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Tectonic Audit

Tectonic Audit[1]
By Steffi McImtyresome and Rose McKritik[2]

(This is the first in a series of articles in which two biologists bring their expertise to bear on the Earth Sciences, exposing sloppy errors and groupthink.)

This week, we address the paper that purported to enlighten us all on the real nature of those “tree rings of the sea”, the ocean crust magnetic anomalies, in the paper "Magnetic Anomalies Over Oceanic Ridges"Nature 199: 947–949 by FJ Vine and DH Matthews (1963), henceforth “VM63”. This paper, deemed “seminal” by the geo-mobilist “team”, is riddled with elementary errors that would not have passed the more rigorous standards employed by us biologists.

a)     The upside-down Carlsberg Ridge series. Astute readers of Tectonic Audit (is there any other kind?) will immediately notice that the Carlsberg series are upside-down. This inconvenient truth was glossed over in the text of VM63 with a hand-waving, unsubstantiated and ad hoc hypothesis about the Carlsberg Ridge being located in “low magnetic latitudes”. It’s like sticking needles in your eyes.


b)     You only find what you look for. All the profiles shown in VM63 are oriented orthogonal to the ocean ridge crests, so it should come as no surprise that ridge-parallel variations were undersampled and neglected. A properly designed double-blind experiment would have involved random profile directions with the scientists unaware of the location, trend or even the presence of the ocean ridge.

c)     The spaghetti graph. This iconic graph purports to show the fit of models to data over three of the Carlsberg profiles. The lousy fits are hardly better than a random walk and, surprise, no R2 values are given. Note also the assumption of “infinite lateral extent”—puhleeze—even those bozos V&M must have known that the planet is finite and spherical. And just look at the way the profiles are aligned; as if one anomaly correlates with the one directly above or below it, with no elementary statistical tests like cross-correlation to back this assumption up. Can they even spell S‑P‑A‑T‑I-A-L  A-L-I-A-S-I-N-G?


d)     Hiding the declination. Magnetic reversals and the polarity of the inclinations of the remanent magnetic vector are the crack cocaine of oceanic crustal studies. But what about variations in remanent declinations, which are downplayed? Are we supposed to believe that the magnetic poles didn’t wander, that plates can move over a spherical earth (see above) without rotating just a little bit?
e)     Show us the code. The modelling computations were allegedly done on an EDSAC computer, yet when we demanded to see the code we were told, evasively and lamely: “Instructions on the EDSAC computer were on paper tape and we can’t read them anymore”. Wikipedia’s judgement on EDSAC programming technique is damning: The early programmers had to make use of techniques frowned upon today - especially altering the code. As there was no index register … the only way of accessing an array was to alter the memory location that a particular instruction referenced. Our case rests.

edsac x

We could go on. And on. If our readers encourage us with sufficient mindless attagirls we certainly will, ad nauseam, in a neverending audit.
We would now like to throw this open to comments from our readers, but first some Tectonic Audit netiquette.
Off topic are any statements referring to subsequent studies. Anyone gullible enough to make favourable mention of the Deep Sea Drilling Project or the 96 volumes of the Initial Reports will be met with hoots of derision. This shadowy and corrupt, internationally-funded conspiracy and its spawn, the IODP, comprise scientists devoted to the goal of proving the theory of plate tectonics and burying all sceptical voices beneath a landslide of “consensus” peer-reviewed literature and denying citizen-fixists a fair hearing.
On topic are anyone’s theories about how ideological geoscientists secretly plan to remake the map of the planet with a one-world continent, Pangaea, and how this plan is supported by the unwashed denizens of the former supercontinent of Gondwanaland who are determined to displace Laurasia from its rightful position at the top of the globe.


Oh, and one last thing. F.J. Vine, the “V” in VM63, is Emeritus Professor at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia. If anyone thinks that we are insinuating anything by drawing attention to this undeniable and incontrovertible fact, then they are wrong. Totally and libellously wrong. That’s not what we imply at all. Of course, we can’t be held responsible for how the commenters on Fox News might decide to spin this.

[1] Hat-tip to Bernard Shakey for the idea.
[2] The authors, aka les canadiennes, are perhaps best known for their ground-breaking article: Burrow ejecta of Euroscaptor micrura : reassessing the overlooked role of bioturbation in orogenesis . Proc. Nat. Assoc. Land Surveyors of Bhutan. Vol 1 pp 1 ‑2 (in press).