The Moonlandings were faked and other nonsense

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.