Politics

UKIP's MP Is Arguing With Scientists About What Causes Tides And People Are Taking The Piss

Douglas Carswell thinks it's the sun; scientists are pretty sure it's the moon.

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Douglas Carswell, UKIP's only MP, has been telling scientists on Twitter what causes tides.

@Nightingale_P @DuncanWeldon actually it's the gravitational pull of the sun. The moon's gravity does Spring / neap tides

He was arguing with Paul Nightingale, a professor of strategy at Sussex University's Science Policy Research Unit, who was drawing an analogy to say why trade with EU countries is more important for Britain than larger, but more distant, countries like China.

Carswell thinks it's the sun, and he's really pretty convinced about it.

@Nightingale_P @DuncanWeldon surprised head of Science research at a university refutes idea sun's gravity causes tides.

It's fair to say that most scientists are unconvinced by his unorthodox position.

@DouglasCarswell @DuncanWeldon Douglas, this isn't a controversial point. Its in Newton's Principia.

And people are taking the piss a little bit.

@AlbertoNardelli @politic_animal we should demand release from the weak, insular moon's gravity and embrace the wider Sun.

Not quite a flat-earther yet, but amongst his other bad opinions, Carswell believes the Sun controls the tide!

Possibly the worst misunderstanding of tides since King Canute there by UKIP MP! Scientific explanation here… https://t.co/GmBtonJoNY

Douglas Carswell has been rewriting science to force metaphors into supporting #Brexit. #science #physics #tides

Douglas Carswell is in good company.The British Navy in his patch misunderstood tides and ignored experts too.The Dutch invaded in 1688.

For the record: The moon causes (almost all of) the Earth's tides. High tides come when the moon is either overhead or on the far side of the Earth.

The sun does have an impact – when the sun and moon align, you get especially high, "spring" tides – but the moon is overwhelmingly more powerful. That's because the sun, although it's much, much larger, is also much further away.

At least, that's according to experts. But people in this country have had enough of experts, so really, who knows?


Tom Chivers is a science writer for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Tom Chivers at tom.chivers@buzzfeed.com.

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