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.