Talk:Fred Hoyle

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Picture[edit]

I must admit, Sir Fred looked pretty good in that picture — the one taken four days after his death.

Anyone know the deal with that? Wally 01:25, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Whoops, didn't notice that when I captioned it. I mistook the date of the article, written apparently as a eulogy, as the date of the picture. No indication when the picture was actually taken. TastyCakes 03:32, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Removal of Dawkins’ Non-sequitur statement[edit]

Dawkins wrongly reduces Sir Fred Hoyle’s statement down to a misunderstanding of the simple process of evolution. To accuse Hoyle of failing to distinguish something that even a remedial science student would clearly understand is insulting to the highest degree to such a legendary scientist.

Dawkins attacked a straw man. Whether through ignorance or deception he repeatedly presents Hoyle as examining the origin of origins like eyes, not the origin of life itself. He made no reference to the meat of Hoyle’s argument found in Evolution from Space, and certainly never gave any meaningful counter-argument to Hoyle’s conclusion that the chance of spontaneous biogenesis as being 10-40,000.

The following quotes are the mass of Dawkins arguments against Hoyle from Climbing Mount Improbable and The Blind Watchmaker:

Climbing Mount Improbable (Page 75)
What Hoyle and Wickramasinghe miss is that Darwinism is not a theory of random chance. It is a theory of random mutation plus non-random cumulative natural selection. Why, I wonder, is it so hard for even sophisticated scientists to grasp this simple point?

Climbing Mount Improbable (Page 101)
Remember Sir Fred Hoyle’s debating point about junkyards and 747’s? He is reported to have said that the evolution, by natural selection, of a complicated structure such as protein molecule (or, by implication, an eye or a heart) is about as likely as a hurricane’s having the luck to put together a Boeing 747 when whirling through a junkyard. If he’d said ‘chance’ instead of ‘natural selection’ had have been right. Indeed, I regretted having to expose him as one of the many toilers under the profound misapprehension that natural selection is chance. Any theory that expects evolution to put together a new, complex machine like an eye or a haemoglobin molecule, in a single step from nothing, is asking too much of chance.

The Blind Watchmaker (Page 49)
It is amazing that you can still read calculations like my haemoglobin calculation, used as though they constituted arguments against Darwin’s theory. The people who do this, often expert in their own field, astronomy or whatever it may be, seem sincerely to believe that Darwinism explains living organization in terms of chance – ‘single-step selection’ – alone.

The Blind Watchmaker (Chap 9 Page 234)
Boeing 747 macromutations are the ones that really are ruled out by the complexity argument just given. They get their name from the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle’s memorable misunderstanding of the theory of natural selection. He compared natural selection, in its alleged improbability, to a hurricane blowing through a junkyard and chancing to assemble a Boeing 747. ... Indeed, Hoyle’s fundamental error was that he, in effect, thought (without realizing it) that the theory of natural selection did depend upon macromutation. The idea of a single macromutation’s giving rise to a fully functioning eye with the properties listed above, where there was only bare skin before, is, indeed, just about as improbable as a hurricane assembling a Boeing 747.


What Dawkins fails to grasp is that Hoyle’s odds are referring to biogenesis which are certainly not subject to Natural Selection, Gene Flow, Genetic Flux, or Mutation as we know them. He does not propose any other means of bringing together all the complex nano-machines that are required for a simple cell to operate, let alone provide any evidence.

Regardless of one's personal beliefs, this post script of Dawkins ‘refutation’ is unfounded and is an insult to Hoyle’s memory. It is very bad taste to attach this slur as an epitaph to a great man which is not alive to defend himself.

Dewittm 04:09, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm reinstating the Dawkins quote, because it isn't a non-sequitur, and we don't exclude material simply on the grounds that it's critical of someone who's dead. It's very relevant to discuss how other biologists have reaced to Hoyle's claims, and your argument that Dawkins' argument is a straw-man is your original research unless you cite a reliable source criticizing Dawkins arguments, and then we'd just cite it; not remove Dawkins. -GTBacchus(talk) 05:15, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Clearly GTBacchus has not appreciated Dewittm's comment because of the emotive language used. This is an unfortunate occurance on many Wikipedia articles and talk pages. This exchange is an excellent example of how a NPOV must be maintained when making a comment. Although I have no references to provide, I state that Dewittm's observations on Dawkins' arguments are unoriginal. Similar work can be found in the transactions of relevant societies soon after The Blind Watchmaker was published. It is entirely accurate to state that Dawkins misrepresented Hoyle in his books.
A student of Dawkins books may also make the claim that Dawkins deliberately misrepresented Hoyle in order to make his own arguments appear more convincing. Such a claim is not so controversial if it is accepted that Dawkins' series of books on evolution are not scientific works but philosophical contributions which use anecdotory evidence from contemporary scientific publications. However, such speculation of Dawkins' motivation is secondary to the accuracy of Dawkins' representation of Hoyle's argument, which Dewittm has conclusively shown to be consistently poor.
In conclusion, it is both uncontroversial and NPOV to state that Dawkins' rebuttal of Hoyle's observations did not accurately address Hoyle's observations. I shall now edit the article to reflect this. --Lukestuts 15:38, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
IF it's both uncontroversial and NPOV, and not original research, then you'll find a source to back it up, somewhere among the "transactions of relevant societies." I don't care whether the language used on the talk page is emotive or not, I just care that we adhere to Wikipedia:Verifiability. It doesn't matter one whit how convincingly you argue here, just don't put unsourced allegations in the article, or they're apt to be removed. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:46, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I left part of your edit there (is User:Lukestuts the same person as User:SirGalahad?), and I suspect it'll be salvagable with a source, but two sentences came out - one because I suspect it's false, so it really needs a citation, and the other because it draws conclusions in a manner inappropriate to an encyclopedia:
Natural selection can only help the evolution process if there are existing living organisms that can be subject to natural selection of the fittest. So from an abiogenesis point of view we can say Hoyle's analogy can be considered as correct.
Please feel free to improve the paragraph with some sourced material. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:59, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Some sources added. No connections between me & User:Lukestuts? (SirGalahad 16:43, 6 March 2006 (UTC))
I only asked because he said he was about to make the edit, and then you actually made it. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:04, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
GTBacchus requested that a source be given for my particular edit. It is a great embarrassment that subsequent searches have produced nothing but Creationist web pages and no peer reviewed articles, a result that prompts further comments about misrepresentation, albeit with a different purpose. A contributory factor for the failure to find a source was that the contents (rather than the abstracts) of many peer reviewed journals are not freely searchable on the Internet. The sources provided for the current edit cannot be described as peer reviewed. Therefore, it can only be reiterated that the quotation on page 101 of Climbing Mount Improbable is direct evidence for Dawkins' misrepresentation of Hoyle's observations on the synthesis of life. Although a similar criticism by a distingished third party cannot be provided, the purely derivative quality of my previous conclusion and the similarity of my edit makes such a source unnecessary.
Due to the use of the word allegation by GTBacchus in his earlier comment, it is appropriate to quote a definition of the word from the OED: An assertion without proof, a mere assertion. GTBacchus used this word to imply that my conclusion was an assertation. The above paragraph should establish that the word observation would have been more accurate because the proof is provided by a quote from Dawkins' book and the description of Hoyle's theory in the Wikipedia article itself. --Lukestuts 17:25, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
No. Even an original "observation" counts as original research. Read WP:NOR. If you can't find a published, reliable source that says that Dawkins misreprents Hoyle, then put it in. Otherwise, you're repeating your own analysis of Dawkins' argument, and that's just not how it works. -GTBacchus(talk) 20:20, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
actually I can say the Dawkins' misinterpretation was intentional because it was the only way he could escape the reality. i.e. somehow he had to falsify Hoyle otherwise he would falsify himself. I agree that many sources regarding this leads us to creationist sites because Hoyle is somehow banned from biological mainstream or misrepresented as Dawkins did. For anyone who has an understanding of Natural Selection and Abiogenesis -which both definitions are throughly avaivable in wikipedia- can see Dawkins' faulty misinterpretation of Hoyle's analogy. So I see no actual need to provide a source for this since it is self-explanatory. I propose to remove those cittings from my edit. (SirGalahad 17:55, 6 March 2006 (UTC))

I noticed that you reference Dawkins. If you take a look at his The Selfish Gene, you'll see that he talks a lot about how natural selection applies not only to living organisms but to any replicator at all (even a meme). This isn't just his opinion; it's widely supported and easily proven, as by software simulations. One of the consequences of this fact is that natural selection is available to play a role in the transition from simple replicators (or replicating systems) to a simple cell, instead of relying on blind luck. This undercuts Hoyle's 747 analogy entirely, and is why Dawkins sees that analogy as having attacked a straw man.

I'd also like to point out that, much like Behe, Denton is a Creationist chemist, not a biologist as such. This makes the line about "Still other biologists..." inaccurate. To keep it, we would need to find at least one actual biologist who agrees with this chemist. We could also avoid the problem by changing the line to speak of scientists instead of just biologists, but this runs into an even bigger problem. Namely, scientists have zero authority outside of their field of expertise. That's why Hoyle, however respected he might or might not be in astrophysics, is considered a laymen when he speaks about biology. Anyhow, for now, I've added a fact check template to this sentence, but I think we're going to have to wind up removing it eventually. What do you think? Alienus 17:47, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Natural Selection at replicator level is not proved. Can you provide us a scietific source to show us such a selective behaviour of nature in natural conditions of prebiotic earth to do the natural selection at replicator level? Also I'd like to seea link for your mentioned software simulations. Moreover there is millions of steps from a single replicator to form a living cell. Are those steps known or possible? ...and for the Dawkins he talks about manythings he can not prove. (SirGalahad 18:04, 6 March 2006 (UTC))

Look, none of this is genuinely controversial, and if you do a bit of research, you'll see this for yourself. I do recommend that you extend the scope of your research so that it's not limited to Creationist propaganda tracts. If you can come up with some legitimate support for your claims, feel free to bring it up here. Until then, there's nothing for me to respond to. Alienus 18:09, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the advice but it would be better not to show that stereotyped "darwinist" attitude of "Hey man! I know everything! but I'm sure you know nothing". Well I know enough about replicators and NS. I assure you it wouldn't take a bit of research but tons of it to fully realize the matter. Even the appearance of the first replicator by naturalistic methods is highly improbable. I also recommend you to leave the wonderful world of Mr. Dawkins for a while and see what real mathematics and probability have to say about abiogenesis and in general neo-darwinian theory of evolution. (SirGalahad 18:31, 6 March 2006 (UTC))

Yeah, when you spend years learning about a field of science, it's easy to sound dismissive when dealing with religiously-motivated claims.

As it happens, quite a bit of research has been done on abiogenesis, and it turns out that a simple replicator is indeed rather simple, hence not anywhere near as unlikely to form (in the absence of natural selection) as a cell might be. Moreover, the small probability must be multiplied against the huge number of opportunities for such a chemical to arise. Given this, in an environment rich in amino acids, the formation of a short, self-replicating peptide by purely chemical, non-selective means is not at all improbable. If anything, it's inevitable given time and a suitable planet.

Scientists see abiogenesis as an interesting puzzle that's hard to solve because the event occurred so long ago and take a long time to reproduce. Creationists see it as a polemic opportunity, because scientists can't just swirl some chemicals into a bottle and pull out a rabbit made from scratch. I think the latter view is far too biased to be allowed to dominate this article, although it would be acceptable to make reference to is so that the error may be better understood.

If you want to claim that some magical force prevents natural selection from applying to non-living replicators, you're free to do so. But if you want to make that claim here, you're going to need to back it up. Alienus 18:48, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I do not claim magical forces prevent Natural Selection. I'm saying there is none at all. I think it would be better to back up your claims that Natural Selaction can cooperate abiogenesis at molecular level. It is not the case that anyone who rejects abiogenesis theories is creationist. It's very likely that he can do some math and see what is probable and what is not. I don't go into details of the problems of abiogenesis that makes it impossible because here is not the right place to do this. Only I want to add that S/R peptides can be produced in lab but under certain conditions and very specialized and complex processes that can only be produced in a lab. However those peptides do not even last enough and are highly unstable. I think Dawkins interpretations for Hoyle are too biased so there is a need to balance it and show the counter-arguments as well. I even do not need to backup my claims as I stated somewhere above it is self-explanatory. Abiogenesis relies %99 on pure chance and it makes Hoyle's analogy accurate. But you can jump into and re-edit the article, as long as you can provide us a valid source that can explicitly show the power of natural selections in abiogenesis. (SirGalahad 19:57, 6 March 2006 (UTC))
It's absolutely not self-explanatory. No valid source explicitly showing the power of natural selections in abiogenesis is necessary in order to report that "Dawkins said 'X'". All we need is a source that indicates that Dawkins did, in fact, say 'X'. If you want to say that Dawkins was wrong about 'X', then we need a source saying "Dawkins was wrong about 'X'". If it's so self-explanatory, then you can find a source. -GTBacchus(talk) 20:34, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Natural selection has been demonstrated to apply to any replicator at all; this is not controversial. If for some reason you doubt this, you can download some software and confirm for yourself that it applies to such algorithms, artificial life, and and a variety of other non-living replicators. The reason I phrased my request in terms of magical forces is that natural selection has to apply to any replicator, unless something somehow stops it. It is a necessary consequence of the entity being a replicator in the first place. In other words, this is more an analytic claim than a synthetic one.

Self-replicating peptides aren't unstable, but they're delicious. In other words, they have a short lifespan in our modern biotic environment because it's teaming with organisms that would casually eat it up. That's why we don't expect abiogenesis to reoccur today; that boat has sailed. If we created a planet-wide abiotic environment and gave it some time, it's likely that life would be reinvented, so to speak.

Anyhow, the issue isn't Dawkins' interpretation, it's Hoyle's failure to understand that natural selection applies to any replicator, not just to living cells. Dawkins is entirely correct in recognizing that Hoyle's argument depends on abiogenesis being random. He's also correct in saying that this is not the case.

Hoyle's ignorance is understandable, as he was talking about things far outside of his field. Even in his own field, though, he did important work but had a bad track record on some really important stuff, such as BB vs. SS. For all his positives, the man was quite capable of totally messing up, and we have to recognize that. Alienus 20:21, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

there is no such thing as Natural Selection at replicator level. Would you mind to click and have look at the definition for the Natural Selection once again. I see you still hesistate to show me a single link for this universally accepted fact. If you are correct why just don't we produce a tank full of S/R peptides in a sterile tank and watch them evolve spontaneously? What you say is only a fiction and not even close to be proved by any empirical fact or research even among darwisnits. Your claims are what abiogenesis theorists assume, not empirical observations.(SirGalahad 20:56, 6 March 2006 (UTC))
None of that matters. Neither your, nor SirGalahad's understanding of natural selection has any bearing on this article. All that matters is that we don't include analysis, interpretation, or any observation that's remotely controversial without citing that someone published a book or paper saying so. -GTBacchus(talk) 20:34, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
GTBacchus it's not fair to remove my additions. It's not an original work. It is neither my particular understanding of Natural Selection and nor my understanding of Abiogenesis. If you can't prove Abiogenesis is based something other than pure chance then you can't disprove me and you shouldn't remove my additions. Hoyle was both correct and accurate. We should allow both conflicting arguments to reside in this article. (SirGalahad 20:56, 6 March 2006 (UTC))
What you fail to understand, SirGalahad, is that Wikipedia is not about either of us proving anything to the other one. It's about not making claims without proper back-up. I don't have to disprove your claims, and I don't even particularly care to. If what you say is so clearly true, then someone's published it. Even if you can't find it online, you still have to find it. The fact that it's not beyond question is amply demonstrated by the fact that Alienus and I are here questioning it. -GTBacchus(talk) 21:01, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, I backed it up with couple of links! wasn't them valid? according to whom? what is the criterion here? BTW I propose to remove the word infamously from the phrase or change it to famously because infamously represents a biased view.(SirGalahad 21:15, 6 March 2006 (UTC))
The links you backed it up with were http://www.us.net/life/rul_purp.htm and a link to trueorigins.org, neither of which are reliable sources. If you want to link to them and preface with "some creationist defenders of Hoyle have argued that" that would be consistent with your sourcing. JoshuaZ 21:26, 6 March 2006 (UTC)


After a quick perusal of the edit history and this talk page (having come here from the RfC page), I'm inclined to see Galahad's edits as they currently stand as OR. On the other hand, I have a vague memory of Hoyle himself making an argument very similar in response to Dawkins (although a quick google search doesn't seem to find it). Presumably if Galahad can find such a reference or a similar reference from a reputable source then it can go in. JoshuaZ 21:13, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Uhm, actually, I agree with that, which is why I haven't argued based on my understanding (much less called for a silly vote). Instead, I've repeatedly asked for citations to support what he wants to include. It's also why I haven't complained the inclusion of the Denton reference, no matter how silly I might think Denton's ideas are. However, I do want to make sure that we don't mischaracterize his scientific credentials.

Besides the focus on citations, I think it's important to try to share the basis for our conclusions. That's why, in addition, I'm attempting to explain why Dawkins said what he said, in the hopes that this will give Galahad greater insight into the issue at hand. While OR has no place in the article, an understanding of the extant research can be very helpful, particularly in deciding what to cite and how to summarize and link that information. Alienus 20:45, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Dawkins's criticisms of Hoyle may be using the straw man fallacy, but we should find a citation of a prominent adherent (as of intelligent design theory) who states this before we insert this viewpoint into the article (and also say something like "Defenders of Hoyle say..." rather than asserting the viewpoint as fact). Otherwise it is original research. --Wade A. Tisthammer 18:15, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

The following I have removed from the section on "Rejection of chemical evolution":

Note that one could say that the chances of 92 protons and 143 neutrons coming together simultaneously in a stellar interior to form U235 is infinitesimal and therefore stellar nucleosynthesis of the heavy elements is highly improbable. Of course, this is demonstrably not the case, as Hoyle knew.

The following comments were attached to it: <!-- Is this just an argument that some Wikipedian came up with? It sure reads like original research to me... -GTBacchus --> <!-- This one is misinformation! not a valid comparison. stellar element forming and spontaneuos forming of dna chains are quite two different things, one is subject to known rules the other isn't known yet -SirGalahad -->

It's not remotely sourced, so it's out of the article. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:50, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

The argument you removed is quite likely sound, but you're right that it ought to be sourced. I'm going to look around a bit and see if perhaps the person who inserted it was paraphrasing a citable source. If not, not. Alienus 20:24, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

No luck, unless "bad" qualifies. The closest I came is a comparison between the probability Hoyle estimated and the number of protons in the universe, such as in this essay. I'm going to just let this drop, then. Alienus 20:46, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Can we find a place for this juicy little quote?[edit]

"A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question."

Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections”, Annual Reviews of Astonomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982), 16.

What do you think? Alienus 20:46, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I also like the quote. I have worked it into the article at the point where his work on the Triple-alpha process is discussed. The quote was in reference to that research. Jacob1207 19:10, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
How about "The Universe is a put up job", a one liner that is very evocative, though I don't know where Hoyle wrote or said it. His teleological views were the result of his work in nucleosynthesis. The higher elements are nicely cooked up in the interior of suns, and stacked like onion rings from near the centre out. When the star reaches its end and blows up in a nova, or less dramatically sheds its outer rings, those elements are widely dispersed into interstellar space where they can later coalesce and form planets with complex geological and organic forms. Hoyle thought this entire process was so exquisitely geared to encourage the growth of complexity in the universe, that it must have some kind of intelligent hand behind it. I am kind of with him on that, although I really cannot fathom how Hoyle could accommodate the idea of a universe that ALWAYS existed with the idea of specially created physical laws. When did THEY happen? In the Black Cloud SF story, Hoyle posits that the intelligent Black Cloud species had existed from ever before. I just can't understand that, although I must say that the Big Bang does not answer these questions in the long term either, for one can always ask what were the physical laws that initiated the Big Bang? Were there other Big Bangs? and so on... Myles325a (talk) 23:19, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

RfC[edit]

I have filed an RfC for this article here, regarding the status of certain edits as original research or not. Let's see what the community says. -GTBacchus(talk) 21:06, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Reply to Galahad[edit]

(comment copied from above)

Well, I backed it up with couple of links! weren't they valid? according to whom? what is the criterion here? BTW I propose to remove the word infamously from the phrase or change it to famously because infamously represents a biased view.(SirGalahad 21:15, 6 March 2006 (UTC))

I agree with dropping the weasel-word "infamously". As for your citations, they supported your interpretation of Dawkins' supposed mistake, but that just makes your original research more thorough. It's still, as far as we can tell here, SirGalahad and Lukestuts claiming that Dawkins' argument is flawed. Even if you explain why you think that, that's not enough. The source you need to find is one in which Hoyle, or some defender of Hoyle, responds to Dawkins' argument. -GTBacchus(talk) 21:27, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I understand your point, I think I'll be able to find a more explicit source or quote another scientist such as Hubert Yockey . (SirGalahad 21:52, 6 March 2006 (UTC))
GT, I'm sorry, but I didn't notice this comment before I made a related change to the article. I agree that, on its own, "infamous" may well be POV, but I think it's fine if this popular view is properly attributed and cited. So after Galahad removed it, I went ahead and found such citation, adding it to the original text. Do you think that, in its current state, it's still POV? Alienus 21:44, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I think the comment is still slightly too POVy especially because many creationists see it as a positive thing for Hoyle. JoshuaZ 21:47, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
well why not drop it at all?(SirGalahad 21:54, 6 March 2006 (UTC))
Hmm, that's a fair point. How about if it read that Hoyle's 747 argument is infamous among scientists? We could also refer to it as a popular argument, since it's used all the time by Creationists, which is what makes it infamous among scientists. Alienus 21:51, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
so we have two confilicting views here? Scientists and creationists? isn't it a POV also? Hoyle was a scientist himself. anyway lets remove the whole word. neither famous or infamous. agree?(SirGalahad 21:57, 6 March 2006 (UTC))
Either of these solutions would be fine with me. However, it isn't really infamous among scientists per se. Most abiogenetics researchers and ev bio researchers probably haven't even hear of Hoyle. Its infamous among the people who actually combat creationism, of which a substantial fraction are scientists. Therefore I slightly favor Galahad's proposal. JoshuaZ 21:58, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Although Galahad jumped the gun twice in deleting the word "infamously", I'm inclined to let this drop for now, although I wonder why he removed the word but left the reference that supports it. Instead, I'd like to shift focus to the sentence that reads "These analogies have been rejected by some biologists as a straw man argument." Is it really just some biologists or is it many or most? Perhaps we could say it's "generally rejected by biologists". I say this because, quite frankly, I can't think of a single biologist who takes Hoyle seriously. Dawkins speaks boldly, but speaks for the overwhelming majority. Alienus 22:05, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

POV in a reference can be tolerable but POV diretly in the main article is less likley to be acceptable. atleast reader has a chance to explore the reference and see talkorigins is an anti-creationist source. (SirGalahad 22:49, 6 March 2006 (UTC))

Uhm, I'm not sure that I understand your point. Are you saying that it's FALSE that Hoyle's ideas about evolution are "generally rejected" by biologists? Otherwise, are you suggesting that we should suppress this fact just because it reports on the POV of the scientific community? Please clarify. 23:04, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

The links you backed it up with were http://www.us.net/life/rul_purp.htm and a link to trueorigins.org, neither of which are reliable sources. If you want to link to them and preface with "some creationist defenders of Hoyle have argued that" that would be consistent with your sourcing. JoshuaZ 21:26, 6 March 2006 (UTC) (copying other replies to comment down here for clarity)
Agreed. We should not present the viewpoint as fact. --Wade A. Tisthammer 18:21, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Dawkins misrepresentation claim[edit]

Dawkins is clearly right, Hoyle made a really stupid blunder. The reason is that Hoyle based his computation on a currently existing enzyme. No biologist claims that those enzymes were generated by abiogenesis or any sort of pure random chance, but they are assumed to have evolved. For that reason, and for some other reasons, Hoyle's computations are disingenious to the extreme. His understanding of biology was terribly bad, and Hoyle is the one building a strawman here, not Dawkins. All those creationists who claim that Hoyle was misrepresented are as incompetent as Hoyle was. --Hob Gadling 17:07, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Not only is what you say correct, it's not at all controversial among biologists. I see no reason to hide these simple facts by excluding them from the article. Alienus 17:22, 20 March 2006 (UTC)


Pseudoscience[edit]

Now I know a lot of Hoyle's ideas were out there, but should he really be in the pseudscience category? His main theory (the steady state universe) was widely supported for many years by scientists, and his proposal of nucleosynthesis is extremely important to our presently accepted theories. Newton believed in alchemy, I don't see pseudoscience stamped on his article although it would seem just as fitting. Countless other important scientists have believed what we now largely hold as wrong, based on "science" we would no longer accept.. TastyCakes 02:20, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

In his own field, Hoyle often turned out to be mistaken (steady state, denial of collapsars, etc.), but at least he was scientific. The problem came when he tried to branch out into areas of science that he was deeply ignorant and misinformed about. I'm talking about his claims about evolution, which were so far off the mark as to qualify more as pseudoscience than merely mistaken science. Consider his infamous "747" analogy, as well as panspermia. For these reasons, I believe that the category belongs and am provisionally restoring it. Alienus 02:50, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
I'm not saying his theories of evolution weren't far off the mark, but the other scientists in that category are people that believe in bigfoot, search for UFO's or promote bizzarre racial theories. Few if any have contributed to real science in any way. Hoyle stepped outside his own expertise and was wrong. But an important part of science is having people willing to question assumptions and theories the way he did. As for panspermia, yes it doesn't seem accurate now, but wackier theories with just as little scientific backing have proven correct. Since he didn't manipulate statistics or otherwise pervert science to come up with panspermia, it doesn't seem so much a pseudoscience as a theory that never collected evidence to support it. TastyCakes 04:16, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
Panspermia is arguably pseudoscience, Hoyle's abiogenesis calculations were pseudoscience pure and simple. JoshuaZ 04:40, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
And because he made a clumsy, unscientific rejection of evolution (like many religious types do every day), set in the backdrop of an important and largely respected career, he deserves to get put with the other nuts in pseudoscience? That seems totally perverse to me, but you guys do what you want, I'm sick of arguing this. TastyCakes 16:50, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Translation: I dislike the conclusion but cannot refute the argument. Alienus 16:25, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

Translate it however you like. You people obviously dislike Hoyle for his opinions on Biology and you're going to let that decide where you draw the line of whether he belongs in that category or not. If there was an article on Hoyle's opinions on evolution, sure that belongs in pseudoscience. But to me, Hoyle was not defined by pseudoscience in the same way Newton wasn't. His "real work" in his real field overshadows his missteps. By putting Hoyle the person in pseudoscience you slight the contributions he made to real science - which to me far outweigh his biology ramblings. TastyCakes 18:12, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
The issue is not "slighting" him. Wikipedia does not whitewash. Among other issues, Hoyle is most well known in the general public for his diatribes regarding evolution. Why should they be discussed in the article and not have the category other than your feeling uncomfortable with that part of his life? JoshuaZ 20:15, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
I suppose evolution is held with a degree of religious fervour which is inappropriate for a scientific theory, so that the slightest heresy is intolerable. I see no similar condemnation of Einstein for refusing to accept quantum mechanics. For consistency, therefore, we should expect the entry on Einstein to be included in the pseudoscience category. Hoyle's work on the evolution of stars was far from pseudo-science. Gordon Vigurs 10:23, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Come to think of it, according to the above criterion, Sir Isaac Newton should be included amongst the pseudo-scientists. He wrote more about astrology than he did about astronomy. So by the above criterion, the father of modern physics - is a pseudo-scientist! Gordon Vigurs 17:14, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
If a modern scientist advocated astrology, he would clearly be a pseudoscientist. Fred Hoyle had many of these, and was impervious to detailed refutations. E.g. Hoyle thought transitional forms were impossible, and deduced that Archaeoptryx was a fake. This was pure bogosity. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 71.198.98.214 (talk) 17:36, 15 February 2007 (UTC).
Your logic is flawed. Einstein did accept QM when QM was not as well verified as it was today. Furthermore, Einstein did not attempt to replace QM with some pseudoscientific idea. Your claims about Newton are more interesting- Newton engaged in a large amount of what today would be pseudoscience. However, 1) what constitutes pseudoscience is somewhat dependent on the era- astrology and alchemy we're not yet as discredited in Newton's time as they were today 2) Newton's ultimate influence was in physics not astrology. If he had significantly influenced astrology, it would be perfectly reasonable to categorize him under pseudoscience. JoshuaZ 17:37, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
It appears my facts are flawed, you appear to agree with the logic Gordon Vigurs 08:45, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Are you saying Hoyle had a significant influence on biology? Because it doesn't seem that way to me. TastyCakes 20:38, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Of course Fred Hoyle belongs in the pseudoscience, he believed in theories which were not founded on any scientific fact and promoted them even after they had been proven wrong. You cannot leave him out of the pseudoscience category just because you think he was a nice guy and made other contributions. If Fred Hoyle does not beong in the pseudoscience category, then there should be no pseudoscience category. 75.3.2.96 02:22, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

The category does not belong to that page and if you continue, you will be blocked for disruption. 68.5.224.107 02:24, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Would you like to explain why, 68.5.224.107, or are you just a little kid on your parents computer and not sure what you are talking about? 02:40, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

In the BBC Radio series "Cosmic Quest" (episode 27), according to Geoffrey Burbage; in 60 years, "Fred" (as all knew him) had a huge number of ideas and was not afraid to be wrong but was more often right than wrong because he was always guided by the evidence, all of it, and an excellent intuition. In Fred's obituary in 2001, The Times wrote: "Between 1945 and 1970, the range and significance of Fred Hoyle's contribution to astrophysics and cosmology probably surpassed those of any other scientist in the world. He was internationally acclaimed for his original work on stars, gravity, galaxies and the origin of atoms." Heather Couper added that Fred Hoyle showed the world how stars live and die, and how they create the potential for new life. That sounds like good science to me.

Claims of pseudoscience would be because he could not stomach the "Big Bang", an idea which has no remotely credible origin and relies on inflation, which is there is no evidence for. It is an idea and nothing more. If you trace time backwards, there comes a point where all matter reaches black hole density. Black holes do not inflate or expand, so the Big Bang idea fails.(Cyberia3 (talk) 17:19, 7 June 2013 (UTC))

  • ok - that's it - Alison 02:50, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Readability[edit]

Could someone explain what "An atheist, Hoyle said" is supposed to mean? Was Hoyle an atheist who believed that life abiogenessis and evolution are wrong? Sorry, but English isn't my first language. 89.138.3.231 15:46, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

The full quote is "An atheist, Hoyle said that this suggestion of guiding hand led him to be "greatly shaken".
It refers to his calculations regarding carbon atoms, and means he was an atheist up until then and that his findings shook this view.--Threedots dead 15:13, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Cosmic Quest, episode 27. Hoyle built a group of collaborators to solve the problem using scientific method: Willie Fowler, with Margaret and Geoffrey Burbage. A British partnership that chose to work at Cambridge and at Caltech in Pasadena. In 1957 they published their paper, which is still known as BsquaredFH, after their names. The paper was one of the biggest breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe because it explained how stars are the crucibles for everything we see around us: Seas, mountains, clouds and life itself. It had previously been believed that no element higher than helium could be built up in ordinary stars but Hoyle predicted a new kind of nuclear reaction that when three helium nuclei come together,they will combine to form carbon. Fowler did the lab investigation, and proved him right, explaining the huge amounts of carbon we see in the universe.(Cyberia3 (talk) 17:34, 7 June 2013 (UTC))

Fair use rationale for Image:Fred Hoyle.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot (talk) 20:02, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Atheist[edit]

I am Agnostic, which shouldn't be material to my point but often is in the eyes of others.

Regardless, If Fred Hoyle converted to Christianity and died as such, then he should be labeled as such under his picture in the short biography off on the right.

Staffa —Preceding unsigned comment added by 131.107.0.108 (talk) 21:03, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

I've been unable to find any evidence that Hoyle ever converted to Christianity. In fact, these two creationist sites (1) (2) call him an atheist; surely they would be trumpeting his conversion if he had had one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Aardvark92 (talkcontribs) 05:12, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
Prob not, thinking that "if this atheist [emphasis] also claims our claims, then we can't be wrong". They have an interest in labelling him atheist. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 08:59, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Fred Hoyle and British Currency[edit]

In the course of the debate on decimalisation of British currency, Hoyle wrote a letter to The Times in December 1967 suggesting that the octal system (rather than the decimal system) be adopted: others letter writers argued against the suggestion.

In the "origins of life" debate: given that the experiments in the field in the second part of the twentieth century (link anybody?) produced "an assortment of organic chemicals" surely the odds proposed by FH are reduced - the "sticking point" is moved along from the "creation of the organic soup" to the "agglutination process which led to the capacity to reproduce, and thence to life as we know it." (Even allowing for the flawed assumptions in the initial experiments - the point was proved.) Given that some organic matter has been found in interstellar regions/on comets, would it be possible for a modified version of the Hoyle thesis to be valid at least at some points in evolutionary - the "space organics" contributing to the existing "organic soup" (or merely acting as nuclei for development as happens with the formation of rain - an analogy)? Jackiespeel (talk) 17:43, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

Rejection Section[edit]

The Rejection of chemical evolution section needs some serious rework. The first half of the section is a coherent whole, but the second half needs mostly to be deleted as it is repetitive and poorly written. However, it does contain some additional sourcing, so I am hesitant to delete it outright. Someone who knows more should have a look. Blazotron (talk) 09:39, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Sources for SF[edit]

I added two reliable sources. Does it need to be printed on paper to be scholarly? --GwydionM (talk) 17:48, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

That isn't the problem. The Biographicon page on Hoyle is simply a mirror (copy) of the Wikipedia page. Citing it as a source is therefore circular. Further, Biographicon is a wiki that anyone can write or edit, which disqualifies it as a reliable source. What you call the Memorial Website (that is not the name of the page or website, and therefore is not a proper citation) has no identification of the author of the material or the publisher of the site; therefore there is no showing that the information on the site is reliable. Further, these sources to not support all of the statements in the paragraph; citing them at the end of the paragraph implies that they do. See Wikipedia:Reliable sources for an explanation of what sources are sufficiently reliable to be used for Wikipedia. Finell (Talk) 18:43, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Beware unscientific journalism![edit]

For biographical details, obituaries printed in newspapers are ideal. However their scientific integrity is in doubt. For example, I noticed a gross error in the nytimes obituary: "Sir Arthur Eddington, whose groundbreaking experiments confirmed the general theory of relativity..."[1] As it happens the comment was somewhat irrelevant to Hoyle but nevertheless scientifically inaccurate. Of course Eddington's experiments confirmed nothing - they were bodges. It was William Campbell's team from the Lick Observatory that made the definitive experimental findings. See [2]. Beware poor journalism! Bittersweetsmile (talk) 11:13, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

I think it fairer to say that some regard Eddington's experiments as bodges. The issue is not cut and dried. --Michael C. Price talk 21:16, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Long before any other, Eddingtom worked out the temperature of space at 3.K, and this in 1926. (Cyberia3 (talk) 17:37, 7 June 2013 (UTC))

No Nobel Prize for Hoyle[edit]

I'm quite a fan of Hoyle because he wasn't afraid to adopt really way out ideas. And I think that saying he was pseudo scientific is just being pretentious and dim. Hoyle is 10 times the scientist that such small minded slanderers could ever be. Don't forget that Hoyle was the pioneer of work in nucleosynthesis. And nucleosythesis is by far the most important process in the universe. Without it, there would be nothing but hydrogen gas and a bit of helium. Science needs scientists with the guts and nerve and imagination to put forward really way out stuff. We have plenty of people who will toe the line and scoff at anyone who is bold enough to suggest alternatives. That's why I have to laugh at those experts who derided "cold fusion" as a pseudo science. Most of them wouldn't have enough physics to fill out a lavatory tile, but they know what "pseudo science" is. Their objection to cold fusion? That it is unscientific because it seems to posit that energy can be released from places where there doesn't seem to be any. Guess what? That is EXACTLY what they could have said to the Curies. Radium emits all this energy. Wherever could it come from? Oh, it must be a fake because the idea that there could be reservoirs of energy in the atom itself is just bogus superstition.

The idea that Hoyle can be compared to the clowns in the fundamentalist crowd is stupid. Hoyle had the credentials to put forward his pan spermia idea. So what if the academic world's interest is lying elsewhere? I notice that nowdays, some scientists think if we find microbial life on Mars, and other planets in our Solar System, it would not supriese them to find that they had the same antecedent DNA as terrestial life. In other words, that they had a common ancestor. This idea is not the product of some fantasy mania. If collisions with asteroids and such threw up clouds of debris, then it might be possible that some of this material had microbial life sheltering inside, and that it was carried through space. That is, planets are not completely quarantined from the organic processes outide of their atmospheres. Now, does THAT sound compoletely loopy and pseudo scientic?

Hoyle had a great sense of humour, was cheeky, and had a good fist. I believe that he wrote material on OTHER scientists that lampooned them, and they never forgave him. In the end, the boys in the club got together and blackballed him, ensuring that he was never awarded the Nobel Prize, even though his work on nucleosythesis is far more important in astronomy than any other topic, and by a wide margin. The creation of the elements and thus of life is of immeasurably greater import than the creation of neutron stars, however interesting that is. Organisations favour the bland, the ones who kowtow to the prevailing alpha males and the prevailing accepted dogmas. Hoyle tweaked a lot of noses and he put forward a lot of superbly imagined scenarios. For this, he was white anted by his inferiors, and is likewise put down by the kind of drones who write here, pretending to be intellectuals when they have braces on their brains, and insult a man whose shoelaces they are not fit to untie. So what if Hoyle discerned some kind of design in the construction of the Universe? Last time I checked there was no secular Star Chamber that made it a sin to think that kind of thing. Dawkins is the perfect example of a scientist who has no philosophy, little history or anthropology but thinks he can bulls**t on any subject he likes because he is a big deal. A lot of his stuff is paper thin. Give me Hoyle anytime. Oh, and he wrote a cracker of story in the Black Cloud, and I would like to see Dawkins do that, the miserable old codger that he is. Myles325a (talk) 07:47, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

I like the cut of your jib, Myles.--203.79.96.4 (talk) 11:13, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

I like the cut of your jib too - Please enlighten me : I came here (silly me) to find out if this is true; On May 10,1971, the noted British Astrophysicist and Astronomer, Sir Fred Hoyle called a news conferenceand made the following, startling announcement:(1.) “Human beings are simply pawns in a great game, being played by alien minds, whichcontrol mankind’s every move.(2.) “These alien minds come from another universe, one with five dimensions. Their laws of chemistry and physics are completely different from ours. They have learned to shatter theTIME/SPACE barriers that restrict us.(3.) These super-intelligent entities are so different from us that to apprehend them or to describethem in human terms, is impossible.(4.) These entities seem to be totally free from any such physical restrictions as bodies, and theyare more like pure intelligence.(5.) They seem to have the ability to be almost anywhere in the universe in a matter of seconds.(6.) These aliens are everywhere—in the sky, on the sea, on earth. They have been here for countless eons and they have probably controlled the evolution of Homosapiens. All of whatman has built and become was accomplished because of the ‘tinkering’ of these intelligentforces. Professor Hoyle went on to say: “The only reason that I have called this press conference is thatno Government on earth would release this information. All Governments fear panic among their people and think that if people knew the truth and knew some alien intelligent force and power is controlling them, that the people would no longer listen to or obey their government. I found it during a lecture about space weather at http://collegerama.tudelft.nl/mediasite/SilverlightPlayer/Default.aspx?peid=c29550a872814c2a9e7ba28ac0c7d1e61d I found it elsewhere too - why is it not mentioned in this article?188.220.186.57 (talk) 17:16, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

Abandoned[edit]

The play "The Black Cloud" was also broadcast a couple of times by the BBC "Saturday Night Theatre" in the late 1950s?*

There was an announcement in both press and on TV that Sir Fred had abandoned his "steady state" theory but I cannot now recall the dates.AT Kunene (talk) 11:58, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

  • I heard it on the radio, in the early 1970's I think. (Cyberia3 (talk) 17:40, 7 June 2013 (UTC))

Main reason for rejection of Big Bang.[edit]

The main reason why Hoyle rejected the BB theory was the relative ages of the stars and the universe. Measurements of stellar processes gave estimates of the ages of the oldest stars in the galaxy as 20 000million years, but estimates of the age of the universe by measuring its expansion gave an age considerably less than that. Steady State was one way out of this impasse. The citation for this is The Times, Tuesday, Jul 19, 1960; pg. xii; Issue 54827; col D How Old And How Far The Stars? By FRED HOYLE, F.R.S..

I'm not going to try inserting this into the article as I've never got the hang of doing citations properly.

By the way, the estimates of ages of stars still stand, there was a major change was made in estimates of the age of the universe which increased its age considerably. Hoyle did come round to BB, not because of background radiation but because of the ration of hydrogen, helium and other nucleides in stellar interiors. I haven't found a citation for that yet. MidlandLinda (talk) 16:42, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

The reference given that supports the argument given on the page that Hoyle did NOT reject the Big Bang theory, but only rejected the theistic notions associated with it are completely wrong and the reference (http://infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/bigbang.html) given to support it is an atheistic screed by a philosophy professor who demonstrates in his own paper that he doesn't understand either the history or the science. That reference does NOT meet Wikipedia standards to support s fundamentally scientific argument of whether or not Hoyle rejected the theory and on what grounds. Hoyle vehemently rejected it wholesale in the 1940s and by the 1970s when the rest of the scientific community had accepted it he started hobbling together his 1975 theory (30 years after the fact) with pseudo-scientific calculations not much better than his panspermia math. He rejected Big Bang Theory wholesale for over 20 years so the statement on the main page is completely untrue: "While having no argument with the Lemaître theory (later confirmed by Edwin Hubble's observations) that the universe was expanding, Hoyle disagreed on its interpretation. He found the idea that the universe had a beginning to be pseudoscience, resembling arguments for a creator, "for it's an irrational process, and can't be described in scientific terms" (see Kalam cosmological argument).[9] " Hoyle DID reject the Big Bang Theory on ALL levels (as did Einstein) and it's time to stop white-washing history. 96.241.60.132 (talk) 13:45, 5 January 2014 (UTC)mjd

Personal life[edit]

It's a shame there isn't more detail in this article about his personal life (marriage, children, etc.). I read a biography of Hoyle some time ago and if I can find it again I'll add some material.

He has two non-scientific claims to fame - he was a Munroist, in an era when it was quite unusual, and he gave the actress Julie Christie her first starring role, in the TV series A for Andromeda. The story is that he chose her from a selection of hopefuls. PhilUK (talk) 20:17, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Philosophy/religion note[edit]

Hoyle did:

  1. apply the anthropic principle to the cosmological abundance of carbon to discover yet another part of the fine tuning problem,
  2. philosophize in the origin of life applying statistics that ignored any underlying chemical-evolutionary laws, mostly unknown at that time – therefrom his Hoyle's fallacy – which essentially denotes ignoring any possible as yet underlying laws and then readdress the problem to be of "supernatural" causes.

Although Hoyle didn't explicitly readdress the explanation to be "supernatural", the fallacy is most often used that way. But the Hoyle fallacy is mostly only cleanly applied to the origin of life problem. When the fine tuning problem is referred to, the're is no flawed argument of statistics typical for the Hoyle fallacy, even though the underlying reasoning is similar. I think that the scope of application (in mathematical terms: the domain) of Hoyle's fallacy is biology, and not the cosmology as far as the scope of our policies (WP:NOT#OR, WP:SYNTH, etc.) allows us. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 09:28, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Agreed the fallacy only refers to biology, not his (successful) use of the anthropic principle. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 11:27, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Contradiction[edit]

The lead paragraph states:

... the "Big Bang" theory, a term originally coined by him out of ridicule for the main rival of his own theory.

Then later, in the "Rejection of the Big Bang" section, we have this:

He is responsible for coining the term "Big Bang" on BBC radio's Third Programme broadcast at 1830 GMT on 28 March 1949. It is popularly reported that Hoyle intended this to be pejorative, but the script from which he read aloud shows that he intended the expression to help his listeners. Hoyle explicitly denied that he was being insulting and said it was just a striking image meant to emphasize the difference between the two theories for radio listeners.

Either he meant to ridicule the Big Bang by coining that term, or he didn't. It doesn't go both ways. The lead paragraph should state something like "... a term coined by him for the purpose of explanation during a BBC radio broadcast." -66.159.220.134 (talk) 14:34, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

Because the denegation of Hoyle himself is backed by references, the lead paragraph should be considered urban legend. I feel allowed to correct the article. --Dominique Meeùs (talk) 14:08, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

I suggest deleting "Misunderstandings of" from:[edit]

I've just begun reading Hoyle's Evolution from Space and I've read a lot from IDers, and I think the first two words of this sentence, unsourced as they are anyway, should be deleted: "Misunderstandings of Hoyle's statements and this line of reasoning (at various levels of accuracy) appear frequently in support of intelligent design." Also, the parenthetical claim seems needless, as it probably applies to almost every issue, and it of course is also unsourced. Thoughts? Bob Enyart, Denver radio host at KGOV (talk) 20:51, 8 November 2012 (UTC)