Saturday, July 15, 2017

Robert Morningstar bashes James Burke

James Concannon reports...

        Robert Morningstar, the Fordham scholar and frisbee expert, gave us his opinion of James Burke on FooBoo today.
"James Burke, the original "Mad Scientist"? Who cares what he thinks? He rants in mindless twit & twaddle, more of a poet than a scientist and not a very good one (scientist) at that. Opening scene for next show... walking on the shores of the Atlantic near N. Ireland: "Ah, how profound! Here I have a Starfish? There we have a horseshoe crab, direct descendant of the trilobite that lived in the Atdabanian stage of the Early Cambrian era. And here in my hand (cupping hands) is a Nematode, one of the simplest life forms ever known. And there we see an ocean? ... The soup of life... :) Is there a 'connection'??? Ahaa ... Maybe! Stay tuned to find out tonight on "Coniptions"." I really liked his lily & posey-loving poesy, but science ... just a little bit. James Bure [sic] is the original inventor of that bane of modern media -> "InfoTainment," which gave birth to Fox news and CNN "Canned Science"... Hahaha ... Like Global Warming "science."  -> M*"
        Burke, as many people know, is not a scientist and has no pretension to be taken as one. His MA (Oxon) is in Middle English, and his reputation is as a historian of science. I don't think he's any good at frisbee at all, but I happen to know he plays a mean game of bridge, if that counts for anything in AM*'s mind. I don't know how Burke himself would react to being called Infotainment, but my personal reaction, as one very familiar with Burke's work, is that it's inappropriate. The portmanteau word was coined to denigrate television news shows that provide way too much soft news and feel-good magazine-style stories. Since Burke was never in the news business in the first place, his contributions to television can hardly be said to trivialize news.

        Morningstar's jealous outburst was in response to the posting on his FB timeline of two of Burke's documentaries from the 70s—"The Men Who Walked on the Moon" and "The Other Side of the Moon." The posting—initially from Jerrye Barre—was kind of an aside, since the main topic was The Brookings Report and Morningstar's misinterpretation of it (see Footnote #2). This blog was highly critical of Morningstar's use of the report in argument, back in January 2015. Quite why the frisbee expert should have such disdain for someone who generally attracts accolades is anyone's guess. Possibly AM* would prefer a commentator on spaceflight who was more open to the Hoagland-style claim that the Moon is littered with ancient technology. Burke-style documentary television doesn't cover that for the simple reason that it isn't true.

credit: BBC

        My personal opinion is that that pair of documentaries, aired on the tenth anniversary of the first Moon landing, were an important contribution to the history of spaceflight, and I can't fault Burke's final conclusion that Project Apollo did actually have something to offer the world apart from non-stick frying pans. These films (yes, films not videotape—this was 1979) are undoubtedly good information, and undoubtedly entertaining, but to categorize them as Infotainment is missing the point, I think.


Disclosure: At one time James and I were colleagues in the BBC Science Department.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Mike Bara is probably right for once

        Welll....  I didn't really want to get into the Nazca mummy controversy at all, but it's the pseudoscience topic du jour and everybody else in the business has commented. So here's my aggregation of what's emerged so far.

        On 20 June, Gaia TV released to Youtube what they called "SPECIAL REPORT: UNEARTHING NAZCA." The video documented an expedition to Nazca, Peru, to investigate what was claimed to be the mummified corpse of an alien. The expedition was led by Jay Weidner and Melissa Tittl of Weidner is the man who insists on very flimsy evidence that all the Apollo 11 video and film was faked up by Stanley Kubrick in Area 51, so his involvement makes the whole thing problematic as far as I'm concerned. Gaia's point man in Peru was Jaime Maussan, a Mexican investigative journalist who has been responsible for fakery including a previous alien mummy that wasn't (the Roswell slides.)

         Metabunk was very quick to produce, only a day later, an admirably rigorous assessment of Gaia's claims, rating "alien mummy" as the least likely of seven possible explanations for this artifact. The most likely, per this analysis, is "A modern fake mummy, created from a combination of human and animal bones, created for the show."

        Mike Bara blogged the mummy just a day later, opining that this was "just another attempt to generate clicks and drive subscriptions." He characterized Jay Weidner thus:
"I like Jay Weidner. But if jumping to conclusions was an Olympic sport, Jay Weidner would have more gold medals than Michael Phelps."
        Weidner retaliated by cancelling an appointment Bara had to appear (again) on George Noory's Gaia-sponsored TV show. Bitchery!!!!

        Jason Colavito blogged skeptically the same day. On 3rd July ufowatchdog weighed in, pouring further doubt on Jaime Maussan and also bad-mouthing Paola Harris, Don Schmitt, Clifford Stone, and Dr. Jose de Juesus Zalce Benitez—all of whom are peripherally involved. The article, headlined "Mummy, Mummy, Money," focused on the commercial aspects of the story:
" is clearly not hurting from any of these personalities, and they know it.  According to their own website, (a publicly traded company) saw a 61% increase in digital subscribers this year and this doesn't count the last few months.  It appears there is no such thing as bad publicity anymore. "
        Well, yesterday Mike Bara stood himself up in front of the flag of the Manchester City Football Club and recorded a 10-minute video giving his opinions. He said, among other zingers, that he knew the Gaia TV producer and "she is not an honest person" (was he talking about Melissa Tittl? It's not clear.)

        We should know more next week, when further medical and genetic analysis is due to be released. But for now, this blog acknowledges that Mike Bara is probably right. And Jay Weidner is a child.

        The first DNA test is in, from the  Paleo DNA Laboratory of Lakehead University, Canada.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Mortons: Recriminations, lies and videotape

        Two days ago now, a video interview with SDM was released onto Youtoob. It was part of a generic called High Strangeness, and the interview was conducted by Sean Paul Ross and Caroline Hill in what looked like some kind of library. The tagline was:
"Sean David Morton gives his side of the story about his court case before disappearing after a warrant is issued for his arrest."
        There was doubt about when and where this interview was conducted, but the story is that it was somewhere in the Los Angeles area, taped before the sentencing hearing although not released until nine days later. It was a 2-camera set-up so it's credible that some post-production was required.

        I couldn't possibly summarize Morton's arguments and self-justifications—they were, I think, purposefully convoluted and the interviewers didn't seem to grasp much more than I did. I do recall that he said very emphatically that the issuance of a refund check in the amount of $480,323 was the IRS's fault, not his or Melissa's. Thus exonerating himself for having fraudulently filed the claim in the first place. There was a lot more in the same vein, just like his performance with Kerry Cassidy.

        Two things stood out for me. One was an extraordinary caption that popped up at 29:07 (the whole thing ran 31:18.) It read "Cameraman became uncomfortable with the subject matter and left." You've got to love that—the guy holding Sean's close-ups says to himself  "Fuck this, I'm not keeping this camera focused on a bunch of lies one second longer." More cameramen should have the guts to do likewise—many a political interview would be cut very short. In this case, the last few minutes of the video just held the static three-shot.

"Screw you"
        The other thing was a NSFW outburst from Melissa Morton herself in the Youtube comments. Commenter atube4view wrote "SEAN AND HIS WIFE WILL DIE IN PRISON!?" Melissa shot back with "Screw you. I'm NOT in prison and never will be. You are a jerk just like ALL MEN!! You lie to women, cheat on them and use them. I hope YOU die a very slow and painful death."

        By the way, Melissa's avatar is a cute little white pussy-cat. Time will tell whether Melissa puts on the orange jumpsuit when she goes for sentencing on 21st August—the day of the All-American solar eclipse.

Update 1st July
        Melissa's mini-rant has now been deleted, but I swear on my saintly mother's grave that I transcribed it accurately.

 Update 7th July
         Sean Paul Ross has now provided the following information about the walkabout cameraman:
"He's a professional cinematographer that was doing me a favor as a friend (we'll pay people when we have a budget for the show). We talked about it afterwards and his opinion was that SDM was either lying or starting to get into some dangerous territory that could piss the federal government off and he did not want to be associated with SDM at that point and risk any repercussions on himself. It frustrated me because it essentially ended the interview, but everything happens for a reason and I've resolved in my mind that perhaps that was the moment the interview was supposed to end. I don't know that it's right to be worried about the Feds coming after us because if SDM was right that they wanted to make an example of him, we have helped raise awareness of that example. We are not encouraging people to follow SDM's example... just look at how it turned out for him. My takeaway is to be sure to pay your taxes and use a good CPA to make sure you do them right, however most definitely do NOT use the one SDM used."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sean David Morton, sociopath?

Some of the classic symptoms of sociopathy are:
  1. Superficial charm and good intelligence
  2. Untruthfulness and insincerity
  3. Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience 
  4. Lack of conscience
  5. Pathological egocentricity
        I'm no psychiatrist, but even I can see that SDM checks all those boxes You only have to take a short look at that "interview" with Kerry Cassidy from 12th June to see more than sufficient confirmation of #1 and #2. #3 is illustrated by the fact that, having been successfully sued for civil securities fraud  by the SEC in March 2010, he nevertheless continued to attempt fraud on the US Government in the belief that he would never be caught--or, if caught, that he had a cast-iron defense. The fact that he is now on the lam having failed to appear for sentencing in US District Court yesterday makes a sad joke of that self-analysis.

        #4 is easily covered by  his willingness to invite investors to give him money which he then (allegedly) spent instead of investing. Even friends, such as Kerry Cassidy, were bled by this scam.

        As for that pathological egocentricity--how about this for a transcript of part of the video covering the 2016 Conspira-Sea cruise. Morton is sitting at a dining table being interviewed by Annie Georgia Greenberg, an attractive blonde who's pretty much the host of this video.

06:16 SDM: "Hello, I'm Dr Sean David Morton, I went to Oxford, and Stanford, and USC. My Ph.D. is in psychology--I'm a best-selling author. I've been a screen writer... I'm a legal scholar, I'm a pioneer of the system we call remote viewing.  I also host the Number One radio show on the internet--Strange Universe Radio."note 1
        At that, Annie made a gesture more eloquent than mere words. She blew out her cheeks in frank disbelief and looked away. Brilliant.

        Curiously enough, another checkbox for sociopathy is "absence of delusions." That doesn't quite jive with other excerpts from the Conspira-Sea video. Morton is with Annie again, a day later.
SDM: "They don't want you to know we have anti-gravity.
"They don't want you to know we have unlimited power.
"They don't want you to know that we have bases on the Moon and possibly bases on Mars.
"They don't want you to know they're using HAARP to control the weather.
"They don't want you to know what's in Area 51.
"They don't want you to know  that there's a small cartel of about 750 people that own everything."
AGG: "And who are 'they' in this case?"
SDM: "We're talking about an extraterrestrial species called the Nephilim--the sons of God. Somehow they inter-mate with human beings, and their sons and daughters became the kings and queens--which is the aristocracy, which is the government."
AGG: "Sooo... what does your T-shirt say?"
SDM: "It says 'To save time, let's just assume I know everything.'"
        Sean David Morton and his wife Melissa were arrested as they stepped off that cruise ship in San Pedro. Morton surrendered his passport and put up a $10,000 bond--which will now, of course, be forfeit.

The supreme court got my case, man
        To the symptoms of insincerity and delusion we should perhaps now add monumental hubris, as ufowatchdog reports that Morton actually delivered his internet radio show yesterday from his cell-phone, allegedly in a car roaming the L.A. freeways.
"Morton stated he filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court earlier in the morning and intends to get a response from the Supreme Court [today], though even an emergency appeal could take weeks for the courts to consider.  The U.S. Attorney General's office appears unaware of any appeal and prosecutors are generally notified if an appeal in their case has been filed.
        I'd say that heat Morton is feeling is not merely the summer weather that has hit Southern California this week, but the Federal Marshals breathing down his neck.

====================/ \======================
[1] I've been to Oxford too. I had a nice tea and went back to London on the 6:00 train.
If Morton means he was enrolled at the famous University, he's lying. It's also extremely hard to believe he's a "best-selling" author. His trilogy The Sands of Time is self-published, and it would be extraordinary for such books to be genuine best-sellers. As for "I'm a legal scholar," can I just say LOL?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

SDM explains himself to KLC

Basic facts: On 7 April 2017, Sean David Morton and his wife Melissa were found guilty in Federal District Court of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of filing false claims against the United States, and 26 counts of passing false or fictitious financial instruments. Morton is due for sentencing on 19th June, with the prosecution recommending 87 months in federal prison plus a restitution payment to the IRS of $480,322.55.

The Mortons are alleged to have defrauded around 100 customers of $6 million between 2006 and 2007. According to the SEC, only a fraction of the investments received by them went into foreign exchange trading accounts and the rest was placed in shell companies run by them for their own benefit.note 1


        Yesterday, SDM sat down for a nearly two-hour skype chat with Kerry Cassidy. Much of it was sheer bullshit about UFO bases in Antarctica, but Kerry did want an update on the legal situation--in the circumstances, who would not? Morton, of course, said that it was all the fault of everybody except he and Melissa. "The attacks on Melissa and I are just so outrageous," he said. Here's his explanation of the missing six million spondulicks.
50:51 SDM: "Eight years ago we were working with Alexander Adams. Alexander Adams was a CPA. And what we did is, we had a ... we were dealing with foreign exchange trading, and I had a trader that didn't do what I told him to do, and basically we turned about $525,000.. almost... almost $6 million, and the trader tanked the accounts... he just did the exact opposite of everything I told him to do, and, er... lost the money."note 2
        Well, what are we to make of that strange "$525,000.. almost $6 million"? Could that be a slip of the tongue, unintentionally revealing how much of the $6 million was actually invested in the market, leaving $5,475,000 to find its way into the pockets of the Mortons? If I had been Kerry Cassidy I'd have asked about that. I'd also have asked how either sum could have completely disappeared in currency trading. I mean, if you trade on the NYSE or NASDAQ there's always the possibility that you'll back a company that literally ceases to exist--but with currency, your assets may diminish because of bad luck or bad judgement, but it's hard to see how they could vanish outright. Unless some unbelievable nincompoop bought $525,000 worth of Zimbabwe dollars, I guess.

Kerry conned
        Kerry, however, let SDM completely off the hook. And that's the more strange since according to Bill Ryan (Kerry's ex) she personally lost $116,000 invested with Morton. This was money inherited from her mother, which she had intended to use to start Project Camelot. Ryan says he himself lost about $25,000.note 3 To me, it's a bit surprising that Kerry and Sean are even on speaking terms, let alone good friends.note4

        In yesterday's interview, Morton then launched into a 15-minute self-justifying tirade, accusing the IRS of entrapment and of violating the statute of limitations for tax crime. He explained that the core of the case is a tax refund of  $480,323 which was erroneously paid to the Mortons on their 2008 tax filing. He pleaded that he submitted bonds as repayment of the sum, and acted in good faith. What he didn't say, of course, was that the IRS says $480,323 was the amount the Mortons had fraudulently claimed as rebates due on non-existent overpayments. What Morton called an "IRS computer error" did not come out of the blue sky--it had to have been the result of a claim, didn't it?

        In a news release after the Mortons' conviction in April, Sandra R. Brown, Acting U.S. attorney, Central District of California, wrote this:note 5
"On the same day the refund was deposited into the Mortons’ joint bank account, the couple took immediate steps to conceal the money, which included opening two new accounts, transferring over $360,000 to the two new accounts, and withdrawing $70,000 in cash.
"When the IRS attempted to collect the erroneous refund from the Mortons, the Mortons presented to the IRS various “coupons” and “bonds” that purported to pay off their debt with the IRS. The Mortons created and submitted these bogus documents to the IRS, instructing the agency to draw upon funds with the United States Treasury to satisfy their debt"
They're out to get you
        At the end of this tirade, Kerry showed no sign of comprehending, instead complaining of legal troubles of her own (something about Youtube enabling piracy of her 600 videos and taking a cut itself.) Then, she connected this whole thing to her well-known theory that the gubbmint is out to get you.
1:06:02 KC: "I do want to say the real reason you're being targeted is because of the work you do. Had you not written [the] Sands of Time book, I think they would leave you alone. But as it is now,  being a best-seller and all of that, and also revealing quite a bit about the Secret Space Program... ehm... you know, this is... this is their issue, I guess they're trying to shut you up, basically."
        I have to laugh when I recall that Morton, on the 2016 Conspira-sea cruise, declared "I'm a legal scholar." Next Monday we'll know how long his scholarship is going to be available to a jail full of convicts---all of whom maintain, naturally, that they're innocent.

Update 15th June
        Today ufowatchdog reports that Morton filed an appeal with the 9th Circuit Court claiming he had not been given a fair trial.  Morton's motion was again denied and the court also ordered all future motions filed by Morton would be considered "moot" and "No further filings will be entertained in this closed case." Looks like the technique of motion-flooding the court simply gets them pissed off.

Update 19th June
        Morton did a bunk and made himself unavailable for sentencing today. When the feds catch him--as they surely will--I imagine that'll be good for a few extra years on his jail time. I also imagine the marshals will be knocking on Kerry Cassidy's door any minute now...

Check ufowatchdog for many more deets, docs....

=======================/ \=======================
[1] Psychic Sean David Morton scammed $6M convincing people he could predict stocks' fortune, SEC claims --New York Daily News, 5 March 2010

[2] The trader was Daryl Weber, who Morton described in the prospectus for Delphi Associates as "A mathematical genius, FX trader, statistical analyst, and computer software engineer."

[3]  Project Avalon Forum, 7 February 2010

[4] In the same Project Avalon forum, Bill Ryan wrote this: "Astonishingly for me, as an aside that really does say something about Kerry, she has completely let that go and appears to bear Sean no ill-will of any kind. I don't know many people who could do that, and I have been unable to do that myself. "

[5] Hermosa Beach Couple Found Guilty in Tax Scam and Passing Fraudulent Financial Instruments to Pay Off Debts --US Attorney's Office, Central District of California, 7 April 2017

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Mike Bara confesses that he cheated

        Well, he wouldn't see it as a confession, I'm sure. Put it this way--he may not have realized he was confessing, but in fact he was.

        The occasion was his lecture at the recent Contact in the Desert conference/orgy, now available on the tube that is Google. The first 30 minutes of this  drivel was solid Trump propaganda. Mike is a staunch and uncompromising Republican of the "socialists are all wimps, nya nya neener-neener" variety. This blog tries not to get into party politics, just as it has no particular position on the question of whether Manchester United or Manchester City is the better team (Mike thinks City, and tweets the point constantly.) Right now when the world thinks "Manchester" it's thinking of graver things than footy.

Upside down
         For the next seven minutes, Mike treated his audience to his standard pareidolia schtick, showing them a tank, a flying saucer, and the famous (ahem) ziggurat, on the Moon. Then came this:

37:33 Bara: "This is a picture of what they say is debris running down the side of a crater. What I love to do with NASA images, is I love to flip them upside down. Because.... just because they say that UP is that way doesn't mean that up IS that way. ... What happens when you flip it upside down? When you flip it upside down it becomes this."

Bara: "Now, my model for NASA and other people is that there is glass structure -- crystalline structure all over the planet, some as much as 20 miles high [which] was used as a meteor shield, because glass is actually as strong or stronger than steel. It'd be a perfect thing for a meteor shield."

        Well, I have several comments on that dismal performance. Take a look at the original page this image came from, and you'll notice a few things:

Thing 1: This image was not posted by NASA, but by Arizona State University. See that URL, It's part of a strip from the Narrow Angle Camera of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, showing a landslide down the side of crater Marius. So it isn't "a NASA image" at all.

Thing 2: Scroll that page down to the entire NAC strip. Poke that |+| button a few times so you can interpret the image. If what Mike says were true, and the jaggy feature was really sticking up instead of down, the rest of the strip should show pure black sky. Instead, it shows the floor of the crater, as we expect based on ASU's captioning. I have already criticized Mike Bara for this flagrantly dishonest image manipulation, in reviewing his book Hidden Agenda.

Thing 3: In his book Ancient Aliens on the Moon, Bara cites a paper by Rowley & Neudeckernote 1 in support of that idea that, on the Moon, "glass is actually as strong or stronger than steel." As I wrote in February 2013,  Rowley & Neudecker say no such thing. On the contrary, a paper by J.D.Blacicnote 2 in the same journal tells the converse story.

Table 1 from Blacic, J.D.

        The young's modulus of lunar glass is ~100 giga-pascals cf. Earth glass 68 because of the extreme dryness of the environment. But steel is way stronger at 224 giga-pascals. So I make that three whopping inaccuracies in just that short excerpt from the lecture.  I maintain this amounts to a confession, because he's saying this wasn't a random mistake or some accident. The inversion of the image, and the publication of it alleging that it was something it patently is not, was a deliberate act. Shame on Bara and on the publisher, David Hatcher Childress.

Valve handle
        Bara next switched to Ceres, Powerpointing the famous salt deposits and claiming that they had to be evidence of internal illumination. He even showed an aerial image of Las Vegas at night, noting the similarities to the Occator crater on Ceres. Evidently he thinks a dwarf planet can contain a Vegas-like city, devoid of any context--devoid of an atmosphere and almost all gravity, as well. Cougars in micro-gravity? Could be fun, I suppose.

        Then it was on to Mars, with Bara essentially repeating the errors I reported on back in March, complete with that 20ft high cat playing air guitar. "My philosophy," he said, "is if it looks like something then it probably is." Yes, we know Mike, that's the problem.

        Then came another old favorite. After showing the Antikythera mechanism, he continued...

1:00:32 There are things like this on Mars too. Because if you look at the pictures, what you see is stuff on Mars. This is a microscopic view, it's not really super-small but it's...about that big.   This looks like a bunch of rocks..but I'll tell you what that is. That is some sort of pipe with a fitting on it  that screws into something else...  a valve handle.

        Mick West of explained, long ago, that this feature is actually the impression of a Phillips head screw in the casing of Opportunity's x-ray spectrometer. The head of the instrument is pressed firmly into the dirt in order to get a good reading.

        Mike Bara declared quite some time ago that he was not going to pay any attention to his critics. It's like he just wants to be wrong all the time.

Update 6 June
        With Dee's comment today, that makes  three people who have pointed out that the School of Earth & Space Exploration at ASU is NASA in all but name.  Stuart Robbins calls it the official Planetary Data System annex of JPL. I defend the distinction I make on these grounds: The walls of ASU may not be ivied exactly, but they do enclose academe. The day-to-day work of data processing is done by graduate students and post-docs, mainly. Even supposing there were some conspiracy within NASA to obfuscate certain planetary features, it's not credible that this would extend to ASU. Can you imagine NASA saying "Here's a contract to do data processing, but a condition is that you agree to falsify some of your data"? Can you imagine ASU accepting that? Can you imagine post-docs accepting that they have to withhold or "doctor" some of their output, and keep quiet about it?

====================/ \======================
[1] Rowley, J.C. and Neudecker, J.W. In situ rock melting applied to lunar base construction...etc

[2]  Blacic, J. D. Mechanical Properties of Lunar Materials Under Anhydrous, Hard Vacuum Conditions: Applications of Lunar Glass Structural Components

Thursday, June 1, 2017


James Concannon writes...

        I believe it was an editor of the Rational Wikipedia who formulated the theory that, in internet argument, the first person to adduce quantum theory in support of his position automatically loses.

        If that's the case, and I find the idea attractive, Robert Morningstar is a multiple loser. Here he is, on the Book of Faeces... er, sorry, Faces, introducing a ball game he's devised together with some New York City pals.
"Thunderball training. unifies [sic] the metaphysical principles of Taoism and Tai Chi Ch'uan with Einstein's Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics to produce novel ways of moving through curved space-time.

The ancient wisdom of Taoism and Tai Chi principles are applied and fused with Relativity and Quantum Theory into a dynamic and exhilarating "Hyperdimensional Sport" practiced for self-development and self-defense."
        This was puff for a short (and very amateur) video he made showing off the Thunderball game. I suppose it's only fair to show this vid to any readers who might be interested--so here it is. I leave it to the enthusiasts to decide what this has to do with self-defense.

Double frisbee
        Robert AM* is quite a dexterous fellow. He plays double frisbee with more skill than I can bring to the single variety, and it looks as though Thunderball, with its requirement to pay attention to multiple flying objects simultaneously, would be beyond me. So there's that.

        But... quantum mechanics???? I asked for some clarification because I didn't believe that part, and I didn't believe AM* had any true understanding of the term. His reply only served to reinforce my beliefs:
"For your information, the main reason that my students and I can achieve such amazing feats of prestidigitation is our application of the Schrodinger Wave Equations and treating Einstein's idea of curved space-time as established reality in our Thunderball play to avoid "cosmic collisions," an idea that is too deep for a "Flatlander" like you to comprehend."
        He also provided a link to a .pdf about the Dirac equation, which of course is as spectacularly irrelevant to the question as is quantum theory. So far as I can determine, AM*'s pretentious claims are to physics what psychobabble is to genuine psychology. You might say they're a load of balls.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Open letter to Richard Hoagland

Dear Mr. Hoagland,

        Your recent re-iteration of a claim to have originated the idea of oceanic life on Europanote 1 prompts me to remind you, and others who may be seeing this text, that this and several other claims you have made are false.

1. Ocean on Europa
In March 2004, in a message to Rob Roy Britt of, you wrote:
"Clearly, I was NOT the first (nor have I ever claimed to be) to propose an original liquid ocean for Europa."
On 4 December 1997, on Coast to Coast AM, you said this:
"[W]hen I was covering the Voyager story out at JPL in the Summer of 1980, actually the Spring of 1979 and the Winter of 1980, we flew this extraordinary spacecraft, NASA did, by Jupiter for the first time and encountered the four moons, you know, Io, Ganymede, Europa, Callisto, and Jupiter itself, and it was as part of that observation that I began work on essentially what turned out to be the first scientific paper, which ultimately appeared in Star and Sky Magazine in the beginning of 1980, which was a prognostication, pulling all the data together, that there might be a global ocean under the ice cover that Voyager had revealed and that in that global ocean there actually might be some extant living life forms." (emphasis added)
        That looks very like a prior claim to me. It is certainly not justified--Lewis (1971)note 2 and Consolmagno (1976) were ahead of you, as were Cassen, Reynolds, and Peale (1979).note 3 I think you know this.

2. Life in Europa's ocean
        This is, of course, a separate question, and there is no doubt at all that you have  repeatedly claimed to have been the first to publish on this conjecture. However, as Greenberg notes:note 4
"On June 19th and 20th, 1979, the conference  "Life in the Universe" took place at NASA's Ames Research Center. Benton Clark gave a lecture Sulfur: Fountainhead of Life in the Universe at that conference in which he discussed the biochemistry of those deep-sea vent communities discovered on Earth, pointing out that they do depend indirectly on sunlight: Photosynthesis near the surface of the oceans produces the oxygen that those communities require. Clark then explained how sulfur could play the role of oxygen, and that deep-sea volcanic emissions could potentially provide all the necessary ingredients for a self-sustained ecosystem. In the final part of his lecture, Clark raised the possibility that life might exist in undersurface oceans on the icy satellites in our Solar System, including Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto in particular." (emphasis added)
In the written version of his lecture, Clark wrote:
 "Consider H2O-rich bodies. In our Solar System, this includes not only Earth, but quite possibly Mars and Triton, and certainly Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa.  Liquid water does not exist at the surface of any of these bodies, except Earth,  but we should not discount the existence of "buried" liquid water reservoirs.  ... Habitable zones include not only the surface ocean environment, but also the much more probable subsurface oceanic regions. Earth-like environments as abodes for life may be the exception rather than the rule. Occupation of the much more abundant buried zones is possible, and these should ultimately become an object of exploration. Whether such environments can support life long enough and at a sufficient level of activity to permit the evolution of highly encephalized forms (intelligent life) is conjectural." (emphasis added)
        Prof. Greenberg notes other prior work. You have characterized his comments as political, but in fact they are purely scientific. Claiming credit for other peoples' work is an unattractive trait in anybody, but for somebody who calls himself a scientist,note 5 it is particularly deplorable because of the importance of intellectual priority in that domain.

3. Creation of the Pioneer "message to the Universe"
        On your website you refer to yourself as "co-creator of the 'Pioneer plaque'." (scroll all the way to the bottom of the long page). On 13 July 1990 you said "Carl [Sagan] for many years has been taking public credit for the Pioneer plaque which, of course, Eric Burgess and I conceived." In fact you had no part in the design or creation of the plaque, which was done by Sagan, his then wife Linda, and Frank Drake. As for "conceiving" it (as distinct from "creating" it,) that was overwhelmingly to the credit of Eric Burgess, was it not?

4. The "hammer and feather" stunt on Apollo 15
        On 2 July 2013, on Coast to Coast AM, you claimed that this was your original idea. The truth is that it was, in fact, dreamed up by Dave Scott, Jim Irwin, and Joe Allen.note 6

5. The catchphrase "On the internet nobody knows you're a dog."
        On 11 November 2015, on your digital radio show, you claimed to have "coined" this bon mot. You repeated the claim much more recently, on Howard Hughes' radio show, 11 November last year. The original was a caption to a cartoon in New Yorker published on 5 July 1993. Credit for the phrase belongs to cartoonist Peter Steiner, not you.

         Would you kindly make an early opportunity to withdraw your claims and apologize to those whose work you have falsely taken credit for?

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[1]  The Other Side of Midnight (notice)
Partial text: Thirty-seven years ago, in December 1979 (published in January, 1980), I wrote a seminal article in “Star and Sky Magazine” — picked up and sent around the world by AP, lauded by Dr. Robert Jastrow (one of the founders of NASA), and Arthur C Clarke and (later) Ted Koppel — scientifically PREDICTING, decades BEFORE NASA: “The oceans of Europa [one of the four “Galilean Moons” of Jupiter] are the PERFECT habitat [beyond the Earth] for CURRENT non-terrestrial life! ... My article only dealt with the specifics of Europa’s habitability, but it foreshadowed the existence of an entirely new CLASS of habitable worlds, DECADES before scientists or NASA missions had discovered them — “Ice-covered moons … housing ‘world oceans’ … protected by a tens-of-miles-thick covering of ice!”

[2] Icarus, vol. 15

[3] Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 6

[4] An ocean on Europa? by Prof. Ralph Greenberg, 2002

[5] Dark Mission, 2nd edn, p. 224

[6] See this transcript, notes at 167:22:58