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Know what that's called? AN UNREADABLE WEB PAGE, that's what. And that's what Richard Hoagland gave us, as his first website update in nearly nine months, under the title It Only Takes One White Crow. At one time I wrote a couple of books about HTML, so I know a piece-of-shit web page when I see it. Any other HTML hackers reading this might like to know that the W3C validator throws 81 errors and 14 warnings when asked to rate the page markup.
OK, getting on Hoagland's case about his markup is a bit irrelevant, I hear you say. Never mind the technicalities, what about the content? Well, actually, I was giving you the good news first. The content is WORSE.
The page was composed as a companion to last night's three-hour Hoagathon on Coast to Coast AM. By way of a preamble, he takes us through his brilliant (and totally false) analysis of the original 'Face' on Mars, his absolutely brilliant (and absolutely false) exposition of the Brookings Report, before getting to the meat of the thing -- namely, what Curiosity has found on Mars. I can do this like a picture book for you. (Actually these images are not from the web page but from the C2C-AM archive).
This is a child's sneaker. Surrounded by toys such as a model glider. ON MARS.
This is a cylinder.
This is an engine. ON MARS.
I'm bored already, I won't continue with the collapsed motels and apartment blocks. We did those already. But you get the idea. This is bad science. VERY, VERY BAD SCIENCE.
Then, for heaven's sake, he goes off into a wild and utterly ridiculous fantasy about a Reuleaux tetrahedron in West Candor Chasma -- nowhere near Gale crater, nothing to do with the Curiosity rover, and just about as painful as the HTML it's written in. I could tell you what a Reuleaux tetrahedron is but then I'd have to kill myself for even taking this preposterous idea that seriously. Look it up if you must -- everything's on the net these days. The main thing to understand here is that Richard Hoagland is wrong.
On the woo-woo radio last night, he didn't venture into Reuleaux territory (imagine having to spell that out for George Noory), settling instead for the above-mentioned fantasy of a Martian child's bedroom complete with toys, and a scamper through the Wacky-Accynote 1. At times there were awkward silences, as if neither Hoagland nor Noory could imagine what kind of bullshit to come up with next.
Here's one quote I particularly loved:
"The Accutron is a really robust portable field sensor that allows me to monitor the changes in the field strength in and around these sacred sites."
STRENGTH. Remember that word.
On 8th June, just a month ago, I wrote this in e-mail to Hoagland:
"You say you measure the torsion field, right?
So here's the simplest possible question:
What was the maximum intensity of the torsion field at Coral Castle during the Venus transit of 2004?"
I was favored with a reply, the very same day:
"I have NEVER stated that we're measuring the "amplitude" ... of ANYTHING. :)
Frequency ... frequency ... frequency ....
Why don't you try actually READING what we've published (so far ...), before you ask (more) inane questions ..."
"Someone's living on the Moon"
Good line. I bet the Branch Hoaglandians love it. Sad to say, it isn't true. Hoagland repeated that bit of nonsense last night, which is based on his utter misunderstanding of lunar atmospheric pressure measurements from Apollo vs. Chandrayaan. The story is here. Basically, Apollo was doing its measurement at night-time, Chandrayaan daytime. That's why the atmospheric pressure was different -- not because there are seekrit miltary bases.
Two false claims
Around the middle of the second hour, Hoagland again claimed to have been the first to publish the hypothesis that Europa, the sixth moon of Jupiter, might have an ocean under its icy crust. This claim has been ridiculed by Phil Plait, Ralph Greenberg and Gary Posner. In response to Posner's rebuttal, Mike Bara wrote a vitriolic web page (also white size 4 Times Roman on starfield, but mercifully not 1540px line width) saying "Hoagland has never claimed any such thing".
This is not just bad science, it's disgraceful.
Toward the end of that hour, Hoagland referred to the Apollo 15 Hammer & feather drop, in which Dave Scott proved that in the vacuum of the Moon, a hammer and feather dropped from the same height reach the ground together. A truly excellent demo. Almost as a casual throwaway, the pseudoscientist told us that the whole thing was his idea.
That is a falsehood. The demo was conceived by Dave Scott, Jim Irwin and Joe Allennote 2.
Bad science. Disgraceful claims. Unforgivable arrogance and mendacity.
1. As ever, a backgrounder on this is here.
2. Thanks to Jourget for pointing me to this note in the Lunar Surface Journal:
[Scott - "The basic idea was Joe Allen's. It was another thing from sitting in the crew quarters at night, trying to figure out interesting things to do - that were useful, too. And I guess we had a lot of ideas. But Joe came up with the hammer and feather idea, and we decided where to get a feather. I had a friend who was a professor at the Air Force Academy. Their mascot's the Falcon. And we had the (LM) Falcon. So that was indeed, a falcon feather from an Air Force Academy bird. In fact, I had two of them. I was going to try it, first, to see if it worked - because of static charge and all that stuff it might have stuck to my glove. Didn't have time (for the trial run), so we just winged it. And it worked!"]