RationalWiki's 2020 Fundraiser

There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff – we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.

If everyone who saw this today donated $5, we would meet our goal for 2021.

Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with PayPal Logo.png!

Donations so far: $3500Goal: $3500

Talk:Gaia hypothesis

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Icon pseudoscience.svg

This Pseudoscience related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

This page is automatically archived by Archiver
Archives for this talk page: <1>

Relationship to historical climate change[edit]

What if it goes like this:

The most-used example of the hypothesis is as an explanation of the historical climate changes and shifts of the Earth. It proposes that the biological makeup of Earth's population has changed relative to the brightness and heat of the Sun - the younger Earth needed a more carbon dioxide based atmosphere to produce a greenhouse effect, which helped warm the Earth. As the Sun grew brighter, the excess carbon was converted to massive amounts of vegetation globally (what is known as the Carboniferous epoch) which then were buried through geological processes, creating the quantities of oil and coal found underground. In the modern era, these stockpiles of carbon have been released by human actions, reigniting the greenhouse effect. It is hypothesised that the next reaction of the Gaiasphere will be for the Gulf Stream to stop working, ushering in an ice age which will increase Earth's albedo, reflecting much of the Sun's energy back into space as visible light.

I like that version better than mine. I struggled to come up with proper wording for that part (mostly because I knew what I was talking about, but not how to word it). But, your version is better, so go ahead and use it if you'd like.AnarchoGoon Swatting Assflys is how I earn my living 06:30, 26 September 2009 (UTC)


Anyone against bringing this up to silver? - David Gerard (talk) 01:33, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

Considering how much time I spent with Goonie working on it, no, not me. It's got a lot of words, that's the criterion, right? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:55, 13 June 2010 (UTC)
Given the countless hours Human and I argued and fought and fixed and worked and fixed and worked on this article, I'd certainly say it deserves silver. The Goonie Punk Can't sleep, clowns will eat me! 05:13, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

The Gaia debate is skewed.[edit]

It is true that geological studies show changes of the environment that contradicts the strong Gaia hypothesis of ecosystems working towards an optimum state. It is also true that there is evidence that ecosystems have collapsed from within. However, the frequency of such ecosystem collapses through geological history is many orders of magnitude lower than the extremely high frequency predicted by the Malthusian model of maximum reproduction. So evolution must be driven by something other than maximization of reproduction. The selfish gene model (the theoretical mechanism basis of the Medea hypothesis of life destroying itself) appears to be supported by simple computer simulations, but so does strong Gaia hypothesis. The strong Gaia hypothesis failed scale-up to more complex systems, and the missing frequency of Medean ecosystem collapses can be explained if the selfish gene model also fails scale-up to the greater complexity of real life because real life is too complex to be livable to such rigid, unselfcritical entities as the selfish gene model claims that living organisms are. In other words, the selfish gene model is based on the same methodological error as is the strong Gaia hypothesis. This is explained in greater detail on the pages "Moderating the Gaia/Medea debate" and "Self-organization" on Pure science Wiki, a wiki devoted to the scientific method unaffected by academic prestige obsession. I recommend Pure science Wiki! Martin J Sallberg

The link is http://purescience.wikia.com

Gaia as a living organism[edit]

... bred with Theia (which it consumed like certain spiders) and produced the Moon.

There is, possibly a need for a term that describes 'the world, its atmosphere and oceans, the life thereon and therein, and the interactions between them which enable life to be maintained.'

Given that life emerged once in a very large universe it has probably emerged elsewhere in that very large universe: would the term 'Gaia hypothesis' be applicable to such other planets or would (Latin name for that planet) hypothesis be used? (talk) 14:55, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

I think it is the behaviour that makes a Gaia a Gaia, not for example, it being the "3rd rock from the sun", so it would be another Gaia mechanism. --Whatever Gaia means, whether there is such a thing as a Gaia mechanism... Look mum I'm published on the internet (talk) 14:41, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Tyrrell, 2013, "On Gaia"[edit]

I'm reading it; I've read a 1/5 and scanned ahead a little. The publishers (a university press) are calling it "the first in depth investigation of the arguments put forward by Lovelock and others", and I currently have no reason to doubt that. (I have no involvement, no special knowledge on these topics). The book gets three sentences on the current Wikipedia page. I don't know whether it will be considered "the final word" on Gaia, but I expect that it will become the starting point for future discussion, at least as much as the the main Gaia books by Lovelock (the most recent of them being over 20 years old). The current Wikipedia page looks to me a lot like "this person says this, that person says that", whereas here you have someone who started out with an open mind and who is looking at all the evidence.

My current view -- and it changes continually -- is that "Gaia Theory" as presented by Lovelock is a mixture of correct observations that had not received proper consideration because they had always been viewed from a compartmentalized, overly-orthodox viewpoint and a collection of circumstancial evidence that points to there being some not-well understood mechanism or principle governing life on earth; now it looks like most of the circumstantial evidence can be explained by other means that Lovelock had not given due attention to (some information was not avaliable as he formulated his theory) and it now looks like the interpretation of some of that evidence as provided by Lovelock is highly debatable in our current state of knowlegde.

As I see it, Lovelock's plea was that however implausible Gaia looked to someone like Richard Dawkins or W. Ford Doolittle, we should still go in search of the evidence that would either prove or disprove it. In his own words, from page 63 of his second book, "It matters little whether Gaia theory is right or wrong; already it is providing a new and more productive view of the Earth and other planets." My interpretaion is that being a chemist and an empiricist (he was an inventor) and being not overly occupied with gene theory or any other theory was both Lovelock's strength and his weakness: he could look at things from a different angle, but he seems to have gone too far in ignoring the theoretical challenges from what we think we know about how evolution works. Those theoretical challenges are very problematic, Tyrrell concludes in chapter 2. And above all, looking at the data with no preconceptions, Tyrell concludes -- at a time when Gaia is gaining in respectability -- that there is no mass of circumstantial evidence pointing to the existance of a principle that ensures that life governs the planetary environment to ensure the continued habitabilty of Earth (I haven't yet read this section of the book fully). One of the reasons, I expect, why Lovelock was not more deterred by the criticisms was that the only other answer was that it is all a remarkable co-incidence. And that seems to be the most reliable conclusion today -- a co-incidence, not the acting out of a rule.

Since this is my third attempt at a comment on this page I'll try to leave it open-ended: "Gaia Theory" may have evolved to something beyond what Tyrrell's book examines. (I've just ordered a book by Tyler Volk.) Rather than saying "(feedback leading to homeostasis) is the general rule" Gaia's modern proponents may be saying "this sometimes happens and we need to understand it better" -- and Lovelock's insight played a large role in drawing these mechanisms to people's attention.

Look mum I'm published on the internet (talk) 00:57, 14 October 2014 (UTC)

Well, some of why I think you found almost no response on your postings is because almost every single person who was involved in creating this article some 6 years ago has moved away from the Wiki. However, I would still challenge that the basic premise of Lovelock's hypothesis, that the Earth has some magic mechanism with which it sustains itself, can be more easily explained with other scientific theories such as evolution and adaptation. While we could tack Gaia onto these things, they've already been explained. Reckless Noise Symphony (talk) 07:31, 31 October 2014 (UTC)

Like in Kingsman?[edit]

I didn't know it was an actual hypothesis. Huh. I know we don't have a "In popular culture" section, but is it worth mentioning/making a joke with? —Kazitor, pending 07:25, 27 June 2018 (UTC)

Gaia has cropped up a lot in popular culture since its conception (Troy Kennedy Martin's 80s TV series Edge of DarknessWikipedia is an important example) so an "in popular culture" section would be good here. Plus covering pseudoscience in popular culture is part of the mission, particularly when pop culture affects people's beliefs or actions or practices. If it's an interesting reference, or has popularised the idea in recent years, then certainly mention it. --Gospatric (talk) 09:47, 27 June 2018 (UTC)


How should James Lovelock's 100th birthday be celebrated on RW? (talk) 17:39, 8 July 2019 (UTC)