Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Again, WSJ Editors Live In Fantasyland As They Pull Up Stats To Try To Prove U.S. Isn't Really A Covid Failure

It's hard to believe that with 40, 041 new cases, an 80 % increase over two weeks, the WSJ editors continue to peddle fairy tales. ('Covid Comparisons, Europe and the U.S.', June 29, p. A14).  Writing:

"Even with the latest outbreaks, the U.S. has recorded fewer deaths per 100,000 people than the United Kingdom (66), Spain (61) and France (44).  Death rates are a lagging indicator, but Arizona (21), Florida (15) and Texas (80), are still well below Europe"

Well, leave it to the WSJ op-ed crew to find one stat which makes it appear the U.S. isn't really in the morass of Covid response failure it is.   But again, the  little Neolib mutts just don't get it.   They don't get that the core issue is preventing our limited medical system (including in terms of supplies, health workers) from being overrun. Already in Arizona, my niece Heidi informs us it's almost impossible to get into any ER - they are all being overrun with sick patients. (She is also a nurse so this is most concerning especially as she has two kids to look out for.)

The Journal's editorial wankers can babble all they want about per capita death rates but they have to know these do not tell the full story, namely whether a nation is truly succeeding in confronting and controlling the virus - as opposed to giving into its depredations. If you glance at all the rate increase curves (e.g. 'Spread Accelerates Across The U.S.', June 26, p. A6) you will see how 29 states and counting bear  the exponential rise in infections that foreshadow overrun medical facilities, ICUs.    The aggregate curve, indeed, is nowhere near flattening for the country, e..g.

And this is largely due to the pathetic response of the Dotard and his minions, i.e.

 Trump Has Sabotaged America's Coronavirus Response.

Contributing to the ever upward trajectory are red states like Florida, e.g.

Which like Texas and Arizona also opened way too early, and especially without taking proper mitigation precautions, such as mandating wearing of masks, and social distancing.  I mean, good grief, this stuff isn't rocket science or advanced astrophysics, folks.  This is basic biology of a stealth virus that as many have said "has a long fuse" and because of so many stealth carriers, silent spreader, can wreak havoc.

Again, it is clear the WSJ editors must also know these relevant facts, given their own main news pages, i.e. today ('Coronavirus Cases Are Surging Amid Strains On Hospitals, p. A6), wherein we read that AZ Gov. Doug Ducey is having to reclose gyms, movie theaters, water parks and bars - which he should have done earlier, or at least mandated masks and social distancing if he was hell bent to reopen so early.

Meanwhile, in LA county things aren't much better and Christina Ghaly (Director of LA Country Dept. of Health Services) has warned that the county "could begin running out of hospital beds in the next few weeks."

But this is what happens when you don't take full precautions and treat this virus lightly, or in the case of Repuke males - treat it as if it were nonexistent and you are invincible, so see no need to wear masks.  Which they regard as "slave wear", "shameful" and "signs of submission".

At the end of the day this disease doesn't care whether one is Dem or Repub, or from a red or blue state. It will keep mowing people down, burning through the nation with more infections (especially as there remains 93% of the populace to go) so long as people react in a stupid or ignorant way.  Don't like any mask or social distancing mandates? Then I guess you'd prefer another lengthy lockdown, because those are the only choices. 

If you prefer delusion to reality, keep reading the WSJ daffy editorials how "the America -is-a failure' reporting has a heavy dose of partisanship."  In fact, it has a heavy dose of truth which no amount of per capita mortality stats can obscure.

If you don't believe it, just wait while you disregard the mandates and warning and end up with a severe case of Covid with lungs resembling rotten hamburger, e.g.

Oh, and you need the magic drug remdesivir to survive, for which Gilead plans to charge you $3, 120 for a 5-day course.   Those inclined to line up on the WSJ editors' side might also want to consider why Americans are banned from more than 20 European nations as travel destinations.

See Also:



Solar Oblateness And The Solar Quadrupole Moment: What's The Connection?

Image result for Carl Brans
Solar oblateness has been key to tests of general relativity, including by my former Mathematical Physics prof at Loyola, Carl Brans.

Solar oblateness came to the fore some decades ago when it was invoked to challenge the standard Einsteinian General Relativity. This was as part of the Jordan- Brans- Dicke theory of gravity proposed by Robert Dicke of Princeton and Carl Brans - my former mathematical physics prof at Loyola University ca. 1966.  (See image)

As with all rotating celestial bodies - planets included - the Sun is "oblate", meaning that it "bulges" at the waist, i.e. solar equator. The measure of this bulge is then the ratio of the equatorial diameter's excess (i.e. over the polar diameter  or (a- b) to the polar diameter (b) itself. Or:

Obl = (a - b)/ a

Less known is the fact that an oblateness gives the Sun what is called a "quadrupole moment" which we designate J2. The dimensionless parameter J2 is defined (cf. 'Gravitation and Spacetime' by Hans C., Ohanian and Remo Ruffini, W.W. Norton, p.18):

J2 = Q 33/  2M R 2

where M is the mass of the Sun, R is its radius, and Q kl =  33 is the mass quadrupole tensor (op. cit., p. 17).  To assess a baseline perspective, if the Sun were rotating totally uniformly oblateness effects minimal) then J2 would be roughly 1 x 10 -7. In this case, the corresponding contribution to the advance of Mercury's perihelion would be a few hundredths of an arcscond per century, or in other words, within the observed value of the uncertainty for 'eta' (e  ).

Interestingly, Brans and Dicke (1961), originally proposed a 'scalar-tensor' theory of gravitation which avoided conflict with the Einstein GR prediction. In their field the scalar field replaced the gravitational constant and becomes instead a function of space and time, so oe gets a variable value for G - the Newtonian gravitational constant. Effectively, one is looking at a quantity G'/G where G' denotes the first time derivative, or dG/dt.

Meanwhile, in 1967, Dicke and Goldenburg obtained an unexpectedly large J2 ~ 2.5  + 0.2 x 10 -5 which - if accepted- would show significant deviation from the Einstein predicted value for Mercury's perihelion advance. It would also have required that the solar interior rotate at a much faster rate than the surface. Such a large quadrupole moment would have led to an additional 3 arcsecs per century over Einstein's value. Thus, leading to  e ~ 46"/ century. This large value has never been confirmed, and indeed, Dicke et al (1985) using a solar vibration method found J2 = 1.7 x 10 -7  .   According to this value of J2, also obtained by three other investigators (Christensen et al, 1985, Duval et al, 1984, Brown et al, 1989) the observed perihelion advance of Mercury is in agreement with the general relativity predictions.  Nevertheless, a definitive J2 value has yet to be determined.  (By 'definitive' I mean the accuracy in measurement ought to be of the order  10 -8 )

Quite obviously, what the preceding showed is that better methods of measuring oblateness (and hence the quadripole moment J2) are needed, but which exceeded optical methods, including digital photocells, and also oscillatory -vibration methods. Such an advance on observational quality became feasible in 2010 with the launch of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). This Observatory was able to measure with record precision the shape of the solar limb (the solar disk's edge) and in addition ascertain variations in the limb over a solar cycle.

The results forthcoming were simply amazing, i.e. that the Sun's equatorial radius exceeded its polar radius by 7.2  + 0.5 milliarcseconds, and with NO evidence of departure from constancy. Given the Sun's diameter of 1.4 million kilometers subtends a half degree in the sky (1800" roughly) then the difference between its equatorial and polar radii would amount to barely 5 km. In other words, it's almost perfectly spherical. Most remarkably, the 5 km difference is small even when compared to the turbulence on the solar surface

Further refinement - especially useful over solar cycles - was obtained by incorporating best -fit quadrupole (C2) and hexadecapole (C4) coefficients. Then  'to 4th order' the difference between equatorial and polar radii is given by:

D = -3C2/ 2  - 5C4/8

Amazingly, within the range of observational uncertainties, both C2 and C4 have been consistent with constancy over two years. Moreover, C4 is effectively zero (contributes very little to solar oblateness) so:

D = -3C2/ 2

Further analysis using Legendre polynomial multipole data discloses a marginal hint of correlation between C4 and the sunspot cycle - which may or may not assume importance for future sunspot -flare forecasts.

See Also:






Monday, June 29, 2020

What Did Justin Bieber Have To Do With Reviving The PizzaGate Insanity On Tik Tok?

"I duz know Pizzagate be real cuz I research it! Oh, and Justin did give us a signal with he hat!"


So screamed  the header in yesterday's Denver Post (p. 4A),  catching my attention, especially as I had thought the vile Pizza Gate conspiracy bunkum was long since dead and buried.  So I was not prepared to read this lead- in paragraph:

"Four minutes into a video that was posted on Instagram last month, Justin Bieber leaned into the camera and adjusted the front of his black knit beanie. For some of his 130 million followers it was a signal."

Who would have believed the idiotic conspiracy nonsense known as "PizzaGate" would surface again in this election cycle?   And from a purported "signal" by Justin Bieber, or so millions of his followers construed it.   (To quote Janice: "Those kids need to get a life away from the stupid screens!")

For those who don't remember  PizzaGate was born in 2016 in online forums like 4chan and Reddit, where right-wing supporters of Donald J. Trump pored over hacked emails from John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s senior campaign adviser, looking for evidence of wrongdoing. Some emails referring to Mr. Podesta’s dinner plans mentioned pizza. A 4chan participant then connected the phrase “cheese pizza” to pedophiles, who on chat boards use the initials “c.p.” to denote child pornography.

A huge pusher was Michael Flynn, the recently released (thanks to Bill Barr's interventions) co-conspirator with Trump in the Russian 2016 interference, who had tweeted at the time:

"Until Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story."

The dimwit clearly not grasping that there is no logical basis to prove a negative. One proves positive claims or propositions (see e.g. my posts on symbolic logic) not negative claims.  But this is par for the course in Trump land.  Flynn even went on to write:

"U decide. NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails. Money Laundering. Sex Crimes w. Children etc."

In fact, the NYPD blew no such whistle, and indeed the FBI admitted they had nothing, i.e. on trying to tie Anthony Weiner's emails to any suspect and nefarious misdeeds.  Never mind, the thing was humped right up to the election, even as articles came out pointing to the transparent rubbish, e.g.  as one writer from the UK Guardian put it:

"In any other year a story like 'Pizzagate'  would get you laughed out of a room. The conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was part of a sex-trafficking ring run out of a pizza shop is bizarre and disturbing from start to finish.  But in 2016, a year when nothing makes any sense any more, it can be cited as a motive for a crime".

Never mind, the hijacked brains invested in this bullshit were 100 percent convinced  they were really global citizens conducting a "worldwide citizen investigation" to rout the "evil motherfuckers and elites"  behind it.

The nature of the whole fiasco, when I considered it in retrospect, was that it had much more in common with a mind virus, packaged as a conspiracy ideation,  than a "theory".  Indeed the latter is absolutely the worst term to use.  When one speaks of a theory he at least means something with a residue of rationality, a degree of empirical evidence and consistent explication and sense, even if later proven wrong.

The  mind virus is radically different, but must be understood if we are to parse the latest Pizzagate mutation.    This evidently started with a documentary:  “Out of Shadows,” made by a former Hollywood stuntman,. This offal was released on YouTube in April and passed around the QAnon community.  See e.g. the nature of QAnon in this earlier post:

Let's Get This Straight: QAnon Are Conspiracy Cra...

 Recall  that the three primary attributes of a mind virus (as originally set out by Jacques Monod, in his Chance and Necessity) are: 

1) performance value

2) propagation value and 

3) infectious value.

Performance value incorporates the particular vehicle (or medium) that produced the most immediate and pronounced changes in the brain exposed to it.  There is little doubt this was the mockumentary 'Out of the Shadows' which had all the earmarks of a psychotic ideation ripe for dispersal to the uninformed, ignorant and gullible. 

 Propagation value indicates how far and wide  the particular  mind virus is spread, and what means were employed to achieve this.  Again, not hard to discern:  In May, teenagers on TikTok - with too much free time on their hands-  began promoting both the mockumentary and codswallop about Justin Bieber touching his beanie as a signal he was a Pizzagate victim. as reported earlier by The Daily Beast.

Specifically, someone  with little more than air between the ears had posted a comment asking Bieber to touch his hat if he had been a victim of a child-trafficking ring known as PizzaGate. Thousands of comments then flooded in, but there was no evidence that Bieber had seen that message. However, his innocuous gesture set off a flurry of online activity, which highlighted the resurgence of the mind virus.  As with all such viruses, any unrelated gesture, word, or wink is instantly transmuted into something sinister.  Add in some confirmation bias and Voila!  the "conspiracy" is alive and well.

Infectious value embodies the ease with which other brains can be infected. And we now know that most of Bieber's followers - since he did touch that hat-   became convulsed with hysteria as the apparent confirmation appeared. Viewers quickly uploaded hundreds of videos online analyzing Bieber’s action. Of one thing we may be sure: None of those videos had any remote resemblance to the Zapruder or Nix  films of the JFK assassination.  That was hard, cold brutal fact with a head exploding and brains erupting.  As opposed to superimposed brain burps on mental flatulence.

But this is how infectious value takes hold and so the videos were translated into Spanish, Portuguese and other languages, amassing millions of views. Fans then left thousands of comments on Bieber’s social media posts asking him if he was safe. Within days, searches for “Justin and PizzaGate” soared on Google, and the hashtag #savebieber started trending.  All now translating into powerful confirmation of a mind virus at work in millions of infected brains.

 Now, fast forward: A  week ago (as reported in the NY Times), Rachel McNear, 20, watched “Out of Shadows,” which has now garnered 15 million views on YouTube. She then turned to Twitter, where she came across Mr. Bieber’s supposed association with PizzaGate. After reading more on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, she created a one-minute description of her "research"  on the topic and posted it to TikTok on Monday.

Okay, here's a newsflash: NO serious research of any sort is "posted" to a medium like Twitter or Tik Tok - which I refer to as cartoon media.  If you wish to post serious research you do so in a blog post, or better a paper that has a chance of publication in a magazine or journal.  So what Ms. McNear produced was not "research" but a verbal cartoon begotten from a mind virus she absorbed after being exposed to the original source of infection, 'Out of the Shadows'.   One can only express sympathy for her, as with the other infected, and hope that in future they inoculate their brains with critical thinking.  (Which, alas, is no longer imparted in our educational system  - even a university level.)

More worrisome, PizzaGate is now reaching a level that nearly exceeds its 2016 fever pitch, according to an analysis by The New York Times. TikTok posts with the #PizzaGate hashtag have been viewed more than 82 million times in recent months. Google searches for PizzaGate have skyrocketed.  All this again points to the infectious value as well as propagation value of the original meme.  This is especially given it soon appeared in bogus publications like The Vigilant Citizen and The New Nationalist on Facebook and Instagram. On Twitter and YouTube, other users amplified the content.
According to the Times analysis:

"In the first week of June, comments, likes and shares of PizzaGate also spiked to more than 800,000 on Facebook and nearly 600,000 on Instagram, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool for analyzing social interactions. That compares with 512,000 interactions on Facebook and 93,000 on Instagram during the first week of December 2016. From the start of 2017 through January this year, the average number of weekly PizzaGate mentions, likes and shares on Facebook and Instagram was under 20,000."

Let's again note this is not a joke, and while the temptation is to howl with  laughter at the kids' gullibility - it can lead to tragedy.  Weeks after the November 2016 election, Edgar M. Welch, 32, a North Carolina resident, drove six hours to Comet Ping Pong to free what he believed were enslaved children. He shot several rounds from a military-style assault rifle into a locked closet door of the pizzeria and eventually surrendered to the police. In 2017, he was sentenced to four years in prison.

According to Alice Marwick, a disinformation expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, quoted in The NY Times:

PizzaGate never went away because it encompasses very potent forces,  including children’s safety and the power of elites.  But now there is so much scaffolding from people who have researched it, it wasn’t hard for others to pick up from there.”

Which, of course, doesn't explain why the sordid bunkum is tied to stalwarts in the Democratic Party and its leaders, Why not the Repukes who are, after all, the corporate party who have given trillions to the wealthiest and now want to rip away health care in the midst of a pandemic?  It doesn't add up.  Logic would dictate that the GOP and Trump be the presumed instruments for such foul deeds, but that isn't the case, it's Hillary, Podesta and other Dems for god's sake.

Pat Banister the Bajan psychiatrist who I've cited in previous posts, in connection with her theory of mind to do with conspiracy ideations, had to deal with similar hysteria back in 1973.    At that time Barbados was rife with rumors of children being taken for Obeah purposes.  (Obeah is a kind of primitive Bajan practice analogous to the Haitian voodoo).  Kids around the island -  166 square miles so rumors spread fast- became convinced the "Baccoo man"  was out hunting for them to use in an Obeah ritual.  The unfounded rumors spread after it was (mistakenly) reported some kids had "vanished".  (They'd actually been sent away to relatives in the states, mainly Brooklyn, a prime Bajan destination.)  This then led to several cases of hysteria that Dr.Banister had to deal with.  The only solution at that time was for the teens to be committed to the Psychiatric Hospital where they'd usually be administered  ECT and given largactyl.

One would hope the teens and others infected by this latest PizzaGate mind virus would not also need similar therapy to secure their mental release from the "demons" of batshit crazy bunkum  now infesting their brains.   As the Guardian author concluded his piece:

"Pizzagate is a lie but what it says about our society is real"

What it says about our society  - much of it - is that it has lost the ability to reason. A nation capable of reason in a critical thinking context would never fall for transparent  twaddle like PizzaGate.


TikTok teens and K-pop fans took over anti-Black Lives Matter hashtags such as #WhiteLivesMatter and drowned out the anti-Black Lives Matter messages with GIFs and memes. When people on social media platforms look for these hashtags, they’re met with seemingly unending images and fan videos of popular K-pop groups such as Twice and EXO.  This, in turn, leads algorithms on social media platforms to classify such trending hashtags as K-pop trends rather than political trends, thwarting the anti-Black Lives Matter activists who tried to use the hashtags to promote their messages.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Is The Milankovitch Hypothesis Really Based On Celestial Mechanics - Or Sea Floor Geology?

In 1976 three scientists (James Hays, John Imbrie,  Nicholas Shackleton)  published a seminal paper. In it they presented a deep sea "climate record"  which they claimed contained the same temporal cycles as three parameters shown in Fig. 1 below, from a recent paper appearing in Physics Today (May, p. 48) by Mark Maslin.  
Their technique basically entailed using deep sea sediment cores to extract marine micro-fossils, to then estimate past sea surface temperatures.  The claim then was made that this geological proxy climate record revealed the same temporal cycles manifested in the three orbital parameters: eccentricity, obliquity, and precession.  All this is to substantiate the so-called Milankovitch theory which asserts these three distinct cycles are applicable to Earth's orbital motion.

The eccentricity (a) describes the shape of Earth's orbit around the Sun,  said to vary from near circular (as it is now) to more elliptical, with a period of 96,000 years.  The obliquity (b) is the tilt of the Earth's axis of rotation with respect to the orbital plane, and oscillates with a period of 41,000 years. The precession (c) combines the spin of Earth's orbital axis and its orbital path over time, producing a 21,000 year cycle.

Let me now back up to say I do not regard this as a "theory" but rather a hypothesis.  A theory, as I (and most physicists) define it, refers to a hypothesis which actually has made predictions that have been verified.  To my knowledge no such predictions have been made by Milankovitch's acolytes.   To be consistent, one would also expect such predictions to come out of a pure model from celestial mechanics - not one dependent on sea floor topography or geology.  These are two distinct sciences after all. (Paleo-climatology, i.e. based  on marine mciro-fossils,  is also distinct from celestial mechanics.)

Start with its contention that the obliquity of the ecliptic (inclination of Earth to its orbital axis) varies from 21 to 24 degrees over a 41,000 period in a process called ‘nutation’. This is certainly a magnitude in excess of a half degree (1800”) on either side of its current 23.5 deg.

Astronomers-astrometrists recognize no such period or differential of axial tilt. The following is from the book, Astronomy- Principles and Practice by A.E. Roy and D. Clarke, 1978, Adam Hilger Books, p. 118:

Because of the nutational wobble in the Earth’s axis of rotation, the obliquity of the ecliptic (KP in Fig. 10.32) varies about its mean value. The magnitude on either side is about 9.”2.”

For the benefit of non-astronomers, the magnitude cited (9.”2) isn’t even one hundredth of a degree! Indeed it is nearly a factor 4 LESS than a hundredth of a degree! (which translates to 36”- there are 3600” = 1 degree))

Going now to Eichhorn and Mueller’s standard text in astrometry and geodesy, 

 p. 69, “astronomic nutation’:

"The main term of astronomic nutation is produced by the non-coincidence of the Moon's orbit with the ecliptic in conjunction with the retrograde motion of the lunar nodes. This results in a periodic change in the obliquity of the ecliptic termed nutation in obliquity, denoted by d  e

The astronomic nutation, from now on called simply ‘nutation’ is not to be confused with the true nutation appearing as a force-free precession (Eulerian motion) of the Earth’s rotation axis about its principal moment of inertia axis, which is part of the polar motion

The first six terms of the expression for nutation in obliquity are:

(9.”2100 + 0.”00091t) cos W - (0.”0904 - 0.”0004t) cos 2W – (0.”0024 cos (2 w m W) + 0.”0002 cos (2 s  – W) + 0.”0002cos 2 ( w m  + W) + (0.”5522 – 0.”00029) cos 2W  

Where t denotes the time interval measured from 1900 January 0.5 d ET in Julian centuries (1 JC = 36525 mean solar days), W is the longitude of the mean ascending node of the lunar orbit on the ecliptic measured from the mean equinox of date, w m  is the ‘argument’ of the point where the Moon is nearest the Earth (i.e. from the lunar perigee),   is the mean longitude of the solar perigee measured from the mean equinox of date, and  W  is the geometric mean longitude of the Sun measured from the mean equinox of date.

We can then examine the putative change in the eccentricity e, which is currently at 0.0167 but which Milankovitch adherents claim can reach e = 0.07. (Elongating the orbit so as to influence climatic factors, e.g. see this video demonstration:

eccentricity with border

But what would it take to change the shape of the Earth's current orbit, to the one proposed by Milankovitch supporters?  How much energy would be required?  We can use the equation for the total energy of the orbit, in terms of the eccentricity, e, and the dimension of orbit known as the semilatus rectum,  r o   (=   b 2 /a)  and the other familiar parameters for Newtonian orbit computations, e.g.

The objective is to find the change in energy E, i.e. when e is altered from 0.0167 to 0.07.  This turns out to be approximately:

D E   »  1.9  x 10   42 J

This is an enormous amount of energy input.  WHERE does it come from? HOW is it produced?  What is the time evolution - in energy increments- leading to the final more eccentric orbit?  The Milankovitch adherents who adopt the work of a Serbian civil engineer, provide no answers.  How can they when they are working from reconstructed sea floor geology  findings and not celestial mechanics per se?

Given the preceding we should acknowledge that  there are significant problems with that Serbian civil engineer's hypothesis that bid us to exercise much more caution, i.e. before adopting it without qualification.  Especially given its reversed engineered construction from geological data, to arrive at a celestial mechanics format requiring new orbital elements.   Or conferring the benediction of an origin in celestial mechanics, as opposed to geology. One major issue was raised in a paper by Daniel B. Karner and Richard A. Muller 2 which pointed out a number of serious problems, inconsistencies associated with the Milankovitch hypothesis. 

Specifically the authors – after  assessing the  data from numerous sources (e.g. U-Th dating from the Devil’s Hole cave in Nevada) found that:


       the Devil’s Hole data indicated a shift in d 18 O  to interglacial values and was “essentially complete by 135 ka but the Northern Hemisphere summer insolation hadn’t yet warmed to the point when it would have triggered anything extraordinary, let alone a glacial termination  Adding: “We call this discrepancy the causality problem

-         Most of the sea level rise took place prior to the expected insolation warming

The authors conclude (op. cit.):

The standard Milankovitch insolation theory does not account for the termination of the Ice Ages.”

Adding that:

We can conclude that models that attribute the terminations to large insolation peaks (or equivalently to peaks in the precession parameter)…are incompatible with the observations.”

Equally significant, perhaps, Richard A. Muller  has pointed out in a separate paper 3 that “the spectral shapes predicted by the Milankovitch theory do not match those in the spectrum and bispectrum of the data..”

In addition, Muller notes that the net forcing associated with clouds, i.e. about 30 W/m 2  is substantially greater than the rms variations in insolation.   This leads him to conclude:  The changes in cloud cover could be more important than the changes in Milankovitch parameters. 

Finally, Puetz et al4,  employed a “universal cycle model” – using a Universal Wave Series (UWS) with cycles in the kyr range -  to show that  orbital tuning limits independent and objective testing of an empirical hypothesis like that of Milankovitch. In effect, while Milankovitch offers a “seductively elegant solution to the problem of age-stratum mapping”, its template remains a trap for selection effects (and data bias) to enter. This results in a condition, as it pertains to the Milankovitch hypothesis,  whereby:

 ”Reporting bias occurs when articles mention favorable results from orbitally tuned records, which are supportive of the Milankovitch theory, while failing to mention unfavorable results from un-tuned versions of the same records.”

The reason is clear given that (ibid.): “Statistically significant positive results that support a desired outcome are more likely to be published in high impact journals.”

Thus, while one can certainly appreciate Prof. Maslin’s article, it is also worthwhile to be aware of the problems to do with the underlying hypothesis, most of which I suspect were engendered by the origins in sea floor geologic data.. 

My primary gripe, then,  is there is no independent confirmation of the Milankovitch hypothesis from celestial mechanics proper. That is, where is the model, or even numerical simulation,  actually showing how the three orbital parameters evolve over time t to yield  the temporal cycles suggested by the  marine microfossil studies?  Granted Hays et al's paper is ingenious - even somewhat convincing - but when you strip away all the ersatz arguments it is still reverse engineered geology, from which the changing orbital elements must be indirectly  inferred.

Where is the direct connection to orbital parameter development in a celestial mechanics context?  In particular, leave out the geological data, where is the theory based on celestial mechanics showing how Earth's orbit changes its parameters to yield the temporal cycles claimed by Maslin, as well as Hays et al, and oh yes, Milankovitch.


1. J.D. Hays, J. Imbrie, N.J. Shackleton, Science 194, 1121 (1976)

2.Daniel B. Karner, Richard A. Muller, A Causality Problem for Milankovitch, Science, 288, 2143 (2000)

3. Richard A. Muller, Limitations and Failures of the Milankovitch Theory, poster paper, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting (2001)

4. Stephen J. Puetz, Andreas Prokoph, Glenn Borchardt, Evaluating Alternatives To The Milankovitch Theory, Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference, 170,  158 (2016)