"I would run screaming away"

2 minute read

This is such an incredible story about the “Clovis comet” hypothesis, I don’t know where to start: “Comet Theory Comes Crashing to Earth”.

Oh, well how about we start with the fact that the idea’s main exponent is living under an alias:

Indeed, the team's established scientists are so wedded to the theory they have opted to ignore the fact their colleague Allen West isn't exactly who he says he is.
West is Allen Whitt who, in 2002, was fined by California and convicted for masquerading as a state-licensed geologist when he charged small-town officials fat fees for water studies. After completing probation in 2003 in San Bernardino County, he began work on the comet theory, legally adopting his new name in 2006 as he promoted it in a popular book. Only when questioned by this reporter last year did his co-authors learn his original identity and legal history. Since then, they have not disclosed it to the scientific community.

Well, the whole thing was thoroughly vetted by the National Academy member who coauthored the paper, right?

After the theory was first announced in 2007 in Acapulco, Mexico, [Vance] Holliday had attempted to collaborate with [NAS member James] Kennett to test the idea. But Kennett effectively blocked publication of the study last year after the results didnt support the comet theory.

Err…well…you certainly can’t dispute the physical evidence, right? I mean, what about the high concentration of carbon spherules that were associated with the supposed impact?

On March 25, Boslough reported that radio-carbon dating of a carbon spherule sample shows it is only about 200 years old an irregularity that indicates is it not from the alleged 12,900-year-old impact time.
This means that a sample from a layer purporting to show a high concentration of spherules at the inception of the Younger Dryas actually only was about as old as the Declaration of Independence.

The article discusses whether the carbon spherules may have been deliberately “salted” into the samples by someone, presumably West/Whitt himself. The quote I pulled as the title of my post, “I would run screaming,” comes from another geologist asked whether he would work with West on anything.

This story has really unraveled into a geological version of Piltdown. Like Piltdown, there were many people who were outright skeptics from the start – because the evidence just didn’t make sense. And like Piltdown, there are true believers who will not give up even after the physical evidence is shown to be questionable, possibly doctored.

Anyway, I’ve written about this several times:

“A hard bolide to swallow?”

“The Younger Dryas impact fizzle?”

You can tell when I really think an idea is nonsense: all the blog post titles end with a question mark!