Some recent articles show that tiny bits of data can be used to generate whoppers.

According to Live Science, Bill Hammond has been measuring uplift of the Sierra Nevada range since 2000.  Currently they have measured about a millimeter or two of uplift a year for less than 12 years.  Launching from that, the article stated:

The amount might seem small, but the data indicate that long-term trends in crustal uplift suggest the modern Sierra could be formed in less than 3 million years, which is relatively quick when compared to estimates using some geological techniques.

This represents an extrapolation of five orders of magnitude (stretching 12 years of data to “suggest” what happened in 3 million years).  Nevertheless, they are convinced they have determined a “young” uplift for the California mountain range (see also PhysOrg).  Despite the bold announcements, Hammond said, “he Sierra Nevada uplift process is fairly unique on Earth and not well understood.” Whether “unique” phenomena can be used to inform laws of nature was not explained.

Even more hubris was displayed in another article, “Earth history and evolution,” on PhysOrg.  The opening paragraph is the operative statement about mythology referred to in our title:

In classical mythology, the cypress tree is associated with death, the underworld and eternity. Indeed, the family to which cypresses belong, is an ancient lineage of conifers, and a new study of their evolution affords a unique insight into a turbulent era in the Earth’s history.

This article claimed that genetic data between several genera of cypress thought to have evolved independently after a mythical supercontinent, Pangea, split apart, has “revolutionized the field of biogeography” and given us “understanding” of earth history….

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