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Plausability of Myth
THE TWO FACES OF "PLAUSABILITY
On several occasions recently, in reference to the Saturn theory, David Davis raised the vexing question of physical plausibility. This is a first shot at putting the question into perspective, particularly for those such as David D who were not present as such questions were discussed over the years.
The problem involves two radically different fields of evidence--human memories on the one hand, and physical observation on the other. But truth itself is unified, and one can be certain that when conflicts occur something is wrong on at least one side of the ledger. A false assumption, a false reading of evidence, a false analysis of probability, or an invalid deduction. So how do we deal with the situation when human memories speak convincingly for something which orthodox science, with equal persuasion, denies?
The Saturn theory suggests events and natural forces contrary to almost everything believed by the scientific mainstream. Does this mean that science gets to tell us whether the theory is "valid", without showing that we have misstated or misused evidence, or applied reasoning to the evidence improperly?
Mainstream theorists can certainly point out the disparity between the claims of the Saturn theory and the textbook history of the solar system. And we can, in turn, point out that things which science considers out of the question were consistently remembered around the world and with a degree of detail and coherence that is inconceivable under usual explanations. But the situation is a stalemate until a ground of reconciliation is reached. What is impossible could not have happened. What happened cannot be impossible. And this fact is, singularly, our basis for confidence that answers CAN be found. We have either misapplied principles of reasoning to the historical evidence, or science is misreading evidence to a profound degree.
A quick background statement for more recent subscribers to this list. The Saturn theory involves a congregation of planets including at least two gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn) and the planets Venus, Mars and Earth, all moving around the Sun, with the Earth close enough to these bodies that they present a spectacular and at times frightful presence in the sky. Four key contrasts with conventional theory are inherent in the construction: 1) dramatic changes in the planetary order in geologically recent times; 2) a period of collinear alignment within the hypothesized configuration (during this period, of indeterminate length, the planets stayed in line and were thus seen from the Earth as juxtaposed spheres); 3) a period of axial alignment between the Earth and the collinear configuration, so that Saturn and the other bodies appeared fixed at the pole; and 4) an indeterminate period in which a bright crescent on Saturn visually turned in the sky (due to light from the Sun and the effect of Earth's rotation), the positions of this revolving crescent around the pole reflecting the terrestrial cycle of day and night.
Now perhaps you have wondered how I could have ever proposed such a thing, knowing full well that PLANETS DO NOT BEHAVE THIS WAY under the fundamental "rules" of celestial dynamics. Actually, it was easy. I was convinced that the weight of historical evidence is, when evaluated logically and dispassionately, more persuasive than present scientific beliefs about planetary behavior. And this conviction has only grown over the years. The scientific consensus is not a finished encyclopedia with an exclusive on truth, and in fact that consensus is proven wrong every day.
Critics have often assumed that when I first proposed the idea of a "Polar Configuration", I simply didn't know that everyday science virtually FORBIDS the underlying concepts. But in fact I knew this very well, and from the beginning I had people repeating the obvious to me. So I said (in print, more than once) that the configuration is, in terms of present scientific understanding, "impossible", or (when I was feeling more charitable to the concept) "highly implausible". To which I would add (in so many words) that the "truth must be out there", even if we have missed it.
Now step into this perspective for a moment. I am as certain that huge planetary forms were seen in the sky as I am of any rule of logic, or any natural experience known to man. This is because the universal memory is too explicit, too concrete and too unusual to be explained in any other way. This is now an unshakable conviction with me. Apart from the implied celestial references, the accord of human memories is simply not possible. And I do mean NOT POSSIBLE. I am not asking you to believe this, just to understand that this is the position I hold, which may also help you understand why I believe so strongly that our task is, above all else, to develop a clear and effective presentation of the historical argument. What must be developed is a presentation SO clear that those rare but uniquely capable and open-minded individuals within the sciences will be inspired to ASK THE QUESTION and to help us find the ground of reconciliation. I am not foolish enough to think that I will be the one to solve the challenge scientifically!
I have to speak subjectively on this, but I believe that all who have worked to solve a mystery, or to understand a new idea, or to discover a new possibility will share in the confidence I am expressing on this point. It is BECAUSE truth is unified that the sense of a new possibility will always direct you to follow the implications of the idea through a maze of tests. At every step, this was the basis of my growing confidence in the historical reconstruction. As the planetary configuration came into focus, it began to suggest many hundreds of tests, always implying that if I would look in this direction, or that direction, I would find specific data (enigmatic meanings of words, drawings of things not seen in our sky, unexplained re-enactments of cosmic events) consistently speaking for the same underlying forms. And for this very reason, I shall continually urge true explorers in the sciences to follow the tests into their own domains as well. (Still speaking for myself now.) These things happened. That means the dynamical principles must be available to us. The physical evidence must still lie in the ground. It is just that, as Kuhn himself would put it, we are not seeing the evidence properly.
To illustrate the way this confidence works, I want to give a few examples relating to the greatest conundrum in the first 21 years of the research - the principle of collinear alignment (planets staying in line while moving around the Sun). Even now, on the Kronia discussion group, we periodically see posters remarking on the "impossibility" of such a configuration. Here is what they are talking about:
In any Newtonian system, planets move around a center of gravity. If the hypothesized Jupiter-Saturn system revolved around its own center of gravity as it moved around the Sun, one must deal with the principle of orbital equilibrium and Kepler's Third Law. The farther a planet is from the center of gravity, the slower will be its orbital velocity and the longer will be its orbital period. But planets staying in line would have to have the SAME orbital periods. Therefore, an in-line configuration is gravitationally impossible. Given the imposing momentum of planet-sized bodies, surely no "secondary" force could even come close to resolving the problem.
"The polar configuration is a blatant violation of Kepler's Third Law." Even various Velikovskians joined in that refrain. Leroy Ellenberger repeated it many times. Later, Tim Thompson, on the Internet discussion group, talk.origins, repeated it in a series of postings.
So how could one claim, based entirely on human memory, that a physical principle MUST be available to support the concept?
Well, here's what happened. Some 21 years after I had first proposed a collinear configuration (originally I did not even know that the name for such a thing existed), the dynamicist Robert Grubaugh contacted me with a bombshell revelation. In orbital mechanics, he said, there is something called collinear equilibrium. If you put planets in line around the Sun, close enough to each other that they are all within what is called the "sphere of influence" of the dominating planets (in this case, Jupiter and Saturn), there is for each of those planets an equilibrium position at which they will STAY IN LINE until disturbed. In the unique condition of collinear equilibrium, the usual implication of Kepler's Third Law does not apply!
Suddenly, a 21-year objection based on "things KNOWN to science", collapsed.
So here was a first demonstration of the maxim, "the truth is out there" - a startling convergence of the historical argument and physical principle. Not just an interesting and unique principle, but the very principle the historical argument DEMANDED.
Was this the end of it? No, that began a series of revelations following the same pattern. First, there was the proclamation by critics that something was "impossible" (the favorite word in the lexicon of debunkers); then there was the subsequent revelation that a particular dynamic principle overlooked by the debunkers was the very principle the Saturnian reconstruction called for. I will enumerate a series of examples in submissions to follow, all coming under the same heading - CONVERGENCE.