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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
obviously so):

  http://www.dailykos.com/...

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!".

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Nazis lost the war by running... (6+ / 0-)

    ...out of oil. If abiotic oil was a real thing, all they would have had to do was drill deep, and those that were left would be under their domination today (I wouldn't: I'm a Jew).

    Abiotic oil is bullshit.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 01:37:12 PM PST

  •  Are you seriously trying to sell us on abiotic oil (9+ / 0-)

    in spite of its repeated debunking?  If so, I have a rock crusher you may be interested in.

  •  lol, wat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW

    wat

  •  Rachel Maddow Does Her Research..... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, leftykook, Gordon20024, atana, matador

    She's not one to come on unprepared.  I'd say her theories on fossil fuels/abiotic oil are also "pretty interesting".    

  •  There isn't a facepalm big enough... (6+ / 0-)

    "It ain’t supposed to make sense; it’s faith. Faith is something that you believe that nobody in his right mind would believe." - Archie Bunker

    by Banach MacAmbrais on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 03:38:16 PM PST

  •  You can't really expect to be taken seriously, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thomask, JeffW, atana

    can you?

    I, too was looking forward to a nice rock crusher diary.

     photo 6c21e992-73cd-4168-b1ec-7e873044ece9_zps64ad1637.jpg

    .

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." -- Groucho Marx

    by Gordon20024 on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 04:05:22 PM PST

  •  Did any of you folks actually read this? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rduran

    Thanks for the comments gang, but did you actually read anything I wrote?  I get the sense that you picked up on the idea that I'm saying mean things about Rachel Maddow, and that's it.

    (Considering that my other post today was about the dangers of relying on tribal reasoning, this is pretty funny...)

    •  No, I think everybody read it (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thomask, JeffW, atana, FriendlyNeighbor

      It's really pretty simple. If the Nazis had actually discovered abiotic oil during World War II (and let's assume for a moment they did, but the discovery, like the ME-262 jet and V-2 rocket, came too late to change the course of the war), it would be common knowledge by now.

      If you know your history, a great many Nazi scientists were co-opped by the U.S. - it's how our space program got started. Their knowledge would have become our knowledge, and the science proving abiotic oil would have been pretty well established over the intervening 69 years. It's not, which leads me to believe there's not much "there" there.

      Yes, Kindly Doc Maddow did ridicule the theory of abiotic oil, but only in the context of the conspiracy theory which holds that it is a proven scientific fact which every government in the world has been covering up since the end of World War II. And I happen to agree with her that that particular theory is pretty far out there.

      If, down the road, the abiotic oil theory is borne out, I'm sure Rachel will do a correction – she's good about that. But I'm not holding my breath on anyone proving the case.

      I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

      by ObamOcala on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 06:18:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If there are only two sides here I'm on neither. (0+ / 0-)

        "It's really pretty simple. If the Nazis had actually discovered abiotic oil during World War II --"

        But why would anyone think that they had?  The people who do think that are obvious nutjobs.  I call them "conservative crazies", and "obvious crankcases" and "right wing freaks" in the original post.  What would give you the impression that I was on their side?

        "Yes, Kindly Doc Maddow did ridicule the theory of abiotic oil, but only in the context of the conspiracy theory --"

        Actually no, that was indeed the main context, but she went beyond that, swearing that there was no doubt whatsoever about the biological origin of oil-- once again, I quoted the bits I disagreed with in the original post.

        If you're interested in talking about this, do you think you could re-read it?  If you still don't get it maybe I was more unclear than I thought.

        The main thing I'm getting at here is that I don't like this two-sided us-against-them reasoning.  Gold's ideas were latched on to by right wing crazies, and the right wing crazies are indeed crazy, but this actually says very little about Gold's ideas.

    •  I read it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      after having read about how abiotic petroleum turned from an interesting conjecture in the 19th century into Soviet pseudoscience. As far as I can tell, it was on the same level as Lysenkoism. The Soviets now admit that it became thoroughly debunked nonsense at the end of the 20th century. Among other problems, no petroleum has been found in any of the wells drilled specifically to look for abiotic petroleum. Diamondoids found in petroleum contain biological carbon, according to its isotopic analysis.

      Albert Einstein, who should have won a second and possibly a third Nobel Prize in Physics, got quantum mechanics dead wrong. Galileo got the tides dead wrong. Gold is a brilliant maverick astrophysicist who is out of his depth in petroleum geology and paleontology, and was dead wrong about the Steady State Universe. I can cite numerous other cases of the kind. Corsi is a total conspiracy nut.

      Rachel did her homework. You didn't do yours.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 11:33:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And into the Deep.... (0+ / 0-)

        Yow, someone willing to present an argument.  Cool.

        "... after having read about how abiotic petroleum turned from an interesting conjecture in the 19th century into Soviet pseudoscience."

        This is just guilt-by-association, isn't it?  

        "The Soviets now admit that it became thoroughly debunked nonsense at the end of the 20th century."

        Well, I guess that's a lead that could be looked up...

        "Among other problems, no petroleum has been found in any of the wells drilled specifically to look for abiotic petroleum."

        I know the results haven't been impressive, but I think that's an exaggeration.  Some oil was found in the Sijan drilling, just not in commercially viable amounts.  Take a look at the account of the Sijan drilling here:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/...

        "Diamondoids found in petroleum contain biological carbon, according to its isotopic analysis."

        As I understand it, Gold conceeded that oil looked like something that had been messed with by life-on-earth, but he countered with an additional complication to his theory, the "Deep Hot Biosphere" idea. The idea being that extremophiles deep in the earth had contaminated the oil that we see...

        Without claiming to be an expert on this, I gather that this "Deep Hot Biosphere" idea has quietly turned into an established fact. I would take this as yet-another crazy Gold idea that turned out to be correct.

        (But this does not by itself establish that oil is abiologic, and as I understand it you'd still have to say that the vast majority of geologists disagree that it is.)

        "Albert Einstein, who should have won a second and possibly a third Nobel Prize in Physics, got quantum mechanics dead wrong ..."

        Yes, precisely.  Gold's ideas about abiotic oil could easily be wrong-- but that doesn't turn Gold into a mere "adorable astronomer" (actually he was an astrophysicist... but at least she didn't call him an astrologer). And Gold was actually a guy who did quite a bit more than write "lengthy blog posts".  

        "Rachel did her homework. You didn't do yours."

        Well she got Gold's name right any way.  And I don't doubt that the right wing crazies she talks about really are crazy.

        My original take on the book "Deep Hot Biosphere" was that Gold was pushing it by trying to prop up one radical idea with another, but the second radical idea has turned out to be correct, making the whole case look a bit better.

        I will plead guilty on making little attempt at keeping up with the state of play on this one, but my sense is that Uncle Wikipedia has this right:

        "The weight of evidence currently shows that petroleum is derived from ancient biomass.[13] However, it still has to be established conclusively, which means that alternative theories like abiogenic petroleum cannot be dismissed for now.[3]"

        https://en.wikipedia.org/...

  •  Abiotic? Why do oil wells go dry then? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    atana, JeffW
    •  They don't go dry permanently (0+ / 0-)

      After a while, the abiotic oil comes seeping in anew/ At least, that's the right wing theory behind this. And, indeed, a few wells thought to be dry have later begun producing again, probably because there was another reservoir of oil that began seeping into the empty cavern.

      Now, with fracking, we are seeing oil produced from places long since thought to be empty. Regardless of the science, we can expect this fact to fuel the abiotic oil theories for decades to come. And the right desperately wants to believe such theories because they want to pursue energy policy and the environment exactly as they have in the past.

      The ostrich like it's head in the sand where the abiotic oil lives.

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