A response to being Mann-handled

Full Disclosure – by Tim Ball and Anthony Watts


In a recent set of Tweets (seen in the image above)  Dr. Michael Mann of ‘hockey stick’ infamy, accused Tim Ball and Anthony Watts of supporting the theories of Immanuel Velikovsky. He based his claim on an article about scientific elitism [Ball] wrote that Anthony Watts kindly published on his web site. Mann’s accusation is completely false and indicates he either failed to read the article or if he did, failed to understand its purpose. The objective of the original article and follow up was to show how self-appointed elitists hinder the advance of science. A majority who made written comments about the article understood and agreed with the premise.

The article examined the reaction and behavior of the scientific elite to anyone who produced ideas and information that challenged their views. It used the example of Immanuel Velikovsky as a person who was demonized by the scientific elitists because he hypothesized a different interpretation of planetary motion and interactions involving electromagnetism. Worse, he used historical records including the Bible to establish a database and time sequence of apparently natural events.

Neither Anthony nor I ever said we agreed with Velikovsky’s views on planetary motion. We pointed out that he worked with Einstein, who knew his claims and encouraged him. 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.

This is precisely what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), of which Michael Mann was a member, did. Like Velikovsky, few of their conclusions were correct. 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.

Again, for the record, neither of us support Velikovsky’s views on planetary motion. Some of them are rightly labeled as ridiculous. However, to claim that we do, simply because the articles used him as an example of how some in science turn spiteful when confronted with ideas they see as threatening, is wrong, and the elitist premise is well illustrated by the ugly behavior of Dr. Mann and others.

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March 8, 2016 10:37 am

This looks like a great example to use if ever Mann is questioned about his truthfulness in any upcoming court case

Reply to  AndyL
March 8, 2016 11:28 am

The context of learning:
Good decisions come from wisdom.
Wisdom comes from bad decisions.

Jay Hope
Reply to  AndyL
March 8, 2016 11:28 am

The guy’s a cretin, and a liar. Or maybe he just doesn’t understand plain English. He certainly knows nothing about the climate.

Reply to  Jay Hope
March 9, 2016 3:01 am

Something I learned decades ago is that people are stunningly BAD at reading. I got really tired of reading philosophy articles where X would criticise Y for alleging that X thought P when X’s previous paper clearly (hah) said not-P and then Y would accuse X of the same sort of thing. I even encountered a misreading by the holder of a PhD in English who misread a simple short letter as saying the opposite of what it did say. When our passions are engaged, our eyes slide along the text looking for pretexts to express our rage. It is really hard to read and understand what someone you’re at odds with wrote. I am no supporter of Mann, but in this case I think it was a simple typical misreading by someone who can read well enough normally. (I myself found the feminist glaciology paper almost impossible to read carefully.)

Reply to  Jay Hope
March 9, 2016 4:55 am

Richard A. O’Keefe March 9, 2016 at 3:01 am:
“I am no supporter of Mann, but in this case I think it was a simple typical misreading by someone who can read well enough normally.”
You are giving him far too much credit for actually having read something. Most likely one of his pals emailed him and said “Hey, look what I saw………………………” and he then just barfs it back up on his own Txxxxxxer account

Reply to  Jay Hope
March 9, 2016 7:13 pm

Mann read it, and then decided he could smear Watts and Ball with a misrepresentation of what they said. Nothing wrong with his comprehension skills.

Reply to  AndyL
March 8, 2016 12:12 pm

No, using a crackpot like Velikovsky to promote an argument against established science is a pretty big strategic blunder. Might as well advertise yourselves as flat-earthers. I can’t stand Mann but in this case, who wouldn’t jump on the opportunity presented?

Reply to  Legend
March 8, 2016 6:26 pm

Yet how are we to know that he, or anyone else for that matter, is a crackpot, unless we are able to discuss him? We’re supposed to just shut up and listen when other people slam the door on a topic with a label like “crackpot” or “flat-earther”? Hmm . . . where have I heard of that tactic being used before . . . maybe with the word “denier” . . . .
fwiw, Copernicus (for example) really was a crackpot. That he also happened to be right (at least in the big picture) doesn’t save him. He saw the heavens as “perfect” (a legitimate scientific concept in his day), and circles as “perfect”, and all his work was an attempt to free the celestial realm from the imperfections of messy epicycles and return to it the perfection of circles. I call him a crackpot because he was trying to force an ideology onto real-world observations, rather than discover what was really going on.

Reply to  Legend
March 8, 2016 7:00 pm

You are right that Mann jumped on it like a rabid hyena maliciously mis-representing the context. So when you ask who would not jump on those kind of opportunities to defame an opponent, I would say other than Mann and the people running as presidential nominees not many would.
Ironically Mann’s inflammatory rhetoric and incompetent to mediocre research could have his science reputation ending up in Velikeovshy territory; they both got a few things right and many other things horribly wrong.

Reply to  Legend
March 8, 2016 7:52 pm

Agreed w Legend. Anthony & Tim gave a freebie to Mann. Too easy. If the point was to promote the free market of ideas, plenty of other good examples were available. Velikovsky was a strange one. He was not a scientist in any sense of the word. He was no doubt brilliant, but, he looked to the bible and other ancient sources, and then tried to prove them to be accurate using science. Completely bass ackwards.
So, live and learn. Don’t offer own goals so easily.

Reply to  Legend
March 9, 2016 12:28 am

Anyone who isn’t a liar. Anyone who conducts debates with the goal of discovering truth.

Reply to  Legend
March 9, 2016 2:04 am

He wasn’t a crack pot, that is a label. Even if his investigations turned out a negative result, it rules out the possibility ergo science has advanced. Science advances when we find something to not be true, but given the weird emotion in your post, I’d say that is lost on you.
If we can rule out the theory as incorrect it is good for science. “Crack pot” doesn’t come into it unless you are one of those who just looks at science’s butt as it passes by.
I really dislike terms of character assassination, usually used by the scientifically illiterate as they snuggle up to preferred theory.
Velikovsky got some stuff right lets not forget, some stuff is out there but given the topic, should we expect anyone to be right 100%
Hawking said the whole universe was squashed into a point, a coordinate, 0 volume and infinite temperature. A statement that followed maths down the rabbit hole and ignored the basic laws of physics a 10 year old knows. There are plenty more examples of this ridiculous type of assertion from the Authority in astrophysics, many more.

Reply to  Legend
March 9, 2016 3:08 am

Whichever way you look at it, the bible comprises a set of historical documents. Riddled with error, allegory, corrupted to suit the whims of the powerful (like any other religious and many other historical texts) maybe, but also as good as it gets as far as insight into some past civilisations and events go. Corroboration and alignment of information between religious texts in an effort to reduce error and increase their value as historical documents is a completely reasonable exercise, and no less valid in helping to build up a hypothesised historical picture than comparing proxy measurements in paleo-climatology. FYI I say this as an atheist.
I don’t remember much about Velikovski beyond what I read in the ‘Mysteries of the Unexplained’ books I loved as a kid, but as I understand it, he proposed some kind of ancient cataclysm involving a near miss with a large celestial object. This was based on his understanding of astronomy combined with historical research into religious texts of unconnected civilisations, using the themes common between them to build up a possible picture of the nature and timing of this event.
Obviously this involves post-hoc reasoning – Velikovsky started off with a conclusion, then looked for strands of evidence buried in a great deal of noise to support this. As such, he was prone to selection bias, and his results could not be presented as scientific fact. Using known physical properties such as planetary motion built in a sheen of respectability, which might have even convinced him that he was doing science rather than speculation. By holding Velikovsky up as the embodiment of pseudo science, Mann is ironically hurling some pretty big rocks around inside a flimsy greenhouse. As far as I know, at least Velikovsky didn’t attempt to bury his dodgy methodology in layers of bogus statistics and spurious averaging. This has been done in studies of religious texts, leading to ‘proof’ of biblical prophesy no less scientifically valid than the proxy-mangling of Mann and his cohorts.
Even if he was wrong in his conclusions and results, Velikovsky pursued them in a spirit of enquiry. They may yet turn out to be correct, even if by accident (there was no doubt some kind of historical cataclysm in the past 10,000 years – multiple lines of study including genetics confirm this), but it seems the speculative nature of his work meant it was never really taken seriously – especially not to the point where it became the cornerstone of a pseudo-scientific religion that would put a global economy was put in jeapordy. So why then the bile? His use as a piñata by the science establishment and the sheer sneeriness with which his name is used speaks more of the sneerers than of his work. To invoke another vague and generally unscientific branch of science, I would call that ‘projection’.

Reply to  Legend
March 9, 2016 6:27 am

So you are saying that we shouldn’t give liars the chance to lie about us.
However since they are already known to be liars, wouldn’t they lie about us anyway?
Your argument makes no sense and advises surrender in advance on any topic which may be controversial.
Which is what the liars want us to do.

Reply to  Legend
March 9, 2016 7:35 am

Out of context, sound-bite arguments. That’s Twitter for you.
Twitter may be new and in vogue but IMO it’s kids’ stuff.

Reply to  Legend
March 9, 2016 7:15 pm

It was a good strategy by Ball and Watts to suck Mann into exposing himself yet again as someone who does not let facts get in the way of pushing his ideology.

Reply to  Legend
March 9, 2016 11:51 pm

@ Legend – I entirely agree – the premise of using Velikovsky in this context was deeply flawed. Yes we that are more open minded can see the inference understand the point made.
But given the known levels of ignorance and arrogance from the likes of Mann and his ability to bend the truth this was akin to widening your own goal posts to make it easier to have a goal scored against you.

Reply to  AndyL
March 8, 2016 2:31 pm

Is it true that Michael Mann likes – say – marshmallows?
Or Malted Milk?
Or Milk?
Or mild and bitter?
And does that say anything about his science?
The questions – no, absolutely not!

Reply to  Autochthony
March 9, 2016 12:42 am

So Mann may be a proven liar who recklessly mis-represents his claimed nobel prize, his involvement in the cover of a Nature issue, the multiple “exonerations”, the data requests from Steve McIntyre, whether or not he performed certain statistical checks and many other things. Now he falsely claims something about an opponent, despite quoting directly from the paragraph where that person made his position clear.
Does that say anything about his science? That is for others to judge.

March 8, 2016 10:40 am

self-appointed elitists hinder the advance of science
Elite scientists are elite because their scientific work is generally accepted by the scientific community [sometimes wrongly – but such is real science]. To use Velikovsky as an example of an under-appreciated genius is beyond the pale. Fools like V abound in the current pseudo-scientific ‘discourse’ on blogs and forums. It diminishes WUWT to endorse such nonsense as examples of anything else than V’s foolishness. Now, I understand the common human response to defend putting foot in mouth and the current post is a good example of this.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 10:56 am

Let us hope that Dr. Bell will learn from his mistake.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 10:56 am

err… Ball.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:03 am

I think you are being overly defensive here. In the politics of this it was a mistake to use Velikeovshy (although it did flush Mann out), but I didn’t think you used him as an example of an “unappreciated genius”. The point was that science needs to be able to dispose of these blind alleys in a dispassionate way.

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:16 am

I hardly think that facilitating a legitimate posting of an article that may be linked to wacky science constitutes justification for self-mortification on your part, especially at the hands of a tw@t like Mann who, under the veil of legitimate, peer-reviewed science, perpetrated a hoax on humanity at the level of the Piltdown man scandal.
On its face, humility is meritorious. But you “publish” any number or wacky articles from the CAGW crowd and you need not apologize for giving light to their BS. I think you ought to retract your mae culpa for a lapse in judgement. I don’t think you ought to read, understand, judge, and assume responsibility for every article on this blog. The comment section serves as adequate opportunity for scrutiny and condemnation. IMO.
Mann is trying to put you in a box. A box you don’t belong in. This blog is fantastic because it is open and not a Procrustean bed of conformity.

Jay Hope
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:30 am

Out of curiosity, I downloaded ‘Worlds in Collision’. I took one look at it and asked for a refund. 🙂

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Bishkek
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:49 am

Why is everyone so sanctimonious? Crikey, can’t we discuss what is right and good about someone now and then, even if they are wrong 9 times out of 10? Mr V was not wrong 90% of the time and it drives people crazy apparently that he was right about anything at all. It is the ‘I have never been wrong’ attitude particularly of academics that makes them such boring dinner guests. Why not use the example set by Einstein who encouraged what was sensible and ignored what was not.
All this pontificating about who was ‘wrong once so he must be a nutter’ smacks of elitism and self-aggrandizement. What an unforgiving and hypocritical attitude. Why is Newton forgiven his nuttiness? Einstein was wrong about several things. We still find him venerated as a demi-god. Cantor couldn’t even get the very basics of infinite series right and undermined all of modern mathematics, yet we find him lauded and his errors are still taught as gospel.
How many times do you have to be right to make a contribution the progress of humanity? Once, in my book.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 1:56 pm

I don’t think you need to apologize at all. As I pointed out in my rather overlong comment downthread, Velikovsky was a polymath and scholar with a fascinating mind, with a long history of asking interesting questions in a variety of fields before his Worlds in Collision.
It was that book that so inflamed the small circle of academic astronomers that they forced his publisher to withdraw the profitable book and give it to another (non-academic) publisher. Dr. Ball might have chosen a less controversial example, but it was perfectly appropriate for him to cite the astronomers’ outrageous display of elite arrogance as an archetype of the vile misbehavior of the Climatist elite today. It is illustrative of their small-mindedness that they seize upon the opprobrium still associated with Velikovsky’s name to try to disparage you and Dr. Ball. Don’t fall for it.
/Mr Lynn

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 7:10 pm

Use J Harlen Bretz (geologist): coined the term “channeled scablands” in a series of papers written in the 1920s. This is long story but fits perfectly.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 7:56 pm

“Mr V was not wrong 90% of the time”
But it does matter when he is ‘right’ for the wrong reasons. Basing your ‘science’ on ancient texts isn’t the way to discover the truth.
It’s like saying because Nostradamus was ‘right’ about something that he should be taken seriously. Much if that can be attributed to chance & interpretation.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 8:18 pm

John F. Hultquist March 8, 2016 at 7:10 pm
Use J Harlen Bretz (geologist): coined the term “channeled scablands” in a series of papers written in the 1920s. This is long story but fits perfectly.

The Wikipedia article is here:
An excellent example, of which I was unaware, of the resistance of establishment elites in science to anything that challenges the prevailing ‘conventional wisdom’ of the field—in this case, the dogma of uniformitarianism, which had originated in part in contradistinction to Biblical tales of floods and catastrophes:

Bretz published a paper in 1923, arguing that the channeled scablands in Eastern Washington were caused by massive flooding in the distant past. This was seen as arguing for a catastrophic explanation of the geology, against the prevailing view of uniformitarianism, and Bretz’s views were initially discredited. However, as the nature of the Ice Age was better understood, Bretz’s original research was vindicated, and by the 1950s his conclusions were also vindicated.
Bretz encountered resistance to his theories from the geology establishment of the day. The geology establishment was resistant to such a sweeping theory for the origin of a broad landscape for a variety of reasons, including lack of familiarity with the remote areas of the interior Pacific Northwest where the research was based, and the lack of status and reputation of Bretz in the eyes of the largely Ivy League-based geology elites. Furthermore, his theory implied the potential possibilities of a Biblical flood, which the scientific community strongly rejects. . .

Interestingly, the same uniformitarian doctrine, under which geological changes always took crept along at a glacial pace (as it were), also inflamed the extreme reaction to Velikovsky’s ideas. As an example of how entrenched this dogma was, it took over half a century before J. Harlen Bretz’s work was rewarded, when he was 96:

Bretz received the Penrose Medal; the Geological Society of America’s highest award, in 1979, at the age of 96.[7] After this award, he told his son: “All my enemies are dead, so I have no one to gloat over.”

Let’s hope the doctrine of Catastrophic Global Warming by Anthropogenic Emission of CO2 is not so long-lived.
/Mr Lynn

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 9:27 pm

This is a response to Kozlowski:
“But it does matter when he is ‘right’ for the wrong reasons. Basing your ‘science’ on ancient texts isn’t the way to discover the truth.”
Ancients are not dumb. They have, in their own way, without using computers and without the concept of the mathematical zero, were still able to calculate heavenly calendars. We could learn from them. The bible is actually an eye opener and how “Moses” could actually be an accomplished medical practitioner.

Gerry Morrow
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 9:39 pm

I think you’re being too defensive here Anthony, I’ve read “Worlds in Collision” and found it interesting in so far as the questions he, Velikovsky, raised. I didn’t believe his theory but didn’t feel that he was a “crackpot”. He had (still) unanswered questions about Venus, like why it’s axis and rotation are in retrograde to other planets, he came forward with an explanation that Venus was a comet of Jupiter that had come into near collision with the Earth, and physicists, in particular Carl Sagan, proved that the known physics didn’t support that explanation. Wiser heads than Sagan, like Einstein, were more tolerant, presumably because he’d seen a shift in the paradigm of “known” physics twice in his lifetime and encouraged Velikovsky in his work. And why not? He wasn’t after all doing anyone any harm, and was largely ignored.
There was another crackpot around during the 17th Century produced a book call Principa – Newton was incensed by the widespread scepticism of his peers, but eventually won out.
His scientific exploits are now, of course, legendary, but they were almost an aside to his real life’s work which was to figure out how to make gold our of heavy metals. I’d be careful calling anyone a crackpot until all the facts are in.
You shouldn’t be apologising either for yourself or Dr. Ball, who may have been better quoting the reaction to Newton’s Principia, or indeed his white light was the result of mixing many colours which the Royal Society refused to publish, as examples of scientific intolerance. Newton won because he was right, at least until Einstein came along. Velakovsky and Fred Holye lost because they were wrong, at least for the time being. You never know in science, so in my view it’s always best to take on others ideas and respond with grace rather than ridicule, like Einstein.

Steve (Paris)
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 10:46 pm

Well said Anthony. I have certainly learned a lot from this thread alone and a massive amount from WUWT over the years. Thank you.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 9, 2016 8:02 am

So when the heat is turned up you self-censor? This is real progress…where thesis and antithesis collide and produce synthesis. Velikovsky did what all scientists do. He observed (historical observations) and tried to explain the observations. That is what Newton did. J. Harlen Bretz used this when he studied scab land formation in 1923 but his theories were not accepted until much later. Marshall and Warren broke the settled science of stomach ulcer formation in 2005. Alfred Wegener was ridiculed for the theory of continental drift. In 1847, Ignaz Semmelweis proposed hand-washing to prevent infections in obstetrics, He was placed in an insane asylum and shortly thereafter beaten to death by the guards. The list goes on and on; settled science does not like to be upset.
Take the heat because the lime light produces it. Don’t let your enemies control the script.
Here is one more study that seems to break a modern consensus.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 9, 2016 9:03 pm

I don’t think using Velikovsky was a mistake at all. Just as referring to Telsa wasn’t a mistake. It raised a lot of good comments.
I have a brother-in-law who is an engineer and a teacher. He loves to take the “contrarian” position in discussions at times to draw people into a discussion to try to prove their point (even if he actually agrees with their position). It forces folks to actually THINK about what they are saying.
Since the article made it’s point regardless of the reference, and clearly caused a whole lot of thinking, it was a success.
Further, looking at where the “man’s” Twxxt went, it was very effective in demonstrating the point of the article.
I don’t understand the invective.
Seems to me the point has been well made.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 10, 2016 3:57 am

The best example from recent times of overturning an established consensus against overwhelming opposition; where the ideas had to be published in privately produced publications because of resistance from journal editors and reviewers and the work could not be pursued in established institutions but necessitated establishing a private research facility is surely the story of Peter Mitchell and Chemiosmotic theory for which he eventually won the Nobel Prize. Some would say that the sheer complexity of biology which doesn’t easily lend itself to the application of overarching physical laws is the reason that controversies like this can arise in this discipline. Complexity being a major issue in this context – with some work it could have made a rather nice example – rather than this Velikovsky nonesense. The story behind chemiosmotic theory is in any event a fascinating one.

Jim G1
Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 11:29 am

“Elite scientists are elite because their scientific work is generally accepted by the scientific community [sometimes wrongly – but such is real science].” General acceptability is mostly a function of the political environment of the times and one can always follow the money, employment opportunities and social status associated with being on the correct side of an argument. Never looked into Velikovsky, but he’s not the point. Open discussion is the point. Self appointment can be accomplished by ensuring that one does not rock the boat.

Jim G1
Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 11:39 am

“Elite scientists are elite because their scientific work is generally accepted by the scientific community [sometimes wrongly – but such is real science].” General acceptability in science is most times a function of the political emphasis and direction of the times and one can always follow the money, employment opportunies and social status given to those on the correct side of an issue. Self appointment to the elite can be accomplished by consistently being on the right side.

Reply to  Jim G1
March 8, 2016 4:33 pm

“Elite scientists” are humbug, pure and simple. Scientists either play by the simplest of rules: observe, hypothesize and share, so that others can evaluate the hypothesis in light of the claimed observations, or they pretend to have achieved the final answer and “see no need” to share. Scientists in any field feel not infrequently that defending a “perfectly good” theory against “anecdotal claims” [observations contrary to theoretical expectation]. The solution is to marginalize the originator of the alternative views or contrary observations, or, if you are attempting to establish a new view, to demonize and accuse “main stream” supporters of conspiracy and corruption. The intensity of this contest is a sound measure of just how poorly we actually understand the relevant science. A conclusion easily reached is that we are and will remain profoundly ignorant for the foreseeable future.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 11:41 am

Now, I understand the common human response to defend putting foot in mouth and the current post is a good example of this.

There’s a difference between rationalization and trying to make oneself properly understood.
Dr. Ball chose an ‘interesting’ example. He has adequately demonstrated that some so-called scientists are less interested in discussing ideas than they are in smacking down people who espouse ideas they don’t like.
I’m currently reading “Galileo’s Middle Finger’ by Alice Dreger. It has examples that make Michael Mann look like a nice guy.

Reply to  commieBob
March 8, 2016 12:02 pm

Yes, see anything on Tom Dillehay:
Here is a guy who was obviously an expert, but it took over a decade for a paradigm to even start to shift.
Sound familiar?
BTW, the Old Guard are still fighting:
Sound familiar?

Reply to  commieBob
March 8, 2016 1:45 pm

CaligulaJones says:
March 8, 2016 at 12:02 pm
Yes, see anything on Tom Dillehay:

I couldn’t get one link to work (because of my paranoid security settings) and the other looked like a 49 page rant. 🙂 I wimped and went to wiki.
Summary: For a long time Clovis was considered to be the oldest human settlement in the Americas. Anyone who suggested differently was treated to the usual contumely and disrespect. The controversy concerns a site in South America that predates Clovis by a lot.

Reply to  commieBob
March 8, 2016 2:03 pm

commieBob March 8, 2016 at 1:45 pm
Sorry ’bout that, Chief.
Yes, the PDF is a bit of a (well deserved) rant, where Dr. Dillehay rips one particular critic (Fiedel) a new one for basically being a dishonest and Mannian in his non-scientific “science” review:
“…he selected passages and data to support his position, compared preliminary statements made ten to
fifteen years ago with those in the final report and accused us of changing our minds about
the data, and took quotes out of context to indicate that our analysis was chaotic and
“Why wasn’t the Fiedel essay reviewed properly? We cannot escape the conclusion that the appeal of translating science for public consumption and for expanded readership was too tempting for Discovering Archaeology and Fiedel. There is no scholarly and scientific reason why this type of erroneous, misleading, and inflammatory review was published. We encourage constructive scientific discourse and review of major publications, but in refereed scientific journals, not popular, unjuried magazines.”

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 11:44 am

lsvalgaard- why did you read (and quote) exactly what was said, and then respond to something else? The quote you opened with is “self-appointed elitists hinder the advance of science”. The you said that “Elite scientists are elite because their scientific work is generally accepted by the scientific community”.
Do you NOT understand that a “self appointed” elitist differs from one who truly is “elite”? Then you follow that by putting Velikovsky in a context that neither Anthony nor Ball did-calling him an “under-appreciated genius”. Why is it that the vast majority of readers and commenters on that post got the gist of what Ball was saying perfectly clearly, but you and Mann and others seem to have missed the whole forest for one tree?
It is my opinion that neither Bell nor Anthony put their “foot in their mouths” here, and in all honesty, I find those who took a mere mentioned example meant to highlight a greater point-and made THAT the object of scorn and ridicule to not only lack personal introspection, but to almost perfectly define THE ACTUAL POINT of that article! It’s petty, irrational, and completely UNscientific to make assumptions about what someone else thinks, without ANY evidence to support them, and then chastise that someone else based on your own false assumptions.
You don’t get the privilege of deciding or declaring what “diminishes WUWT” in my eyes or to anyone else. You don’t get to define what is “beyond the pale” to me or others. Your opinions are entirely your own and that’s about as much value as they have in my eyes no matter who you are or how “elite” you might be.

Reply to  Aphan
March 8, 2016 12:10 pm


Reply to  Aphan
March 8, 2016 12:36 pm

Aphan – well said. I agree with Marcus “10,000 likes !!!”
I’ve seen it before. They can’t win on scientific reasoning, so in comes the emotional blackmail in the form of disapproval and disappointment in an attempt to control what gets posted on this site.

David Riser
Reply to  Aphan
March 8, 2016 4:42 pm

well said aphan

Mark T
Reply to  Aphan
March 8, 2016 5:40 pm

Because he is self-appointed, maybe?

wayne Job
Reply to  Aphan
March 8, 2016 10:55 pm

Thank you Aphan a million likes, on the day of that blog the Dr was not nice.

Reply to  Aphan
March 9, 2016 12:54 pm

Errr… Ball. Hahaha

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 11:54 am

“Elite scientists are elite because their scientific work is generally accepted by the scientific community.” Do you see it happening in climate science?

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 11:57 am

It is interesting to me how the name “Velikovsky” continues to endure after all these years, and how someone now dead and so thoroughly discredited can engender such powerful characterizations as being a “fool” and that the very mention of his name “diminishes WUWT.” My goodness! What, in fact is there to fear from his ideas after all? Perhaps it isn’t so much the content of his ideas as it is the fact that he was willing to think outside the box and not accept the dominant scientific dogma of the times. Some of the greatest strides in science are made by unconventional thinkers, not by the conformists.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 1:25 pm

Hmm. Interesting. You do realize your definition of ‘elite’ is a self-referencing corollary? It’s the sort of thing I’d expect an elite scientist to pick up on. As a curious aside I discovered that Dunning-Kreuger’s favorite children always regard themselves as the brightest and best. It has made me wary about every regarding myself that way.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 2:38 pm

Well…Velikovsky predicted the retrograde rotation of Venus, which was scoffed at by the scientific elite. Guess what? We know today that he was right. Maybe his postulation of cause was wrong, but I do not know that. What is t he current explanation? Is it any better?

Reply to  JimB
March 9, 2016 4:21 am

glad a couple here arent dissing him
I read it and found it to be as acceptable as any other premises about far past events as many other theories
he didnt just use biblical refs
he used many other nations/tribes etc historical records and to me the global nature of the natural disaster so many went through wasnt too bad in trying to puzzle out wtf? happened
and yeah explain Venus spinning the wrong way.
every cluster of humans that could leave records do seem to have had the same epic event in their remains..so why cant Velikovsky be right?

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 9, 2016 6:32 am

So the “elite” form a self-confirming circle of acquaintances and only those who agree with the current elite are entitled to become elite themselves.
And you actually approve of this?

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 9, 2016 8:39 am

Dr Svalgaard,
The critical part of the sentence you quote is “self-appointed”. Elite scientists do not set themselves up as such – they become elite because their peers appreciate their contributions and ask them to present their work or to collaborate with them. The issue with “climate science” is that this has become a small self-appointed group who have set themselves up as arbiters of what is accepted or acceptable – or far far worse – what can even be debated.
What we have learned over the various investigations is that the IPCC process was undermined in its infancy by a small group who promoted colleagues of like mind and created a set of people who were – by definition – a self-appointed elite. The work done by scientists outside this group has shown ample evidence that the publications of the climate science “elite” are often very poor and certainly not refereed with anything like sufficient rigour.
I appreciate this post is about attacking the premise because the author used an example you disagree with, but I think the point of the original post is still perfectly valid – even in light of your own contribution above.

March 8, 2016 10:49 am

I wonder what, if anything, Mann thinks there is to be learned from the Galileo case?

Paul Westhaver
March 8, 2016 10:50 am

As seen on liveScience ..”science”…hmmm
Yet another artist makes up data using tree rings. I wonder if he is related to Michael Mann? Mann’s nature trick was… art.
Wait till time stamp 0:30…

March 8, 2016 10:51 am

It looks like Mann took the bait and Gobbeled it all up. Res ipsa loquitur.

Reply to  ShrNfr
March 9, 2016 6:33 am

I see what you did there.
Excellent allusion.

March 8, 2016 10:53 am

Carl Sagan was one of the establishment scientists attacking Velikovsky. Funnily enough, he botched his attack badly.
Sagan calculated the odds of the Velikovskian near-collisions and arrive at the figure of a trillion quadrillion to one. One tiny problem — in this calculation Sagan neglected the force of gravity! In response Dr. Robert Jastrow (of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (and a science writer as well) wrote in a letter to the NY Times:
“Professor Sagan’s calculations, in effect, ignore the law of gravity. Here, Dr. Velikovsky, was the better astronomer.”

G. Karst
Reply to  huxley
March 8, 2016 2:52 pm

Beautifully irony… which seems to curse all those who dismiss Velikovsky outright. GK

Reply to  huxley
March 9, 2016 7:47 am

Apparently Velikovsky and Sagan (and Jastrow) released their data.
There’s a lesson there somewhere.

March 8, 2016 10:57 am

Some of Immanuel Velikovsky’s ideas are as inexplicable and in the same genre as the extreme catastrophism advocated by a small but very active number of climate scientists.

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:29 am

Exactly. I don’t accept you lapse in judgement apology. Mann is attempting to influence your freedom to publish anything critical of the 97% mind set.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:49 am

I don’t accept
There is no need to apologize. Mann is arguing the man, not the facts, because the facts are not on his side. These are the tactics of a bully. By reacting, you have encouraged Mann to bully you in the future.
The question is not whether Velikovsky is right or wrong. 1000 years from now, virtually everything that any of us today believe to be true will be found to have been false. Future scientists will laugh at our ignorance, just like we laugh at the ignorance of scholars that lived 1000 years ago.
Yet the people that lived 1000 years ago were just as smart as us, and they were just as convinced in the correctness of their beliefs. In almost every aspect they were exactly like us today.
Do you remember when you were growing up and being told that margarine was healthier than butter? Now you are told that butter is healthier and margarine contains dangerous hydrogenated fats. And that is only over the past 50 years.
Why think that anything else we believe will be different?

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:57 am

“Both Dr. Svalgaard and Steve McIntyre were critical of the decision to run it, I defer to their better informed opinion.”
Why Anthony? It’s YOUR blog. You don’t have to defer to anyone. Not one single person who reads and comments here regularly suddenly joined some Velikovsky Astronomy Cult simply because the name was mentioned on WUWT. We are NOT the blind, stupid, sheep we so often get accused of being. We are open minded, thoughtful, intelligent human beings capable of reading Velikovsky’s theories (if we were interested enough) and coming to our own conclusions about him. Those opinions about HIM are completely irrelevant to the article entirely, because the article was about how he was TREATED…not what he BELIEVED.
What you or Ball BELIEVE was also not the point of the article, not mentioned in the article, and has been mistakenly and arrogantly ASSUMED by others and then ridiculed as if correct. Its the very mind set that the article was trying to highlight as being harmful to scientific discussion!! Don’t apologize for not fitting precisely into a mold someone else thinks you need to! Not even if those people are on the same side of the climate debate you are on! For crying out loud, we can SEE and HEAR their groupthink in every word they say….please don’t let group think on THIS side start to creep in as well! We loathe it from all sources.

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 12:06 pm

” I could have easily anticipated how such an article would be used as political fodder had I known more about it or had read Worlds in Collision.”
Yes you could have, I suspect. I just don’t think that it is reasonable for you to have to read the works, bio’s and criticisms of every Tom, Dick and Harry, all the time. That logical steel trap is a juvenile one, appropriate for the likes of Mann. For heaven’s sake the criticism is from a man who claimed to be a Nobel Prize winner. I trust your editorial judgement and will abide but it is worth asserting that the value of WUWT resides in the critique of mainstream conventions. Lewandowsky would love to play the political card of appropriate skepticism = derangement, at every turn. Politics is politics. Not science. You will feel the effects of politics at the hands of Mann et al, even though they themselves claim to be robots of science. I hope, and I believe that I am not alone, that your editorial judgement is not influenced by a documented compulsive li@r. You think that this is a science blog. It isn’t just that. It is a TRUTH blog. Science has lost its luster at the hands of the politicians at the UN, Hadley CRU, NOAA, NASA etc etc. Truth-telling is a tighter tightrope than “science” these days.

John in Oz
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 12:47 pm

If Velikovsky is persona non grata for being incorrect I look forward to never seeing Mann referred to again in this blog for the same reason (and no more photos of him – HOORAY!)

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 12:54 pm

Anthony, please don’t give in to the emotional bullying. This “disapproval” and “disappointment” expressed has begun to pop up every time you get too close to the bone. They can’t fight you any other way. They seem to have used it successfully to stop you reporting on Pachauri (as one example that I’ve noticed) and so they will use it again and again in every area they don’t want to see supported.
Your article was about elitism and bullying. Mann’s response (and others’ in comments above) are precisely that and – yes – an example of the very thing you were highlighting. Don’t let them herd you or undermine you. Your readers have no problem with this blog, your choices, nor with truth. We are adult thinkers here.
My guess is that behind the scenes you’ve been bombarded by “disapproval”. Please recognize the game they are playing and the levers they are pulling. And the reasons they are so keen to stop you!

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 8:28 pm

AW, I agree with most posters in this part of the thread that no apology is needed.
I have two points to make:
1. Your esteem in my mind was increased by you essentially saying that “the buck stops here”. I appreciate greatly someone who is willing to stand behind his work and decisions. But I still think that no apology was needed and on this point you should reexamine. I agree with others that this is bullying and it seems you might be falling into the same trap those who blame themselves rather than the bully.
2. If you have to detailed expert background knowledge about a potential post prior to you deciding to publish it, that will slow down the content on here drastically. I come here because of not only quality, but quantity as well. I certainly don’t agree with all the topics (or how they are presented sometimes) that appear here. But I very much appreciate being treated like an adult and having the chance to decide based on each post’s merits. So, keep it going as is, in my humble opinion.

March 8, 2016 10:58 am

Mann has thereby provided support for at least one of the Delingpole Conjectures: http://cliscep.com/2016/02/17/the-delingpole-conjectures-are-they-plausible-do-they-matter/
‘What I really should have said is that these [alarmist climate scientists] are a bunch of lying, cheating, scum-sucking, bottom-feeding, third-rate tosspots who don’t even deserve the name “scientists” because what they practise isn’t really science but data-fiddling, cherry-picking, grant-troughing, activism-driven propaganda.’

March 8, 2016 10:59 am

The “Mann” seems to actually be quite frightened. Couldn’t happen to a nice guy…

G. Karst
March 8, 2016 11:00 am

Defending yourself from such obvious trivia is a mistake. It only undercuts you intentions and makes you appear weak. This is the 3rd article on this subject and repeating yourself only makes you sound weak and erodes confidence of your position. Some attacks should be ignored especially when the attack merely hurts your ego. My 2 cents. GK

Reply to  G. Karst
March 8, 2016 11:05 am

I agree, this series is obviously an ego-trip. Perhaps Dr. Ball compares himself to Velikovsky and would also have liked a better reception of his ideas from the scientific community…

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 12:07 pm

Perhaps Dr. Ball compares
that is a cheap attack and speaks poorly for your own character.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 12:19 pm

Funny, every time you open your mouth, you sink lower into the cesspool of egotistical elitists !

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 12:43 pm

..Maybe his ONLINE personality seems a little more arrogant then ?…or maybe I need more coffee !

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 2:47 pm

“Marcus, I’ve met Dr. Svalgaard on more than one occasion and I find him to be open and engaging. Using “elitist” is an irrational label for the man based on my experience.”
Can you show us any examples of him being “open and engaging” here? I’ve never seen or experienced anything remotely resembling “open and engaging” from the man . .

Tom in Florida
Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 3:52 pm

I recently sent a private email to Dr S. He took the time to answer as if we had known each other for years. He may seem harsh on this blog but not if you use facts and figures and avoid speculation or junk science. During the years I have been reading this blog, Dr S will always give references and links for those who show a genuine interest in learning. Remember he is a working scientist who takes time out of his busy schedule to post here for the betterment of those who are wise enough to take advantage of his knowledge.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 8:22 pm

It seems to me that some, quite possibly including Anthony, think “elitist” means can’t or won’t be reasonable to anyone . . but it means can’t or won’t be reasonable to regular folks, to me.
I see clear evidence of elitism around here in the way many react to something like the notion that anyone with wealth/power must be excluded from any potential “conspiracy” . . there are many thousands of people in prison as we speak, convicted of various forms of conspiracy, so how in the world could a truly scientific thinker accept that they don’t occur?
Every gang, mafia, cartel, crime syndicate, etc,which obviously exist in large numbers is by definition conspiracy ridden, and every revolution or coup is as well . . and yet otherwise rational people around here act like it is crazy to even consider the possibility that any “elites” might engage in any form of conspiracy . . That’s elitism to me, plain and simple.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 8:24 pm

The more you speak about this topic the more I understand why Tim Ball wrote the article in the first place.
Your behaviour has been absolutely pathetic and is doing you more harm than good because people are just going to treat you with contempt if you carry on like this.

Joe Bastardi
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:44 am

Perhaps a law suit is whats needed from you guys since such an attack is meant to really smear you? Dont know if I am trying to be funny or not given the way things are today. But such claims certainly are intent to damage you and Dr Bell. I honestly can’t understand Dr Mann’s attacks sometimes. Why does he want to get into it with Stein, etal, given his lofty position in the movement. Its like using your king to attack in chess. Its not as if the AGW movement is not funded to the max, or given the current enso driven global spike, there is not reason for other lines of parry. Cretins like me ( have grown to accept my status, and it wasnt hard, even with my supposed ego) have a tough time understanding this, as it seems to be really not even an effective, ( yet alone accurate) vehicle.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 12:49 pm

Anthony Watts , Joe Bastardi
There may be an more effective way. Open a conversation with the Trusties of Penn state. Also the Ethics department of Dr Mann’s College
Give them copies of the blog article and comments.
Ask how could Dr Mann come to the conclusions that he did, and do they think he is properly represent their University
This maybe a better avenue and possibly more fun .
michael duhancik

Reply to  G. Karst
March 8, 2016 2:58 pm

Seconded. “Twitter” to me seems like a platform for Tourette’s-like blurtings which no one should take seriously. Total waste of time.

March 8, 2016 11:03 am

Velikovsky’s ideas are useful as a case study in the disconnect between academic freedom of speech and academic censorship, just as Lysenko’s ideas are useful as a case study in the perils of politically sanctioned ‘science.’.

March 8, 2016 11:08 am

You might like to pretend that people are open to discussing the ideas of Velikovsky, but in fact anyone who goes against gravitational “consensus” is just as hated as AGW skeptics.

Reply to  Jarryd Beck
March 9, 2016 8:13 am

Electromagnetic forces do everything on earth but do nothing once out of the atmospheric envelope. Gravity rules supreme in space. Any other theory is heresy.

March 8, 2016 11:12 am

This whole thing might have been avoided if Dr. Ball’s article was taken as the thought experiment that it was.
However, the Manns of this world would still use it for political mud, as they really are confused by both “thought” and “experiment”.

March 8, 2016 11:17 am

For a compelling history of blind recourse to scientific ‘authority’ readers are pointed to the early 20th century story of Imamura and Omori, both practicing professors in the early field of seismology. Circa 1905 Imamura predicted a good chance that an ‘overdue’ earthquake would hit Tokyo in the next 20 years and the subsequent firestorm would kill 100,000. He suggested the government bulk up fire fighting capabilities to lessen the pending disaster.
Officials deferred to Omori, a couple of years senior to Imamura and head of the professional society. Not wanting to be upstaged by his junior, Omori dismissed the warning and no action ensued.
In 1923 the big one hit and you guessed it, 100,000 were incinerated.
The double tragedy is that in 2007 researchers suggested that Japanese nuclear plants were underdesigned for tsunamis but it was decided by the plant operators that further study was needed. We all know what happened at Fukushima Daichi in 2011.

Reply to  Robert
March 8, 2016 11:38 am

Exactly zero people died from the “nuclear plant disaster”. About 16,000 people died as a result of the tsunami.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  Curious George
March 8, 2016 2:58 pm

No one was even hurt by radiation. Nuclear power plants like everything else are designed to certain expected design criteria. For example, school buses could be designed to get children home in a flash flood but we do that because it would be too expensive. Instead we train bus drivers not to drive into water.
In the nuclear industry we use emergency plans to deal with the unexpected. When new experience such as the events in 2007 change the design basis, nuke plants are either shut down or modified.
I am a nuclear safety expert. Our job is to make sure no one is hurt by following established design criteria (see 10CFR50 , App B) including plants in Japan. We have a perfect safety record with regards radiation.

Chip Javert
Reply to  Curious George
March 8, 2016 3:27 pm

Retired Kit P
So, you’ve solved the nuclear waste storage problem!
Fantastic – what is it?

Reply to  Curious George
March 8, 2016 3:41 pm

Chip, like you, I am not a nuclear safety expert. You may be able able to help me – what are technical problems with the Yucca Mountains depository?

Reply to  Curious George
March 8, 2016 4:40 pm

I’ve been a nuclear engineer for 40 years, many of which were spent in safety analysis. I can say with authority:
1) Fukushima Daichi was a tragedy. About 1,000 to 2,000 of the 100,000 people evacuated from the Fukushima Prefecture died an early death due to loneliness (their grown children avoided them over fear of radiation – ‘Don’t visit me in Tokyo for the protection of your grandchildren!’), despair, and depression. This has been documented. You would be depressed too if the government forced you to leave your home and live in a steel box with no return date to your now abandoned town.
2) Fukushima Daichi was a disaster for Tokyo Electric. It will cost the company and Japanese government in excess of $50B $US.
3) Fukushima Diachi was bad for the credibility of the nuclear industry, severely hurting public support in Japan with spillover to Korea.
4) Fukushima Daichi was avoidable if the Japanese people had learned from their history of the Imamura-Omori debate a century earlier.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Curious George
March 8, 2016 7:47 pm

The MSM here in Australia consinually state that 3 reactors at the plant went in to “meltdown”, which is entirely wrong!

David A
Reply to  Curious George
March 9, 2016 12:50 am

Robert, it sounds like a portion of the tragedy you describe was and is the overblown fears associated with the word “radiation”.

Reply to  Curious George
March 9, 2016 2:30 am

“Exactly zero people died from the ‘nuclear plant disaster’” and the nuclear plant disaster was not caused the reactor or its fuel. The backup power for the cooling pumps failed when the tsunami flooded the diesel powered generators.

Reply to  Curious George
March 9, 2016 2:43 am

Chip Javert March 8, 2016 at 3:27 pm
Retired Kit P
So, you’ve solved the nuclear waste storage problem!
Fantastic – what is it?

There are no logical reasons to oppose nuclear power.
All of the high level nuclear waste produced by electricity generation over the last 50+ years could be safely disposed of for less than a penny per kWh. Nuclear waste disposal is a 100% political problem. The successful WIPP facility in New Mexico is proof that high level nuclear waste can be safely geologically sequestered. Salt layers are just one of many ideal geologic repositories…

Waste buried deep underground in the right kind of geological formation is extremely safe and many people who criticize the problem of nuclear waste don’t realize that good technical solutions based on burying waste have already been at hand for decades; the problem is mainly a political one. .

Even the most high-level and toxic waste can be safely disposed of geologically…

Petroleum drilling costs have decreased to the point where boreholes are now routinely drilled to multi-kilometer depths. Research boreholes in Russia and Germany have been drilled to 8-12 km. The drilling costs for 950 deep boreholes to dispose of the entire 109,300 MTHM inventory, assuming a cost of $20 million per borehole (see Section 3.1), would be ~ $19 billion. Very rough estimates of other costs are $10 billion for associated site characterization, performance assessment analysis, and license application, $20 billion for disposal operations, monitoring, and decommissioning, $12 billion for ancillary program activities, and $10 billion for transportation, resulting in a total life-cycle cost for a hypothetical deep borehole disposal program of $71 billion (in 2007 dollars).
Sandia National Laboratories

The entire inventory of high-level radioactive waste produced by US nuclear power plants over the last 50+ years could be safely disposed of for about $71 billion.
From 1965 through 2011, nuclear power plants generated 22,219.57 TWh of electricity (22.2 TRILLON kWh). $71 billion works out to 0.3¢/kWh… One-third of one penny per kilowatt-hour.  And that cost would decline over time as technological advances deflate the real cost of drilling.
The New Mexico site had to overcome a lot of NIMBY’ism (Not In My Back Yard ‘ism)…

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, known locally as WIPP (pronounced “whip”), opened in 1999 after decades of back and forth between state and federal regulators.

However this facility has been a huge success. Three counties in the Permian Basin (Eddy & Lea, NM and Loving, TX) are competing for a second facility.
The ideal geologic repository is Yucca Mountain, Nevada… Currently the “poster child” for green mental illness & NIMBY’ism.
The only “cons” are of a political nature.

March 8, 2016 11:18 am

Carl Sagan said essentially the same thing as both Anthony and Dr. Bell. If he’d said it today, would the smear campaign have been the same, I wonder?
“Many hypotheses proposed by scientists as well as non-scientists turn out to be wrong. But science is a self-correcting enterprise. To be accepted, all new ideas must survive rigorous scientific standards of evidence. The worse aspect of the Velikovsky affair is not that his hypotheses were wrong or in contradiction to firmly established facts, but that some who called themselves scientists attempted to suppress Velikovksy’s works. Science is generated by and devoted to free enquiry: the idea that any hypothesis, no matter how strange, deserves to be considered on its merits.”

Reply to  WombatSavage
March 8, 2016 12:06 pm

Every true Science is like a hardy Alpine guide that leads us on from the narrow, though it may be the more peaceful and charming, valleys of our preconceived opinions, to higher points, apparently less attractive, nay often disappointing for a time, till, after hours of patient and silent climbing, we look round and see a new world around us.

March 8, 2016 11:21 am

I love Velikovsky. His is a very elaborate theory, consistent with lots of observations, yet completely bonkers. A stark example of genius out-of-the-box crackpot theory.

Reply to  Richard Tol (@RichardTol)
March 8, 2016 12:33 pm

And that is perhaps the best description of Velikovsky. I read ‘worlds in collision’ in about 1973. I was impressed by some of the research and it raised interesting questions about various space originating catastrophes, but I dint buy the whole cigar. Occams Razor. It was too complex really,.

Gary Hladik
March 8, 2016 11:39 am

“This is precisely what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), of which Michael Mann was a member, did. Like Velikovsky, few of their conclusions were correct.”
It’s unfortunate that the “elites” who correctly ridiculed the good Dr. V were somehow unable to protect us from the far more destructive catastrophic global warming pseudoscience. Where are those damned “elites” when we need them?

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Bishkek
Reply to  Gary Hladik
March 8, 2016 11:54 am

Gary, good point,. Thanks.

Chip Javert
Reply to  Gary Hladik
March 8, 2016 3:32 pm

Lot’s of them there supposed “elites” have their hand on (or in) your wallet.

Gary Hladik
Reply to  Chip Javert
March 8, 2016 7:52 pm

The political “elites” do; their will is backed by men with guns. Scientific “elites” only do to the extent that they can persuade the political “elites” to fund them with taxpayers’ money.

March 8, 2016 11:42 am

I’m glad you’ve made your position clearer, but I’m still curious. If your position is that

Again, for the record, neither of us support Velikovsky’s views on planetary motion. Some of them are rightly labeled as ridiculous.

why didn’t you simply point this out when he was first introduced as an example? It would have saved a lot of confusion. Instead there are plenty of mentions of Sagan getting things wrong, but nothing about Velikovsky’s errors.
Also when you say some of his ideas on planetary motion are ridiculous, are there any you don’t find ridiculous?

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:51 am

Solution………………don’t bite

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:52 am

Unfortunately, you can get the right answer sometimes and not get the right questions. That’s why “showing your work” is so important. I work with large data sets, and if the answer is “4”, I still have to check if the question was supposed to be “2+2” or “6-2”. The answer and at least one datum could be correct, but that “6” is the issue.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Bishkek
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 11:56 am

Caligula, 2+2=5… for large values of 2.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 12:00 pm

Sorry, the question was more directed at Dr Tim Ball than you. I think it’s clear that you don’t agree with Velikovsky, but Tim Ball’s previous articles come across as rather more supportive than this post suggests.
I’m also puzzled why there was so much hate directed at Carl Sagan when all he was doing was pointing out how ridiculous Velikovsky’s theories were.
As to the predictions about Jupiter and Venus – they’re are not really examples of his theories on planetary motion. They are just consequences of them, and if his theories were wrong the correctness of these predictions can only be accidental.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 12:02 pm

you can get the right answer sometimes and not get the right questions
few if any scientific theories get the right question. they simply predict with better accuracy than a pair of dice, which makes them useful. you don’t need to know what causes gravity to predict its effects.
“Why” something happens is a matter for philosophy. The true mark of science is predicting “when” and “where” something will happen, and “how big” it will be.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 12:47 pm

“I’m also puzzled why there was so much hate directed at Carl Sagan when all he was doing was pointing out how ridiculous Velikovsky’s theories were.”
It’s not hard to figure out.
They basically complain about the way V was treated and then proceed to do the same with Sagan, Hansen, Mann, ect etc etc.
Read through the comments on any article.
Commenters dont practice skepticism.. they practice knee jerk rejectionism

Chip Javert
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 3:36 pm

Mother’s comment being a perfect example of said behavior.

Bruce Armour
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 10, 2016 2:31 am

Velikovsky predicted “Jupiter had radio emissions” – but Einstein had said “no way”. Einstein died just several weeks after Einstein was shown to be wrong and Velikovsky right when ELECTRICITY was discovered on Jupiter. http://www.varchive.org/bdb/week.htm
Astronomers fooled Egyptologists with bogus Sothic Chronology and caused a bogus insertion of 5 centuries called the Greek Dark Age. http://www.varchive.org/dag/sumup.htm
Velikovsky’s “Oedipus and Akhnaton” has extensive support.

March 8, 2016 11:58 am

The point about Velikovsky is that the attack was personal. Just like Mann’s attack on Ball and Watts at the lead-in.
Science requires that you attack the idea, not the man. As soon as you attack the man you are engaged in Politics.

Mark T
Reply to  ferdberple
March 8, 2016 5:54 pm

Mann’s lawsuit against Mark Steyn is proof he doesn’t understand analogy.

March 8, 2016 12:02 pm

ignore this – just following comments

Mike Maguire
March 8, 2016 12:05 pm

Your mission to provide what you consider to be authentic information that represents what you consider objectivity and reality is evident and much appreciated.
Being held responsible for knowing all and seeing all, related to points or references in every article is unrealistic. However, your response is more than adequate in providing your readers with a clear statement about how you actually feel on the topic.

March 8, 2016 12:06 pm

I am not a fan of psychoanalytical archaeology or V.. Always check what the myths say from primary or good secondary sources. People should be wary and would do well never take what a Vkovskian says the myths and sacred texts say at face value. Read them yourself.
But, I will buy a Josh calender for anyone who posts a list of all the instances of planetary migration, capture, and orbital changes now accepted into celestial mechanics for our solar system–and for the exoplanets.
It was for changes in planetary orbits and for capture that V was really vilified.
Now changing orbits are regular astronomical fare, and are used to explain all kinds of retrograde spins and orbits, and for gas giants that are either too close or too far from their primary stars.

March 8, 2016 12:08 pm

Reading Velikovsky is entertaining. Was he correct overall on cosmology? No. But as long as someone is playing the game normally – throwing out ideas, having them be hashed out, and occasionally getting brilliant insights from these brainstorming activities, is too valuable to lose by the insistence upon a scientific hierarchy of high priests.
Over in the comments about the Hubble telescope seeing the earliest object evar, a great discussion shows that there is great variation in the views on early cosmology, red shift, and the expansion of space.
The discussion has been fairly civil. Cosmology will not advance as long as one group of high priests declares the truth, and does not allow alternatives to be voiced.
When one of my sons was born, the obstetrician tried to encourage my wife into having the Essure procedure done – nicle coil inserted into fallopian tube to scar and block fallopian tube, thus rendering sterility. I searched the literature and figured out that there was no great system for gathering adverse outcomes, that women with nickel allergy were probably suffering undiagnosed, and that, overall, the whole idea was not worth it. Also, for the clinical trials reported, they reported failure of the implant, but had no accounting of where the coils had gone – out into the toilet? lodged in the fallopian tube? traveling around the abdomen? perforating an intestine? All of these things have happened, but with the outcome being “failure” to block a fallopian tube, the attendant problems were glossed over.
That was years ago. Our OB knew nothing of all of this.
Later, Erin Brokovich took up the issue, and the mounting evidence is suggesting that a portion of women have had terrible experiences – often which were not decently diagnosed because “everyone” thought Essure was benign.
In 2015, the FDA poo-pooed the idea that there might be any harms.
Now, in 2016, a more discerning analysis says that the FDA method for detecting deaths may be a weak method…
The medical establishment was also whole-hog in love with estrogen-replacement therapy and poo-pooed the idea that the estrogen was causing endometrial cancer. In 1975-1977, this was disputed, but overturned. Then, they progressed on to believe that the estrogen-progesterone combo was benign. And, even cardioprotective. Just about every single woman over the age of 50 was prescribed HRT. Until a randomized clinical trial showed HRT to be a risk for cancer.
Because a DSMB was an inherent part of that study, in advance, with pre-specified harms to watch for and pre-specified trip-wires for halting the study, the dogma was easily over-ridden. Otherwise, the harms would likely have, yet again, been diluted in various ways, and scoffers would have been belittled.
Nowadays, there are several decent analyses indicating that broad mammography causes more harm than good….
Right now, in the medical field, there are plenty of accepted beliefs that are leading to harms because alternative views are being ignored (not alt-medicine views, just regular disagreements about the evidence base for and against recognised practices). So, right now, the prevailing powers are in “belief” mode, and are not open to contrary evidence. The one common aspect in all of these issues is that there is money to be made.
It is a classic pattern for those in the position of power to ignore alternate views, and criticisms. That is unscientific. Ideas should be attacked, not individuals. If skepticism of AGW is so obvious, then there will be little problem carrying out a take-down of any view advanced by skeptics, and no character assassinations will be needed.

John Robertson
March 8, 2016 12:11 pm

Seems to me the criticisms of using the then science establishments actions toward Velikovsky’s ideas, reveals an appalling lack of reading comprehension on the part of your critics.
Almost as if Velikovsky is a swear word, that bruises some tender wee ego’s.
Tim Balls original post had nothing Anthony Watts need apologize for.
The critics have demonstrated your point beautifully.
“Silence, I am the expert”.
Rather pathetic appeals to authority, self identifies persons lacking humility and the state of mind true discovery seems to need.
Without wonder, no new questions can be seen.
The old joke about being a legend in ones own mind seems applicable.
Blinded by the light of ones Ego.

Reply to  John Robertson
March 8, 2016 12:41 pm

Hey, that sounds just like lsvalgaard !! LOL…” Bow down you [pruned] ” !

Reply to  Marcus
March 8, 2016 12:45 pm

..Yea, I need more coffee !

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Marcus
March 8, 2016 2:28 pm

Marcus, friend I understand Dr lsvalgaard can be hmmm, scalding, but he does know his stuff. On a thread dealing with the new sun spot numbered I opened a conversation with him. He told me to read. and provided a link. Marcus I turned my first telescope to the heaves at age 11. The people and problems with the records I understood. I conceded the need for the corrections. and we drifted into a separate conversation of the 1970s and U.S. CCCP. exchange programs.
Marcus to understand Dr S, you must go to H.G Wells preface to War of the Worlds.
“Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”
It is not wise to take a knife to a gun fight. Worst to take a cap gun to a Atomic war.
With Dr S gut feelings and educated guesses don’t count, Just cold hard facts. Unless I can prove him wrong I will not challenge him. Astrophysicists are very very Conservative people.

Reply to  Marcus
March 9, 2016 1:51 pm

Lol stay away from that coffee…

NZ Willy
March 8, 2016 12:18 pm

Trap for young players, Anthony. But one thing I’d be pretty sure of, and that is that Mann wouldn’t have had a clue about Velikovsky either, being outside of his own area. He would have been filled in about this by some Gavin or other.

Reply to  NZ Willy
March 8, 2016 3:50 pm


Juan Slayton
March 8, 2016 12:20 pm

When I read Dr. Ball’s reference to Velikovsky, the red flags went up. But as I read the post carefully, it seemed clear to me that Dr. Ball was not endorsing Worlds in Collision, but using Velikosvsky’s personal treatment as a case in point. If I could figure that out, Dr. Mann should have been able to as well.

Reply to  Juan Slayton
March 8, 2016 12:46 pm

..And lsvalgaard…

Reply to  Juan Slayton
March 8, 2016 1:04 pm

Exactly. It was very clearly an article about mistreatment. A good article too, I bookmarked it.

Reply to  Juan Slayton
March 8, 2016 1:10 pm

…and Mosher and McIntyre….

Mark T
Reply to  JohnWho
March 8, 2016 6:00 pm

Mosher isn’t really capable, either. McIntyre is the one I find disappointing in this case. Falling for the game of political correctness, and that’s what this amounts to, is the child’s game.

March 8, 2016 12:24 pm

While I agree that Immanuel Velikovsky was unfairly ostracized and demonized by mainstream astronomy, as others pointed out in the previous thread, his fate was probably not the best example of the dogmatism of scientific elites. The reason is that Velikovsky was not, strictly speaking, a scientist; he did not work in a lab or at a telescope; he did not conduct experiments or do field work. He was a polymath and a scholar of immense erudition and syncretic abilities. He was also insatiably curious (more so than many scientists, sad to say) and driven to investigate questions and connundrums wherever he found them.
Velikovsky was a psychiatrist interested in ancient history, and so discovered a striking parallel between the Oedipus legend as told by Sophocles and the life of the Egyptian pharoah Akhnaton—was there a connection (see his Oedipus and Akhnaton)? He discovered a neglected papyrus of old Egypt called The Papyrus Ipuwer that told of a series of calamities that were strikingly reminiscent of those that in the Bible led to the Exodus of the Jews. Was this coincidence? But the dates were wrong, so Dr. Velikovsky plunged into the history of ancient Egypt. His conclusion was revolutionary: the some six centuries in the standard dynastic history of pharonic Egypt were actually duplicates, mirror images, of the preceding centuries, so the dates were all off (see his Ages in Chaos, Peoples of the Sea, Ramses II and His Time). Needless to say, the small circle of professional Egyptologists were less than thrilled with his reconstructions.
Having turned psychiatry (Oedipus was no myth) and Egyptology on their heads, Velikovsky wondered about the Ipuwer calamities and what might have caused them, and so began looking at the myths and traditions of peoples around the world for similar tales and correlations. He found remarkable similarities in imagery and symbolism relating to the skies, especially the planets, which led him to the speculations about Venus, Mars, and Jupiter and their apparent interactions with the Earth within the memory of man’s early civilizations, which speculations resulted in his book aimed at a popular audience, Worlds in Collision. This was the best-selling work that so enraged astronomer Harold Shapley that he managed to get its publisher, Macmillan, which specialized in science, to withdraw it and give it to Doubleday (Shapley did this by getting other scientists to threaten to stop publishing their textbooks at Macmillan). Shapley was reported not to have actually read Worlds in Collision—just the very idea was enough for him.
Reacting to condemnation by the astronomical elite, Velikovsky followed with another popular work that eliminated myths and stories, and instead offered “stones and bones,” a compilation of evidence of catastrophic events in the geological history of the Earth (Earth in Upheaval). So now with Venus birthed from Jupiter (leaving the Red Spot?) and grazing the Earth on its way to its present orbit, and with mountains and seas thrashing about, Velikovsky challenged not only the orderly progression of the planets but the gradual uniformitarianism of the geological elite.
Velikovsky’s researches thereby challenged accepted thinking not just in astronomy, but a whole host of academic disciplines. He was not just some paperback amateur, like Van Daniken and his attempts to popularize invasion by extra-terrestrials. Velikovsky was a serious scholar, the scope and depth of whose learning vastly exceded most if not all of his critics. He was therefore a serious threat, and had to be summarily dismissed, lest the questions he raised contaminate the minds of the young, who were suppposed to be buried in the dry rote of their textbooks.
And he raised lots of questions. Was the Oedipus tale a recounting in Greek dress of the story of Akhnaton? Was Egyptian history seriously skewed by phantom centuries? Were the plagues of the Exodus real events? Why was Venus absent from the records of ancient astronomy until a certain time? Is there any significance to the striking similarities in how the planets were described in the myths and symbolism from disparate cultures around the world—do they reflect real events, or are they the result of widespread diffusion or psychic archetypes? What caused the quick freezing of the mammoths in Siberia, found intact with fresh grass in their stomachs—had some titanic force knocked the Earth enough to shift the poles?
For real scientists, the questions are more important than the answers that Velikovsky gave. I remember spending many hours arguing (in correspondence) with my late childhood friend Todd Kelso, who was an advocate for Velikovsky; my reasoning was then, as now, that his answers weren’t testable, that is, falsifiable. Some of them might be, but first they have to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, it has taken half a century for even some of them to be acknowledged. Geology, paleontology, and astronomy have moved slowly to the realization that the history of the Earth and the Solar System have not proceded quite as serenely and uniformly as once supposed. We are not to the point where the planets are bouncing around like billiard balls, but the words ‘collision’ and ‘catastrophe’ are no longer forbidden.
There are plenty of examples of dogmatism in the sciences. Some heresies, like ‘continental drift’, or ulcers caused by bacteria, have been accepted. Others, like ‘intrinsic redshift’ or the ‘electric universe’ have not. None of these, nor are Velikovsky’s ideas, really comparable to the problem faced by skeptics of anthropogenic ‘climate change’, because the Climatists have become a political instead of a scientific elite, and thus immune to empirical argument.
/Mr Lynn

Bubba Cow
Reply to  L. E. Joiner
March 8, 2016 1:41 pm

excellent, thanks, and despite the cacophony above, I have learned something here again today

James Francisco
Reply to  Bubba Cow
March 8, 2016 7:45 pm

Thanks Mr Lynn. Now I don’t have to read those books. I will watch the movie when it comes out. I think we could all use some of President Reagan’s advice about not attacking our own. I am going to read some about intrinsic red shift. I probably won’t understand it but I’m going to try.

Reply to  L. E. Joiner
March 8, 2016 3:07 pm

I have not read anything by Velikovsky, and your recounting doesn’t make me want to change that. While he was obviously a creative thinker, it is equally obvious that he lacked a critical filter. Science fiction, not science, is the right way to put that constellation of mental traits to good use.

March 8, 2016 12:24 pm

Absolutely no apologies necessary. I find Dr Ball’s articles to be my favourite ones along with Willis.
This just past article stirred up a wonderful hornets nest, great to see that Dr Ball is receiving so much flack, he is directly over the target, and has the brass components to distribute his thoughts.

March 8, 2016 12:34 pm

There is nothing wrong with mainstream or any other stream ridiculing Velikovsky. Dr Ball’s defence of his Velikovsky argument is tenuous at best and ridiculous at worst. A far better example would have been to highlight credentialed crankism, such as the modern psychoanalytic movement which has around 36,000 members many of whom are PhD’s. The irony is that Mann and Velikovsky have more in common than different. The only distinction is that Mann’s pseudo science is fashionable and Velikovsky’s is not.

David A
Reply to  willnitschke
March 9, 2016 1:10 am

Willn… says,
“The only distinction is that Mann’s pseudo science is fashionable and Velikovsky’s is not.”
You miss other major distinctions. Velikovsky displayed creative thinking in combination with observations. He demanded nothing. Mann claims CAGW to be real, with an emphasis on the “C”, and supports global political action based on his faulty science. It cost nobody anything but their time, freely given, to listen to Velikovsky, whereas Mann has his hand in my wallet and life.

March 8, 2016 12:41 pm

As always, the written word can be misread and misinterpreted. Moreover, no amount of editing and careful selection of words/phrases will ever stop people looking for ways to misinterpret stuff if that is their goal.
I certainly see no need for any serious misgivings by Watts or Ball – of course, as AW notes, one can learn from mistakes, but adapting ones writing style or behaviour to suit the oddities of single minded egocentrics (Like MM) is not the way forward.
Normally, in scientific reports/evaluation, words are carefully chosen to mean precisely what is intended. This article was not a scientific report and I would suggest did not require such rigourous text appraisal – hence no need for any self reproach imho.

Tom Halla
March 8, 2016 12:43 pm

I think treating some ideas as beyond the pale of discussion is inherently authoritarian. I have read a few conspiracy theory books, and find them not credible due to obvious mistakes. The only thing I really learned is that a coverup makes it rather difficult to degtermine just what was being covered up.
I do not think Mr Watts should apologise for not knowing Velikovsky is a rather bad example.

jon sutton
March 8, 2016 12:44 pm

Interesting programme on BBC Radio 4 today……. ‘Saving Science fron the Scientists’.
First in the series today and available to hear again;
Some very interesting points on the scientific method and the way bias etc can creep in.
No mention yet of CO2, but maybe, just maybe…………………………. nahhhh, it’s the BBC!

Reply to  jon sutton
March 8, 2016 1:56 pm

I listened to that as well and waited in vain for a “climate science” paper to be discussed.
As you say, it’s the BBC.
Nevertheless, many valid points made. Maybe someone can build on it with regard to AGW.

March 8, 2016 12:48 pm

In one hundred years time the alarmists and their absurd climate hysteria will be lumped in with Velikovsky, who at least wrote a very entertaining book in Oedipus and Akhenaton.

Eugene WR Gallun
March 8, 2016 12:50 pm

When you can ban one person’s book, you can ban anyone’s book.
For loopiness is there much difference between the science of Michael Mann, Kevin Trenberth, Gavin Schmidt, Phil Jones, etc and that of Velikovsky?
Michael Mann erases a past he doesn’t like and makes one up.
Kevin Trenberth basically teleports heat into the deep oceans.
Gavin Schmidt adjusts his data to create a world he wants to live in.
Phil Jones destroys his data so it can’t be used against him.
These are the people who would censor others? Ban others from publishing? In the name of Science?
Michael Mann = Velikovsky
Kevin Trenberth = velikovsky
Gavin Schmidt = Velikovsky
Phil Jones = Velikovsky
BUT THEY ARE FAR WORSE THAN VELIKOSKY. While Velikosky just sought to be published these attempt to keep others from being published demanding only they be published. Science surrenders to them to the tune of “The World Turned Upside Down”.
I think Dr. Ball did make a mistake in using Velikosky as his example. In some respects his article was similar to an article I read some years ago. The article had some interesting data and made some good points — unfortunately the article advocated the recycling of sewage water for drinking and other home use. Sort of a no starter.
But let me just say once and for all — Dr. Ball did not endorse Velikosky’s ideas — but rather he fully and completely endorsed Velikosky’s right to publish.
Eugene WR Gallun

March 8, 2016 12:52 pm

“The objective of the original article and follow up was to show how self-appointed elitists hinder the advance of science.”

Kuhn’s “practitioners of science” are always by definition “elitists.” They control the questions to be asked, the tools to be used, the measurements to be ascertained, the language and terminology, the interpretation of the data, and the total re-interpretation of the past in order to fit the new paradigm.
But every aspect of science benefits from open, rational criticism and continuous observations. People who think a “paradigm shift” would save science are merely claiming that if they were the new management, science would advance. Any new set of practitioners of science in a protected guild with power to:
1. describe reality,
2. tell people what is and is not possible, and
3. re-write the past to suit their paradigm
will need constant oversight and questioning by all people affected. Popper effectively argued against Kuhn’s philosophy of scientific revolutions in his book, “The Myth of the Framework.” I think Popper would say that the manmade global warming theory is an ideal example of Kuhn’s revolutionary paradigm shift. If anyone doubts, notice the past is being re-written to fit the paradigm. And the next generation is being told what is and is not possible based on the science of the Anthropocene Age paradigm.

Eugene WR Gallun
March 8, 2016 12:54 pm

By the way, i should add that I really like Dr. Ball’s articles. I hope he keeps up the good work. — Eugene WR Gallun

March 8, 2016 12:57 pm

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle, Metaphysics

Dr. Ball discussed Velikovsky’s work. Nowhere in the articles did Dr. Ball subscribe to or promote Velikovsky’s ideas. It is dishonest to claim things that are false.

March 8, 2016 1:01 pm

I have long argued with my friend’s that “the science is settled” is one of the most unscientific statements of all time, given the requirement of proof and prediction for any hypothesis to be accepted as a theory, let alone a law. It shows the moral corruption of the climate science community that they did not issue a statement of this nature to correct Al Gore when he first made this proclamation..

Frederik Michiels
March 8, 2016 1:01 pm

the difference is:
Velikovsky still has his book title “worlds in collision”
mann will go into history with the term
“Mann-made global warming”

Jay Hope
Reply to  Frederik Michiels
March 8, 2016 3:31 pm

Very true, Frederik!

Chip Javert
Reply to  Frederik Michiels
March 8, 2016 4:00 pm

…and Nobel was, then wasn’t

Steve Reddish
March 8, 2016 1:05 pm

For a clear demonstration of the scientific “establishment” pretending evidence is false because it runs counter to the existing paradigm, readers are directed to J. Harlen Bretz’ denigration by the geological establishment for his papers reporting on the channeled scablands of eastern Washington. His claim that the channels were eroded by flood waters was ridiculed because of the fear that such a large flood could only be caused by Noah’s flood, not because the evidence for a huge flood was weak.

Paul Westhaver
March 8, 2016 1:08 pm

The Logic of Michael Mann:
Person A hosts a blog wherein person B writes an article wherein he refers to person V who had an occasion to entertain a marginal idea (D).
According to this man of “science” the 3 degrees of separation between D & A makes a cause and effect relationship between A and Z, (Z being general competency in Science) Thus is the thinking of Michael Mann.
This violates a whole truckload of set theory logic.
So if he is capable of this line of thinking, AND he is documented to have employed a trick to support his hockey stick lie, and he claimed to be a Nobel Prize winner, doncha think it is a good thing that Mann has further undermined his powers of reasoning? I do.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 1:16 pm

I like it! 🙂

Reply to  A.D. Everard
March 8, 2016 1:18 pm

How about When Models and Reality Collide?

Reply to  A.D. Everard
March 8, 2016 1:21 pm

This could be a whole new post. I bet there’s a lot of thought for a lot of good titles out there.

Gloateus Maximus
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 8, 2016 1:50 pm

GIGO and Real Worlds in Collision!
Reminds me of the attempts here to name the planet modeled by the GCMs, since it clearly isn’t Earth.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 9, 2016 2:36 pm

Just call it, ‘Uranus’ and it will be hilarious…

March 8, 2016 1:25 pm

Actually it’s good that articles here on WUWT are irksome enough to generate attack. I forgot that taking flak means being right over target. So now I’m rejoicing. The critics are showing themselves as just that. Critics. Nothing more, nothing less, just… critics. I will ignore them.

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  A.D. Everard
March 8, 2016 1:36 pm

This the problem with Twitter. It is populated by twits. Mann…tosses out a thoughtless mucky barb… why?
He is hoping to repair his f’ed up credentials. Muck sticks to whomever touches it.
Hey Micheal….instead of Twitter, let us see your conspiratorial emails wherein you colluded with HADCRU to fake your hockey stick propaganda! You POS. You won’t derail me or Mark Stein & the National Review for that matter.

Michael J. Dunn
March 8, 2016 1:37 pm

It’s been a long time since I delved into Velikovskian matters, but my recollection of his project was that he was trying to form an inference from mythology (and Biblical accounts) about possible observed events in the far past. In the spirit of trying to make contemporary sense out of such reconstructions, he proposed various hypotheses…but he never presented himself as an astronomer or orbital mechanics expert. As mentioned, Einstein thought Velikovsky was worth reading (they were friends, and one of Velikovsky’s books was on Einstein’s bedside table at his death). Another of Velikovsky’s true predictions was the high surface temperature of Venus. Take it as an interesting set of coincidences.
The issue, of course, is not what Velikovsky wrote but how he was treated as an individual. The “Velikovsky Affair” mentioned in passing above was an occasion where mainstream astronomers assembled to heap scorn and ridicule on Velikovsky. A very shabby performance. If someone has mistaken ideas, he is to be refuted or corrected, not ridiculed. Chief among the shabby critics was Carl Sagan, who up to this point I had held in some esteem. His performance completely discredited his own standing (making up a calculation on the premise that planetary motions were like random gas molecules, instead of being cyclic systems). Why would it ever be necessary to resort to sophistry if one’s position was firm? Sagan, of course, was the progenitor of the crazy “model-is-reality” school of science, with his then current theory of “nuclear winter,” so go figure. I never bothered to read a word from Sagan since that time. He was scientifically and philosophically groundless.
Velikovsky’s “crime” was to approach a topic in one field from the standpoint and methods of another field. Like territorial wild dogs, the astronomical community showed him only bared fangs. If Dr. Svalgaard wants to claim fellowship in the pack, he is in poor company.

Reply to  Michael J. Dunn
March 8, 2016 2:23 pm

Velikovsky’s “crime” was to approach a topic in one field from the standpoint and methods of another field. Like territorial wild dogs, the astronomical community showed him only bared fangs. If Dr. Svalgaard wants to claim fellowship in the pack, he is in poor company.

Well said!

Reply to  Michael J. Dunn
March 8, 2016 3:55 pm

Very well said. My experience too regarding Carl Sagan. He lost my respect then and there.

Reply to  Michael J. Dunn
March 8, 2016 7:41 pm

the astronomical community showed him only bared fangs
Some people deserve bared fangs, e.g. Velikovsky, Mike Mann, Wallace Thornhill, William Dembski, and many more…

Michael J. Dunn
Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 9, 2016 9:07 am

Some people deserve bared fangs? I think you have revealed yourself more than you intended.
This is not the place for a new topic, but now I am greatly curious about your attitude toward the inclusion of electromagnetics in the forces defining astronomical phenomena (Alfven, etc.). I have a background in magnetohydrodynamics and plasma physics, so I will keep my ears pricked.

David A
Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 9, 2016 1:15 am

“If someone has mistaken ideas, he is to be refuted or corrected, not ridiculed.”
…is the more effective approach. “Address the idea, not the man” to paraphrase an astronomer who makes blog comments that I know of.

March 8, 2016 1:48 pm

Can we have a character with a bunch of fiction meet a fictional character?
Michael meets Yeti
It’s Mannwich time.

Berényi Péter
March 8, 2016 1:54 pm

The case of J Harlen Bretz with the Channeled Scablands would have been a much better example. Or Alfred Wegener &. plate tectonics. Or Thomas Gold &. abiogenic petroleum (an ongoing controversy).

Smart Rock
Reply to  Berényi Péter
March 8, 2016 5:11 pm

Wegener did not propose plate tectonics. He proposed continental drift, without really having a well-developed concept of how it might work (how could he, without the knowledge about the oceanic crust that was accumulated over the following 40 years?).
Plate tectonics appeared as a concept in 1965 when Tuzo Wilson became aware of the research of Drummond Matthews and Fred Vine.
I’m sorry Berényi, I know I’m just being picky, but it was a such big thing for me. I was there, an inconsequential undergraduate witnessing a scientific revolution, but it left an indelible impression. It was a genuine scientific revolution because before then geology was really not much more than a lot of observations without a unifying theory, and after plate tectonics, everything just came together into this incredibly simple and stunningly beautiful picture of how the earth works. In hindsight, the most striking thing about plate tectonics, and probably all scientific revolutions, is how easy it appeared. Once you got the idea, it was obvious and you almost overnight forgot what geology felt like “before”.
But, maybe Wegener wouldn’t have been a really good example. As I understood it, most geologists at the time thought he had a point but they just couldn’t visualise how it might work. His ideas were dismissed and probably laughed at in private, but I don’t think he was ever subjected to the kind of incessant stream of scornful sniping, patronising insults and demonisation in public forums that climate sceptics receive from the self-appointed climate elite, all the bloody time. Certainly, by the early 1960s, Wegener’s theory was being taught in respectable universities along with other theories that had been proposed as to how continental drift and mountain building might actually work.

March 8, 2016 2:36 pm

It appears from Mann’s comments he did not actually read Anthony’s original post or he would have known about the qualifier at the beginning of the post. Makes one wonder if he’s ever finished any science books, particularly those regarding climate, math, and tree rings.

March 8, 2016 3:05 pm

Perhaps the treatment of Hungarian physician Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis would be better. A physician (who was correct, by the way) was vilified by the medical establishment for his contrarian views on washing hands between patients.

Reply to  jeffsz
March 8, 2016 9:16 pm

From memory it took 40 years for his Idea to be widely accepted and in this day and age it just seems incredible that it took so long when he had the data to prove it.

Retired Kit P
March 8, 2016 3:19 pm

“Hansen’s “The oceans will boil” comes to mind.”
There is a difference between water vapor produced by evaporation and boiling. Water boils or turns to steam it when the water is heated boiling point or Ts, saturation temperature. Ts @ 1 atm = 212 degrees F.

Retired Kit P
March 8, 2016 3:37 pm

Over the years I have noticed those calling for civility have a double standard. It is civil to say the nuclear and coal industries are killing people based on some weak theory but it is not civil to call them stupid.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Retired Kit P
March 8, 2016 4:22 pm

Some people in the US have a bumper sticker on their cars that, using various religious symbols to suggest the letters, reads, “Coexist”.
My personal experience is that what they mean by “Coexist” is that, “You have to Coexist with me. I don’t have to Coexist with you.”
In “science” there should should be no “Coexist” bumper stickers. There should only be an attitude of, “I thought 2+2=5. Thanks for showing me that 2+2 is closer to 4.5. Let’s keep working to find out what 2+2 really equals.”

Reply to  Gunga Din
March 9, 2016 2:59 pm


March 8, 2016 3:51 pm

Didn’t Wegener catch a lot of grief for his continental drift theory from “elite”scientists?

Reply to  jayhd
March 8, 2016 4:46 pm

I don’t know if Wegener caught personal grief but his proposition was ridiculed because there was no known mechanism for it to occur. However he wasn’t the first to suggest it. Ortellius made a similar suggestion in 1596.
Meanwhile geologists tied themselves in knots with an elaborate geosynclinal theory of mountain building [https://publish.illinois.edu/platetectonics/geosynclinal-theory] and constructing land bridges to solve the problem of widely separated but similar fossil assemblages. Oddly [?] there was no accepted mechanism for this either.
Wegener and the mobilists’ ideas were finally accepted in the late 1960s when information from the JOIDES deep sea drilling program became available. No ocean crust older than 140 million years could be found and magnetic striping either side of the deep oceanic ridges showed that they were spreading axes…..new ocean floor was continually being erupted along the ridges.

Reply to  GregK
March 8, 2016 5:33 pm

Wegener and the mobilists’ ideas were finally accepted in the late 1960s when information from the JOIDES deep sea drilling program became available
Which shows how abruptly and quickly ‘establishment’ science can turn around once the data is good. The turn-around also did not happen because some crank won the argument, but because the ‘elite’ became convinced that the data supported ‘continental drift’. In contrast to Velikovsky and other fools, Wegener had good and valid reasons for his theory. The affair shows the triumph of hard work by experts.

Reply to  GregK
March 8, 2016 7:50 pm

Leif, right on – but .. before good data for a new hypothesis becomes available, should the establishment really mock the new theory because the old theory is supported by data that turns out not to be good?

Reply to  GregK
March 8, 2016 9:54 pm

Which shows how abruptly and quickly ‘establishment’ science can turn around once the data is good. The turn-around also did not happen because some crank won the argument, but because the ‘elite’ became convinced that the data supported ‘continental drift’.

Wegener presented many geological, paleontological etc… arguments and evidence that were extremely good data but soundly ignored by a certain elite, in fact many geophysicists.
A certain geophysicist Sir Harold Jeffreys, of great reputation, rebuked ONE aspect of Wegener ideas through calculations demonstrating convincingly that continents of SiAl could not drift over the SiMa mantle. The demonstration by the hard science elite put a nail in the Continental Drift coffin, ignoring soundly all other evidence… Until technological advances allowed the collection of new data confirming the other observations by Wegener as pointed out by GregK and celebrated by Svalgaard.

Reply to  GregK
March 8, 2016 10:19 pm

Scientists are, rightfully, very conservative people and demand extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.

David A
Reply to  GregK
March 9, 2016 1:23 am

Tom, thank you for your well thought out comments. Despite a rational and evidenced presentation by Wegener, the human non scientific side of some “elite” scientists manifested.

Reply to  GregK
March 9, 2016 8:06 am

A great little book on Wegener by Hallam should help…

March 8, 2016 3:54 pm

Partly topic, but it seems the Australian government has a lot of sceptics in the ranks.
They are calling for a debate about the “settled science” of climate change.
Slowly the cracks are beginning to show.

Retired Kit P
March 8, 2016 4:08 pm

“Retired Kit P
So, you’ve solved the nuclear waste storage problem!
Fantastic – what is it?”
Well Chip, Yes we have. I am surprised that you do not what it is.
First off it is not much an engineering challenge. When spent fuel is removed it is stored in pools of water and cooled. I have been responsible for the systems. Another perfect record. After a few years, spent fuel can be placed dry storage cask storage and placed on a cement pad. Again a perfect record.
Since spent fuel has about the same radioactivity as dirt, no further action is necessary to protect the public. However, a geological repository at Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert is undergoing review by the NRC. Worked on that project too.
There are other solutions other counties are pursuing.

March 8, 2016 4:20 pm

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. Oscar Wilde

March 8, 2016 4:51 pm

I’d love to have Isaac Newton appear before Barbara Boxer in a Senate subcommittee meeting.
OK, OK, OK. We’ve heard ad nauseam about your laws of motion and theory of gravity. Whatever. But isn’t it fact that you have a unnatural, almost obsessive compulsion to delve into alchemy?

Reply to  Robert
March 8, 2016 5:41 pm

And Biblical exegesis. John Maynard Keynes (not one of my favorite intellectuals, but a smart one) bought Newton’s private papers, and went through the million words Newton had written on the Bible. Though I can’t recall his exact words, they were, to the effect, that Newton had wasted a lot of time and brainpower.

March 8, 2016 5:38 pm

We shouldn’t be quarreling about “who killed whom”…

Gary Hladik
Reply to  MfK
March 8, 2016 8:07 pm

Haha! Still one of my favorite films! 🙂

March 8, 2016 6:10 pm

No it wasn’t elitists/elites who found V far outside of science for more than 60 years to date; it was just scientists who did it. ‘Elitist/elites’ was just stereotyping name calling by Tim Ball. Tim Ball can and has done fine work at WUWT but not in this instance. That said, Tim Ball stimulated a wonderfully productive and extremely important discussion on the demarcation of what is within science and what isn’t.
That kind of discussion is important especially as we look at the subjectively contrived CAGW / harmful AGW hypothesis. I suggest a call for an essay at WUWT that introduces a dialog on ‘Science versus Mimicking Science’ where the focus isn’t at all on V’s stuff since his stuff is only of historical interest at this point; rather focus an article on the epistemological nature of science versus the irrational nature of mimicking science. Important stuff.
I thank Anthony for his incredible venue that is the best of the open marketplaces of ideas focused on science. : )

March 8, 2016 6:12 pm

As long as Michael Mann is relying on false information to make his assertions he has failed not only at science 101 but also at communication 101 as he is demonstrably trolling Tim Ball and Anthony Watts.
Sure Mann’s followers who “believe” his assertions, rather than checking them, won’t know the difference but anyone serious who digs deeper will discover the facts Michael Mann alleges about his science claims and his claims regarding Tim Ball and Anthony Watts do not support his conclusions and thus his allegations demonstrate his logical fallacies.
If Michael Mann knows he is making false allegations that is quite different than if he is merely so confused as to not comprehend the referenced articles by Tim Ball and Anthony Watts on this topic. I’m not sure which is more disturbing, wilful intentional distortion of the facts or utter ignorance that he is utterly mistaken.
I concur with Tim Ball and Anthony Watts that science is being distorted by the “cult of science belief” and that many allegedly leading scientists or science focused people popular in the media use the “cult of science belief” to make unsubstantiated claims in the media. They do so to promote their point of view but what is absent is the message that science is largely about being able to have one’s science claims validated or refuted by others; when any scientist or science focused person fails to allow for invalidation of their claims they fail at science or science education and do the public a massive disservice.
I find it quite disturbing to see this happening on so many science topics in the media. This is not to give credence to claims that are easily disproven of course. The main problem is that people are not trained in the methods of the scientific method so they do not know when scientific information is valid or not, heck it takes trained scientists a lot of effort to make such determinations and even then we often get it wrong which is why science is a collaborative and often adversarial process by design.
The problem is that folks such as Michael Mann seem to take advantage of the “cult of science belief” which has as one of its core beliefs that science is never wrong to make all kinds of claims that might seem reasonable but that the general public can’t prove or disprove due to their lack of science training. People such as Michael Mann seem to thrive upon this lack of science training of the public to make their claims seem reasonable. However when one digs into the claims of these “high priests of the cult of science belief” or the “cult of belief in science” their claims often fall flat on their face. The problem is that to those that “believe in science” based upon the claims of folks like Michael Mann only see “the truth” as given by Michael Mann. This is deeply ironic as “beliefs in science” is anti-scientific. So when one “markets” science via the public “belief in science” one is in fact violating the scientific method and thus demonstrating that one isn’t a scientist.
This begs the question of how to promote accurate claims of science without violating the scientific method in the process of “marketing” to the public? It’s not an easy path for sure.
Thanks to many of the authors at WUWT (and other places) for daring to ask questions of the claims of others as demanded and required by the scientific method.
If Michael Mann were actually a scientist following the scientific method he would get the importance of anyone questioning his alleged scientific claims; since he demonstrably doesn’t follow the scientific method he excludes himself from the set of people who are scientists pursuing hard science.

March 8, 2016 6:15 pm

Better example might be the 2 decade struggle to recognize lab Helicobacter pylori as the root cause of peptic ulcers in the face of “settled science”.
Murray had to infect himself to prove the point. http://www.jyi.org/issue/delayed-gratification-why-it-took-everybody-so-long-to-acknowledge-that-bacteria-cause-ulcers/

March 8, 2016 6:26 pm

Eerie parallel with climate science is the 60 yr campaign against dietary fats promoted by Ancel Keys and Paul Dudley white. The longest, most expensive public health campaign quietly left the building a few weeks ago when the USDA and Health Dept. announced on a Friday that “cholesterol was no longer a nutrient of interest”.
All of the “science” is now admitted to be in fact bogus, motivated cherry picking which garnered political leverage and the opportunistic patronage of “Big Oil”… Big VEGETABLE Oil, that is. http://www.jyi.org/issue/delayed-gratification-why-it-took-everybody-so-long-to-acknowledge-that-bacteria-cause-ulcers/
Exposure of the total breakdown of scientific rigour came mostly from “unqualified” but curious, thinking individuals from other fields. The obesity and diabetic epidemic may well have been a consequence.

Steve in SC
March 8, 2016 6:37 pm

A couple of observations from deep in the country (not city).
Throughout history the priesthood has been mostly evil and corrupt.
Some of you boys are being a bit too prickly.
False piety is not a virtue.

Reply to  Steve in SC
March 8, 2016 8:01 pm

It depends on the interpretation of “Throughout the history”. I grew up in a Communist country, when priests were considered enemies of state. Some of the best people I knew were priests. On the other hand, when a priesthood is a ticket for a comfortable living with very few duties, it attracts the worst people.

March 8, 2016 8:25 pm

and Dr. Mann scores an own goal. Wonderful.
He’s proven himself to be a superb example of the whole point of the article.
Don’t go beating your breast Anthony. It was an interesting and thought provoking point and Mann blowing his tin trumpet all across the Internet in this way has been a wonderful proof of its point.

charles nelson
March 8, 2016 10:09 pm

Some day Mann and Velikovsky will be lumped together in the same category.

David A
Reply to  charles nelson
March 9, 2016 1:30 am

One postulated creative ideas to explain some poorly understood observations, the other promotes massive political change despite observations that directly contradict the catastrophe predicted by his hypothesis. Two very different categories in my view.

Michael J. Dunn
Reply to  charles nelson
March 9, 2016 8:57 am

This would be regrettable, because Velikovksy was an honorable and honest gentleman, whatever one may think of his astrophysical hypotheses.

Steve O
March 8, 2016 10:25 pm

I agree with sophocles, Anthony. Mann obviously did not read the article (I did in its entirety). Your point that elitist, non-skeptical scientists are worse than old dogs when it comes to new ideas is not only valid, but validated, by Mann’s knee jerk reaction tweets. This tempest in a teapot gets it’s energy from Mike’s hot response to to a premise he imagined… “Watt believes V”. Lysenko would have been a better choice, especially since skeptics, not true AGW believers,, are the ones that know the tragedy of millions of starved peasants from pseudo-science policy decisions in Russia. That said, I believe Mann exposed himself as the climate theologian (not scientist) he really is. No apology needed Mr. Watts.

Nigel S
March 8, 2016 10:55 pm

This all goes to show that no good comes to Mann from delving too deeply into the crazy cat litter tray. Thanks for the introduction to Velikovsky. I discovered Gyromancy yesterday. Brewer’s tells us that it was (is?) ‘A kind of divination performed by walking round in a circle or ring until one fell from dizziness, the direction of the fall being of significance’.

March 9, 2016 2:09 am

” lsvalgaard
March 8, 2016 at 10:19 pm
Scientists are, rightfully, very conservative people and demand extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.

When someone talks of “scientists” as one unit of the best example of humanity, I have to laugh, you have no idea pal what scientists are. I’ll tell you, they are exactly like everyone else.

March 9, 2016 2:13 am

Scientific work today must be a constant battle between the Neocortex and the lizard brain. Thinking vs. Ego
Plus instant rewards, who cares about posterity now, all about the $$$

March 9, 2016 2:31 am

That Velikovsky must have been a real loon if even Mann considers him a pseudo scientist.

March 9, 2016 2:57 am

Does ANYBODY give a flying duck what Mann thinks any more?

Reply to  jeremyp99
March 9, 2016 3:48 am

..Certainly not the ducks ! Mikey’s rantings are just water off their backs !

March 9, 2016 5:35 am

“More important, people can make judgments about Velikovsky because all of his data and ideas were available.”
If one looks at Velikovsky, it is important to judge him against his time. For example, we now know things that Newton did not know but we do not judge him against 2016 knowledge. Mr. V. worked at a time when the “consensus” was that there had never been anything but gradualism. Never.
If one just hollers that Velikovsky was wrong and so forth, that just shows deep ignorance. Read his books, especially the third one where he gives only evidence of the “stones and bones”. He used the evidence of geology and archaeology to support his ideas. He did not use any “old tales” and “religious books” even though the deeply ignorant say that is all he ever offered.
Besides the above, it is deeply regrettable that we should worry about what some idiot alarmist “scientist” says about the site or its commentators just because Velikovsky was used as an example for the point of a post. I applaud Dr. Ball for the guts to cite the example. Dr. Ball never said Velikovsky was right, only that he was attacked by all of science for offering ideas outside of the “consensus”. I can think of few examples as good as that one. (somewhat biased as I lived though a good portion of the “debate”)
We, or rather the site owner, should not let any of the “team” censor this site.
~ Mark “listen to all sides” Stoval

March 9, 2016 6:56 am

It is expected that Gavin A. Schmidt & Michael E. Mann are promoting the idea that WUWT shouldn’t critically discuss V’s mimicking of science; it is expected because of their infamous blocking of all critical discussion of their own mimicking of climate science during their biased leadership of Real Climate blog.

March 9, 2016 7:26 am

It was insane for this website to offer up such an easy target as posting on Velikovsky. Mann and his ilk want nothing more than to marginalize skeptics as Velikovskians and you did exactly what they wanted. If you want your articles to be taken seriously, you simply can’t publish stuff like this.
Nor did the profile of Velikovsky properly acknowledge the volume of misinformation in his work. In the area that I looked at (ancient history -Ages in Chaos), his proposed rearrangement of dating systems is totally without merit, is easily contradicted, and rightly sneered at by specialists.
Publication of your Velikovsky article was a black day for WUWT credibility.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 9, 2016 8:25 am

But looks lost on many commenters [and perhaps Dr. Ball himself].

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 9, 2016 8:35 am

Question to Dr. Ball: did you also learn the lesson?

David Ball
Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 9, 2016 10:52 am


Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 9, 2016 11:48 am

David, you apparently did not…

Mark T
Reply to  Steve McIntyre
March 9, 2016 7:40 pm

Et tu, Brute? Why not throw in a claim of Godwin’s law while you’re at it? Prostrating yourselves at the alter of “he who deems what may be discussed” is actually what these poor excuses for scientists want. Mann is a liar, and anyone truly interested in science knows this. Participation at Real Climate is all you need to know about “their” legitimacy, and a simple analogy that otherwise intelligent people lose in the midst of the trees in the forest does not change this truth. You give them the control they do not have with a post like this. You, Steve, should be ashamed.
Don’t ever let yourself be bullied into acquiescence, Anthony. It makes you look weak. Mann is laughing because of your capitulation, not your post.

Reply to  Steve McIntyre
March 10, 2016 6:58 am

“Publication of your V@l@k@vsky article was a black day for WUWT credibility.”
Oh come on. You have never read his third book and don’t know much about his work from your comments (at least not Earth In Upheaval 1955). Plus the article by Dr. Ball was not about V anyway.
Are you so afraid of “Dr.” Mann and his “team” that you are afraid of even mentioning people not acceptable to his side? Should I be afraid of mentioning your name?

March 9, 2016 7:47 am

In some ways, it’s rather fascinating to compare Velikovsky to Percival Lowell. Velikovsky has been well-discussed, so I won’t rehash those points. Lowell was one of the main popularizers of the theory that Mars had been inhabited, based on his maps of non-natural features on the Martian surface (especially canals). He also mapped non-existent surface features on Venus; the prevailing explanation today is that he was probably seeing reflections of the interior of his own eye due to the eyepiece settings he used. The thing for which he is best known – predicting the existence and location of a “Planet X” beyond Neptune – was a classic case of being (accidentally) right for the wrong reason.
Yet today, Lowell, though not seen as one of the “greats”, is still remembered more-or-less positively, while Velikovsky is widely seen as a nut-case. Fascinating.

March 9, 2016 7:59 am

So many people on this list are missing the point. Velikovsky was not a scientist, rather he was a historian. As a historian, he found some records, cross-referenced them to other historical records, then tried to make a scientific interpretation of those records. Because those historical records indicate events that modern scientists say is impossible, modern scientists reject those historical records.
History deals with that which is no longer observable, hence science can not deal with it, because science is based on repeatable observations.
As an amateur historian myself (an aside to some linguistic studies), I have found that his re-ordering of ancient Egyptian history makes far better sense and far better fits both other historical records and the archeological record than that presented by the elite historians around Kenneth Kitchen and his disciples. In other words, I have found him to have been a decent historian. While I don’t agree with all that Velikovski claimed, not by a long shot, I at least recognize that he was a historian, and that his modernist explanations may be wrong.
Velikovski was so bitterly hated because his theories contradict the reigning religio-philosophical ideas of his day in both science and history. The same is true of AGW skeptics today.

March 9, 2016 8:20 am

I notice a few caught it, but it seems as if Mann takes his criticism cues from Sou. Irony much?

Mark T
Reply to  ab
March 9, 2016 7:44 pm

Because he’s not smart enough.

March 9, 2016 8:35 am

Dyson said circa 2012,
“Science is a creative interaction of observation with imagination. “Physics at the Fringe” is what happens when imagination loses touch with observation. Imagination by itself can still enlarge our vision when observation fails. The mythologies of Carter and Velikovsky fail to be science, but they are works of art and high imagining. As William Blake told us long ago, “You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.”

Dyson was reportedly V’s friend and he soundly demarcated V’s work as not within science.

March 9, 2016 8:45 am

Analitik writes:
“I have long argued with my friend’s that “the science is settled” is one of the most unscientific statements of all time, given the requirement of proof and prediction for any hypothesis to be accepted as a theory, let alone a law. It shows the moral corruption of the climate science community that they did not issue a statement of this nature to correct Al Gore when he first made this proclamation.”
There may be some valid exceptions, but most real theoretical science is always and only *probable* in its conclusions.
When Dr. Mann’s poor use of logic that he thinks to attack Mr. Watts in this fashion he therefore illustrates a classic fallacy.
Nor is he correct that even if Mr. Watts was a “follower” of Velikovsky that would automatically indicate his failed scientific credentials. The fact is that Velikovsky was correct in his prediction that Venus would be a hot planet. It was Carl Sagan who attempted to refute the significance of V’s accurate prediction with a “greenhouse gas” model that subsequent research shows cannot possibly be correct.
Based on the reading I’ve done, anyway, the excess heat on Venus simply cannot be accounted for solely on the basis of the “greenhouse” model. Therefore, Velikovsky’s theory that the primary cause of the heat is Venus’ relatively recent, violent creation or capture in our solar system. Mann predictably employs the gradualistic prejudice that all of the planets must have been created by accretion, all at the same time.
There is no evidence at all (that I have seen) supporting this assumption, and the evidence for catastrophic events in our cosmos suggests the contrary, that planets may be more likely captured by solar systems and therefore do not necessarily originate all at the same time. We don’t know the answers for sure, but Velikovsky’s model is still quite possible, and may be the correct one. Venus may indeed be hot because it is young, not just because it has a lot of C02 in the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, it is worth remembering that the popularity of the concept of “greenhouse gas warming” originates in Sagan’s attempt to confute Velikovsky about the causes of the hotness of Venus.
Dr. Mann is grasping at predictably short straws here.

March 9, 2016 12:32 pm

AW and TB:
I find the response of Michael Mann to the original article amusing in light of my post to the thread of that article.
To save need to find it, I copy it to here.

Tim Ball:
You pose the question

Who and how do you determine that someone or their work is pseudo-science?

Science and pseudoscience are very different so observation of their practices clearly shows what they are.
Science is a method to seek the closest possible approximation to ‘truth’ by seeking evidence that falsifies existing understanding(s) and amending or rejecting existing understanding(s) in the light of obtained evidence.
Pseudoscience is an acceptance that existing understanding(s) represent ‘truth’ and seeking evidence that supports the existing understanding(s) while rejecting or ignoring evidence that falsifies the existing understanding(s).

For example, the ‘cover up’ of the ‘MBH98 tree ring divergence problem’ demonstrates that MBH98 is pseudoscience and Michael Mann et al. are pseudoscientists: the ‘cover up’ demonstrates this because scientists would have proclaimed the ‘divergence problem’ as useful falsifying evidence but pseudoscientists ignore falsifying evidence.

March 9, 2016 1:08 pm

A “scientific theory” isn’t a theory until after it is challenged, till then it’s merely a hypothesis; however the mere act of challenging a hypothesis doesn’t elevate it from a hypothesis to a theory, that takes a lot of challenges that fail to invalidate the hypothesis. As it stands there are far too many problems with the many various hypotheses that man has caused “global warming” scale effects, and far too many falsifications of the hypothesis, far too much wrong with the integrity of the various data sources that are used and abused to allegedly support their various hypotheses; the result being that AGW is little more than the Cargo Cult Science that Richard Feynman spoke of: http://pathstoknowledge.science/2010/02/19/cargo-cult-science-a-lesson-from-richard-feynman-for-scientists-of-today-to-learn.

March 9, 2016 2:42 pm

He just throwing his considerable weight around in the hope he can get some mud to stick ,he cares not one bit if his speaking the truth, although to be fair to him he does a work in area were lying is rewarded so perhaps he is not used to idea of truth. But in-line with his usual standards is all goign wrong for him , that Mann is icon and a prophet of ‘the cause ‘shows how really rubbish it is .

Gunga Din
March 9, 2016 3:03 pm

Maybe I missed something, but it seems that V’s work was put forth in the post as an example, not because his conclusions were right but because he didn’t hide his methods OR data. Therefore, after examination, his conclusions are rejected.
Mann “et al” hide (or adjust) their data and methods (and related emails) to prevent their conclusions from being rejected.
Wrong or not, V was the more honest scientist.
Science shouldn’t be a poker game where you hide your cards. You lay your cards on the table and all gain something regardless of who had “the winning” insight.

March 9, 2016 3:33 pm

You were wise to let this thread continue to play out so that it is obviously documented that V’s work failed to be science in all of its aspects.
I hope to add more comments over the next few weeks documenting further that V’s work merely mimicked science.

Tom in Florida
March 9, 2016 4:17 pm

The “V” you are referring to, is it still Velikovsky or has it morphed into our old friend Vukevic?

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 9, 2016 5:40 pm

Tom in Florida
Many have been using ‘V’ because it looks like WP filters out comments into its dust bin that use his full last name.

March 9, 2016 4:35 pm

V’s work was put forth in the post as an example, not because his conclusions were right but because he didn’t hide his methods OR data
He had no methods and his data was the bible…

Gary Hladik
Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 10, 2016 2:35 am

Wow! Best one-line evaluation of Dr. V I’ve seen!

Reply to  Gary Hladik
March 10, 2016 6:50 am

Agreed, if you mean one of the most incorrect evaluations ever. And from a guy who has not read his first three books or he would not say that.

Reply to  Gary Hladik
March 10, 2016 8:54 am

It is precisely by reading Velikovsky that his pseudo-science shines through so glaringly. See what other readers have said: http://www.leif.org/EOS/Velikovsky-Bauer.pdf
“The Velikovsky Affair can serve to show at least that a massive task of education is called for”.

Reply to  Gary Hladik
March 10, 2016 10:07 am

This [from http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/cosmic_tree/upheaval.htm ]:
“It has been approximately 18,000 years (5 X 3,600) since the North Polar Zone was located over what is now China. Since the North Pole shifts in a clockwise direction with respect to the Great Pyramid of Egypt, it can be hypothesized that when it shifts the next time, around 2012 CE, the new North Pole will once again be in China, with the new South Pole located in the vicinity of Santiago de Chile.” gives a flavor of the nonsense you advocate.

Gary Hladik
Reply to  Gary Hladik
March 10, 2016 1:24 pm

Thanks for the Bauer link, Leif. Bauer nicely sums up the so-called “Velikovsky Affair”:
“Velikovsky’s notions about celestial events were and are most implausible; the evidence adduced was not drawn from physics or astronomy or geology or any other relevant science; and so the manner in which his ideas were received tells us nothing in general about how science reacts to new ideas, only about how it reacts to poorly supported, implausible ideas ventured by one who has no standing in science.”
In other words, Tim Ball did indeed choose a poor example to illustrate his theme of so-called “elites” impeding scientific progress. Their attitude in this case was appropriate, but unfortunately their tactics backfired.
For those with institutional access, Bauer’s article “Velikovsky and Social Studies of Science” is here:
Others will need to create a free account to read it.

Gunga Din
Reply to  lsvalgaard
March 10, 2016 2:11 pm

I’d never heard of V before this post. Never read any of his work.
But if he had not been open and honest about how he arrived at his conclusions (assuming you’ve portrayed them accurately) then you, as a scientist, could not have said what you said and remain in the realm of science.

March 9, 2016 10:11 pm

WOW! It seems the Ball article was bang on. Why the vitriol? The flak comment is right.
And for the record, continental drift and geologic mountain folding was being taught in the 1950″s when I was in school. And yes, that is a verifiable fact that anyone can look up. And yes again, the cause was “proven” in the 1960’s with sea floor spreading and followed late in the 60’s by plate tectonics. But what was wrong with teaching the ideas of “Wegener” a German meteorologist, like our host? Yet “W” was proposing an idea that had nothing to do with meteorology.
And who or what was a “climate scientist” 30 years ago?
So, who really knows about climate change? Maybe in another 30 years those of you still alive will have a better idea.

March 9, 2016 10:16 pm

Negotiating 101: “Don’t Get Angry, Negotiate!”

March 15, 2016 7:48 pm

Well said, L E Joiner in your post of March 8, 2016 at 12:24 pm. Had I been able to find your post without reading all 254 responses I would not have needed to write my own – presumably still being moderated. BTW, V was a psychoanalyst, not a psychiatrist. That is why he was so upset with Freud’s backsliding. Freud was the great progenitor of psychoanalysis.
Does a scientist have to sit in a laboratory and make experiments? Surely not, cosmologists have no way of making experiments to try to falsify their theories. Assuredly some scientists can test their theories to ascertain if they can be falsified, but not all need to do this. There is such a thing as a “thought experiment” much used by economists – when they try to test their theories by practical experiments they risk disaster if they are wrong, and perhaps even more if they are right!
Tim Ball refers to Scientific American. As he says, that used to be n informer of good science, with some amusing articles thrown in. I lost my credence in it when Martin Gardner wrote an article decrying the Laffer Curve” with the ‘curve’ being a squiggle between the end points. Absolutely zero economic knowledge! No more buying SA.