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hzoi

Earthcaches and young earth creationism (YEC)

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I realize this is a potentially divisive topic, so let me please start out by stressing this is not an attack on anyone's personal beliefs, just a discussion on best practices.  I'll ask up front that no one get personal or dismissive on either side of the issue and just be nice and respectful.

To briefly set the background, earthcaches are published based on generally accepted lay science, based on evidence that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old.  (I know that the geoaware team will not publish an earthcache based on young earth creationist [YEC] theory, as I've seen some listings retracted.)  Not everyone accepts this, however; some read Genesis literally, not metaphorically, and hold that Earth is only a few thousand years old. 

I'd previously had one or two earthcache visits from someone who maintained YEC views.  When applicable, they provided two sets of answers: one in accordance with YEC tenets, and one in accordance with the lay science that was the basis of the earthcache.  I thought that was a tactful way to preserve their own beliefs while also satisfying the intent of the earthcache, and had no issues accepting their answers.

I recently got a visit from someone who provided one part of an earthcache answer based solely on the YEC timeline and not on the lesson in the earthcache. The question essentially asks whether some features were formed millions of years ago or more recently, and they responded, of course they were more recent, because the earth is only a few thousand years old.  I sent a neutral response asking them if, assuming for the sake of argument that the science laid out in the earthcache is fact, that changes their answer, and got back a response that I could either ask for more info or settle for.  I chose settling, because I didn't feel like starting a micturation contest.  But it did make me want to run this up the flagpole here.

Unless anyone has a better idea, I plan to handle future conversations as I handled this one; just wanted to put this out for general -- and again, respectful, please -- discussion.  For the reviewers or lackeys out there who may have had to intervene in more strenuous discussions involving YEC tenets, I'd be curious as to what the left and right limits are for both finders and owners.

Edited by hzoi
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Is this thread just about YEC vs "generally accepted lay science"? Or are other sources of wrong answers on topic?

Geocachers sometimes send me the wrong answers for my EC. But that seems to be related more to poor communication on my part (I've clarified the text a couple times in response) or to people just not reading the EC description other than the section with the questions at the bottom.

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I'm just the OP, not a moderator, but I'd say there are plenty of other threads on wrong answers to earthcaches due to misunderstanding, or not caring, or whatever.  This is different, this involves cachers who have read the whole earthcache, understand the questions posed, maybe even appear to enjoy the information and give good detailed answers toi what they saw -- but reject the lay science the earthcache is based on and substitute YEC tenets instead.  How have, or would, you handle it?

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The concept of an earthcache is to provide an earth science lesson and to test the cacher's understanding of the subject.  If someone posts incorrect answers based on a concept other than earth science then I would give them the opportunity to submit corrected answers.  If they did not do that I would delete the find log.

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One thought I had would be to rephrase the question. Rather than "When were these rocks formed?" you could ask, "According to the Xyzzy Theory, when were these rocks formed?"

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22 hours ago, hzoi said:

To briefly set the background, earthcaches are published based on generally accepted lay science, based on evidence that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old.  (I know that the geoaware team will not publish an earthcache based on young earth creationist [YEC] theory, as I've seen some listings retracted.)  Not everyone accepts this, however; some read Genesis literally, not metaphorically, and hold that Earth is only a few thousand years old. ...

I recently got a visit from someone who provided one part of an earthcache answer based solely on the YEC timeline and not on the lesson in the earthcache. ...  I sent a neutral response asking them if, assuming for the sake of argument that the science laid out in the earthcache is fact, that changes their answer, and got back a response that I could either ask for more info or settle for.  I chose settling, because I didn't feel like starting a micturation contest.  But it did make me want to run this up the flagpole here.

 

17 hours ago, hzoi said:

... cachers who have read the whole earthcache, understand the questions posed, maybe even appear to enjoy the information and give good detailed answers toi what they saw -- but reject the lay science the earthcache is based on and substitute YEC tenets instead.  How have, or would, you handle it?

 

9 hours ago, Gill & Tony said:

The concept of an earthcache is to provide an earth science lesson and to test the cacher's understanding of the subject.  If someone posts incorrect answers based on a concept other than earth science ...

If, as Gill & Tony said, the purpose or intent of an Earthcache is to provide a lesson and test the cacher's underdstanding ... and the cacher holds a different view of what is FACT, does that mean they do not understand the lesson?  I'm sure they understand it more fully than many cachers, as they have had to compare and contrast their view with that of lay science in rder to come to their conclusions.  

9 hours ago, niraD said:

One thought I had would be to rephrase the question. Rather than "When were these rocks formed?" you could ask, "According to the Xyzzy Theory, when were these rocks formed?"

 This would be a tactful way of acknowledging that there is (are) other theories that could result in different answers - and give you some leeway when judging answers.  In the end, you are the CO and can accept or reject answers as you deem appropriate.  I think the way you handled the situation quoted above was respectful (choosing to settle rather than get into the euphemistic battle you spoke of), and niraD's rewording would/should avoid the ambiguity going forward.

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I don't view earthcaches as a test, but rather as an opportunity for people to think about the earth and perhaps learn something.   Therefore I would have no problem if a YEC answered according to their beliefs, but I would want to know more than a rote answer.   For that matter I would want to know more than a simple answer either way.  

I assume the logging question asks first for reasons that are based on the site.   If a YEC can look at the site, engage with the lesson, and give me reasons for their conclusion, then I would not insist they do more than that.  I might want to know more than the date of creation - at least tell me that a great flood came through the area (or whatever they see that justifies why something came to be).

At the same time, if the other answers are fine, then I would be more likely to settle for an answer in dispute.   If I would settle for an answer that simply stated that everyone knows the earth is billions of years old and that geological processes span vast amounts of time, then I would settle for an answer that stated the earth is young   At this point in my life I'm going to pick my battles and not try to resolve fundamental disputes through an earthcache.   

The potential problem is not limited to believers in a young earth.  There is a lot of Bad Geology out there that is used to sustain belief systems - whether it be advancing theories about a hollow earth, the effect of planetary alignments, pole shifts, or the date of the Kensington Rune Stone.   

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by geodarts
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9 hours ago, geodarts said:

The potential problem is not limited to believers in a young earth.  There is a lot of Bad Geology out there that is used to sustain belief systems - whether it be advancing theories about a hollow earth, the effect of planetary alignments, pole shifts, or the date of the Kensington Rune Stone.   

Fair enough.  (Shame that the site most of those links go to is dead, but a short search took me to the bad science in the list.)

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I don't specifically believe in a young earth, but I don't agree with a lot of current geologic reasoning. But I understand that EC's are based on certain science, and I don't think that's the time for me to get into any arguments with the EC owner. So my EC answers align with the EC questions. This does not negate my own belief or understanding, but answers the questions posed in the manner that the EC owner expects.

I guess some cachers feel that when logging an EC, it's a time to make a stand, and I can't really fault them for that decision. That would be a difficult situation for an EC owner. I agree with geodarts - if they seem to understand the lesson in the EC, even if they disagree about the science, I think they've met the spirit of the EC and should be allowed to log it. Each cacher's case would need to be taken on their own merit, however.

 

Edited by Ambrosia
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On 27/10/2017 at 6:34 AM, Gill & Tony said:

The concept of an earthcache is to provide an earth science lesson and to test the cacher's understanding of the subject.  If someone posts incorrect answers based on a concept other than earth science then I would give them the opportunity to submit corrected answers.  If they did not do that I would delete the find log.

This is a rather thought provoking thread.

The above generally fits my thoughts - except perhaps log deletion - that would depend.

As others have mentioned, I generally frame my EC's inside 'geologists generally agree currently that...' quotes - mainly because my admittedly limited ley experience is that geologists frequently disagree and the accepted beliefs change over time - sometimes drastically.

However, my EC's are framed by accepted Earth Science and not by Young Creationism or any other alternative belief system - but would I reject YC based answers / viewpoints? Probably - unless the person submitting them could provide a strong enough argument to make me doubt the mainstream Earth Science point of view.

Which raises another question - if we are to accept YC based answers, should we also accept answers from other belief systems if the person holding those beliefs can produce a strong enough argument to support them to the point where that belief system looks more credible than mainstream Earth Science?

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That is a wonderful explanation, GeoawareGSA2!

That's the tact I took as a science teacher and as an EarthCache owner, but you said it so much better than I would have.

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19 hours ago, GeoawareGSA2 said:

I don't ask the question, "How old are the Appalachian Mountains?" I ask, "Based on current scientific theory, how old are the Appalachian Mountains and why do scientists believe this?" This gives the "student" the ability to answer the question and explain why they believe what they believe while also demonstrating that they know what the scientifically accepted answer is and why. A young Earth creationist could answer that, while the Bible says the Earth's surface and hence the Appalachians are ~6000 years old...scientists have determined an age of ~200 million years based on radiometric dating and stratigraphic relationships exposed at......" 

Stealing this.  Thanks very much for your post, it is extremely helpful.

edit: whew, didn't realize how many cache descriptions I had to edit just to plug "Based on current scientific theory " or "Geologists believe that" into the text.

Edited by hzoi

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On ‎11‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 2:29 PM, GeoawareGSA2 said:

I don't ask the question, "How old are the Appalachian Mountains?" I ask, "Based on current scientific theory, how old are the Appalachian Mountains and why do scientists believe this?"

Excellent.  I will be using this approach in the future.

I would never delete an EC log due to my perception of incorrect answers.  The point is to get folks to visit the site, think about it geologically and absorb the wonder of it ... not to be graded on a pop quiz.

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36 minutes ago, TerraViators said:

Excellent.  I will be using this approach in the future.

I would never delete an EC log due to my perception of incorrect answers.  The point is to get folks to visit the site, think about it geologically and absorb the wonder of it ... not to be graded on a pop quiz.

The point is to teach them and get them to demonstrate that they've learned it.

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30 minutes ago, Team Microdot said:

The point is to teach them and get them to demonstrate that they've learned it.

Exactly, if they are thinking about it, they are learning. If they answer the questions mostly correctly, they are demonstrating knowledge.  Besides, passing is passing, doesn't have to be perfect.

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As an EarthCache owner myself, I hope that people actually learn something from them. If they demonstrate that they actually learned something, that’s fine with me. But how I decide whether or not to intervene on a “Found It” log is based on whether or not the answers are blantantly wrong or not. I offer help, but I’m the event they don’t respond, their log gets deleted.

 

I think questions should be asked in a certain way. If you want a precise age of a rock, for instance, and assuming you could accurately tell the age based on the info provided on the cache page, I wouldn’t accept a wrong answer. If I asked “how old do you think this rock is?” I would accept any answer, so long as I got them to critically think about the question and the subject matter.

 

Learning is what matters.

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6 hours ago, Rapaladude said:

Learning is what matters.

 

Precisely.

 

I love receiving answers which show that someone has taken the time and trouble to actually read the cache page properly and learn the intended lesson and which show that they've then taken the time to really look at what's there at GZ and deduce logical conclusions.

 

Less then perfect responses I'll generally nudge them in the right direction or point them at some information from the cache page that's key to what they've missed.

 

Anyone who thinks all they have to do is take a picture of themselves at GZ to qualify for the find I'm inclined to just delete the log. Those people are, of course, welcome to try again if they see fit - but they rarely do.

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On 5/5/2018 at 6:47 AM, Team Microdot said:

Anyone who thinks all they have to do is take a picture of themselves at GZ to qualify for the find I'm inclined to just delete the log. Those people are, of course, welcome to try again if they see fit - but they rarely do.

 

I see this happen more often than not, as well. I always send a message or email stating that the logging requirements to whatever EarthCache of mine that they found, were incomplete. I usually don’t get a response until I’ve deleted their log due to lack of communication.

That’s when they act offended that I would even think of deleting their log. Mainly they respond with something along the lines of, “Why did you delete my log for that? It’s just a game, get over it.” I always tell them that this game has rules and if you don’t follow them, there can be consequences. As minor as they may seem.

 

Basically, all I ask for is a little effort, which almost never happens. One word answers always come through too.

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13 hours ago, Rapaladude said:

I usually don’t get a response until I’ve deleted their log due to lack of communication.

That’s when they act offended that I would even think of deleting their log. Mainly they respond with something along the lines of, “Why did you delete my log for that? It’s just a game, get over it.”

 

Remarkable isn't it?

 

I always wonder why these people seem completely unable to take their own advice :huh:

 

 

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