Yeah I think at this point the evidence is so good for both the impact and the Deccan Traps that it’s got to be, at a minimum, some sort of combination of the two, possibly with the impact massively worsening the vulcanism.
Also yes Luis Alvarez does seem to be a right twat, though to be fair, he was treated shoddily because he was a physicist impinging on paleotologist/geologist turf (I sympathize with scientists dealing with people from other disciplines butting in, they’re often idiots, but only to a point, and not if the intruder isn’t an idiot - he was still a dick though). I’d forgotten about the numpties who suggested it was literally impossible for an impact to have any influence on proceedings (like Jastrow mentioned in the article - who Alvarez rightly calls out for being associated with Reagan’s unscientific and intellectually dishonest SDI program). Pretty sure Alvarez was eventually proven right on the spherules thing too.
Good article, what a blast from the past!
Yeah even going back into the 1970s you start seeing a lot of weirder theories, like disease, which just never matched up to the evidence. The asteroid theory has been around since at least 1956, but was just one theory of many until the 1980s.
You see the same sort of progression with how people though dinosaurs worked. Thanks to various books I had access to when I was a kid, and my total obsession with dinosaurs, which was a less of the usual “Oh they’re so cool” and more “What the fuck, why aren’t they still around, what happened? I bet they are still around, grown-ups are idiots…”, I got to see a progression from 1930s through 1950s, and 1960s and 1970s stuff, to then-new 1980s stuff. I remember reading Bakker’s “Dinosaur Heresies” aged 10 or 11 and explaining it to bewildered adults.
By the time Jurassic Park came out (1993) basically no-one serious was still suggesting all dinosaurs were cold-blooded (only stodgy old idiots), the impact theory was clearly dominant (and I think reinforced by Shoemaker-Levi stuff the next year), as you can see from books from the time, and we were already beginning to get more widespread acceptance of the idea that birds were very closely related to dinosaurs, not some entirely separate thing, though that didn’t really become properly popularized until post-Jurassic Park (which did everyone a service in a sense).
And yeah people pretty much always find a bigger dinosaur. Sometimes the weird mysteries of dinosaurs do actually get solved, too, though often it’s even more bizarre than you’d think - a giant pair of arms which had always mystified me as a kid, and which scientists had been very confused by, because they didn’t seem to fit with anything they’d ever found, turnout to belong to a freakishly large ornithomimosaur, Deinocheirus.
There’s also the interesting “weight of tradition” factor in how dinosaurs are depicted - any newly discovered dinosaur is likely to only be depicted with feathers (if it’s remotely plausible), but stuff that’s from before that is still often, even in recent depictions, unfeathered, or lightly feathered. Jurassic Park, despite reinforcing the bird-dinosaur connection strongly, still can’t quite face up to the feathers (I believe one of the more recent movies had some sort of implausible explanation for why their raptors don’t have feathers).