Marty Meets The False One True Expert!

By Marty Leipzig

Marty Hinted:

Yep. < shaking head, snickering> Many, many times. Remind me to tell you the time a bunch of us from the HGAS (Houston Geological Alcohol Society) met up with a bunch of fundies ripping up the local scenery looking for "mantracks..."

Steve took the bait:

This has GOT to be a riot!

Marty recounted:

Well, DID ask < in a sort-of roundabout way...>

It seems that a few years back, I was to deliver an address at the annual AAPG (or was it GSA?) convention to be held in Dallas. Inasmuch as a number of my collegues, of whom I've seen none since my grad and beyond school days, were making the pilgrammage to Dallas; we decided that after the convention we would do a field and road trip back to Houston, for them to depart to their places called home.

So, we attended the convention where my paper was received warmly and hotly (sparked a bit of controversy, but what the hell...) to the hoots and catcalls of my associates. After the convention, we procured a rental for the 6 of us (one of two types of off-road vehicle. The other is called "4-wheel drive". Auto rental companies HATE geologists.), and headed out onto the open and dusty roads of South and Western Texas.

Seeing as it was so hot and dusty, our provisions consisted of no less than 15 cases of ice-cold beer and a bag of Doritos (what we were going to do with all that food still remains a mystery). Our travels wandered us all over SW & SE Texas... to Marble Falls to visit the Precambrian Llano Granite, over to a couple of dimension stone quarries in the Edwards Limestone in and around Bandera to collect fossils, over to Shiner for the Brewery tour and ultimately, over to Glen Rose to look at the _Acrocanthasaurus_ tracks. Here's where things got REAL interesting.

It seems that just as we arrived at the tracksite, a church bus full of devout parishioners disembARKed. We sashayed over and asked what all the brouhaha was about. They told us that today was a special day, as the experts from some "Big, Western Christian College" (never did find out if it was the ICR, but I couldn't locate the "experts" name in any accredited college's list of denizens) was coming to town to show all the devout types just where man and dinosaur had trodden cheek-by-jowl.

We all decided that this was going to be too good to miss, and what developed was a little reception that would have warmed the cockles of any Noachian Delugian much the same way Sherman had warmed up Atlanta.

Well, we all just milled about, sipping cold ones, awaiting the arrival of the "expert(s)". We were not disappointed. Precisely 1 hour and 22 minutes late, the "expert from the BWCC" showed. He was a smarmy and unctuous type who just oozed Christian good will, like a planarian exudes slime, resplendant in his shiny three piece suit and tall, simonized hair. He boldly ventured into the crowd, expecting the devout to part like some latter day Red Sea.

They did, we didn't.

It just so happened that there was a loose slab of flaggy limestone that was lying on the path. Anyone with the merest moiety of geological savvy KNOWS one should never wander around an outcrop without good hiking boots nor an eye for loose rock. After we helped him to his feet and he dusted himself off, he started making pronouncements about the age of the rocks, their composition and basked in the oohs! and ahs! of his sheep. Such knowledge! Such stentorian proclamations! He must know of what he speaks!

Or so they thought.

In the crowd at this time was a Inorganic Geochemist, Petroleum Geologist\Archosaurian Vertebrate Paleontologist (yours truly), Metamorphic Petrologist, Clastic Sedimentologist, Palynological Biostratigrapher and an Invertebrate Paleontologist; all of whom, individually and collectively, possessed more degrees than a thermometer factory. And each had about a sixpack under their belts (with a hungry look in their eye and a cheeseburger in their pockets, but that is another story). After the gushing simmered down, Cliff asked him about the relative dolomitization of the superincumbant strata just below the nonconformity.

The silence was deafening.

Deciding that this was just too much fun, I asked him why all the "human footprints" had the exact same travel vectors as the positively identified dinosaur ichnos and why they lacked all the same soft-sediment deformation as the dinosaur tracks.

We damn near blew it on that one. The groundswell of snickers and throat clearings responding to his attempts at water treading where he was obviously in over his head < distinctly sounding like [mufflemuffleHORSESHITmufflemuffle]> was contagious.

At this time, Randy walks over to a ledge overlooking a clear stream pool. "Look! Over here! Mantracks!" Verily, a crush of true believers surged forward (Randy carefully stepping out of the way) transporting the "expert" like snow before a plow. Momentum is a wonderful thing. We, being good atheists, helped drag him out and get him back over to high ground to dry out and off.

Suddenly, out of a clearing, above and to the right (of the hand of God, I'm sure some thought) came Cliff. A sight to behold. Fully 2 meters tall, 20 stone if a pebble, fully bearded with a slight buzz on; he had gone back to the car and got every bit of geological equipment that he could either carry or hang on his belt. He walked with a Jacob's staff like the walking stick of Moses. He carried Brunton compasses, acid bottles, map cases, hammers of virtually every description, sample bags, leather gauntlets, a shining aluminum hardhat, chisels, gad-pry bars, and a sixpack of beer slung precariously out of his daypack. "I am the ONE, TRUE expert!" he bellowed. "I will have no false experts before me!" By this time, the remaining five of us just flat out lost it. We were laughing uproariously. The devout traded puzzled glances and looked skyward wondering what, indeed, had just happened.

Cliff began clanking down the outcrop (punctuated with shrill cries of Rock! and Headache! to the enjoyment of all), and headed straight toward the BWCC expert..."What OF the soft-sediment deformation?" he thundered. "What of the admitted forgeries?"...What of the bogus photographs and tinkered evidence?"...By this time all could see that Cliff was stalking the "expert", and the expert; realizing this, began rapid backpedaling toward his car.

"What of the photochromatic doctoring of the trackways?" he continued. With each incriminating question, his voice rose 10 decibels. Assuredly, no one was missing this performance. "What of the Trask parameters?" "What of the Niggli norms?"

I looked over at Glen. "Trask parameters? Niggli norms? What does igneous classification have to do with all this?"

Glen shrugged, popped a cold one and flatly intoned: "Forget it. He's on a roll."

The murmur in the crowd began to grow. We couldn't help but further try and cultivate the seeds of skepticism we had sown. "Ask him about the staining on the footprints!" "Ask him about the toe-claw impressions found on the 'Mantracks!'" Rumble, rumble, rumble.

So, we pressed on firing off embarassing questions; knowing full well he had no answers. By this time, the "expert" had reached his vehicle with a sizeable crowd in tow; with us leading the pack. "You are all a bunch of trouble makers!" he shouted directly at us. "You were sent here to discredit me!". Once again, the global conspiracy (right, RevRonnie?). His parting shot gave us all the warm fuzzies: "You haven't heard the last of me!" And with that, and spinning tires, the expert departed.

Having had so much fun, we gathered up our cameras and went to finish our little tour as time steadily marched on. Just as we returned to the rental, who should show up again but the "expert", with the local sheriff close behind.

"That's them!" he literally screamed (babbling in tongues was sure to follow). The Sheriff walked up to us and said "This fella says you accosted him".

"Nope." six times simultaneously. "Not us." "Must have been six others."

The expert was seething. "They made a mockery of my talk". "No." I said, "We made a mockery of you."

The Sheriff piped up: "He says you deliberately baited him." "Did he also mention that we were sacreligious, disrepectful and contemptuous? Sorry, Sir, but even in this state, that's not illegal".

"Who are you guys?" the Sheriff asked.

Before we could stop him, Steve chimes in "That's Dr. Guys, to you, bozo."

Glen immediately countered with: "Just a bunch of college buddies out on a little road trip."

"College students?", mused the Sheriff, obviously thinking we were on the 12 year plan.

"Actually ex-college students", continued Glen; "Cliff got his doctorate in MetPet, Marty sold out and gave up teaching for the oil biz, Steve is still busy milking the system for research grants in Palynology and Biostratigraphy..."

It's hard to describe how the color drained from the face of the "expert" as he realized he had just grandly and greatly been had.

"You're all a bunch of Godless atheists (or something very close to that)!" swore the expert as he got in his car and sped off into the setting sun. That was the only thing he got right that day.