2011-09-10 04:24:18Divining Perry’s Meaning on Galileo Remark -- NY Times
John Hartz
John Hartz
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Here's one of the better essays on this topic.

NY Times, September 8, 2011

Divining Perry’s Meaning on Galileo Remark

In one of the more curious moments in the Republican debate on Wednesday night, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas invoked 17th-century science in discussing his doubts about climate change. He cited the astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei — often called the father of modern science — in suggesting that the current thinking that climate change is a result of human activity could be overturned. “Galileo got outvoted for a spell,” he said.

On the surface, though, his example seemed to illustrate the opposite of the point that Mr. Perry might have been trying to make. Galileo, whose astronomical observations confirmed the Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun, was basing his assertions on empirical knowledge and faced opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, which supported the Ptolemaic view of an Earth-centered universe.

Mr. Perry, by contrast, has said repeatedly that he does not believe the empirical evidence compiled by scientists in support of climate change, but that he does adhere to faith-based principles.

Was Mr. Perry trying to depict Galileo as a maverick among scientific thinkers of his time? If so, the governor was wrong, says one historian who has studied the trial of Galileo.  

“If Perry means to say that at some point some body of scientists said Galileo was wrong, that didn’t happen,” said the historian, Thomas F. Mayer, who teaches at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.

Galileo and Copernicus were long ago proved right, but even in Galileo’s day there were scientists who supported him, Dr. Mayer said. “His notions about science were not that far out there,” he said. “There were a lot of other scientists, especially in Rome, who more or less agreed with his scientific observations.”

 Perhaps, then, Mr. Perry was referring to the church’s trial of Galileo on charges of heresy, in 1633, in which the astronomer was convicted and sentenced to house arrest. In that case he was “outvoted” not by other scientists but by church leaders.

Asked about Mr. Perry’s remark, Mark Miner, a spokesman for the Perry campaign, said, “The governor was referring to vetting policies before implementing ideas that will result in job losses.” Mr. Miner did not elaborate.

 The 1633 trial was not really about science, many historians say. It was about Galileo’s disobeying a 1616 order to abandon Copernican views.

“It was almost like a contempt of court,” said Mario Biagioli, a professor of law and science and technology studies at the University of California at Davis. Dr. Biagioli said there was some validity to the comparison. “Theology at the time was the powerful discipline, and Galileo went up against it and was condemned,” he said. “Now the powerful discipline is science and not theology.”

But the comparison is also flawed, Dr. Biagioli said. “Galileo was not a doubter. He said, ‘Look, this is the evidence I have,’ ” he said. “It was the theologians who were saying, ‘No, no, no, this evidence is inconclusive.’ ”

2011-09-10 04:45:50
Paul D

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I think the article is assuming Perry has found some intellectual meaning in what he said. I doubt it.
The Gallileo meme I think originated in Australia and the 'Gallileo Movement':

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=galileo-movement-fuels-australia-climate-change-divide

http://www.galileomovement.com.au/

I doubt if he has personally thought about it in any detail other  than noticing a load of skeptics have taken Gallileo as an inappropriate hero.

2011-09-10 05:09:21
nealjking

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Yes, that was my impression also. I recall reading something about this so-called Galileo movement a year or so ago.

2011-09-10 05:35:44
Riccardo

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They don't know what they're talking about, but sounds so intellectual and well-educated ...

2011-09-10 05:54:26
nealjking

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In fact, the real argument that Galileo took to the pope (a former friend or patron of his, by the way) was, "Look, it's not good for the Church to take a stand on these matters. These are aspects of merely material reality that have nothing to do with the spiritual concerns and interests of the Church. The Church has nothing to gain by this; and possibly something to lose." Unfortunately, by the time he came to make his argument, some department had already taken a public position on this matter, and didn't want to back down in public. So they forced Galileo to back down; but he was right, the Church itself was the big loser, because any educated person in Europe could look through a telescope and see the moons of Jupiter. So it was the case of the battleship refusiing to make way for the lighthouse: Yes, the lighthouse was out-ranked, but the island had the final say.

Remarkably, it was only recently (2000 AD) that Pope John Paul II was gracious enough to apologize for the handling of the Galileo affair.

Even more remarkably, the current pope Benedict, as Cardinal, has tried to justify this case, on the grounds that the consequences of scientific and technological development need more beneficient oversight.

2011-09-10 06:13:36Paul D
John Hartz
John Hartz
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Thanks for the link to the SA article which was originally posted on The Daily Climate.

I suspect that the term hasd been coined by someone in the Climate Denial Spin Machine prior to the creation of the Austrlian group.

I also suspect that Rick Perry reads materials posted on Tea Party and conservative think tank websites. That is probably where he psicked-up the term, or he had been briefed prior to the debate by an aide who had become familiar with the term.

Given how the Climate Denial Spin Machine has framed mainstream climate science to be a "religion", equating contraians like Spencer, Linzen, Curry, et al to Galileo makes perfect sense from their perspective.

 

 

2011-09-10 06:18:24Is Arrhenius the real Galileo?
John Hartz
John Hartz
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A commentor on Dana's article, Lindzen Illusion #7: The Anti-Galileo suggested that Arrhenius is the "real Galileo" when it comes to the science of climate change. In comment #115, Chris G said:

It struck me that climate change has already had its Galileo. His name was Arrhenius, he bucked the status quo about 100 years ago, and his position has grown to be held by the majority since then. 

Perhaps SkS should promote this concept by publishing an article?

2011-09-10 07:32:24Note - 'Galileo broke the consensus' is an unrebutted myth in our database
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
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I even talked with Tom Smerling for a while about writing a rebuttal to the myth a while back but it hasn't quite gotten to completion yet. I have been collecting links on the myth:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/resources.php?a=links&arg=365

2011-09-10 10:02:58
Rob Honeycutt

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I think it's great that Perry's made this misstep (and the media seems to be portaying it, as far as I can tell, as just that).  It's brought this particular denier meme to the forefront and it seems to be getting soundly quashed.  

2011-09-11 01:58:11The Myth of Galileo: A Story With a (Mostly) Valuable Lesson for Today
John Hartz
John Hartz
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The following is from the most historically in-depth, recently published article on Galileo that I have come across.

"For scientists it shows that if you are in agreement with most of your colleagues, you will most likely be forgotten while history remembers some crank. For advocates of non-consensus positions (e.g., AGW skeptics, Intelligent Design theorists) it teaches that claiming your theory is correct is no substitute for backing it up with experiments and data (even if you are right). For aggressively self-confident people the lesson is that sometimes being persistent and believing in yourself will just get you into trouble. For Catholics it provides an example of why you shouldn’t insult the Pope (at least when there is an Inquisition going on)."

Source: The Myth of Galileo: A Story With a (Mostly) Valuable Lesson for Today by Joe Carter, First Things, Sep 8, 2011

 

2011-09-11 10:35:19
adelady

amgnificent@gmail...
124.171.64.208

I think for a rebuttal, the heading needs to be something along the lines of "so what's Galileo got to do with it?".  

Badger's reference would be good material, but the main thrust has to be standard SKS fare.   People who raise the galileo word have usually got it completely backwards.   Arrhenius as the "climate Galileo" has a nice ring to it.   

2011-09-11 11:58:17
nealjking

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I am not sure I would rely so heavily on Carter's presentation: It seems to me that he has a separate agenda of wanting to protect the position of the Catholic Church in this incident. I don't see any reason to assume that his view is definitive.

2011-09-11 15:48:12
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125
Lindzen Illusion #7 discussed how he's basically the anti-Galileo, so it's a subject we've broached before, albeit not in a lot of detail.
2011-09-11 19:25:25Upcoming on Galileo
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
123.211.208.191
I've emailed Tom about this - he's going to take his previous incomplete work on Galileo, shape it into a blog post and post it on the forum for comment. The post may require just minor tweaks or Tom hinted he'd like other SkSers to help co-author it - we'll see when he posts it. Would be good to get this out sooner than later and if appropriate, use it as the Galileo rebuttal also.
2011-09-11 20:52:14
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
93.147.82.89

It's more a work for good communicators, which I think I'm not. I have some knowledge on the Galileo affair and of the historic background, I'll surely give it a close look when it will be posted here, or before if he wishes. Feel free to give him my email if needed.

2011-09-12 02:38:34
nealjking

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84.151.59.188

Anyone working on Perry's take on Galileo might want to note the current events in Texas:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/thread.php?t=2719&r=4

 

2011-09-12 10:49:58
adelady

amgnificent@gmail...
124.171.64.208

Love this.  http://newanthropocene.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/minor-myths-the-galileo-gambit/   Look at the list at the bottom of the piece.

Even if you are Galileo, you could be badly wrong.

2011-09-20 09:09:45"Climate Skeptics are like Galileo" -- draft rebuttal, for feedback
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

Just discovered this forum topic (I usually just hang out in Climate Communication)!    

I have finished a draft rebuttal of the Galileo canard, with some input from Spencer Weart, posted it today in the "Blog Posts" forum (at JC's suggestion).

But it hasn't appeared yet.   Don't know if that's due to awaiting moderator approval? or a some glitch/user error.      If it's not up tomorrow, repost it.

2011-09-21 06:19:03Finally -- Galileo rebuttal draft is posted in "Blog Postings" forum
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

I'll be eager to get feedback and suggestions on this draft.

I'd really like to topedo this ridiculous claim"below the waterline" and be done with it.

Frankly, the skeptics' absurd and grandiose self-comparison to the father of modern science recalls this immortal line from James Thurber's update of "Little Red Riding Hood" :)

When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother's house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on.    She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge.

So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.   (Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.)

Rick Perry, even in a nightcap, bears no resemblence to Galileo Galilei.