Why We Need Solid Arguments

This is a book that says that all the current chronology of pre-history history is off—since it’s based on Egyptian history and that was inflated about 500 years for epeen, and goes on to figure that the stories about Venus bursting from Jupiter’s head come from it actually ejecting from Jupiter, with support from other mythologies—and the blankers that responded in the first place were so busy being rude they forgot to actually offer good arguments against it.

So all I have to go on are the works from folks who quietly supported it.  Stuff like Kicking the Sacred Cow.

Sure, it supports the theory. I just  have nothing else to go on to figure out if the “minor” adjustments and perspective bias are that bad are not.  It’s not like I really have a hard held belief about how the planets got where they are…. I care about where they are NOW, and how they’re likely to react, not their history.

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11 thoughts on “Why We Need Solid Arguments”

  1. Velikovsky got plenty of good arguments agin’ him, back fifty or more years ago when his first books were coming out. The problem is that most of those articles are out of print but not yet in the public domain. (And yeah, pretty much everything V says is nonsense. It’s a pity that he and Von Daniken (the “everything is a picture of aliens” guy) made life so difficult for the real archaeo-astronomers.)

    1. And yeah, pretty much everything V says is nonsense.

      Mythology is pretty public domain. I don’t have the time to find his books, identify the claims he makes of various mythologies, find the citations for historical sources and then write the whole thing up, but if he’s so obviously wrong, folks who know this stuff should be able to put together a response pretty handily. Like when my cousin starts spouting off dumb stuff about ranching– my folks can respond quickly, without name-calling, and using objective sources. (Especially for things like “cows have seven stomachs.”)

  2. The Bad Astronomy guy would of course like you to read his book, but this post has links to some of the wrongness of Velikovsky.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2005/03/28/in-this-corner-science/

    It’s very sad, because of course folks like St. Augustine and Origen were very gung ho on the rigor and elegant beauty of math and astronomy (as well as grammar and poetry
    and rhetoric) as gateways to the study of Scripture and theology. Velikovsky had very fuzzy ideas about both Scripture and the sciences, and served neither one well.

    1. *starts to read*
      *gets really tired of personal attacks instead of facts*

      If that’s the tone that was common to use against Velikovsky, no wonder he got a sympathetic following. Opening up with “you’re ugly and you smell funny” really doesn’t make one have faith that the author is being objective.

      As I understand it, Velikovsky specialized in history and mythology, not so much science– it makes sense that his science would be… er… an issue. That simple fact should make it EASY to counter the problems. Heck, I love listening to Coast To Coast in part because they tend to make specific claims, and when they have someone that’s really wrong, it’s fairly simple to find an objective primary source and use that to directly counter it.

      By chance do you have any sources that AREN’T soaked in bile? I’m glad to read something that’s dry rather than something that makes me want to scrub my eyes with soap and go take some antacids….

      Yes, “that guy is being nasty” is an emotional response, rather than a rational one. Calling people names is pretty emotional, too, and decidedly not scientific.

      Would it KILL him to do something like:

      Claim: comets are really hot rocks.
      We believe that comets are “dirty snowballs” (link) because Spectroscopy– closely examining the light coming off of something in very high resolution (link to CalTech page)– lets us know what elements are in comets. X comet was studied (link to report), Y comet was studied (link to report), the moon was studied (link to report) and verified (link to report), Mars was studied (link to report) and verified (link to report).

      ….Bad Astronomy…sounds familiar….

      Is that the same royal jackass that does the radio spots?!?!?! Dear Lord, I think he’s done more to damage respect for science than an dozen books in the footprint of “Chariot of the Gods.”

      1. Well, I can’t find you Asimov or any of those online, the ones that went patiently through the math. Maybe Jerry Pournelle still has something? Although even he’s a bit younger than Velikovsky.

        I’m sad that Bad Astronomy guy has gotten so nasty. He used to be just gently snarky about movie physics.

        Sigh. All the fun skeptics are dead, I think.

      2. Apparently, somebody has a Velikovsky wiki, but it just has bibliographies of anti-Velikovsky articles with tiny little quotes. Sigh, useless again.

        Still, Asimov is quoted with some useful stuff on why he thought Velikovsky was popular.

        http://www.velikovsky.info/Isaac_Asimov

        Man, this is hard to think of good sources, and all the links I see don’t seem very deep, even when I think they should have some good stuff. I haven’t even thought of Velikovsky’s name in probably ten or twenty years, and apparently other people have been fighting and fighting all that time.

        Sigh. I miss the little diagrams of the solar system being ripped apart by gravitational forces, with all the little equations.

      3. I’m sad that Bad Astronomy guy has gotten so nasty. He used to be just gently snarky about movie physics.

        Maybe I just always catch him at a bad time, but when I’ve heard him on the radio it’s vile. There’s a difference between making snarky remarks about, say, the way that the gal in the Helsing movie survived all sorts of impacts and managed to die from falling on a couch, and the snooty, just nasty response to silly little things like those annoying emails about “this year X month has 5 Sundays and two full moons, this only happens every roll-100-D20 years! It’s called money bags!” type emails.

  3. I thought of a better way of expressing it:
    when someone says “Galileo was killed by the Church because the astronomy he taught PROVED THE BIBLE WAS WRONG!!! He died died beside Giordano Bruno, a victim of the evil religious war on science!”

    What’s your written response? (yeah, the mental one is probably “…do you have a single, blessed clue what you’re talking about?”)

    I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t say “You are an ugly dum-dum. I can’t believe anyone is stupid enough to listen to you. You’re irrational and an insult to science. Go look at my page where I show how dumb you are.” (next page) “You are soooooo stupid. Like, crazy stupid. You probably expect apples to fall up depending on what that tree’s selkie feels like that day. Here’s a bunch of things you’re wrong about.” (Link to a bunch of wordy pages, some of which refer back to earlier ones.)

    You’d probably do something like say:
    “Galileo wasn’t executed, he was on house arrest for being a jerk and lying when he promised not to teach science that he didn’t have support for. (link) He died in 1642. Bruno was a kind of crazy priest who managed to be a heretic in multiple belief systems and was executed in 1600 because he taught that Jesus was just a really good magician and a bunch of other BS.(link)
    Both had flaws as scientist. (link to specific examples)

    Or:

    Someone makes a claim about that ink-blot martyr, Hypatia of Alexandria. I’d expect that you would respond sort of like TOF.

  4. As much as I enjoy Asimov’s writing, I think he was full of it in his notion of why the theory would be popular. Sure, I’m getting it second hand, but it’s pretty obvious:

    it’s accessible– being based on a bunch of different mythologies, it’s familiar
    it’s got that gnostic appeal thing– “hey, you know those myths? here’s the REAL story for them!”
    scientists tend to be…highly wanting in dealing with people– way, way too often, there’s a heavy dose of e-peen, sickening pride, condescension, however you want to say that they just really suck at dealing with people. If you don’t agree, way too many scientists think it’s fair game to call you names, insult you and only much later actually bother to either explain or refute what they thought you were wrong about.

    Sure, it’s annoying to explain the phases of the moon thing again to folks who are confused about the difference between the new moon and an eclipse, but gad there are a lot of highly educated children out there who could use a good grandmother’s influence, IYKWIM. Part of being a public expert is being willing to explain for the four hundredth time that, oh, the flag in the moon shots was held up, it wasn’t flapping in the wind.

  5. Oh… bonus… Kicking the Sacred Cow claims that his claims were misrepresented in the debunking, and that various translation errors were made.

    Talk about thorny.

  6. FWIW: I don’t believe or disbelieve….well, anything about the situation. It’s not immediately important enough for me to do so, and I don’t have the personal background that would result in a solid view. Good heavens, I was an electronics tech and I don’t have a specific belief on how ELECTRICITY works– I know the model they gave us for predicting behavior worked well enough, and I don’t really care otherwise.

    I don’t know if this is normal or not: from that old joke about a man believing you when you say that all the stars are suns, but checking if you say the paint on the bench is wet, I’d guess not. (It doesn’t really matter to the average person if the stars are all suns. Being able to sit down, OTOH, is nice.)

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