Saturday, February 22, 2014

Review of 'Ancient Aliens on the Red Planet'

        At 09:20 in the commercial-free version of this latest History Channel travesty (S6E16), we see a region of Mars clearly labeled CYDONIA, and to make things perfectly clear, a flashing target over the spot. The narration is:

"The Cydonia region of Mars. July 20th, 1976. (CUT to animation of spacecraft approaching) An alien spacecraft, sent from Earth, touches down on the Red Planet. After a ten-month journey, Viking 1 has reached its destination." (CUT to historical footage at JPL, Gentry Lee and Gerry Soffen celebrating the success of Viking 1)

        I blinked, and re-ran the sequence to be quite sure. Then my face hit the desk (OK, metaphorically.) OMG, THEY THINK VIKING 1 LANDED AT CYDONIA!!!

source: Google Mars

FACT: Cydonia is at 40.74N, 9.46W. Viking 1 landed at Chryse Planitia, 22.46N, 47.96W.

        This appalling error takes Ancient Aliens to new depths of ignorance and mendacity. Jason Colavito has also reviewed the episode on his blog, and he makes a far better job of reviewing the monstrous errors in history and mythology than I possibly could, so please read it.

        In the Twitterscape, Mike Bara complained for the second time in a week that he'd been deprived of due credit:

        That may be how he remembers it now, but if you read Mike Bara's own account of the Enterprise Mission analysis of the Pathfinder images, written at the time, it's pretty plain that it was Guiseppe Pezzella who first pointed out the so-called sphinx.

        Bara's first complaint was over Richard Hoover being invited to the Open Minds International UFO Congress to talk about the controversial discovery of microbiology in a Martian meteorite -- work that Bara claims was his. Does Mike have an electron microscope in his kitchen, I wonder? He sniped at Maureen Elsberry, the congress organiser, and I loved Maureen's reply. "Mike, get over yourself."

        It's certainly true that a casual viewer would have got the idea that John Brandenburg came up with the "sphinx on Mars" fairy story. An elaborate sequence with Giorgio Tsoukalos and some models floated the preposterous idea that the "Twin Peaks" visible from the Mars Pathfinder landing site are a close analogy of the pyramids of Giza. The fact is that the Twin Peaks are nothing like pyramids and the mound Hoagland & Bara (and Brandenburg) have called the sphinx is not like a sphinx at all. And it faces North, not due East as Bara wrote in his nasty book.note 1 Here are high-res stereo pairs of Twin Peaks, the "sphinx," and other dark blocky outcrops showing that there's nothing special about the sphinxy rock.

photo credit: History Channel

        Predictably enough, Bara trotted out further fairy stories including several that this blog has discredited in fairly recent memory. The Viking Labeled Release experiment (and it was nice to see Dr. Gil LevĂ­n tell the story himself here), and the canard that Gerry Soffen lied about the second image of the so-called Face at Owen Mesa (see also this post.)

        Richard Hoagland, inventor of the Face at Cydonia (and much other balderdash besides) was conspicuous by his absence. Mike Bara said -- again, in Twitterstan -- that he'd  turned down the offer to appear on this show. I bet what really happened was that he said he'd love to be on the show but he'd want to  be credited as co-producer and he'd want first-class travel for him and his companion. His arrogance is such that he even talks himself out of opportunities to put his ego (and his disregard for truth) on parade.


[1] Brandenburg speculated that, even if the Twin Peaks don't look like pyramids now, maybe they did when they were built, and millions of years of erosion has reduced them to the pitiful state we see now. The same thing has been claimed for the 'Face', too, and it's what is known in logic as argumentum ad excremetum torii. It's basically taking a desperate hope, unsupported by anything, and dressing it up to look like evidence. He also trotted out his theory about Xenon 129/132 ratios, "proving" that there was a nuclear war on Mars once. Stuart Robbins disposed of that one a year ago.


Robert Ghostwolf's Ghost said...

Has Giorgio Tsoukalos ever claimed that his coif was created by Ancient Alien stylists? As an old Babylon 5 fan, this is the only way I can ever think him.

Graham said...

For what it's worth, somewhere I read that Viking 2 was targeted initially for Cydonia (But nowhere near the face), but it was moved to Utopia Planitia after Viking 1 images showed the landing sight was too rough.

expat said...

Yes, that's correct.

MarsRevealer said...

No, the exact wording was that Viking not landed at Cydonia as originally set, was because OF ALL 'THE NASTIES DOWN THERE'! LOL.

Unknown said...

Bit OT but want to read someone with Mikey's Master Debating superpowers take on RationalWiki?

Chris Lopes said...

That rant certainly reads like pure unadulterated single malt Bara. It has all the hysterical ad hominems and total lack of rational arguments that our Mikey is so famous for. Thanks for the link, it was a fun read.

Trekker said...

Not to mention a total ignorance of basic English grammar!

Dee said...

That historyblogcritic does not deserve the Bara award in my opinion. Actually I noticed that blog still allows opposing views in the comments and the author actually admits he's wrong at times: "No need to call me names over it. It get it now, Thanks" posted under the article "RationalWiki’s OCD like obsessions".

If only Mike would have such humbleness!

Robert Ghostwolf's Ghost said...

Mike recently posted a snide comment about Neil DeGrasse Tyson on his Facebook page. Does anyone know what that's all about other than him being envious of a real scientist who's way more successful and popular than he is?

expat said...

"Most physicists are blithering idiots"
--Mike Bara, in 'The Choice' 2010

NdeGT is a physicist, therefore The Great Mike Bara thinks he's an idiot. Just wait till Cosmos gets to the question of dark matter. Scorn will pour off Mike's FB page.

Robert Ghostwolf's Ghost said...

I should have known. It was silly to even mention it. After all, any right thinking person will tell you that the laws of physics are merely suggestions.