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Four Revolutions in the Earth SciencesFrom Heresy to Truth$
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James Powell

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164481

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164481.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

From Heresy to Truth

From Heresy to Truth

(p.289) From Heresy to Truth
Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences

James Lawrence Powell

Columbia University Press

This book has taken a historical look at deep time, continental drift, meteorite impact, and global warming and how each of them overcame accusations of being heretic and eventually became accepted as truth. Scientists rejected the four theories for so long, only to have later generations come to regard them as virtually self-evident. Scientists accepted the theories when the data demanded that they do so. To call themselves scientists, they had no choice. This book has also shown that when a new theory defies conventional wisdom and data are lacking or hard to interpret, scientists are apt to fall back on their tried-and-true principles. In the case of geology, that meant uniformitarianism. In addition, it has highlighted the indispensable role of outsiders for each of the four discoveries, as well as the role of debate and consensus among scientists.

Keywords:   deep time, continental drift, meteorite impact, global warming, scientists, geology, uniformitarianism, outsiders, debate, consensus

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