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... ... sections for independence..." Here he runs afoul of general Egyptological opinion, which often refers to this period as The Feudal Age and characterizes it as highly fissiparous, marked by provincial secession, local insurrection, and feuding between rival power centers. After this catalog of errors, it may be well to emphasize the strengths of Jaynes' argument, which are many and impressive. First of all, that argument is, in Adam Makkai's phrase, a "paradigmbuster." It breaks the mold of implicit uniformitarianism which has, since the nineteenth century, imprisoned Orientalists and historians quite as effectively as explicit uniformitarianism has imprisoned astronomers and paleontologists. In each case, the result has been an unjustified assumption that both the physical world and the human mind have remained essentially the same since the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, and that such changes as are obvious reflect only minor climatic fluctuations and the inevitable progress of man's technology. It is no small accomplishment of Jaynes' to have assembled provocative evidence of radical discontinuities in human behavior and experience within ...
102. Comments: on the First Issue [Catastrophism Geology $]
... too! A concentrated crusade against establishment practices certainly would be wasting time, but why not expose a dirty trick once in a while? It may provide therapeutic reading for people who have illusions yet about a 'frisch-frohliche Wissenschaft'. Han Kloosterman The articles of the first issue- and the announced articles for forthcoming issues are all of great interest, and I quite agree that there is a need for a geological 'counter-culture' journal. However, I am not sure that I am convinced by the emphasis on a conflict between catastrophism and uniformitarianism. I believe supported by geological evidence- that the history of the Earth is one of continuous but irregular change, with intermittent small and large catastrophic events generally occurring as a result of continuous causes. Viewed in this light, uniformitarianism and catastrophism relate to interests in cause and effect respectively, and should not constitute articles of faith in their own right. And this is where I think your magazine may prove to be most valuable: in the philosophy of geological science and of scientific method in general. May I send best ...
103. My Challenge to Conventional Views in Science [Pensee]
... sciences of geology-- Buckland, Sidgwick, and Murchinson (who gave the classification of formations used today); of vertebrate paleontology-- Cuvier; and of ichthyology-- Louis Agassiz-- never doubted that what they observed was the result of repeated cataclysms in which the entire globe partook. Actually, Charles Darwin, observing the destruction of fauna in South America, was convinced that nothing less than the shaking of the entire frame of the Earth could account for what he saw. But the introduction of the principle of uniformitarianism by Charles Lyell, a lawyer who never had field experience, and the acceptance of it on faith by Charles Darwin, are a psychological phenomenon that I observed again and again. Exactly those who, like Darwin, witnessed the omnipresent shambles of an overwhelming fury of devastation on a continental scale, became the staunchest defenders of the principle of uniformitarianism, that became not just a law, but a principle that grew to a statute of faith in the natural sciences, as if the reasoning that what we do not observe in ...
104. The Cautious Revolutionary [SIS C&C Review $]
... prepared to offer full support (" I am prepared to go to the stake if requisite"), he considered that his friend had erred in advocating a gradualistic model (" You have loaded yourself with an unnecessary difficulty in adopting Natura non facit saltum so unreservedly"). Several essays are concerned with establishing that many scientific controversies in the past have been resolved near Aristotle's "golden mean", even though modern textbooks may give the impression that one side had won the argument conclusively. A typical example is the catastrophism- uniformitarianism debate. In Gould's opinion, "Most geologists would tell you that their science represents the total triumph of Lyell's uniformity over unscientific catastrophism. Lyell's brief won the victory for his name, but modern geology is really an even mixture of two scientific schools- Lyell's original, rigid uniformitarianism and the scientific catastrophism of Cuvier and Agassiz." [1 The essays were introduced to a wider readership in 1978 when thirty-three were published in hardback under the title Ever Since Darwin. A paperback edition appeared two years later and, at about ...
... concluding that sedimentation is by and large not "autochthonous" (made up of local products) but "allochthonous" (made up of products washed together from widely different places). Uniformitarian geologists cannot, of course, accept very much allochthony without conceding the game to the catastrophists. But there is no alternative explanation. You accept allochthony, or you ignore much of the data. That the peatbog theory of coal formation is still going strong despite the obvious impossibility of creating so much coal from so little local vegetation indicates that uniformitarianism still reigns: Even if our peat-moors grew to a thickness of 2,000 meters, nothing would be similar to the Ruhr Carbon or to any other coal district. Of all the different strata in the Carbon the conglomerate ones are most difficult to explain. They may attain, as they do in the coal districts of Lower Silesia, a depth of 100 meters, and they are composed of boulders of sizes varying between a fist and a head. And among them are- miraculously- pieces of coal, as evenly ...
106. Darwinian Diary, part I (Book reviews) [SIS C&C Review $]
... in caves. Nevertheless, as knowledge increases, it should be possible to move towards a more integrated scheme. Other areas which might develop interestingly are the relationship between embryonic development and evolution, and the effects of possible catastrophic changes in the environment. The status of catastrophism in evolutionary theory is a strange one: it is scarcely mentioned, possibly because it was once the preserve of the creationists. Mark Ridley writes in Darwin up to Date, "In order to make a comprehensive theory, the evolutionist also needs the principle of uniformitarianism. This is the idea that if we can see a process working for a short period of time or region of space to produce a small change, then if we watched it for longer we would see more extensive changes of the same kind... So, it is not only the theory of evolution that stands or fails with uniformitarianism but other sciences like geology and cosmology as well." This is fine, provided it does not lead to eyes being closed against the possibility of occasional, sudden environmental changes. ...
107. My Challenge to Conventional Views in Science [Velikovsky Archive Website]
... the Victorian age. The founders of the sciences of geology Buckland, Sedgwick, and Murchinson (who gave the classification of formations used today); of vertebrate paleontology Cuvier; and of ichthyology Louis Agassiz never doubted that what they observed was the result of repeated cataclysms in which the entire globe partook. Actually, Charles Darwin, observing the destruction of fauna in South America, was convinced that nothing less than the shaking of the entire frame of the Earth could account for what he saw. But the introduction of the principle of uniformitarianism by Charles Lyell, a lawyer who never had field experience, and the acceptance of it on faith by Charles Darwin, are a psychological phenomenon that I observed again and again. Exactly those who, like Darwin, witnessed the omnipresent shambles of an overwhelming fury of devastation on a continental scale, became the staunchest defenders of the principle of uniformitarianism, that became not just a law, but a principle that grew to a statute of faith in the natural sciences, as if the reasoning that what we do not observe in ...
108. Nemesis for Evolutionary Gradualism? [SIS C&C Review $]
... 96, 97. Another determined not to accept unsubstantiated claims in favour of extraterrestrial catastrophism is Tony Hallam, Professor of Geology at the University of Birmingham. Hallam is not interested in defending outmoded gradualism. He agrees with Stephen Jay Gould [2, 4 that 'catastrophists such as Cuvier were the true empiricists of the day, interpreting the stratigraphic record as it appeared, for instance in the abruptly changing succession of fossil faunas, and that Lyell introduced confusion into the argument' [102. He further agrees that the actualistic principle of uniformitarianism, that 'the present is the key to the past', is accepted by catastrophists and substantive uniformitarians (gradualists) alike. However, he considers that 'serious doubts and difficulties persist about extraterrestrially-induced catastrophes, especially as a general explanation for mass extinctions. The issue is likely to remain unresolved for a considerable time yet, and much cooperative analysis is called for between teams of specialists working on the Phanerozoic [the Age of Life, from the Cambrian onwards as a whole. Lyell accused his catastrophist opponents of trying to cut, ...
109. Monitor [SIS C&C Workshop $]
... direction of motion causes an increase of the shear stress on the base of the lithosphere. This leads to temperature increases, viscosity decreases, and further plate stress and velocity changes." The authors believe that the alkaline melts are formed by shear heating in the asthenosphere due to the rapid changes in plate motion. Undoubtedly these workers are still basing their conclusions on a uniformitarian background, but as Jill Abery noted, "world-wide synchronous mantle disturbances" doesn't seem too far away from "punctuated equilibrium" or even "catastrophe". Uniformitarianism in Varves? sources: NATURE 25/6/81, p. 624 ff; NEW SCIENTIST 16/7/81, p. 147 The latest "uniformitarianism carried ad absurdum" (thus a celebrated contributor to our Monitor column) comes from G. E. Williams in a paper in NATURE. Because it was such a wide-ranging proof of the stability of the solar system (back to the Precambrian) it received a lot of publicity. Williams made a microscopic study of sedimentary rocks in the Flinders Range of ...
110. The 108-year Cyclicism of the Ancient Catastrophes [Aeon Journal $]
... of knowledge of ancient Near Eastern history became imprinted in my mind. In addition, I had achieved a degree in geography from a major university, and that geographical viewpoint influenced every observation, every question, every conclusion. Additional works on catastrophism also read previous to Velikovsky's were Alfred Rehwinkel's The Flood (2) and Byron Nelson's The Deluge Story in Stone (3). Having read the works of Nelson and Rehwinkel, both of whom dealt extensively with the fossil record in North America, it became clear that catastrophism, not uniformitarianism, was the key to candid interpretation of the massive fossil record. But how were these watery, oceanic upheavals caused? Neither Nelson nor Rehwinkel, nor an earlier geologist on whom both relied (George McCready Price), addressed such a question. Velikovsky did. Upon the first reading of Worlds in Collision, it was clear that those ancient catastrophes were astronomical in scope. A reading of his Earth in Upheaval (4) added breadth to the topic of catastrophism. This was a great, new insight in the 1950s ...
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