Did impacts and airbursts from multiple fragments of a disintegrating comet cause the onset of the Younger Dryas global cataclysm 12,800 years ago? After more than a decade of acrimonious scientific controversy around the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis (YDIH), an important new book by eminent geologist Dr James L. Powell answers this question in great depth and sets the record straight with a resounding YES.
Titled “Deadly Voyager: The Ancient Comet Strike That Changed Earth and Human History” (http://deadlyvoyager.net/), this thoroughly researched and eminently readable study systematically demolishes all the criticisms of the YDIH that have been made over the years by scientific opponents.
Of particular note is Powell’s careful dismembering of several studies which claimed that the evidence on which the YDIH is built is “irreproducible” – a damning criticism in science and one that opponents of the YDIH often gleefully repeat as though the claim is an established and unquestionable fact that “debunks” the hypothesis.
As Powell demonstrates masterfully, however, it is not the work of the more than 60 scientists behind the YDIH that is “irreproducible”, or that requires “debunking”, but the work and claims of the critics themselves. “Clearly something went wrong” with the critics’ analysis, comments Powell: “What, we do not know and probably never will. But something did and all the articles that cited it as evidence that the YDIH was irreproducible were based on a false foundation.”
Powell is no supporter of my argument (in my recent books “Magicians of the Gods” and “America Before”) that the Younger Dryas cataclysm descended not only upon Stone Age hunter-gatherers, disrupting their former lifeways, but also upon an advanced civilization – now lost to history – that it almost completely destroyed.
What makes Powell’s book so significant, however — and a must-read for anyone interested in the mysterious end of the Ice Age — is its thorough documentation of how solidly-based on compelling geological evidence the YDIH really is, and the rational and balanced way in which it reveals the flaws of the scientific process – the personal grudges, the vested interests in the orthodox paradigm, and the axes to grind – that for so long were allowed to mislead the public about the truth of the matter.
It is sadly the case, as Powell does not hesitate to remind us, that some scientists are willing to use “sleight-of-hand… to ward off a theory that they have long denied. But evidence always wins out, and all such scientists accomplish is first, to delay scientific progress and second, to besmirch their reputation in history.”
Meanwhile in an early endorsement, and as an indication of how I hope “Deadly Voyager” will be received by the wider research community, Earth Sciences Professor Edward Keller of the University of California at Santa Barbara writes as follows: “If the hypothesis of the impact is correct (and I am very impressed with the data) it is perhaps the most important hypothesis in the Earth Sciences, with ramifications in other fields, since plate tectonics. This is particularly so for its consequences on the history of peoples over the last 12,800 years.”