Monday, 29 September 2008

Adnan Oktar's trillion dollar "challenge"

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I say "trillion dollar", but that's just for the snappy headline – Turkish creationist Adnan Oktar, who really can't stay out of the news at the moment, has actually offered 10 trillion Turkish Lira, or £4.4 trillion, (so about $8 trillion) to any scientist "who produces a single intermediate-form fossil demonstrating evolution".

But before any of you scientists out there rush off to collect your fossil samples in the hope of becoming one of the richest people on earth, let us consider for a second the small catch in all this. Paleontologists, evolutionary biologists, zoologists and to all intents and purposes the entire credible scientific community agree that the fossil record confirms that evolution of species by means of natural selection. Adnan Oktar does not. He produced a very large and very expensive book with lots of pictures, arguing that the fossil record disproves evolution. Therefore, if you show him anything from the fossil record, he will just say you're wrong.

If Oktar, as he claims, wants to debate with with scientists like Richard Dawkins on a sensible, intellectual level, he may wish to avoid undermining such claims by issuing ridiculous challenges like this. I mean, once you start getting the trillions involved, it begins to look a bit like a schoolyard argument.

Update: PZ Myers at Pharyngula has come up with a nice idea – use Oktar's supposed trillions to sort out the world economy:
"The US government should immediately send a plane to pick up Mr Oktar, bring him to our country, and take him on a guided tour of the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History, accompanied by Niles Eldredge, Kevin Padian, Jerry Coyne, Sean Carroll, and the entire scientific staff of those museums. Afterwards, they can accept the check from Mr Oktar, run down to the local bank and cash it, and use one trillion dollars to resolve the current financial crisis, seven trillion can be sunk immediately into the American educational system, and they can send the change left over to me as a reward for coming up with this brilliant plan."