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A  friend reminds me of this 2004 paper on the busted molecular clock:

For almost a decade now, a team of molecular evolutionists has produced a plethora of seemingly precise molecular clock estimates for divergence events ranging from the speciation of cats and dogs to lineage separations that might have occurred ,4 billion years ago. Because the appearance of accuracy has an irresistible allure, non-specialists frequently treat these estimates as factual. In this article, we show that all of these divergence-time estimates were generated through improper methodology on the basis of a single calibration point that has been unjustly denuded of error. The illusion of precision was achieved mainly through the conversion of statistical estimates (which by definition possess standard errors, ranges and confidence intervals) into errorless numbers. By employing such techniques successively, the time estimates of even the most ancient divergence events were made tolook deceptively precise. For example, on the basis of just 15 genes, the arthropod–nematode divergence event was ‘calculated’ to have occurred 1167 6 83 million years ago (i.e. within a 95% confidence interval of ,350 million years). Were calibration and derivation uncertainties taken into proper consideration, the 95% confidence interval would have turned out to be at least 40 times larger (,14.2 billion years).

Personally, I blame the pop science press for much of this.

Am I just too idealistic about human nature? Maybe, but I think that many scientists would not pretend to certainty as much as they do, except for the sound bites propping up the media’s evolution myth – that emblem of complete trust in the Beard – a certainty which has nothing whatever to do with straightening out the tangles of life’s history.

Authors’ Graur and Martin’s quotation from Douglas Adams is most apt: ‘We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty.’

Tom, that reminds me of this margin of error: Waiting Longer for Two Mutations - Michael J. Behe Excerpt: Citing malaria literature sources (White 2004) I had noted that the de novo appearance of chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum was an event of probability of 1 in 10^20. I then wrote that ‘‘for humans to achieve a mutation like this by chance, we would have to wait 100 million times 10 million years’’ (1 quadrillion years) (Behe 2007) (because that is the extrapolated time that it would take to produce 10^20 humans). Durrett and Schmidt (2008, p. 1507) retort that my number ‘‘is 5 million times larger than the calculation we have just given’’ using their model (which nonetheless "using their model" gives a prohibitively long waiting time of 216 million years). Their criticism compares apples to oranges. My figure of 10^20 is an empirical statistic from the literature; it is not, as their calculation is, a theoretical estimate from a population genetics model. http://www.discovery.org/a/9461 bornagain77
The point is, we know just when these events happened, and a little margin of error is just a little margin of error. What's 14 billion years among friends, anyway? TomG
Hoyle predicted this happy day when molecular clocks and the associated phylogenies would be discredited:
Besides which, there are three further objections, one a reductio ad absurdum, another a flaw of logic, and the third a disproof by positive fact, that rule protein phylogenies so far out of court that one must wonder at the state of confusion which led to them ever being considered at all. pp130-131 Mathematics of Evolution
Protein phylogenies and molecular clocks are in such a state of confusion it is amazing indeed it is taking this long for scientist to come forward and call it on the farce that it is. scordova
These developments reinforce the predictions and criticism by Michael Behe and Michael Denton and Fred Hoyle. See: Zuck is Out of Luck, Marsupial Findings Vindicate Behe, Denton, Hoyle scordova

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