Monday, February 29, 2016

The Worlds Collide at WUWT - Astronomy is a Hoax!

Sou | 5:33 AM Go to the first of 47 comments. Add a comment
What can I say? After promoting Tim Ball's wacky One World Guvmint conspiracy theories, now Anthony Watts has got Tim Ball resurrecting Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision. Scientists pointing out that the 1950's book was gobsmackingly stupid is another sign that climate science is a hoax.

I wonder what the WUWT-ers will make of that?

Tim Ball wrote:
Nature Climate Change is owned by the Nature Publishing Group that is a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. This is interesting because they were the publishers involved with the Velikovsky travesty, one of the most egregious examples of the conflicts that occur between publishers and a search for the truth. You can read Velikovsky’s side of the story in his book Stargazers and Gravediggers that Amazon describes as follows.

In one of the greatest acts of censorship in American history, a powerful lobby of establishment scientists forced Macmillan to suspend publication of Immanuel Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision” – the first shot fired in the campaign against Velikovsky’s “heretical” views. Here, with enormous dignity and intelligence, Velikovsky himself tells the full story of one of the most shameful book-burning episodes of our time. This is Velikovsky’s final word on the matter, and it forms an important inside account of a scandal that shook the worlds of science and publishing alike.

Velikovsky became a target for Carl Sagan, an early promoter of human CO2 caused global warming. That claim became central to the argument about the threat of higher CO2 levels. He challenged the claims of the levels and cause of temperatures on Venus. Sagan felt so threatened that he published a book Scientists Confront Velikovsky. It is about all his claims thus collectively including Venusian CO2. He is not to be believed on anything.

In case you missed it, here is the Wikipedia article describing Velikovsky's book from 1950 - how he figured that Venus shot out from Jupiter as a comet, almost sideswiped Earth causing lots of catastrophes, then swung back again causing more catastrophes on Earth. In its wild screeching journey, Venus pushed Mars which also nearly hit Earth and caused a heap of other catastrophes.

Really and truly.

I'm not joking.

Read it for yourself.

From the WUWT comments

February 28, 2016 at 10:12 am
…Well said Dr. Ball..You make Canada proud again !

Update to the WUWT "thoughts"

I've just been back to WUWT to see how the comments panned out (archived here). It was quite a while before anyone took issue with Tim's defense of Velikovsky's Venus "theory". The first person was Steven Mosher, who poked fun at one of Judith Curry's pet deniers, Rudd Istvan, for his apparent gushing endorsement of Tim's conspiracy nuttery in general. Rudd seems to think that 200 years of "warmunist" science (aka climate science, or the climate hoax, depending on your world view) is the fault of non-government organisations and the 193 countries that make up the UN. ristvan wrote:
February 28, 2016 at 10:51 am
I think there are two different dynamics going on. MSM is simple to understand. “if it bleeds, it leads” is an old MSM slogan, and CAGW has produced a lot of bleed. For once august journals like Science and Nature, there is a much more complicated multipart dynamic. Part is the politicization of science through mechanisms like NGO influence and government reseach funding, something Eisenhower warned about in his farwell address. Part is the international agenda set by UNFCCC before the consensus falsely determined the science was settled. An example of this is the IPCC charter, not to understand climate change, but only anthropogenic climate change. The journals got swept along by this tide, with pal review and ‘climate correctness’ finishing the job of eroding their credibility.
Now that the hopeless intermitancy of renewables is biting with penetration, now that Mother Nature has by and large not cooperated this century, now that a lot of the CAGW ‘blood’ has been exposed for the alarmist nonsense it always was, the tide is turning.
The other factor is the internet. This the first great science/public policy debate where MSM and paywalled journals are NOT the main places voters can turn to be informed. As the importance of MSM and paywall journals continues to fade, so will warmunist momentum. 

Steven Mosher replied, a short while later:
February 28, 2016 at 11:10 am
So Rud.. believes

That stung. Rudd Istvan must have had another look at Tim's article and reconsidered, balancing the importance of supporting Tim Ball's wacky conspiracy theories in general with the importance of not being seen as a Velikovsky fan. ristvan regurgitated some of the Wikipedia article Steven linked to. He accused Steven Mosher of being "over the top", while Tim Ball merely had the Velikovsky part of his narrative "factually distorted":
February 28, 2016 at 1:27 pm
Mosher, you are over the top again. My post was nothing about Velikofsky’s comparative mythology ‘evidence’ nonsense. Nor does his nonsense repeal Newton’s celestial mechanics (laws of motion), which make his speculations about Mars and Venus beyond nonsense. McMillan fired the editor who decided on publication as a science book within their imprint on grounds of incompetence (manifestly so), and transferred the imprint to Doubleday (publishes fiction and non fiction) to remove stigma from McMillan (publishes science books and textbooks).
Velikofsky published a second edition removing most of his damning appendix arguing against Newton, and then in 1965 a new edition with a different preface and an epilogue about the controversy. It is still in print as a paperback, and an ebook version is available. Just checked.
Dr. Ball got that that part of his narrative factually distorted.

lsvalgaard got a snipe in some time later, quoting Tim Ball's article and writing:
February 28, 2016 at 12:11 pm
This is Velikovsky’s final word on the matter
That you are pushing Velikovsky just shows how deep the scientific illiteracy rot has gone.

That drew a late response and slight backtrack from Tim Ball, who complained that he wasn't pushing Velikovsky, he was just arguing that real scientists were wrong to pan his nonsense and push Macmillan Publishers to remove it from their scientific texts list (eg to class it as fiction, not science). BTW here's an overview of the Harvard Hasty Pudding Club. JFK was a member :)
February 28, 2016 at 4:32 pm
Wrong! I am not “pushing” Velikovsky. Why don’t you read carefully without automatically and almost immediately putting on your blinders? I was using Velivovsky to illustrate how mainstream academia reacts when somebody dares to suggest anything other than what they push. Step outside their prevailing wisdom and they disclose their tunnel vision and prejudices quickly and nastily. Harlow Shapley’s despicable behavior in the matter was exposed by the letter he wrote to Macmillan threatening wto get all academics to withdraw their textbooks. The letter was obtained and revealed by the Harvard Hasty Pudding Club.

You'll notice that Tim also shifted his complaint from Carl Sagan to Harlow Shapley, which undermines his "higher CO2 levels" argument in his main article. (Not that anyone noticed.) Maybe Tim decided to read the Wikipedia article, and might have even "believed" some of it. According to Wiki:
In Cosmos, Sagan also criticizes the scientific community for their attitude toward Velikovsky, stating that while science is a process in which all ideas are subject to a process of extensive scrutiny before any idea can be accepted as fact, the attempt by some scientists to suppress outright Velikovsky's ideas was "the worst aspect of the Velikovsky affair." [22]

KiwiHeretic is a fan of Velikovsky, claiming his predictions have come true. Is he confusing him with Nostradamus (who people like to love)? He also claims that Carl Sagan thought something about hollow moons and aliens. WTFUWT? (It seems to all mixed up with a Mars aliens conspiracy theory that's new to me, but old. And no - Carl Sagan did not believe or promote the view that the Mars moon was a hollow structure where alien cities existed.)
February 28, 2016 at 6:43 pm (an excerpt from a longer comment with more wacky notions)
It’s interesting but predictable that the anti-Velikovsky venom still flows freely after all these years. As pointed out by a number of observers during the Velikovsky scandal, he must be the luckiest thinker who ever lived for having made so many correct prior claims (‘predictions’) on the strength of a supposedly flawed theory. If he was so wrong, as many Sagan worshippers on this forum seem to believe, how could he have made so many correct predictions based on his ideas? Was he just lucky? What would be the chances of that? I keep hearing people claim with authority that Velikovsky was necessarily wrong or that he was deluded, but I never hear anyone explain precisely why he must be. It is enough for them merely to say so. They then quote Sagan as their authority because Sagan wrote a book denouncing Velikovsky as a fraud. Little mention is ever made of the fact that Sagan himself never read Velikovsky’s books and was known himself for having come up with crackpot ideas like his belief, peddled in the mid-sixties, that Phobos (one of the moons of Mars) was hollow and peopled by aliens. ...

February 28, 2016 at 3:22 pmI read a couple of Velikovsky’s books, including Worlds in Collision. Very persuasive, IMO. Has anyone refuted his (correct) prediction that Venus would have a retrograde revolution? 

Update added by Sou same day at 3:08 pm  AEDT


  1. I also liked the part where Tim Ball is against the scientific journals from the private sector and scientific publishers having a profit motive.

    Always thought these guys liked the private section.

    Wonder whether Tim Ball would rather see publishing being handled by the governmint or non-profits.

    The irony is that one of the journals he complains about, the journal Science, is published by a non-profit: The American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    1. Yes, the rest of Tim's article is the usual. Because all the scientific journals that publish climate science show that we're causing global warming, they are all in on the hoax.

      No asking if maybe, just maybe, it's the non-scientific nonsensical conspiracy theorising deniers who've got it wrong and all the scientists are correct.

    2. This changes everything . Thank goodness we have Naomi Klein to deliver us from the moral hazards of bipartisanship.

    3. Ah, a drive-by non-sequitur. How unlike Russell.

    4. "Bipartisan" is uniquely USian, and means the GOP and Democrats working together. The GOP which is about to have Donald Trump as their presidential candidate. Yes, please do save us from bipartisanship.

    5. Yep. Russell, your Grand Old Party is mad, and is, as Chomsky points out, a threat to human civilization. All over the world sane people of all political persuasions are wondering what the hell we're all going to do if your farcical electoral process yields a lunatic cabal assembled by a narcissomegalomaniac overseeing the greatest arsenal in human history.

      The Republican nomination circus already has the US' international reputation in tatters...

      So, indeed; bugger 'bipartisanship'.

    6. Bill gives us too much credit.

      Lord knows we've tried to swap the Donald for Boris, but he's happy where he is.

  2. Wut.

    It's not far from there to becoming a Flat Earther. All of it involves rejection of basic laws of physics.

    I guess the thing with "skepticism" of this sort is that once you start rejecting some sound science, there's nothing to stop you from rejecting the rest. *Everything* becomes suspect, even well-established scientific results.

    On my more cynical days, I wonder if human civilization really deserves to persist.

    1. I try and distinguish between human civilisation and yob culture, although the latter seems increasingly prevalent in mainstream society.

    2. 168 presidential nominees have been filibustered in the history of the United Sates
      82 of them were Obama nonimees.

      So much for bipartisanship


  3. Is Tim Ball really this dumb? I mean does anyone know him or of him personally through mutual friends or acquaintances?

    And Anthony Watts lets this drivel sit on his blog? This is beyond normal fruitcake land. Entering territory even your run-o-the-mill denier has to think twice about.

    Of course I haven't read the comments over there - I may be giving them more credit than they deserve. Perhaps they're just lapping it up per usual.

    1. All evidence points to yes. I do have several mutual acquaintances but these are distant and any discussion of AGW would likely turn heated fairly quickly, let alone my asking if Ball is suffering from dementia.

      That would ordinarily be my non-medical guess, but since he's been doing this sort of thing for many years it would have to be an unusually slowly progressing form. Perhaps he's just a crank who lucked into a position with an undemanding university many years ago.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Remember he's in hiding from the New World Order types and the black helicopters starting from his very early videos. A person on the run can hardly be expected to have many real friends, right???

    4. Tim Ball isn't that dumb. He knows a relevant part of the electorate is that dumb.
      This is why climate revisionism is such a resounding succes while using us to help them push the notion there's debate, hoax, whatever.

    5. I disagree, cRR, at least with your assessment of Ball. But it's just as well; the decrepit second- and third-raters that AGW denial groups have used over the years have inflicted enough damage on their own. I shudder to think what a knowledgeable, competent, charismatic and quick-witted scientific speaker for the deniers could have done.

      Maybe there is no such person, and the combination of knowledge and competence screens out too many liars for hire. As the saying goes, if pigs had wings they could fly.

    6. Magma - look it up. Tim Ball is a smart lobbyist, nothing less.
      Do not underestimate climate revisionism - ever.
      Those people are NOT dumb.

    7. This underestimation is a serious liability to the entire planet.
      I'm thinking of sniping my friends here for it, instead of revisionists-proper.
      You people NEED to understand the PR world and how nefarious and incredibly effective it is.

      Climate revisionism never changed over past 20 years. Reading tip:

  4. We seem to be moving into the realms of Dr Judy Woods (PHD) space energy beams theory (aka "where did the towers go") of the WTC collapse

    Once you reject basic physics - 2 + 2 really can equal 5

    Great stuff from team wacko

    As Napoleon observed "never interrupt your enemy when he is making mistakes"

  5. Nutty as it was, the Velikovsky reference was useful. A 1977 book based on a special session at a 1974 AAAS Meeting, Scientists Confront Velikovsky contains a foreword by Isaac Asimov in which he discusses endoheretics ('heretics' within science, almost always wrong but on occasion groundbreakers such as Galileo or Darwin) and exoheretics (essentially, cranks with little training in or understanding of science).

    About 2/3 of Asimov's introduction can be previewed at Amazon.com, and there are striking similarities between the characteristics of Asimov's exoheretics and climate science 'skeptics'.

    1. Too bad Peter Huber had to spoil the effect by being ine of Carl and Isaac's co-authors.

  6. WUWT appears to be an interesting experiment in producing a pristine strain of lunatic of the type Lewandowsky has identified.

    Are there, in fact, any remaining regulars who think to themselves 'hang on, what? Velikovsky!? what am I doing surrounded by these fruitcakes?'?.

    Or have they already been abraded down to a nub of pure, shimmering crazy?

    1. WUWT appears to be an interesting experiment in producing a pristine strain of lunatic of the type Lewandowsky has identified.

      I think there still is a tiny probability that WUWT could evolve into the climate equivalent of Landover Baptist Church.

      Are there, in fact, any remaining regulars who think to themselves 'hang on, what? Velikovsky!? what am I doing surrounded by these fruitcakes?'?

      I would recommend Theramin Tree's take on how one's critical faculty is being bent towards the purpose of the group.

      Of course, to an outsider, the group comes out as 'shimmering crazy' as you put it.

      An interesting point is raised by Ristvan (although I am sure that he does not intend to do so) when he mentions the Internet. It also makes it very easy for outsiders to observe the discussions of the group, as Lewandowsky, and Sou, has done :-)


    2. Lol! I went to the Landover Baptist Church site. It's great. I liked this bit from one of the articles that had the headline: "What Can True Christians™ Do to Help Speed Up Global Warming So Jesus Comes Back Quicker?"

      ...God's Holy Scriptures give the poorest farmer's servant in our congregation the power to win an argument with a Bio-Chemist, or a Nuclear Physicist - without even knowing a lick about what them folks studied in their fancy secular universities! What these ignorant unsaved, over-educated folks don't understand is that they can gather all the data, all the research and present all the facts they care to collect about any subject under the sun - but when you hold it next to child-like faith in the Almighty God, the most learned Evolutionist or Environmentalist, will widen their blind eyes in awe, and cower in fear at the truth of God's Word! Praise Jesus! For the simple truth, we need only look to our old children's Sunday School song, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands!" Oh, GLORY!

      The Theramin's Tree video provides a salutary lesson to not make generalised assumptions about individuals based on their (current) beliefs about one set of things (like climate science denial).

    3. Sou I was taught by nuns in the fifties. When I did my first confession after months of lessons about lots of sins. I methodically admitted to every sin I had been taught. I thought it was a exam to regurgitate 'facts'.

      It was many years later that the priest who took my first confession reaction made any sense to me. He mumbled 'it seems that sister Mary's indoctrination was a bit over zealous.

      It was when I was about nine I worked out that all these religious people were deluded if not insane.

      In spite of this I went to a catholic school till year twelve, where we had to go on a retreat to contemplate our immortal souls with Jesuit Priests.

      To make a long story short I told these priests that that all the fairy stories I have been taught were just that. This was done in front of my whole year twelve class. I could see them cringe with fear. The priest asked me what I really meant. My reply was it was all made up boolshit.

      The head Jesuit there then said that these allegorical stories were designed so simple people could understand them and you will understand when you get older and wiser.

      I said let me get this correct a story designed for simpletons will become clear when I get older and wiser?

      One priest asked 'have you no faith?'

      My answer was 'I have no faith at all where there is no evidence.'

      I got into a lot of trouble such as my parents being ordered to front the school headmaster.

      My father was quite diplomatic. He said that the education at your school is very good apart from the fairy stories. He also understood he still had eight sons to go through the system. These other eight sons would also make up their own minds.

      This is why these religious cretins want to get into public primary schools.

      At least these people only fucked with my mind not my body. Although which is worse!


    4. Well, Bert... although in our formative years it may have confused us a bit, I thought the training by the nuns was quite good, and we both seem to have come through it all with our bullshit detectors fairly intact.

      In my case, it was only the first 8 years of school, and we had alternate years of nuns/lay teachers. Having somehow managed to top my class, I won a free scholarship to Catholic secondary school and flatly turned that down. Best thing I ever did.

      In the end, I've forgotten more about the bible than most people ever knew, and am (apparently) none the worse for it :-)

  7. I wonder if the Velikovsky hypothesis is is being used by some deniers to deny the greenhouse effect? From the wikipedia link in the blog post:

    "Venus must be still very hot as young planets radiate heat."

    Velikovsky's proposal "explains" why Venus is hotter than Mercury - it's not the greenhouse effect, it's because it's a "young planet"!

    1. Surely that's explicit in the last paragraph quoted above?

      Velikovsky became a target for Carl Sagan, an early promoter of human CO2 caused global warming. That claim became central to the argument about the threat of higher CO2 levels. He challenged the claims of the levels and cause of temperatures on Venus. Sagan felt so threatened that he published a book Scientists Confront Velikovsky. It is about all his claims thus collectively including Venusian CO2. He is not to be believed on anything.

      So the rejection of Velikovsky by Sagan was an early outlier of the CO2 conspiracy! Velikovsky was the first Denier martyr! Seriously: there is no way back from this kind of lunacy...

    2. I like the part where Ball reveals The Harvard Hasty Pudding Club is at the center of the conspiracy.

      Why wasn't I told ?

  8. Love the Stoat's take: 'How embarrassing for Velikovsky'!

  9. If you are wondering who if anyone picked up on Tim's pushing Velikovsky, a few have. There've been some feeble backtracking attempts from a couple of people wanting to emphasise their the "climate hoax" conspiracy without fully endorsing the "Venus is a comet" crackpottery - Rudd Istvan and Tim Ball in particular.

    I've added an update to the article.

  10. "Part is the politicization of science through mechanisms like NGO influence and government reseach funding, something Eisenhower warned about in his farwell address." Nah, that's not what Eisenhower warned us about. Listen to the thing, it's ageless and a roadmap of our failure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWiIYW_fBfY it's only 15 minutes long

    What Eisenhower warned us against was an industrial-science-military complex run amuck exactly the thing that took over and achieved this grand state of world affair we witness these day. Look at Seitz, Singer, Happer and that crowd. If they don't totally embody what Eisenhower warned We The People about. We were supposed to be vigilant, but we weren't.

    1. IIRC Eisenhower wanted to warn about a miliitary / industrial / congressional complex, but though he'd cause too much outrage on Capitol Hill. But he'd have been even more bang on the money!

      And as for warning against the sinister influence of NGOs - What a joke! This is 'The Nazis were green leftists' territory... or 'Velikovsky was the first Denier martyr' territory!

    2. What ever it's worth, here are some quotes from that speech for the curious.
      President Dwight Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the nation January 17, 1961
      6:30 - considering the military establishment's role in our society

      7:45 - Now this conjunction, an immense military, and large arms establishment is new in the American experience. ...
      We recognize the imperative need for this development, yet we must not fail to comprehend it's grave implications. ...

      8:20 - In the counsels of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence whether sought or unsought by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

      We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted, only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals. So that security and liberty may prosper together

      9:10 - the technological revolution, research, universities and government...

      10:21 - ... Federal employment project allocations and the power of money is ever-present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.

      10:45 - It's the task of statesmanship to mold to balance and to integrate these and other forces new and old within the principles of our democratic system. Ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society...

      11:10 - As we peer into society's future, You and I and our government must avoid the impulse to live only for today plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.

      We want democracy to survive for all generations to come not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

  11. Sou,
    Your brief summary of Words In Collisions fails to do the whackiness of Velikovsky full justice. These events were all supposed to have happened between the 15th and 7th centuries BC and to have been recorded in mythological form in the Bible, in Greek and Roman mythology and in other sources.

    1. When I first read the description, I thought at first I made a mistake and was reading the Kerbal Space Program tabs opened on my browser. Seriously, deorbitation from Jool, crossing Kerbin's orbit screaming and ending in Eve ...

    2. If I remember correctly he even got a lot of the mythology wrong. Mixing up Athena with Venus for example.

  12. KSP may be the greatest video game ever created. I wish I had more time to devote to it, as it requires some devotion. I have learend so much...


  13. Maybe Tim can get Heartland to fund a Velikovsky Reality Project.

  14. Tim Ball says the scientific publishers ought to publish crap when asked to. I can understand why he would want that.

  15. Anthony's conspiratorial standards only rise as far as Chemtrail discussions but pretty soon he will be accepting those comments too. Here's why

    There seems to be a new and very gullible commentariat at WUWT.

    There has been no shortage of illiterate deniers to replace the literate ones who I presume, have moved on through embarrassment so Anthony has a pretty good business plan.
    As the physical effects of AGW now regularly slap us in the face it's almost impossible to run denialist blogs by arguing against science ( you can see that at CE where Dr Curry desperately tries to pass off uncertainty as a whole new form of science if not the very key to atmospheric physics).

    So it makes complete sense for Anthony to devote his site to conspiracy theorists. There are millions of them out there and not enough Tim Balls and Alex Joneses to keep them happy-angry. It's a Trumpian business plan:

    "I love the poorly educated! They are the smartest people, the most loyal people."

    No surprise if Rud Istvan pulls up stumps and and makes CE his home page soon.

    1. yep can't wait for the AGW deniers to include the "chemmies", they are wackos too

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. As a matter of coincidence, I'm currently reading Sagan's excellent The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle In the Dark. But I'm just *reading* it. Most of the WTFUWT denizens and the entire wingnut faction of the Republican party seem to be *living* it.

  18. Sorry I'm a bit late with this, but I've just noticed that Tim Bell was pushing Velikovsky in 2011 - Scientific Reaction to Velikovsky Symptomatic of Climate Science Debacle

    "In the end, Velikovsky succeeded because he passed the ultimate test of science: the ability to predict. More importantly, they were in contradiction to prevailing views. He made many, and apparently none are incorrect to date. The interesting one was the temperature of Venus, which was almost double what the textbooks said – the same textbooks that incorrectly use Venus as an example of runaway CO2-induced Greenhouse Effect."

  19. Tim Ball has bounced back with a piece at WUWT in which he takes umbrage at the thought that he pushes Velikovsky by, er, pushing Velikovsky. And not many of the commenters have the critical thinking skills to see through it.



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