data speak to me

Scientific Progress Always Delayed By Dogma

The human race uses ‘mob rule’ to dictate what is fact and fiction.

Environments that facilitate mob rule are characterized by barking dogma, or worse the anonymous piddling marking of dogmatic territory, these days on the internet.

It’s not just in sports, politics, and religion but also in the world of science, and importantly climate change.

“Elite scientists can hold back science” is a blog post by Brian Resnick on It reviews a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research titled “Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?”.

The study looked at the publishing patterns of scientific articles by top scientists and shows that after the death of these scientists there is a considerable drop-off in publications by their collaborators, assistants and colleagues, and a corresponding increase in publication by non collaborators.

The study found that after the death of luminary scientists, grant funding in their fields dropped off.

Goliaths Shadow

All this suggest there’s a “goliath’s shadow” effect. People are either prevented from or afraid of challenging a leading thinker in a field. That or scientific subfields are like grown-up versions of high school cafeteria tables. New people just can’t sit there until the queen bee moves on or dies.  What’s interesting is that the deaths seemed to hurt the careers of the luminaries’ junior collaborators, the ones who frequently co-authored papers with them but not in a senior role.

Science Far From Perfect

It is a common fallacy held and defended by many if not most who think of the field science as being impartial and unaffected by human weakness. There has always been a battle with this misperception, indeed sales pitch of science. Human natures shortcomings afflict all fields of human activity and endeavour.  This study reveals examples of how the quest for the advancement in knowledge is persistently afflicted by the influence of the elite who command high esteem among their peers and wield that command in a ruthless manner.

The character of science has also been afflicted by the monetization of the teaching of science by the proliferation of the countless ‘puppy mill’ degree programs that have created a huge bubble of “certified” but often frustrated people unable to find work in their ‘certificated field’ and whose only avenue to be acknowledged is by demonstrating their devotion and adherence to the reigning (or perhaps raining) dogma of the day.

There is a not so old joke about the problem of the puppy mills, it goes like this. “What do you say to catch the attention of a physicist (fill in your own fav discipline), you simply put your finger in the air and loudly say, “waiter.”  

Frustrated people commonly resort to barking dogma or marking their dogmatic territory with anonymous piddling wise cracks. Proof of the long standing ‘mob rule’ in science comes from none other than Albert Einstein who said in response to a 1931 book by a cabal of scientists threatened by and skeptical of relativity theory entitled 100 Authors against Einstein, “Why 100? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.”

A Case On Point: Attacks on John Martin and his Iron Hypothesis

For some decades prior to a momentous presentation to assembled earth scientists in 1990 the late great John Martin worked to unraveled a Gordian Knot mystery of how the largest and most vital ecosystem on this blue planet worked, its ocean pastures that are filled with 99% of all life on earth.  With the launch of earth observing satellites in the early 1970’s his detective work had become more and more possible. The oceans were clearly the major controlling factor of atmospheric CO2 and as everyone, even in that day, knew our spewing of billions of tonnes of extra CO2 into the planet atmosphere was causing global warming, aka climate change.

Carbon Pie on earth

Here’s the present distribution of CO2 in its free and fixed state on this blue planet. Where might we act making small steps lest our footprints disturb the system yet accomplish our goals.

Martin knew that ocean plant life and its photosynthesis was the powered means by which planetary CO2 was regulated. The power of course was the sun and the nano-machines doing the work were the ocean phytoplankton.

Whereas the planetary carbon (CO2) cycle is divided between land and sea it is the seas that do the real work as they perform 30 times the CO2 management of the land based systems. If Nature had a way to manage CO2 she would clearly do it in the domain where dramatic changes in CO2 would be accomplished via a tiny fractional change. As we know in science and in all things it is best to make progress in small steps.

In 1990 John Martin offered the proof of his successful unravelling of the Gordian Knot of ocean life. This has become known as the “Iron Hypothesis” and history shows it was identified as the likely reason detre’ of ocean life as far back as the 1930’s. Martin nailed though and showed that iron carried by dust in the wind has ruled ocean life, and hence all life on earth, for eons of time.

Previous ice ages are closely correlated with interruptions of global warming, but the global cooling that brings on the ice is additional dust in the wind, as seen in ocean sediment cores which read like an open book. The same cores show the dusty times were times of massive ocean plankton growth which in ancient times drew down the CO2 in the atmosphere and sent us into chilled ice age after ice age.

Data Speak To Me

John Martin in braces

John Martin was stricken with polio while in college and had to use braces for the rest of his life. (1935-1993)

Martin was a giant in his field, a quantitative scientist driven by a passion for hard data and when he “did the math” letting that data speak he found that an incredibly tiny amount of iron rich dust easily shifted ocean ecology from times of poorly productive ocean pastures to time of flourishing ocean pastures. More plankton growing means CO2 is scrubbed from the atmosphere.

The effect is so potent that many times in the ancient past warm ages where atmospheric CO2 was many times the levels it is at today were punctuated by ice ages that saw that CO2 reduced to levels less than about 60% of today’s present levels.


1990 Major Media Cartoon commenting on shock and awe of John Martin’s “Iron Hypothesis” and the republican president who took a liking to it as a solution to global warming.

Proof in the pudding

John Martin would receive millions of dollars in support from then President Bush’s administration to do the open sea experiments to confirm his hypothesis. He planned and prepared and just a few months before his research ship sailed he was struck down by a surprise attack of cancer and just months before his life’s work would see confirmation he died. The research cruise set sail without John and to no ones surprise it confirmed everything.

I had a conversation with Dick Barber, one of Martin’s peers, who took over John’s chief scientist role on the cruise in 1993. The name given the experiment was IronEx 1, it would be followed years later by IronEx2. He related the experience in elegant simplicity after they had successfully dusted a patch of ocean some hundreds of miles west of the coast of South America. That ocean is often cited as having the clearest water on earth, clear water means very little life!

I was sleeping below deck in my bunk. It must have been near to dawn when I awoke, as I did I was overwhelmed with a strange smell in the air.

I jumped into my deck boots and immediately followed my nose toward the aft research deck of the ship. As I stepped through the hatch onto the deck I could see half the crew there, noses in the air sniffing the strange smell. What could it be?

As the sun arose we all knew in an instant as the sea had turned from blue to green and the smell, it was the smell of fresh mown hay. The ocean pasture had come alive!

That awesome experiment was measured in every imaginable way, and over the following 25 years and a quarter of a billion dollars of global research conducted by scores of nations the data from many additional open ocean trials has spoken consistently to confirm John Martin’s Iron Hypothesis. What was to many an unexpected consequence of this has been an outrageous attack on the late great John Martin and any and all who might follow the course he charted.

The Attack

Immediately some of the scientific elite from the most famous ocean science institutions became fanatically dedicated to dispensing dogma and hatred against anyone who dared to propose let alone do good science on becoming intelligent and caring managers of ocean pastures. Sadly those few scientific elite with their institutional imprimatur drew to them more than ample lessor devotees who have chanted their masters dogma complete with fantastic fabrications and lies as to the reasons to to join what in the ocean science community is known as the “I hate John Martin Club.”

That cabal became ever worse over time as Martin’s Iron Hypothesis gathered more substantiating data. Soon this unholy cabal revealed very strange bed-fellows as other ‘elite’ scientists, businessmen, politicians, and climate market banksters determined to develop a trillion dollar per year research industry in the world of climate change joined.  Then the far right wing climate change denialists launched their tirades as surely a working affordable solution to their whipping-boy would short-circuit their plans. The all proclaimed their determination to destroy Martin’s Iron Hypothesis, as if proven, it would offer the best solution to climate change CO2 at a tiny fraction of the toll their efforts were determined to levy on the world. As of the recent Paris Accord the toll that 196 nations have agreed to is not less than a trillion dollars every year.

The sordid details of this are clear for anyone to see with a simple Google search,  much of those details and references are here on my blog.


Never-the-less some very few of us have continued to work to complete the confirmation of Martin’s hypothesis. As John had noted the potential of becoming caring stewards and active managers of ocean pastures might just be the salvation of the planet from the onslaught of our fossil CO2. Over two decades additional at sea experiments were performed all quite small while the larger ecological stable test was described and hundreds of millions sought to pay for the “science’ to conduct such work.

In 2012 after many long years and challenges I undertook to conduct what the world of ocean science had long called for to definitively prove the Iron Hypothesis. The result….  IT JUST WORKED!

The result of the world seeing that success might have been expected to be great joy. Rather the result has been much more than the obvious internet trolls, major media, and dark greens attacking. The elite science world has resorted to calling for and seeing the deployment of heavily armed SWAT teams who descended upon the research lab where the data and samples of the largest experiment in the history of ocean science resulting in the destruction of the data and sample sets. NOW THAT’S ELITE SCIENCE.

But the story doesn’t end there. The one thing the elitists, trolls, major media doomsayers, and dark greens could not stop was the effect that restoring a vast ocean pasture back to a condition of health and abundance would have. THE FISH CAME BACK!

It’s been a long time since your death John, but you were absolutely right I’ve checked your math. We can save the world with half a shipload of iron ore rock dust, and we’ll do it for you! We won’t let the bastards get us down, your namesake ship “John Martin” sails in 2016!


OK OK enough sermonizing, here’s your reward link her to watch Kevin Smith sermonize about dogma he’s so much better than I.