Robert Anton Wilson

John K Clark (
Wed, 9 Jul 1997 21:19:24 -0700 (PDT)


So it's come to this, the once mighty Extropian list is reduced to debating
the merits of Velikovsky, that's Velikovsky of the Jupiter spiting out a
comet that causes miracles in the bible and then goes into a remarkably
circular orbit and becomes the planet Venus fame. It's a sad day.

When Sagan said he predicted the runaway greenhouse effect on Venus in 1960
he was being modest. 1960 was when his Ph.D thesis was published, he started
writing it in 1957 and made no secret of his views on the subject before that.
Apparently Carl felt that it didn't count until he spelled out every detail
of his argument in great detail and made it available to anyone who wanted
to read it. Most in the Scientific community thought he was wrong until
Mariner 2 proved him correct in 1962. The idea that Carl Sagan could find
anything of value in the ravings of a dim bulb like Velikovsky, let alone
plagiarize it, is beyond idiotic.

I read the quotation of Robert Anton Wilson that Mark posted, and perhaps
I just have no sense of humor but I didn't think it was very funny. I didn't
find an amusing satire, just a vicious attack by a man ignorant of Science.
Personally I think Bozo The Clown is a better comedian, sometimes he's
amusing when he's hit by a pie and at least his cruelty is not directed at a
good man who did nothing to deserve such shabby treatment.

>Mark Grant <>
>perhaps Velikovsky was correct in some respects and wrong in others.

Well, ... his spelling was correct most of the time.

>Nuclear winter theory has little to do with the atmosphere and
>everything to do with choice of parameters in atmospheric models.

Obviously part of the art of making a good model is picking the correct
parameters, and Sagan was one of the best in the world at it.

>By choosing different parameters you could create anything from a
>'nuclear summer' to a 'nuclear absolute zero'.

Nuclear absolute zero? How?

>Sagan was a big supporter of limiting the number of nuclear weapons

I was too. Something wrong with that?

>when people actually did some experiments to determine the validity
>of the model the parameters were found to be dramatically

Very fortunately the definitive experiment has not been performed, yet. Do
you think that in a matter such as this it would be wise to error on the
side of caution?

>The same model predicted millions of dead in Asia after the Iraquis
>ignited the Kuwaiti oil-wells; the real effect was minimal.

That's true it didn't work for oil fires, the model failed because the smoke
didn't go as high as most predicted, but that doesn't make Sagan evil or
stupid, just wrong.

>>If Dr. Sagan thought there was one chance in a thousand of being
>>correct it was his duty to shout it from the rooftops.


Yes, really.

>Should he really have gone out to the mass media

Yes, really. This was a matter that could effect every person on Earth, not
just Scientists.

>rather than suggesting the possibility to the atmospheric physics
>community for them to review?

He did BOTH! I challenge you to find one scrap of evidence that he ever
did anything but urge FAR more study about this.

>Why was Sagan more concerned with publicity than truth?

Sagan never said he had proven that Nuclear Winter would happen, only that
it was a disturbing possibility that needed further research. I challenge you
to find one case where he even hinted otherwise!

John K Clark

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