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Thread: Impacts or not, controversy in science

  1. #1 Impacts or not, controversy in science 
    Forum Freshman jlhredshift's Avatar
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    During the twentieth century there was uncertainty about whether any catastrophic impacts from meteors, comets, or asteroids had occurred. In fact the mere mention of the word “catastrophic” in a geological context would raise the hackles of the scientific community. Lyellian uniformitarianism and battle with Noachian explanations was still strong during the early years of this time period. Robert Chambers “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation” (1844) was published by the author anonymously to protect himself, which was probably prudent for the times. Meteors had certainly been documented, but nothing really big. Therefore, in general it was not thought that rocks from space could cause mass destruction.
    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/libra..._vestiges.html
    The following list is a series of “events” and major participant in somewhat the order that they were controversial and debated:

    Coon Butte/ Barringer Crater/ Meteor Crater ; Barringer
    Tunguska; Leonid Kulik
    Craters of the Moon; Gilbert then Baldwin
    Worlds in Collision; Velikovsky
    Moon formation; NASA JPL researchers at the Kona Conference
    K/T Impact; Alvarez
    The Clovis Comet; Firestone

    Every orbiting body in our Solar system has had a hypothesis involving an impact at one time or another, but I want to focus on Earth impacts for this discussion.
    These seven “events” have five that are generally accepted now, one that as Raup said “Is not even wrong” (Velikovsky), and one that is still debated but not generally accepted (Clovis Comet). The historical context of the times that the debates where occurring must be taken into account. Grove Karl Gilbert studied Coon Butte and concluded in a paper published in “Science” that the cause of the crater was a volcanic steam explosion while in the same paper he conclude that the craters on the Moon where impacts. But, being employed by the USGS he was reluctant to say that it was an impact feature because then Barringer could raise money to continue his search for a large iron body with the supposed confirmation of the United States government via Gilbert. But, of course we now know that it is an impact feature through the work of Eugene Shoemaker. There is also much more to the story of Meteor crater and all the other controversies with how the ideas were accepted or rejected in their own turn by the scientific community, the press, the general public. Derision came to all from one source or another, some deserved some not, but hind sight is always 20/20, or is it?
    Did the fact that Velikovsky proposed a Mars sized object interacted with the Earth(1950) slow down the idea of Moon formation by an impact of a Mars sized body at the Kona conference in 1984? But, Hartman et al 1975 paper put the idea out there nine years prior.

    Why did Urey hold on to the non impact formation of Moon craters and yet Baldwin had it right in 1949 and Gilbert in 1906?
    There is so much more! I thought about posting links but any one of these events or people come up in GOOGLE very easily and I have personally accumulated a wealth of material on these subjects. So, thoughts, opinions, questions, or anything relating historically to these events, you may have at it.

    One other point, and I have a million of them, both Velikovsky and Firestone used Folklore as support for their ideas and obstensibly the authors think that there scenario happened just somewhat before historical times;more so Firestone.


    I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right question.

    "The track of a glacier is as unmistakable as that of a man or a bear, and is as significant and trustworthy as any other legible inscription"
    John Strong Newberry; 1873

    "From observations upon living glaciers, and from the known nature of ice, we may learn to recognize the track of a glacier as readily and unmistakably as we would the familiar foot-prints of an animal." G. F. Wright 1891 (108-109)

     

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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Are you suggesting that folklore may be a valid source of data?

    Do you have a question for discussion? If so, what is it?

    Impacts are, of course, an established theory in science now, and the evidence is overwhelming. There are a lot more than you listed, and many are fully accepted as impact craters.


     

  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman jlhredshift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Are you suggesting that folklore may be a valid source of data?

    Do you have a question for discussion? If so, what is it?

    Impacts are, of course, an established theory in science now, and the evidence is overwhelming. There are a lot more than you listed, and many are fully accepted as impact craters.
    You will discover that I will state what I think and that reading between the lines is not necessary. Regarding Velikovsky and Firestone, I stated fact.

    The fact of impacts are not in dispute, but they were in dispute in 1906. We intend to discuss the historical development of the concept of impacts during the last 110 years and how these theories evolved in the scientific community, the press, and the average person.

    Do you have a question?
    I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right question.

    "The track of a glacier is as unmistakable as that of a man or a bear, and is as significant and trustworthy as any other legible inscription"
    John Strong Newberry; 1873

    "From observations upon living glaciers, and from the known nature of ice, we may learn to recognize the track of a glacier as readily and unmistakably as we would the familiar foot-prints of an animal." G. F. Wright 1891 (108-109)

     

  5. #4  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Of course folklore provides valid data. It just needs to be scrutinised more closely than most data and not used in isolation.

    It is interesting that the battle between the Catastrophists and the Uniformitarians left so many scars on the group psyche that it took more than a century to allow a blended and more realistic approach to be adopted. Of course now the pendulum is in danger of swinging the other way. Bolide impacts are fashionable: the recent attemtp to ressurect the Nemesis concept is one example.

    I think, skeptic, that one part of jlhredshift's thesis is that bizarre, controversial, unconventional ideas rarely get accorded a proper hearing at the outset. For all the vaunted claims for scientific objectivity - which will win in the long run - the short run is peppered with examples of narrow mindedness, territorial aggrandisement, and bitchiness.
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Ophiolite

    To be frank, I still have not worked out what he is saying.

    If it is a support for Velikovski and the weird crackpot theories so espoused, I really have no sympathy. However, I am still waiting to find out what red shift is trying to say.
     

  7. #6  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    To be frank, I still have not worked out what he is saying.

    If it is a support for Velikovski and the weird crackpot theories so espoused, I really have no sympathy. .
    He states very clearly:
    These seven “events” have five that are generally accepted now, one that as Raup said “Is not even wrong” (Velikovsky)........

    I think this makes his attitude to Velikovsky's hypothesis very clear and it appears to match your own.

    The point is - as I noted above - that rejection of impact ideas arose from an aversion to catastrophism, not from an examination of the facts.
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Freshman jlhredshift's Avatar
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    Vituperation towards the mere mention of Velikovky's name occurred in 1950 and continues today. While the book Worlds in Collision was number one on the NewYork Times non-fiction best selling list Harlow Shapley, then at Harvard, coerced MacMillan Publishing to transfer publication rights to Doubleday, at no cost, or, as Shapley threatened, no school would buy MacMillan's textbooks, which were their main source of revenue. Doulbeday made the money instead, and the book remained on the NY times best selling list for a long time; 23 printings at the last count, not including modern and other versions. Therefore that tactic did not succeed in stopping the dissemination of Velikovsky's work. The one person who was really punished was the publisher who signed Dr. V up, he was fired.

    In those days the NY Times was published twice a day, a morning and an afternoon edition. They only microfilmed the afternoon edition. On July 25, 1950 an short article by Dr. V was published in the morning edition, but not in the afternoon one, and therefore was not preserved. However, I have the article and as far as I know it is the only one in existence. (and if there are others I sure would like to know about it) Here is the Flickr link to the photo of my copy.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlhreds...n/photostream/

    We have to remember that the United States engaged in the Korean War only one month prior to the NY Times publication and that Dr. V was a Russian Jew, which in 1950, I am sure that these facts were a source of prejudice.

    Now, I will point out that Ralph Baldwin had published his book The Face of the Moon just one year prior, in 1949, where he put forth convincingly that the craters on the Moon were impact features. His book did not make the NY Times non-fiction best selling list. I have the book.
    I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right question.

    "The track of a glacier is as unmistakable as that of a man or a bear, and is as significant and trustworthy as any other legible inscription"
    John Strong Newberry; 1873

    "From observations upon living glaciers, and from the known nature of ice, we may learn to recognize the track of a glacier as readily and unmistakably as we would the familiar foot-prints of an animal." G. F. Wright 1891 (108-109)

     

  9. #8  
    Forum Freshman jlhredshift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Ophiolite

    To be frank, I still have not worked out what he is saying.

    If it is a support for Velikovski and the weird crackpot theories so espoused, I really have no sympathy. However, I am still waiting to find out what red shift is trying to say.
    Have no fear, this is an history thread, not a psuedo science thread, and Velikovsky is spelled with a "y".

    I am curious, what are your thoughts on Firestone, et al. then?
    I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right question.

    "The track of a glacier is as unmistakable as that of a man or a bear, and is as significant and trustworthy as any other legible inscription"
    John Strong Newberry; 1873

    "From observations upon living glaciers, and from the known nature of ice, we may learn to recognize the track of a glacier as readily and unmistakably as we would the familiar foot-prints of an animal." G. F. Wright 1891 (108-109)

     

  10. #9  
    Forum Freshman jlhredshift's Avatar
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    Wow, over a thousand views in one year and no comments. Skeptic's paranoia aside, of these the one that most intersts me is why the great geologist Grove Karl Gilbert chose to decide that Meteor crater was a steam explosion and not an impact crater after he had decided through observation that the craters on the moon were impact craters. My thought is that it was a political decision. The paper he published on this subject was:

    The Origin of Hypotheses, Illustrated by the Discussion of a Topographic Problem

    Science,
    3(53), 1 - 13 (1896)

    The "Topographic" problem was Meteor Crater, and in my view he came to its' discussion, somewhat, through the backdoor.

    To my knowledge he never published on it again. [I have a copy of the paper]
    I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right question.

    "The track of a glacier is as unmistakable as that of a man or a bear, and is as significant and trustworthy as any other legible inscription"
    John Strong Newberry; 1873

    "From observations upon living glaciers, and from the known nature of ice, we may learn to recognize the track of a glacier as readily and unmistakably as we would the familiar foot-prints of an animal." G. F. Wright 1891 (108-109)

     

  11. #10  
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    We generally frown on resurrecting long dead threads around here unless there's a new piece of information that directly pertains. Your "new" piece is over a century old and not available on line. If its got a thousand views and no one added a post that should tell you that no one was interested enough to comment: Accept that and move on.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
     

  12. #11  
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    Why is idea not "popular" necessarily not correct?

    City of Troy was widely thought for centuries to be mythical until brave soul Heinrich Schliemann actually dug it up. He was amateur and something of crank, plagued by controversy all his life- but he was right.

    Heinrich Schliemann - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Again, professional vs amateur antagonism pitted Barringer vs Gilbert, and amateur Barringer was correct regarding origin of Arizona Meteor Crater. If credentials alone could guarantee competence, there would be no malpractice suits.

    Great quote:
    "Objectivity cannot be equated with mental blankness; rather, objectivity resides in recognizing your preferences and then subjecting them to especially harsh scrutiny — and also in a willingness to revise or abandon your theories when the tests fail (as they usually do)." — Stephen Jay Gould
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; August 28th, 2011 at 11:12 PM.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
     

  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Why is idea not "popular" necessarily not correct?
    No one has said that here and it only has the most obtuse connection to the subject.

    I'm closing this. Feel free to open another thread with your question or something related like a discussion of scientific consensus' role in science progression etc.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
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