Friday, November 5, 2010

Comet Hartley 2: Oh so predictable

        The EPOXI flyby of Comet Hartley 2 yesterday was another brilliant success for JPL, and the images were extraordinary. The body of the comet looks like a two-kM-long jet-propelled peanut.

        In less than 24 hours, Richard Hoagland had figured out a highly unoriginal way of using this scientific triumph to draw attention to himself and his crackpot ideas. OF COURSE! CLAIM IT'S AN ALIEN SPACESHIP!!! He posted this:

Just look at the regular, tiered GEOMETRY of the lower end -- like a cutaway, 3-D view of a large skyscraper ... with many exposed "floors" ... after a massive internal explosion.

It's those subtle, interior SYMMETRIES that "give the game away."

And then, OF COURSE, NASA is hiding the true story.

[S]tudies (at MIT, I believe) some years ago, with cats, demonstrated that the human visual/brain mechanisms (cats are CLOSELY related to humans, genetically) ONLY see such 3-D regular geometry--


NASA releases its images so those ANGLES are specifically NOT "triggered."

        Oh yes, sure, JPL scientists were up all night figuring out how they could release the images in a deceptive way. Never mind that Hoagland has, as usual, got the science totally wrong. The cat vision study was at UC Berkeley, and showed that the retina-brain interface acted far more rapidly for horizontal motion than for vertical motion. Nothing to do with seeing angles in static objects, and nobody said that the same applies to humans in any case.

        I wonder if the NASA/JPL scientists who work so hard and so effectively to bring us news from the Cosmos ever hear about Hoagland's ravings and unfounded accusations? I assume not, but you never know.

        Meanwhile, back on the FB page, even some of the gullible disciples apparently find this tale hard to swallow. Several of them have expressed doubt.

        James Concannon posted this, and of course Hoagland deleted it immediately:

To all the Branch Hoaglandians and True Disciples:

Now look, you guys... your NASA-hating and science-ignorant guru has spent most of the summer assuring you not only that Phobos is an alien spaceship but that ESA scientists will DEFINITELY confirm that at the EPSC conference in October.


Your glorious leader wrote, in mid-July, that the attempt to cap the Macondo oil well was certain to end in failure and make the oil gusher worse.


Now he comes at you with this cock-and-bull story about Hartley being an alien spaceship, and some of you are willing to believe him.


[Reprinted by permission]

Useful links:
EPOXI/Hartley quick image gallery
Full resolution images
Morph animation by Daniel Machacek
EPOXI fact sheet (pdf)


Biological_Unit said...

Does he believe his own crap?

That is the only thing I'm asking!

Chris Lopes said...

BU, for the longest time I believed he did really believe it. After my battle with him on the rocket equation though, it's obvious he's just playing a part. He has no real interest in science, let alone any aptitude for it. He got lucky as a young man and has been using the fact that he was an eye witness of history (sort of) as a badge of authority ever since.

The sad thing is (and I've made this point before) he could have been more than just some pseudo-science huckster. He has a talent for communication and (in the beginning anyway) an enthusiasm that could have been used to actually educate people. Instead he is using what limited talent he has to promote a less entertaining version of the X-Files mythology.

I do wonder though just how profitable this pseudo-science thing can really be for him. Most of the people on his FB page (his site is all but dead really), don't strike me as the types who could really afford one of his over priced DVDs, let alone a $500 conference ticket. And really, most of his material is available in one form or another (yes, even his book, if you know where to look) for free. So if he's making any money on this crap, it can't be much.

So this has to be more of an ego thing: The uneducated hack needing to be smarter than the people who actually know about science. That is really the only explanation I can find for this pathological drive towards nonsense. I mean EVERYTHING that happens in the news is proof of his theories? Space scientists really can't tell the difference between a comet and a spaceship? Everyone who every studied physics in college is wrong and he is right? If I'm wrong, and he really does believe it all, he's a sadder case than I thought.

Biological_Unit said...

He seems refined with that mellifluous voice! It's a mystery as to why he's so "out there" of late.

Chris Lopes said...

Maybe he has no where else to go at this point. Had he chosen a different path years ago, maybe he could have played at being a science popularizer, but now it is too late. He's locked into the mythology that he has created. It is too much a part of his identity now for him to turn back.

His stock and trade is being more scientifically literate than his audience. Unfortunately for him, that trick is becoming harder and harder to pull off. For one thing, scientific knowledge is easier to come by. For another, the increase in knowledge has surpassed his ability to comprehend it. So now he's reduced to totally faking it. A sad case anyway you look at it.

Biological_Unit said...

scientific knowledge is easier to come by

The biggest advances occurred during War. Even the Cold War created a Manned Moon hoax. If even ONE picture is confirmed fake, that means they never went!

expat said...

Here's a clue to RCH's hatred of NASA (he's writing of himself in the third person):

"Hoagland, who at one time was warmly embraced by various NASA facilities and programs, suddenly found himself on the outs with those same institutions when he pressed the issue of the tetrahedral mathematics of Cydonia. His ideas were welcomed, it seemed, as long as there was no real means of proving his hypothesis. It was only when he ventured into the realm of hyperdimensional physics and sought for it the same status as any other testable theory that NASA suddenly decided it would no longer lend an ear to his ideas. It was at this point--as we entered the 1990s--that we began to suspect that there was something seriously wrong with this picture."

--"Dark Mission" 2nd Edn pp 133-4

Chris Lopes said...

Of course he hates NASA. It is an organization full of people who actually went through a rigorous educational process and are engaging in the real exploration of space. All those photos he uses as "stunning proof" of his theories were produced by people who are a lot smarter and better informed than he is, and he knows it. Their very existence demonstrates his own failure to be what he wants his followers to think he is.

Chris Lopes said...

Expat, something interesting about Hoagland has come to light. Several authors of other pseudo-science stuff seem to believe that he is part of something called the 9 group. From what I gather, this group (if it exists) beieves it is in contact with aliens and such.

Now I admit the evidence to support the existence of the group, let alone Hoagie's connection to it, is sketchy at best. However, I am enjoying the irony of the situation. Mr. "NASA is an evil conspiracy of Magicians and Masons and NAZIs oh my!" getting accused of being in a secret society by people who play in the pseudo-science field is just too fun to believe.

expat said...

It's a fun thought all right -- but didn't The Nine convene in 1952, when Hoagland was 7 years old?

I mean, I know he was precocious, but that's a bit hard to swallow.

Chris Lopes said...

I don't know the history of this supposed organization, but I gather the inference is that he was recruited later. The real irony here is that the authors of The Stargate Conspiracy are using the exact level of evidence that Hoagland used in Dark Mission.

Chris Lopes said...

Expat, any guess how Hoagie will handle the "mystery missile" thing? I know the consensus is forming that it was a jet contrail seen at a particular angle (United Flight 808 is the suspected culprit), but do you think there is enough ambiguity there for him to stick his "someone sending someone a message" meme into the mix?

expat said...

Hoagland's not going to buy the jet-plane theory, and neither will Bara.

Personally I'm inclined to believe John Pike, he's a straight-man.

Tune in tonight to hear 3 hours of Mike Bara plugging his horrible book.

Chris Lopes said...

Oh there are lots of reasons to believe it is a plane. Don Davis presented a pretty good case on the Final Frontier face book page having to do with lighting effects on rocket launches versus airplanes. The Hoaglandista's though, are not so easily convinced.

I can see that Hoagland could have motives to go either way. He could play the "reasonable" gambit and say something like "Hey guys, it's just a plane". Or he could go the easier route and make it part of the "see, the news provides more stunning confirmation that something is up" game. To me it depends on how obvious (as in well known) the solution is. If the solution takes too long to become main stream, you are right, he'll seize the opportunity.

Chris Lopes said...

On Bara: "former Boeing engineer"? Tell me a major aircraft manufacturer did not hire this boso to do anything that involved engineering.

expat said...

Perhaps (if Hoagland ever wakes up again) it'll be:

"Our[1] sources[2] tell us that this was a top-secret[3] test of a torsion-field[4] weapon"

[1] "Our" is a pretentious way of saying "my."
[2] The "sources" are imaginary.
[3] Top-secret tests are not commonly performed in full view of tourists on Santa Monica pier.
[4] "Torsion-field" is a meaningless term.

re Bara and Boeing: I assume he worked on CAD as a contractor.

Anonymous said...

Listening to C2C tonight. Wow, Bara's "everything is energy" crap puts him squarely in the phony 'new age' pseudo-religious movement. Quetzalcoatl will appear in 2012 of course, to give us a choice, so we have to send out good energy. Nothing to do with science, reality, or anything. "I think a lot of quantum physics is crap" he just said. And then the show ended. Everything is crap except for what Bara says is not. Bara & Hoagie are obviously targeting the rich & stupid people market. OMG i just threw up in my mouth.

expat said...

Thanks for the comment, anon.


Chris Lopes said...

"I think a lot of quantum physics is crap"

Could someone kindly tell the "engineer" who was a "consultant" for Boeing that the computer he uses to write his crap is powered by integrated circuits that really depend on QM not being crap? Does this guy no anything about anything beyond how to impress strippers and porn stars (yes, that can be a useful skill)?

expat said...

Ha-ha, great comment Chris. Thanks.