All posts by David Jetre

The Sorcerers of Pharaoh

The Far Left would happily see children pay for their parents’ misdeeds rather than not.

Such was the madness of the ancient Egyptians from which Moses thankfully spared the world.

Spiritually, the Far Left is Egypt.

Make no mistake: if it served their political will, the Far Left would throw these same children to the crocodiles just as Pharaoh did.

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Yellow Journalism: The “Fake News” of the 19th Century

Time Cover

It is perhaps not so surprising to hear that the problem of “fake news” — media outlets adopting sensationalism to the point of fantasy — is nothing new. Although, as Robert Darnton explained in the NYRB recently, the peddling of public lies for political gain (or simply financial profit) can be found in most periods of history dating back to antiquity, it is in the late 19th-century phenomenon of “Yellow Journalism” that it first seems to reach the widespread outcry and fever pitch of scandal familiar today. Why yellow? The reasons are not totally clear. Some sources point to the yellow ink the publications would sometimes use, though it more likely stems from the popular Yellow Kid cartoon that first ran in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, and later William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, the two newspapers engaged in the circulation war at the heart of the furore.

Although these days his name is somewhat synonymous with journalism of the highest standards, through association with the Pulitzer Prize established by provisions in his will, Joseph Pulitzer had a very different reputation while alive. After purchasing The New York World in 1884 and rapidly increasing circulation through the publication of sensationalist stories he earned the dubious honour of being the pioneer of tabloid journalism. He soon had a competitor in the field when his rival William Randolph Hearst acquired the The New York Journal in 1885 (originally begun by Joseph’s brother Albert). The rivalry was fierce, each trying to out do each other with ever more sensational and salacious stories. At a meeting of prominent journalists in 1889 Florida Daily Citizen editor Lorettus Metcalf claimed that due to their competition “the evil grew until publishers all over the country began to think that perhaps at heart the public might really prefer vulgarity”.

The phenomenon can be seen to reach its most rampant heights, and most exemplary period, in the lead up to the Spanish-American War — a conflict that some dubbed “The Journal‘s War” due to Hearst’s immense influence in stoking the fires of anti-Spanish sentiment in the U.S. Much of the coverage by both The New York World and The New York Journal was tainted by unsubstantiated claims, sensationalist propaganda, and outright factual errors. When the USS Maine exploded and sank in Havana Harbor on the evening of 15 February 1898, huge headlines in the Journal blamed Spain with no evidence at all. The phrase, “remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain”, became a populist rousing call to action. The Spanish–American War began later that year.

As we’ve witnessed over recent weeks, from certain mouths the use of the term “fake news” has strayed from simply describing factually incorrect reporting. Likewise would those in power paste the label of “yellow journalism” on factually correct reporting which didn’t quite paint the picture they’d like? Yes, indeed. As Timeline reports, in 1925 a certain Benito Mussolini derided reports of his ill health as being lies by the “yellow press”, saying the papers were “ready to stop at nothing to increase circulation and to make more money”. The reports, however, turned out to be factually accurate. He’d go onto rule the country for another eighteen years.

Featured below are a selection of illustrations from the wonderful Puck magazine commenting on the phenomenon, all found in the collection of the Library of Congress.

Original article: Yellow Journalism


Time Magazine is keeping the Yellow Fever alive, as one can tell.
 

Hazy Early Earth: More Affirmation of Creation Day 4

When I first arrived in Pasadena for postdoctoral research at Caltech, the haze of Los Angeles smog was so thick that it was several weeks before I realized that a range of 6,000-foot high mountains lay just three miles to the north. Now, thanks to air pollution abatement, I see those mountains clearly every day.

A new research study published in Astrophysical Journal affirms that a haze was at least partly responsible for the pervasive translucent skies that shrouded Earth during the first part of its history.1 Genesis 1 and other biblical passages also describe the early atmosphere as hazy and clouded. The same study demonstrates through a series of experiments how Earth’s atmospheric haze lessened greatly.

What Genesis 1 Says About Earth’s Atmosphere

I was taught the steps of the scientific method in every grade of my public school education in Canada. When I began to seriously investigate the world’s major holy books at age 17, I applied the scientific method—which I’d been taught throughout my school years—to test the reliability of the texts.

When I finally picked up the Bible, I was stunned to discover that right there on the first page it meticulously followed the scientific method. Many years later I discovered why. As I explain in Appendix A of my book Navigating Genesis,2 the scientific method has its origin in the pages of the Bible and the theology of the Reformation.

Step 1 of the scientific method is establishing the frame of reference. Genesis 1:2 explicitly states that the creation account’s frame of reference is the viewpoint of an observer on Earth’s watery surface (see figure 1): “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” of “the surface of the deep.”

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Figure 1: Frame of Reference for the Genesis Creation Days. 

From this viewpoint “darkness was over the surface of the deep” (Genesis 1:2, NIV) because God “made the clouds its [the sea’s] garment and wrapped it [the sea] in thick darkness” (Job 38:9, NIV). So, even though God had already created the “heavens” (Genesis 1:1, NIV), including our Sun and Moon, light did not yet reach Earth’s surface. On creation day 1, when God said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3, NIV), he transformed Earth’s atmosphere from opaque to translucent. The atmosphere remained overcast (much like on a rainy day), but light could finally reach the planet surface.

Later on creation day 4, when God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky. . . . They will serve as signs for seasons and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14, CSB), he transformed Earth’s atmosphere from translucent to at least occasionally be transparent. This would allow the animals God created on creation days 5 and 6 to see the positions of the Sun, Moon, and stars in the expanse of the sky and use those positions to regulate their biological clocks.

What Science Now Says About Earth’s Early Atmosphere

As I document in my book Improbable Planet, the history of Earth’s atmosphere is one of gradually declining amounts of methane and carbon dioxide.3 Since methane and carbon dioxide are powerful greenhouse gases, this gradual decline is crucial for compensating for the ongoing brightening of the Sun.

The quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and perhaps that of methane also, correlates with the degree of cloud cover. More carbon dioxide and more methane mean more clouds. Thus, much greater quantities of these greenhouse gases in early Earth’s atmosphere alone likely made the sky completely translucent from the viewpoint of an observer on Earth’s surface.

The new Astrophysical Journal study was performed by a team of scientists from a variety of fields. They uncovered another cause of early Earth’s atmospheric translucency—the lack of oxygen. The team performed laboratory experiments on gas mixtures of molecular nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and molecular oxygen designed to mimic the composition of Earth’s atmosphere during its first 4 billion years. They noted that oxygen concentrations greater than 20 parts per million “resulted in a decrease in aerosol production rate with increasing O2concentration.”4 That is, the less oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere, the denser the atmospheric haze will be.

As figure 2 reveals, the oxygen content in Earth’s atmosphere did not get high enough to prevent a pervasive haze until 580 million years ago, just before the first appearance of animals. Also, as the team noted in their paper, atmospheric hazes serve as cloud condensation nuclei.5 Therefore, the denser the atmospheric haze the thicker will be the cloud cover.

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Figure 2: Oxygen in Earth’s Atmosphere as a Percentage of Total Atmosphere. 

It does not take much haze to obscure the Sun, Moon, and stars from animals on Earth’s surface sufficiently that they cease to be useful to regulate their biological clocks. Even today, with the atmospheric oxygen level at 210,000 parts per million, there are cities in Asia where even on a cloudless night it is not possible to see any stars and the Moon is visible only when it is at the full phase and situated near the zenith.

The combination of denser haze and greater cloud cover previous to 580 million years ago means that whereas the light would penetrate to Earth’s surface, it would not be possible for surface-dwelling creatures to discern with sufficient accuracy and frequency the positions of the Sun, Moon, and stars in the sky. This circumstance poses no problems for life previous to 580 million years ago since such life (microbes, algae, fungi, bryophytes) do not require knowledge of the positions of the Sun, Moon, and stars.

The new research study affirms the creation chronology in Genesis 1: Earth’s atmosphere transitioned from translucent to frequently transparent on creation day 4, just before God created Earth’s first animals on creation day 5. The study provides yet more evidence that the more we learn about nature and its record the more we accumulate sound reasons to believe that the Bible is the authoritative, inspired, inerrant Word of God.

Original article: Hazy Early Earth: More Affirmation of Creation Day 4

They Themselves Ordain’d Their Fall

Such I created all the ethereal Powers
And Spirits, both them who stood, and them who fail’d;
Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have given sincere
Of true allegiance, constant faith or love,
Where only what they needs must do appear’d,
Not what they would? what praise could they receive?
What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason (reason also is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil’d,
Made passive both, had serv’d necessity,
Not me. They therefore, as to right belong’d,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,
As if predestination over-rul’d
Their will dispos’d by absolute decree
Or high foreknowledge they themselves decreed
Their own revolt, not I; if I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.
So without least impulse or shadow of fate,
Or aught by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, authors to themselves in all
Both what they judge, and what they choose; for so
I form’d them free: and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves; I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain’d
Their freedom: they themselves ordain’d their fall.