As I write this, there are 184 FB comments attached to the Coast to Coast announcement of Richard Hoagland's return to the show last night. Very likely more to come, but the trend is obvious. Even the very few supportive comments don't take Hoagland's opinions seriously, but are more in the nature of "very unlikely, but we should keep an open mind" (and regular readers will know what I think about the "open mind" business.)
Here's a more representative selection:
"What a crock." --Lonnie Rowe
"That guy is a F-ing crackpot. His "theories" hold as much fact and are as real as Santa Claus" --Chad Garcia
"Mount Sharp is an ancient habitation. Good grief no wonder the guy's broke." --Vince Denny
"I think Hoagland is off his meds - again." --Michael Lonergan
"Hoagland...a legend in his own mind." --Steve Knox
"Hoagland would find man made structures on his own pile of *#@&." --Manny Ochoa
"Hoagland is a real ego maniac and a fraud ! He loves the sound of his own voice. He needs to go away" --Jill Gartland
"Here we go again,no wonder nasa banned him,he is batshit crazy..." --Richard A. Martin
"Ridiculous. Is this guy on crack? Where do they find these delusional people? Where?" --David Jefferson Pearcy
"This guy is full of crap." --Joel BiJeaux
"Is it just me, or does Hogland take FOREVER to get to a point?" --Rance Sullivan
"But "I have analyzed all the data" and you sir are nuts. Has anything he ever said come to truth or actually been proven in "real" science?" --Matt Smith
"This guy is a delusional idiot" --Mark Miller
I pull out those quotes not to shirk the hard graft of actually writing this blog, but to point out that Hoagland has really lost his audience. It isn't just me and my fellow skepti-bloggers who see that the Emperor has no clothes, scientifically speaking. I heard all of last night's show, and I do have my own comments. The main topic is comet 67P, the ESA spacecraft Rosetta that rendezvoused with it, and the lander Philae that touched down on it.
First, he was absolutely correct in reporting that the Philae lander is not dead. As soon as comet 67P's orbit brings it into a different orientation with the Sun (and closer to it,) there's a very good chance that the lander's solar panels will get enough energy to wake the spacecraft's systems up again. Hoagland isn't wrong about everything.
He was wrong, however, in saying that 67P has no ice. True, the Rosetta orbiter wasn't able to see any surface ice as it approached, but when the lander attempted to use its MUPUS hammer to probe the surface, it encountered hard ice pretty soon. It looks as though the surface dust is perhaps as much as 20cm thick, overlaying a core that is predominantly ice and gets more porous toward the center of the comet. I refer you (and Hoagland, if he's reading) to the ESA blog posted a month ago, headlined Philae settles in dust-covered ice. There's been a lot of fuss about the HD ratio in 67P's water (that's the deuterium fraction, much higher than Earth water.) At a temperature of -153°C, does anyone think this water could be liquid?
I laughed into my pillow when Hoagland spoke of "artificial gravity machines" inside the comet, and laughed again when he mentioned his buddy in Los Angeles who's an ace at digital image enhancement. This guy, according to Hoagland, has developed a way of removing "the blurring mask that NASA and ESA superimpose on all the space pictures" (not verbatim). Oh dear. Pure paranoia, that one.
A bit later, Hoagland excitedly mentioned that comet 67P is sending out audio signals -- a song, he called it. Here's what he's talking about. He forgot to mention that, to make this audible, the frequency was artificially raised by a factor of at least 1000. The true frequency of these magnetic oscillations is around 50 millihertz (that's one beat per 20 seconds.) Hoagland is either dishonest or ignorant. Maybe both.
The images Hoagland provided to C2C to accompany his interview had no credibility whatsoever. Skyscrapers my ass. Take another look at this one, that Hoagland thinks is a tramway on Mars (he actually means a cable car, like the Sandia tramway in Albuquerque.)
the Coastgab forum -- for pointing out what the tramline actually is. If you look at the whole strip that this image is part of, it's totally obvious that this is a boundary between two of the CCD elements in the HiRISE instrument.The line extends well outside the feature nicknamed Waffle City.
The commenter was Georgie for President 2216, who also posted "It's a sad day for C2C when Richard C. Hoagland is the biggest draw in months." Thanks, GfP. The bottom line here is that Richard C. Hoagland, the unemployed museum curator, is pig ignorant. When even Farcebook commenters know it's true, it's true.