The Paper in the Rock Hoax

When I sent a copy of my critique of Plimer's book to the Creation Science Foundation, Carl Wieland, its director, took great issue with this sentence. He maintains that Plimer has grossly distorted the facts regarding the hoax. I have examined the published record and copies of the correspondence from the hoax, and I must temper my original statements somewhat. Plimer has indeed exhibited some distortion in his presentation of the hoax. In particular, Plimer has wrongly claimed that the CSF claimed that the rock contained paper or even had done any research on it. They never claimed either. Plimer also makes a big deal about the CSF's alleged second error of confusing palygorskite with attapulgite, while failing to note that even geology textbooks refer to attapulgite as a form of palygorskite. (He faults the CSF for labeling the mineral palygorskite rather than doing an X-ray diffraction test to show that it was actually attapulgite.)

On the other hand, the CSF clearly sensationalized the find without having done any research on it, as is clear in the "Research News" section of the Oct-Nov 1988 Prayer News:

Paper in Rock?
Current research projects include establishing the exact nature and relationship of an object, which appears to be paper, sandwiched between rock layers in a drill core sample.

A supporter sent us this rock sample which local geologists had identified as volcanic ash, yet they ignored what appears to be pieces of thick paper wedged in between the layering in the rock. This wouldn't matter much, except the rock is supposed to be more than 200 million years old.

Ignored as oddity
Consequently, the evolutionary geologists can't allow it to be paper because man supposedly wasn't around then. Therefore they conveniently ignore it as an oddity.

If this item turns out to have genuine significance for the creation/evolution controversy, readers of Creation magazine will be given all the details.

The claims about the find being "ignored" and that geologists "can't allow it to be paper" are pretty inexcusable, in my opinion, in describing a find that the CSF itself hadn't bothered to research. In his letter to me of January 24, 1995, Wieland downplayed how seriously the CSF took the find, stating that "Andrew [Snelling] put it up on the shelf and said that he would get to it in due course, hardly exhibiting a great enthusiasm for the likelihood that it was a momentus discovery." Why, I must ask, did the CSF chide geologists for ignoring the find and breathlessly declare its potential significance as evidence for a young earth, but then put it up on the shelf and have no confidence that there was anything unusual about it at all? I can only conclude that either the CSF was more serious about the find in 1988 and Wieland is mistaken to downplay it today, or Wieland's letter to me is correct and the sensationalism in the Prayer News was inappropriate.

February 12, 1995