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On this question: Is there a deep, hot biosphere? , I provided an answer which was essentially a summary of Thomas Gold's book "The Deep Hot Biosphere", which I have just read. The answer was upvoted, and yet, it was deleted summarily after a claim that it is "unreferenced". It is not unreferenced, it has exactly one reference, which is Gold's book (although this book itself has many references which one can include). The deletion is unjustified even by the claimed standards of this site. I ask that it be restored.

The consensus in petrolium science in the west is that oil is biogenic. The consensus in the Soviet Union (and in modern Russia and Ukraine) is exactly the opposite. Gold was one of the few English writers who supported this position.

It is common practice on this site to evaluate claims not by reading the material, or learning what the subject is about, but based upon statistical counting of the number of sources that support one claim over the other.

This is guaranteed to lead to ignorant censorious deletion in those cases where the majority mainstream opinion is mentally defective. The opinion that oil is biogenic is the mentally defective claim, it is ridiculous to think that you can get pure hydrocarbons from plants under natural conditions, it is just a stupid thing that many powerful people believe, although they also now have to acknowledge that abiogenic methane exists at the very least, and deep thermophillic bacteria too.

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How about "Verifiable References"? You say that it's from Gold's book, but there is absolutely nothing in your answer to give any validity to that claim. Add links. Put in screenshots from a PDF, etc.

  • I have a dead trees copy, but the pdf by Gold linked in the comments to the question makes much the same claims in abbreviated form. I can add page citations for verification, but I don't know if the book is available in digital form, it's from 1998. – Ron Maimon Oct 24 '12 at 0:38
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    @RonMaimon Can you find any of the references you typed up, in other locations? A link to Amazon? Something? You cite a source, but it is totally unverifiable. I think that may be why it was deleted (and too large to convert to a comment). – Larian LeQuella Oct 24 '12 at 0:45
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    @RonMaimon Dude, chill. :) I have no idea what others think of you, but when I looked at your answer, a wall of text appeared without a single link. I kinda agree with the deletion because if I don't have the book, then it's just hearsay as far as I am concerned (and it was too much to convert to a comment). – Larian LeQuella Oct 24 '12 at 0:54
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    I disagree with this. Books do in general count as references here, they’re verifiable by visiting a library. Granted, a link would be fine but we cannot in general expect links to (PDF) excerpts. If for no other reason then because this would be a copyright violation which probably wouldn’t fall under fair use. I agree that the answer is wall-of-text-y; it should be shortened and focused significantly. But I don’t think it warrants deletion. – Konrad Rudolph Oct 24 '12 at 8:05
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    @KonradRudolph books do not count as references in general. Otherwise the Bible could be quoted as an answer on YEC questions!? Clearly a book is a good reference if a particular passage of it is supported by references. Just pointing at a book without checking references is not sufficient. Which bits of his answer are supported by which references in the book? It's impossible to check, not just difficult. – Sklivvz Oct 24 '12 at 10:18
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    Any answer presenting an opinion against the current scientific consensus, must be supported by very strong references - extraordinary claims, &c. Otherwise we will become "Crackpot theory of the day.SE". – Sklivvz Oct 24 '12 at 10:23
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    @Sklivvz: You are wrong. Extraordinary claims only require ordinary evidence, this is the basic principle of science. You should become "crackpot theory of the day", this is what skepticism is. But in this case, this answer is only against the mentally retarded consensus in the west, it was consensus in the Soviet Union for 50 years, and it is still consensus in Russia and the Ukraine, and Russia is one of the world's largest producers. – Ron Maimon Oct 24 '12 at 14:13
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    @RonMaimon thanks, i didn't ask (or was minimally interested in) your opinion, though. Sorry to be blunt, but I am wasting my time with you. You just do not have any capacity to go beyond yourself and actually listen. – Sklivvz Oct 24 '12 at 15:51
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    @Sklivvz: That's right! I do not listen. I continue to hammer away without allowing any outside socially mediated input from others. That's what skepticism means. – Ron Maimon Oct 24 '12 at 20:17
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    @RonMaimon you seem to have a very poor dictionary if that is what skepticism means... Try this from something BrightBlades posted: "Skepticism is the willingness to subject anything and everything to the harshest possible scrutiny. If you have never changed your mind on any subject, ever, you probably aren't a skeptic. In other words, skepticism isn't so much about being right, but avoiding being wrong. Debunking is the process of showing why something is wrong, and therefor why it should be avoided." – Larian LeQuella Oct 24 '12 at 22:34
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    @RonMaimon your comments were deemed off topic by another moderator. Please take this to the Skeptics Chat. – Sklivvz Oct 25 '12 at 20:39
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There are several problems with that answer:

  1. It uses the same source that is questioned to answer the question. The question is skeptical about Gold's claims, using his book to prove that he is right doesn't add much.

  2. The answer doesn't make clear which statements are directly from Gold's book and which parts you added yourself.

The post also contains some non-constructive assertions like

That oil is abiogenic should be obvious to everyone today, the evidence was strong in the 1950s, and it's certain now. This idea is rejected today because oil scientists are stupid and reactionary.

and

[..] but the abiogenic character of oil can't be disputed by a sane person today.

Those statement contradict the current scientific consensus and are not backed up by evidence. You can of course make a case against the current scientific understanding, but that requires bringing along some hard evidence.

  • These statements only contradict the scientific understanding in the West, which is mentally defective. It was manifest to me that oil is not biogenic from its hydrocarbon content--- plants are mostly sugar, and you can't deH20 carbohydrates into hydrocarbons in the crust, it makes no sense. You can mineralize the plants, but not into pure carbon seams, nor into oil. The source is clearly all that extraterrestrial carbon. But then I find that there are biological residues in oil, and I back down. Unlike me, Gold doesn't back down, but shows that these residues are due to bacterial action. – Ron Maimon Oct 26 '12 at 20:43
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I haven't deleted your answer however, I might guess that the reason it was deleted is that you are only bringing to the table the opinions of someone writing a book. Why is it that the book is a valid resource and not garbage?

You rightly say the book has references, do they support the thesis you present as a summary? Checking references is clearly something we expect you to do! We also expect to be able to check ourselves, by the way.

The answer, as it is, is basically uncheckable. I need to read the whole book to check whether your summary is correct, then correlate your summary to the references and verify that there are enough references in the book to support it, and finally I also have to look for and verify all the primary sources.

No thanks.

Also, note that we don't allow wikipedia for very similar reasons. We don't even allow referenced wikipedia articles.

To get your answer reinstated:

  1. Cite verbatim passages in the book which support the points you wish to make.
  2. Check that those passages are supported by references.
  3. Cite those references as well.
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Ron,

Saw some of your "crank" responses to Larian, and had to add in another defenition of skepticism that I saw over at JREF that may help you realize why you are having problems here.

Skepticism is a world-view, most reflected in the intellectual practice of questioning instead of just accepting assertions. Skepticism can be as simple as looking out the bedroom window to see if this morning's weather matches last night's weather prediction; it can be as complex as comparing the source and validity of evidence in an emerging medical or biological question. Skepticism necessarily includes the willingness to say--and to be comfortable with-- "I don't know" about an issue, an experience, or a perception. Skepticism is recognizing that there is an implicit "As far as we can so far determine" about currently held truths.

Skepticism is not denying assertions on a priori grounds, except for things which are metaphysically impossible (as, perpetual motion devices) or unprovable (as, "There are pink dragons sipping tea on Alpha Centauri"). Nor is it patiently and interminably arguing, researching, and debunking every wild-eyed claim that is made. For example, it is not necessary to disprove every claim of psychokinesis to hold the view that it is vanishingly unlikely; it is enough to recognize that there have been many unsubstantiated claims, and many examples of fraud; that there is no mechanism postulated to support such a thing that fits with known physical phenomena; and to hold the caveat that if such a claimant is able to offer repeated successful demonstrations of this ability under stringent laboratory conditions, it would warrant further consideration.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, skepticism is the mental habit of not believing in things simply because you want them to be true; nor denying things because you want them to not be true. In its simplest form, skepticism is a commitment to finding reality and accepting it.

  • SKEPTICISM CONSISTS OF APPLYING THE SAME RIGOROUS METHODS OF QUESTIONING TO UNSUPPORTED DOGMATIC PEER REVIEWED CLAIMS THAT ONE APPLIES TO CLAIMS OF TELEKENESIS. EVERYTHING ELSE IS ARISTOTLISM AND CONTRARY TO THE PRINCIPLES OF SCIENCE. ONE MUST BE SKEPTICAL OF DOGMAS, NO MATTER IF EVERY EXPERT BELIEVES IT, ESPECIALLY IF EVERY EXPERT BELIEVES IT. – Ron Maimon Oct 26 '12 at 20:41
  • I AM NOT HAVING PROBLEMS HERE. IT IS THE PEOPLE HERE OTHER THAN ME WHO HAVE PROBLEMS. WHEN YOU INSTITUTE POLITICAL REVIEW, WHERE THE DISCUSSION IS NOT ABOUT THE CLAIM, BUT ABOUT HOW THE CLAIM WAS MADE, YOU HAVE KILLED SKEPTICISM. – Ron Maimon Oct 26 '12 at 20:42
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    @RonMaimon Why are you yelling? And seriously dude, you need to do some yoga or other relaxing activity... Your reaction is quite disproportionate to the situation. – Larian LeQuella Oct 27 '12 at 14:46
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    +1 on the answer for the "Crank" reference! :) – Larian LeQuella Oct 27 '12 at 14:47

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