By Tim Harris
FYI regarding your "Live Science" article published in Early September of this year:
Here is a list of reputable pro-Younger Dryas publications, as well as a flock of high-end science journals covering both sides of the debate. Clearly Dr. Nicholas Pinter was ill-informed of this vast list of creditable journalistic reference. I would hate to think that he knows of it and simply ignores it on purpose….
At this point folks like Nicholas Pinter are blindly ignoring the facts. He is not the only one, nor is he the highest ranked scientist among that group of YD impact skeptics. Its kind of a shame but speaks volumes about their own predetermined views despite overwhelming evidence in support of some kind of bolide impact event coincident to the onset of the Younger Dryas cooling:
I am a scientist. A rocket scientist actually. I come from an aerospace education and career as a dynamicist in that field working both spacecraft and aircraft. I went that route with a strong background in it before I ever went to college.
Although not a Geologist or a Chemist, I do have a solid technical background in the physical sciences of thermodynamics, heat flow and hypersonic impacts, including their vastly detailed implications to geochemistry, geomorphology, ocean waves and atmospheric waves.
I’ve been studying it for over 25 years now and I can’t put it down. Eye opening.
My guess is that you may have already been bombarded with messages regarding the above link and all of these publications. I offer this to you only on the rare chance that no one else has already done so. I realize that many of the pro Younger Dryas impact hypothesis folks are so passionate as to be quite overbearing. That is not my desire. Longwinded, yes. Overbearing, no.
In science as in life, it is always important to question consensus. Catastrophists have a saying about consensus and define it as the following:
Consensus = Mutually inter-assumptive confabulation.
"Consensus" is often used as a marker to identify complacency among a group of specialist scientists where a lack of hard evidence exists.
Nature frequently surprises us with more beautiful truth than our limited imaginations can preconceive. When this is the case, humans typically fill in the difference with consensus, using a crow bar to pry into place what our limited minds would like to be the case. This is a natural process of the human effort to understand our environment, either micro or macro. It is most commonly observed within groups of specialists who are most diligent in their effort to explain limited observations or measurements. They form a consensus. Too often the consensus is actually a crutch or a crowbar….
HARD EVIDENCE vs. COINCIDENCE
There is no hard evidence that an extraterrestrial impact directly or indirectly caused 1400+ years of cold climate in the Northern hemisphere. There is, however, rather precise evidence that a cosmic impact event occurred, and of the exactly coincident timing between that impact event and the onset of the historically significant Younger Dryas cold period, (complete with its hemispheric burnings and continental species extinctions, etc….)
Coincidences of this precise nature must always be further investigated with an open mind. This is especially true with important topics such as historically recent climate collapse, mass extinctions, and hemispheric combustion catastrophe!
SPECIALTY vs. CROSS-DICIPLINARY, & THE EGO
Specialists of every scientific field want to explain the perplexing, startling and rather frightening recent climate fluctuation of the Younger Dryas with their own science, to the point of obsession. They want to claim ownership of the answer. This is a natural defense of the ego, to justify the intense personal effort put forth by such creative, technically minded individuals. Entire careers are often perceived to be at stake in such a major controversy as the Younger Dryas and its causal mechanism.
Ironically it is often the generalist scientist who comes to the limited data of some scientific specialty with no vesting in the specialty consensus of that camp, to figure out a bigger, interdisciplinary framework of possibilities. History has many examples of outsiders providing the answer, which may explain the insecurity of such specialists as Nicholas Pinter when addressing possibilities of Younger Dryas causal mechanisms, or even so much as admitting the evidence for an impact at that epoch exists at all.
It could easily be a case of "blinding by consensus."
THE FREQUENCY OF CHANGE
It is interesting to note that dynamical processes in nature take place over a huge range of time scales. Many types of unstable subatomic particles decay over a time scale of billionths of a second. Many geologic processes take billions of years. Physical science is full of examples of processes that play out over every different time scale in between these extreme ends of the frequency spectrum.
Geologic science has its roots in a history of thinking where all geologic process is extremely slow, or low frequency. It has only been since the dawn of the space age that impact geology has become a science all its own, describing the physical process of hypersonic impact of large bodies, sometimes planetary in scale. Blindingly fast, these events are Geologically formative throughout our solar system, yet occur over frequencies that are too fast for many to conceive. Quite quick and quite catastrophic….
Although cosmic impacts are now accepted as a geologic process, many geologists still can not accept events which take place over too short a period. The frequency of these impact events as an example, are simply too high mechanically for many Gradualists Geologists to accept. When this is suspected of any given geoscientist, it is often informative to ask them what threshold frequency they consider to be too high for any geologic process. They typically can’t relate to millisecond, microsecond or even full second time scales which are common to any hypersonic impact scenario. They live in a conceptual world where things change over time scales of years, thousands of years, millions of years or even billions of years.
GRADUALISM and THE COMFORT ZONE
Contemplating and accepting hypersonic impacts as a Geologic process requires such cross-disciplinary conceptualization that it often forces the Gradualist Geologist out of their comfort zone. It threatens their confidence by direct challenge to the ego. Believe me, if you ever study geochemistry, you need an extremely healthy and well functioning ego to make progress against that nearly impossible challenge. You have to be good to get anywhere in the study of Geochemistry. So good, in fact, that tolerance of cross-disciplinary solutions may suffer severely as a result.
This is often where we may observe the case of "blinding by consensus". I don’t know Dr. Pinter and I mean no disrespect to him. I hope to meet him some day and perhaps interview him for a production on Modern Science and Catastrophism, if he will talk to me about it. Could be a fascinating conversation….
Thanks for your time –
Thomas "Tim" Harris
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