\Gribbin, John R. and Plagemann, Stephen H. The Jupiter Effect Reconsidered. New York:
Vintage Press, 1982.\
These authors wrote a book in 1974, The Jupiter Effect, in which they predicted various
disasters - earthquakes in California, violent storms around the world - which would accompany
the alignment of the planets in a configuration which recurs every 179 years. These English
astrophysicists figured that as the planets lined up, the gravitational pull they exerted on the earth
would be sufficient to trigger tremendous effects on earth. The actual alignment of the planets
would occur in 1982, but "around" the specific time, for a period of 5 years, the effect would be
noticed. Therefore, in explaining the lack of a specific disaster in 1982, they attribute to the
alignment - on an ad hoc basis of course - every disaster in the five year period. Mt. St. Helens,
for example, is the result of the planets. These doomsayers have it that we have not yet
experienced all of the harm that has been set in motion in this five year period: just because so
little has happened yet is no reason to think that the prediction did not come true. Given their
arguments, it is next to impossible to show them to be wrong. One ends up reading that their
predictions were, in fact, pretty good.
In any five year period, one can anticipate some sort of natural disaster. Doomsayers have little
more to do than make their general predictions and give themselves enough leeway. The only
thing they do not expect is disconfirmation and, as their ad hoc hypotheses show, it is hard to
disconfirm them. They do mental gymnastics well.
Here is a good example of facts not spoiling a grand theory. Just because the dates were off, or
because the state of California did not disappear into the Pacific, are not good reasons to think
that Gribben and Plagemann are idiots. They did reasonably well, given the state of the art of
geophysics. They are, by training, astrophysicists anyway.