Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Monday, 14 November 2016

The joy of being falsified........

I thought I should share this.  Good for Danny!

Trimline Trauma: The Wider Implications of a Paradigm Shift in Recognising and Interpreting Glacial Limits. Danny McCarroll, Scottish Geographical Journal, 2016
Published 27 Feb 2016 

Danny's Confession

I must confess that being proven wrong is not a new experience for me. My interpretation of the very thick glacial sediments of western Llyn, in North Wales, as meltout till, for example, fitted a paradigm that was popular at the time but has since been falsified (McCarroll & Harris 1992). I also produced several papers arguing that carbon isotopes in Arctic tree rings could be used to reconstruct summer temperature (McCarroll et al. 2010), which my younger colleagues demonstrated was not true (Young et al. 2010; Gagen et al. 2011). However, as a scientist there is no shame in being wrong because falsification of hypotheses is how we make progress (McCarroll 2015). If you are afraid of being wrong you will never have the confidence to publish anything of interest. We should, however, try to learn from our mistakes.


MoA said...

Ah he is in good company.

In the 1990s Dr I was amongst the authors of the famous OU paper saying that glaciers were responsible for the transport of the bluestones.
Many a bitter tear has been shed since.

'Never look back and you cannot be blinded by hindsight'

I think it is a common experience for most research scientists that have published well/often and have lived a long time.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Oh dear -- Dr I has shed tears unnecessarily, since despite what you might try to say to us, the glacial transport of the bluestones has not been falsified. When? Where? On what basis? Perhaps you know something that the rest of us don't know? I doubt that. Some of the bluestone provenancing might have been wrong in the old days, but that's what happens as newer techniques come along. No need to shed tears over any of that.......

And be very happy that the bluestone quarrying nonsense has been falsified, by your own radiocarbon dates and by somebody coming along and doing some decent geomorphology. And publishing it. Move on cheerfully, Myris!

Juba59 said...

It is very unusual to see the word "falsified" used in this sense. "Proven wrong" would do nicely.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Not at all -- it's perfectly OK.

Definition (one of two):
prove (a statement or theory) to be false.
"the hypothesis is falsified by the evidence"
synonyms: disprove, show to be false, prove unsound, refute, rebut, deny, debunk, negate, invalidate, contradict, confound, be at odds with, demolish, discredit.