Plot holes are everywhere

I haven’t had cable or satellite TV in many years but for some crazy reason last evening I actually sat down and watched a broadcast TV program. The title in the on-screen Viewing Guide said “La Brea”, so I thought, “That sounds like an interesting documentary.”

It turned out that the show was indeed set at the tar pits of La Brea, California but it was a drama series thriller involving a worm hole, or at least some kind of time travel back to ice age era Orange County. The characters were over-the-top hilarious but then the “science” got downright silly when some government expert explained to one of the main characters that they had found a wedding band belonging to another main character, and “We carbon-dated it and were surprised to find that it was 10,000 years old!”

So I thought to myself: “Oh no. They must have used one of those cash-strapped radiometric dating labs which has no shame about accepting samples from YEC clients no matter what they send in.”

I suppose the writers couldn’t have the experts analyze a femur bone left over from a beloved main character who had been transported back in time by thousands of years from just a few days ago (which is another jarring problem for carbon-dating but let’s stick with one old-codger-gripe at a time.)

I suppose my mistake was expecting a program so “mainstream” as to be on a major broadcast TV network (NBC) and yet not have giant plot holes. But it still left me a bit sad about the state of the American educational system—especially as I pondered the possibility that nobody in the writers’ room even spoke up: “Are ya sure we should make it a carbon-dating test? There’s no carbon in a gold wedding band. It was never alive.”

Then I switched channels and watched a few minutes of a horror movie about a society where people refuse vaccines “because we don’t trust scientists” but are fine with monoclonal antibodies.

Yes. Plot holes are everywhere.


There’s your mistake. This was about the American Entertainment system, not to be confused with the educational system.

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Considering that a lot of shows have consultants on relevant topics (Numbers, Bones, NCI ad infinitem, Big Bang Theory, etc.) I think it’s not too much to ask to get this sort of detail right.


AiG could have suggested diamonds on the wedding band dating to 6000 years old.

I have assumed that radiocarbon dating on diamonds would not be possible—but correct me if I’m wrong----because any meaningful C-14/C-12 ratio would be long gone by the time the organic material became a diamond. I thought the only way a diamond could be radiometric-dated would be by analyzing certain types of inclusions (which would be FAR older than the 50,000 to 70,000 maximums of carbon-dating.)

So you’ve got me curious now. I just don’t see how diamonds could be carbon-dated—except perhaps human-manufactured diamonds where there were extremely special circumstances.

Wow. You guys cause me to think, despite my best efforts otherwise.

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Oh. I see now. You were making a joke about AIG.

(Sorry, @RonSewell, my “senior moments” are getting far too frequent!)

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It isn’t. But that has not stopped YEC from arguing that there is 14C in diamond and is evidence of a young earth. Of course, this evidence is also full of plot holes.

Yup, but not my talent.


Right you are! (If there is some kind of flip-side to Poe’s Law . . . uh oh, I just confused myself again.)


I think the flip side of Poes’s Law might be the Annals of Improbably Research. These are the same people who bring us the Ig Nobel Prizes.

I occasionally email suggestion to the editor, Marc Abrams, and have gotten a few publish on the AIR blog. :slight_smile:

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Well we managed to get caught. But that just goes to show how whacked out the Poe zone of YEC has become. If you do not wish to invite derision as Flintstones theology, do not put a sculpted dinosaur with a saddle in your lobby. If you wish to be taken seriously, do not write articles which involve slaying fire breathing dragons as historic reference to dinosaurs. And please take it easy on the space-time continuum. We have speeded up light, speeded up radioactivity, speeded up plate tectonics, speeded up ice ages, speeded up hydrocarbon formation and mineralization, speeded up canyons, caves and speleothems, even speeded up evolution for crying out loud, everything but speeded up home improvement which continues to resist speeding up.


I guess I’m willing to give 'em a pass on that one—simply because I can’t really blame a tourist-trap operator for applying two tried-and-true strategies: (1) make sure the exit goes through the gift shop, and (2) give 'em an irresistible photo-opportunity where the little tykes demand to sit in the saddle while every adult in sight gushes and points. (Extra points for an advertising banner just above their little heads which says, “I got the coprolites kicked out of me at Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter!”)

Seriously, I’m kind of surprised Ken Ham doesn’t have a whole room full of those head-in-the-hole photoboards in which the kids can pretend to be dinosaurs and have someone taking the photos—and then have a machine offering the $49.95 photo-sets for sale when they leave the attraction at the back exit. (I visited the NASA museum in Houston some years ago and you could not enter the facility tour “train” without first getting your photo taken—which they told us at the time was for “security purposes”—and then they would photoshop your image into every tourist scene on the property. Lots of people were buying their bag of photo pages on their way out the door.)


Gosh, I think that somewhere I have one of the first volumes of the collected greatest hits of the Journal of Irreproducible Research. Being “book” people (which is very different from being “people of the book,” for some reason) we often remark about the National Geographic Doomsday Machine, truly one of the great hypotheses to come out of the JIRR.

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It’s rare to see a show jump the shark several times in the first half of the first episode.

My wife and I couldn’t watch any farther without me annoying her with my chuckles.

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The main drawback of being married to a scientist is having to deal with your spouse yelling at the TV screen. If you’re lucky, it’s not a movie screen (because said spouse will be able to suppress the response, but may whisper at you).

I mean, the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs?!


Or a Sister-in-law astronomer who loudly complains about improper use of units.

And this …

During a certain disturbing scene in the Peter Jackson King Kong remake.

The real worms are tiny but it still gives me the willies.

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