|Credit: Donna Foster Roizen|
Anthony Watts gives an excuse (if you can call it that) for publishing such nonsense, saying that he promotes Velikovsky "in the context of learning" and seems to think the Director of GISS NASA is a coward for not doing the same.
Tim Balls' paranoia about controlling elitists
Tim writes how science is determined by evidence. I'm kidding of course. Tim thinks there's a tiny group of scientists who head up a conspiracy to block science, and writes:
It involves a group that establishes themselves as the authority on a particular area of science. They then attack anyone who questions their prevailing wisdom. They control the curriculum in schools and universities and extend their control through professional societies. They establish themselves as a scientific elite who reject an idea and/or the author, thus blocking the very essence and dynamism of science. It is another form of “the science is settled” and “the debate is over.” Proponents of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) knew that most scientists would accept without question their claims because they were the scientific elite.
As far as Tim's irrational beliefs about who or what controls science go, that's real crank territory of the paranoid kind. Sure sometimes a paper that is way, way out of the mainstream is hard to publish, but eventually, if the findings have merit, science will prevail.
Tim's article was all over the place as usual, but he seems to have been trying to argue that the same forces that disparaged Velikovsky's crank ideas are the same forces disparaging the crank ideas of climate science deniers.
Most rational people would argue that's a good thing.
Tim and his new-fangled computer modelers
Most elitists in the AGW crowd were the new fangled computer modelers. I watched the takeover of climatology by the modelers. They quickly became the keynote presenters at conferences.
"New-fangled computer modelers"! What century is Tim Ball living in? Do you think he has a computer? Maybe he writes out everything by hand and gets his wife or son to type it up and send it to WUWT.
I found an article in an old NOAA publication from 1972, about a new climate supermodel. That's 42 years ago. Where has Tim been for the past 42 years? Ironically I came across it because of an article that Tim Ball once mentioned but didn't link to (a blizzard in 1888). The article is on page 32, and begins (slightly misleadingly) with:
What will the earth be like to live on in another century? Will steadily increasing pollution of our natural waters finally alter the heat balance of the world's oceans and cause sweeping climatic changes? Will carbon dioxide and other manmade pollutants so thoroughly foul our air that our great-grandchildren will have gas masks in every closet? What are likely to be the major environmental problems of the future that should be faced today?
Tim claims he was falsely accused
Tim whines that his touting Velisovsky's pseudo-science was criticised, and he says he was falsely accused:
The reaction to my recent reference to Immanuel Velikovsky was knee-jerk, ill-informed, and a classic example of scientific elitism...
...I was falsely accused, along with Anthony Watts, of “pushing“ Velikovsky.
Tim proves he wasn't falsely accused
So he decided to get rid of the "falsely" part and push Velikovsky for real. He wrote:
As a result of Velikovsky’s research, done with thoroughness and precision, he discovered anomalies that didn’t fit the prevailing sequence of events. ...
Tim takes exception to the Wikipedia entry and writes:
Labelling Velikovsky a catastrophist was part of the attack on his ideas from mainstream science. An earlier quote from Wikipedia said,Tim again, noting that a broken clock tells the right time twice a day:
“Velikovsky began to develop the radical catastrophist cosmology and revised chronology theories for which he would become notorious."
Why use the pejorative and subjective adjectives “radical” or “notorious”? All he did was suggest with evidence that there is another interpretation of the official evidence.
Velikovsky’s story is fascinating because of his innovative thinking and accuracy of his predictions.
And Tim on Einstein and Velikovsky:
The Einstein/Velikovsky correspondence is fascinating reading. Much of his discussion with Einstein involved the topic of the role of electromagnetic effects on celestial mechanics. As editor of Scripta Universitatis, Velikovsky hired Einstein to prepare the physics and math section. The attacks on Velikovsky did not influence Einstein; he knew the man and his science. As open-minded scientists, they didn’t agree on everything.
The website has four short letters from Einstein and ten, mostly long, letters from Velikovsky. Here is the first letter listed:
July 8, 1946
Dear Mr. Velikovsky:
I have read the whole book about the planet Venus. There is much of interest in the book which proves that in fact catastrophes have taken place which must be attributed to extraterrestrial causes. However it is evident to every sensible physicist that these catastrophes can have nothing to do with the planet Venus and that also the direction of the inclination of the terrestrial axis towards the ecliptic could not have undergone a considerable change without the total destruction of the entire earth’s crust. Your arguments in this regard are so weak as opposed to the mechanical-astronomical ones, that no expert will be able to take them seriously. It were best in my opinion if you would in this way revise your books, which contain truly valuable material. If you cannot decide on this, then what is valuable in your deliberations will become ineffective, and it may be difficult finding a sensible publisher who would take the risk of such a heavy fiasco upon himself.
I tell you this in writing and return to you your manuscript, since I will not be free on the considered days.
With friendly greetings, also to your daughter,
Part of a letter from Velikovsky to Einstein, in 1952:
...When, by chance, we met last week at the lake, I became aware that you are angry with me personally for my “Worlds in Collision.” From you I have not expected this reaction. ...
From a 1952 letter from Einstein:
27th August, 1952
Dear Dr. Velikovsky:
The reason for the energetic rejection of the opinions presented by you lies not in the assumption that in the motion of the heavenly bodies only gravitation and inertia are the determining factors. The reason for the rejection lies rather in the fact that on the basis of this assumption it was possible to calculate the temporal changes of star locations in the planetary system with an unimaginably great precision.
Against such precise knowledge, speculations of the kind as were advanced by you do not come into consideration by an expert. Therefore your book must appear to an expert as an attempt to mislead the public. I must admit that I myself had at first this impression, too. Only afterwards it became clear to me that intentional misleading was entirely foreign to you.
With friendly greetings,
I think Velikovsky's wacky ideas seriously annoyed Dr Einstein. From the language it looks as if they socialised and were friendly. I get the impression that Tim Ball cannot fathom that people can be friendly with all sorts, no matter what crank notions they may entertain, if they regard them as well-meaning.
Tim Ball is a big fan of Velikovsky
If you read Tim's article you can see that despite his weak protests, he's fallen for Velikovsky hook, line and sinker. He adores the man and his work. Trying to claim that he doesn't while at the same time lauding him as if he were a physical scientist is not inconsistent with how conspiracy theorists behave (holding two contradictory thoughts at the same time).
Anthony Watts supports promoting Velikovsky's pseudo-science "in the context of learning"
Anthony Watts added a footnote, effectively saying that Gavin Schmidt is wrong to call out pseudo-scientific quackery too:
Addition by Anthony. For the record I’ve never supported Velikovsky’s ideas in the book When Worlds Collide, contrary to what Dr. Gavin Schmidt thinks. But I DO support discussing them in the context of learning, something Dr. Schmidt himself has proven he does not support by his own cowardly actions in person, and by email – Anthony WattsDr Schmidt is one person who doesn't shy away from anything except giving credibility to the wacky ideas of deniers. Anthony Watts has behaved in a cowardly fashion on numerous occasions. Remember how he cadged money from his readers on the promise of "asking hard questions" - and then didn't even put up his hand once to ask a question? Talk about cowardly.
And it's good to know that despite his theories that global warming is caused by russian steampipes, or little warm pockets of humanity (two people camped out in an isolated part of the least populated continent on earth, Antarctica) he draws the line at Velikovsky. But he thinks it should still be presented as legitimate science on his blog. Well, WUWT is an example of a blog that dismisses real science and promotes quacks. That's crank magnetism, without which Anthony would have no readers.
Update: Logical Leaps from frying pan to fire: Velikovsky shows that climate science is not settled
In yet a third very muddled conspiracy ridden article (archived here), Tim Ball and Anthony Watts jointly argue that scientists should not denounce quackery such as that by Velikovsky. They say that:
Neither Anthony nor I ever said we agreed with Velikovsky’s views on planetary motion.Not saying that they agreed is not the same as saying they disagreed, which gives Tim an out. Anthony did say that he doesn't support the claims. Tim Ball was less clear on that point in his previous two articles and is obviously a big Velikovsky fan or he wouldn't have devoted three WUWT articles praising him. At the end, however, Tim and Anthony are more or less fuzzily categorical:
Again, for the record, neither of us support Velikovsky’s views on planetary motion. Some of them are rightly labeled as ridiculous.
The next sentence is completely wrong. Einstein didn't "encourage" Velikovsky. This is borne out by the letters above and on the website I listed below. Tim and Anthony wrote:
We pointed out that he worked with Einstein, who knew his claims and encouraged him.So as well as being wrong about Einstein, I see by the "we" that Anthony Watts is owning Tim Ball's articles.
The following sentences confirm what I wrote above:
We also pointed out that some who initially attacked his work, like Professor Hess, later conceded that many of his predictions were confirmed. What Ball condemned was the nastiness and unsubstantiated basis of the attacks by high priests of the prevailing wisdom. The combined effect of the automatic rejection of new ideas with the character assassination of those who present them works to preclude steady advances in science. In other words, skepticism is not allowed, and skeptics are persona non grata. This results in mainstream science effectively claiming the debate is over, and the science is settled.
The highlighted sentence is topsy turvy, unless Tim and Anthony are arguing that science advances by embracing pseudo-scientific nonsense. The last sentence doesn't follow from the previous.
And further on they make false assertions. Any data they want is available to them, conspiracy bloggers like Anthony Watts and Tim Ball just reject it in favour of their conspiracy theory. They tell a big fat lie:
More important, people can make judgments about Velikovsky because all of his data and ideas were available. The proper scientific method of presenting and testing a hypothesis was carried out in Velikovsky’s case. Unfortunately, the same was not true of the IPCC anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis, in which, as Richard Lindzen said very early in the process, the consensus was reached before the research had even begun.
That's wrong because Velikovsy's case didn't rest on "presenting and testing" any hypothesis AFAIK. Not only that but many of his hypotheses were pure unadulterated quackery, as Einstein pointed out long ago. It's also wrong because climate science as reported by the IPCC is supported by scientific evidence. The latest WG1 report cites more than 9,200 scientific peer-reviewed papers brimful of evidence.
Tim and Anthony's argument goes like this, Scientists pointed out that Velikovsky's claims, such as Venus being a comet, were ludicrous. The scientists were wrong to do so (according to Tim and Anthony). Therefore climate science is run by elitists who prevent the poor little deniers from writing nonsense on their blogs and in reputable journals. Therefore it's not been proven that humans are causing climate change.
The leaps of illogic take one's breath away!
Added by Sou at 3:42 pm AEDT 9 March 2016 and edited for clarification a little while later
From the WUWT conspiracy den
The comments aren't remarkable for all the WUWT fans who are also fans of Velikovsky. That's what you can expect at WUWT. Why they are remarkable is that some readers who should by now know better, expected anything different from the climate conspiracy blog WUWT.
March 5, 2016 at 5:41 pm
Wow. you’ve outdone yourself..I now have lots of homework to do ! Thanks to both you and Anthony !
March 5, 2016 at 6:07 pm
I’m not a Popperian, but any scientist who puts forth a hypothesis should, at a minimum, also state what, if observed, would prove the hypothesis wrong. My scant understanding of Velikovsky is that he did not do this.
Gary Pearse will take Velikovsky over Einstein any day:
March 5, 2016 at 7:44 pm
Read his stuff and if you are not intrigued, go on with your dull witted certainty.
Crispin in Waterloo but really in Dushanbe probably regards Anthony Watts, the potty peer and uber-conspiracy theorist Tim Ball as three of the most important contributors to climate science in the modern world:
March 5, 2016 at 9:02 pm (excerpt)
..It is interesting that Velikovsky and Tesla, two of the most important contributors to science in the modern world, had so much trouble with the establishment. When things they predicted or discovered are accepted by the mainstream, they are sidelined and silenced and others, as in the case of Darwin, are credited with novelty for things already published. ..
Wm Sears is puzzled by Tim Balls' fascination. He doesn't know Tim well, does he.
March 5, 2016 at 6:29 pm
Tim “The Einstein/Velikovsky correspondence is fascinating reading.”
In this correspondence we see that, although politely stated, Einstein considered Velikovsky to be at best a crank and possibly a quack. I don’t understand this fascination with Velikovsky that you and others have. In the seventies McMaster University held a conference on Velikovsky inspired spin-offs. It was used by the humanities faculty as a science bashing frenzy. No claim was considered too bizarre. I was asked if I thought that the Burmuda Triangle was caused by black holes.
March 5, 2016 at 7:21 pm
There is very little mention here of exactly why scientists said velikovsky was wrong. The Wiki summary of his major book says:
"Worlds in Collision is a book written by Immanuel Velikovsky and first published April 3, 1950. The book postulated that around the 15th century BCE, Venus was ejected from Jupiter as a comet or comet-like object, and passed near Earth (an actual collision is not mentioned). The object changed Earth’s orbit and axis, causing innumerable catastrophes that were mentioned in early mythologies and religions around the world."
Is it really necessary to believe that scientists disputed that because of claimed deficiencies in V’s education? Does anyone seriously believe it is actually true?
Thought not. So what is wrong with scientists saying it is wrong?
AndyE's comment is reeking with right wing authoritarianism (which P reminded me of yesterday) - Tim Ball is awarded the role of the "scumbucket" authoritarian leader.
March 5, 2016 at 8:06 pm
Well done, Tim Ball. As always, you are serenely objective and properly scientific. You are never scared of novel theories as long as they are reasonably founded. Real science progresses quietly and haltingly by individual scientists stepping out fearlessly with new theories and waiting for time or other scientists to demolish their theories. Velikovsky was to my mind a real scientist, a very knowledgeable person doing his utmost to further our understanding of reality. Of course, time (and further obvious facts) proved him very wrong in many of his theories – but so what! He should never be denigrated because of that.
lsvalgaard wants WUWT polluted with a different sort of nonsense than Velikovsky. He can take his pick of the usual nonsense.
March 5, 2016 at 8:59 pm
As I have said before, pushing Velikovsky shows the sad state of scientific literacy, even by people who claim to be scientists. Velikovsky’s claims were garbage on their face. Find me even a single claim that were based on application of known physical laws and derived by quantitative calculation. I say “shame on you” for polluting WUWT with your nonsense.
Steve McIntyre prefers WUWT gets involved in different sorts of foolishness. He doesn't say which WUWT foolishness he prefers. The list is very long.
March 5, 2016 at 9:29 pm
Velikovsky’s historical writings are total nonsense and a complete waste of time. WUWT should not be getting involved in this sort of foolishness.
Gary Hladik has some Velikovsky favourites:
March 5, 2016 at 10:11 pm
My two favorite parts of Velikovsky’s claims:
(1) Venus stopped the Earth’s rotation, then started it up again, all within days or hours;
(2) Venus rained “hydrocarbons” on some parts of the Earth and “carbohydrates” on others.
I’d say you can’t make this stuff up, but obviously…you can! :-)
anna v is in favour of elitism in science:
March 5, 2016 at 9:04 pm (excerpt from a much longer comment)
Should one have elitism in science? i.e.a ruling framework where the majority of scientists have as a postulate?
I will argue that yes. Elitism may lead to fashions, but fashions are not elitism.
References and further reading
Supermodel - article by Joann Temple Dennett on page 32 of NOAA January 1972
The Einstein-Velikovsky Correspondence
From the HotWhopper archives
- The Worlds Collide at WUWT - Astronomy is a Hoax! - February 2016
- Tim Ball is conspiratorially lost in the blizzards of 2015 and 2016 - February 2016
- Denier weirdness: a collection of alarmist predictions from WUWT and elsewhere - July 2013
- An economist should know better, maybe ...but what about Anthony Watts? - May 2013
- Some sciency questions, plus a note on etiquette - September 2014