Skepticism about science and medicine

In search of disinterested science

“Dark matter” and dinosaur extinction

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2016/01/06

“Everyone” knows that the collision of an asteroid with Earth damaged the environment so much that the dinosaurs died out and only much smaller creatures survived. Many also know that the impact crater, the Chicxulub crater, has been found beneath the surface near the Yucatan peninsula. Just consult Wikipedia, or Google for more sources.

Except: Google also turns up some reservations, for instance “What really killed the dinosaurs? New challenges to the impact theory” (BBC program).

Several decades ago already, paleontologist Dewey McLean (as well as some other geologists and paleontologists) had made the case that the dinosaur extinction was brought about by climate changes owing largely to the enormous volcanic activity associated with the Deccan Traps (a region in India) —
see Dewey M. McLean, “Impact winter in the global K/T extinctions: no definitive evidence”, pp. 493-503 in Global Biomass Burning: Atmospheric, Climatic, and Biospheric Implications, ed. J. S. Levine, MIT Press, 1991.
(McLean’s somewhat lonely public dissidence is mentioned in my book, Dogmatism in Science and Medicine [McFarland 2012, pp. 97-8]. I knew McLean, we worked at the same university.)

Donald Prothero is also a paleontologist. Recently he posted the following in a book review on amazon.com:
“that the impact at the end of the Cretaceous is the primary cause of the extinction of dinosaurs has been discredited in recent years. . . . the consensus has now swung to the idea that the massive Deccan eruptions in India and Pakistan were far more important to the end-Cretaceous extinctions.”

Prothero’s review is of the book by Lisa Randall, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe, which postulates the presence in the Milky Way (our galaxy) of a disc of “dark matter” that somehow periodically liberates comets or asteroids that go on to cause periodic extinction events on Earth.
In his amazon.com review, Prothero also debunks the notion that extinctions follow an identifiably periodic pattern.

My own trouble with Randall’s speculation is that “dark matter” is no more than a fudge factor necessary to make Big-Bang cosmology fit the observed facts. There is no shred of direct empirical evidence that “dark matter” exists.
Things just don’t add up in Big-Bang cosmology. Actual observations of quasars and galaxies do not jibe with calculations based on the known force of gravity and on the presumption that redshifts reflect speed relative to Earth (Doppler effect).
There isn’t enough gravity. So “dark matter” was invented to yield that needed extra gravity. “Dark matter” is associated with “dark energy”, for which we have no evidence either.
All this “dark” stuff is supposed to make up more than 90% of the universe, at the same time as “dark” is the euphemism for “we know nothing about it, we just need it to make the equations balance”.

This collection of science fiction is treated respectfully by the media.

But there is a much simpler explanation for the failure of Big-Bang cosmology to fit the observed facts. There is strong evidence that redshifts of quasars do not always result purely from Doppler effects, that quasars are associated with the creation of new matter which has an inherent redshift:
— see Halton Arp, Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies (Interstellar Media 1987) and Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology and Academic Science (Apeiron 1998); for a summary, see pp. 113-18 in Dogmatism in Science and Medicine.

Which all goes to show, as many others besides me have often remarked, that “What everyone knows is usually wrong (about science, say)”.  On all but the most non-controversial issues, TED talks and Wikipedia entries are among the sources most likely to be wrong, moreover wrong dogmatically, insistently, aggressively, uncompromisingly, as they treat every contemporary (and thereby temporary) mainstream consensus as Gospel truth.

A pervasive problem is that mainstream dogmas are taken as truth by people outside the particular field of knowledge:
Randall is a physicist, so she is not familiar with the range of views among paleontologists and geologists.
On the matter of HIV/AIDS, one finds economists like South African Nicoli Nattrass (The AIDS Conspiracy: Science fights back) and political scientists like Courtney Jung (Lactivism: How feminists and fundamentalists, hippies and yuppies, and physicians and politicians made breastfeeding big business and bad policy) getting the facts totally wrong, even citing mainstream sources incorrectly.
Many social scientists get a whole lot wrong about science, as when Steven Shapin asserted that scientists don’t value their technicians appropriately (p. 142 in Fatal Attractions: The Troubles with Science, Paraview Press 2001).
No one is immune, because we cannot look at the primary evidence on every topic of interest, so we have to decide, more or les by instinct, which mainstream beliefs to accept, at least provisionally, and which to doubt enough that further digging is called for. I went wrong by accepting mainstream views about UFOs and about homosexuality,  for example, and I’m probably wrong on some other issues where I haven’t yet woken up to it. But at least I’m aware of the problem. The media, though, apparently are not aware of it, nor are the publishers who put out books like Nattrass’s or Jung’s or Randall’s.

 

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7 Responses to ““Dark matter” and dinosaur extinction”

  1. Vortex said

    Dr. Bauer, there is a brilliant – a superb, I would say – article which I think you should read: “Characteristics of Demagoguery”.

    http://drw.utexas.edu/roberts-miller/handouts/demagoguery

    It looks like the exact description of inflammatory diatribes by the Champions of Consensus like Michael Mann. I especially liked this part:

    “Victimization. One thing that surprises people about demagoguery, or that they don’t expect to see, is that it relies heavily on a rhetoric of victimization. The ingroup is being victimized by the situation (often by being treated the same as the outgroup, so there is a kind of political narcissism operating), and the claim is that the ingroup has responded to this victimization with extraordinary patience and kindness. (If the actual history is disenfranchisement and violence, then that behavior is reframed and patience and kindness because it could have been worse.)

    Now, however, to react with anything other than punitive violence (to try to think about the situation, or deliberate on it, or include the outgroup in any deliberations) is weak, vacillating, cowardly, and feminine.

    As a consequence, demagoguery has to square the circle of inspiring fear while not looking fearful (since fearfulness is being paired with thinking and deliberating)—there are often claims of extraordinary courage in the face of a terrible situation, or a representation of one’s self as calm and reasonable while making apocalyptic predictions, and the odd insistence of the sheer rationality of hyperbolic claims (I will admit, this is one aspect of demagoguery that often makes me laugh).”

    “A representation of one’s self as calm and reasonable while making apocalyptic predictions, and the odd insistence of the sheer rationality of hyperbolic claims”. A precise characteristic of many current dominant narratives: catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, HIV = AIDS, etc.

    What do you think?

  2. realpc920 said

    I very much agree with your skepticism about the mainstream scientific establishment.

    However I think it’s too bad you seem to have lost interest in AIDS and are now focused on climate change. I have no opinion on climate change and have never looked at the data. However it does seem obvious to me that if we continue damaging the earth there will be consequences. Even if there is no climate change, or if the climate change is natural, we have to stop burning oil like crazy. Most of the climate change skeptics seem to be pro-business anti-environmentalists who think there is no limit to how much abuse this planet can take. I doubt you are one of them, but you are inadvertently helping their cause.

    AIDS skepticism is much more important, it seems to me. The mainstream propaganda is increasingly intense and people believe it. ARV drugs are accepted without question as miraculous life savers. The horrible side-effects are minimized or denied. I have even seen AIDS described as one of the greatest medical advances ever. There is very little skepticism, and I am disappointed that you seem to have given up that fight.

    But back to the subject of climate change — I wonder if you are aware of, or have an opinion on, the aerosol spraying programs that have been intensifying in recent years. This is an attempt to slow climate change by blocking sunlight. I don’t know who is in charge of this or what organizations are involved but it is obviously happening. I think this is an extremely reckless policy, motivated by a certainty that climate change is occurring and has to be stopped.

    • Henry Bauer said

      realpc920:
      I’m not aware of a spraying aerosol program.
      The evidence against carbon-dioxide-caused global warming is clear: from the 1940s to the 1970s, global temperatures were falling while carbon dioxide was increasing. The experts then were forecasting a new Ice Age.

      I think one of the greatest threats from burning oil and gas is the release of heavy metals which, if concentrated through the food chain, can be severely debilitating especially to infants.
      And of course it makes sense in the long run to get somehow self-sustaining in energy, and also in water usage.

  3. realpc920 said

    Isn’t it possible for natural cooling and man-made warming to occur at the same time? And maybe things have changed since the 1970s.

    But as I said, I have no opinion on climate change. I just don’t think it’s a dangerous theory. The HIV/AIDS theory, on the other hand, is dangerous and hardly anyone dares to oppose it. The giant drug companies have won.

    Regarding the aerosol spraying program — the aerosols are called “chemtrails” on conspiracy theory website. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I have been observing the sky for several years and I have no doubt this is going on.

    There are serious proposals http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/is-this-plan-combat-climate-change-insane-insanely-genius-180955258/?no-ist but no admissions that it is really being done. And of course it’s all without the public’s permission or knowledge.

    Where I live, in the US not far from NYC, jets often crisscross the sky leaving trails that gradually expand into dirt-colored clouds. The entire sky is often covered. The clouds often form unnatural geometric patterns.

    HAARP https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Frequency_Active_Auroral_Research_Program is also involved.

    They get away with this because anyone who notices and objects is called a conspiracy theorist. Yes there are nutty conspiracy theorists. But that does not mean it isn’t true.

  4. To Lukes and Warmists: You can’t prove the IPCC’s claim that radiation from the cold atmosphere warms the surface and can be treated exactly the same as solar radiation, helping the Sun to raise the surface temperature each morning. You can’t prove their claim that the troposphere would be isothermal without greenhouse gases like water vapor and CO2 – that’s not what the Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us, and no vortex cooling tube in the world would operate if it were true that isothermal conditions are stable in a force field, be it gravity or centrifugal force in a vortex tube. You have no physical evidence whatsoever for the false physics promulgated by the likes of the IPCC authors, as well as Lukes like Roy Spencer, Judith Curry, Joanne Nova, David Evans et al. What does explain temperatures and heat transfers on all planets may be read here and in the linked papers or my book: http://climate-change-theory.com

  5. itsnotco2 said

    To Lukes and Warmists: You can’t prove the IPCC’s claim that radiation from the cold atmosphere warms the surface and can be treated exactly the same as solar radiation, helping the Sun to raise the surface temperature each morning. You can’t prove their claim that the troposphere would be isothermal without greenhouse gases like water vapor and CO2 – that’s not what the Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us, and no vortex cooling tube in the world would operate if it were true that isothermal conditions are stable in a force field, be it gravity or centrifugal force in a vortex tube. You have no physical evidence whatsoever for the false physics promulgated by the likes of the IPCC authors, as well as Lukes like Roy Spencer, Judith Curry, Joanne Nova, David Evans et al. What does explain temperatures and heat transfers on all planets may be read here and in the linked papers or my book: http://climate-change-theory.com

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