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>With all the recent pyrotechnics over killer asteroids vs nasty volcanos,
>let me call everyone's attention to an interesting book that just came
>in the mail:  William Glen (editor), 1994, The Mass-Extinction Debates: How
>Science Works in a Crisis, Stanford Univ. Press.  I've only skimmed the
>book, but it seems to provide nice accounts about the various arguments
>about the K-T boundary events, and why the various partisans argue the
>way they do.  I look forward to reading it.

Every reference to this book that I've seen has praised it. It should
be well worth anyone's time to read it.

Glen, who works out of the USGS office in Menlo Park, Calif., also
presented a talk on this subject at the GSA annual meeting last fall.
Following is his abstract (GSA Abstracts with Programs, v. 26, no. 7,
p. A282):


   "The search for predictors of intellectual behavior in the mass-
extinction debates showed that the disciplinary specialty of the 
scientist was generally correlative with: how a scientist initially
responded to the Alvarez-Berkeley group impact hypothesis of mass-
extinction cause; the likelihood of a change of regard of the hypothesis
as debate progressed; and how evidence bearing on the hypothesis or
alternative hypotheses was likely to be assessed. Predisposition to
reception of the impact hypothesis generally resided in the degree to
which a discipline familiarized its members with bolide impacting and
its products, but familiarity with volcanic processes and products did
not predispose scientists to sympathy for the volcanist hypothesis of
mass-extinction cause. Once a hypothesis of mass extinction was chosen,
irrespective of disciplinary specialty, the embraced hypothesis became
the best predictor of how one would select and apply standards in
assessing evidence bearing on the question.
   "The great majority of paleontologists rejected impact theory at its
advent, and most who later accepted an impact(s) still deny impact(s) as
the main extinction cause. Many paleontologists interpreted factors of
the K-T mass extinction to accord with the fate of their own fossil 
groups; those treating severely affected taxa most often viewed impact
as the likely cause. Most meteoriticists, cosmo- and geochemists,
planetary geologists, and impact specialists subscribed strongly to the
impact-as-extinction cause hypothesis.
   "All, except one, who were published authors or published supporters
of endogenous hypotheses of mass extinction by 1980, were against the
impact hypothesis at its advent. Irrespective of their discipline,
scientists rarely failed to embrace a mass-extinction hypothesis however
poorly informed they were."

Sorry for the length of this post.


*Larry S. Bowlds        lbowlds@geosociety.org
*Geological Society of America
*Bulletin Managing Editor
*(303) 447-2020, ext. 147