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Re:Norman MacLeod's opinion of Alvarez' dispassion



Responding to my expression of contempt for the Times Literary Supplement 
reviewer, John Bois wrote (10/1/98; 8:16p):

(first, quoting me):

>>...other factors 
>>being equal, I would place more credence in the opinions of someone who 

>>has actually seen the data in question than those of someone who has 
only 
>>read about the data.  So, we don't need to be impressed by the opinion 
of 
>>a reviewer in the Times Literary Supplement.  Once the reviewer got 
>>beyond checking grammar, organization, and sentence construction, he 
was 
>>out of his league.

>It depends on what we are arguing about.  Surely paleoecology is the
>discipline which should have the right-of-way here--I mean whether or 
not
>a bolide was significantly implicated in the extinction of the 
dinosaurs.
>In this respect, the iridium signature and its global 
distribution--i.e.,
>Dr. Alvarez' area of expertise--may be totally irrelevant.  Indeed, 
there
>_is_ no data relating this event to dinosaur extinction.  So, depending 
on
>his or her ecological training, the Times reviewer may have more 
informed
>opinions than an astrophysisist.

Walter Alvarez is a geologist.  His father, Luis, was an astrophysicist.

I would say that a bolide is indeed implicated in the extinction.  It is 
implicated by the apparent contemporaneity of the events (as go also 
pointed out).  But is it the whole answer?  That's another question.

I think it is also true (but if anybody can dispute this statement, 
please do so) that there are no data relating the extinction of anything 
to any particular event, including matters of competitive interaction.  
We just think some connections are reasonable.  So, it all boils down to 
what you are going to accept as a reasonable connection.  You also can't 
_prove_ that smoking causes cancer.


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Norman R. King                                       tel:  (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences                            fax:  (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712                      e-mail:  nking.ucs@smtp.usi.edu