Saving the Appearances

  • Date: 15/12/09

According to James Hansen (on the American David Letterman show) the refusal of CRU to disclose the data doesn’t really matter because “it doesn’t change the science one iota”. And of course it’s true: when the science is settled, why would it be necessary to save the data?

Something in this whole charade reminds me of the ancient notion of “saving the appearances”, commonly attributed to Simplicius’ commentary on Aristotle’s “On the Heavens” in the 6th century. The veracity of an hypothesis concerning “appearances” was totally beside the point; explanation was purely to keep things (like observations, ideas, doctrines, “appearances”) settled; that is, without question. And such was the pervading Ptolemaic mentality until Copernicus came along.

The “bottom-line” of the notion is that illusions (or delusions) easily become ultimate physical reality or ultimate imperative (cf. O. Barfield and T. de Chardin), and, transmogrify to idols and idolatry.

In Paradise Lost Milton recalls and presents the notion of “saving the appearances”…

“Or if they list to try

Conjecture, he his fabric of the heavens

Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move

His laughter at their quaint opinions wide

Hereafter, when they come to model heaven,

And calculate the stars; how they will wield

The mighty frame; how build, unbuild, contrive,

To save the appearances; how gird the sphere

With centric and eccentric scribbled o’er,

Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb”

For whatever reason (fame, money, control, power, etc.) the present mimetic fixation on climate-change/global-warming took over from the drastic, human-extinquishing gobal-cooling pandemic prior to about 1988.

All the data in the world, past, present, or future, have nothing to do with the new “appearances” because those “appearances” are settled, established, beyond both doubt and question.


Dr. Christopher Morbey, retired astronomer

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