Kerr Watch

Number of days writer Richard Kerr has failed to inform his Science readers of the confirmation of nanodiamonds at the YDB: 3 years, 3 months, and 27 days

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The Cosmic Tusk Newsletter


Le Bos, mais pourquoi pas la France?!

But why not France, Bos!?

The news release


Independent investigators have failed to confirm the reports of enhanced concentrations of spherules and platinum-group elements in YD boundary sediments.

Boslough, Surovell et al., January 30, 2013, Arguments and Evidence Against a Younger Dryas Impact Event



Interhemispheric evidence of a cosmic impact 12.9 ka is known now from North to South America, Europe and Eurasia, all data supporting a cosmic event derived from cores and from geological sections. Most databases supporting the impact hypothesis at the Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) rely on high-temperature microspherules, melted minerals, cracked clasts, presence of nanodiamond, high-temperature scoria, high Fe/Ni ratios, pdf’s, shock melted quartz, high 10 Be/9 Be ratios and occasional presence of platinum metals. Controversy over the impact, the so-called Black Mat enigma, and its relation to the Younger Dryas re-advance at the end of the last ice age, is fueled by arguments over whether a single extraterrestrial impact might sustain a 1 kyr-long downturn in insolation engendering a substantial increase in worldwide icevolume. New evidence in the form of impact microfeatures extreme breccia, high crack propagation,thick carbon encrustations and partial to full shock-melted/contorted grains in weathering rinds from the Western Alps, France, as documented here, adds to the growing body of evidence that the event was truly widespread, if not worldwide in effect. Whereas evidence of cosmic impacts may be erased by glacial and fluvial erosion in high alpine areas, such events as demonstrated herein are recorded as punctuated time-stratigraphic events in microcosm, preserved in weathered clasts.

W.C. Mahaney and Leslie Keiser, Geomorphology, November 30th, 2012

and Mahaney in 2009 and 2010 and 2011




From Bill Mahaney this afternoon:


Hi George.

I was pleased to see the piece concerning the continuing controversy over the black mat. I tend to support Napier’s contention [See Napier: Not So Fast Bos; Tusk, Cosmic]  that the radial spread of samples across North and South America, parts of Europe and Central Asia suggest fragmental airbursts of variable magnitude such that records in aquifers, glacial deposits, outlet glaciers, paleosols and weathering rinds are showing up in a variety of places.

At other investigated sites similar to those already reported for the MUM7B site in Venezuela, there is a wide range of well-documented evidence, consisting of a variable mix of magnetic spherules, microtektite-like glassy spherules, partly devitrified glass shards, melted sedimentary and igneous clasts, native metal, grape-clustered glassy spheroids, glass-like carbon, and/or amorphous carbon spherules (Ge et al., 2009; Bunch et al., 2012; Wittke et al., 2013). This evidence is all part of dated YD-aged sedimentary beds in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Peru, France, Syria, and the Caspian Sea of Central Asia that appear to be consistent with  the breakup of a cosmic impactor and subsequent ejecta dispersal of interhemispheric proportions. The known YDB sites in North America, South America, Western Europe, and Central Asia display a thin bed of ejecta-rich debris, which forms a well-dated microfacies that typically includes charcoal, ash, and carbonized local vegetation resulting from high-temperature wildfires, suggestive of the high-temperature ionizing cloud that would accompany an impact. Whether the YDB actually initiated the YD is still speculative but the relationship continues to firm up in various parts of the world.

I think Dr. Scott’s comments about the YD hypothesis reaching a ‘zombie’ status does little to assist in interpreting the available evidence as the databank is growing. New evidence of undisputed impact origin for aerodynamically melted/quenched Fe spherules from the MUM7B Andean site (in press, J.Geology) are a case in point as are new data from the Alps that show impact grains in rock rinds and associated paleosols (pdf attached).  I hope these comments will help others to carefully weigh new evidence as it comes on stream.  In the end I think the YDB will go down as the initiator of the YD and the longevity of the YD may well be shown to result from Earth’s continued encounter with Taurid fragments over a 1 kyr interval or an unusual sustenance of a negative radiation balance over a similar span of time. In the end the naysayers may well say they believed the impact theory was tenable from the beginning. Agassiz went through a similar turbulent time with his glacial theory nearly two centuries ago.

bill mahaney


6 comments to Le Bos, mais pourquoi pas la France?!

  • Steve Garcia

    Thanks, WIlliam!

    This in some ways does seem to parallel Agassiz’s battle, and Darwin’s, too. Some people seem to have “chosen up sides,” with the intent of sandbagging the idea by hijacking the science news and controlling the discussion by ‘locking out the opposition’ with false assertions and ridicule. (What is “zombie status” if not ridicule, by comparing to legendary creatures? And isn’t “misidentified” a form of ridicule, in asserting that other scientists are sloppy?)

    A similar thing occurred in the global warming issue, where for around two decades almost all news about it was controlled by some insiders with the UN IPCC. And – similar to “misidentified spherules” and “zombie status” – whenever some opposing information got out, those on “the good side” were there to point out (imaginary) oil company funding and even equating “skeptics” with Holocaust deniers. The infamous Climategate emails in NOV 2009 cut the rug out from under the “good side”, and since then the issue has been treated in a much more balanced way. I won’t go into it any further here, because it would be off topic, but let’s just say there is plenty of contrary scientific evidence about global warming to make the issue “unsettled” science – especially since for the last 16 years there.has been no warming, so nature has been not in lock step with the “good side.”

    …The Chelyabinsk event might have turned a few heads – and hopefully some of the right heads – regarding impacts, hopefully enough to take them seriously in the right circles. It might perhaps be necessary for another Chelyabinsk event to occur for the world to put some serious effort into it.

    …Back to Agassiz, the resistance to him folded like a paid-off prizefighter when Charles Lyell saw that Agassiz’s ice ages could fit into his gradualism/uniformitarianism nicely. Agassiz was actually proposing multiple ice ages, which the then ascendant and almost all-powerful Lyell didn’t agree with, and Agassiz – in order to have his ice ages accepted – meekly shut up about there being more than one ice age. Having Lyell sign on made Agassiz’s career and place in history. Though Lyell didn’t think multiple ice ages fit into his uniformitariansim, later scientists have not agreed.

    Still, to this day, the causes of the ice ages have not really been determined, although there is a consensus that “they more or less just happen from time to time.” Various ideas are out there, but none is universally accepted. But then, all those ideas are rooted in Lyell’s uniformitarianism, which is what is the underlying argument against the YD Impact hypothesis: “Yes,” they say, “rocks fall out of the sky, and, yes, 65Mya a ‘big one’ took out the dinosaurs, but those things haven’t happened since the dawn of time. They can’t happen in our time. See? There is no credible evidence that such events occur. Everything for the last few score million years has been gradual. The universe and solar system were in chaos for a long time, but since that long ago time nothing has happened except erosion and entropy.”

    Well, it is no wonder that they don’t see credible evidence, when they talk about such things as “misidentified” evidence on the part of dozens of separate research teams. When the supportive papers for the YDB Impact outnumber the contrary papers 2 or 3 or 4 to 1, and they still pretend that those papers don’t exist, what will get them to take off their blinders? perhaps nothing could.

    There is a principle called “confirmation bias,” which exists in science (and in people in general) according to which a person lowers the bar of proof for ideas and evidence they intrinsically agree with, while simultaneously raising the bar for evidence that doesn’t agree with what they believe is true. More or less, it is a case of “What I don’t want to be true CAN’T be true, therefore evidence that it is true MUST be incorrect, erroneously identified, erroneously collected, or a perpetrated hoax. Therefore I am justified in ignoring it.

    There is every possibility that we who favor the impact idea are guilty of that, so we should be on guard for it in ourselves. We have to keep on accepting evidence as valid, no matter if it agrees with us or not – until it is clearly shown to be wrong.

    I believe that – though we do have an axe to grind here – we have been true to that openness. George (for all the disagreements I’ve had with him) DOES, in fact, put up every paper and article he runs across having to do with this subject, pro or con. Then we commenters whine and point at contrary evidence and disagree for all we are worth.

    When Boslough’s paper cane out, I found it and read it before it was posted here. I was dismayed at Boslough’s assertion that “Independent investigators have failed to confirm the reports of enhanced concentrations of spherules and platinum-group elements in YD boundary sediments.” I thought, “WHAAAT??!!” Does Boslough’s paper go into detail and show how all the “independent investigators” that found supporting evidence of an impact were mistaken? HOW did they “fail”?

    They didn’t fail. Boslough in his paper refers to Pinter and Daulton and Holliday as “independent,” when in reality they are a small opposition group. There is nothing
    “independent” about them at all. Boslough is playing lose with the world “independent. He evidently thinks it means anyone who agrees with him. But in aligning with that group, Boslough has chosen sides and is NOT independent. (See above under “confirmation bias” and look it up elsewhere, too.)

    AMAZINGLY (!!!!) papers by truly independent third parties – like you, William – keep coming in, verifying goodly amounts of the original findings of impact evidence. This does give us continuing hope that we are betting on the right horse. At the same time, if it went the other way, I don’t know anyone here who would do anything more than say, “Well, I guess we were wrong.”

    LeComte and his sources have shown that Pinter’s and Daulton’s and Holliday’s papers themselves and their evidence itself was flawed, as have your own studies.

    There are certainly no people here leaning on you to find contrary to Boslough’s paper. I think if we tried to, you would laugh at us, and rightly so.

    I posit, though, that for Boslough et al (including especially Daulton, Pinter, and Holliday) to pretend that all those field studies clearly showing impact evidence don’t exist is a clear case of confirmation bias. They don’t want it to be true, so for them it ISN’T true, so they keep on arguing that such evidence doesn’t exist – even when their arguments have been well and completely rebutted. If they keep their ears to the ground, they would know that such impact-supportive studies keep on appearing in the literature.

    As George said about Bos in Salt in the Wound: The Bos Not Reading Papers, “Selectively ignoring evidence you don’t like is not science at all – it’s politics.”

    Boslough, in his comment to George here, has admitted, though, that sometimes he does keep his ear to the ground. At least enough to be fully aware of LeComte’s recent paper (and therefore all of LeComte’s sources, too). Yet he falls back on his “TIME MACHINE” defense, that his paper was submitted some 8 days before LeComte, so how could he possibly know about it, without having had a time machine? He asserts that since he is not H.G. Wells, he is innocent of trying to mislead on the evidence.

    Yet, neither paper was accepted for months, during which time Boslough could have – and SHOULD have – amended his paper and its contentions of non-existent evidence. His paper should have, in fact, been withdrawn.

  • Steve Garcia

    (I have not been able to stop myself from commenting before reading – or even seeing – all of what George has been posting on this Boslough et al paper. So I am gratified when I see something like the following…)

    “Steamed: Ted Bunch From the Heart On Boslough and Scott” rel=”nofollow”>

    Ted’s letter to George in part reads

    The Boslough et al. paper ignored the research described in the Israde and Bunch papers and chose to cherry pick minor points and to use outdated statistical data about impact frequency (by as much as 12 years) in order to try to prove a bogus point. This is, indeed, disingenuous. I was tempted to give them a pass on ignoring the LeCompte paper which was published in September, may be their paper “in press” at that time was cast in stone. If this were the case and they were responsible scientists, they would have withdrawn the paper for reconsideration.

    I was tempted to blockquote most of Ted’s letter.

    There were times when I though, “Ted should have used _____ term, too.” And then later on Ted did, so I was laughing through most of the letter, at how insulting and unprofessional THEY think Bos is, too.

    It IS clear Bos has sided with the Daulton/Pinter crowd and – like them – Bos is engaging in full out Confirmation Bias. And, as George says, POLITICS.

    From the global warming issue it is impossible to not conclude that those who have managed to garner Federal funding DO engage in science-as-politics. Bos being at Sandia Labs, has it seems been swallowed up with it. I don’t think there is a cure for it. Once they have gotten into the network of “Here’s how you get funding,” their DNA changes. Accusing them of it doe no good. Challenging them on facts does not good. They are no longer scientists; they are funding magnets. Nothing matters except funding. That means keeping themselves in the limelight, and like rock stars, they forget where they came from.

    In this case, Bos saw that the science writers were on the anti-impact side, and he wanted to jump into the fray. So which side did he jump to? The one the science writers and editors were already siding with.

    Bos should have picked his Daily Double bet better. On this one he will lose. The evidence , really, is in: There WAS an impact (or something that sure as hell has all the markings of an impact). I believe there is already more evidence in than existed for the dinosaur killer before an impact site was found.

    The only thing now is too find the site.

    I still wonder what would have happened if the Chelyabinsk object had not been a grazer. At 500 kt in the air, how much of Chelyabinsk would have been left with a ground impact?

    Do we NEED a Chelyabinsk sized direct impact to get more than token funding and the world to wake up? Or does a city have to be sacrificed to save the rest of the world? I hope not.

  • Steve Garcia

    Sorry about the formatting there! I have a TERRIBLE history with trying to post hrefs.

    George, if it is possible to correct the formatting, can you please do so?

  • George Howard

    All fixed, Stevo.

  • Steve Garcia

    Thanks, George. I’ll get it straight by the end of my next lifetime.

  • Steve Garcia

    I don’t know who exactly is being quoted here:

    Controversy over the impact, the so-called Black Mat enigma, and its relation to the Younger Dryas re-advance at the end of the last ice age, is fueled by arguments over whether a single extraterrestrial impact might sustain a 1 kyr-long downturn in insolation engendering a substantial increase in worldwide icevolume.

    I have two issues with this.

    First, I don’t agree with the assumption of a downturn in insolation. Yes, it is an assumption. There may be all kinds of evidence for lower temps, lower biological activity, etc. But projecting insolation as its CAUSE may be putting the cart ahead of the horse. Working from that conclusion is jumping to a conclusion.

    The other issue is the other end of that same assumption – that low insolation creates ice volume. I have been hot and heavy into climate the last decade, from what is known as the skeptical side of global warming. I’ve never been so exposed to so much science in one place in my life. And one of the things you learn is that increased cold does not equal increased snowfall. Antarctica, as cold as it is, is technically a desert. It gets VERY little snowfall. Yet – hang onto your hats – Antarctica right now is increasing its ice mass, even as you hear year after year that the Arctic is losing ice. On net, the ice caps are growing. BTW, there is plenty of evidence that Greenland is also gaining net ice, even while we hear cacaphonies about melting glaciers.

    But the point here is that temps generally around 15°-32°F (about -8°-0°C) are best for ice formation, though don’t quote me on the exact numbers; it’s been a while since I was informing myself on that one.

    So, cold is good for making ice – but only up (down) to a certain point.

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