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Did an Exploding Comet Doom Early Americans? 89

New Scientist outlines a new theory on the demise of the Clovis people in the southwest US over 10,000 years ago. A group of 25 researchers speculates that a comet exploded over ice-covered Canada 12,900 years ago and triggered a firestorm across North America that not only wiped out the Clovis people but also forced a number of large land mammals into extinciton and kicked off the Younger Dryas climate change. However, geologists are pretty conservative folks, according to the article, and some of them are not buying it.
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Did an Exploding Comet Doom Early Americans?

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  • by fredrated ( 639554 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:26PM (#19228003) Journal
    I remember picking up and looking over a geology text book circa 1950 at a garage sale. It said plate tectonics was full of crap, and said the same about another theory that escapes me. The other theory is also standard belief today. I didn't buy the book.
  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:38PM (#19228209)
    I was going to make the same comment, but you beat me to it. I have a degree in Geology, and I remember my Historical Geology teacher telling us about how when he was in school nearly all of his professors ridiculed the idea of plate tectonics. However (according to him), he dismissed them as fools since the theory seemed to fit in so nicely with the available evidence. Just goes to show that the most important thing you can learn in school is to evaluate the data yourself.
  • by zoikes ( 182347 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:03PM (#19228739)
          Theory X was controversial, but turned out to be true.
          Theory Y is controversial, therefore theory Y is true.

    Gimme a break.
  • by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:21PM (#19228999) Homepage
    It's not always that bad in science: some theories are accepted pretty quickly. The Dark Energy theory has gained wide-spread acceptance almost overnight. The Giant Impact theory for the formation of the Moon was accepted by much of the community over the course of a single meeting, I've been told by a participant.

    It seems to be a question of overwhelming evidence: if you don't have really compelling evidence, you'll have a slow, uphill battle. If you do, odds seem to be in your favor for gaining a much more rapid acceptance. In the end, there's nothing particularly wrong with that. Radical theories are *aren't* backed up by really powerful data or convincing models deserve to be treated with great skepticism.
  • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:35PM (#19229177)
    I remember reading about the history of plate tectonics in a Philosophy of Science class. Over in the Smithsonian thread, someone opined that "politics has no place in science". He obviously didn't read the same history we did.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:41PM (#19231843)
    It'll be cancelled out by an equally baseless prediction of "global cooling" in a few years. I think the only thing that's cyclical is idiocy in blindly believing the random end-of-world scenario du jour.

    Weathermen can't accurately predict the weather a few hours out ... what makes anyone think they can predict the temperature years or decades out?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @08:22PM (#19246771)

    Weathermen can't accurately predict the weather a few hours out ... what makes anyone think they can predict the temperature years or decades out?

    Whatever you do, don't go into any of the scientific or business fields that rely on statistics. You can probably earn a good living designing web sites, or maybe as a plumber, or something similar, and you'll be a lot more comfortable with that.

    Or, accept a short period of intense discomfort and study statistics. Learn the key difference between describing a data point and describing the population to which it belongs.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.