The Moonlandings were faked and other nonsense

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Flat Earth Society

Yes, the Flat Earth Society still exists. And they have a web site which says amazing things like:

"Using the "round Earth" theory, setting an object on the earth would be like setting grains of sand on a beach ball. Certainly a few grains would stay - right around the top, the surface is nearly horizontal - but when you stray too far from the absolute top of the ball, the grains of sand start sliding off and falling onto the ground. The Earth, if round, should behave in exactly the same fashion. Because the top is a very localized region on a sphere, if the Earth were in fact round, there would be only a very small area of land that would be at all inhabitable. Stray to the outside fringes of the "safe zone", and you start walking at a tilt. The further out you go, the more you slant, until your very survival is determined by the tread on your boots. Reach a certain point, and you slide off the face of the planet entirely. Obviously, something is wrong."


Sorry, I'm back from about 5 solid minutes of laughter. I almost spit my water out across my monitor and keyboard when I read that! Are these guys that stupid? I'm hesitant to call someone stupid in public, but this competes with the ignorance of Intelligent Design for the stupidest thing to still be believed by more than one person.

Apparently, these guys don't believe in Gravity. Gravity apparently pulls at you from the center of the Universe, I suppose. Otherwise, you'd go sliding off the planet if you lived anywhere but at the north pole - wherever that is. Please ignore all the evidence and the understanding of the workings of the world that science has figured out over time - ignore the way a roughly spherical Earth (they keep using the term "round Earth" on this web page as if it were a 2D object) explains, along with gravity and all the other forces of nature, things like: the weather; magnetic field orientations; photographs of a roughly spherical Earth from space; they way satellites orbit the planet; the way Earth orbits the sun along with the other planets, comets, asteroids and so forth; the geological processes currently active on the planet like plate techtonics, volcanism, etc.; and the entire Universe we can observe going overhead around us.

I guess that all of you folks who live anywhere outside of a few miles from me must be falling off the Earth right now - oh, not because the Earth is flat. Because you're laughing so hard that you've bounced off the planet with a velocity of about 11.3 km/s.

A few other things that this particular flat earther believes is that space is filled with an ether (light has to have a medium to propogate through afterall) which would slow the orbital motion of a "round Earth" in much less than the billions of years we all claim it has been orbiting the sun so that it would stop and fall into the sun. Objects, according to "Efimovich's theory" (Efimovich is our leader, apparently, and is none other than Christopher Columbus!), posess a "gravitational charge" which presumably takes a long time to realign if moved. And then there's the problem of having "different downs."
Now imagine, if only for the sake of argument, that the person on top and the person on bottom can both manage to remain attracted to the ground "below" them. What would happen if the person on one side decided to visit the other? Since the man at the North Pole has a different idea of what is down and up (and in fact experiences an opposite pull from the Earth's gravity) than the person at the South Pole does, when the denizen of the frozen Arctic visits his Antarctic counterpart, they will experience gravitational pulls exactly opposite of each other! The human from the North Pole will "fall up", never returning to the ground, and will continue falling forever into the deep void of outer space!
Simply amazing.

Water. Regardless of which train of thought you follow, it covers over seventy-five percent of our planet's surface. And the atmosphere, also a fluid, covers the entire surface. The difference is why. While flat-Earthers know that the ocean is really just a large bowl, (with great sheets of ice around the edges to hold the ocean back), and the atmosphere is contained by a large dome, the backwards "round-Earth" way of thinking would have you believe that all those trillions of gallons of water and air just "stick" to the planet's surface.

Conventional thinking would suggest that the water would just run down the sides of the Earth (to use the analogy again, like droplets running down the sides of a beach ball) and fall into outer space, while the air would dissipate. Using the earlier mentioned idea of "gravitational charge" gives some credibility to the theory. If the fluids were static, then exposure to the gravitational field for a long enough period of time would allow their molecules to align themselves with and be pulled in by the field.

Wow. This website goes on and on with this type of nonsense. It's amazing how many things that would seem obvious to folks like me and (hopefully) you that this guy has to bury his head in the sand to ignore that provide counter examples to his claims.

This is really the definitive line in this entire website: "Why do we say the Earth is flat, when the vast majority says otherwise? Because we know the truth." They know the truth! Regardless of any facts or evidence that might get in the way, they know the truth.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Are we short 10 million victims today?

Eric Julien has been making "psychic" claims about a piece of comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 slamming into Earth on May 25. It was supposed to hit in the Atlantic and cause huge tsunami that was to kill millions. Surprise of all surprises. It didn't happen. Another screwball frightens millions with pseudoscientific claims of disaster. Another end of the world event came and went without happening. Mr. Julien should be held accountable at some level for spreading this idiot nonsense - his gobbledegook prediction caused widespread panic in Morroco with folks abandoning their coastal homes in fear of the tsunami.

There's no shortage of wacko claims in this world, be it the the Zetas and Nancy Lieder's fictional Twelfth Planet, or Eric Julien's nonsense, the public should demand accountability. When a legitimate danger appears, many folks do not have the skills in critical thinking to distinguish it from the background buzz of pseudoscientific nonsense.

Once again, doomsday has come and gone.....

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Numb3rs and Psychics

Numb3rs is a TV program on CBS which I've come to enjoy as a breath of fresh air amongst all the TV shows that advocate pseudoscientific claptrap (like Medium, for example). The main character is a mathematician named Charlie Eppes whose brother is an FBI agent. Dr. Eppes uses science, math, and reason to help his brother solve crimes of all types. Certainly quite a refreshing change. Until last night. Last night's episode starred John Glover as a psychic trying to help the FBI solve a murder case. Understandably, Charlie logically attacks the nonsense the psychic spews despite the credulous FBI agents all being taken in by the charletan. When the psychic "fails" a card test in which he names the color of the card, but gets every card wrong (black instead of red) which is just as unlikely as getting every one right, Dr. Eppes correctly identifies the psychics trick - looking at the reflection of the card to ID its color. This show had the ability, and given its record of using science and reason, it had the obligation really, to show exactly how these psychics work, using cold and warm reading, throwing out dozens of leads and watching their victims responses to latch onto the occasional hit; relying on the victim to selectively remember the hits while ignoring all the misses. While Charlie actually does go into these techniques briefly, the program left the door open to the possibility that this particular psychic might actually have some powers. It was a missed opportunity to show psychics for the charlatans they are. Too bad.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hoax nonsense....

I had the "pleasure" of talking on Irish radio about the Apollo Moonlanding Hoax Hoax earlier today. Besides the host of the show, who had clearly been convinced that the landings were faked by the evidence on someones hoax webpage, they also had Marcus Allen, of Nexus Magazine on. I was expecting, from e-mails before the show, to be given equal and fair time, however, the host let Mr. Allen say all he wanted while only letting me speak briefly and after Mr. Allen had put out many points - each of which would have taken a few moments to address.

In short time, Mr. Allen mentioned these problems: "Radiation in space which includes the Van Allen belts that start at about 250 miles"; "Temperature in space - it's too hot or too cold" (which is it - too hot or too cold?); "No pressure in space - the spacesuits would be inflated to 5 psi." (and they were designed to be used with 5psi pressure difference...)

Rather than stopping and letting me address any of these, the host allowed Mr. Allen to continue on. Soon he made claims about radiation damage to film, claimed that the live broadcasts weren't "live", that "All of the photographs taken by the astronauts on the moon were perfect". Then the host added that there were no stars in the pictures and that the items on the moon have supposedly vanished. Finally I was allowed to say a thing or two, addressing the so called "Perfect" pictures and radiation damage to film. Then it was back to Mr. Allen who continued making claims like John Edward makes his cold reading psychic predictions, throwing out unsubstantiated claims left and right without my having a chance to say a thing. To top it all off, the host allowed Mr. Allen to have "The final word" by having him come with with a "Killer Fact". I did get a few words in after his final word - I couldn't stay silent to his accusations.... This is one experience I don't want to repeat without a host that is entirely skeptical about the hoax claims. I was led to believe that it would be an objective discussion, but clearly the host was not objective and had been convinced. His agenda was to have his new favorite conspiracy promoted on his show.

I am disappointed in how things turned out.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Does the new planet affect your Astrological forecast?

A group of astronomers lead by Mike Brown at CalTech discovered a large object beyond Pluto called 2003 UB313 last summer. They nicknamed it "Xena" after the Warrior Princecess who battled evil for several years on TV. It was later found to have a satellite and turned out to be larger than the 9th planet, Pluto. It has since started an argument amongst Astronomers about whether it should be considered a planet or not or in fact, if Pluto should be called a planet. The jury is still out and it really is just a matter of nomenclature anyway. There are certainly thousands of objects out in the depths of the solar system that are within a factor of 10 of the diameter of Pluto. As we have discovered, the solar system is a very busy place.

Today, as I was reading our local Sunday paper, I read through the "USA Weekend" magazine and discovered under the title "Science" an article titled "Newly Charted Territory" by one Rose Darby. At first glance, it appeared to be a legitimate article about the new planet Xena. Unfortunately, under the guise of science, the article quickly deteriorated into an article about Astrology and how the new planet affects astrological predictions. The astrological mumbojumbo that was attempting to masquerade as science was mind numbing. Astrology is a science like Intelligent Design is science - in short, it isn't, it's pseudoscientific nonsense. Publishing pseudoscientific claptrap of this kind and disguising it as science certainly damages the credibility of a magazine like USA Weekend.

Interestingly, on the same date, Parade Magazine published an article by David Levy discussing not only the new planet, but also the upcoming mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt called New Horizons - a legitimate science article while their competitor published its trivial article on the non-science of Astrology.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The results of superstition....

Religion promotes superstitious thinking with the believer linking anything bad that might happen either with the victims lack of or misguided faith or as the vengeance of his deity. Anything bad that happens to himself is simply a test of his faith. The good is a sign of his wonderful god, the bad a test of his faith. The bad that happens to someone else is punishment.... Circular reasoning abounds and the real reasons for things are irrelevant. Take this story for example. Pat Robertson demonstrates his ignorance by blaming Ariel Sharon's current health problems as divine punishment for "dividing God's land." If Robertsons god is so trivial that he would stoop to revenge, It's no wonder that I don't want anything to do with his religion. It's too bad most of Robertson's followers are so blind to his ignorance and hypocrisy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Not so Intelligent Design.

Creationists are trying once again to shoe-horn religion into science classrooms. This time, they call it "Intelligent Design", but its just another mask for the same kinds of attempts to discredit the Theory of Evolution that have been made ever since Darwin originally published his theories. Theists are trying to use the methods of science against science. By pointing out that it is the "Theory of" Evolution, they imply that theories are somehow wrong. But think of this - we still call our knowledge about gravity the "Theory of Gravity". Yet when I drop my pen, it falls to the floor despite it only being a theory. The theory of Evolution describes to the best of our scientific knowledge and ability, the facts of what we call Evolution just like the theory of Gravity describes how gravity behaves. We may not have the details perfectly exact, but the theory matches our observations and knowledge of how each field works. We see evolution in action today. To me, natural selection is such an obvious observation. Imagine seeing a row of 10 bicycles in a bike rack. 9 of them have locks and the 10th does not - which bike is the bike thief going to take - the unlocked one of course. The unlocked bikes are preferentially stolen. Now imagine a herd of zebra which is being stalked by a pride of lions. Which zebras are going to survive? The fastest and healthiest survive. The survivors go on to mate and produce new zebra which inherit the genetics of the survivors - the herd gets stronger over time because of that - evolution in action. It's so obvious that it's hard to see how the creationists/fundementalists/intelligent design advocates cannot see just how logical evolution is and how it also applies to our own species. Intelligent design is an attempt to spray religious graffiti all over science. If I were forced to teach "Intelligent Design" in the classroom, I would teach it for what it is and I would blow it out of the water by showing students how it is refuted by proper scence.

Wade Wurthen in an article in The State says:
There is no debate [about the fact of evolution] within the scientific community; that’s why intelligent design proponents seek to legislate their truth in the political arena.

They frame the issue as a choice between godless, “random” evolution and purposeful creation by God.

This misrepresents evolution and the relationship between science and religion. Evolution can occur randomly (genetic drift), but it can also proceed by the non-random process of natural selection. Also, like all scientific theories, evolution is not atheistic; it neither affirms nor denies the existence of God.

So, again, this argument is a false dichotomy. Couldn’t God make a new species through the natural process of evolution? (Well, of course She could.) In fact, many of the 500,000 scientists who accept evolution today are believers. Intelligent design proponents frame this false dichotomy so they can claim that science and evolution oppose religion.

They confuse evolutionary theory with origin-of-life hypotheses. They claim that “evolution can’t explain how life arose, so this theory is based on faith.”

Here are some websites relevant to this discussion: - The Bad Astronomy Blog

The Onion's "Intelligent Falling" parody.

CNN's coverage of the Dover Area School District trial on Intelligent Design

The Panda's Thumb website

Note added later in the day:

This blog entry from the Evolutionblog hits the nail on the head. I couldn't say it any better myself: