Wednesday, October 21, 2020

No Lynne, COVID-19 is not cured by mouthwashes

        Lynne McTaggart is editorial director of the publication What Doctors Don’t Tell You. Nobody could accuse her of modesty—on her website she tells us that she is known as as a ‘metaphysical rock star’, ‘the Madonna of the Quantum World,’ ‘the Malcolm Gladwell of the New Science’ and even ‘The Dalai Mama.’ She proclaims her newsletter as "the world’s No 1 health magazine". Clearly, she needs no help at self-promotion, but Coast to Coast AM nevertheless gilded the lily with "She is consistently listed as one of the world’s 100 most spiritually influential people."

        This was advance copy for her two-hour appearance last night with host George Noory. I confess that I nodded off at some point during the two hours, but I heard her say that "alternative medicine cures all those illnesses that conventional medicine cannot". (Emphysema? Asthma? Diabetes mellitus? Creutzfeld-Jacob? Polio? Ebola? I'd like to see your data on those some time, Lynne).

        I'm not the only one with a skeptical view of McTaggart and other "alternative medicine" loonies. In an article in The Guardiannote 1 on 17th February 2016, Ben Goldacre took McTaggart to task for confusing Tamiflu with a vaccine for bird flu in her "World's No.1" newsletter. McTaggart's article recommended, for treatment of bird flu, vitamins A, C, and E, homeopathynote 2, and the herbal remedies echinaceanote 3, Hydrastis canadensisnote 4, Andrographis paniculatanote 5, and Phytolacca americananote 6. Goldacre summed up:

« Seriously. It goes on for pages and pages, rehashing the Tamiflu information leaflet's safety data, in the most scaremongerish tones they can muster, quoting scientific journal articles - with the full citation, journal title, page number, year, issue number, all in the main body of the text - all to make themselves look as authoritative as is humanly possible, all while cursing and mocking the medical profession. And all the while they are blissfully, beautifully, wonderfully ignorant of the fact they have got the most important thing, at the heart of the matter, completely and utterly, pathetically, stupidly, obviously wrong. This isn't bad science. It's performance art.»
        Last night on C2C-AM McTaggart excelled herself by claiming that ordinary mouthwash is a cure for COVID-19. What a whopper of a misunderstanding!!! There is not the slightest evidence of this. What has been said, quite authoritatively,note 7 is that the use of commerical mouthwash may possibly reduce the transmission of the Sars-Cov-2 virus. Since COVID-19 patients typically have a very high viral load in the mouth and throat, that's almost obvious.

        What with this and the shameless monthly infomercials by "Doctor" Joel Wallach, Coast-to-Coast AM marches on in its mission to misinform its audience on medical matters.

========================/ \======================

[1] "How to be beautifully, blissfully wrong about Tamiflu: just call it a bird flu vaccine". The article was in the Guardian's long-running "Bad Science" series.

[2] Since the principle of homeopathy is the treatment of a disease with a dilute solution of the disease's known cause, this suggests immersing a small bird in a jar of water and shaking it.

[3] Purple coneflower, sold OTC as a cold remedy

[4] Goldenseal, sold OTC as an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory

[5] Chiretta, with controversial claims of relief of AIDS symptoms

[6] Pokeweed, toxic to humans

[7] "Mouthwashes could reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, study shows". Science Daily, 10th August 2020.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Robert Morningstar: Wrong, Wrong, Wrong and Wrong

 James Concannon writes...

        Robert Morningstar got the second half of Coast to Coast AM last Wednesday night. The producers (plus George Noory) must have thought it was time for a good old-fashioned liar, after recent appearances by Nick Pope and Seth Shostak, who both pretty well stick to facts. With AM* you either get misinformation, as when he's interpreting images or audio, or disinformation, as when he's deliberately mis-attributing images for propaganda purposes.

        On Wednesday night, it was all mis- and no dis-. He boasted about his own brilliance in digging up photo-evidence of Martian and Lunar civilizations, mentioning in particular his 2015 discovery of "Big Ben on the Moon". As I wrote in March 2015, this artifact is just a piece of random lint (looks like a tiny insect leg) in someone's scanner. Stuart Robbins also ridiculed this one later that year. Thanks again to "trekker" for pointing out that in the next frame "Big Ben" has migrated right-wards and is totally detached from the Moon.

Music of the Spheres
        I also wrote a major debunk piece about AM*'s next topic: The weird "music" heard by Apollo 10 (also Apollo 11 and 12) astronauts when they were behind the Moon. This was definitively traced to intermodulation between the VHF tracking of the two separate spacecraft. AM* said, testily, that he "just wishes NASA would come clean" about it.

        Well, y'know, four separate mission transcripts are available. The DSE and DSEA transcripts are available. The Press Kit is available. These documents have been on the Internet for ~20 years. Much more recently, a group of space enthusiasts has annotated the mission transcript as a flight journal. It's hard to know what else NASA could do to make this mission public. Of course Morningstar is imagining an alien orchestra and he wants NASA to admit it. But it's NOT TRUE.

        AM* even went as far as to create what he called a "radio play" on the subject. This consisted of four guys reading the mission transcript (very badly) plus someone simulating the Quindar tones (also very badly) on what sounded like a tin whistle. Here's a link to it.

        You can't monitor AM* for long before you understand that he's passionately anti-vacc (However, he's also passionately pro-Trump, and today's news must have created something of a dilemma for him). In the final moments of his two hours, he claimed that the swine flu (H1N1) mass vaccination campaign of 2009 caused many cases of Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome. He further claimed that GBS is inherited in subsequent generations.

Well it's NOT TRUE that H1N1 vaccination caused a spate of GBS. Ref - para 5 of the Introduction. Certainly some people who had been vaccinated also contracted GBS, but simple statistics tells us not to attach special significance to this. In a population of 10 million, 21.5 can be expected to contract GBS in any six-week period, just by normal background infection rates. And well over 10 million were vaccinated.

It's NOT TRUE that GBS is inherited. Ref. - "Inheritance" para. Since no genetic mutation is associated with GBS, there is no possibility of inheritance.

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong and Wrong

Monday, September 21, 2020

NASA haters mock InSight's problems

         The Mars seismic and heat flow lander known as InSight (for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) has definitely had its share of problems since its successful landing in Elysium Planitia on 26th November 2018. The seismometer and heat flow experiments were successfully deployed onto the surface and useful data returned. But the heat flow experiment included a digging mole which, it was hoped, would burrow as much as 5m into the Martian soil in a two-month process.

         However, the dig has not yet happened to any appreciable extent. The mole just doesn't seem able to make the kind of progress that was expected. Attempts to help it along by pushing down on it with the scoop have been partly successful, but are self-limited to the extent that, once the mole is properly buried, that technique will no longer be an option. JPL scientists now think that Martian soil simply doesn't have enough friction, but they have not given up.

Hidden Mission
        The Hidden Mission Forum, created in 2011 by Keith Laney, is a collection of bad-tempered redneck NASA-haters who collectively have a strong belief that Mars and The Moon were once the home of advanced civilizations. They spend their days moaning to each other about NASA's cover-up of these "facts", and they are extremely intolerant of contrary evidence. Any dissenter who joins the forum is extremely unwelcome. Some have been subjected to juvenile sexual taunting; some have been summarily kicked out.

        One of HMF's stalwarts using the nickname Vianova (and a John Wayne avatar) recently posted this, commenting on InSight's unexpected difficulty:

"The clown show continues ... for the last year or more .... all you hear from NASA is ... the Mole is "making progress", and then it fails again, then it make "progress" two months later, and fails again, then it makes more "progress", three months later, and now they think it is making "progress" again. 

Give up the fucking ghost, please. Just mercifully throw in the towel. Maybe God will be good and send a meteor to fly splat that piece of shit Mole and fake news space mission."

        In late August there was more bad news from InSight. The weather sensor went into safe mode and abruptly ceased sending data. Vianova commented:

"El Cheapo NASA space missions with tinker toy contraptions to do science, are bound to have recurrent problems. ... NASA doesn't know how to think big, they only think small investment, with inevitable small return, and then when they get some data, they call it a science bonanza. Even if they obviously fail, and play out a propaganda stunt in the news media, after giving themselves reward ceremonies for failing, by calling it a success."
        FACT: Cost of InSight was $425 million, kept low by re-using the landing system developed for Phoenix. That compares with about $2.5 billion for Mars Science Laboratory, the brilliantly successful mission that soft-landed the Curiosity rover in Gale crater eight years ago.

        In July 2015, after the Dawn and New Horizons missions both suffered computer glitches that were rapidly resolved, Keith Laney wrote that JPL mission managers would rather sabotage their own missions than "come clean" about what they really see in the Solar System. That's a measure of how much The Hidden Mission understands about mission management.

Update 17th October
JPL announced today that Insight's mole is at last completely buried. No word from HMF.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Steve Bales' crib sheet that saved the lunar landing

        You have to be a real space nut (like me) to fully appreciate the historic significance of this single sheet of paper, posted recently in a Space History FB group:

         It's the list of alarm conditions that could be generated by the Apollo Lunar Module computer. It was provided by Jack Garman, a 24-year-old backroom computer guru in Houston during the Apollo 11 mission. Guidance Officer (GUIDO) Steve Bales had it on his desk during the landing, and it was this that gave him confidence to make the call that the 1201 and 1202 executive overload program alarms were not serious enough to abort the landing. Bales received special commendation by President Nixon as he presented a Group Achievment Award to the whole Mission Management team, but perhaps it was Garman who should have had the recognition — or rather, should ALSO have had recognition. After all, it was Bales on the hot seat as Neil Armstrong radioed "Give us a reading on the 1202 program alarm".

Rendezvous radar
        Naturally, there was a great deal of post-mortem analysis of that hairy but ultimately triumphant situation, and a story became current that the computer was overloaded because LM pilot Buzz Aldrin had accidentally turned on the rendezvous radar. So the computer was overloaded because the RVR was uselessly pinging a non-existent target. I plead guilty to having spread that false story myself in something I wrote in 1979, for the tenth anniversary.

        The fact is that the RVR was on but NOT by accident. It was standard and correct procedure. The thought was that it was a good idea to have it functioning and warmed up, one less thing to worry about in case of a real abort.

        The true cause of the overload was much trickier, and more difficult to diagnose. I'll quote from an article in Ars Technica by Lee Hutchinson, dateline 5th July 2019:

"The LM’s rendezvous radar contained a collection of electronics called the Attitude, Translation, and Control Assembly, or ATCA. The ATCA was responsible for providing an electrical interface whereby the LM’s guidance computer could control the radar’s hardware, and the ATCA was powered by 800Hz, 28-volt alternating current. The guidance computer in turn used a piece of equipment called a Coupling Data Unit, or CDU, to read the orientation of the radar’s antenna (its shaft and trunnion angles) so that the guidance computer could keep track of where the radar was pointed. The CDUs—there were actually two of them—were also powered by a separate 800Hz, 28-volt AC reference signal."

        As Hutchinson goes on to explain, the two separate AC reference sources were not constrained to be in phase with each other, as they really needed to be for the computer to make sense of the data. Their phase relationship depended on the precise instant at which the LM pilot turned on the RVR and set the mode switch to SLEW. 

Rendezvous radar controls in the LM

        Most of the time, during simulations, the two reference sources were sufficiently close to phase-lock that no problems arose. As ill luck would have it, Aldrin set that mode switch at the exact moment when the ATCA and CDU signals were 90° out of phase—the worst possible condition. The  CDU interpreted the data it was getting as far out of the normal range, and it issued a series of interrupts to the guidance computer, consuming 15% of the computer's time. 

         Jack Garman didn't know any of this as he wrote the crib-sheet for Steve Bales. He just knew that the 1201 and 1202 alarms would simply force the computer to re-prioritize its task list, and as long as those alarms didn't keep on coming faster and faster, all would be OK. And by the way, Jack did get recognition.

Garman receiving an award from Chris Kraft, Deputy Director of MSFC

        Even more technical detail on the alarms can be read in Tales from the Lunar Module Guidance Computer by Don Eyles, an M.I.T. programmer who designed most of the system.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

George Haas is off his rocker

        George Haas is a sculptor in Purcellville, a historic township in rural Virginia. He got interested in the so-called "Face" on Mars after reading a book about it by Randolfo Rafael Pozos in 1991. He researched other "anomalies" on the Moon and Mars, and established, with William Saunders, what he called The Cydonia Institute as an imitation of a research institute. The institute's website currrently lists five members in addition to Haas and Saunders, one of whom I suspect is Haas's wife, also a sculptor.

        If you think Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara, proponents of the "Face" on Mars, are bamboozled by pareidolia, you ain't, as they say, seen nuthin' yet. George Haas's'examinations of NASA's Mars imagery (his slogan: "Through NASA's own photographs the truth will be revealed") have shown him what he says are:

A golden calf
A dolphin
An owl
A bearded jaguar
A bearded quetzalcoatl
An avian serpent
A howler monkey
A parrot
A Mayan ball court
A miles-long portrait of Queen Nefertiti

        I will respect Haas's wish that the content of his web site not be reproduced without written permission, but here's his Nefertiti, taken from the pinterest site:

        It is what it is — a totally fanciful coloration imposed on the Martian surface by a human artist. Something in the terrain reminded Haas of the famous Thutmose bust of Nefertiti, but any idea that some Martian civilization laid out this miles-long feature as a deliberate copy of the Thutmose bust is utterly lunatic. How would a Martian have knowledge of Nefertiti? Haas does not explain.

        Haas reports on these bizarre imaginitive findings in a series of web-published articles written in the style of science papers or memoranda, complete with elaborate footnoting. He calls these essays "Field Journals," though quite obviously he has not been "in the field" in any normal sense of the expression.

Raptorzone gamertag

       Latest of these lash-ups is Vol. 23 No. 1 — The Raptor Zone Complex. It concerns a series of terrain features in Elysium Planitia, a region covering approximately 0°N to 20.0°N and from 140°E to 170°E. "Anomalies" in this region were first noticed by a South African video-gamer, Jean Ward, in a strip from the Context camera of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter centered at 7.73° E, 148.56° N. Just like Haas himself, Ward regularly reports on his blog what he thinks he sees in NASA imagery. He writes about The Chewbacca Outpost, The Baltic Sea Anomaly/Millennium Falcon analog and The Star Ship Enterprise analog on Mars. Unlike Haas, however, Ward is quite diffident about his "findings". He writes:

« My intention is only to share anomalies I’ve discovered on Mars and not to convince anyone that there is or was a civilization on Mars. As Will Farrar from WhatsUpInTheSky says: “I see what I see, you see what you see.” »
        He also explains that the "Raptor Zone" has "nothing to do with raptors but everything to do with my Gamertag RaptorZN."

        In his re-reporting, however, George Haas was far from diffident. Where Ward thought he saw a pistol, Haas sees the head of an eagle, and he writes that a Martian civilization might have placed the structure as a marker or beacon alerting orbital travelers above that a settlement was located below. As I'm respecting Haas's copyright I won't reproduce his diagram here, but it's Fig.5 in his Journal — check it out. To my mind, there's no justification whatsoever for asserting that this is a contrived representation of a bird. It's a butte just like thousands of others on Mars.

        Haas has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM many times over the years, most recently last Thursday night when he described this and other fantasies. You can also eyeball the eagle head in the set of images posted on the C2C site. Naturally, he was not challenged by George Noory, not even when he said "There are signs that Venus was once inhabited." Coast to Coast welcomes loonies as guests and does not embarrass them by asking awkward questions.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Fravor in person

        David Fravor appeared in a marathon four-hour podcast hosted by Lex Fridman, posted two days ago. Fravor, of course, is the US Navy F/A 18 pilot involved in the 2004 sighting of unidentified aerial phenomena. Fravor's buddy Chad Underwood famously described one of these as a 40ft-long "tic-tac" because of its appearance (see this blog, December 2019). 

        It's a treat to see a key witness talking at length in a fully professional studio with good quality audio. But we're no closer to understanding what the tic-tac actually was. Here's a taste of it.

02:08:02 LF: "The basic question of... what do you think was it? If you had to put money on it. Is it advanced human-created technology? Is it alien technology? Is it an unknown physical phenomenon--you know like ball lightning for example .[..].. Is it, like I said, perception, cognition..a kind of hallucination that leads you to misinterpret things you were seeing .....or is it misinperpretation of some known physical phenomenon like an ice cloud or something like that? What do you think it was?

DF: "I don't think it was an ice cloud, because ice clouds don't [climb?] and react to, do I think it was a light? I'd say no because of the aspects.[..]. some type of perception like plasma   I don't think so.

[..] I would say.. no, I mean, it looks... from all my experience      it was a hard object, it was aware that we were there, it reacted exactly like it was  an airplane [that would] do something exactly what I would do. You know, it mirrored me, it wasn't aggressive, it was never offensive...


02:11:06 LF: "Do you think it's human... like,  advanced human technology? That's simply top secret .. that was just not... or is it not something not of this world?"

DF: "If you'd asked me in 2004 I'd have said "I don't know". If you ask me now, so we're coming up on 16 years ago, for a technology like that -- you know and let's assume that it didn't have any conventional propulsion system, and I don't think it did I would like to think that if we had a technology that would advance mankind leaps and bounds from what we would normally do, then it would start coming out . To hide something like that for 16 years...."

Thanks to Chris Lawrence for monitoring

Monday, August 31, 2020

Top secret

Person A: "What I've just told you is Cosmic Top Secrett. Not even the President is fully in the picture."

Person B: "So how come you know it?"

Person A: "People talk to me."

Person B: "What people?"

Person A: "I can't tell you that."

       Any time you hear that dialog, the safest assumption is that Person A is just making stuff up. After all, if he's not willing to provide any way for Person B to check his story, what's to stop him?

        In last night's version of the dialog, on Coast to Coast AM, Person A was Canadian politician, engineer and UFO nutcase Paul Hellyer, and Person B was guest-host Ian Punnet—but essentially the same exchange of meaningless words has, in the past, featured Michael Salla, Kerry Cassidy, Andrew Basiago, Corey Goode, David Icke, Mark Richards, Randy Cramer, Laura Eisenhower,  etc. etc. etc.

        Hellyer's fantasy, expounded last night, was pretty much the standard global conspiracy theory we've all heard many times: The sinister and all-powerful cabal known as the Bilderberg Group is poised to reduce the world's population by about 50% and take over the remaining population, instituting a "New World Order". To Ian Punnet's credit, he took the dialog one step further by asking "What kind of people talk to you?" Hellyer replied, rather uncertainly "er...retired military officers". That's strange since only a very small minority of Bilderberg members are military. As a matter of fact, the annual meetings have not featured any military since 2016, when Chris Hadfield, Canadian Colonel and astronaut, and Phillip Breedlove, Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, attended.

Exotic energy
        Paul Hellyer is a prolific author, with 13 books to his credit and another due soon. In his book Light at the End of the Tunnel (2010), he claims that exotic energy sources already exist. They have been developed by the U.S. "shadow government" at the massive underground "black operation" installations in Nevada and Arizona using technology borrowed from visitors from other planets. Yet they remain secret for the alleged benefit of the privileged few. In other books he has claimed that the "paperclip" German rocket scientists brought to the USA after WW2 are still entrenched in US society and are part of the sinister cabal (notwithstanding the fact that any surviving paperclip scientist would be roughly 100 years old).

 According to Wikipedia:

« In an interview with RT (formerly Russia Today) in 2014, Hellyer said that at least four species of aliens have been visiting Earth for thousands of years, with most of them coming from other star systems, although there are some living on Venus, Mars and Saturn’s moon. According to him, they "don't think we are good stewards of our planet." »
Wikipedia's citation is here.

        Last night Hellyer added, for good measure, that he is sure there is a US military presence on Mars.

Yep, making stuff up.

Monday, August 24, 2020

No power in ABQ

        Over the weekend, BOTH of Richard Hoagland's blogtalkradio shows were cancelled due to what he claims were power outages. The Big Picture with Georgia Lambert was replaced by a re-run of Kronos Rising with Max Hawthorne, and something-or-other was replaced by Trump's Secret War with Christopher Knowles, about which I commented a month ago.

        I've now lost count of the number of shows that have not gone ahead as advertised, but it's a lot. There are signs that he may be losing part of his fan base because of this. A "Club 19.5" member, Adam Prentice, posted this comment yesterday:

« Yet again. Getting beyond a joke, if Richard can't get the correct equipment in I suggest he hangs up his boots? Do you think I like getting up at 5am UK time on a Sunday morning.»

Another frustrated fan posted:
« I so agree. It’s beyond unprofessional. He could get a generator. »

        Unfortunately, although Power New Mexico has a fine web site giving information about current outages, there doesn't seem to be historical data such that somebody might check whether Hoagland is telling the truth, as opposed to just getting drunk and going to bed when he should be entertaining the members who pay for his service.

Update August 31st
Another replay last night. Hoagland posted:
« The power company continues with its repairs during the hours that most businesses are closed.   »

Update Sept. 5th
        A power outage for maintenance was announced for 11pm July 29th, affecting an area well south of Albuquerque. Nothing posted since then.