The importance of good science in geology (and other fields too)

I am not going to make this a long blog post.

I know that many of you find that I have been unfair when it comes to deal with certain ideas about geology and how it works. The truth however is that this was a lot more then just a idea, or a hypothesis. The claim was that “evidence” had been found for the claim to support. But from what I did see, no evidence where provided in support of the claim. To to be fair, it was sad that this idea might be wrong and wrong it was in my opinion.

This is what I call bad science. It is something that is not going to work and is never going to. The scientific method (wiki) is well established way of proofing claims and ideas.

For instance, all that I do in terms of geology and other fields of science fall all under this process. If I fail it is a important step, because it at least gave me a result to work with. When doing science, it is important to life with the fact not everything that is done is going to work up, or even get that far before it fails so spectacular that they did notice in the next lab over.

I do not dismiss everything that I read. But I am going to dismiss it if no evidence is provided with the claim in question. I my self is working on few ideas, that I have at least started from start up around 40 to 50 times on times. Just because it failed my test and did not fit the data that was observed.

This is how progress is made. With hard work and good scientific method. What is not progress is Pseudoscience (wiki) that in fact return nothing in the short and long term. I have for too long seen this happens on the internet and I am not going to let this happen to any of my blogs that deal with science topics (including this one here. It is a slow, slow blog).

Ideas are good and all that. Just tell the world if you have any data or not when you put your idea forward.

I also want to point out this two articles here. They are not science in them self. But they might explains one or two things about why I am strict on this matter and with the comments. But I want to keep this blog clean and good for all my readers.

5 Ways to Stop Trolls From Killing the Internet (
Internet Argument Techniques (

Thanks for the understanding.

50 Replies to “The importance of good science in geology (and other fields too)”

  1. Jon – it would seem from your post that you have completely misunderstood what has been written by Carl and others here; he has put forward a theory based on observable ‘evidence’ i.e observations of physical and measurable phenomena and has put forward a theory and a very reasonable set of scientific critieria that must be tested to determine if the theory is possibly right or wrong. This is the scientific process.

    I can only guess that this is arising from misunderstandings of language as I think you misunderstand many nuances of the English Language. However,t your post will offend many of the serious scientists (even if they are not geologists) who frequent this blog, as to be blunt you are simply wrong here. As I said, I think this must be misunderstandings from using English as a second language; you appear to have a good grasp of science in other regards so I find it less likely that you do not understand the scientific process.

    It is all a great shame.

    1. No, let him carry on his little rant. It’s most telling and very illustrative of someone desperately clutching at their beliefs. It’s too bad that the emotional response is ill placed… especially when the world-view wasn’t’ challenged. An observation was made, enough data was gathered to show that it was not a grasping at straws sort of theory. Those among us who are more highly trained in in this and other realms voiced an opinion and posed a few questions in order to float test it and the general idea was “hmm, interesting.”

      This “phenomena” could be anything from different sheer rates/forces causing an interference pattern, to an actual movement of energy into a system and increasing the melt rate due to the extra energy. It could be anything. No one dictated that it was a specific thing and that it had to be that.

      If Jon wants to read into it more than was there, well, that’s his personality defect and he will just have to deal with it. I myself have much less knowledge than many people here, but I have learned enough to know the basics of what makes up Riedel shear, a very likely example of which is manifest in the Sprungur region… probably in the extreme. We know from previously linked papers that the fault planes in the Reykjanes peninsula rotate with depth to a different alignment than their surface manifestation… yet for some odd reason that idea goes against the paradigm. Witness: “For instance the claim that energy travels trough a fault zone with N-S bearing (mostly)”

      So… whatever. I could really give a rats arse about an emotional retort. Let him play teh expert and rant all he likes. I can get that sort of carp over at a loon sit.


      1. Oh, come on. Guys like Carl and You are top of the heap in matters of intellectual potential. IQ-beasts as anyone “sensitive” will have easily noticed by reading You and seeing Your ways to think express things. I don’t think You really need to insist and come to places like this to push down the less “gifted”. Might anyone have a realm where he is King, and for some it will be the virtual world. Like if You lived in the mountains and sometimes have some leisure time at a beach – when You get rid of the algae You go back to Your altitude, no need to “punish” the permanent beach-living populations.
        There are lessons that can hardly be tought, and some people need to make their way and learn them by themselves.

      2. Psst. Here’s a cliche for you. “You don’t get it, do you.”

        No dictate of how thing are was ever made by Carl or anyone else here. That assumption was made by Jon and he reacted to it… quite tersely.

        As for expertise, I have had my arse handed to me on a plate by more knowlegable people more times than you can imagine. My “specialty” is electronics, not geology. That’s why I am always hesitant to hazard a guess as to what a specific system is doing.

        THAT is the only “intellectual” part of my being. Knowing that I could be wrong. The rest of it is just books and listening. Wrangling data into a spreadsheet and spitting it through a graphing program is no great feat.

      3. As for the whole YOU and YOUR thing. Could you please paraphrase that? I may have missed your intended meaning.

      4. Read my comment again, assuming that I actually “got it”.
        I am very, very sensitive when it comes to overestimation and arrogance. Carl never has shown the slightest sign of any of that.
        Forget about the You-thing. It’s just that with time, when You listen to people or read them, You see who really has something between the eyes… Now be as clever as I think You are and take the whole comment as quite a big compliment. 🙂

      5. @Lurking, I am having a bit hard time following you.

        In terms of energy movements with in the SISZ, it is always in line with where it is going. As the fissures are in N-S direction (most of them, not all of them are in perfect N-S direction).

        When a large earthquake breaks on the SISZ the fault line that opens up is always in this direction. The reason for that is the fact that SISZ is moving south with time. Give it enough time and it moves a long distance to the south and it is going to end up in the ocean one day.

        The reason for SISZ existence is because of the east and west rift zones. Iceland has a lot of this fractures zones today that are mostly inactive. But once where active like SISZ.

        What Carl did suggest did actually break the facts about SISZ, Hekla and Hengill volcanoes. I did look into it, that did take me few days. But in the end the result remained the same. This didn’t work out. It didn’t even make any sense to me in terms of the laws of nature that control earthquakes and volcanoes.

        Both Hekla and Hengill volcanoes have history of earthquakes (mostly Hengill). But Hekla volcano has also history of large earthquakes taking place before a eruption (observed) . But that is not what was being suggested here.

        Now, my policy is that to keep this blog all good and free of doomsday people and bad science. I do not go into hiding that if it comes up.

        But what I do not understand is this fuss about Carl idea and my rejection of it. If I would have accepted it. That would just have been a dishonest move on my part and I would have become a lesser amateur sentience for it. As then I would just have been approving something that does not make sense when looked into.

        Energy in Earth crust is released in earthquakes. This is a known fact. One cannot just suggest something that goes against this fact.

        See here on earthquakes,

      6. Jon,

        There’s a big difference between the following reactions.

        – You did not believe in Carl’s theory.
        – you did not like it.
        – You did not consider it possible.
        – You did bash it.

        To me it seemed that you did the last. I did not know, why. Now you say for the first time that you looked into it, but did not consider it possible, but you did not really say why.

        Now I think you just forgot to follow the net etiquette: Justify your statement.

      7. I did not bash it. I did dismiss it and I did give my arguments for dismissing it.

        I did give even further arguments here.

        Carl’s idea was simple. It was that energy from Hengill volcano was transferred into Hekla volcano via SISZ. In that terms he also reefers to pressure, earthquake waves and so on. You can see what I mean here,

        The problem however is the fact that is not how SISZ works. The existence of SISZ is due to the rift zone on both sides of it. This process is slow, taking millions of years. But there is also the important fact that SISZ is moving south, leaving fractured rock north of it as older parts of it go inactive with time.

        The second problem that I had was also the fact before I knew it this was regarded as “fact”, not just a idea that was worth speaking about.

        The plot that Carl uses to build his argument on only shows the active fault lines in the SISZ. But earthquakes show the active fault lines clearly over a long period of time. This is also more clear after the large earthquakes in the year 2000 and 2008.

        I found it necessary to step in when something of a idea was starting to be regarded as fact here. As this blog is not about some wild ideas (not this wild anyway).

        Pointing out basic facts about geology is not bashing in my opinion. I did not consider it because it was oblivious that this was not something that is was a possibility in reality.

        I am all for new ideas. But what we now know must also be considered when ideas are put forward.

      8. Jon, I did not say you bashed it (intentionally). I said: “To me it seemed…” Got the difference? There is no communication with a sender AND a receiver. And all communications always includes “things not said”. I’m beginning to understand, this whole issue might be about “these things not said”.

    2. I didn’t misunderstand what Carl did say. I did go over his idea and I did reject it on the basic of what has already been established about SISZ.

      What SISZ is a important fact. But SISZ is a friction zone that happens between east and the west rift zone. As the rifting on this east and west zone did create the SISZ. As the rift zones move and create stresses in the earth crust.

      What is more important is the fact that SISZ is moving south. But there are remains of a older and now inactive fracture zone north of current SISZ.

      There is also a older fracture zone in west Iceland, that was once the fracture zone what is now east rift zone in and and now extinct rift zone named Snæfellsnes rift zone.

      Here is a article of interest regarding this matter,

    3. An observation can not be held as evidence for anything, unless it is directly looked for as a test against a prediction. Hence, Lurking’s plots are not any kind of evidence to or against Carl’s theory. They are only observations, that prompted a question: How’s that possible? It does not matter at all which came first, the theory or the figures. The figures only present an observation, they do not explain the observation. Carl’s theory tries to explain the observation by proposing a mechanism and providing further predictions, that are to be tested against the physical reality (e.g. by GPS measurements).

      Jon’s post demonstrates, that although he seems to understand the basics of the scientific process, he has never actually been doing science. You can be a scientist (albeit a bad one) without knowing the scientific process, that’s a unfortunate fact as there are plenty of examples of that. But, to be a successfull scientist, you’ll need more than just to understand the process. You’ll need the ability to cross the borders of “conventional wisdom” when nature shows that it does not agree with that. Scientific advance would not exist without this ability.

  2. Please, all, leave the whole “goog/bad, right/wrong” thing. Share knowledge, share facts, share ideas, share passion, but stop judging. Most of us here wright in their 3rd or 4th language, it’s just not adequate for defending philosophic positions on a detailed level. The different cultural approaches, ages, life experience, academic / scientific experience, professional experience meeting here are tremendous. We don’t all speak the same language, and I’m not talking of english, icelandig, german, french, italian, swedish… Back to decency – accept that people who meet here are a bunch of fabulous hobbyists. A very nice and fine one, but let’s keep all feet on the ground. I got interested in reading this blog because it had(s) this touch of “pure”, with a comfortable distance from limits that professional / academic science has to have. Well researched information shared and mixed with fresh and honest thinking. The ones who might badly need to debate about right and wrong instead of enjoying the “lightness” of thinking are recommended to go loosing their time at academic conferences… Oooops, probably sounds much worse than I mean it… 🙂
    Jon, it’s Your blog. No need to justify anything. You decide what happens and is said here. We other’s like it and play according to Your rules, or leave if with time we really come to the conclusion that our thinking is too far apart. It’s like with eruptions, only time will tell exactly how popular which kind of thinking is.
    But whatever is popular, never forget it has nothing to do with quality. Crappy pseudoscience books or spooky end-of-times literature or cheap esoterics are read much more than phd-papers… 🙂
    Hey, it’s “only” the internet. Many things would have been exchanged differently if all were around a table and looking straight in one an others eyes.

    1. I agree, I think peoples should not start a yes no yes no yes no story about if something is right or wrong.
      I think we should be nice to eachother and not ruin the good atmosphere on the blog..
      Everybody should be careful about what they say and also be careful by interpreting data. It is very easy to interpret data in a way that they fit your “theory” and be ignorant towards other theories.. We humans are very good at seeing what we WANT to see and not what we actually see..


    1. So far nothing like this has happened her. It would be great if it did. But I guess that some more work needs to be done before this happens here.

  3. As I’m in the mood for loco comments, for those so keen on being right and (willingly didn’t write “or”) wrong, one advice: get married.
    …and You shall experience that being right is not as important as You may think…
    …or You’ll experience divorce; erm, yes, that’s an option nowadays, of course…

    And take care guys, to anyone who might feel like starting to explain me that this is not the right scientific way to see or express things, I pull myself through one of these USB-ports and crawl through the cable, even around half the planet, to come and kick Your a… 🙂

    1. I’ve been married for a long enough time to know what you’re talking about. ;o) And I have an impression, Lurking, Carl and many others have the “significant others” of their own.

  4. I have been reading this blog for some years and have really enjoyed the intellect and opinions on show here. This current trend is really sad and I hope something big erupts soon as you are all obviously underoccupied!
    Bring it on somewhere!

    1. I think it’s indeed time for something exciting then we have time to talk about facts and not theories..

    2. I agree with Caroll and allthough I don’t have any scientific knowledge on geological- and volcanoe matters (besides what I’ve read here, in books and on Iceland), I foud reading this blog and reactions like: a 2,4 quake at here or there; a tremorspike at lagu hvolar and so on very excited.
      I also thought that this blog was a sort of interactive place where thoughts and theories were put down and defended or attacked in a respectful manner.
      And I felt that by debating theories (put down by blog readers), this from time to time lead to a conclusion which sometimes was not what the intentional blogger had put down initially. My point is: together we’re getting somewhere! Anyway, that is how I feel.
      I don’t like the atmosphere that I now taste on this blog. People who first reacted polite on each others theories / reactions, are now a sort of hostile to one another.
      Please, change to what the blog was before all this arguing!

      Henk Weijerstrass
      Zwaag, Holland

  5. Well said Loco 🙂

    Jon it is your blog.
    Not once have I taken offence at your attempts to manage your Blog and keep it to the high standards you have set.
    The difficulty is, as Loco reminds us, that this is the internet and however much we think we know somebody on here of course we don’t know much at all.
    There are many people on here with some sort of disabilities. Unless someone tells us then we all think of each other as someone with one head, two arms and two legs.
    For instance I happened to come across a YouTube clip of one of the Volcanologists over on Dr Klemetti’s Blog. Good grief! The man was not a dark haired, middle aged Italian with a beard as I had imagined him. No he was blonde ,young and not even Italian!!

    I am always careful to make note if anyone mentions something about themselves. I use that to build up a picture and perhaps the personality of that person.
    However I am sure I am often terribly wrong and would get a big surprise if I met that person in real life!
    May we all take this episode as a lesson.

    For those who wish to make great in depth hypothesise, by all means mention them here and if your idea creates interest then perhaps take them to another Blog or even make your own Blog to extend the theorising and discussion. and invite interested parties to join you. This actually is a good idea as who knows who could come up with the time and equipment to test it! It is also polite not to “take Over” someone elses Blog and use it as your own platform. I feel somewhat guilty that I too got carried away.

    For those who like myself are learning we are free to visit whichever Blog suits our moment of study.
    Personally I love Jon’s Blog as I can concentrate on one Volcanic area and find so many different fields of interest and anomalies. Quite simply I have been made welcome and feel “At home” and within my depth here. There is quite enough to test my academic abilities of understanding. I do think Jon has done an excellent job of keeping Trolls and Scaremongerers out. As 2012 looms I think his work on this score will increase 🙂

    Jon, please let’s have a new Post soon that deals with What you are so good at and we can put all this behind us.

    @ GeoLoco I think to actually get married is a little extreme to test one’s ability of learning how to accept criticism of one’s opinions. My husband knew I was always right before I married him 🙂
    If anyone is thinking of following GeoLoco’s suggestion
    My word of advice to ANYONE. Read what I have said about thinking you know someone on the internet and Beware of choosing a Wife or Husband on line. 🙂

    1. I knew my wife would always be right even before I met her. Learned from my grandparents and parents… 🙂
      Kind of “survival of the fittest” for us men. Through all the ages I guess it was vital to understand this basic element if we we intended to succeed in cohabitation with female human beings. 🙂 Autsch, if my wife reads that I might get THAT look in the eyes only You sweet creatures are capable of…

      1. Diana Barnes <<<<<<<<<< Steps next to Mrs GeoLoco and joins her in giving him THAT look 🙂

      2. THAT look twice – which man could stand this? If I survive, for sure I’m among those who don’t fear whatever may come in 2012…

      3. I am laughing! Geo you are so funny!
        I never thought I would be feared more than what may happen in 2012. I feel the force within me!

      4. Well then, my compliments to Your husband… Sorry, I know this is not a very high-standing joke. But it’s in the geologist’s nature: it’s not because You touched the ground that You couldn’t drill. There’s nearly no lowest level for us in terms of humour, except when it’s about respect to children of course…
        If there comes a meteorite in 2012, I suggest all the women of earth stare at it with “THAT look”, imagining their husband came home from shopping food and just added some tools or other toys, as usual… From then on, women would rule the world, the queen being officially named Xena and having to wear leather pants for the duration of her reign. Men would all be happy slaves, as long as You grant us some tools for the ones and beer with sports for the others. Beginning of a new era, unlimited happiness. Better than anything shown in Star Trek…

    2. +1

      It’s Jon’s blog, so when he wants no “theories” that are not proven at all then we should respect that.. I think however that there was some misunderstanding about what people wanted to say and what they actually said..
      Think this “discussion” should stop very fast since it is ruining this blog atm…


      1. I do want theories that are not proven. But that is not the issue. A good theory or idea stands for it self and can be proven with research and actual data.

        But it has to be based on something other then just a good idea and pure speculation.

        I have for instances few ideas about geology and the Earth my self. But I am only going to write down my ideas when I am confident enough that I can make them withstand the test of science, peer-review and all that.

        The problem what did take place here was that this was just getting absurd in terms of the ideas that where being talk about here.

        Now, even if I might disagree with something it does not mean that I am correct. But the person how did bring forward the idea has to argue for it and work with it as ideas sometimes change size and shape with more work.

        I am not stopping people from putting forward there ideas. What I am saying that people should expect some criticism on there ideas and even attempts to disprove the ideas.

        That is how science works and always has done so.

      2. I know that’s why I said “theories” and not theories..
        A misunderstanding is created very easy 😛
        With “theories” I meant also things that are absurd
        I am in science too, chemistry, so I am also involved in discussions about new theories and most of the times the wild theories get shot down by peoples since they are too new. Science results in progress but in small steps.

      3. Jep I agree with you 🙂
        And in case that wasn’t clear I agreed all the time 🙂


      4. Of course this can go on like this. But this is not how science, and scientific progress works. Setting up theories and prving them is central for this – being wrong at least 50% of the time is kind of normal here.
        To move on, you sometimes have to think outside the box – even if this goes against “the dogma” and you get fire from all sides. Remember Alfred Wegener, who set up the theory of the plate tectonics. This was something so weird for his time, that he just got laughed for this (in the best case). Eventually (after he died) he was proven right. So we should be careful in bluntly rejecting theories which don’t fit the actual “dogma”. There is always a chance, that the dogma is either wrong or needs to be widened.
        And there is nothing bad about setting up theories which are later proven wrong. Thats just science. Real science.

      5. Jep but you can’t come up with theories that go against most of natures laws. i know these nature laws like thermodynamics are also only valid untill different is proven. But a theory that is made here based on a plot of earthquakes is as far as I believe not going to throw over the big theories like thermodynamics or whatsoever.
        What I want to say thinking outside the box is important but is only possible by taking into account things that are already known..

      6. Thats of course right. Getting against fundamental laws (and I would consider the laws of thermodynamics as fundamental, otherwise my old prof will probably hit me 🙂 ) doesn’t make much sense. I haven’t read Carls ideas well enough to say something about it.

      7. I think when a theory is proven, it’s no longer a theory, but a fact and I thought that one of the aimes of this blog was to go from a theory to a fact by discussing.
        And I agree with Sander that this discussion should be stopped now.
        Henk Weijerstrass

      8. Some theories can’t be proven but are still assumed to be a fact.. Like quantum mechanics and that kind of freaky shit

  6. Hey folks! I love Jon’s blog and I value ALL your comments, theories and counter-theories. You are all such a great community and we should truly value Jon’s hard work in maintaining this informative and fascinating blog.

    I am not a scientist. I never will be. I know scientists can argue passionately over their opinions. But I also know they are people and the anger expressed here is hurtful.

    Please all – let’s return to the courteous cheerful values we all held inside ourselves as well as expressed on this blog. And Jon – I am sure all of us, even the currently grumpy, value your input and work. Clive.

  7. As a relative new-comer to this site, over the last couple of weeks the general attitude of some contributors has changes markedly from one of an exchange of good fact/drawing attention to ‘happenings’/Lurking & Irpsit geowondergrams (ie I wonder how they do ’em!) to one of not very helpful supposition and dissattisfaction. It has got a bit like the House of Commons on a bad day, or the Geol Soc of London where ’eminencies’ have major fallings-out over moot points and never see eye-to-eye again! I know we don’t know each another, but please lets be amicable, we’re here to blog Iceland and her geology.
    Please can all return to ‘as it was’ and remember this is JON’S site and respect that.
    On a different note, I still can’t get the 48 hour earthquake resume to work – it’s stuck on 18 August (it doesn’t work past then at my work place either). Site used
    This seems odd ‘cos the Iceland map http………….index.html updates as normal.
    Any ideas anyone?

  8. Notice all:

    I am going to close the comments for this blog post and a earlier blog post on this matter around 12:00 UTC today, but that would be in total of three blog posts that I am closing comments on early (they normally stay open for 30 days). Until then this can be discussed in length. I notice that many people feel that this is bringing bad atmosphere into this blog. I can in part agree with this assessment.

    I am going to make a new blog post soon as I can. Hopefully later today.

    1. Thank you so much Jon.
      This decision is appreciated by many I am sure. I agree with Alan. You are a gentleman. 🙂

  9. Thank God (sic!) for people able to think outside the box. Otherwise the Earth would still be flat and there would be only Seven Spheres in Heaven and Seven Circles in Hell and anyone who thought different and was unwise enough to say so would be burnt at the stake. 😉

    1. As I said thinking outside the box is good, but a little common sense is also necessary… If we all start thinking out of the box with no common sense we would end up with a big mess I gues..

  10. @Jon and other Icelandic speekers
    In the new posts would it be possible, to help us non-speekers, on odd occasions, to give us an idea as to the approximate pronunciation of the entity in question. I know the d’s and p’s (that aren’t, sorry I don’t have the correct letters) are a soft/hard ‘th’ish, but are ll’s -as burfell/hengill – ‘ll’ as in hill, or a (t)l – soft t as gurgle translate tries to come up with? As for Herdubreid!!!
    Just an idea

  11. This is the last comment on this blog post. Comments for this blog post are now closed.

    Update: For what it is worth. It is important to notice that this did also happen at Erik Eruptions blog. But there was a different path into this and it did not evolve like the current case on this blog.

    I hope that I don’t loose any readers over this issue that did show up on my blog.

    Comment updated at 12:55 UTC.

Comments are closed.