The 300 Million Year Old Rock

Why believing that a 300 million year old rock is only 6,000 years old is dangerous. (not to mention completely insane)

Standing at the bottom, calling out over the roar of the falls, I got to teach the exciting conclusion, “The layers of slate and shale beneath our feet tell us that 300 million years ago, this deciduous forest was a tropical jungle.”

“What book d’ya get that out of?” came the reply one day. And thus it began, for this waterfall was not only located in ancient rock, it was also in the heart of the Bible-belt. I had heard there were people who believed the Earth was only 6,000 years old, but I never thought I would actually meet any. That summer, and every other summer I worked teaching science to the public, I met a lot of them. Though most objectors would just walk away from the program, some mothers would cover their children’s ears to protect them from the “blasphemous park ranger.” One man, after I patiently explained how we know the age of rocks, finally just threw up his hands, exclaimed, “The Devil made that rock look that old to turn you away from God,” and led his family back up the trail.

At the time, to a college kid with a summer job, these responses seemed bizarre but relatively harmless – they were local, “everyone’s entitled to their own beliefs”, “no skin off my back”, “whatever”… But now, 15 years later, I understand these taunts to be the threat they truly are: dangerous beliefs made more dangerous because more and more people believe them.

Cynicism Link With Heart Disease

Crap.

Being cynical can increase the risk of heart disease, US researchers claim.

A study of 6,814 people found that cynical distrust was associated with signs of inflammation which in turn increase the risk of heart disease.

Chronic stress and depression were also found to be associated with higher levels of certain inflammatory markers in the blood.

The Archives of Internal Medicine study suggests cynical people are more likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles.

Researchers from the University of Michigan asked participants to fill out a questionnaire that assessed a person’s risk of chronic stress or depression.

Cynical distrust was measured at a later follow-up visit.