Heard On NPR

I was listening to NPR last week while driving to Arizona. They had an interesting discussion with a scientist who disputed the consensus idea that dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteor.  She talked about the extreme pressure and hostility she faced from peers, trying to force her to come around to the consensus view. At one point the interviewer said “I don’t think I could withstand that.”

When the show ended, the interviewer said it was a weekly science show where they discuss important topics like “climate denialism.”  An intelligent person might have thought that one through – but this was NPR.

Later on NPR news, they said Jerry Brown was launching a satellite to “monitor climate change gases” – which are apparently located far to the left of inert gases on the periodic table.

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29 Responses to Heard On NPR

  1. W. Frederick says:

    This type of pressure goes on in all fields of academia.

    I once heard a story about a young Classics professor who specialized in early Greek writing. At the beginning of his career he presented a controversial hypothesis about certain lettering on a stone which completely overturned all previous academic work on the origins of Greek. The old guard, threatened by his hypothesis, pilloried and marginalized the poor guy but he stuck by his guns. He stayed in the Classics field but never made it into the upper echelons; the guardians of consensus had sidelined his life’s work.

    As he was nearing retirement electron microscopic scanning began to come into use. He had the stone scanned and results revealed that he had been correct. The consensus guardians were not only wrong, they had delayed the advancement of their field for an entire academic generation.

    If that kind of pressure and power is brought to bear in the quiet and non-lucrative field of Classical Greek, I can only imagine what goes on in politically and financially charged climate change sphere.

    • Gator says:

      Science advances, one obituary at a time.

      • GW Smith says:

        Gator — That is so true! But the left sees it the same way.

      • czechlist says:

        Alfred Wegener comes to mind.
        I have ocassion to tune NPR on Sunday mornings. Lefty progressive bias in almost every report/ discussion and it is rare when there is no insult to my intelligence.
        Recently a report about the high rate of mothers deaths related to childbirth. The whole report placed blame on poor doctor and hospital care – not a word about the mother’s health, lifestyle nor national origin. Of course it was anti-capitalism and their solution is single payer healthcare.
        I hate that my taxes support the propaganda.

  2. Robertv says:

    As long as she can’t prove dinosaurs were wiped out by CO2 it can only be a meteor.

  3. Gator says:

    Later on NPR news, they said Jerry Brown was launching a satellite to “monitor climate change gases…

    This is clearly is an important issue for Gov Moonbeam, as his head has been employed in a place fit for monitoring methane for decades now…

    • Johansen says:

      all joking aside, California doesn’t “launch satellites”. They are sometimes launched from Vandenberg, yes, but they aren’t ‘California’ satellites. Good grief NPR!
      California is over $400 billion in debt right now. For those not in the U.S., that’s $400,000,000,000.00. Gov. Brown is complicit in this. If we had brand new freeways and perfect roads and world-class public schools it might be okay; but we don’t have those things. The money has been PISSED AWAY.
      Here’s the best 2-min video visualizing the national debt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqUwr-Nkq9g. And we are spending $10,000,000 PER DAY taxpayer money on climate related research, most of which is completely worthless(?)

  4. Jacob Frank says:

    OT but the Cardano (ADA) crypto currency sounds like a very good project, but they tout as one of their attributes that they use peer-review in the software development practice. As if these words are some magic talisman equaling unassailable truth. When I hear peer-review I think of a bunch of dim wits circling the stupid wagons so critical thinking can never reach them.

  5. William Quinn says:

    Thank you.

  6. Phil. says:

    Presumably Gerta Keller was the professor in question. She actually supported the idea that existed before the Alvarez findings about meteor collision, that the extinction was due to volcanism. She did indeed get lots of pushback at meetings etc. but stuck to her guns. As someone once said ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’ and at the time the dating was insufficiently precise, which was one of Gerta’s points. Since then research (not just by Gerta’s group) have refined the timeline, her point that the extinction was finished off by the Deccan traps event is becoming more accepted.
    Such conflicts are common in science, there is nearly always some push back against new ideas, I’ve encountered them myself, some are much more publicized than others. You stick to your guns and work on more support for your hypothesis, sometimes you get it sometimes not. That’s what real ‘peer review’ is all about, it occurs at meetings as well as occurring via citations not just by a couple of readers of a submitted paper.

  7. GW Smith says:

    It continues to amaze me the mentality that swallows this lunacy. You would think they would just stop procreating automatically, but they seem to be growing. I worry for my children and grandchildren.

  8. Taphonomic says:

    When first proposed in the 1980s, the idea that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteor was hotly disputed. Presentations at GSA we’re highly contentious. It recalled catastrophism and flew in the face of uniformitarianism. Since then, with abundant confirmatory data, it has become the accepted theory.

  9. dennisambler says:

    Aussie journalist Tony Thomas takes a look at the Keller story and draws the parallels with AGW:


  10. GeoNC says:

    In no way is the K-T impact theory comparable to the AGW hypothesis. It was rapidly accepted amongst geoscientists because the evidence for it is so strong. The impact exactly coincides with the disappearance of both land and marine Cretaceous species and plausible mechanisms for their disappearance follow from the impact. Drawing any parallels with the AGW nonsense to try and disparage the impact theory is just sloppy.

    • RAH says:

      Really, to this laymen it seems silly to consider one event the cause when it well could have been multiple causes. Sure the lack of the fossils above the K-T is strong evidence but that does not mean that other factors and especially volcanism were not in play decreasing species numbers and diversity before that happened.

      There has been no equivalent to the K-T found for the other four great mass extinctions generally accepted to have occurred. What caused “The Great Dying”? The Siberian Traps seems to be the most accepted current hypothesis and yet 190 million years later it was an impact with those that mention volcanism or climate change being factors being rejected out of hand.

    • Phil. says:

      The issue that Gerta has focussed on is the idea that “The impact exactly coincides with the disappearance of both land and marine Cretaceous species”. There certainly was a great jumping on the band wagon following the Alvarez hypothesis after Chicxulub, it doesn’t hurt that it was a Nobel laureate pushing it.
      However, there are some discrepancies in the data which is what Keller focussed on, having two potential candidates occurring so closely together in time makes the precision in the dating critical. One issue for example was the occurrence of thick alluvial deposits, proponents of the impact scenario brushed that aside as the ‘instantaneous’ result of a mega tsunami. Dating appears to show that the deposits were laid down over thousands of years which tends to support the volcanic scenario. There appear to be three schools of thought currently, Chicxulub, Deccan and a one-two punch, previous attribution of other extinctions to volcanism is a factor. The acrimony displayed between the groups is unfortunate but not surprising given the strongly held views on both sides. I agree that drawing parallels with AGW is not useful, it’ll be interesting to see how it develops.

      • RAH says:

        It is one thing to have strongly held views. It is quite another to make it a mission to destroy or damage the career of any scientists or others who have credibility on the subject which challenge those views or as has happened in more recent times, conspire to intimidate or try to destroy the editors of publications that publish papers that challenge those views. It shows a lack of security in one owns positions and lack of character and integrity in those that participate in such actions. And in the view of this layman, is a warning sign that their professional work is questionable. This applies even though I lack the education and background to evaluate their work in detail myself and thus must rely on the opinions of others who do and whom I have judged to have integrity.

    • tonyheller says:

      Believing that a theory is unassailable is the same logic used by climate scamsters.

      Logic is not “sloppy” – except to true believers.

  11. richard says:

    I was watching a beautiful Dragonfly the other day, exquisite, delicate. Had a little read online and really surprised to see they were around a 100 million years before Dinosaurs.

    • RAH says:

      Dragon flies are out in numbers now. They really are something. Driving the truck I see them dodge me in daylight hours sometimes. Yesterday driving at highway speeds I glimpsed two apparently flying in formation right in front of me. One went right and the other went left to avoid becoming a splat on my windshield. But on the other hand a few years ago in S. Texas on I-35 there were several miles of clouds of them migrating from west to east right across the interstate and they were a real menace. So many of them that they were clogging the radiators on vehicles causing them to overheat.

  12. GeoNC says:

    IIRC, the Deccan Traps erupted slightly before, during and after the K-T boundary, however the marine phytoplankton that went extinct do not occur above the Iridium layer implying that those species went out in the time it took the ash layer to fall out of the atmosphere. That surely was a matter of only a few years at most. Land plants and animals were likely flash fried all over the world by super heated air and photosynthesis on land stopped for a few years also. I don’t see any issue with saying the Deccan Traps stressed things at the margins but there is a timing problem with saying they contributed greatly. Sometimes it appears flood basalt are roughly coincident with mass extinctions (Permian, K-T) and other times not (Ordovician). Sometimes there are no extinctions with flood basalt eruptions (Columbia River Plateau).

    I can’t speak to the issue of anyone being attacked for a scientific position since I haven’t followed this too closely and I don’t condone any of that but I can recall Keller publishing articles attacking the impact theory when it first came out out with data from phytoplankton. She seems to have switched up to the volcanism theory.

    • Phil. says:

      IIRC, the Deccan Traps erupted slightly before, during and after the K-T boundary, however the marine phytoplankton that went extinct do not occur above the Iridium layer implying that those species went out in the time it took the ash layer to fall out of the atmosphere. That surely was a matter of only a few years at most.

      Actually that’s the problem that Gerta has with it, in her studies of forams they were slowly decreasing for 300,000 years before the Iridium layer and she has published data showing the maximum rate of extinction occurring 200,000 years later (from forams above the Iridium layer).

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