the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Our Galileo, Will we do better this time?

Posted by Jeff Id on January 9, 2010

Guest post from Dr. Ismail Bhat, Professor & Head of Department of Geology & Geophysics at University of Kashmir. Dr. Bhat is yet another professional scientist with the understanding and credentials to challenge the consensus. This time on sea level rise, he rightly compares how the current political situation has handled prominent and reasoned disagreement to the inquisition of Galileo by the Romans. How far have we really come since Galileo’s time?
———–
Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner: the Galileo of our “scientific age”
M. I. Bhat
E-mail: bhatmi@hotmail.com

Science has taken a leap four centuries back to dark age when science lost to theology. Then the butt of condemnation and punishment were just two souls – Bruno and, the better remembered, Galileo. Now it is a huge horde of scientists from across the planet, who dare challenge the mainstream belief in CO2-induced global warming or anthropogenically-induced global warming (AGW), that are being condemned with calls for punishment of these “traitors” for committing “high crimes against humanity,” “deserving Nuremberg-style trials,” ……… Reviling and calls for punishment are unending. If theology was settled then for a particular cosmological view, now it is “science is settled’ for AGW. Then it was cosmological data gathered through telescope versus theological view; now it is clean, hard core science versus manipulated science backed by political interests. Then it was Cardinal Bellarmine backed by Pope Clement VIII/Pope Paul V; now it is Dr. R. K. Pachauri backed by our political Pope, Mr. Banki Moon.


More than any of the “skeptics” it is the Swedish scientist, Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner who, I believe, has been condemned the most by not just IPCC but by the Nobel Committee as well. As the President of International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) who could possibly have been better placed to talk of sea level change than him. Under his charge, when INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, after deliberations and discussions at several international meetings, declared a possible sea level change of +5 cm ±15cm by the year 2100, it was based on a huge amount of world-wide data gathered by scientists from different parts of the globe. No politics, business or no activist interests were involved; just hard-core science.

Bruno and Galileo had the good fortune of a trial and hearing, not Dr. Mörner. His science got swamped in the din of media-hyped hoarse cries by Al Gore and IPCC about the alarming rise in sea level. Norwegians Nobel Peace Prize Committee could hear these cries from across the Atlantic but didn’t bother to hear the sane voice from across the border before deciding the recipients. More unfortunate is that the Swedish Government and the Swedish people, who have funded Dr. Mörner’s research that took him to such a high scientific position, didn’t even murmur in his favor.

No wonder then that even political non-entities didn’t take Dr. Mörner and his Commission’s scientific findings seriously. The President of Maldives saw international value in his political gimmick of holding under the water cabinet meeting but didn’t see merit in acknowledging the two letters that Dr. Mörner wrote him pleading “Your people ought not to have to suffer a constant claim that there is no future for them on their own islands.” He provided him the scientific basis as well:

“In 2001, when our research group found overwhelming evidence that sea level was by no means in a rising mode in the Maldives, but had remained quite stable for the last 30 years” But notice the brutal political return to the most humane gesture: “I thought it would not be respectful to the fine people of the Maldives if I were to return home and present our results in international forum. Therefore, I announced this happy news during an interview for your local TV station. However, your predecessor as president censored and stopped the broadcast.”

As the people across the continents have witnessed the meeting in Copenhagen was not about science of global warming or climate change but pure and plain political drama under the aegis of UN. The people who did talk about science (the “climate skeptics”) were ignored both by organizers of the meeting and the media, reminding one of Galileo’s words to Keppler (Wikipedia): “My dear Kepler, I wish that we might laugh at the remarkable stupidity of the common herd. What do you have to say about the principal philosophers of this academy who are filled with the stubbornness of an asp and do not want to look at either the planets, the moon or the telescope, even though I have freely and deliberately offered them the opportunity a thousand times? Truly, just as the asp stops its ears, so do these philosophers shut their eyes to the light of truth.”

It seems our political Pope has conveniently forgotten the world-wide condemnation of his fellow citizen Dr. Hwang Woo-suk for faking stem cell research and the apology that his Prime Minister had to tender on behalf of South Koreans. Otherwise instead of seeking action against climategate fraudsters (the “Hokey Stick Team”) he would not have been working with them and using their deceptive science to befool the world. Or, is it for the glamour of his position that he tolerates this hypocrisy?

Dr. Mörner (and his fellow skeptic) may have lost this round but with an ocean of scientific data – the telescope of Galileo, so to say – and the current record-breaking winter temperatures across northern hemisphere on his side he may not have to wait long to be declared the real winner.


139 Responses to “Our Galileo, Will we do better this time?”

  1. P Gosselin said

    Jeff, you feeling a little like Galileo too?
    I agree 100% with the above post and what it implies.

  2. Wansbeck said

    An interesting video that I first saw on WUWT gives some perspective:

  3. mrpkw said

    I have to constantly cite Dr. Mörner’s SCIENTIFIC work when the usual suspects make any type of claim that the oceans will soon swamp the planet.

    Good post

  4. Viv Evans said

    That is an outstanding article, thank you for posting it here, Jeff Id!

    In the end, like Galileo, true science will prevail against religious ideology.

    It is just a great shame that so many people, who can ill afford this, will see what huge, negative impact this new religious ideology, a.k.a. AGW, is going to have on their lives.

  5. j ferguson said

    Problem here is that “faith” trumps knowledge every time. The folks who set-up one of the longest continuing “faiths” in 325 knew this and contrived their doctrine to favor “faith” over knowledge at every turn.

    The reason for this is that “faith” is much easier to sell. It doesn’t require the long hours of reading, investigation, conjecture, argument, etc. that putting together a coherent grasp of a body of knowledge requires.

    God knows, this climate thing is a bear to absorb.

    I’m afraid, in the end, the most effective way to combat “faith” in the alarmist cant, is to establish a countervailing basis for “faith” in the more rational, sound science based views.

    I think that is what is going on right now.

    A while back, there was a discussion on “trust” of scientists on
    Roger Pielke Jr’s Site. “Whom do you, or do you not trust?”

    I took this to invoking “faith” in the “truth” of the writings of some scientists or bloggers.

    Regrettably, if that is where this whole debate has to go to overturn some of the nonsense that’s currently out there, then that is where we need to go.

    Too bad, but this problem of “understanding” vs. “trusting” that someone else understands has been with us a very very long time.

  6. [...] age”, and Lord Monckton Posted on January 9, 2010 by PoliTech Interesting article on the Air Vent; Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner: the Galileo of our “scientific [...]

  7. Antonio San said

    Is it me or does anyone else find some ressemblance between Galileo on this painting and Steve McIntyre? ;-)

  8. Confused said

    Bhat might be good on science but his grasp of history isn’t great. And what’s the that non seqiutur about the stem cell guy? I read this blog for reasoned argument on points of fact. On that basis the above article is pretty lame.

  9. [...] http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/our-galileo-will-we-do-better-this-time/ [...]

  10. Jeff Id said

    #8, I only began to appreciate history as I got older, as a young man, it was about the girls in class more than the easily regurgitated material. What would you say is missing?

  11. Confused said

    What’s missing is a nuanced understanding of the historical facts of the Galileo case for a start. Any half-baked historian of science could rip Bhat’s lazy science vs theology trope to shreds in a second. It just wasn’t that simple. I studied a bit of History and Philosophy of science, including this case.

    Aside from Galileo’s difficult personality, which was responsible for much of the furore, the disagreement was both scientific and theological on both sides. Galileo was challenged on points of science, and he made arguments in theological terms. It was never a case of science vs theology.

    The scientific challenges were entirely reasonable in the context of the times. That some of what he said was subsequently shown to be right – and let’s remember that Copernican heliocentrism is largely wrong – but not always in terms of his own theories. In other words, Galileo did not necessarily prove himself to be right through his own theories, rather subsequent science supported some of his claims but often on the back of new experimentation. Read Kuhn for a good explanation of this. He sets out how the Ptolemaic system collapsed under the weight of its own complexity, not because the Copernican system proved itself to be superior. It’s superiority was only demonstrated much later.

    The point is that in the context of what was known at the time there was reason to doubt much of what he said. Take a look at the work of David Lindberg if you can be bothered.

    In some ways the disagreement is a lot like the climate one. In contrast to many of your readers I don’t clamatewhatever to be a case of the ‘true’ science of the sceptics vs the ‘false’ science’/religion of the warmists, but rather as an entirely scientific disagreement. There is complex, confusing and sometimes contradictory data. It needs interpretation. Interpretations sometimes differ.

    You (Jeff), Anthony Watts, and others are doing a great job of testing the validity of some of the AGW claims. That’s excellent and exactly as it should be. But that doesn’t make your opponents unscientists. I value your blog (and a couple of others) because of the high quality of the articles and research, at least as far as I understand it, which isn’t far. I have no idea what to think about AGW thanks mainly to the quality of your work, which I appreciate.

    I just think your position (though not your work) is diminished by the above kind of article.

  12. Robert M. Marshall said

    Confused,

    Dr. Mörner cites an easily recognized illustration of history repeating itself. Where as, you imply that your knowledge of history exceeds that of Dr. Mörner’s without citing examples, non-sequitor by definition. It appears that the only conclusion one can come to, reading your post, is that your pseudonym is apt.

    Robert M. Marshall

  13. Jeff Id said

    #11, The good doctor is qualified to have his own opinions. My impression of Dr. Morner is that he knows the sea level data well and has a different conclusion from the rest. I’ve not studied sea level yet. So far, I’ve got some paleo, tree ring, MV regression, Antarctic temps, sea ice, and a bit of thermometer work. Other than that, just work stuff,optics, electronics, programming etc.

    You have piqued my interest about Galileo on which I will read. In the meantime, if you have some time to kill, what would you say to a well referenced historic article for tAV of your own? Non-climate but who cares, there are a whole pile of us science geeks here who would appreciate a historian’s take and it sounds like an interesting learning experience. Of course, like all tAV posts, you would have to deal with the wolves yourself.

  14. Wansbeck said

    It can be argued that it was Galileo who tried to stifle the debate.

    He’d had no problems teaching heliocentric theories; his problems began when he stated the theory as a fact.

    He cited the tides as evidence of the Earth’s motion and sidestepped the parallax problem which was a huge stumbling block. Also as Confused states in #11 his difficult personality (perhaps an understatement?) didn’t help.

    There are some ‘difficult personalities’ today stating theory, or even hypothesis, as fact.
    Should we believe them?

  15. PeterS said

    It’s sad but true. Scientists of all types should hang their heads in shame, especially those who are not outspoken enough against the AGW nonsense. Although many have spoken out, not enough of them have banded together to voice their complete objection to the way this AGW thesis has been propagated as if it’s true when in fact the evidence is lacking, and in some cases distorted. If and when the truth finally gets out to the public at large, I wonder if they will view scientists as any more trustworthy than politicians, if not lower. It’s not too late for all scientists who know the AGW thesis is wrong to come out as one force to smash the hoax.

  16. Confused said

    Fair enough Jeff, though I might pedantically disagree that he is “qualified” to have his opinions. He’s certainly entitled to them, but I’m not sure his Professorship covers history as such.

    As to an article I might take you up on that. I’m an anthropologist by training though I do have an undergraduate degree in history. I’ve done a fair bit of science history in amongst that lot.

    Robert Marshall, just to get things straight Bhat wrote the article. Morner was the subject of the article. As to the example being easily recognised, well, the trope is easily recognised. It isn’t necessarily historically correct though. Read some proper history of science if you don’t believe me.

    You could start with Bhat’s claim that “it was cosmological data gathered through telescope versus theological view”. That is arguably wrong. The Copernican system was challenging the Ptolemaic system, which was developed by Claudius Ptolemaeus, an early Roman early (1st-2nd century AD) scientist/mathematician etc, as they all were at that time. His system was largely mathematical not theological. It was later adopted by the church, as were many classical ideas. Galileo argued that heliocentrism was consistent with theological orthodoxy. A case could thus be made that the disagreement was scientific at heart, not theological.

    There was of course a large theological element since Galileo’s challenge brought the literal truth of the bible into some kind of question. And he was charged tried for heresy. But there was all sorts of personal stuff involved in that which make it more complicated than it appears on the surface.

    My point is simply that the science vs theology trope is simplistic and inappropriate.

    Cheers.

  17. Layman Lurker said

    #8 and #11

    I read Dr. Bhat’s article as a simple excercise to draw attention to Dr. Morner and his work. Does he really need detailed and nuanced interpretation of history to do that? I don’t see any attempt other than a general comparison of individuals who challenge and advance science vs. established orthodoxy. The history of Galileo has it’s own unique historical context which will never be comparable to anything. That does not make it improper to find parallells to AGW in the broader context.

  18. Jack Okie said

    My first time here and I encounter a delightful and respectful discussion. Confused, I studied physics before joining the dark side of software engineering. I just can’t agree that “science” is an appropriate word when ALL the data, software etc are not available. Do you / have you published? What are the expectations for anthropology?

  19. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Analogies of the type being attempted here can be fraught with over interpretation and being too generally applied, but I think it is always proper to be aware of when religion (and non-science) is being mixed with science.

    It sounds to me that Confused is making a comment on the imperfections in the personality and scientific methodology of Galileo when I would rather hear whether the Church could argue the case against Galileo on the basis of reason and science. I would like to see Confused given the opportunity to do a thread introduction (he/she writes very well) on Galileo’s shortcomings in this case and on the basis on which it was agrued and decided. My heroes need not be perfect heroes.

  20. Jeff Id said

    Confused,

    I think your perspective on history would be interesting, but is taking away from the point being made. It’s not an exact analogy of course, but Morner has been ostracized for his views – by my understanding only after the IPCC took over.

  21. Jerome Hudson said

    Hi -

    A couple of years back I gave a talk about Galileo and also wrote a short article for a club journal. I am not a historian. I sought various references. One that became a favorite was Stillman Drake’s _Galileo at Work_, which attempts to illuminate how Galileo stumbled onto his various discoveries in mechanics and astronomy. I hope I remember enough to express an opinion here. If I stumble, please check out Drake and also a marvellous little book called _Galileo’s Daughter_, by Dava Sobel. Time well spent in reading.

    It is certainly true that Galileo didn’t always get it right. His theory of tides certainly didn’t measure up. However, it took Newton’s insights on gravity before a better theory could be developed – we shouldn’t begrudge Galileo’s efforts. While a revolutionary, he was still bound up with classical concepts of geometry, and had an aversion to infinities, a constant stumbling block for him and other mathematicians.

    “Confused” has it right I think – Galileo vs. The Church is an oversimplification. A number of scientists seem to view it this way, however. What I think might be more accurate is “Galileo vs. Conventional Wisdom.” The teachings of the day slavishly held to Aristotle and Ptolemy.

    Enter Galileo’s love of a good fight. He delighted in overturning Aristotlean concepts, and loved making fools out of some of his academic opponents. He had a good grasp of theater. During one debate, in which Galileo maintained that ice floated because it was simply lighter than water, his opponent followed Aristotle in declaring that it was truly heavier, but could float if it didn’t “break” the water’s surface. Galileo proceeded to dunk an ice cube into a tumbler of water, and let go.

    I think Galileo had many supporters within the Church. Also, he was a religious man. What happened though is that a local philosopher picked up on scripture in which the Sun supposedly stood still – not the Earth – and tried to embarrass him with this in his support of Copernicus. Galileo was acquiring enemies, and these were eager to get him into hot water with the Church.

    There is some controversy over whether Galileo was really prohibited from teaching the Copernican theory (albeit not as _fact_) – he assumed he was free to do so, and published the _Dialogues_, which he took careful trouble to clear with the Church censor. Alas, enemies convinced the Pope that he was being made a fool of – depicted as the character Simplicius in the book – and then Galileo really did come into conflict with the Church.

    I think Bhat’s comparison of Morner to Galileo holds water if you look at it from the perspective of a careful researcher running afoul of established dogma.

    - Jerry

  22. Tony Hansen said

    Confused #16,
    ‘….an early Roman early (1st-2nd century AD) scientist/mathematician etc, as they all were at that time’.

    …as they all were….

    You don’t believe the early Chinese and Indian scientists/mathematicians are worthy of mention?

  23. Layman Lurker said

    Cool discussion. I second the motion for a post from confused.

    Jerome, I am sure many would enjoy reading your article as well.

    Undoubtedly it seems Galileo’s greatest contribution was not that his theories were ultimately right, but rather that his observations showed that orthodoxy was wrong – eventually moved forward through the clash of ideas, individuals, and institutions. IMV it is the essence of the process of science over the course of history.

  24. Richard said

    Confused .. I think you maybe a little confused. I dont know who Bhat is, but you arguing the case from the Catholic point of view, which is totally untenable. Copernicus is repeatedly trumped up as Catholic priest, (he may have been, but so was Martin Luther), and it is claimed that his views were accepted by the Catholic Church – they were not.

    Galileo’s trial by the Inquisition was totally shameful. Galileo had to recant in order to escape being burnt at the stake by the inquisitors. Declare that the Earth did not move around the Sun. He is reputed to have muttered under his breath “E pur si muove”, which means And yet it moves. Man was all important the ruler of the Earth and the Earth the centre of the Universe and the Sun and the stars revolved around it.

    Today we are forced to believe, again, that man is all powerful. That we and not nature, rule the climate. That we can control it with our laws and must pay our tithes to the AGW religion.

    To that we say “Natura Omnia Regit” – Nature rules over everything, or more colloquially “Up Yours”.

  25. Richard said

    Jerome Hudson- that Galileo got the explanation of the tides wrong is somehow justification for his trial? or having to say that the Sun moved around the Earth? Or diminish his other achievemnts in any way? He loved a good fight did he? A troublemaker was he? Damn .. why didnt he just agree with the authority that the Earth was the centre of the Universe. Why pick a fight? He deserved to be in jail, like the deniers of today, rather than just under house arrest for life.

  26. MrPete said

    Re: Confused (Jan 9 15:57),
    Not an historian either, but a student of much of this. I’ll confirm much of what ‘Confused’ has to say.

    Here are a few tidbits that can be confirmed online (sorry, no time for creating every link right now):
    * The Catholic Church, far from being opposed to Galileo’s work, was highly supportive… just got in a tiff w/ Galileo. In The Sun in the Church: Cathedrals as Solar Observatories, it’s been well documented that several major Cathedrals in Europe incorporated solar observatory instruments.
    * Kepler was more advanced than Galileo in his understanding, and was not opposed by the church.

    For context, of even more interest is this: the prevailing scientific view was geocentric. Aristotle had long ago provided several falsifiable hypotheses for geocentrism. And they were not eliminated until much later, when gravity was discovered.

    Here’s a set of theories proposed over the last 2000+ years:
    a) Geocentric, no gravity, no mechanics [Ptolemy/Aristotle]
    b) Heliocentric, no gravity, no mechanics [Copernicus/Kepler]
    c) Heliocentric, gravity, Newtonian mechanics [Newton]
    d) Galaxies, relativity, quantum mechanics
    e) String theory?

    Some interesting tidbits with respect to the current discussion:
    - Each of the past theories was valid according to the understanding at the time
    - Each was useful
    - Each was actually wrong in various ways (depending on frame of reference, etc)

    Aristotle had three tests supporting geocentrism over heliocentrism:

    * If the Earth actually spun on an axis (as required in a heliocentric system to explain the diurnal motion of the sky), why didn’t objects fly off the spinning Earth?
    * If the Earth was in motion around the sun, why didn’t it leave behind the birds flying in the air?
    * If the Earth were actually on an orbit around the sun, why wasn’t a parallax effect observed in the stars?

    AFAIK, that last one was not resolved until the 18th century.

    Fun stuff!

  27. Richard said

    MrPete ” The Catholic Church, far from being opposed to Galileo’s work, was highly supportive…” So supportive in fact that had he not recanted would have burnt him at the stake.

  28. Layman Lurker said

    Let’s let the man speak for himself ;) :

  29. Richard said

    Well I had to speak for him. Confused, Hudson and MrPete were subjecting him to the Inquisition again. I cannot tolerate that.

  30. Wansbeck: About 24 hrs. before the end of the Copenhagen´s summit,and when all media of the world were already announcing its total failure, something remarkable happened, the pope himself suddenly open up his until then hidden cards: He pronounced openly in favour of the green religion, in a desperate and wrong move he could´t fix afterwards.
    The fact is that all political leaders of the world share the traditional convictions that the populace (we) should be kept with the eyes blindfolded by their naive but elaborated tell tales, one of which ended as we know, and thanks to the Air Vent and others, in a total fiasco.
    I suspect there are other theories, I mean tell tales, yet awaiting to be exposed. One can “smell” them through the passionate defense some official scientists make of the unproven and untested in any lab whatsoever, strange theories, what I call child scaring theories which have in common that whomsoever accepts the consensus is inmediately considered a sage and a sure candidate by gracious and copious rewards, one of them the already discredited Nobel prize.
    We have seen such a lot of hate and hysterical passions arise particularly in the case against the Plasma or Electrical Universe...It seems that it scares them to death, wrongly supposing that these experimental FACTS could entail the concept of an eternal universe, which is not the case.
    Anyway, it´s a good theme to be presented by intelligent bloggers, of course by previously buying a lot of popcorn, because this “soap opera” about the silly “illuminati”, now with the official church at their side, promises to be really exiting.
    Wish he Air Vent will have, in the near future, the opportunity of devealing the “Astro-Gate” by wellcoming its whistleblowers or hackers alike. Good luck!

  31. RB said

    An odd feature of the “global warming or not” discussion is that AGW is considered to be the orthodoxy awaiting a paradigm shift. This may be true amongst climate scientists today but certainly not amongst the general public as polls show. Its been a while since I read Kuhn, but I think he’s made the point and many skeptics like to point out as well that paradigm shifts occur as “science advances one funeral at a time.” In this context, it is interesting to see what Freeman Dyson had to say about it :

    e360: Do you mind being thrust in the limelight of talking about this when it is not your main interest. You’ve suddenly become the poster child for global warming skepticism.

    Dyson: Yes, it is definitely a tactical mistake to use somebody like me for that job, because I am so easily shot down. I’d much rather the job would be done by somebody who is young and a real expert. But unfortunately, those people don’t come forward.

    e360: Are there people who are knowledgeable about this topic who could do the job of pointing out what you see as the flaws?

    Dyson: I am sure there are. But I don’t know who they are.

    I have a lot of friends who think the same way I do. But I am sorry to say that most of them are old, and most of them are not experts. My views are very widely shared.

    Anyway, the ideal protagonist I am still looking for.

    What will it take for an expert of the type Dyson is looking for?

  32. MrPete said

    Re: Richard (Jan 9 18:27),
    Step back, take a breath. Let go of your conclusions for a moment.

    A logic question to get you started: the Church was supportive of Kepler, who had already published heliocentric views before Galileo got in so much trouble… so why is it a given that Galileo’s science was the problem?

    Sorry that I don’t have time to develop this fully. I too hope ‘Confused’ will write something up.

  33. Jeff Id said

    Perhaps what this post is missing is a little context.

    http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2007/2007_20-29/2007-25/pdf/33-37_725.pdf

  34. Richard said

    MrPete Your logic question is not a logic question. You start with a wrong statement and argue from there.

    “the Church was supportive of Kepler, who had already published heliocentric views before Galileo got in so much trouble…” Is that a logical question? No! It is an assumed axiom and a wrong one. (If this be true then why should….blah blah.) It is Not true.

    Kepler was a protestant. His views could hardly have been enthusiastically embraced by the Catholics, particularly in those days of strife between the two.

    Here some facts.

    Galileo was tried for the heresy of saying that the Earth moved around the sun. He had been forbidden to say that. He got around it by writing a dialogue between two people arguing their respective cases. The Church couldnt ignore it when it was published in I think protestant Holland.

    Second fact – had he not recanted he would have been burnt at the stake.

    Third fact – he was imprisoned for life for having published the book.

    Subject closed so far as I am concerned. There was NO justification for his trial and sentence.

  35. RB said

    To continue the analogy with paradigm shifts and history, if we use Roger Revelle’s discovery as a starting point, that was 1957. Prior to Einstein’s work, here was Lord Kelvin in 1900 :
    “In 1900, Lord Kelvin famously stated, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.””

    Outside of “AlGore-the science is settled” I’d hardly think that climate scientists have the same level of certainty. AGW as an establishment science, in my opinion, is still in its early days in comparison.

  36. Richard said

    Jeff Id said January 9, 2010 at 7:02 pm
    Perhaps what this post is missing is a little context.

    I agree – that comparison to Galileo has made people go off topic. However Galileo is someone I feel rather strongly about – and people had better not try and defend his trial.

  37. RB said

    Sorry if I was off-topic. I thought I was on topic because the gist of the post is an analogy – that Dr. Morner will be proven right after suffering just like Galileo. Since the author is a plate tectonics specialist, my posts were solely based on what I thought was the gist of the post – the analogy – I do not share Jeff’s opinions of according a necessarily authority status to the author.

  38. Confused said

    Jeff, I agree that the focus on Galileo is detracting from the central issue, but in a roundabout way that is also my position. Namely that the Galileo analogy is badly used to make a cheap rhetorical point. Now I know that Bhat is really just supporting Morner’s work but I just find the dressing he has used a little over seasoned. Unfortunately for me my educational background doesn’t really allow me to speak to the science, and I have such a big mouth I just had to say something.

    I guess the crux of the matter for me is that I don’t know why Morner’s work was rejected. To me it could equally have been because it was crap as because he has conspired against. And I have no way of finding out unless I want to get another PhD. Ultimately I just have to take somebody’s word for it. The problem for me is that I find it hard to take someone at their word on something I don’t really understand when I don’t agree with what they say about something I do understand.

    Richard, I’m not defending the trial I’m simply saying it was more complicated that science vs religion. It was more old science vs new science, but in the context of the time (ie in terms of physics as understood in 1600) it was perfectly tenable to argue against Galileian heliocentrism. His observations were suggestive but not conclusive.

    RB, re Kuhn I’m not sure that paradigm shifts are de rigueur any more as explanations of scientific advancement, or at least they are seen as one mode amongst a few. The thing to remember though is that (in Kuhnian terms) AGW was also a paradigm shift.

    That’s all from me, I’ve wasted enough of your time – I might still get back re writing something. More science please, for us ignoramrs.

  39. RB said

    “The thing to remember though is that (in Kuhnian terms) AGW was also a paradigm shift.”

    I agree with you entirely there and that is the point that I have made above – that the science of AGW is relatively speaking, very much in its infancy.

  40. Richard said

    Confused said January 9, 2010 at 7:51 pm Richard, I’m not defending the trial I’m simply saying it was more complicated that science vs religion. It was more old science vs new science, but in the context of the time (ie in terms of physics as understood in 1600) it was perfectly tenable to argue against Galileian heliocentrism. His observations were suggestive but not conclusive.

    It was very clearly science vs religion. Nothing could be clearer. The Church and the Pope supported the Geocentric view not for scientific reasons but ideological ones. The Earth (and man) was very important. The centre of the Universe. This was compounded by the fact that the Church also claimed that it, and the Pope, was infallible. (More that 99% certain, virtually certain – see the similarity to the AGW religion?). It had backed itself into a corner.

    If they were dispassionate about the science, why would they get their knickers into a twist with one view over another?

    “in terms of physics as understood in 1600 it was perfectly tenable to argue against Galileian heliocentrism. His observations were suggestive but not conclusive.”

    That is simply BS. Galileo invented the telescope. You only had to see the moons of Jupiter and Saturn revolving around them, and the shadows of the Earth on the Moon, to know that we were a sphere like them floating in space. And Kepler had already worked out the orbits of the planets, and planetary motion, including the Earth.

  41. MrPete said

    Re: Richard (Jan 9 19:11),
    Richard, you make too many assumptions. Please investigate further some of what I’ve said. I took a couple of minutes to help you:

    1) Yes, Kepler was Protestant. Yet they were not friendly to his scientific work. However, the Catholic Jesuits were friendly and interested. Here is one link to material documenting how the Jesuits followed his work, supported his work, even gave him a hugely valuable telescope. From that link, here is what Kepler wrote at the end of his final work:

    To the very reverend Father Paul Guldin, priest of the Society of Jesus, venerable and learned man, beloved patron. There is hardly anyone at this time with whom I would rather discuss matters of astronomy than with you . . . Even more of a pleasure to me, therefore, was the greeting from your reverence which was delivered to me by members of your order who are here . . . think you should receive from me the first literary fruit of the joy that I have gained from trial of this gift (the telescope).

    2) From here we read:

    When Johannes Kepler posited that planetary orbits were elliptical rather than circular, Catholic astronomer Giovanni Cassini verified Kepler’s position through observations he made in the Basilica of San Petronio in the heart of the Papal States. Cassini, incidentally, was a student of Fr. Riccioli and Fr. Francesco Grimaldi, the great astronomer who also discovered the diffraction of light, and even gave the phenomenon its name.

    Kepler published his first two laws of planetary motion well before Galileo got in trouble. The heliocentric idea was not anathema to the Church.

    3) Richard, care to provide evidence that Galileo was tried for “saying” the earth moved around the sun, that he would have been burned at the stake, or that he was “imprisoned”?
    From here we can gain a more nuanced perspective. I’ve highlighted a few key phrases:

    At Galileo’s request, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit—one of the most important Catholic theologians of the day—issued a certificate that, although it forbade Galileo to hold or defend the heliocentric theory, did not prevent him from conjecturing it. When Galileo met with the new pope, Urban VIII, in 1623, he received permission from his longtime friend to write a work on heliocentrism, but the new pontiff cautioned him not to advocate the new position, only to present arguments for and against it. When Galileo wrote the Dialogue on the Two World Systems, he used an argument the pope had offered, and placed it in the mouth of his character Simplicio. Galileo, perhaps inadvertently, made fun of the pope, a result that could only have disastrous consequences. Urban felt mocked and could not believe how his friend could disgrace him publicly. Galileo had mocked the very person he needed as a benefactor. He also alienated his long-time supporters, the Jesuits, with attacks on one of their astronomers.

    In the end, Galileo recanted his heliocentric teachings, but it was not—as is commonly supposed—under torture nor after a harsh imprisonment. Galileo was, in fact, treated surprisingly well.

    As historian Giorgio de Santillana, who is not overly fond of the Catholic Church, noted, “We must, if anything, admire the cautiousness and legal scruples of the Roman authorities.” Galileo was offered every convenience possible to make his imprisonment in his home bearable.

    Galileo’s friend Nicolini…revealed the circumstances surrounding Galileo’s “imprisonment” when he reported to the Tuscan king: “The pope told me that he had shown Galileo a favor never accorded to another” (letter dated Feb. 13, 1633); ” . . . he has a servant and every convenience” (letter, April 16); and “[i]n regard to the person of Galileo, he ought to be imprisoned for some time because he disobeyed the orders of 1616, but the pope says that after the publication of the sentence he will consider with me as to what can be done to afflict him as little as possible” (letter, June 18).

    Had Galileo been tortured, Nicolini would have reported it to his king. While instruments of torture may have been present during Galileo’s recantation (this was the custom of the legal system in Europe at that time), they definitely were not used. The records demonstrate that Galileo could not be tortured because of regulations laid down in The Directory for Inquisitors (Nicholas Eymeric, 1595). This was the official guide of the Holy Office, the Church office charged with dealing with such matters, and was followed to the letter.

    As noted scientist and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead remarked, in an age that saw a large number of “witches” subjected to torture and execution by Protestants in New England, “the worst that happened to the men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof.” Even so, the Catholic Church today acknowledges that Galileo’s condemnation was wrong. The Vatican has even issued two stamps of Galileo as an expression of regret for his mistreatment.

    So. By law, Galileo was not subject to torture. He was under mild house arrest. He clearly insulted his benefactors in the Catholic Church. Kepler, a protestant supported by Catholic Jesuits, published his heliocentric theories before Galileo was under fire.

    I trust there’s enough surprises and solid evidence there to allow a willing skeptic to at least say “hmmm… maybe I’ve been misled.”

    I know that I myself was surprised when I first learned these things! [And no, I'm not Catholic :) ]

  42. MrPete said

    Re: Richard (Jan 9 20:12),

    Galileo invented the telescope.

    Sorry Richard, but this too is wrong.

    Galileo was first to use a telescope for astronomy. But he didn’t invent it.

    Of course people could see that the moon (and sun) are round, etc. But as I’ve noted above, Aristotle’s geocentric hypotheses were not fully refuted until long after Galileo died.

    In retrospect, this really DOES seem a good example of how easily we draw conclusions based on less-than-adequate evidence.

    Back to the topic at hand: apparently Galileo had it MUCH better than Mörner today. Where are the AGW proponents who support Mörner’s work, who advise him how best to thread his way through the minefields to publish his work without insulting the Powers That Be? Where’s the opportunity to present his case? Where is the quiet/gentle support for him even after being “disqualified”?

  43. Confused said

    Last one,

    Richard, Galileo followed an Augustinian approach to biblical interpretation which was that the bible should be interpreted literally except where clearly allegorical and until a demonstrated scientific truth contradicted a literal interpretation, in which case there was grounds for re-evaluation. There are 2 key things here:

    1. The theological position that allowed for Papal fallibility. One can sneer at the convenience of it but sneering doesn’t alter the historical fact that there was room for movement. Also, it was more the Council of Trent that Galileo ran foul of theologically, not the Pope. In fact it was Urban VIII who told Galileo he was fine – gave him gifts etc – unless he presented his ideas as fact rather than scientific hypothesis. All of which shows that the Church was not intractably opposed to what he was saying.

    2. The key issue is demonstrated scientific truth. Galileo was actually unable to demonstrate the movement of the earth. He attempted to do it with reference to the movement of the tides. Which was wrong. He was actually unable to prove his ideas were correct. How could he then claim them to be demonstrated scientific truths capable of overturning biblical literalism? He was broadly right but he couldn’t ‘prove’ it.

    In addition Galileo had the misfortune of being stroppy right when the Catholic Church was coming under severe pressure from Reformation. It went overboard in an effort to protect its position. Once again, a little less science vs religion and a little more political shenanigans. One could probably draw an analogy there between Galileo and Morner though the significant difference would be that where Galileo was caught between warring factions (established vs Reform Church, and he was nominally on the side of the religious orthodoxy in that disagreement), Morner is on the side of the (apparent) scientific ‘heresy’.

    I also think it’s completely wrong to say that all they had to do was see the moons etc etc. It’s just not that simple.

    RB, right you are.

    Cheers.

  44. Cal said

    Wikipedia (I know) claims Mörner is into dowsing. I followed one of the links and he does sounds a bit loopy.

  45. tertius said

    Richard,
    you wrote:

    ‘However Galileo is someone I feel rather strongly about – and people had better not try and defend his trial.’

    What you “feel” is your right, but it is not to be confused with actual evidence, historical or otherwise. (Surely that is also the issue at stake in the AGW debate.)

    The information presented by “Confused” and others about the Galileo case, is from my own reading on the subject, correct – considerably more nuanced and historically accurate than the simplistic “good scientist oppressed by bad religion” meme (if I can turn Dawkin’s hypothetical idea back on itself) that many anti-religious polemicist’s hold to.

    Parallel examples of this same “meme” are:

    – the notion that educated people in pre-modern times, many – perhaps most of them – Churchmen, believed that the earth was flat; they did not.

    – the notion that the period from the fall of the Roman Empire through to the middle ages was a “dark age”, a view no respectable historian now holds. The only sense in which it was “dark” was in the relative scarcity of written records we have about the era. Dr Bhat also unfortunatley shows he is no historian by his reference to the time of Galileo as a “dark age”, when it was in fact the early modern era, a period of great scientific and academic achievement and advancement.

    - the concept of a “war” between science and religion, which was creation of nineteenth century rationalists for polemical purposes.

    I do not have to defend or not defend Galileo’s trial. It was an event arising within a particular historical context, due to a variety of factors considerably more subtle and intriguing than the simplistic Boy’s Own adventure story cum hagiography of a great scientic pioneer that better fits a Hollywood movie than intelligent conversation on a forum about science, data accuracy, truth and honesty.

  46. MrPete said

    Re: Wansbeck (Jan 9 10:21),
    I commend the video in Wansbeck’s comment. It provides a lot of additional detail I did not know and/or had not considered, such as:
    * Copernicus published his heliocentric theory in the mid-1500′s, dedicated to the pope. It got nobody in trouble.
    * Galileo’s work and observations were confirmed and celebrated by Jesuits and the pope himself in the 1610-1612 timeframe.
    I’m done… time to get back to Real Life :)

  47. Hoi Polloi said

    Too complicated, all these discussions. It’s simple, Bhat meant to say; outspoken scientist exclamate a controversial theory which is against the common science/religion and is castigated for that by the powers-that-are. Only centuries later his theory is recognized and accepted at it’s real worth. Religion enters the equation because it was omni present in the whole society in those days, much more as it is now.

  48. Richard said

    MrPete – First let me deal with your pedantic irrelevancies.
    “Galileo didnt invent the telescope”. Ok, big deal.

    According to Wikipedia the invention “is credited to three individuals: Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Janssen, who were spectacle makers in Middelburg, and Jacob Metius of Alkmaar. Galileo GREATLY IMPROVED upon these designs THE FOLLOWING YEAR.”

    Also it says “The word “telescope” .. was coined in 1611 by the Greek mathematician Giovanni Demisiani for one of Galileo Galilei’s instruments presented at a banquet at the Accademia dei Lincei”. So I can be pedantic also – the “telescope” WAS invented by Galileo.

    Less pedantic and more relevant from the site you have linked to “..Galileo ..made the first three-powered spyglass in June or July 1609, presented an eight-powered instrument to the Venetian Senate in August, and turned a twenty-powered instrument to the heavens in October or November.. before Galileo’s telescope came along, nobody had ever thought to use the device to look at the stars. With this simple telescope he observed the Moon, discovered four satellites of Jupiter, and resolved nebular patches into stars. He published Sidereus Nuncius in March 1610″

    So he was the person to invent the astronomical telescope. Does that satisfy you? or do you still want to indulge in irrelevant non sequiturs?

    2. Imprisoned – meaning house arrest. His sentence was imprisonment but commuted to house arrest.

    3. Some Jesuit priests were interested in and supportive of Kepler’s work. So what. The Church was, and is, a huge, unwieldy organisation. It is difficult to get complete unanimity in huge unwieldy organisations. Some priests have done some very wrong things in Ireland recently. Does the Church support that? The point is, what was the official Church position? Answer – Geocentric. The heliocentric idea WAS anathema to the Church.
    This is absolutely clear from his trial.

  49. Richard said

    From the Papal sentence handed down by the Iquisitors:
    “Whereas you, Galileo, son of the late Vaincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, were in the year 1615 denounced to this Holy Office for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the Sun is the center of the world and immovable and that the Earth moves, and also with a diurnal motion; for having disciples to whom you taught the same doctrine; for holding correspondence with certain mathematicians of Germany concerning the same; for … a document in the form of a letter, purporting to be written by you to one formerly your disciple, and in this divers propositions are set forth, FOLLOWING THE POSITION OF COPERNICUS, WHICH ARE CONTRARY TO THE TRUE SENSE AND AUTHORITY OF HOLY SCRIPTURE:
    This Holy Tribunal being therefore of intention to proceed against the disorder and mischief thence resulting, which went on increasing to the prejudice of the Holy Faith, by command of His Holiness and of the Most Eminent Lords Cardinals of this supreme and universal Inquisition, the two propositions of the stability of the Sun and the motion of the Earth were by the theological Qualifiers qualified as follows:
    THE PROPOSITION THAT THE SUN IS THE CENTER OF THE WORLD AND DOES NOT MOVE FROM ITS PLACE IS ABSURD AND FALSE PHILOSOPHICALLY AND FORMALLY HERETICAL, BECAUSE IT IS EXPRESSLY CONTRARY TO HOLY SCRIPTURE.
    THE PROPOSITION THAT THE EARTH IS NOT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD AND IMMOVABLE BUT THAT IT MOVES, AND ALSO WITH A DIURNAL MOTION, IS EQUALLY ABSURD AND FALSE PHILOSOPHICALLY AND THEOLOGICALLY CONSIDERED AT LEAST ERRONEOUS IN FAITH.

    We condemn you to the formal prison of this Holy office during our pleasure, and by way of salutary penance we enjoin that for three years to come you repeat once a week at the seven penitential Psalms. Reserving to ourselves liberty to moderate, commute or take off, in whole or in part, the aforesaid penalties and penance.

    And so we say, pronounce, sentence, declare, ordain, and reserve in this an din any other better way and form which we can and may rightfully employ.

    [Signed:]

  50. Richard said

    A more damning document there never could be

  51. Pat Frank said

    #11 & #16 — Every time I read the word “nuanced” in defense of ideology it always really means ‘exculpatory apologetics.’ Just as in your case, Confused. You cite “Galileo’s difficult personality” for being a cause of the dispute, leaving out that Urban VIII was an arrogant tyrant not tolerant of being contradicted or challenged.

    Galileo was loathe to retreat from his scientific case, and that is offered as evidence of a difficult personality. This was the tack taken by a Monsignor Marini, who apparently was the Vatican’s 19th century point-man on finding ways to wash the dirty linen of Galileo’s Inquisitorial persecution. He excused the persecution by claiming it was caused by Galileo’s “contumacy.”

    Not only did Galileo see the moons of Jupiter, disproving that all celestial motion was restricted to around Earth (a general assumption of the day), but his evidence for heliocentrism included that the disk of Venus displayed the illuminated phases that proved it rotated about the sun. The Copernican theory in general removed the need for epicycles to explain retrograde planetary motion. Galileo had plenty of reason, therefore, to prefer a heliocentric theory.

    At the end, Galileo did have his Jesuit supporters. But he really ran afoul of the Church for failing to hew the dogmatic line that his theory of Earth’s double motion (around its axis and around the sun) was for explanatory purposes only, and that the motions were not physically real. His condemnation was for asserting the motions of Earth; not for being defiant of Church authority.

    In fact, Galileo argued a very modern position, also taken by Augustus, that the Church should not involve itself dogmatically in questions that could be solved by reason and observation — in principle arguing an early case for separation of religion from science. The Church decided otherwise, and this insistence on speaking dogmatically on completely factual issues continues to get the Catholic Church (and other churches; and indeed all dogmatic religions) in trouble today.

  52. [...] Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner: the Galileo of our “scientific age” is the title of a guest post by Dr. Ismail Bhat, Professor & Head of Department of Geology & Geophysics at University of Kashmir which JeffId has posted at “the Air Vent”. More than any of the “skeptics” it is the Swedish scientist, Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner who, I believe, has been condemned the most by not just IPCC but by the Nobel Committee as well. As the President of International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) who could possibly have been better placed to talk of sea level change than him. Under his charge, when INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, after deliberations and discussions at several international meetings, declared a possible sea level change of +5 cm ±15cm by the year 2100, it was based on a huge amount of world-wide data gathered by scientists from different parts of the globe. No politics, business or no activist interests were involved; just hard-core science. [...]

  53. MrPete said

    This is where the analogies to today hold so true. People on various sides of AGW make extreme statements, and those on the “other” side shoot them down with even more extreme statements. Polarized views that bear little relationship to reality.

    Underneath, if one is willing to look and see, it is obvious that reality is more nuanced than the extremities.

    Yes, the tribunal said some extreme stuff. Yet only Galileo received that treatment. Not Copernicus. Not Kepler. And even with Galileo, the Pope himself celebrated Galileo’s discoveries only a few years earlier. Etc etc etc.

    There’s no question the whole thing was a hash, but one can hardly conclude that it was a case of the Anti-Science Church beating up on all scientists who held a differing view, and threatening them with torture or burning at the stake. No evidence for that at all.

    Unlike the topic of this post, where there truly do appear to be fully polarized positions on the effects of AGW, back then one could hardly make such claims.

    Who really made the major strides in telescope development? Was it the Galileo/Science side, or the Jesuit/Church side? Yes, Galileo improved the power of the telescope, by purchasing many lenses and selecting the best (glass quality was very poor back then! See first link below for references…) However, his version was extremely limiting, and others quickly improved on it.

    As is often the case, the “famous” people like Galileo and Newton tend to get credit both for their real contributions, but also for the contributions of others whose names never made it into the limelight. Links here, here and here lead to an amazing number of names familiar to those who work with astronomy, telescopes, etc. Here are some of the most important telescope contributors from the 17th century: Mersenne, Cassini, Schreck, Scheiner, Cassegrain and many others. Many of those names ought to ring a bell, as their work is still used today. All of these were Church priests. Why is that not widely known today? I sure didn’t know that. Perhaps such facts don’t fit the meme?)

  54. MrPete said

    Re: Pat Frank (Jan 9 22:48),
    Yes, speaking dogmatically on factual issues that are not completely understood brings trouble. Not only for the religious but also the scientific.

    Even Copernicus and Galileo had it wrong in many ways — e.g. circular orbits and stationary Sun. Those who jumped too quickly on his bandwagon couldn’t see that Kepler was closer to the truth.

    Humility is always a good thing. Both in science and in religion. :-D

    My sense from all this: we seem in danger of creating a new “church of Science” that’s far more arrogant and dogmatic than the Catholic Church was back then.

  55. Richard said

    Mersenne, Cassini, Schreck, Scheiner, Cassegrain and many others. Many of those names ought to ring a bell, as their work is still used today. All of these were Church priests. Why is that not widely known today? I sure didn’t know that. Perhaps such facts don’t fit the meme?)

    No facts dont fit your claims. Cassini was an astronomer, he wasnt a Church priest.

    In fact according to Wikipedia “The Pope asked Cassini to take Holy Orders to work with him permanently but Cassini turned him down because he wanted to work on astronomy full time.”

  56. Richard said

    MrPete you seem to be bent on trying to pull down Galileo, who was fallible like all humans, perhaps as punishment for defying the Church.

    You might do well to study his many achievements. Including being the father of the scientific method and experiment.

  57. Layman Lurker said

    There seem to be a lot of conflicting interpretations of Galileo’s relationship with the church ranging from sympathy to herasy. How monolithic was the Catholic church in Galileo’s time? Could it be that Galileo and his ideas could be used to challenge or consolidate power within political factions of the church?

  58. Richard said

    Layman Lurker The Church was a huge organisation, already split at the seams with the reformation. Even within the Catholics there were many divisions, as one could expect in a huge unweildy organisation. As Pat Frank has pointed out, Galileo had many supporters within the Church, who helped to mitigate his sentence. Scheiner, who MrPete has quoted as a Church scientist to rival Galileo, argued against him about sunspots. Scheiner tried to prove that the Sun was perfect, thus could not contain any spots, and the spots were actually shadows of objects passing in front of it. Galileo said the sunspots were on the Sun itself and Scheiner was soundly defeated in the debate. Scheiner felt slighted by Galileo and probably was partly instrumental in his prosecution. Till the end of his days he worked on refuting the Copernican theory.

  59. Pat Frank said

    Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for teaching that Earth moved, Pete. That was an object lesson for all at a time when the Inquisition, witch trials, and Autos de Fe were in full flower in Europe.

    I can’t see evidence of any “church of Science,” except perhaps in a kind of facsimile for the naive in the dogmatic prelates of AGW, whose obscurantist/obstructionist behavior is as opposed to actual science as anything I can imagine.

    I agree with you, though :-), that personal humility in the face of our ignorance is the first order of business in all things.

  60. Tom Forrester-Paton said

    Confused, are you not making the classic mistake made by warmistas (and many sceptics who should know better) – that of conflating two separate arguments:

    1. Refutation, on the basis of observation, of the prevailing geo-centric celestial model;

    2. His attempts, and those of others, to propose countertheories.
    No. 1 above can surely be achieved without success on no2?

    By the same token, no amount of criticism of his success in no2 can impair Galileo’s success in No1. History rightly judges that no.1 was an indispensible precursor to the eventual achievement of No2, and gives Galileo due credit. Your own admirable grasp of the details of Galileo’s trial/s seems to conceal this from you. Furthermore, in proposing a heliocentric model, Galileo was following Occam, in that he saw that a heliocentric model promised a SIMPLER account of all the known facts than the one favoured by the Church. You seem to dismiss this insight on the grounds that it was left to others to devise the experiments necessary to test it – aren’t you being a bit harsh? Galileo’s example is a valuable one, and you do science, if not history, a disservice if you depreciate it in this way.

  61. Layman Lurker said

    #58 Richard

    I take then that you feel it is at least plausible, that the apparent contradictions and double speak of the church would be better explained by political divisions, rather than competing versions of history?

  62. Stergeye said

    Comparing Pachauri and Moon to cheap whores would be an insult to the whores. Comparing them to St Robert Bellarmine and Popes Clement VII and Paul V is a gross and unfair insult to three very good men.
    Both Popes were patrons of the arts and sciences, including the work of Galileo. His trial was not for his scientific findings, but for his clumsy and arrogant attempts to interpret scripture. His punishment was slight: House arrest in a very nice villa where he could recieve visitors and continue his writing.
    The late 16th Century was not the “Dark Ages”, Dr Bhat, and to accuse the Catholic Church of suppressing science is to falsely accuse the institution which enabled science to develop beyond the musty cellars of the alchemists.

  63. Richard said

    Layman Lurker said I take then that you feel it is at least plausible, that the apparent contradictions and double speak of the church would be better explained by political divisions, rather than competing versions of history?

    There is an over-riding truth in history. In this case it is quite clear. There are no “apparent contradictions or double speak of the church”. The official position of the Church was quite clear. The Earth was the centre of the Universe. The sun stars and planets revolved around it. You only contradicted that on pain of a very unpleasant death.

    Most of the educated class were the priests and nobles. Thus it would not be surprising if some of the priests privately believed otherwise or started to have doubts after hearing Copernicus’s and Galileo’s arguments. Many supported Galileo. The lie is to try and distort history. Like Mann re-writing the proxy records.

    It is a lie that the church supported Copernicus’s works. Copernicus knew he was in danger if he published his book. He was only persuaded to do so near his death by his protestant disciple. Then too, to be safe, he dedicated it to the Pope, who was flattered. More so because be couldnt have understood what was written. When it was known his teachings were actively supressed by the Church.

    Tom Forrester-Paton has made an excellent point. And look how similar it is to todays warmist’s arguments.

    The case for Global Warming is in tatters with assault on its claims and arguments from all sides. But the warmist turns around and says you dont have an alternative theory that is 100% convincing. So our theory must be true.

  64. Tom Forrester-Paton said

    Thanks, Richard, and of course the analogy with “warmism” is what I had in mind.
    I constantly find warmistas promoting, and sceptics succumbing to, the idea that it is the job of sceptics to present counter-theories to their own. It is not. What matters is whether AGW survives proper scrutiny, not whether those scrutinising it can do any better. It is up to the proponents of AGW to present their theories in the form of falsifiable argument. The Climategate emails and code reveal the excruciating efforts of the high priesthood of AGW to do just that, their continuing failure, and the lengths to which they went or were prepared to go to conceal their work, with all its inadequacies, from proper peer review.

    Arguments between warmistas and sceptics might not be less acrimonious if we all remembered this, but they would at least be shorter! Actually, nothing, but nothing, enrages a warmista more than a sceptic refusing to parry countertheory. Try it – we sceptics don’t have nearly enough fun in our lives.

  65. Leo G said

    and we think that we may be able to solve this riddle we call climate? We can’t even predict where a simple blog will go!

    Good sight Jeff. Full of info on ALL things!
    :)

  66. Geoff Sherrington said

    Not merely sea level change is important. Try this animated gif.

    The red dot marks the subsolar point (the location on Earth where the Sun is directly overhead) at noon Eastern Standard Time throughout the year. Equinoxes occur when the subsolar point crosses the equator, once in March (the Vernal Equinox) and again in September (the Autumnal Equinox). The subsolar latitude moves around during the year because the Earth’s spin axis is tilted 23.5 degrees. If there were no tilt, we would have no appreciable seasons. This animation is based on images generated by by JPL’s Solar System Simulator. Note that the dot moves in a manner resembling a figure 8, over a large lateral distance.

    Taken from site

    One question deserves another, this time straying to the ozone hole. Geodesy/trigonometry to start with. How far above each pole it there continual sunlight, even though the ground below might be dark? How does this height compare with the height where oxone reactions are said to be important? How does one gain a seasonality in the ozone geometry if the region is forever illuminated?

    Question: What significance does this have for Time of Observation adjustments, TOBS?

  67. Geoff Sherrington said

    Not merely sea level change is important.

    The red dot marks the subsolar point (the location on Earth where the Sun is directly overhead) at noon Eastern Standard Time throughout the year. Equinoxes occur when the subsolar point crosses the equator, once in March (the Vernal Equinox) and again in September (the Autumnal Equinox). The subsolar latitude moves around during the year because the Earth’s spin axis is tilted 23.5 degrees. If there were no tilt, we would have no appreciable seasons. This animation is based on images generated by by JPL’s Solar System Simulator. Note that the dot moves in a manner resembling a figure 8, over a large lateral distance.

    Taken from site

    One question deserves another, this time straying to the ozone hole. Geodesy/trigonometry to start with. How far above each pole it there continual sunlight, even though the ground below might be dark? How does this height compare with the height where oxone reactions are said to be important? How does one gain a seasonality in the ozone geometry if the region is forever illuminated?

    Question: What significance does this have for Time of Observation adjustments, TOBS?

  68. vjones said

    Good points made. Much detail is lost with time and accounts today do not and cannot report every nuance of such cases. The old adage of “History is written by the victor” doees not apply here, yet what has come down to us and how it is interpreted is still ‘framed’ by the longer term consequences and outcomes, not to mention the opinions of the writer (and level of knowlegde/research done).

    What details of the current climate debate will survive a fifty years? four hundred years?

  69. Geoff Sherrington said

    Sorry, I fluffed the use of the hyperlink, twice. The point was to show irreverently that the sun moves around the earth in a complicated way, because of axial tilt and nutation. The reconstruction a century back is not the same as that shown here.

    Just click on the text above to get the .gif link. The overall site is
    http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/ast23sep99_1.htm

    Apologies Geoff.

  70. Confused said

    #58 Tom

    I don’t think I am conflating the two things. Rather I think the two things are in close operation in this instance, though obviously not necessarily in all possible instances.

    You are correct, of course that success in 1) was a necessary precursor to success in 2) but the history doesn’t show such a convenient flow. He was an avowed Copernican before he had observational proof of the phases of Venus. As I understand it his Copernicanism was in large part due to his appreciation of elegance of the maths – thus Occam’s Razor as you say. So while he was correct in terms of 1) he wasn’t demonstrably correct until he was, if you take my meaning. Yes, there were a range of political, philosophical and theological obstacles to the acceptance of his refutational evidence.

    My point about 2) is that we should not be surprised that his heliocentrism was not more widely embraced at the time for the simple fact that, excluding other (theological etc) factors, he couldn’t and didn’t prove it. His ideas and evidence were suggestive but not overwhelmingly convincing. Should we really expect the scientists then to drop the prevailing theory in favour of a different unproven (by the standards of the time) theory? They may have begun to question geocentrism’s validity (as per your 1), but acceptance of 2 was still some way off. I have no doubt that privately many astronomers did agree with his findings though.

    I’m don’t misunderestimate his achievements at all. I’m not trying to undermine anything other than what I see as a simplistic rendering of the history.

    In respect of the modern debate I am somewhat in agreement with you, but only somewhat. Sceptics should be clear in distinguishing between 1 and 2, because, in my view, while it is one thing to say AGW is unproven or even disproven because the facts don’t stack up or the methodology is wrong (your 1). It is quite another to say that AGW is wrong because X is happening instead (your 2). The first is a simple refutation and requires no proof in support of a positive claim. The second certainly requires proof in support of claim X, which is a competing hypothesis.

    In other words it is one thing to say there is no evidence of warming in the last decade, and it is another thing to say it has not warmed in the last decade it has cooled instead. The second obviously requires evidence of cooling. Warmists therefore can have no appeal to counter evidence in the first case but can in the second.

    I think.

  71. Confused said

    Sorry I should have said ‘demand for’ counter evidence, ‘not appeal’ to.

  72. Wansbeck said

    #67 Geoff Sherrington asks:

    “What significance does this have for Time of Observation adjustments, TOBS?”

    The longitudinal movement is due to the elliptic nature of the Earth’s orbit.
    Over the course of a year the local solar noon varies from the EST (or GMT etc.) mean noon by about +/-15 min.
    The exact difference is given by the ‘equation of time’.

    I doubt if this has any great effect on anomaly measurement.

  73. MrPete said

    Arrrgh. Wrote a substantial response and lost it :(

    Well, here’s the reader’s digest version:

    Sorry about the typo on Cassini et al: Jesuit, not priests. Still under catholic church, doesn’t affect my point.

    Pat’s version of Bruno disagrees with his own university’s material. Bruno riled people up even more than Galileo, apparently even the staff of Oxford University. (See also here.)

    Hypothesis: if the church was really so overbearingly opposed to heliocentrism, I would expect astronomical and telescopic advances to have been unsupported by the church, hidden from the church’s gaze, with little involvement from church folk.
    Observation: that’s not what we see. Any comprehensive timeline (this one is cool! Click on elements, drag it around… :) ) shows heavy catholic involvement throughout, including simultaneous with Galileo’s sentence. Further reading (see notes previous in this thread) shows open (NOT hidden) discourse, testing, confirming, support in both word and finances, of heliocentric science. Richard’s perspective of a few secretive Jesuits being involved is obviously untrue. Even Galileo was celebrated by the church only a few years before he got in trouble. Contrast the church’s treatment of Galileo and Kepler to gain perspective.

    Obviously, Galileo made some great advances (although not as much as many today believe… he didn’t propose heliocentrism as someone here suggested, and even with his groundbreaking observations he didn’t have as good an understanding as Kepler, who had already published, with the help of the church, ahead of Galileo.) LOTS of people made great advances back then. It was an exciting time.

    Why do we find it so easy to uphold some while ignoring the contributions of others?

    Back then, obviously politics of a sort, and definitely non-scientific issues/disagreements, colored the context. And the same thing is happening today with politics and other forms of advocacy muddying the scientific waters.

    I think it’s helpful to appreciate that even “church” people can do good science, and that “science” people can fall into “believisms” like the church. That was true back then, and it’s true today.

  74. Confused said

    Hmm, I reckon I’m conflating hypothesis and evidence in some way in the last bit of #70.

  75. Kondealer said

    Don’t you just love this?

    http://www.timesonli…icle6982310.ece

    Or heres the latest comment form the Met Office:

    “In fact, the Met still asserts we are in the midst of an unusually warm winter — as one of its staffers sniffily protested in an internet posting to a newspaper last week: “This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”

    Great. I’m felling warmer already……

  76. Kenneth Fritsch said

    At the end, Galileo did have his Jesuit supporters. But he really ran afoul of the Church for failing to hew the dogmatic line that his theory of Earth’s double motion (around its axis and around the sun) was for explanatory purposes only, and that the motions were not physically real.

    Does not Pat Frank @ #51, with this comment above, get to the crux of the issue of why some can say that the Church had no major qualms with some scientist’s writings, i.e. explanatory versus real?

    By the way, I like the content and tone of this discussion.

  77. MrPete said

    Re: Kenneth Fritsch (Jan 10 13:03), I find it hard to connect this “not physically real” idea with the fact that Church-sponsored scientists were physically checking, observing and confirming observations, and making still more of their own. Are we to believe that they somehow thought that their eyes were being fooled? They were no more stupid than we are.
    Were Scheiner’s observations of sunspots with his innovative helioscope simply “explanatory”? That seems a bit far-fetched.

  78. Richard said

    MrPete said Hypothesis: if the church was really so overbearingly opposed to heliocentrism, I would expect astronomical and telescopic advances to have been unsupported by the church, hidden from the church’s gaze, with little involvement from church folk…Richard’s perspective of a few secretive Jesuits being involved is obviously untrue. Even Galileo was celebrated by the church only a few years before he got in trouble. Contrast the church’s treatment of Galileo and Kepler to gain perspective.

    The celebration of Galileo fell foul when he insisted on the Heliocentric version of the solar system. This is very plain in the evidence. He was tried for just this heresy.

    And he held these views because of the preponderousness of the evidence. He was right. That some of his evidence was wrong, like the cause of the tides, siezed upon by the Church much later, to say that he was not justified for holding such a view and somehow justify his trial, is simply untenable.

    That he was tried for anything else is extremely convoluted reasoning and much better fits with the Church’s subsequent attempt to justify his trial.

    The argument that some Church people were involved in astronomy as proof that the Church held any position other than the Geocentric one is ludicrous. That was the the position the Church held, as plainly stated, and for ideological reasons, which held precedence over science. So yes this was very much a Science vs Religion thing.

    Remember this was the period of the Renaissance. The printing press led to, among other things, the Reformation. The Bible, which was till then the domain of the priests, (in fact banned from the laymen), suddenly became available to the general public and hey – the message didnt stack up to the official version.

    (Take today’s version of the Internet and the secracy of the temperature proxy data.)

    Telescopes – it was also the flowering of technology. The modern equivalent of cell phones and computers. Of course the clergy had to have them. But what they revealed was not the official version of the Universe.

    And again, trying to argue that Bruno got burnt at the stake because it was his own fault. Pathetic. Yes his fault because he flouted the laws of the land. And maybe he was an abrasive character, but was the law that you kowtow to believing the Geocentric version or be burnt, justifiable?

  79. Richard said

    MrPete said January 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm
    Re: Kenneth Fritsch (Jan 10 13:03), I find it hard to connect this “not physically real” idea with the fact that Church-sponsored scientists were physically checking, observing and confirming observations, and making still more of their own. Are we to believe that they somehow thought that their eyes were being fooled? They were no more stupid than we are.
    Were Scheiner’s observations of sunspots with his innovative helioscope simply “explanatory”? That seems a bit far-fetched.

    Not hard to believe at all. They were trying to fit in the evidence to their beliefs, rather than modify their beliefs according to the evidence. This is an eternal conflict. And this is where Galileo’s and Kepler’s greatness comes in. The first true scientists. Kepler abandoned his most dearly held belief, the perfection of the circle for imperfect ellipses in the face of evidence, and Galileo simply followed the evidence over dogma.

    As for Scheiner, he chose to believe for ideological reasons that the Sun was perfect and hence sunspots were objects external to the sun. He was trounced soundly in this debate with Galileo. And Scheiner spent all his life trying to disprove the Heliocentric model. Trying to fit in the evidence to his beliefs.

  80. Pat Frank said

    #70 — Confused, when Galileo announced observing the phases of Venus, Tycho Brahe, possibly the leading astronomer of the day, attempted to save the Geocentric model by proposing a solar system with all the planets except Earth rotating about the sun. He put a stationary Earth at the center of the whole thing, circled by the sun and with all the other planets in tow.

    This was clearly a kludge, made to preserve the core model of a stable Earth, and Galileo knew it was nonsense. After the phases of Venus were observed there just was no other credible theory of the solar system except a heliocentric one, and the Jupiter system was a perfect miniature model for it.

    The fact that the circular orbits of Copernicus didn’t quite cut it in no way jeopardized the preference for heliocentrism. It’s important to realize that Galileo was the first scientist, since the Greco-Roman times, to consciously put observation and demonstration at the center of his hypothesis-making. It was this emphasis on empiricism that got Galileo in trouble with the academics of his day, who were almost uniformly wedded to philosophical explanations based in essences and innate tendencies. The latter allowed of doubtless sureties; sureties that the Church needed for dogmatic purity.

    Galileo opened the way to doubt and revision, his telescopic observances were empirical and without a sure theoretical foundation, and so he ran directly into opposition from people committed to an extreme and complete rational rigor. Their problem, of course, was their dependence on and commitment to axiomatic principles. To accept Galileo was to give them up, along with their careers. This is a disaster to an academic and to the Church, even more so committed, it was a mortal wound. Hence the unfailing hostility on almost all sides.

    #73 — Pete, the Church had Galileo’s works on its Index of Condemned Books through 1835, well into the modern period. They were condemned specifically for asserting the double motion of Earth. And Copernicus’ work was condemned right there along with Galileo’s. There isn’t any doubt about the hostility, and it was as much exhibited by the Protestant Churches as by the Catholic.

    It’s true, as you suggest, that Giordano Bruno was executed for more than just his heliocentric teaching. But the Stanford essay is wrong to exclude that reason entirely. G. Bruno taught all sorts of hermetic philosophies in opposition to Church teaching. He was branded a heretic, and burned on that charge, but heliocentrism was definitely a recognized part of his heresy.

    One might observe, in retrospect, that Bruno was burned for his commitment to freedom of thought. And really, at its base, it is against freedom of thought and of conscience that all of the religious persecutions were directed. Galileo’s theory was just the manifestation of free thought in a scientific context. It’s necessary to see his persecution in the larger historical context of a general hostility of religious dogmatism, directed against personal freedom. When the dogmatics have political power, tyranny and persecution follow inevitably.

  81. Pat Frank said

    #77 Pete — It’s really hard to put oneself into the mental states of past people, and see the world as they saw it. One way to see their attitude, is to realize they saw god’s hand everywhere. This is to imbue the universe with a kind of dichotomy between the way it was, and the way they, as limited beings, saw it. There was no difficulty in rationalizing a difference between what is and what seems, if what is, is governed by a supernatural power.

    So, given the supernatural hand of god, one can have a god-produced Geocentric solar system, with a human-produced heliocentric model, all the while knowing that the model just allows we limited humans to interpret what we see in the most simplified way.

    All things are allowed to god’s power, including to make rational what seems contradictory. One merely argues that what seems contradictory or impossible to we humans is due to our natural limitations. All such problems disappear for god, because his creation is clear and logical in the complete and supernatural understanding of his own eyes. The philosophical difficulty stops right there.

    Really, one can still argue the same way today, if one wanted. It only requires one to accept (and protect) the kind of axiomatic supernaturalism that seemed so obvious 250 years ago.

    The problem we moderns have, is that the scientific method has become imbued within us. It’s almost the default mentality in anyone exposed from childhood to Enlightenment ideas (which now pervade our culture). We’ve become very pragmatic in our thinking, and we know that empirically based thinking is the only route to safety in a capricious world. And so we deny ourselves the philosophical comforts indulged by our predecessors. Personally, I think that’s admirable.

    And really, isn’t it this kind of thinking — empirically based — that leads to skepticism about AGW? And at the same time isn’t it open empirical thinking that is being subverted by the climate lysenkoists with their obscurantism, insistent deployment of false precision, and obstructionism?

  82. Pat Frank said

    Let me add that when G. Bruno was burned, his tongue was ordered tied so that he couldn’t speak to defend himself while in the flames. More evidence than that, of hostility to free thought and its expression, we don’t need.

    It pangs me some to know that he died in ignorance of his eventual triumph.

  83. Wansbeck said

    #80 Pat Frank:
    “ …. the Church had Galileo’s works on its Index of Condemned Books through 1835, well into the modern period. They were condemned specifically for asserting the double motion of Earth. And Copernicus’ work was condemned right there along with Galileo’s. There isn’t any doubt about the hostility, and it was as much exhibited by the Protestant Churches as by the Catholic. ….”

    Laws lie on the shelves forgotten for years. In 1647 just 5 years after Galileo’s death Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas along with Christmas Pudding and much else enjoyable.
    The Christmas ban was repealed but as far as I know pudding scoffing is still a no-no.

    Also the Church was still smarting from the scorn heaped upon it for its introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582. It was not just the Catholic church but almost the entire population of the planet who believed the Earth to be the centre of the Universe.

    The Church itself would have been the target of hostility that would have made the abuse over calendar reform seem insignificant if it had stated that the Earth revolved around the Sun yet it was prepared to do this if proof was shown.

  84. Richard said

    Wansbeck said January 10, 2010 at 5:52 pm
    #80 Pat Frank:
    “ …. the Church had Galileo’s works on its Index of Condemned Books through 1835, well into the modern period. They were condemned specifically for asserting the double motion of Earth. And Copernicus’ work was condemned right there along with Galileo’s. There isn’t any doubt about the hostility, and it was as much exhibited by the Protestant Churches as by the Catholic. ….”

    Laws lie on the shelves forgotten for years. ..

    The Church did “remember” it eventually. Just took a few centuries. And it was clearly “remembered” during Galileo’s trial.

    Also the Church was still smarting from the scorn heaped upon it for its introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582. It was not just the Catholic church but almost the entire population of the planet who believed the Earth to be the centre of the Universe.

    The Church itself would have been the target of hostility that would have made the abuse over calendar reform seem insignificant if it had stated that the Earth revolved around the Sun yet it was prepared to do this if proof was shown.

    So what you are saying is:

    1. It did not agree to accept that the Earth revolved around the Sun because it would be laughed to scorn?

    Question: if that were the case, why did it persecute people who argued it did. All they had to do is let the people laugh them to scorn

    2. Although they would have been laughed to scorn, for accepting such a ridiculous idea as the Earth revolving around the Sun, they were prepared to be laughed to scorn. All they demanded was proof.

    Question: When presented with evidence, which was indeed compelling, why did they react to this, (in their view, imperfect proof), whose conclusions they were in fact, according to you and Confused and MrPete, very sympatheic to, by burning, or threatening to, burn them to death?

    Were they such sticklers for exact proof that anything less demanded a death sentence?

  85. MrPete said

    Certainly the Church was hostile to freedom of theological thought and expression. No doubt of that. And for the purpose of the modern AGW argument, that’s perhaps a sufficient argument.

    It is very difficult for us today to separate the stake-burning hostility of the 17th century church to any theological deviation, vs their willingness to explore many avenues of scientific thought. Yet there is plenty of evidence for this understanding if one is willing to look with open eyes.

    Pat, it doesn’t take much to falsify the idea that the Church was uniformly and vehemently opposed to heliocentrism. Their support for Kepler is sufficient to accomplish that. The plethora of Jesuits who worked on very practical demonstrations of earth rotation (e.g. sunspots etc) add to the evidence.

    Perhaps Pat and I must agree to disagree. I side with the vast majority of historians who disagree with Pat on Bruno. Pat says “Giordano Bruno was executed for more than just his heliocentric teaching” while others say (my Stanford/Plato link above):

    Pope Clement VII (r. 1523-1534) had reacted favorably to a talk about Copernicus’s theories, rewarding the speaker with a rare manuscript. There is no indication of how Pope Paul III, to whom On the Revolutions was dedicated reacted; however, a trusted advisor, Bartolomeo Spina of Pisa (1474-1546) intended to condemn it but fell ill and died before his plan was carried out. Thus, in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology. [emphasis mine]

    An interesting additional quote from Cardinal Bellarmine provide a more nuanced understanding of what leaders believed back then:

    “While experience tells us plainly that the earth is standing still, if there were a real proof that the sun is in the center of the universe…and that the sun goes not go round the earth but the earth round the sun, then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of scripture which appear to teach the contrary, and rather admit that we did not understand them than declare an opinion to be false which is proved to be true. But this is not a thing to be done in haste, and as for myself, I shall not believe that there are such proofs until they are shown to me.”

    This is hardly the statement of an unthinking person. In fact, it sounds like the essence of proper scientific skepticism. Galileo’s problem: he had no such proof. One of his major “proofs” was actually wrong (he thought tides were due to the earth’s motion.) Galileo was funded by the church. He was never tortured or abused. He was a celebrity even during his trial. His house arrest was as mild an “imprisonment” as you could find. I’m sorry Pat but your meme that Galileo was persecuted by the church for his science just doesn’t wash. Galileo was too strident and didn’t have proof. In fact, the full proof didn’t arrive until gravity was understood.

  86. Geoff Sherrington said

    72.Wansbeck said
    January 10, 2010 at 8:57 am

    You estimated +/- 15 minutes difference over a year for the sub-solar point. But its magnitude varies with latitude. Off the west coast of Sth America, just eyeballing it, the difference from east to west looks more like an hour. Could this be so? Or is your equation already for ther max separation?

    Thanks for your answer. Geoff.

  87. Wansbeck said

    #86, Geoff Sherrington

    It does vary with latitude since this varies with the time of year. The exact figures are +16m33s and -14m6s.

    This may help:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equation_of_time

  88. Wansbeck said

    #84 Richard:

    ‘The Church did “remember” it eventually. Just took a few centuries.’

    Few is an exaggeration but I take your point.
    As I mentioned in my post, Cromwell’s ‘anti pudding scoffing decree’ is still on the books not two centuries but over three centuries later.

    “Question: if that were the case, why did it persecute people who argued it did. All they had to do is let the people laugh them to scorn”

    Copernicus himself was afraid to publish not through fear of the Church but fear of scorn from fellow astronomers.

    “Question: When presented with evidence, which was indeed compelling, why did they react to this, (in their view, imperfect proof), whose conclusions they were in fact, according to you and Confused and MrPete, very sympatheic to, by burning, or threatening to, burn them to death?”

    At the time there were very good scientific arguments against Galileo. The Church was prepared to go out on a limb if the proof of correctness was put before it. There were no threats to people putting forward scientific arguments. (alright I will concede that there are always some zealots)

    As for burning at the stake, harsh as it may seem by today’s standards, at the time people suffered far, far, worse punishments for criticizing monarchs and in England were regularly mutilated, maimed or murdered for taking game to feed their families.

  89. Pat Frank said

    Pete, it’s true that Bruno was burned for heresy, and not specifically his Copernican teachings. But given Copernicus’ presence on the Index for another 250 years, that teaching Copernicus would have been heretical is beyond dispute. There can be no doubt but that teaching Copernicus would have been viewed as part and parcel of Bruno’s heresy.

    As it turns out, the record on Bruno is missing. So to claim that Bruno’s burning had “nothing” to do with his Copernican views is claiming more than is known.

    There weren’t any good scientific arguments against Galileo. There were only philosophical arguments. The major argument, used to good effect at the time, was that his celestial observations disappeared when the telescope was removed; including the sun spots. Therefore, there was no way to know that the spots and Jupiter’s moons were not just imperfections in his device. This argument would hold no water today, but back then it suited the mentality of the times.

    One can also observe that exculpating the Church on the grounds that others behaved as badly does not compliment a belief in the Church as a repository for supernatural wisdom.

  90. Tom C said

    For an understanding of how some of the protagonists could think that the heliocentric model was “not physically real” I recommend the book “Saving the Appearances” by Owen Barfield. To put it crudely, it was unclear at that time, and for quite some time afterward, that mathematics, which seemed a purely mental activity, actually had a correspondence to the real world. That it helped explain or predict phenomena was apparent but was not proof of the correspondence. This was the philosophical backdrop to the controversy that we moderns have a hard time imagining.

    Pat and Richard, the sentences against Bruno and Galileo were appalling and can not be excused. But they are not reasons for presenting cartoon versions of history and for heaping on added condemnations that are not supported by the facts.

  91. Richard said

    “cartoon versions of history”? His Sentence speaks for itself:

    We say, pronounce, sentence, and declare that you, the said Galileo, by reason of the matters adduced in trial, and by you confessed as above, have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Holy Office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of having believed and held the doctrine—which is false and contrary to the sacred and divine Scriptures—that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west and that the Earth moves and is not the center of the world; and that an opinion may be held and defended as probably after it has been declared and defined to be contrary to the Holy Scripture; and that consequently you have incurred all the censures and penalties imposed and promulgated in the sacred canons and other constitutions, general and particular, against such delinquents. From which we are content that you be absolved, provided that, first, with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, you abjure, curse, and detest before use the aforesaid errors and heresies and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church in the form to be prescribed by us for you.

    And in order that this your grave and pernicious error and transgression may not remain altogether unpunished and that you may be more cautious in the future and an example to others that they may abstain from similar delinquencies, we ordain that the book of the “Dialogues of Galileo Galilei” be prohibited by public edict.

    February 1616 – A committee of advisors to the Inquisition declares that holding the view that the Sun is the center of the universe or the earth moves is absurd and formally heretical.
    February 26, 1616 – Cardinal Bellarmine warns Galileo not to hold, teach, or defend Copernican theory. According to an unsigned transcript found in the Inquisition file in 1633, Galileo is also enjoined from discussing his theory, either orally or in writing.
    February 1632 – Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is printed.
    Summer 1632 – Distribution of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is stopped by Pope Urban VIII. The Pope authorizes a special commission to examine the book.
    September 1632 – Based on the special commission’s report, the Pope refers Galileo’s case to the Roman Inquisition.
    October 1632 – Galileo receives a summons to appear before the Inquisition. Galileo asks that his trial be moved to Florence
    November 1632 – Galileo’s request to have his trial transferred to Florence is refused.
    December 1632 – Three physicians declare that Galileo is too ill to travel to Rome. The Inquistion rejects the physician’s statement and declares that if Galileo does not travel to Rome voluntarily he will be arrested and taken in chains.
    February 1633 – Galileo arrives in Rome. He is allowed to stay at the home of the Tuscan ambassador, but is forbidden to have social contacts.
    April 1633 – Galileo is interrogated before the Inquisition. For over two weeks he is imprisoned in an apartment in the Inquisition building. Galileo agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence. He declares that the Copernican case was made too strongly in his book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, and offers to refute it in another book.
    June 22, 1633 – Galileo is sentenced to prison for an indefinite term. Seven of ten cardinals presiding at his trial sign the sentencing order. Galileo signs a formal recantation. Galileo is allowed to serve his term under house-arrest in the home of the archbishop of Siena.
    December 1633 – Galileo is allowed to return to his villa in Florence, where he lives under house-arrest.
    April 1634 – Galileo’s daughter, Maria Celeste, dies.
    January 1638 – Galileo now totally blind petitions the Inquisition to be freed, but his petition is denied.
    January 8, 1641 – Galileo dies in Arcetri.
    1820 – Papal Inquisition abolished..
    September 11, 1822 – College of Cardinals announces that “the printing and publication of works treating of the motion of the earth and the stability of the sun, in accordance with the opinion of modern astronomers, is permitted.” Two weeks later, Pope Pius VII ratifies the Cardinals’ decree.
    1835 – Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is taken off the Vatican’s list of banned books.
    1992 – Catholic Church formally admits that Galileo’s views on the solar system are correct.

  92. Pat Frank said

    #91 — Thanks for the definitive historical sequence, Richard. :-)

    #90 — Tom C, if you could specify the claims unsupported by historical facts. Please also note that “condemnation” in both my posts and Richard’s referred to the Inquisition’s verdict of Galileo’s work, and was never levied against the Church itself. Please restrain your adjectives to actual text.

  93. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Whatever side one comes down on in this discussion, I would think we would all agree that the incident makes clear the necessity of the separation of religion and state. How about separation of science and state?

  94. Layman Lurker said

    David Stockwell has a post up this morning citing an article in the Australian:

    http://landshape.org/enm/ramstorf-reamed/

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/sea-level-theory-cuts-no-ice/story-e6frg6so-1225817853987

    Stockwell’s frustrations with Rahmstorf come gushing out in the post, calling him the “Clown of Climate Science” and castigating Penny Wong and the Australian gov’t as “suckers for this charlatan offering the scientific reliability of an astrologer”.

  95. MrPete said

    Re: Richard (Jan 10 22:41),
    Richard’s timeline neglects a huge amount of context, such as:
    * How Galileo was treated before it all blew up
    * How others, such as Kepler, were treated

    Obviously, by 1632 Galileo had burned a lot of bridges with respect to his friends, sponsors, etc.

    If you look at this timeline, you get the idea that they “had it in” for him from the get-go.

    As others have noted, that’s a rather biased perspective. I refer you to the Bellarmine quote already noted above.

    And Pat , claim “there were no scientific arguments against Galileo” all you like, but the facts disagree. Galileo did not falsify any of Aristotle’s three claims from 1500+ years before already noted above. Those three assertions held for quite a while longer, even though there was a growing body of evidence that Aristotle was somehow wrong.

    It’s very hard today for us to place ourselves in the context of an earlier time, when people were struggling to understand new evidence that was beginning to indicate that long-held views were incorrect.

    1500+ years of geocentrism, held by the scientists of the day, was not something to be lightly tossed aside. Bellarmine’s cautionary statement was entirely reasonable in context. Galileo was too rash to work his way through.

    In a sense, one could view the church back then as part of the peer-review process of the time. They sponsored much of the work being done, and provided “editorial control.” Sure, the basis of their caution was incorrect. But then, today’s events show that current peer review isn’t much better.

    I look forward to the further development, refinement and multiplication of Open Science processes in the years to come.

    I think we’ll ultimately see this next stage as just as much an improvement over current peer review, as today’s peer review has been an improvement over church-defined scientific consensus was back then.

    [Please don't reply by comparing today's science with theology back then. One must distinguish, as Bellarmine did back then, their theological views from their scientific views. It's a waste of time to continue down that path.]

  96. MrPete said

    BTW, Pat you say there were no good “scientific” arguments, only “philosophical” arguments. That’s a red herring and you know it (I hope!)

    Back then, science and philosophy were one and the same.

    It was Bacon who took science to a new level, introducing inductive empirical aspects. Galileo was an empiricist of course, but that was not the accepted method of the time.

    And just because Bacon worked it out and promoted it doesn’t mean his ideas quickly spread.

    Today, a new idea or technology can go viral in a matter of days or months. Only a few decades ago, new communication/connecting methods took years or even decades to spread. Before the 1850′s, there were no connecting/communication technologies that enabled even semi-rapid dissemination. Printed books were cutting edge technology, only available to the privileged few. (I’ve studied this intensely and can provide a graph showing the spread of connecting/communicating technologies over the centuries…seems OT to go into such depth here.)

    That’s part of the context that ought to give us more grace and humility in considering what happened back then.

  97. Tom C said

    Pat and Richard -

    I actually was not accusing either of you making ahistorical statements. The cartoon version, however, which is widely accepted, is that the controversy was one of “scientists” against “theologians”. The real story is much more complex and finds persons on various sides of the debate for various reasons. There was also an overlay of vindicative and cynical politics that skews interpretation centuries later. Again, I (and I would guess Mr. Pete also) am not condoning what occurred, just asking for a more comprehensive account.

  98. Geoff Sherrington said

    Kenneth Fritsch said
    January 11, 2010 at 10:05 am

    You wrote – “Whatever side one comes down on in this discussion, I would think we would all agree that the incident makes clear the necessity of the separation of religion and state. How about separation of science and state?”

    I’d be happy to start with the separation of religion and State. The link between science and State would improve.

    In looking for the Mr Bigs behind these periodic population scares like Club of Rome, ani-chemical, anti-nuclear, global warming, etc there is sometimes a hint of a religious zeal assisting the State. Does anyone have evidence for links between e.g. Scientology and science funding? In my book, the former does not even qualify for the generous concessions like taxation afforded to a “religion”.

    Religion’s foundation books are not even peer-reviewed.

  99. [...] Our Galileo, Will we do better this time? Guest post from Dr. Ismail Bhat, Professor & Head of Department of Geology & Geophysics at University of Kashmir. Dr. [...] [...]

  100. Richard said

    MrPete said January 11, 2010 at 1:47 pm Richard’s timeline neglects a huge amount of context, such as:
    * How Galileo was treated before it all blew up
    * How others, such as Kepler, were treated

    How is it relevant to the clear facts outlined in the timeline? The over-riding fact was the Heliocentric system was adopted by the Church, and the Geocentric system declared heretical, for religious reasons alone.

    Heresy is the rejection of any article of FAITH by a baptized member of the church. Faith is belief, blind, unquestioning, because someone says so. It is paramount over any evidence. This was religion vs science at its very worst. How the hell can anyone defend it?

    To say that that the church rejected Heliocentricity because of scientific reasons is pure balderdash. The reasons of Aristotle, were picked over the compelling evidence of Galileo purely because they agreed with their BELIEF, their FAITH, not because it agreed with the evidence.

    Bellarmine, who you defend so strongly, framed the decision by which, in 1600, Giordano Bruno, was put to death by fire at the stake. He was probably instrumental in the Gun powder plot to blow up the British Parliament. And he was the person who brought Galileo to trial. He was a monster of a man.

    No amount of verbal calisthenics will ever get you out of that. How on Earth can a person in the 21st Century attack Galileo and defend the Church over this matter?

  101. Richard said

    Correction:
    “The over-riding fact was the Geocentric system was adopted by the Church, and the Heliocentric system declared heretical, for religious reasons alone.”

  102. lnocsifan said

    I can hardly believe how much irrelevant detail has been splattered all over this blog, re Galileo’s history. The quoted author was using the commonly understood story of Galileo to communicate his message. Just because some commenters have deeper information does not excuse their use of this space to demonstrate their pedantry. The point is that sea-level predictions have been put in question by a reputable scientist, who has been treated poorly. Go start a Galileo blog if you want to, but please let’s focus on the topic of the thread.

  103. Geoff Sherrington said

    102 Lnocsifan January 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Forgive me, I have sinned and posted marginally OT above. That said, I agree with the need to stick to ?sea level change. It’s a bit symmetric, because we have two opposing views in the marketplace just now, Ramstorf and Morner. There’s plenty of potential material in discussing why they arrive at different scientific conclusions. Although belief seems to play a part, the more interesting bit is a reconstruction of the scientific steps and logic of the contrasting authors. I mean, they both can’t be right.

  104. Richard said

    Obviously Galileo’s history is much more emotive than Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner’s. I do not know enough about Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner to comment about him. But I would say that a) to compare him to Galileo maybe a bit extreme, seeing the position of Galileo in the history of Science and the world for that matter and b) I didnt start it. I only stepped in when Wansbeck, Confused and MrPete started to apologise for Church’s position in this trial, pull him down and even blame him for what happened. I couldnt stand idly by when that happened. I just happened on this post as someone posted a link at Bishop Hill which I was perusing.

  105. Richard said

    And I have posted this at WUWT

    SEA RISE CLAIMS IN COPENHAHEN BOGUS – so says Britain’s Met Office

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/sea-level-theory-cuts-no-ice/story-e6frg6so-1225817853987

    But I see someone has beaten me to it above

  106. MrPete said

    Re: Richard (Jan 11 20:51),

    “The over-riding fact was the Geocentric system was adopted by the Church, and the Heliocentric system declared heretical, for religious reasons alone.”

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on that statement. Your statement is falsified by Bellarmine’s view, by the Church’s support for heliocentric research and publication, etc.

    Richard, I think we’re all tired of the back-and-forth on this. Let’s just agree to disagree. I too only stepped in because the tired old meme was being trotted out once again, a meme that gets a lot of play but is not even accepted by historians anymore. If you and Pat Frank want to disagree with the experts (from his own university no less), fine. We’ll just have to disagree and leave it at that.

  107. Richard said

    MrPete said January 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm
    Re: Richard (Jan 11 20:51),

    “The over-riding fact was the Geocentric system was adopted by the Church, and the Heliocentric system declared heretical, for religious reasons alone.”

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on that statement. Your statement is falsified by Bellarmine’s view, by the Church’s support for heliocentric research and publication, etc.

    Yes we will have to agree to disagree. Bellarmine’s view to me was quite clear. The Heliocentric system was anathema. It was against the scriptures, something that he could not possibly accept, and he accordingly declared it heretical.

    The quote that you have produced of Bellarmine, which you claim “sounds like the essence of proper scientific skepticism”, is in fact nothing but dogmatic religious prejudice. “..I shall not believe that there are such proofs until they are shown to me”. He is not inviting Galileo to produce proof, whereupon he would willingly accept it, but rather he is defying Galileo to do so and implying that such a thing is not possible. To suppress evidence that supported this belief he was willing proscribe, imprison and put to death anyone who dared to produce it.

    To say that the Church supported Galileo’s views is not tenable. Yes some Jesuits were given telescopes and confirmed Galileo’s findings but many more were hostile and some even refused to look through the telescope to see if Galileo was right. In a letter to Kepler in 1610 Galileo writes “My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?”

    On April 12, 1615 in a letter to Father Foscarini, Bellarmine wrote that “to affirm that the Sun, in its very truth, is at the center of the universe…is a very dangerous attitude and one calculated not only to arouse all Scholastic philosophers and theologians but also to injure our faith by contradicting the Scriptures.”

    There was no invitation to prove the science. The facts I have laid out in the time-line speak for themselves.

    I owe my gratitude to Pat Frank, who pointed out that the science, specifically the phases of Venus, could not be explained other than by a heliocentric system and the Moons of Jupiter showed bodies revolving around bodies other than the Earth and provided a model for our solar system and removed the objection that if the Earth moved our Moon would be left behind.

    Clearly the science was clear and religion did not want to accept the evidence. This stands as a lesson for us for all time.

  108. MrPete said

    Obviously, Bellarmine (and many others) were quite skeptical. And of course, there were those who didn’t even want to look through the telescope. Just as there are those today who don’t want to seriously examine the “other” side of AGW science (from whichever side they are on.)

    Skepticism, and even intransigence among some, can’t be allowed to color our view of everyone involved on one side or another…then or now. Are all skeptics “denialists”? No. Are all strong-warmers “alarmists”? No.

    Richard and Pat claim the science was clear. I suggest they need to consider more carefully the context. It is incredibly hard for us to imagine what it would be like to live in an era where the universally accepted view of something — including among the scientists of the day — was so strongly supported:
    - the geocentric view had been accepted for more than 1500 years
    - the geocentric view had an available set of three falsification tests, generated by a much-revered authority (Aristotle), NONE of which could be falsified at the time

    Yes, Galileo presented observations counfounding to the geocentric view. Yet his observations did not falsify a single one of Aristotle’s propositions. While he presented confounding observations, he did not falsify the already-accepted “scientific” (falsifiable test) tenets of geocentrism.

    I don’t know of an equivalent (or even close to equivalent) topic today. I could invent one (maybe: what if we found evidence that the speed of light was changing?) but suspect that’s not helpful.

    The lesson I take away from this: everyone needs to have much more humility in assuming they know what is going on.

    Back then, a variety of individuals and groups (BOTH the Church AND some of the “upstart” scientists) tended to be too-sure of their views. They approached the dialogue with too little humility.

    Today, BOTH alarmists AND skeptics tend to be too-sure of their views. And we tend to approach the dialogue with too little humility.

    In that sense, it doesn’t matter who the disputants were then or now. We need to recognize there’s a great deal of uncertainty in our observations, models and parameters. If history tells us anything, most likely we will eventually discover that our climate understanding in 2010 was woefully lacking.

  109. MrPete said

    Oh my. Staying on topic about humility. Here is what some people we all respect had to say about this.

    Einstein:

    “The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS could be used with equal justification. The two sentences, ‘the sun is at rest and the earth moves,’ or ‘the sun moves and the earth is at rest,’ would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS.” — Einstein and Infeld, The Evolution of Physics, p.212 (p.248 in original 1938 ed.)/blockquote>

    Sir Fred Hoyle:

    “The relation of the two pictures [geocentricity and heliocentricity] is reduced to a mere coordinate transformation and it is the main tenet of the Einstein theory that any two ways of looking at the world which are related to each other by a coordinate transformation are entirely equivalent from a physical point of view … . Today we cannot say that the Copernican theory is “right” and the Ptolemaic theory “wrong” in any meaningful physical sense.” — Hoyle, F., Nicolaus Copernicus, pp. 87–88, Harper & Row, NY, 1973.

    Many like to ad-hom pooh-pooh Hoyle of course, but Einstein? Not so easy.

    Without going into further detail… AFAIK, General Relativity supercedes both geocentrism and heliocentrism. Both views are now essentially immaterial. GR says it must be possible to develop a reference frame for either one that works correctly…or any other point of reference for that matter. So from today’s perspective, none of the disputants back then were really more right or wrong.

    Just a bit more support for the need for humility today. :)

  110. MrPete said

    (oops. jeff, if you ever get around to editing the above, there’s obviously a missing angle bracket at the end of the Einstein quote.)

  111. RB said

    #109, I suspect you are alluding to Occam’s razor for a theory that is ultimately widely accepted. For example, David Bohm had alternate interpretations of quantum mechanics that are not seen to be parsimonious.

  112. Richard said

    Yes, Galileo presented observations counfounding to the geocentric view. Yet his observations did not falsify a single one of Aristotle’s propositions. While he presented confounding observations, he did not falsify the already-accepted “scientific” (falsifiable test) tenets of geocentrism.

    What were Aristotles propositions? and What were these falsifiable tests?

    As for relativity, (as pointed out?), though the two co-ordinates maybe equivalent, the Geocentric one fails on account of parsimony.

    If an observer viewed the Solar system from space, above, and moving along with, the sun’s axis, he would clearly see the planets revolving around the Sun. The equations of Newton are still used for all engineering and mechanics.

    In any case Galileo was tried, not because he argued agaisnt the, as yet unknown, theory of relativity, but because he said the Earth rotated about its axis and moved along a path around the Sun, both of which were denied by Bellarmine and the Inquisition.

    Bellarmine couldnt be classified as a sceptic, he was a denier. He would not accept the evidence. If there was a “sceptic” in this affair, the sceptic was Galileo.

  113. Richard said

    PS This is what Einstein had to say about Galileo:

    ..But before mankind could be ripe for a science which takes in the whole of reality, a second fundamental truth was needed, which only became common property among philosophers with the advent of Kepler and Galileo. Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts form experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty as regards reality. Because Galileo saw this, and particularly because he drummed it into the scientific world, he is the father of modern physics — indeed, of modern science altogether.

    And this is what he had to say about the conflict between Galileo and the Church

    … a conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs.

  114. Ed Darrell said

    To be Galileo, it’s not enough to have people argue with you. You have to be right, too.

  115. RB said

    “…not because he argued agaisnt the, as yet unknown, theory of relativity,…”

    Actually there was the pre-Einsteinian theory of relativity where co-ordinate transformations were governed by the Galilean transformation . The Einsteinian theory of relativity links time and space together arising from the crucial insight that speed of light is a constant independent of the frame of reference and was a result of providing insight into the Lorentz transformation

  116. MrPete said

    Re: Richard (Jan 13 23:07),

    Aristotle’s propositions were listed above.

    * Why objects don’t fly off if earth spins: required understanding gravity. Newton, 1680′s…(I dunno when the implication of gravity on this was first realized.)
    * Why flying birds aren’t left behind if earth orbits: req’d understanding gravity. Newton, 1680′s.
    * Why star parallax not seen if earth orbits sun: req’d improved technology, Bessel, 1838.

    The underlying issue we’re seeing is overconfidence and the trouble that causes.

    Removing “church” from science doesn’t solve it.
    Removing government from science doesn’t solve it.
    It remains an issue among many scientists, as demonstrated in the AGW tussle, and even here on this thread.
    Feynman’s famous quotes speak directly to this.

  117. Richard said

    MrPete said January 14, 2010 at 9:08 am
    Aristotle’s propositions were listed above.

    * Why objects don’t fly off if earth spins: required understanding gravity. Newton, 1680’s…(I dunno when the implication of gravity on this was first realized.)
    * Why flying birds aren’t left behind if earth orbits: req’d understanding gravity. Newton, 1680’s.
    * Why star parallax not seen if earth orbits sun: req’d improved technology, Bessel, 1838.

    From MrPete said January 13, 2010 at 3:35 pm: Yet his observations did not falsify a single one of Aristotle’s propositions. While he presented confounding observations, he did not falsify the already-accepted “scientific” (falsifiable test) tenets of geocentrism.

    So far as I can make out all the 3 “propositions” were “observations” requiring an explanation.

    About the objection that birds, (and our moon), would be left behind if the Earth moved, Galileo a) Showed by observation that the moons of Jupiter didnt get left behind b) He also falsified the claim that All objects move around the Earth and c) Regarding birds he actually did an experiment by dropping a cannon ball from the mast of a moving ship to show that the motion of the ball was governed by the Earth and not the Ship.

    So he demonstrated that objects on the Earth were held to the Earth.

    As for parallax it was known in Galileo’s time and from Greek times that either the Earth was not moving, or the stars are so far away the effect was undetectable. They simply assumed that the second explanation was not true.

    Galileo showed that the Ptolemaic system of crystal spheres was false by the movement of Jupiter’s moons and most of all by phases of Venus which would only appear as a crescent under the Ptolemaic system.

    Finally none of this is relevant to the fact that Bellarmine and the Church chose to intervene in science, they intervened to DENY EVIDENCE and instead believe in faith, and suppress any OPPOSING VIEWS, (whether right or wrong), against their faith.

  118. Geoff Sherrington said

    It is sad to see people talking of religion as having some authority. The basis of all religion has passed no tests of the rigor required of science. I’m sad for those, famous or not, who have never left the fairy tale land of religion and yet still profess to be able study science unaffected. It’s sad that so many youngsters are brainwashed with hoodoo to a degree that they cannot rid themselves of it in maturity.

    Now, how about we now get on with some subjects involving reality, like measurement and calculation. This is a science blog, after all.

  119. Pat Frank said

    Pete, #96, Back in Galileo’s day, science and philosophy were not the same. People may have thought so, and said so, but they were, and are, wrong.

    Science has been free of philosophy, at least implicitly, ever since it was invented by Thales of Miletus, who decided to test his propositions by reference to facts and observables. The fact that some many people practiced a hybrid method does not convert science itself into something it is not, and has never been; namely a branch of philosophy.

    Galileo was practicing science in the modern sense as we understand it. He developed propositions as explanations of observables and made those propositions falsifiable. As soon as Galileo explained phenomena in terms of observables instead of essences, the break with philosophy was explicit and transparently obvious.

    Whatever Bacon did, Galileo practiced a modern science in every important way. My argument is therefore not a red herring at all. Objections to Galileo’s ideas were not scientific. No one falsified the heliocenric model that, on the basis of his observations, was a more reasonable explanation of the observables than geocentrism.

  120. Confused said

    Pat, can you cite any reputable historians who agree with your analysis? I would be interested to see.

  121. Pat Frank said

    #120, Confused, with which part are you interested to see historian agreement? Just for my own curiosity, but, in your view how is a historian’s view on whether experimental results from a late Renaissance project are recognizably modern in scientific content, or not, and support one theory better than another, or not, superior to the appraisal of a working experimental scientist?

    I can, in any case, refer you to Stillman Drake’s “Galileo, A Very Short Introduction,” part of the Oxford University series of short introductions. Drake’s book is well written, very thoughtful, and very focused. Drake is a Historian of Science.

    For those interested in a detailed and very professional discussion of Galileo and the Catholic Church, I highly recommend A. D. White’s book, “A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom,” still in print after 113 years thanks to Prometheus Books, and worthy of it. It’s very scholarly, and heavily referenced and footnoted. Some of the footnoted comments are acute and droll, and a sense of the man comes through. White is concerned with the general phenomenon of the strife produced with science when theology makes dogmatic assertions about physical reality. His book is wide-ranging on the topic, and includes far more than just Galileo’s travails.

    A. D. White was one of those merely remarkable men who don’t make it into more than local histories. He was co-founder and first president of Cornell University and a Prof. of History there. He was also the US ambassador to Russia and a multiply published author.

  122. Confused said

    Pat I’m interested in your historical arguments, such as

    “Back in Galileo’s day, science and philosophy were not the same. People may have thought so, and said so, but they were, and are, wrong.”

    Or that

    “Science has been free of philosophy, at least implicitly, ever since it was invented by Thales of Miletus, who decided to test his propositions by reference to facts and observables.”

    I’m not sure how a person’s status as an experimental scientists is in any way relevant to the quality of their historical analyses so forgive me if I ignore your question.

    I have long sections of Stillman Drake’s translation of Galileo’s Dialogue, but I haven’t read the book you link to.

    A.D. White’s ‘conflict’ hypothesis has no great standing in modern history and philosophy of science except as a point of departure from which to show that warfare style histories are usually pretty poor. Usually on the grounds that while they might be accurate in some cases they fail in others. They are, in other words, highly selective.

    You, and no doubt Richard, will probably argue the point but forgive me if I don’t respond. You’ll not convince me and I won’t convince you so there seems little point. I might look at Drake’s book though. The blurb doesn’t appear to support either of the contentions (of yours) that I outlined above.

  123. Pat Frank said

    #122, Confused, it’s a question of science, not of history. Was Galileo doing science as we know it, or was he not? Were his critics making scientifically valid objections, or were they not?

    Are historians uniquely qualified to answer such questions? In your #120, you asked for an argument from authority. In #121 I suggested that a scientist was qualified to make a judgment about the issues of Galileo’s science. And you reply with a nonsequitur about history. It’s a question of science, not of history, Confused. Your dismissal is nonapropos.

    And now we’re supposed to accept your word that A. D. White’s thesis is “poor.” The content of your argument, that “warfare” arguments are unworthy because they work sometimes and fail at others is shallow. It’s like suggesting a warfare history of Europe is unworthy because war in Europe was episodic. War is often just an extreme of hostility that was otherwise pervasive; as in Europe among the various national groups. The warfare between science and theology is likewise episodic and likewise that does not obviate the validity of the war thesis.

    It’s easy to show that any theology mandating supernatural knowledge claim will be in perpetual conflict with science. The lesson of Galileo is that when those holding the knowledge claims also have political power, they invariably use the enforcement arm to repress dissent. Lest anyone think this is a thing of the past, let them read the preachings of the late Jerry Falwell, or any minister who takes his scripture as infallible knowledge.

    Drake doesn’t mention Thales, but he does explicitly support that Galileo’s work was independent of philosophy.

    Look in any science journal, Confused. Science is theory and result, each falsifiable. That was Galileo’s program.

  124. MrPete said

    Re: Pat Frank (Jan 17 00:22),
    My goodness.

    Pat, your revisionist way of approaching history is quite interesting. You hold to yourself the right to define what is and was “philosophy” and what is/was “science.” Even though Galileo himself, and Boyle, and Bacon, called themselves “natural philosophers,” (and Oxford to this day uses the term in some cases,) you want to argue about it. You don’t accept that plenty of others (nice summary here show how Galileo’s work was inspiration to what eventually became science, more than a complete practice of science.

    For your own purposes, you reduce science to “theory and result, each falsifiable.” No more repeatable experiments? No verifiable data? Galileo’s own work included many aspects where observation did not fit his own ideas.

    I have found an interesting discussion demonstrating that Aristotle was more empiricist than given credit for, and Galileo was primarily a rationalist more than empiricist (although he was definitely both).

    On Aristotle,

    Aristotle’s ideas are not only well-grounded in experience, they often better
    agree with common experience than Galileo’s ideas. He was quite upfront about the epistemological value of
    experience:
    From experience … originate the skill of the craftsman and the knowledge of the man of science. …[T]hese
    states of knowledge are neither innate in a determinate form, nor developed from other higher states of
    knowledge, but from sense-perception. [Aristotle, Posterior Analytics II.19]

    On Galileo, here is a money quote that relates greatly to current discussions of AGW models, theory and observation:

    Galileo was primarily a rationalist. Although he admitted experiment and observation as sources of truth and as inputs to his models, in practice he resolved conflicts in favor of intuition and reason… When our experience deviates from the predictions of the ideal, it is due to the complexity of our world and to the presence of confounding factors…though this viewpoint seems to blend rationalism and empiricism, rationalism holds primacy: if the results of a sensory experience deviate from the predictions of an accepted scientific model, it is our senses that are suspect.

    Sounds a bit like the GCM/temp data tussle. For me, this is a good reminder that we need to be cautious about overconfidence in models, observations/data, etc.

    And an extension to Pat’s assertion:

    …when those holding the knowledge claims also have political power, they invariably use the enforcement arm to repress dissent.

    The same goes for scientists. Publishing power, economic power, etc are used similarly. Those who believe they are right tend to try to suppress dissent. Science has no more right to be king of the hill than any other source of knowledge.

  125. MrPete said

    Richard, your statements have serious gaps.

    About the objection that birds, (and our moon), would be left behind if the Earth moved, Galileo a) Showed by observation that the moons of Jupiter didnt get left behind b) He also falsified the claim that All objects move around the Earth and c) Regarding birds he actually did an experiment by dropping a cannon ball from the mast of a moving ship to show that the motion of the ball was governed by the Earth and not the Ship.

    So he demonstrated that objects on the Earth were held to the Earth.

    1) Aristotle also observed that objects on the Earth were held to the earth. That’s no surprise.
    2) Please give evidence that the mast/cannon ball assertion was from experiment. He describes it as a thought experiment. What he actually discovered by experiment was acceleration, based on inclined-plane experiments.
    3) Galileo actually was confused about motion in some significant cases: Kepler informed Galileo that tides were due to relative motion of Earth/Moon, while Galileo believed they were due to relative motion of Earth/Sun. Obviously wrong (not one tide a day).
    4) [Obviously, the motion of the ball was also influenced by the ship. Not sure what you're saying?!]

    As for parallax it was known in Galileo’s time and from Greek times that either the Earth was not moving, or the stars are so far away the effect was undetectable. They simply assumed that the second explanation was not true.

    Another way of saying the same thing: neither Aristotle nor Galileo could produce any observable evidence for star parallax.

    Galileo showed that the Ptolemaic system of crystal spheres was false by the movement of Jupiter’s moons and most of all by phases of Venus which would only appear as a crescent under the Ptolemaic system.

    Here you’re arguing not about geo vs helio centrism but some of the details.

    The Galilean/Copernican heliocentric system was still based on circular orbits (while Kepler, using careful observations and calculations, had shown the motions to be elliptical.) As a result, Galileo/Copernicus actually had a more complicated system: theirs required 48 epicycles, compared to only 40 in the Ptolemaic system. It is specious to argue that the earlier people were basing their models only on ideas rather than observation. They did the best they could with the tools of the time, as did later folk.

    Even the phases of Venus are compatible with a geocentric system, just not the earlier ptolemaic system. I’m sure you’re aware that others developed refinements over the centuries. Just before Galileo, Tycho Brahe created his system, which would allow phases of Venus.

    Finally none of this is relevant to the fact that Bellarmine and the Church chose to intervene in science, they intervened to DENY EVIDENCE and instead believe in faith, and suppress any OPPOSING VIEWS, (whether right or wrong), against their faith.

    As has been shown, and I agree, people with power and arrogance rather than humility tend to suppress dissent. This is a problem for all people, not just the church.

    It is especially true when scientists begin to believe they, their models and their observations, are the arbiters of all truth — because that is an ultimate form of arrogance.

  126. Pat Frank said

    #124, Pete, I’m not arguing what Galileo called himself. I’m arguing what he did. The difference between those two categories is very clear, and mixing them up muddies the waters.

    I’m not redefining anything, nor being a revisionist in any pejorative sense. Philosophy is axiomatic, science is not. Philosophy concerns itself, inter alia, with essences of immutables, science does not. None of that is controversial, and paying attention to just that much is sufficient to show that Galileo was doing science, no matter what he called himself, or what anyone else called him.

    We are, further, specifically discussing Galileo’s work on the heliocentric model, and whether that is science in the modern view. We are not discussing his entire corpus. Dragging in whether Galileo consistently practiced science over all, which is what your, “Galileo’s work was inspiration to what eventually became science” does, broadens the discussion inappropriately.

    In analogy, the logic of your argument would suppose that Erwin Schrödinger didn’t really do science and wasn’t a true scientist even when he developed wave mechanics, because he was also a mystic who wrote about metaphysics. This argument fails as much with Galileo as it does with Schrödinger.

    You wrote, “For your own purposes, you reduce science to “theory and result, each falsifiable.” No more repeatable experiments? No verifiable data? Galileo’s own work included many aspects where observation did not fit his own ideas.

    Pete, “falsifiable” in terms of facts directly implies subject to replication. And in terms of theory means subject to predictive test. Once again, we’re talking about Galileo’s Heliocentric theory, not the corpus of his work.

    Observing the moons of Jupiter demonstrated that all of the universe did not orbit Earth. That itself was enough to disprove strong Geocentric theory. His observations of the rough topology of the moon disproved the perfection of heavenly spheres. His observations of the phases of Venus demonstrated that it must orbit the sun, not Earth.

    This site, discussing the history of astronomy, mentions that Galileo’s work disproved the Aristotelian assumption of the perfection of the heavenly spheres. This disproof interfered with a theology that asserted the perfection of god’s creation.

    In fact, the strongest test of Galileo’s Heliocentric theory came with the challenge that if it were true, Venus should show phases. If Venus did not show phases, it could not be orbiting the sun. Galileo made the observations of Venus, following the challenge, and the prediction of Heliocentric theory was validated. Prediction, falsifiability, test, and verification or disproof. That’s science, Pete, not philosophy.

    Your quote about experience and rationalism makes a very basic, but implicit, mistake, which is to confound personal experience with experiment, and rationalism with prediction from theory.

    Personal experience does not equate with experiment because the former is uncontrolled and victim to subjective judgment. Even craftsmanship is not equivalent to personal experience because it is an outcome based trial-and-error ratchet. Functional outcome obviates subjective judgment. Likewise, theoretical prediction is often counter-intuitive and, depending on assumptions, is also often apparently irrational. Quantum mechanics is an obvious example of a counter intuitive and apparently irrational theory. Even the spherical Earth counters our intuitive and locally rational judgment of a flat landscape.

    So, both your quote about Aristotle, and your discussion of Galileo’s supposed rationalism come to grips neither with scientific methodology nor with its results. Those arguments are irrelevant to whether Galileo was doing science when he proposed heliocentric theory, and whether a heliocentric theory was preferable to a geocentric theory.

    What Galileo did, in sticking to his theory, is nothing like what AGW proponents are doing. AGW theory does not really make falsifiable predictions because the uncertainties are far too large. The AGW proponents make pseudo-predictions by ignoring the uncertainties. They are not practicing science, in so doing, and are not doing what Galileo did. Galileo defended his heliocentric theory by demonstration. AGW proponents do not and cannot, demonstrate a meaningful verified prediction.

    You’re very right that we need to be cautious about over interpreting models and theory, etc. We do that by being strict about the limits of our knowledge. Clarity about this is the only way to be scientifically ethical. AGW modelers are violating the basic ethics of science, IMO. Galileo was not.

    Your analogy about scientists and political power fails, Pete, because scientists do not claim absolutes. Only ideologies make such claims. The failure of AGW is exactly there — it has become an ideology. Those scientists who push that ideology have demonstrably — demonstrably, Pete — exited science. We know what science is: Theory and result, each falsifiable. That admits of no ideology, requires a democracy of ideas, and necessitates only fungible conclusions. From science, we never know what is completely right. We only know what is clearly wrong.

    As for “any other source of knowledge,” I’d like to know of any other source of sharable knowledge other than science. That’s verifiable knowledge, not description. What other source of knowledge can anyone actually demonstrate, except science?

  127. Pat Frank said

    Pete, you wrote: “It is especially true when scientists begin to believe they, their models and their observations, are the arbiters of all truth — because that is an ultimate form of arrogance.

    Can you give an example of scientists in general believing their models and observations are arbiters of all truth“?

    That’s science as “all truth,” as opposed to our only source of non-axiomatic objective knowledge.

    On the other hand, I personally have known some arrogant scientists (no monopoly on arrogance there, though). :-)

  128. MrPete said

    With some exceptions, I think we’re close to vigorous agreement in much of this vigorous discussion. :)

    Pat, you’ve ignored the material I introduced about others who were working on these questions at the time.

    Galileo made the observations of Venus, following the challenge, and the prediction of Heliocentric theory was validated. Prediction, falsifiability, test, and verification or disproof. That’s science, Pete, not philosophy.

    Before Galileo made his observations, others already had revised geocentric theory to accommodate more complex motions, the Tychonic system being primary. This was available to Galileo. Kepler’s refined elliptical orbits were also available to Galileo. He ignored these in favor of his own ideas.

    Galileo’s Venus observations falsified Ptolemy but not Tycho Brahe nor geocentrism. His own observations and theory were off, compared to the data available to him.

    So. Prediction. Previous falsification. Holding to his own ideas. Test. Data that didn’t match as well as Kepler’s. Continuing in his own intransigence.

    Science? Or science with the arrogance of an overriding philosophy?

    My point: Galileo wasn’t alone in making observations, in working to connect theory and observation, etc etc.

    Can you give an example of scientists in general believing their models and observations are arbiters of all truth“? That’s science as “all truth,” as opposed to our only source of non-axiomatic objective knowledge.

    I’m glad you have caught yourself before going too far :)

    I think you gave a nice example yourself, only a few lines before:

    What other source of knowledge can anyone actually demonstrate, except science?

    There are a wide variety of observable non-quantifiable phenomena that are not touched by the scientific method. A proper definition of measurement takes this into account. Example: science has a very difficult time address questions relating to objective observation of phenomena observable in human character. Intelligence, integrity, love, commitment, etc. (All of these can be placed in the context of a mature and knowledgable observer correctly and consistently answering “does person XYZ exhibit characteristic ABC?”)

    Also, as I challenged you more than a year ago: there are scientifically possible yet hugely improbable (non-repeatable) scenarios that science leaves alone. (BTW, I checked that scenario with a friend who is the smartest guy I know… he laughed and said, if I remember correctly, a physicist and a chemist would never agree on these things, because physicists have a better understanding of infinity than chemists. But what do I know; I’m neither :) )

    ANYway… it’s been a fun discussion. Hopefully helpful to someone, somewhere along the way.

    Unfortunately, this may be my last opportunity to stop in for quite some time. Yesterday my real life became much more complicated for the foreseeable future. Hope to be back someday but it may be months or ???

  129. Pat Frank said

    Pete, you wrote: “With some exceptions, I think we’re close to vigorous agreement in much of this vigorous discussion.
    There doesn’t seem to be much in common between your position, and that of Curious, to the points laid out by Richard and myself, Pete. It may be more accurate to observe that we’ve decided to be cordial about our disagreements, which after all, is the essence of civilization.
    Pat, you’ve ignored the material I introduced about others who were working on these questions at the time.
    I didn’t ignore them, Pete, I noted that they were irrelevant, here and here. The point was whether Galileo was doing science, or not. Whatever others were doing contemporaneously is tangential.
    Before Galileo made his observations, others already had revised geocentric theory to accommodate more complex motions, the Tychonic system being primary. This was available to Galileo. Kepler’s refined elliptical orbits were also available to Galileo. He ignored these in favor of his own ideas.
    Tycho’s system had all the planets orbiting the sun, and the entire system of sun plus planets orbiting Earth. Tycho argued in favor of Biblical astronomy, and his system was meant to preserve it. It was an obvious kludge, made to save the Earth-centric system, and Galileo knew it. In his book on Galileo, Drake points out that Galileo did not include Kepler’s ellipses in his “Dialogue,” first because Kepler’s works were condemned by the Church and on the Index of Prohibited Books. Galileo could not discuss them on pain of heresy. Second, the ellipses were very near circular anyway, and Galileo’s book was meant for a general readership. Ellipses were harder to understand, and using circular orbits made the picture more accessible.
    So, he didn’t ignore Kepler’s work out of arrogance, but out of two necessities; one for his personal safety and the other to approximate for the sake of transparency to his readers.
    Galileo’s Venus observations falsified Ptolemy but not Tycho Brahe nor geocentrism. His own observations and theory were off, compared to the data available to him.
    His observations were not off. Where did you get that idea? His “theory” was an approximation to accommodate his audience. Galileo was in ready and friendly contact with Kepler and must certainly have appreciated that the ellipses gave better predictions.
    Here is a worthwhile discussion of the limits of Tycho’s system, relative to that of Copernicus.
    So. Prediction. Previous falsification. Holding to his own ideas. Test. Data that didn’t match as well as Kepler’s. Continuing in his own intransigence. Science? Or science with the arrogance of an overriding philosophy?
    This is the same ‘contumacy’ argument made against Galileo by Catholic propagandists of the 19th century, and honestly it smells. It’s an obvious attempt to blame Galileo for his Inquisitorial persecution.
    My point: Galileo wasn’t alone in making observations, in working to connect theory and observation, etc etc.
    Your point seems to have been that Galileo was not doing science, that he was foolishly arrogant, and that he called the Inquisition down on his own head; all in an attempt to exculpate the Catholic Church at his expense. This is pretty much what his critics did during the time of his house arrest.
    I wrote, “Can you give an example of scientists in general believing their models and observations are arbiters of all truth“? That’s science as “all truth,” as opposed to our only source of non-axiomatic objective knowledge.”
    Pete: “I’m glad you have caught yourself before going too far I think you gave a nice example yourself, only a few lines before: “What other source of knowledge can anyone actually demonstrate, except science?”
    There are a wide variety of observable non-quantifiable phenomena that are not touched by the scientific method.
    And if they’re non-quantifiable, what do you actually know about them apart from your own experience?
    A proper definition of measurement takes this into account. Example: science has a very difficult time address questions relating to objective observation of phenomena observable in human character. Intelligence, integrity, love, commitment, etc. (All of these can be placed in the context of a mature and knowledgable observer correctly and consistently answering “does person XYZ exhibit characteristic ABC?”)
    You’re listing things about which scientific knowledge is lacking. Everyone would agree with that. Given the lack of scientific knowledge, what alternative do you offer? You suppose that a “mature and knowledgeable observer” can make judgments you call knowledge. But on what could those judgments be possibly based except some sort of social-evolutionary intuition? This is not knowledge, but the result of a probabilistic ratchet operating over time and depending on a deterministic process (socially obligated survival). Our knowledge about this comes from evolutionary biology. And the knowledge you suppose is no more than inductive inference, at best, which has not been accorded knowledge status since the time of Hume.
    What you’re calling knowledge does not stem from actually knowing, but from inner certainty. An inner certainty typically justified after the fact by the usual mental gymnastic of remembering only the successes.
    Also, as I challenged you more than a year ago: there are scientifically possible yet hugely improbable (non-repeatable) scenarios that science leaves alone. (BTW, I checked that scenario with a friend who is the smartest guy I know… he laughed and said, if I remember correctly, a physicist and a chemist would never agree on these things, because physicists have a better understanding of infinity than chemists. But what do I know; I’m neither )
    Physicists often exhibit a patronizing contempt of chemists, based on their typically superior facility with mathematics. They usually forget that chemists must deal with more than hard spheres. In my experience, physicists deal poorly with messy phenomena. Physicists also like to say that Quantum Mechanics explains all of Chemistry but only half of Physics. In so-doing they display an ignorance of the need for Relativistic corrections to heavy atomic states (Z>iron). At least by the time you get to molybdenum and tungsten, Relativistic corrections are necessary to explain the biological chemistry of these elements.
    I remember the debate we had back then, but don’t remember that particular challenge. I admit to letting our conversation slip away, and still feel a little guilty about that. But there didn’t seem to be any resolution, as this current conversation also seems to show.
    ANYway… it’s been a fun discussion. Hopefully helpful to someone, somewhere along the way.
    Likewise, my hope. :-)
    Unfortunately, this may be my last opportunity to stop in for quite some time. Yesterday my real life became much more complicated for the foreseeable future. Hope to be back someday but it may be months or ???
    Best wishes, Pete. You’re a great guy.

  130. MrPete said

    I found a moment to stop by. Pat, you obviously hold closely to Drake’s and White’s perspective, which (particularly the latter) disagrees with most authorities. His narrative, while (obviously) compatible with your view, is incompatible with many accepted facts. So yes, we need to agree to disagree.

    What facts?
    * Galileo rejected Brahe/Kepler’s more accurate measurements and mathematics in favor of his own (less accurate) circular theory well before he published his “Dialogue.” Kepler’s treatment immaterial, audience immaterial (and incongruous for Galileo the empiricist!)
    * Cassini made observations that confirmed Kepler’s elliptical mathematics. Galileo refused. Evidence that Jesuits were more closely following the need for physical confirmation of theory…while Galileo had his arrogancies.
    * Another: Galileo was wrong about tides and refused to accept Kepler’s more accurate explanation.
    * You’re labeling Galileo as one who preferred an incorrect “accessible” answer over an observed more accurate answer? How scientific is that? Remember, Kepler’s calculations accurately predicted past and future planetary positions. Galileo couldn’t come close.

    For a mature historical perspective of the development of medieval scientific thought and practice, I find this book refreshing (not done reading myself…not sure when!) Here is a helpful passage online. It place’s some of Pat’s favorite authors (particularly White) in context. Commenting on White (in the latter link), Lindberg says:

    I need to stop as the rest of life is “here.” No time to discuss your equivalence of “scientific knowledge” and “knowledge.” It’s covered in the above book and elsewhere.

    And for evaluating physics vs chemistry, all I can say for now: my friend is both physicist and chemist (and EE); thus he has a bit of perspective on the overall issue :) [I'm privileged to know some rather smart people... and glad to know you too, even if only online so far... one of these days I'll get back to the Farm; I'll have to look you up!]

  131. MrPete said

    OOPS! That quote was left out… here’s the quotes…

    It is little wonder, given this kind of scholarly backing, that the ignorance and degradation of the Middle Ages has become an article of faith among the general public, achieving the status of invulnerability merely by virtue of endless repetition.

    Further in, he notes:

    “…no informed historian of science would now support the extreme negative opinions of…A.D. White”
    and
    “By now, early in the twenty-first century, both parties have made concessions, and despite an occasional quarrel, it appears that relative peace has broken out. The early modernists no longer question whether important scientific achievements emerged from the Middle Ages; and few medievalists now defend a strong version of the claim for continuity between medieval and early modern science.”

    He concludes:

    “These examples are not meant to diminish the luster of the scientific revolution or its creators and practitioners. My aim is simply to introduce caution and realism into the picture…The scientific revolution took place within an ideologically rich human environment; it had ideologically rich historical foundations, and with those foundations came continuities.”

    I think that’s a nice summation.

  132. Richard said

    MrPete said Aristotle also observed that objects on the Earth were held to the earth. That’s no surprise.

    But Aristotle said the Earth did not move. One of the objections to the Earth’s movement was, if it did our moon and birds would be left behind. Galileo observed that the moons of Jupiter moved with Jupiter and were not left behind.

    Please give evidence that the mast/cannon ball assertion was from experiment. He describes it as a thought experiment.

    I slightly mistated the cannon ball experiment. The cannon ball experiment was to an objection against the Earth moving, specifically that it spun on its axis. The objection was that if that were so the cannon ball should land to the west of the Tower. Obviously this has been done by Galileo from the leaning tower of Pisa. To counter this argument he counters with several “thought experiments” in his Dialogue. But it is obvious from the character arguing the dialogue, that many, if not all these “thought experiments”, were not only thought out by Galileo, but actually performed by him, as his character speaks authoritatively about the results and doesnt just speculate about them.

    But whether thought or actual, I dont see the point you are trying to make.

    What facts? * Galileo rejected Brahe/Kepler’s more accurate measurements and mathematics in favor of his own (less accurate) circular theory well before he published his “Dialogue.” Kepler’s treatment immaterial, audience immaterial (and incongruous for Galileo the empiricist!)

    Brahe never endorsed elliptical motion of the planets. Indeed he endorsed that that the Sun moved around the Earth and the other planets around the Sun. Whereas Galileo did not endorse Kepler’s views, I am not aware that he “rejected” or made any comment on them. In any case this has no bearing on the fact that the Church, which claimed to know everything, was wrong.

    Tycho Brahe created his system, which would allow phases of Venus. Obviously because Venus moved around the Sun as per his system

    Cassini made observations that confirmed Kepler’s elliptical mathematics. Galileo refused. Evidence that Jesuits were more closely following the need for physical confirmation of theory…while Galileo had his arrogancies.

    Cassini was well after Gallileo’s time, by which time Kepler’s laws had become self evident, and he was not a Jesuit. Again does not have any bearing on the fact that the Church maintained the Earth did not move.

    All in all it is quite amazing how you and Confused continue to defend the Church’s position in declaring that the Earth did not spin about its axis or move around the Sun and continue to attack Gallileo because of the mistakes he may have made in some of his conclusions.

    Why don’t you just say the Church was wrong. Wrong in its conclusions, wrong in interfering in scientific matters and wrong in using its political power to browbeat, threaten and even kill people into submission.

  133. Richard said

    PS I just read Pat Frank’s post (January 24, 2010 at 12:07 am) – very well put.

  134. Richard said

    MrPete “..Remember, Kepler’s calculations accurately predicted past and future planetary positions. Galileo couldn’t come close.”

    Are you championing Kepler, a declared heretic, as a champion of the Catholic Church?

    Pat Frank “..Galileo was in ready and friendly contact with Kepler and must certainly have appreciated that the ellipses gave better predictions…. In his book on Galileo, Drake points out that Galileo did not include Kepler’s ellipses in his “Dialogue,” first because Kepler’s works were condemned by the Church and on the Index of Prohibited Books. Galileo could not discuss them on pain of heresy. Second, the ellipses were very near circular anyway, and Galileo’s book was meant for a general readership. Ellipses were harder to understand, and using circular orbits made the picture more accessible.
    So, he didn’t ignore Kepler’s work out of arrogance, but out of two necessities; one for his personal safety and the other to approximate for the sake of transparency to his readers.”

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