In this corner, science…

By Phil Plait | March 28, 2005 9:57 am

On Wednesday, March 30, a scientist and friend of mine, David Morrison, will “debate” one James McCanney, who is neither a scientist nor a friend of mine. The topic will be the claims of Immanuel Velikovsky, and the “debate” will air on the Coast to Coast AM radio show.

Morrison is an expert in astrobiology and many other fields of astronomy, and is well-known and respected in the scientific community. McCanney, on the other hand, believes in so many impossible things he could give the Queen of Hearts a run for her money.

I talk all about this guy on my web page debunking his claims. Comets are hot, comets are as big as planets, the Sun has nuclear fusion on its surface and not in its core, and lots of other silliness.

McCanney is a believer in a modified version of Velikovsky’s claims, which are already so silly that modifying them won’t help (in much the same way as taking 500 mg of Vitamin C won’t cure a decapitation). I wrote a chapter in my book about V’s theories, and could easily have written a whole book on just his terrible astronomy claims. I can’t remember a single thing V said in his book “Worlds in Collision” that was astronomically correct. It’s an astonishing collection of rampant wrongness. For more info, see here, or here, or here.

McCanney is similar, in that his claims not only don’t make sense, but are trivially shown to be wrong by using math and physics you should learn in high school. Go ahead and read my link about him and you’ll get the picture.

I’m not sure I can hear the whole “debate” (in quotations because it’s nearly impossible to debate anti-scientists like McCanney) because it’s on late at night, but I’m hoping to listen later when I get a chance. This will be both amusing and irritating, I have no doubt.


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