In the Oz of all places, a demolition of Ian Plimer so scathing, and so convincing, that it’s hard to imagine how he can salvage any kind of academic reputation, other than by a full retraction (which would be a pretty impressive move, admittedly).
It starts hardhitting
ONE of the peculiar things about being an astronomer is that you receive, from time to time, monographs on topics such as “a new theory of the electric universe”, or “Einstein was wrong”, or “the moon landings were a hoax”.
The writings are always earnest, often involve conspiracy theories and are scientifically worthless.
One such document that arrived last week was Ian Plimer’s Heaven and Earth. What makes this case unusual is that Plimer is a professor — of mining geology — at the University of Adelaide. If the subject were anything less serious than the future habitability of the planet Earth, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of writing this review.
and ends the same way:
Plimer probably didn’t expect an astronomer to review his book. I couldn’t help noticing on page120 an almost word-for-word reproduction of the abstract from a well-known loony paper entitled “The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass”. This paper argues that the sun isn’t composed of 98 per cent hydrogen and helium, as astronomers have confirmed through a century of observation and theory, but is instead similar in composition to a meteorite.
It is hard to understate the depth of scientific ignorance that the inclusion of this information demonstrates. It is comparable to a biologist claiming that plants obtain energy from magnetism rather than photosynthesis.
Plimer has done an enormous disservice to science, and the dedicated scientists who are trying to understand climate and the influence of humans, by publishing this book. It is not “merely” atmospheric scientists that would have to be wrong for Plimer to be right. It would require a rewriting of biology, geology, physics, oceanography, astronomy and statistics. Plimer’s book deserves to languish on the shelves along with similar pseudo-science such as the writings of Immanuel Velikovsky and Erich von Daniken.
If there are any genuine sceptics left among those who doubt the findings of mainstream science, this piece ought to convince them that Plimer’s work offers them no support, and should lead them to also to dismiss, as unable to tell science from nonsense, the many peddlers of delusion who have promoted this work, such as William Kininmonth. But, at this point, I can confidently predict that nothing will shift the remaining delusionists.
(Hat-tip: Tim Lambert, who notes that this is the latest in a string of pro-science pieces published by the Oz . Perhaps increasingly vocal attacks on the paper’s credibility by scientists and others have been taken to heart.)