Talk:Gaia hypothesis

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This article & Geophysiology[edit]

There is some overlapping between this article and Geophysiology. Basically, it seems that what initially emerged as the "Gaia hypothesis" consolidated into different trends (as explained in the 'Range of views' section) and also inspired other trends out of the scientist academia like the Gaia Movement and the Gaia philosophy, all cited in the article. Geophysiology is the study of interaction among living organisms on the Earth operating under the Gaia hypothesis. So what about considering Geophysiology as a main article for the current scientific view of the Gaia hypothesis? Here we could concentrate on the original hypothesis formulated, its evolution into different trends, the main authors postulating and criticizing. I'm happy putting some time on this page as a pet WP hobby.--Qgil (talk) 19:42, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

In fact I was wrong, and there are differences between the Gaia theory and Geophysiology, even if both have a lot of overlapping. I'm reading more about this before doing changes to the article.--Qgil (talk) 05:09, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
In fact, I was wrong again.  :) In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, the own Lovelock writes: "Geophysiology, the discipline of Gaia theory, had its origins in the 1960s Gaia hypothesis. Summary edited accordingly.--Qgil (talk) 05:30, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Cleaning the 'See also' section[edit]

I have deleted a bunch of links that had a dubious relation to this article, and were more related to the Gaia movement, philosophy, etc. A couple of them were already referenced in the text several times. Less is more and there is still 12 of them. I believe the whole page will benefit from a bit of focus.--Qgil (talk) 05:52, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Updating first paragraph (and perhaps the rest of the article)[edit]

So I decided to go ahead and start rewriting the first paragraph, focusing on clarity, the basic definition of the hypothesis, the main authors, and the closest scientific fields that are working with this hypothesis. I also referenced the Gaia philosophy and movement articles (that are also in dubious shape) in an attempt to draw a clear line and drive away whoever is interested in the philosophic and religious aspects. If nobody objects I will continue cleaning the article. Full disclaimer: I'm not an expert, just a hobbyist willing to learn more about the topic.--Qgil (talk) 23:32, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

The sections have been reshuffled without touching (yet) any content in them. I'm getting as an inspiration for a clean structure pages like String theory that follow more or less this schema: exposition of the hypothesis and its context - experiments/pro - critique/against - history - references. Now there are many sections mixing pro-against, there is a lot of duplicity and a full sense of useless disorder. I will try to go section by section, cleaning and concentrating similar stuff under the same sections. In the meantime it may occur that the article is even more messy than before but I hope it won't take long and you can always help as well  :) --Qgil (talk) 19:14, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

I have started rewriting the Overview. The original text insisted in quoting Lovelock and reflecting his original opinions. With a bit of adaptation and update, now the text explain what (hopefully) is a reflection not only of Lovelock but whoever else is working in this field. I will continue creating subsections about each of the main phenomena investigated: temperature, oxygen and salinity, pointing to the articles where each of these cases is explained in depth.--Qgil (talk) 07:28, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

The Overview is now divided in different subsections for each of the remarkable phenomena that the theory uses to demonstrate the relevance of organisms in geological processes essential for the habitability of the planet. The idea is to summarize each phenomena and link to the relevant articles where such phenomena are explained in detail. Next in my ToDo.--Qgil (talk) 01:31, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

Hypothesis vs Theory, revisited[edit]

This is a topic that has been discussed above, some years back. I'm not in a hurry on this but I though it was useful to notice that the own James Lovelock gives an explanation on his book The vanishing face of Gaia (2009) that is different from anything discussed here. At the end of the book there is a summary where one can read:

GAIA HYPOTHESIS. James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis postulated in the early 1970s that life on Earth activly keeps the surface conditions always favorable for whatever is the contemporary ensemble of organisms. When introduced, this hypothesis was contrary to the conventional wisdom that life adapted to planetary conditions as it and they evolved in their separate ways. We now know that the hypothesis as originally stated was wrong because it is not life alon but the whole Earth system that does the regulating. The hypothesis evolved into what is now Gaia theory.

GAIA THEORY. A view of the Earth introduced in the 1980s that sees it as a self-regulating system made up from the totality of organisms, the surface rocks, the ocean and the atmosphere tightly coupled as an evolving system. The theory sees this system as having a goal - the regulation of surface conditions so as always to be as favorable for contemporary life as possible. It is based on observations and theoretical models; it is fruitful and has made ten successful predictions.

The book refers to a collection of scientific observations and predictions, and mentions the different recognitions the Gaia thory has received from scientific organizations in the last years - many of them after the discussions held here. I will update the information in the article as I progress reading the book. Once the article is updated and in good shape I'll go back to this discussion over the default title of the article, if needed. I thought it was good to share now just in case someone has good knowledge and/or strong opinions.--Qgil (talk) 05:01, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm reading another book where the difference between the original Gaia hypothesis and the current Gaia theory is also stressed. I have created a new section to explain this: Gaia_hypothesis#From_hypothesis_to_theory.--Qgil (talk) 16:42, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Gaia's Revenge[edit]

Unknown author dleted part of the post concerning Lovelock's latest book "Gaia's Revenge". This has been reversed in the absence of either a sihgned change or an explanation in the discussion pages John D. Croft 02:43, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

I have moved part of that section to James_Lovelock#Climate_and_mass_human_mortality since they were digressing from the Gaia hypothesis itself, but could be still interesting in the context of Lovelock's future predictions.--Qgil (talk) 05:22, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
As a matter of fact, the more I look at the article the less I see the point of this section about "The Revenge of Gaia". It is about Lovelock's personal predictions about the future, a topic that is already covered at and it doesn't contest or add to the Gaia hypothesis itself. A sentence somewhere linking to the section in Lovelock's article would be enough imho. This would help cleaning the pages and keeping the focus.--Qgil (talk) 18:46, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
Since there were no objections, I have left just a basic mention in "Regulation of the global surface temperature" and I have moved the whole paragraph to James_Lovelock#The_revenge_of_Gaia.--Qgil (talk) 06:28, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Daisyworld section vs article[edit]

Gaia_hypothesis#Daisyworld_simulations is pretty extensive considering that Daisyworld exists and is in fact a good article. Gaia hypothesis is already too long, and a thinner Daisyworld section pointing to the main article would help. There is work for a volunteer to keep the section here at a minimum and move to Daisyworld the information not mentioned there, if any.--Qgil (talk) 01:35, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

In fact, the Daisyworld content could be located inside the section "Regulation of the global surface temperature", since this is what the model aims to demonstrate.--Qgil (talk) 14:16, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Done. Now the text under "Regulation of the global surface temperature" needs a bit of expansion. Maybe there is more to move from below in the article, maybe we can take the basic content from other WP pages or maybe we must go to the sources and extract what matters.--Qgil (talk) 02:19, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Attempt to fix weaknesses in the article[edit]

I have added citations where citations needed existed before. There is still weaknesses as Kirchner gets mentioned twice, and this needs correction, as it is repetitive. I invite anyone else to have a go. I have been trying to find who added the "tone" criticism in April 2010, as I would like to find what their criticisms were. It doesn't show in the talk pages. John D. Croft (talk) 17:40, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Thanks John! I am also working these days in improving this article - see the comments just above. The article is definitely messy and with many repetitions, and this is why I'm going from top to down, step by step as I find the time. Next comes Gaia hypothesis#Regulation of the global surface temperature, where I plan to include the mention to Daisyworld and move all the rest to the Daisyworld main article. I'm fine having that banner until we are done with the cleaning. Then we can request revision from The Powers That Be, and perhaps we can get a better quote than the Cs above.  :) --Qgil (talk) 20:32, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
John, thanks again for all these edits and citations. Very much needed! I see that you have expanded the section "The Revenge of Gaia". In fact I'm proposing to remove it completely, see my comments at #Gaia's Revenge. Looking forward to your feedback!--Qgil (talk) 20:39, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Qgil for your edits to the article. I feel we could go for an improvement in the quality (It is now definitely better than C class). What do you all think? John D. Croft (talk) 13:00, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
Strong disagreement until the rest of the fringe/pseudoscience issues are resolved (especially the lack of demarcation between these and the actual science). I will hopefully get some time to work on that soon. Arc de Ciel (talk) 04:25, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
Arc du Ciel - which fringe/pseudoscience are you referring to? I cannnot see much in the article as it stands that could be called pseudoscience. John D. Croft (talk) 07:03, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
Please see the FTN post linked below. :-) Arc de Ciel (talk) 19:41, 18 August 2012 (UTC)

Split apart[edit]

The article is huge (as is this discussion page). I've added the template split-apart and propose it be split into smaller articles referent to each topic ("History of the Gaia theory", "Weak and strong Gaia theories", etc.). I believe most top-level topics are detailed enough to be stand-alone articles. (talk) 21:39, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for your help. I believe that "Critical analysis" and "History" could get sub-articles created right away. About the rest, there is still a lot of cleaning to do. For instance, the "Weak and strong Gaia theories" might well be the analysis done by a single person, since these terms seem not be used by the scientists actually working in connection with the Gaia theory. I'm doing more reading before proposing anything, though.--Qgil (talk) 05:51, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
About the long Discussion page, I also agree. Does someone know how to archive the old discussions until, say, #Error (March 2010)? --Qgil (talk) 06:32, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
/Archive 1 created.--Qgil (talk) 15:44, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Until there is more to put into such articles we would only be creating stubs. For the moment I am against it, and for that reason I am deleting the "split" line on the front page. Is that OK? John D. Croft (talk) 12:22, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
I also prefer to concentrate first in the cleaning of the article (as requested a year ago). Once we have gone through it we can consider whether more splits are needed. In fact we have got already entire paragraphs being moved to other aerticles as a result of the clean-up.--Qgil (talk) 17:10, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Integrating "Gaia hypothesis in ecology"[edit]

Gaia_hypothesis#Gaia_hypothesis_in_ecology contains a lot of redundancy and looks to me good food for the somewhat lacking article Earth system science. Any objections to clean/move? --Qgil (talk) 00:42, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Done--Qgil (talk) 15:09, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Critical analysis + Range of views[edit]

The sections "Critical analysis" + "Range of views" contain a lot of redundancy and disorder. At the end they try to address Criticism and the different replies from the Gaia scientists. It would be more useful to have them organized by the hottest topics: the concept of a living Earth, the role of Gaia in evolution and natural selection, the name of Gaia itself...--Qgil (talk) 15:22, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Let's summarize here the points being criticized:

  • The name of Gaia for a scientific theory, leading to plenty of non-scientific and New Age connections.
  • The Earth as a living superorganism.
  • The capacity of a myriad of organisms to get organized and coordinated with inorganic processes to self-regulate.
  • The "teleologic" aspect.
    • I don't quite understand this point yet. Keeping reading & trying to be a good student. :) --Qgil (talk) 17:57, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
  • The fact that geochemistry with little or no co-evolution with living beings is enough to explain the geological phenomena the Gaia theory mentions.

We also need to explain that all these were hot topics in the 60s & 70s, but Daisyworld and further research coming from the consolidation of holistic disciplines like Earth System Science have calmed the original debate quite a lot. The questions open (now and probably forever) are philosophical (e.g. is the Earth really a single living being and we are part of it?) and correspond to Gaia philosophy. Now Lovelock and other may still argue about institutional global warming predicitions not taking enough into account aspects of Gaia theory like the sudden effects of positive feedback, but this belongs to a specific debate on climate change that involves many other aspects beyond the Gaia theory.

If you agree on all this I will proceed consequently.--Qgil (talk) 17:57, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

It seems that this "Strong Gaia vs Weak Gaia" thing comes as a result of a single PhD thesis, see this. I haven't seen it referenced anywhere else except in pages mentioning either that thesis work or this Wikipedia article. That sections contains a lot of redundancy. I'm happy keeping the mention to the Weak/Strong concept pointing to that thesis available online, moving whatever unique to the corresponding sections in the article and delete the rest.--Qgil (talk) 17:24, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Qgil you may be interested in Stephan Harding's book Animate Earth. Stephan addresses many of the so-called weaknesses of the Gaia Hypothesis there, especially the claim that geochemistry can explain gaia in the absence of the Gaia Hypothesis. Regarrding Strong and Weak Gaia, I think Jon Turney mentions it too. Thanks for your work again John D. Croft (talk) 20:15, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

It is the book I am reading these days. :) --Qgil (talk) 21:17, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

The cleanup of the article[edit]

Thank you Qgil for your fantastic work cleaning up the article. I deleted a small section that I found to be repetitive, but apart from that I am very pleased with the direction you have taken. I wonder about including a photograph of James lovelock in the text? What do you think? John D. Croft (talk) 19:58, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback and your help. Having a picture of Lovelock is a good idea, and I would add ome from Margulis too. What do you think?--Qgil (talk) 03:40, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes excellent. I'll see if I can find them. John D. Croft (talk) 08:14, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
Done. John D. Croft (talk) 12:19, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Expanded the paleoclimatology section and removed the label requestinbg expansion.John D. Croft (talk) 17:55, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

The work you have both been doing shows WP editing at its best - an intelligent approach to a controversial topic and useful tidying of a long, intricate and, in some places, still poorly organised article. (talk) 04:25, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

Request to protect the page[edit]

I think the page should be semi-protected, to autoconfermed users, to prevent vandalism. -- (talk) 05:55, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

A request at WP:RFPP would not be successful because there has not been much disruption lately. If you are aware of any bad text in the article, please fix it or mention it here. Johnuniq (talk) 06:31, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Recent news[edit]

UMD Finding May Hold Key to Gaia Theory of Earth as Living Organism is there anyway we could get this on the article?

"Is Earth really a sort of giant living organism as the Gaia hypothesis predicts? A new discovery made at the University of Maryland may provide a key to answering this question. This key of sulfur could allow scientists to unlock heretofore hidden interactions between ocean organisms, atmosphere, and land -- interactions that might provide evidence supporting this famous theory."

Sulfur Finding May Hold Key to Gaia Theory of Earth as Living Organism GreenUniverse (talk) 14:48, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

User:GreenUniverse has been blocked as a sock of banned User:BookWorm44. - SummerPhD (talk) 04:30, 15 June 2012 (UTC)


Just a note that I brought this article up at WP:FTN. Arc de Ciel (talk) 05:18, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

Deleted original research[edit]

The link to the "Omega Gaia" is an occult/metaphysics not a science website. Also Teilhard Chardin did not propose the Gaia hypothesis and neither did Oliver Reiser so they have been removed. (talk) 15:31, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

Teilhard de Chardin did make use of Vernadsky's "Biosphere" hypothesis, via Henri Bergson, which has been acknowledged as a parallel to Gaia Theory.John D. Croft (talk) 13:04, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

Latest edit by Arc de Ciel[edit]

The Cryogenian period of "Snowball Earth" does show biogeophysiological processes at work as advocated by James Lovelock. Photosynthesis drew down CO2 to levels that cooled the Earth prematurely, but volcanism returned CO2 to the atmosphere, melting the glaciers. Under extreme CO2 radiative forcing (greenhouse effect), built up over millions of years because CO2 consumption by silicate weathering is slowed by the cold, while volcanic and metamorphic CO2 emissions continue unabated. Thus the geochemical carbon cycle is a key step in the cycle is the conversion of CO2 (as carbonic acid rain) into Ca2+ and HCO3- (bicarbonate) ions through the breakdown ("weathering") of common silicate rocks like basalt. Silicate rock weathering consumes CO2 through chemical reactions that are temperature and moisture dependent. If global temperatures warm, weathering rate goes up as does the consumption of CO2. Conversely, if global climate gets colder, weathering rate goes down as does the consumption of CO2. The temperature dependence acts as a brake, or self-stabilizing mechanism, on the climate system. So I have reversed your edit. John D. Croft (talk) 10:10, 21 August 2012 (UTC)

I took the liberty of fixing your spelling of my username. :-)
That being said, I'm not sure what you mean. Of course natural processes were at work (how else would it have happened?) but the article claims Snowball Earth to be in support of the Gaia hypothesis (and it was using some weasel terms as well). I am not sure whether you are familiar with how evidence is evaluated, but briefly if Snowball Earth happening is evidence for Gaia, then Snowball Earth not happening would be evidence against Gaia. A hypothesis cannot make two opposing predictions. The mathematical proof derives from Bayes' theorem and can be found here. I can explain in more detail if you would like. Arc de Ciel (talk) 03:16, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

"Gaia Philosophy" section[edit]

This whole section seems like fluff to me. It only repeats what has already been said elsewhere in the article - for example the original work by Margulis and Lovelock, and criticism by Gould and Dawkins - and adds very little of value. There certainly seems to be nothing about "Philosophy". I propose the section is deleted. Atshal (talk) 15:21, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Gaia Conferences[edit]

I think the information contained in these sections is excellent and informative, as well as being well written, and has clearly been written by someone who knows the subject well and quite possibly attended these conferences. However, there are very few references, and it seems hard to know how to get appropriate references for these conferences, particularly the older ones.

This section does make up a sizable section of the Gaia Hypothesis article, and add a lot to it, but they are not really "encyclopedic". Does anyone know what the Wiki policy on this kind of thing is? Some of the information (for example, the Kirchner characterizations of Gaia) is available in published papers but I believe most of it would not be, certainly not the "human" element of these conferences.

What do other editors interested in this page think? If the page is to be substantially improved, I don't think the issue can be ignored.Atshal (talk) 10:39, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

I actually don't think it adds much that cannot be described in separate sections. I would support spinning it off into a separate article (as originally suggested here). Arc de Ciel (talk) 02:23, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
I agree that most of the information on Gaia can be incorporated elsewhere in the article, but seems slightly inconsistent to say the content the conference sections are not good enough for this page but good enough for a page of their own. I actually really enjoyed reading those sections, even though they bring down the quality of the article as a whole, and would find a little sad if they were to be deleted entirely! They probably have to go though, to improve the article.
On a slightly different note, I notice that you are one of the major recent editors here, Arc. Did you agree with my deleting of the "Gaia Philosophy" section? Seemed like pseudoscience to me, and the only items of worth in the section were just repetitions of other parts of the article. Atshal (talk) 09:35, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
When I say they could stand as a separate article, I'm thinking of the hypothetical well-written article that they might become. :-) However, I think that the hypothetical well-written article that this article might become would have no place for that much discussion.
About Gaia philosophy, I agree that there shouldn't be so much discussion of it, but I think that a paragraph or two might be appropriate, in the context of the social impact of the hypothesis, as long as it's made clear that the two are separate things. I think one issue is that people who subscribe to Gaia philosophy use the term "Gaia hypothesis" themselves to mean completely different things, e.g. the Earth is alive and/or conscious.
Actually, I just noticed how the Gaia philosophy article treats Gaia philosophy and the Gaia hypothesis as basically the same thing...that will need to be fixed. Arc de Ciel (talk) 08:53, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
I think we are in agreement over the Gaia conferences section. As for the Gaia philosophy, I still don't have a clear definition of what it is, even after reading the article. There is certainly little or no philosophy in it and the only well referenced parts of that article are the references to the science, which are basically repetitions of what is in this article - strip that away and there is little left. The only good section in that articles is "Gaia in Popular Culture", although it needs references.Atshal (talk) 10:46, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

Just to clarify - so you agree with splicing it out into a separate article?

By the way, I noticed your talk page post at Gaia philosophy. To nominate an article for deletion, the correct and formal way to do it is through WP:Articles for deletion. That process covers article mergers as well, but if you would prefer to propose only a merge (which tends to be simpler and less controversial, and will involve deletion of repeated or irrelevant content anyways), the instructions are at WP:proposed mergers - I can help with that if you'd like. It's also possible that some of it could go to different articles, e.g. Gaianism (and I think redirecting Gaia philosophy to Gaianism would probably be better than redirecting it here). Arc de Ciel (talk) 23:55, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

Cool, thanks for the advice. I don't think the Gaia Philosophy article adds much that is not in this article already. I will take a look at the proposed merger article instead of deletion - I've not actually read the Gaianism article but will take a look. Basically, my objection to the article is the fact that it 'dilutes' the valid scientific topic of Gaia with pseudoscience and non-science ideas. Not quite sure how the process works, but the only way to learn is to try it I guess... Atshal (talk) 21:32, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

The debate appears to be skewed.[edit]

It is true that geological studies show changes of the environment that contradicts the strong Gaia hypothesis of ecosystems working towards an optimum state. It is also true that there is evidence that ecosystems have collapsed from within. However, the frequency of such ecosystem collapses through geological history is many orders of magnitude lower than the extremely high frequency predicted by the Malthusian model of maximum reproduction. So evolution must be driven by something other than maximization of reproduction. The selfish gene model (the theoretical mechanism basis of the Medea hypothesis of life destroying itself) appears to be supported by simple computer simulations, but so does strong Gaia hypothesis. The strong Gaia hypothesis failed scale-up to more complex systems, and the missing frequency of Medean ecosystem collapses can be explained if the selfish gene model also fails scale-up to the greater complexity of real life because real life is too complex to be livable to such rigid, unselfcritical entities as the selfish gene model claims that living organisms are. In other words, the selfish gene model is based on the same methodological error as is the strong Gaia hypothesis. This is explained in greater detail on the pages "Moderating the Gaia/Medea debate" and "Self-organization" on Pure science Wiki, a wiki devoted to the scientific method unaffected by academic prestige obsession. (talk) 07:15, 11 January 2013 (UTC)Martin J Sallberg

Criticism: Bruno Latour[edit]

The paragraph on Latour is at best unclear, and at worst gobbledygook. On the off chance that it actually means something, I left the first part of it. The second part - on politics - seemed completely off topic, and so merited deletion. Here it is:

"Facing the Anthropocene by which the Anthropos is no longer in nature, nor outside of nature, Latour foresees the coming of an entirely new kind of political animal, a novel form of political body and political theology (composed of demos, theos, logos) in which science, politics and art play specific roles for the people of Gaia as agents of an impatient planet."

The entire paragraph relied on a dead link and so is unverifiable. I would be glad to hear opinions on the first part, and does it mean anything? Yabti (talk) 09:50, 30 June 2013 (UTC)


I added the link to Quantum Decohesion because it is relevant to the Physics of Climatology & to Homeostasis, the basis of the Gaia Hypothesis. " Decohesion occurs when a system interacts with its environment in a thermodynamically irreversible way." & "As with any coupling, entanglements are generated between the system & environment. These have the effect of sharing information with, or transferring it to, the surroundings." Those who do not perceive this have no business "correcting" it.AptitudeDesign (talk) 07:17, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

is that a "See also" addition? Whatever you are trying to do you are doing it wrong. You do not link to wiki by an external link and you do not place signatures inside articles.--☾Loriendrew☽ (talk) 12:03, 23 January 2014 (UTC)


I've made a few edits. I'd like to remove the final paragraph because it is stating the obvious. I'd replace it with something more consistent with what is said elsewhere in the article -- the question is "does Earth work like Gaia? Are their real world equivalents for white and Black daisies, or is the model of limited or no relevance?".

(The final paragraph on the current page: "It has been suggested that the results were predictable because Lovelock and Watson selected examples that produced the responses they desired."

Or you could add something like, "the model has nothing to say on the plausiblity of organisms acting like those programmed into Daisyworld emerging through natural selection". (talk) 21:35, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Deleted criticism[edit]

Two convoluted edits have removed big chunks of the criticism section (in parallel with seemingly beneficial copyediting). The rationale appears to be that the removed text was repetitive of other article text and was inserted, at least in part, by an author of a Gaia critique, who cited his own work. However, looking down the article history back to how it stood in February 2015, the deleted material also includes criticisms by other scientists as well. As such, the wholesale deletion seems a little hasty to me. I note that the recent deletions follow an extended number of unexplained edits, and it may be that the sense of the text was lost during these edits, and precipitated them. --PLUMBAGO 15:40, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

Further to the above, I've rolled back the article revision to one from early March. This reverts a large number of unexplained, and piecemeal, edits by one editor, and restores text removed subsequently by a later editor. Looking at the earlier edits more carefully, I suspect that these made the article text difficult to follow. Anyway, I think what's here now is imperfect but editing it rather than simply deleting it is the way forwards. --PLUMBAGO 10:04, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

CLAW hypothesis "discredited"?[edit]

The "recent criticism" section says CLAW has been "discredited". That's a harsh word; I usually hear it in the context of scientific misconduct. The only citation is a review paper, which I don't think can be taken even as demonstrating a scientific consensus against CLAW, much less a discrediting. And if there is a source to show either of those things, the first article that should be revised is CLAW hypothesis, not this one. --Allen (talk) 14:19, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

I didn't read it this way, but to reduce confusion I've tried to reword to make it clearer that it's simply regular scientific progress that's the source of this reversal for the CLAW hypothesis. Hope this helps. --PLUMBAGO 16:47, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
Cool, thanks; I think it sounds better now. --Allen (talk) 21:06, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

Gaian Reproduction and Life[edit]

It is often claimed that the lack of reproduction is evidence against the Gaia hypothesis, as reproduction or rather the possibility of reproduction is said to be a characteristic of life. But by this definition a mule is not alive! Carl Sagan, suggested the Space Program would suggest the world is preparing to go to seed. There is also evidence that there is more than one Gaia - Archaean Gaia, with an anoxic atmosphere, Proterozoic Gaia and finally Phaneroic Gaia. It is suggested that Gaia reproduced itself across each transition and evolved a new metastability as a result. Lovelock suggests as much in the Ages of Gaia. John D. Croft (talk) 19:13, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

Is this argument ever really used seriously? That is, in a non-rhetorical fashion in a quality source that we can cite. It's facile and smacks of the sort of "characteristics of life" lists from high school biology (cf. why not claim that Gaia is false because the Earth isn't "irritable"?). Gaia is proposed as a dynamical system in which the ebb and flow of ecological actors acts in a fashion to provide a stable climate (in the broadest sense) as an emergent phenomenon. This is surely only analogous at best to the more integrated and self-contained dynamical systems that make up these same ecological actors. And anyway, as the article makes clear elsewhere, there are plenty of arguments against the Gaia hypothesis that don't require dropping to such a first order description of "life". I reckon we should remove the last two sentences of the paragraph as simply unnecessary. --PLUMBAGO 09:56, 8 March 2016 (UTC)
This mule argument/statement is silly. A mule is the offspring of living creatures. The Earth's Gaia wasn't formed from in any analogous way. Moreover, many of these multiple Gaias seem to me to be more about generating names than making actual substantive distinctions: Is "Archaean Gaia" really more meaningful than "Archaean"?. This article needs quite a bit of cleaning. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 13:49, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

Purposeful gaia pseudoscience in lead to distinguish good and bad bits[edit]

The fact that the gaia hypothesis initially rested(/rests) on purposefulness is currently only first discussed in the criticism section. Given that this is the major reason that the idea attracted so much criticism, it should be discussed right in the lead. The lead should also make a very clear distinction between 1. the initial purposeful idea and 2. later versions which had this removed and 3. the fallout this idea has caused in the wider geoscience community. While the second and the third certainly can have merit, the first is untenable as is evidenced by the publications from such esteemed scientists in the fields of evolutionary biology and geosciences as John Maynard Smith, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, Paul Ehrlich, Massimo Pigliucci and Robert May. They have all harshly criticized the idea with arguments ranging from it's contradiction to current evolutionary thinking to it's unfalsifiability and as such it's inability to be a real scientific hypothesis. See for example Pigluicci [1] and Dawkins.[2]

This seems clearly stated in the second paragraph of the lead. --Editor B (talk) 19:57, 16 May 2016 (UTC)

I agree the "Gaia hypothesis" is not a hypothesis in the scientific sense. But I doubt it was "harshly criticized" by Gould: Gould writes:

"Gaia strikes me as a metaphor, not a mechanism. (Metaphors can be liberating and enlightening, but new scientific theories must supply new statements about causality. Gaia, to me, only seems to reformulate, in different terms, the basic conclusions long achieved by classically reductionist arguments of biogeochemical cycling theory.)"

To my mind, this is no criticism but an explanation what it is, to clear up misunderstandings.

Gould had to take a lot of shit from the likes of Dawkins for his Non-overlapping magisteria idea, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Gould and Dawkins on opposite sides of this, but "this" is part of the "culture wars" and does not have any kind of scientific/falsifiable content.

It should be obvious that definitions like "The Gaia hypothesis posits that the Earth is a self-regulating complex system" are without consequence, as it is perfectly undisputable that "the Earth is a complex system", but this still doesn't mean you have to buy into the "Gaia" narrative. It's a metaphor, or a narrative, that appealed some people, surrounding certain facts that aren't really under dispute. This includes "purposeful", as teleology falls into the field of philosophy, not science. It "isn't even wrong" if misunderstood as a scientific hypothesis, but there is nothing wrong with it if you take it as a philosophical or cultural narrative surrounding certain facts of geoscience or biology.

Editor B is right - this is in the lead already. I don't see what needs to change. If you disagree, please expand on why.
Regarding Dbachmann's points, the Gaia hypothesis is intended first and foremost as a scientific idea that makes a very specific case about the nature of life on Earth. Namely that the aggregate of the Earth's living systems act to regulate the climatic conditions of Earth to suit life. This is evidenced by Lovelock's own works as well as research articles that continue to investigate whether the Earth's biota really does operate in such a self-regulating way. Any interpretation of the hypothesis as philosophy or "narrative" is an add-on that does not detract from (or arguably add to) its scientific roots. --PLUMBAGO 22:06, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
    • ^ Pigluicci, M. (2010). Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ISBN 0226667863.
    • ^ Dawkins, R. (1982). The Extended Phenotype. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-286088-7.