Re: moon dust info - please help

Jonathan Clarke (
Wed, 04 Nov 1998 15:13:56 +1100

Arthur V. Chadwick wrote:

> Well, that is the subject of this thread! And you failed again to
> acknowledge that the issue was scientific in its inception. ICR people and
> others are not making up the arguments that were advanced for a thick layer
> of dust on the moon. The perception of the public was firmly grounded in
> science. You have clearly established that it was the physical evidence
> and not the theory that modified our perception of what was expected (i.e
> they found there was little dust). Until the physical evidence that there
> was very little dust on the moon was in hand, it was still the expected
> outcome that there would be a lot of dust on the moon if there was a lot of
> time. I present this as a neutral party. I have never used this argument,
> and see no need to now. But to say that YEC's were out of their tree
> because they advanced this argument as evidence for a young (moon?)
> something is just wrong. It was good science in its day. Today it is not
> because we know there is very little dust on the moon, so naturalists no
> longer predict there would be a lot of dust on the moon, and have found
> adequate scientific grounds for their conclusions.
> Art


I think you are missing the point I am trying to make. Perhaps I should
explain myself better. It is not that scientists who were not YEC postulated
a thick layer of dust on the moon. That is not in dispute. Nor is it in
dispute that at least two of the scientists in question (Lyttleton in 1956 and
Thomas Gold in 1955) predicted a thick dust layer as a consequence of certain
postulated processes operating over billions of years. However, for the
prediction to be correct certain assumptions about lunar processes had to be
true. These assumptions were disputed by several, including Whipple in the
late 50's and Shoemaker in the early 60's. They proposed alternative models
for the nature of the lunar surface based on a different set of processes
operating. Lunar exploration by US and Russian missions showed the Whipple and

Shoemaker to be substantially correct and the Gold and Lyttleton model false.
That is the way science goes. Lyttleton and Gold stimulated thought and
research even though they were wrong in the long run.

The issue to me is the way some YECs have mis-represented history as well as
science.. First, that some YECs insisted the thick dust model was the standard
one prior to Apollo - false (look at the design of the LM in the March 64
Geographic). Secondly, they maintain that the lunar science team were
dumbfounded by the absence of dust - false (you can feel the satisfaction in
Shoemaker's writing by his model being proved correct in the November 64
Geographic). Thirdly, they were able to get away with this despite this claim
being easily refutable by anyone in the English-speaking world who had access
to a good public library.

The reason they were able to do this was the persistence of the folk science
belief that the moon was (or should have been) covered in thick dust. Why
this should be the case could shed a lot of light on the nature and
transmission of folk science.