So, there was this pointer on the front page to a Rachel
Maddow send-up of some conservative crazies (you know,
once that wasn't redundant... or at least not so
I said a bunch of things about this in the comments, but I
wanted to try to piece them together:
I was a bit distressed by Maddow's handling of this... Thomas
Gold's ideas about how what we think of as "fossil fuels" may be
of abiotic, cosmic origin are actually pretty interesting-- they
may very well be wrong, but they're clearly not stupid even if it
is a minority opinion among scientists (to say the least).
Sometimes radical ideas like this play out and become the new
orthodoxy, sometimes they don't.
Maddow reports on how "abiotic oil" has been picked up on by these
obvious crankcases, but that by itself isn't any reason to assume
it's not right. She may even be correct in her social analysis
that the reason they like it has to do with a suspicion of
evolution and religious convictions about the age of the earth
being very short, and so on. The theory itself may be right,
even if The Right likes it for the wrong reason.
I think Rachel Maddow is a bit confused here, because she
pays more attention to right wing freaks than science:
"There isn't legitmate scientific disagreement about what oil is."
She magnanimously conceeds that Thomas Gold did indeed exist,
and she shrugs him off as an "adorable astronomer" who wrote
"lengthy blog posts" on the subject.
Thomas Gold isn't just "adorable", he had a pretty impressive
carreer, he didn't just write blog posts, he published a book
titled "The Deep Hot Biosphere". And if you want to understand
this theory, you should probably start there--
But I should hurry to explain that this theory has no bearing on
any public policy debates: burning hydrocarbons will not stop
damaging the environment and causing global warming if they're
abiotic hydrocarbons. You don't even need to postulate that
Gold's theory is right to argue against "peak oil" people-- just
point to the untapped oil in the Caspian Sea region.
Were oil abiotic, it would not smell any sweeter.
The left's experience with the conservatives playing games
with climate science seems to have pushedm them into this
weird condition of being scientific reactionaries...
anyone with an unusual scientific theory becomes a "denier
of mainstream science!".