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17 April 1998

XXXX Dr. Stephen J. Gould XXX
President–Elect, AAAS
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

Dear Dr. Gould:

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, at the same time the Alvarez team was originating its K-T impact theory, I originated the K–T volcano–greenhouse theory. In the early and middle 1980s, politics by Luis Alvarez and two of his prominent paleobiologist supporters--David Raup and, I believe, you--nearly wrecked my career. I am writing a book on my experiences in the K–T debate. Out of a sense of fairness to you, I wish to interview you on this topic, if you are available.

In the early stages of the K–T debate, the impact and volcano theories were evenly matched. However, politics quickly began to tilt opinion toward the impact theory. One tactic by some impactors was to politically attack their opponents to wreck their credibility in the scientific community, and also where they worked. In the early 1980s, vicious politics were slipped into our Virginia Tech Department of Geological Sciences where I worked as a professor of paleontology, with devastating impact upon my career and health. I was subjected to such stresses that in January 1984, my health failed. That severely crippled my work on the K–T extinctions. I was never able to recover physically or emotionally from the wrong that had been done to me. For a decade, I had to endure physical pain and black, often incapacitating, depression that diminished my career. I had to retire in May 1995. Now that I am trying to put my career back together, I am writing my K-T book.

David Wones was our departmental chairperson in the early 1980s. In the early stages of the debate, he supported me. However, via politics that were slipped into our department, he was turned against me. On threat of lawsuit, he told me what had happened. He stated that two paleobiologists had most influenced him against me. One, he identified as David Raup. The other was almost certainly you.

My attached letters to Luis Alvarez (1 June 1988) and to David Raup (27 November 1992) provide details on what happened to me. I will include them in my book. Many others exist.

If you are not available for an interview, I will proceed with what I believe to be an accurate portrayal of the facts of the situation.


Dewey M. McLean
1100 Lora Lane
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Copyright © 1998 Dewey M. McLean