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November 27, 1992

Dr. David M. Raup
Department of Geophysical Sciences
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL 60637

Dear David:

Thanks for your 11/23/92 fax response to my 11/19/92 fax of the Koshland letter which contains the following comments about you:

“Raup has a history of damaging opponents of the Alvarez asteroid. Early in the K–T debate, his influence with the NSF’s _Mosaic_ editor got Alvarez’s opponents categorized as “Just So,” and abiding in “lofty isolation” (_Mosaic_, 1981, v. 12, pp. 2–10). That hurt. In addition, my work on the greenhouse physiological killing mechanism was branded “Just So” even before my paper was published. John Noble Wilford (_The Riddle of the Dinosaurs_, 1985) also used Raup’s “Just So.” For those--and other actions--I must view Raup as a mean–spirited, politically–manipulative individual who has no business being on any Editorial Board that must make decisions on the K–T.”

A few weeks ago, a journalist called about your comments on Chuck Officer’s role in the K–T debate: “Chuck Officer is reminiscent of Arthur Meyerhoff and continental drift” . . . “Meyerhoff was somewhat of a laughing stock of the field” . . . and that “lots of people draw parallels between Meyerhoff and Officer.”

At the Cincinnati GSA meeting in late October, I talked with other scientists about your comments. No one I talked to had such an insulting opinion of Officer. David, it seems that--via _personal_ attack--you were attempting to undermine Officer’s scientific credibility with the journalist. In the early 1980s, you seem to have done the same thing to me--only worse.

In the early 1980s--when I had originated the volcano side of the current asteroid versus volcano K–T debate, and was the main volcanic opposition to the Alvarez asteroid your politics, those of another famous paleobiologist, and Luis Alvarez were fed to the Chairman of my Department of Geological Sciences with disastrous consequences to my career, and my health.

David Wones was Chairman of our Department. He was the best boss I had ever known. He was supportive of my K–T volcanism–extinctions work, insisted that I attend the 1981 Snowbird I conference, and even paid my way. Wones’ 1/13/81 Faculty Activities Report to the Dean stated, “Dewey is one of the creative and original thinkers in the department . . . If he is correct in his analysis of fossil extinctions, the department will have housed one of the major figures of our time.” And, “Dewey has been most cooperative with me.” I adored David Wones.

Then, your old pal, Richard Bambach, was promoted to full professor, and got on the Executive Committee. My relationship with Chairman Wones deteriorated--quickly. By 1/12/83, K–T “dirty tricks” had so distressed Wones with me that his Faculty Activities Report noted, “Dewey McLean remains the least collegial of the faculty in the Geological Sciences.” Wones would get angry with me for reasons I could not fathom and, when he saw me, might turn red–faced, and utter scathing remarks. Finally--I had “no future here.” And should “look elsewhere.” Wones had “no time” to discuss what was wrong. An article in the NSF’s _Mosaic_ (1981, v. 12), that lumped my work in a special blue–outlined box titled “Just So,” also bothered him; he was very sensitive to the NSF.

I was doing an excellent job here. I had received four Teaching Excellence Awards (1974 to 1981), was directing a graduate dinoflagellate program second only to my mentor at Stanford (two of my former graduate students have been President of the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists, and one received the 1984 Outstanding Graduate Student at Florida State Award, etc.), was doing original research linking internal earthly processes to evolution of earth’s biosphere, and was developing a physiological greenhouse killing mechanism, etc. (I have the Ph.D. in geology from Stanford, and all course work for the Ph.D. in biology). However, I was being hurt because of the K–T, and sometimes brutally so.

Speaking of brutality--one day Bambach told me that the department would solicit a recommendation about me from Luis Alvarez. Bambach _knew_ that Luis Alvarez had threatened to wreck my career if I opposed his asteroid theory, and could be depended on to write a damaging letter about me. Bambach also indicated that if I wanted to make full professor, I would have to relocate--“like Tony Hallam had” (something about relocating from Oxford to Birmingham). I had to take all this, and couldn’t do anything about it.

Wones was manipulated. One day, Wones even cursed me in front of the secretarial staff for being such a “bad scientist” that a Nobel prize winner (Luis Alvarez) had to chastise me publicly (I have a letter of apology from Wones). David, you, chairman of three NASA workshops on extraterrestrial influences of bioevolution, etc., had brought Bambach and Luis Alvarez together. Bambach brought Alvarez’s comments about me into our department. Wones’ upset with me seems to have followed one of your meetings.

Stresses wreaked upon me by Wones’ several–month harangue ground me down. I learned all about drenching night sweats, endless anxiety, and helplessness at being attacked, and not being able to do anything about it. I was being damaged externally by Luis Alvarez’s attack upon my credibility, and internally by K–T politics in my own department. Finally, I threatened to sue Wones and the University. Some details are in my 6/1/88 letter to Luis Alvarez (attached). Incidentally, paragraph two of my Alvarez letter contains a comment that might interest you--the one that my K–T work was “not going anywhere.”

David, according to Wones, _you_ were the source of that “cheap shot” that had helped to turn him against me. He had to take “seriously, the recommendation from one of the world’s top paleontologists, a national academician, who was actively involved in the K–T debate.” By that description, he had unintentionally identified you. When confronted with a potential lawsuit--and realizing that he had been manipulated--Wones admitted it.

Stresses of the politics broke down my health. In January, 1984, horrible pain woke me one morning. Nearly every joint in my body was inflamed, and some were swollen. Movement triggered excruciating pain. My fingers were swollen twice their normal size, and were stiff and immobile. My wife had to help me get out of bed, and to dress. She had to do that many mornings. The affliction got worse, and lasted for all of 1984. My muscle mass atrophied. I spent 1985 so weak and fatigued that I could do little more than meet my academic responsibilities. I had to face the possibility that my career might be over for health reasons.

The 1984–1985 episode of pain and emotional trauma embedded in me a Pavlovian–type response to the K–T such that it became upsetting--even repulsive--to me. Before 1984, I had never been bothered by stresses; after that, I have been. I learned in a brutal way that politics could hurt me. I will never recover physically or emotionally from the trauma that some of you people put me through. You state in your fax that you had declined “to write a letter at the time of your promotion at VPI.” The method you used was more effective--and left no documented record.

_Whatever_ could be your motive? Internal K–T politics became most intense in 1983--the same time you were beginning to promote your idea of impact-driven periodic extinctions. The Alvarez asteroid offered you the greatest grab for greatness of your entire career--to develop your own paradigm of impact–driven bioevolution on our planet--your chance to topple Darwin, and replace him with--Raup!

However, one impediment for you was my K–T Deccan Traps volcanism–carbon cycle perturbation model that unifies most aspects of the K–T record. On this matter, you claim in your fax that you “know so little about” my work . . . largely because of ignorance of atmospheric chemistry . . .”

David, your scientific papers touching the K–T seem to display ignorance of _most_ of the science necessary to really understand the phenomena of mass extinctions--the data of nearly a couple dozen fields of science that are absolutely critical to developing holistic comprehension of K-T dynamics. They span the Cretaceous and Tertiary fossil records (animal and plant, marine and terrestrial), biostratigraphy, physical stratigraphy, plate tectonics, carbon cycle, stable isotopes, mantle processes that include degassing, paleobiology, paleoecology, climatology, oceanography, biochemistry, solar-earth-space energy flow systems, and system dynamics, to name some.

Anyway, David, I hope you are beginning to grasp why I sincerely believe that “Raup has a history of damaging opponents of the Alvarez asteroid.” . . . and “I must view Raup as a mean–spirited, politically–manipulative individual . . .” If not, please read on.

I have in my possession a 9/14/87 letter stating: “leadership . . . for the extraterrestrial community . . . shifted to individuals such as Dave Raup, Steve Gould, Gene Shoemaker, and Kevin Burke . . . all are well versed in manipulating science policy in their own directions . . . Last month there was an organizing committee meeting under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences to have another Snowbird conference . . . the meeting was set up by Raup and Shoemaker. There were twelve people at the meeting, ten of whom were from the extraterrestrial community . . . two representing as a token the terrestrial interests. The arrogance of some of the people at the meeting was unbelievable and most distasteful.”

David, if you are _really_ fair–minded about the volcanic opposition to the Alvarez asteroid--as you claim in your fax--why did you not assemble a _balanced_ Snowbird II organizing committee? I have heard complaints that Snowbird II was “stacked” to allow the impact community to overwhelm its opponents. If true, the NAS was manipulated by a few individuals to promote their own vested interests. Now, I hear that the NAS is being asked to sponsor a Snowbird III conference.

You note, for your claim of fairness, that “none are more likely than I to switch to the volcanic alternative.” David, your latest book, _Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck?_ (1991) does not cite the work of a single K–T volcanist. It leaves out: that the K–T boundary Deccan Traps volcanism was coeval with perturbations of the carbon cycle and climatic warming, Strangelove Oceans, and marine and terrestrial extinctions, and the fact that the modern Reunion hot spot volcano that produced the Deccan Traps 65 million years ago is still releasing iridium today. In pointing this out, I am not accusing you of “unconscious bias” (p. 179). I really liked your, “Perhaps within the next few months, it will be difficult to find anyone who ever doubted the impact–extinction link” (p. 163).

Now, for your “Just So” comments in a _Mosaic_ article (1981, v. 12) that you “know nothing about.” The one that got asteroid opponents lumped into an insulting blue–outlined box titled “Just So,” with the note that “some of the proponents abide in lofty isolation.” David, I believe you introduced the “Just So” epithet into the K–T.

After my 6/24/81 letter to him, _Mosaic_ editor, Warren Kornberg, told me that he had created the “Just So” box. He got the idea from your “Just So” comments in the article: “The sort of ad hoc explanations . . . the kind of ‘Just So Stories’ . . .” says David Raup “are impossible to document, except by wishful thinking . . ..” But, “The Alvarez theory is testable.” Please, David, a scientist knowledgeable on extinction theory literature, and authors, somehow provided Kornberg the theory–author data for the “Just So” box.

On another topic from your fax, you indicate that as a member of the _Science_ Editorial Board you had no “detectable influence.” I will accept your statement, and delete reference to it from my Koshland letter.

Most of the scientists involved in the K–T debate seem of high integrity. What should have been a grand adventure in which scientists from many fields worked together to solve one of the great mysteries of science--cause of the K–T extinctions--was sullied by a small handful of vested–interest individuals who saw the Alvarez asteroid as a means for implementing their own agendas. That handful is responsible for turning the K–T debate into one of the major episodes of sick, or pathogenic, science in history.

David, I sincerely believe, with no malice in my heart, that you are one of that handful.


Dewey M. McLean
Professor, and Director of Earth Systems and Biosphere Evolution Studies

cc: Daniel Koshland, Jr.; Kim McDonald; Chuck Officer; Arthur Meyerhoff, etc.

Copyright © 1992 Dewey M. McLean