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This article deals specifically with Gaia hypothesis ideas of James Lovelock; for a more detailed discussion of how the scientific community in general understands this hypothesis, see the article on .
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A number of works of fiction use the Gaia hypothesis as a central part of the plot. In two of his novels, (1982) and (1984), describes the planet as one on which all things, living and inanimate, are taking part in a planetary consciousness to an appropriate measure. In Asimov's story Gaia strives for an even greater that it calls , and that comprises the whole .
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After initially being largely ignored by most scientists, (from 1969 until 1977), thereafter for a period, the initial Gaia hypothesis was ridiculed by a number of scientists, like , Dawkins and Gould. Lovelock has said that by naming his theory after a Greek goddess, championed by many non scientists, the Gaia hypothesis was derided as some kind of . Many scientists in particular also criticised the approach taken in his popular book "Gaia, a New look at Life on Earth" for being ; a belief that all things have a predetermined purpose. Lovelock seems to have accepted this criticism of some of his statements, and has worked hard to remove the taint of teleological thinking from his theories, stating "Nowhere in our writings do we express the idea that planetary self-regulation is purposeful, or involves foresight or planning by the ." – (Lovelock, J. E. 1990).
The Strong Gaia Hypothesis - YouTube
Aside from clarifying his language and understanding of what is meant by a life form, Lovelock himself ascribes most of the criticism to a lack of understanding of non-linear mathematics by his critics, and a linearizing form of in which all events have to be immediately ascribed to specific causes before the fact. He notes also that his theory suggests experiments in many different fields, but few of them in biology which most of his critics are trained in. "I'm a general practitioner in a world where there's nothing but specialists... science in the last two centuries has tended to be ever-dividing" and often rivalrous, especially for funding which Lovelock describes as overly abundant and overly focused on institutions rather than original thought. He points out that not only shared this opinion (coining the term ) but also accepted a lack of general cause and effect explanation as an inevitable phase in a theory's development, and believed that some self-regulating phenomena may not be explainable at all mathematically.