Woodpeckers and Other Science Errors

In an unusual series of events, Lisa Myworries, supervisor of the Winkie Guards at the Darwin Ranch, sent word to me to help her get some supplies. Apparently the other ranch hands were busy, so I hitched up the buckboard, headed west on Folly Road past Stinking Lake, and on toward Deception Pass. Aside from a few glowers from the Winkie Guards, the trip was uneventful. 

On the way back, Lisa started talking about birds. Woodpeckers are her favorite. She mentioned the shock-absorbing bone in their skulls. I was reluctant to correct her, but I felt compelled.

For years, it was a scientific truth that woodpeckers have a shock-absorbing bone in their skulls. That and other errors are passed along as truths.
Downy and hairy woodpeckers from Birds of New York by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, 1910 & 1914 (PD)
Correcting someone on a small detail is seldom worthwhile, especially a friend. If it must be done, it should be done gently. Let her keep her dignity. "Actually," I said, "that was a scientific truism for many years but was recently rejected. More deliberate thinking, better science, and all that good stuff. I mistakenly taught something like that."

"Oh," she said. After a moment, Lisa added, "Sorta like phlogiston theory, where things burn because they contain that stuff. Now we know oxygen plays a big part in it."

That got me. The nice lady had more knowledge in that area than I expected (and wrongly assumed because of her job and work environment).

I said, "The science was bad because it was just a — construct, for lack of a better word. Phlogiston could not be falsified. It reminds me of the ancient belief in vitalism, something that is apart from physical and chemical forces that gives life to them. It's just — assumed."

The wagon hit a stone and jarred the wagon. The word just was forced out of me almost like a bark. She chuckled. We carried on a bit about scientific "facts" that people assume and pass along without thinking. We heard a woodpecker drumming on a hollow log as if to remind us where the conversation started.

Darwinists presuppose evolution, then filter their interpretations of evidence through those spectacles. This has a tremendous effect on what they believe and present. Scientists who are Christians need to pay extra attention to whether or not they are presupposing facts that are not supported by evidence. Indeed, Christians in general need to be a bit more attentive to the words that come out of our mouths; there are stories told as truths about the Bible that are fake news.

We grew up hearing many “facts” that we assumed must have solid research backing them up.

Your tongue has four distinct areas of tastebuds. Not really.

The white stuff oozing out of that AA battery is acid, right? Nope. It’s actually a base, the opposite of an acid (though it can still give you a chemical burn).

Blood is red in your arteries and blue in your veins. No, it’s always red.

Lightning never strikes the same place twice. Try telling that to the Empire State Building which was once struck eight times in a storm.

These so-called facts are likely accepted as truth as a result of people repeating them without checking for accuracy.

Here’s another one: Woodpeckers have a spongy bone in their skull that acts like a shock absorber against concussions.

Well-meaning scientists operated by this information for decades. Many people in the creationist community even referred to this feature as proof of an amazing designer who provided protection for these magnificent birds.

To read it all, fly over to "What We Knew About the Woodpecker."