Copernicus’ “Google Doodle” and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

copernicus_2485492bSunday past was the 413th anniversary of the execution of Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake for heresies such as proposing that the Sun is a star and that the other stars in the sky are also Suns, probably accompanied by planets very much like ours). Today, more auspiciously, is the 460th anniversary of the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus. He managed to postulate that the solar system revolved around the Sun, rather than the Earth, while remaining a Chapter Canon of Frombork Cathedral and important local civil servant during the early decades of the Reformation. Gallileo was put under house arrest for saying much the same things less than a century later and 1500km or so to the south. Times change.

It took time for the Reformation to settle into the political and military battle it later became. The Peasants’ War in 1524 encouraged both Catholic and Protestant rulers in German-speaking Central Europe to play a cautious hand and, in almost all cases, co-operate to serve their common interests. The England of Henry, Mary and Elizabeth, however, with its fanaticism of both Puritan and Ultramontane varieties, murderous dissolution of the monasteries, Secret Police and bloody executions of religious dissidents was an unusual epicentre of violent fanaticism in the Reformation’s early decades. But then England had always tended to be a little bit fanatical when it came to religion. Here, alone in the Catholic world, the laity were banned from reading the Bible in the vernacular before the Reformation, the electrifying effect of Wycliffe’s late 14th Century translation terrifying the authorities. The continent-spanning cult of martyr-pilgrimage surrounding Thomas a Becket at Canterbury Cathedral also marks England out as an unusually devout country with a history of religious intolerance and brutality by the state. English latitudinarianism and later secularism needed to have Puritanism test itself to destruction during Cromwell’s Commonwealth before it found fertile territory.

The Polish-Lithuanian union in which Copernicus lived, however, was a bastion of religious tolerance and free thought in its 16th century heyday. Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Reformed Protestants and Unitarians all worshiped and argued freely, as did Jews and even the small communities of Muslim Lipka Tartars* who had settled around the time Wycliffe was translating the Bible into English. In the ‘state without stakes’, Lutheranism understandably proved particularly popular among ethnic Germans, but also attracted Slav adherents. Reformed Protestantism of the Calvinist/Zwinglian flavour proved more successful among the Polish and Lithuanian nobility and educated urban classes – but not universally so. Copernicus’ Warmia was one of the regions which remained largely loyal to Rome.

In this battleground of ideas, the Jesuits produced some of their finest scholarship and best educational institutions. These, combined, with the Protestants’ limited attention to evangelism among the rural poor began to turn the tide back towards Catholicism; the Dominicans, long established in Poland and never fans of the Society of Jesus, worked tirelessly among the peasantry, as they did in Ireland. Then the Union of Brest, which saw Ruthenian Orthodoxy break with Constantinople and pledge allegiance to the Pope while retaining its liturgy and married clergy (and, yes, the modern parallel is obvious), fatally damaged Orthodoxy in Central Europe while shifting the balance of power in Poland-Lithuania decisively towards Latin Catholicism.

As the decades passed, the Reformation’s cold wars were getting ever hotter, and boundaries between explicitly confessional states across Europe ever more firmly fixed. The mid 17th Century produced a devastating Swedish invasion of Poland, which permanently weakened the Commonwealth and did much to damage the cause of Protestantism in Poland-Lithuania. The adherents of the indigenous Unitarian church called the ‘Polish Brethren’ were expelled soon after the Swedes withdrew, tarred as collaborators with the Protestant invaders. The Khmelnytsky Uprising of the same period saw Poland’s eastern boundary fixed more-or-less along the ever more firmly defined confessional boundary between areas of predominantly Uniate adherence, loyal to Rome, and those which remained loyal to the Patriarch in Kiev, and through him to Moscow. Poland’s late 18th Century partitions only heightened the sense of being a vulnerable Catholic nation trapped between Protestant Prussia and Orthodox Russia. The 20th Century, understandably, did little to change that perception. The great decline in Catholicism in Western Europe since the 1950s has spread eastwards, but Poland has remained much less touched than its neighbour to the south, the Czech Republic or the third representative of culturally-Western-geographically-Eastern Europe, Hungary.

In Northern Ireland, we tend to assume that our society is still shaped more by the Reformation than any other in contemporary Europe. Viewing that great continent-wide contest from its opposite end perhaps challenges that assumption.

* The Lipka Tartars were no less likely than other Poles to emigrate to the United States in around the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries, and opened Brooklyn’s first mosque. Actor Charles Bronson is of partial Lipka Tartar ancestry.

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  • http://www.richard.gadsden.name/ Richard Gadsden

    Thanks for writing about the Rzeczpospolita, Gerry.

    The free worship that it gave to Jews was one of the reasons that there were so many in the area that came under the power of Nazism duing WWII, and thus why so few European Jews survived the Shoah.

    Azkhenazi Jews were mostly concentrated in the former Rzeczpospolita – which became the Pale of Settlement in Tzarist Russia – until the twentieth century, and far too few moved to Britain or America before immigration was closed off.

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    The Commonwealth Europe’s first great experiment in bourgeois democracy and religious pluralism, and I believe the first country in the world to introduce universal primary education.

    It is strangely under-appreciated in Western Europe for all the obvious reasons: Polish is a Slavic language little learned by Westerners and Poland was stuck on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain for 45 years, and it will take at least as long again for it to catch up economically on where it might have been otherwise.

    Interestingly, the other great experiement in Reformation-era religious pluralism, Transylvania, is even less known in the West, although in that case the staggering range of religious diversity produced remained relatively safe under Ottoman rule in its heyday during the worst period of the Counter-Reformation, and as the region swapped the Sultans for the Habsburgs at more or less the right moment, remains intact to some degree to the present.

    But Europe’s centre of gravity is shifting steadily eastwards again; Poland is an emerging middle power again and that other causalty of the drift to the West of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Turkey, potentially a major power. Interesting times.

  • David Crookes

    Tremendous posting, Gerry. Many thanks!

    1. Who could have told even a generation ago that Ireland would acquire a substantial Polish population?

    2. In modern Belfast the relics of sacral-state Calvinism are testing themselves to destruction, to use your words.

    3. I wonder how long the EU will be able to keep out Turkey.

    4. Bruno’s fate should warn everyone to beware of the academic establishment. Less than twenty years ago Prof. John Overpeck, a lead author of the IPCC, wrote, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    The danger to Europe is that Turkey is taking a good long look at the EU, a good long look at a decade of it’s own economic success, and deciding that it needs us a lot less than we need it. Stupidity in Brussels has basically kneecapped both the secular liberals in the opposition and the liberal wing of the AKP (and it does exist and still has some real power – Abdullah Gül is a card-carrying and, IMHO, sincere liberal). But Sultan Tayyip was only ever a contingent liberal and he’s now thrown his lot in with the neo-Ottomans.

    In a generation, unless it gets sucked into some big scary vortex centred on Syria (something that Tayyip and his neo-Ottoman pals may just be arrogant enough to manage), Turkey will be the most populous country in Europe bar Russia, have a standard of living well up with, say, Spain under normal circumstances. And a first class infrastructure. And a military that always had extremely capable elite units and is in the process of transforming its infantry into a serious modern army. Its hard to exaggerate just how much richer Tukey has become since I first went there in 2000.

    I suspect Tayyip’s pan-Sunnism is doomed to be destruction tested in Egypt and Syria, and the Turks have never really bought into the idea of being too politically linked with Arabs save where they get to call the shots. I suspect they’ll get back to looking after their own natural sphere of influence, energy-rich Azerbaijan and Central Asia, where everybody speaks more-or-less-Turkish with a funny accent and a lot of Russian loanwords, and Turkey is looked upon as a serious model of success. The Turks have spent the period since the collapse of the Soviet Union educating the rising generation of Central Asian leaders – and not just at Turkish universities: Central Asia is peppered by schools attached to the missionary Fethullah Gülen movement, with its strong links to the AKP.

    Anyway, that’s a whole different blogpost!

  • David Crookes

    [Gerry, is it arguable that letting Turkey in a decade ago would have given the EU a serious gateway into Central Asia?

    I sometimes wonder if countries like Uzbekistan will end up coping better than Romania with the post-Soviet world.]

    But back to your thread. Maybe the influx of Poles has done more for the Catholic church in NI than the endless rumination of battles long ago has done for the Protestant churches.

    East and West go back and forward like the Scottish border. (Bits of Sofia still make me think of a Turkish city, and Bakchisarai in the Crimea is a world away from the St Petersburg of Pushkin and Nabokov.) It’ll be interesting to see what part our East European communities play in the Ireland of the future.

  • babyface finlayson

    David
    “Bruno’s fate should warn everyone to beware of the academic establishment.”
    He was a great man for the mnemonics too, so anyone dabbling in such things should also beware!

  • David Crookes

    Thanks for the warning, Babyface.

    The grandly impeccable Bruno
    Commanded the Paycock and Juno
    To try his mnemonic:
    They cried, ‘It’s demonic!’,
    And ran to have breakfast with Gounod.

    As far as I recall the young John Buchan wrote a fairly passionate poem about the murder of Bruno.

    Bruno is a good character to remember when you come to take issue with the carbon-footprint hockey-stick Nazi science of man-made climate change.

    There is a wealth of culture about the period that Gerry has brought before us. I remember coming across a lot of Polish Renaissance music in my student days. Back in the late seventies I was able to broadcast some of it. More than one member of my consort, who believed in a musical world of Italy-France-Germany-and-England, thought that I was being perverse: but the music was of the highest quality. I still have a huge volume of it upstairs.

    Never knew about Charles Bronson. Wonderful what you can learn on Slugger.

  • PaddyReilly

    Wonderful what you can learn on Slugger.

    Well try not to learn that Giordano Bruno was “burned at the stake for heresies such as proposing that the Sun is a star and that the other stars in the sky are also Suns, probably accompanied by planets very much like ours” because it isn’t true.

    The Inquisition did not see its job as stamping out heliocentricity, unfortunately for those who wish to rewrite history as a battle between clerical obscurantism and scientific clarity. Bruno made himself unpopular by getting the Church to pay for his education and then preaching a sort of Christ free demonic paganism.

    John Bossy in Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair argues that Bruno’s true crime was acting as the rogue priest whose duplicity clinched the judicial murder of Mary Queen of Scots.

    Copernicus proposed a heliocentric theory, but was prepared to admit that there were problems with it: if the Earth moved with respect to the Sun, one would expect the perceived position of the stars to vary, but this did not happen. At that time, no-one realised quite how far away they were.

    Galileo taught that this theory was correct, without overcoming these difficulties.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    What’s not to like with this thread? Woohoo!

    But using Copper Knickers to hang a Reformation/Counter-Reformation hat upon — hmmm, bit naughty.

    Has any one managed the two-volume Norman Davis tome on Polish history? I keep looking at it, and — for leisure reading — am frightened off by the price (even on Amazon — though it seems to be priced cheaper in dollars). Any recommendations? even for the shorter Heart of Europe (which seems to be Davis in full paradox mode, going backwards in history)?

    Now here are three curious things:

    1. About the only bit of Polish history (Leaving Cert, 1960— honours, but natch) that stuck was the insistence that Poland’s elective monarchy was a cause of national weakness. Hummm …

    2. [This’ll lower the tone.] SJ Parris’s fourth Giordano Bruno mystery is due in June. For a while I resisted the series as a pale imitation of CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series. Parris is far better than that — though, for me, not quite on a par with Sansom.

    3. Is there some kind of Nolan succession? Are they reborn, like Dalai Lamas, in an unending literary tradition? All the way from the death of Augustus Caesar, Bruno … then the James Joyce exploitation [The Day of the Rabblement, etc], Brian Ó Nualláin, that swarm of chirruping sisters from Blackpool, the scriptwriter/director of The Dark Knight
    What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    PaddyReilly @ 10:36 am:

    Correct me if my memory is at fault.

    As I recall, Professor Bossy’s thesis was that Bruno = ‘Henry Fagot’, Walsingham’s “mole” in the household of the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau. Again, relying on a fallible memory, Bossy’s main plank is that Fagot “exists” only for the convenient period when Bruno is resident in London. The rest is a lengthy, even exhausting construct based on retrospective psychoanalysis, scrutiny of Fagot’s hand-writing and ‘deliberate’ errors in grammar … and such. All a bit circumstantial?

  • Gopher

    Polands weakness was it based around serfdom. (not quite the liberal utopia of the opening post) As the grain price fell the lot of the peasants got worse. So basically Poland was left behind in the race to become a nation state. In fact the lot of the Polish serf was improved only in the areas of Poland that were partitioned to Prussia and Austria. The unlucky serfs in the Russian zone got the raw deal.

    Elizebeth it has to be said finally ended serfdom in England 200 years before the Austrians and Prussians freed the Polish serfs

  • babyface finlayson

    David
    “As far as I recall the young John Buchan wrote a fairly passionate poem about the murder of Bruno.”
    I dug that out for you, as I clearly have nothing better to do.

    ‘Oh to have lived in thy triumphant time,
    When ‘mid the gloom and ruin of outworn creed,
    And snarling churchmen and the felon breed
    Of monks apostate and the lust of crime

    Thou grandly held’st thy head erect, sublime;
    With some few brothers sought a better home,
    And dashed the gauntlet in the face of Rome,
    And died ere yet the passing of thy prime

    ‘Snarling churchmen and the felon breed’. Sounds like here!
    As for the Nolan succession, I would say our local Nolan is more likely to burn a steak than be burnt at the stake.
    But what about Gordon O’ Brown? So obvious.

  • David Crookes

    Many thanks, babyface! Don’t know about having nothing better to do. If you’re looking up John Buchan “you’re not throwing bottles at the poliss” , as one of my Annalong neighbours used to say.

    Of course there was more to Alfred than burning the cakes, and there was more to the murder of Bruno than questions of astronomy. Most of the time history is more shades of grey than black and white.

    Malcolm, you adduce ‘deliberate’ errors in grammar! Where did we recently hear of that phenomenon? History repeats itself…..

  • David Crookes

    Thanks for that reminder about the price of grain, Gopher. Today many members of our Polish community are working for low wages, and sending money back home.

    Malcolm, a couple of my Polish friends bought me the two-volume work of Norman Davies for Christmas! The elective monarchy to which you refer may serve as an example for a new unified monarchical Ireland.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Gopher @ 2:21 pm:

    Elizabeth, it has to be said, finally ended serfdom in England.

    Well, yes, in 1574, the institution was legally quashed. But I’ve always assumed it was already, effectively, a dead letter — labour was monetarised as early as the 12th century, but the Black Death accelerated the process.

    I’d more happily celebrate the Kett brothers and their ‘direct action’ predecessors, all the way back to Wat Tyler and John Ball (all uncomfortable dissidents, all done to death, either summarily, or by legal process) —

    When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men. For if God would have had any bondmen from the beginning, he would have appointed who should be bond, and who free. And therefore I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty.

    I am conscious, too, Ball’s sermon rang down through English history, to William Morris, and, through him, to motivate Clem Attlee.

    Equally, last December I was in Memphis, and had a passing chat with Connie Dyson, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, at the Civil Rights Museum. She was unaware that serfdom persisted for Scottish miners down to 1799. I am suddenly reminded I was supposed to document that for her.

    By the way, the French abolished serfdom at least four times: under Philip IV, Louis X, Philip V (which all beat Elizabeth by well over a century) and, finally — because you can’t keep a bad idea down, at the Revolution.

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    Bruno made himself unpopular by getting the Church to pay for his education and then preaching a sort of Christ free demonic paganism.

    The heretical bounder! Burn him!

    I’m sorry, but while far from the sole charge brought up in Bruno’s lengthy trial, his postulation of the existence of many worlds was definitely on his rap sheet from the Roman Inquisition. Frances Yates shifted the focus away from Bruno’s views on science to his esoterism, but esoterism was widerly tolerated by the Church authorities in Southern Europe; heliocentrism wasn’t.

    Galileo spent the latter years of his life under house arrest solely and specifically because of heliocentrism. This may be the ‘less serious’ charge to a modern conservative Roman Catholic but I don’t think you’re warranted in projecting that view back 400 years without some evidence.

    But using Copper Knickers to hang a Reformation/Counter-Reformation hat upon — hmmm, bit naughty.

    You think? In times and places not too distant from where Copernicus managed to live in churchy bourgeois comfort, what he said would have been quite literally unsayable. And didn’t On The Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres end up on the index of banned books for a century or two?

    We tend to think of the Reformation as a big bang type event that all flowed from Luther nailing his theses to the doors at Wittenberg. In reality it was a bit of a slow burner and outside England and Spain only really got nasty about the time of Trent. Science flowered in early Rennaisance Italy; Erasmus was a Catholic priest. Centrally imposed orthodoxy on philosophy and science only really got going after Trent.

    Anyway, it beats another boring thread of flegs where everybody repeats what everybody has already said…

    Has any one managed the two-volume Norman Davis tome on Polish history? I keep looking at it, and — for leisure reading — am frightened off by the price (even on Amazon — though it seems to be priced cheaper in dollars). Any recommendations?

    Managed his big tome on Europe a few years ago. Everybody says he’s particularly good on Poland if a bit romantic. MacCulloch’s History of Christianity is excellent and so is Reformation.

    I know God ain’t your bag, but if theology might be, I couldn’t recommend William Stringfellow’s “An ethic for Christians and other aliens in a strange land” highly enough. Worth multiple reads. If it’s your cup of tea.

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    Malcolm: If you have a penchant for John Ball’s preaching (we crossed in the post) I would definitely recommend Stringfellow’s Ethic for Christians.

  • PaddyReilly

    As I said before, the heliocentric theory was acceptable to the church, but you had to teach it as a theory, not as fact, until you came up with an explanation for the absence of appropriate parallax, which was the major flaw with this theory at that time.

    Bruno is a very interesting author, and I would recommend reading what he has to say: few people get beyond Frances Yates or Bossy.

    The idea was if you could assemble sufficient objects that were Martial, Venusian etc, you could cause the appropriate god to descend into the favourable environment. Summoning up demons did not have a good press with the religious of the time, and it isn’t highly regarded by modern scientists either.

  • Gopher

    @Malcolm

    Interesting stuff Malcolm thank you

    Funnily enough I was more worried about somebody querying me the other way if I had of said the 12th Century.. Slugger can get you like that. No doubt that there was a long line of people to the Scaffold throughout the history of the British Isles and some others managed to carry their bat. Some will celebrate ones some will celebrate others, me I just think they are part of the fabric.

  • Starviking

    Nice piece Gerry.

    The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is one of those interesting ‘forgotten greats’ of European history, along with the Hanseatic League. Its strengths are certainly ones that we would be well advised to foster.

    David

    Bruno is a good character to remember when you come to take issue with the carbon-footprint hockey-stick Nazi science of man-made climate change.

    Yup, that Nazi science which holds to well known scientific principles and observation.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Starviking. Yes, three cheers for the Hanseatic League.

    Earlier in the thread I gave an example of “Nazi climate science” from one of its chief proponents. If you’re happy enough with that, we needn’t argue.

    Gopher, I often wonder how someone who lived as dangerously as Nostradamus managed to “carry his bat”, in your words.

  • Gopher

    @David

    I can’t say I would be much of an expert on Nostradamus but a cursory investigation suggests their was nothing miraculous about his innings. Seers or quacks have always been popular with the nobility. Rasputin, Carole Caplin or Eileen Drewey are good examples of the phenomenon. Nostradamus enjoyed the patronage of none other than Catherine di Medici, that’s the Florentine Medici’s, some of her relatives were Popes and her Husband was King of France. She appears to have been a 16th century bunny boiler responsible for some of the milestones that led to wars of Religion in France.

    Two people that always amazed me that they made stumps on day five from the era are John Lilburne and Paulo Sarpi

  • David Crookes

    Thanks a lot, Gopher. I had in mind the unencrypted description of divination that comes at the start of the Centuries. But you’re right. No fictional author could have made up Rasputin.

    Some day we may get a history of the sundry omoplatoscopies that were served up with the anchovy omelettes in the court of Ronald and Nancy.

    If I live long enough I may get round to building a north-facing house that defies every principle of feng shui. Of course it’ll need to be built during a calendrical period that includes as many inauspicious dates and sidereal events as possible. Intrepid members of Copernicus plc will be welcome to visit me and Lycogyne on full-moon Friday the thirteenths.

  • abucs

    Saying Bruno was burnt at the stake for ideas about the Sun, is as silly as saying the moon is made of cheese.

  • abucs

    The years Galileo was sentenced to house arrest was when he was in his 70’s. We know from records that he did travel about and the Church didn’t intervene. We know he was going blind.

    We know the Pope wrote to him asking if there was anything he could do to make his time more comfortable.

    We know an arch-bishop offerred for Galileo to stay at his place for 6 months. We know that Galileo’s house was paid for by money from the Church.

    We know that in these latter years he received a special Papal pension, presumably for his contributions to science even though he was not a citizen of the Papal states.

    Finally we know that he lived in Tuscany and the Tuscan ambassador to the Vatican wrote to his Tuscan king saying that he had never seen any convict treated more favourably as Galileo.

    Excuse me, but if we are talking about the hard time after Galileo’s conviction, it is pretty tame stuff.

  • Starviking

    Hi David

    Earlier in the thread I gave an example of “Nazi climate science” from one of its chief proponents. If you’re happy enough with that, we needn’t argue.

    That would be this quote:

    Less than twenty years ago Prof. John Overpeck, a lead author of the IPCC, wrote, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”

    1. Where did you get this information?
    2. Did he actually write this?
    3. What did he mean by this?
    4. Does the fact that he was a lead author of the IPCC mean much?

  • David Crookes

    RIght-ho, Starviking.

    1. Christopher Booker, ‘The Real Global Warming Disaster’ (London and New York, 2009), page 79.
    2. As far as I can tell. See Booker’s footnote on page 105.
    3. He meant that the inconvenient fact of the Medieval Warming Period would have to be contradicted, or downplayed, or suppressed.
    4. Only to those who regard the IPCC with respect. I don’t, but many politicians do.

    Thanks for your posting.

  • David Crookes

    PS Starviking, see also page 81 and the author’s footnote 10 on page 106. Have a good night!

  • Starviking

    David,

    I do not have a copy of that book – however, Google Books has a lot of it available. Sadly, the footnotes on pages 105 and 106 are not available. Could you reproduce it here? I’m sure “fair use” would cover that. However, further to point 2, I found an unpublished paper by Dr Richard Lindzen, “Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?” which on page 11 mentions the matter, but does not definitively assign the quote to Professor Overpeck. The paper can be found through Google Scholar.

    On point 3, I thought it was the fact that the MWP is seen as being local to some areas of the globe, occurred at different times in different places, and so was not global – and so has little bearing on the current state of the climate.

    On point 4, I was more referring to the point that there are hundreds of lead authors of the IPCC reports, so Prof. Overpeck being one doesn’t carry much weight.

    Last point – what makes Booker an expert on scientific matters?

  • David Crookes

    Right-ho, Starviking.

    Page 105, footnote 1. Ross McKitrick, ‘What is the “hockey-stick” debate about?’, APEC Study Group, Australia, 4 April, 2005. See also Christopher Horner, ‘Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarrnists Use Threats, Fraud, And Lies To Keep You Misinformed’ (Regnery Publishing, 2008).

    Page 106, foonote 10. See McKitrick, op. cit.

    Has it been established as a FACT that that the Medieval Warm Period was local? Whether we’re talking about the Medieval Warm Period or the sixteenth century, a ‘period’ can’t occur in different places at different times.

    You say, “…..there are hundreds of lead authors of the IPCC reports, so Prof. Overpeck being one doesn’t carry much weight.” Very good. I like that. There are hundreds of professors, so the fact of Prof. Dawkins being one doesn’t carry much weight.

    What makes Booker an expert on scientific matters? If I was going to ask that question, I should buy and read his book. Of course the question has no relevance to the statement which Prof. Overpeck made. Many thanks for your posting.

  • David Crookes

    Starviking, I can’t do red links like some of you smart boys, but paste and copy into Google the line that follows, and you should be able to get McKitrick’s full article.

    McKitrick: What the Hockey Stick Debate is About?

  • Starviking

    Hi David,

    I looked at the McKitrick paper. There is one line saying:

    “A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”

    Prof Overpeck is not mentioned. He is mentioned in Lindzen’s paper, but is not confirmed as the writer of the quote:

    Although Deming did not name the individual because he could not locate the email, he did note in an email to me that “Off the record, and over the years, I may have confided
    verbally to a few persons what my recollection was of the person’s identity.”

    Has it been established as a FACT that that the Medieval Warm Period was local? Whether we’re talking about the Medieval Warm Period or the sixteenth century, a ‘period’ can’t occur in different places at different times.

    The current paeloclimatic evidence points to warming occurring in different areas at different times. I guess that could be considered a fact. As for “period”, MWP is used as a shorthand for the warmest period in an area in the medieval period, so a period can occur in different places at different times.

    You say, “…..there are hundreds of lead authors of the IPCC reports, so Prof. Overpeck being one doesn’t carry much weight.” Very good. I like that. There are hundreds of professors, so the fact of Prof. Dawkins being one doesn’t carry much weight.

    Not really comparing like with like. Someone being a small part of an organisation doesn’t carry much weight when apparent misdeeds are used to sling mud at the organisation. Prof. Dawkins is the head of a movement, if he were to commit misdeeds they would have a big effect on his movement.

    As for Professors – we’re probably talking in the hundreds of thousands worldwide.

    What makes Booker an expert on scientific matters? If I was going to ask that question, I should buy and read his book. Of course the question has no relevance to the statement which Prof. Overpeck made. Many thanks for your posting.

    Why buy the book when I can browse it online, and Google the author’s biographical facts? Read History at Cambridge, claims asbsetos, passive smoking and BSE are not hazardous, and supports Intelligent Design. Hardly stellar stuff in the science field. Additionally, given that his references fail to directly tie anyone to the “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.” quote that Dr Deming recalls – his journalism seems pretty poor too. Then again, his book would probably have been a bit less punchy, but a little more truthful if it had headed the chapter concerned with:

    “Geologist claims someone important sent him a mail saying “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.” Cannot find mail.”

  • David Crookes

    Starviking, I am REALLY GRATEFUL to you for alerting me to what is looking more and more like a rascally reference that I mustn’t use again. Thanks for the time and effort that you’ve put into your recent posts. I don’t go for man-made global warming myself, but most of my friends think that I’m greener than green, and it worries me that some of the ant-MMGW brigade have a pretty nasty agenda (keep polluting the planet like billy-oh). So thanks again.

  • Starviking

    No problem David, time spent uncovering flawed claims is always well-spent, and serves to show the lack of attention to detail of many of the anti-anthroprogenic global warming vanguard. If Mr Booker was submitting a PhD with references which did not definitively back up the claims he was making he’d be facing a rewrite at best. I hope you can find a better book, I recommend Spencer Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming”, which has been made free on the web.