:
Claiming that the non-use of Neostromboidae S. J. Maxwell, Dekkers, Rymer & Congdon, 2019 on the grounds that it is not validly introduced (not based on a genus) constitutes an intellectual property right violation. That the ICZN code is outmoded because WoRMS (a major database) didn’t accept their name. And that this is inconsistent because WoRMS accepts names published by Bandel, even though they weren’t validly introduced (for reasons unspecified) (they are valid, if poorly-circumscribed).

And Petuch & Drolshagen, 2011’s comments on Hendrick’s 2009, which can be summarized as follows, my comments in brackets:
[introductory remarks] It is severely flawed and is “without doubt, the worst and most error-filled paper ever published by [the publisher]”. He used the “outmoded” broad generic concepts {which actually turn out to be better supported by DNA data}. Most workers use the narrow concepts {probably not actually a majority}. {a few sentences that basically consist of “He’s wrong because he disagrees with me.”}. It’s full of other flaws {that aren’t specified in any way}. He and his advisor “completely obfuscate the patterns of evolution …” {Hunh? Hendricks simplifies the patterns and makes them comprehensible.} The one new species he creates is a synonym of one Petuch described {no, it is not the same–Petuch is either going off a trivial similarity or relying on a flawed memory}.

For some bad responses to criticism from the pseudoscientific side, see BioLogos: House of Heresy & False Teaching (AiG says the nicest things about us) - #279 by LM77, or other threads with discussions on related subjects.


In papers or essays intended as credible contributions, bad argumentation is bad argumentation, irrespective of the source or aims. There are various reasons why people end up writing something that we do not value.

Paradigm differences are one reason. Papers may seem logical and relevant within a paradigm but not within a competing paradigm. I assume that ‘creation science’ papers look pseudoscientific because they are written within a different paradigm than what the ‘ordinary’ science supports.

Even when papers seemingly belong to the same paradigm, differences may reflect different schools of opinion, or wishful thinking to prove a pet hypothesis true. Such hopes may blind the eyes of the writer. It may take decades of research before a scientist finally concludes: ‘beautiful hypotheses and ugly facts’. That was the subtitle of a book a respected scientist (Dennis Chitty) wrote. Chitty became famous by introducing a hypothesis that became the dominant explanation during his career. Unfortunately, facts collected during later research did not support his pet hypothesis (ugly facts).

Differences between schools of opinion were influential during the time when it was difficult to obtain all relevant literature. Old scientists had an advantage simply because they knew more literature than the younger ones. Unfortunately, the papers a leading scientist knew were often skewed towards the opinions of the school of thought.

The change towards better happened after the e-libraries, or at least abstracts of papers, became available through the internet. Suddenly the younger scientists could get relevant articles (only those written in English, which strengthened the dominance of English as the language of science) around the globe simply through key word searches. This gave them better knowledge and insights to look critically at the research done and published within a school of opinion. This started to erode the influence of local schools of opinion and increased the level of research and papers.

My assumption is that this change will affect how scientists and other educated persons evaluate ‘poor quality’ or pseudoscientific papers. Good for research producing high-quality results, bad for papers or essays trying to advance a pet idea without proper data or other justification.


Never thought about how this would erode schools of thought… the Frankfurt school first came to mind for me

“Some Social Implications of Modern Technology,” Herbert Marcuse argued that technology in the contemporary era constitutes an entire “mode of organizing and perpetuating (or changing) social relationships, a manifestation of prevalent thought and behavior patterns, an instrument for control and domination”


Recently I was discussing this with a former classmate. I said I just couldn’t understand why certain academics present a theory which can be debunked after just a bit of research.

For example, Dr. Michael G. Hasel argues that the “his [Israel’s] seed is not” in the text of the Merenptah stele means the Pharaoh destroyed Israel’s grain supply. So Israel was sedentary with an agricultural base at the time of Merenptah’s Canaanite Campaign.

(I myself think Israel was in Goshen at the time, see The Merenptah Stele and the Biblical Origins of Israel.)

But in Papyrus Harris I, Ramesses III says about the Sea Peoples:

As for those who reached my frontier, their seed is not, their heart and their soul are finished forever and ever.

(Ramesses III - Wikipedia)

The Sea Peoples were migrating, so they couldn’t have been sedentary with an agricultural base. And the parallelism with “their heart and their soul are finished forever and ever” makes clear “seed” is about humans.

Because of such examples I think: “How is it possible that I as a lay person figure out a mistake in the work of a person with a PhD?”

My classmate replied with a quote from George Orwell, although I found out he actually did not say that. But there is still much truth in it.

A statement sometimes incorrectly attributed to Orwell is “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.” Orwell expressed a similar, but not identical, idea in “Notes on Nationalism”, writing, “I have heard it confidently stated, for instance, that the American troops had been brought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

(Notes on Nationalism - Wikipedia)

I think this is one of the most important ones.


The parallels I see on the biology side are the “no junk DNA in the human genome” and the more extreme examples of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (there are some redeeming qualities in EES, so I don’t want to denigrate the entire thing).

For example, those who argue for a largely functional human genome will make statements like “it was once thought that all non-coding lacked function”. This is absolutely false. No knowledgable molecular biologist ever thought that. A quick perusal of the literature would show that tRNA was discovered a long time ago, as was the lac operon. However, this myth got started in a few papers, and now other authors cite that myth. It’s the scientific equivalent of an urban myth.


I’ve given up responding to a lot of requests for answers on some sites for this very reason. There have been times that explaining why the question is wrong has been as hard as writing a grad-level course paper!


I was specifically thinking more of situations where the only short answer for what is wrong is “everything.”

What you simply do not acknowledge…none of this makes any difference to christianity.

We are not Christians because secular science hypothesis demonstrates there is a god…there is nothing in tue secular hypothesis that argues for god.

We are Christian because we have a bible that reveals God and His wishes to us.

If God (the Christian God) says "in six days the Lord created the heavens and the earth and everything in them but he rested on the sabbath day (4th commandment)…why twist that around to mean something completely different to what a normal reading of language means? Thats the point…a normal reading of language in the flood account is also referenced by other bible writers millenia later (Peter and Luke).

Whilst you talk pseudoscinece, how do you ignore pseudotheology? Its time you put that shoe on the other foot and carefully considered the stupidity of the claim YEC are flat earthers. Btw…wheres the paper on that claim, you didnt provide the url.

How about because it wasn’t written in English, wasn’t written as history, and because reading it your way throws out most of the theology in it?

I can’t – that’s why I keep trying to explain that the YEC approach, besides being dishonest about science is dishonest about the scriptures because it demands that the Holy Spirit had to force ancient writers to write to satisfy modern thinking.


I didn’t acknowledge it explicitly because it is irrelevant to my point and query. It is true, but it is not relevant to the question at hand.

Because it is irrelevant to the question I was asking and the point I was making.

I did not claim that that is the case. The similarity that is relevant to what I am talking about is that individuals promoting both positions frequently write essays that read like poor-quality scientific papers. Whether the positions are in and of themselves wrong is a separate issue.

Fine then, here:


I have experienced examples of #10 from when I used to write articles for an online ancient history magazine. Whenever I wrote an article critical of a fringe topic, I always did my best to be fair and focus on the evidence. It didn’t matter. Those who believed in the fringe idea would always accuse me of disrespecting them or being biased simply because I made arguments that they disagreed with. It seems that with some people, someone you disagree with can’t just be mistaken or on the wrong track, they must be actively working to subvert the truth. I think taking criticism well with humility and intellectual honesty might be the most important distinguishing marks of a good scientist.


Or any scholar. I have to wonder if this is why in many grad school programs one has to endure having one’s thesis assaulted by one’s advisor, then a committee, and finally the whole department – I do know that a friend who got his MS in geology came away pissed from his first review by his advisor (he went through three) but by the time he presented and defended his work before the entire department he met all challenges with aplomb.

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St Roymond, your statements above (they are not arguments because they have no referenced support) are opinions of your own theology. You are not able to make theological arguments without any biblical support.

For example, your statement “it wasn’t written in English” even in the Greek Septuigant, your claims that Genesis should not be read literally are “pseudotheology” because below are two significant texts that through normal use even of those ancient languages clearly harmonise in that the correct way to translate the books of Moses are literally.

Take the 4th Commandment from Exodus and the accounts of Satan being cast out of heaven (before Creation) and the salvation of Noah( from a world wide flood) referenced by the Apostle Peter (First one in Hebrew and the second in Greek).

The point is, in the texts below, we have literal readings of Moses writings from before Creation, Noahs Flood, and the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorah. It is you who attempt to split these apart by straw plucking on what you choose to read literally and not.

I read the narratives literally because other bible writers provide strong support for that method. The really interesting thing about the 4th commandment in Exodus…GOD WROTE THAT WITH HIS OWN FINGER…it was not recorded by man.

The writing of the 4th commandment and its clear translation, given it was written by the finger of God directly, cannot be confused with any modern interpretation as you claim.

Exodus 20 11

2 Peter 2

To be honest, you need to go back to basics and restudy trinitarian doctrine and how we reconcile that Christ is God according to the Trinitarian view. If you truly understood that, then you would realise that what you are doing in claiming errant translation of literal reading of Geneis is utter nonsense. It is only by straw plucking and twisting scriptural meaning, by taking verses out of context, that you can ignore very significant bible truths…the same way JW’s ignore the Trinity.

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this is a confused response St Roymond. It appears your friend came away with confidence or self aassurance (that is what aplomb means) and yet you appear to claim it means his thesis was given good marks. These are not the same result.

The point is, you left a descriptor out…did he pass with aplomb or just walk away thinking he had made a strong case? We have seen many a court case where a criminal demonstrates aplomb and yet is convicted (Donald Trump comes to mind).

I would argue that in the between period, your friend would have at least addressed thee early concerns about his thesis and fixed the problems with it.

No: first, they are not opinion; second, they’re not theology, though they are what must be understood before doing theology because unless you know what you’re reading then whatever you say about it is pretty much guaranteed to be wrong.

You keep making the claim about these being meant to be read literally, but you have given no reason that this must be so; your argument always boils down to “it looks that way to me”. Since you have given no reason to read it that way other than your uninformed opinion, no one has any logical reason to take your view seriously.

And I don’t “choose” what to read literally, I let the scriptures be what they are; it is the literary genre that tells me how a given piece of literature is meant to be read. To read the scriptures from a modern worldview as you do is to insult the Holy Spirit Who chose that writer with his worldview, his selection of literary type, and his language. Since the Holy Spirit chose those, it is disrespectful at best to insist on reading it differently.

Throwing out a reference to the Trinity to try to shore up your choice of refusing to actually study the text of scripture is just a smokescreen.
But since you did, I’ll point out that reading Genesis as anything other than what it was written as, i.e. ancient literature, totally disrespects the Trinity because it is at root embracing a lie. You are doing nothing different than medieval scholars who confidently asserted that the Bible affirmed their science of four elements that make up everything, of the sun going around the earth, and everything above the atmosphere being perfect spheres.

You demand that everyone justify everything with Bible verses, but you have yet to provide any passage that tells us to find science in the scriptures. Until you can do that, your entire approach is unbiblical.

I haven’t straw plucked anything, unless you want to admit that you are the on doing the plucking, because I have just responded to verses you bring up. And all I do then is to show what the original text has to say.

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Stop making things up – I didn’t mention anything about “good marks” . . . which isn’t something that applies to a graduate thesis in the first place.

I left nothing out – you’re trying to stuff your own idea in there.

You don’t have a clue how presenting and defending a thesis works, do you? It’s impossible to “just walk away” with some subjective idea of how you did.

Um, yeah – that’s how it works.

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My opinion???


Exodus 20:11

11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.

2 Peter 2
4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hella and committed them to chainsb of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;c 7and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked

Luke 17
26Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all

You have done nothing to address the above…those reading this will note that sidestepping and trying to avoid answering the direct biblical statements that clearly conflict with your pseudo theological claims is highly problematic for your entire view…ie the false claim that translation issues cause YEC to read a modern interpretation into the bible…the texts above prove that is a false statement and they prove it false because two of my references are from New Testament Apostles/writers!

IF YOU ARE GOING TO DOG BARK UP TREES ABOUT TRANSLATION ERRORS, SHOW ME THE CORRECT TRANSLATION! (otherwise it will be obvious you are lying to everyone here because it will deomonstrate beyond doubt that there are no translation issues regarding the above texts I’ve quoted)

I have a couple of responses to the O.P

  1. according to the biblical timeline, its was only about 1650 years from Adam and Eve to the flood…why would you expect 2 humans to procreate so much that we should find any humans buried with any dinosaurs? The problems is, evolutionists appear to assume a huge worldwide population of humanity 1650 years after creation when citing this apparent dilemma for YEC (its not actually a dilemma, it is a powerful statistical argument against the evolutionary criticism here)

  2. we have examples of ducks, beavers, badgers, platypus, pine trees, squirrels that have been found buried with dinosaurs (ie in the same layers as seemingly much older creatures)…indicating they were buried together.

  3. If evolution over hundreds of millions of year is true, there would have been enough time for countless examples of whales buried alongside coelacanth fossils…but we do not appear to find them buried in this way despite the fact they coexist even today and especially since many whales regularly traverse 700metre depths and remain submerged for up to 3 hours.

According to the evolutionary timeline, the overlap between Ceolacanth and whales is at least 50 million years!

we have 602.500 days between creation and the flood for procreation according to the bible account


18,250,000,000 days according to the evolutionary timeline for whales and ceolacanths to be buried together…and yet none are found together apparently despite these very good odds by comparison to the creation timeline.

The difference in time for above models is staggering and really highlights exactly how big a problem time is for the evolutionary model.

Lets not forget that a Ceolacanth lung has been found buried with a pterosaur, so surely a whale should be found alongside one.

We know that 95% of all fossils are marine organisms of which only about 0.25% are marine vertebratess (largely fish)…which probably explains the Whale/Cealocanth dilemma. So why would we expect to find many examples of land animals buried with humans given we have barely scratched the surface of land based vertebrate fossils…i would argue even fewer human + dinosaur burials are likely to be found given the location of human kind at the time of the flood (which certainly wasn’t north America or Mongolia or China where some of the largest fossil fields are). So that reduces the probability of finding the two together to a very small number.

As a kind of silly example, there was a house explosion in Australia a couple of days ago. 6 people were in the 2 story dwelling and 1 person remained missing for 2 days (eventually found dead).

With all the technology we have today, how is it possible that it took 2 days to find a person in such a small area as a 2 story house? Imagine that on a 100,000 hectare scale! Imagine it on a million hectare scale! Imagine in on a global scale! (a needle in a haystack would be a grossly inadequate statement of the statistical implausibility of ever finding the two together).

So to use evolutions own arguments against itself…“its not that humans and dinosaurs did not live together, we just haven’t found any bones of the two in the same burial site layer yet”

Finally, can anyone cite any examples where a Wollomi pine tree fossil (a thought to be extinct dinosaur pine) has been found with a dinosaur fossil? The only known living grove was found in the Blue Mountains Austrlia about 30 years ago and this species of tree dates back over 90 million years.

If we assume that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time and humans were very rare (small population in a restricted area) while dinosaurs were common, sites with dinosaur fossils would rarely contain human bones. In contrast, at least some sites with human fossils should contain also dinosaur bones because dinosaurs (as a group) were not rare. There are reports of species found at the excavation sites with hominid fossils but I have not read of any site where dinosaur fossils would be found close to hominid bones.


Yes, your opinion. I’ve read the texts, and they just don’t say what you claim. Why that is so has been explained and re-explained here repeatedly, so it’s dishonest to act as though it hasn’t.

Lying again . . . several of us have addressed them.

Yet another lie. It has been repeatedly and correctly stated that YEC rests on imposing a modern worldview on the scriptures as evidenced by the fact that the whole enterprise comes from claiming that the scriptures teach science.

Repeating your opinion isn’t an argument. You are arrogantly assuming that what the text looks like to you is what it is, which is against all common sense since ancient people didn’t have the same literary genres we do.

I’m not going to respond to your lies except to point out that you have been admonished many times that there is a commandmnt against that.