Monday, October 10, 2011

Review of "Awake & Aware": Hoagland gets an F in math yet again

        It isn't easy to talk for 3 h 20 m, but Richard Hoagland managed the feat at the Project Camelot Awake & Aware conference on Sept. 24th. He definitely has a talent for public speaking—too bad that what he speaketh is such unmitigated balderdash.

        The entire first hour was an amended version of the presentation at Leeds, using ex post facto reasoning to derive a completely spurious figure for the "odds against Comet Elenin being a natural object." This blog has already commented on the fallacy in that whole exposition. This version did away with the mistaken perihelion data and substituted something even more mistaken—another 19.5° angle.

        The new one was the angle between the direct line from Earth to Elenin at closest approach and the tangent to Earth's orbit. He asserts that the angle is 19.5° without saying how he measured it. He got his Grade F in math by then saying that the odds of that happening were 1 in 360/19.5 = 18.5. That calculation is, very simply, wrong. An error. A boo-boo. By that reasoning, the smaller the angle, the greater the odds against its occurrence. It is axiomatic that all possible angles should be equally likely.

        Speaking of "all possible angles," what if the angle were zero? Then Hoagland would find himself in a divide-by-zero error and his math would collapse like a house of cards. There's another problem, as if those weren't enough. That angle can in no circumstances be greater than 90°, so what is the figure 360 doing in the calculation in the first place?

        He made precisely the same error in relation to Elenin's orbital inclination—another component of his utterly ridiculous "1 in 264 billion" pseudo-calcuation.

A random comet

        He went on to completely misrepresent an objection posted to his Facebookery by Neville Parchemin. By Hoagland's report at A&A, Neville had protested that "you could do the same calculation with any number, there's nothing special about 19.5." That, however, is not what Neville wrote. Instead, he wrote that you could do the same calculation with any comet. Here he is, verbatim, from Facebook 10th September:

"RCH: Your exposition on the improbability of comet Elenin's parameters (C2C-AM, 08/29, hour 4) shows the exact converse of what you say it does. It demonstrates -- in so far as it has any validity at all -- that Elenin is no different from any other visiting comet.

Consider this:
ALL COMETS have first-observed magnitudes.
ALL COMETS reach perihelion on some specific date.
ALL COMETS arrive on some anniversary of some human event.
ALL COMETS reach closest approach to Earth at some specific time.
ALL COMETS have some orbital inclination.

It matters not what the actual figures are -- you could subject the parameters of any comet to the same pseudo-statistical analysis and come up with the same result. Odds in the tens of billions against that particular set of parameters occurring.

You have scored what in the game of soccer they call an "own goal."

        Hoagland responded by going off into a total irrelevancy involving the fine structure constant, and threatening to ban Parchemin if he didn't toe the party line. Parchemin posted the next morning, as follows:

"RCH: Good morning. Yesterday you asked me to present a pseudo-statistical analysis of a different comet, following your methods as presented in Leeds and on C2C-AM for Elenin. The idea was to support my contention that any comet would have very adverse cumulative probability when several factors were combined. You also called me "dumb," which I took as a pretty good sign that you were running out of rational responses.

I now introduce you to Comet Lulin, "The Green Comet"

Discovered: Jul 11 2007
First-observed magnitude: 18.9
Probability of that magnitude (per your scale): 1 in 452

Perihelion: Jan 10 2009 (182 million km)
Probability of that date: 1 in 365

Anniversary: 89th of the Treaty of Versailles, ending WW1

Closest approach to Earth: Feb 24 2009 03:43 UTC (0.41 AU)
Probability of that time: 1 in 1440

Orbital inclination: 178.37°
Probability of that inclination: Following your method 360/178.37 = 2, although that is a totally invalid calculation.

CUMULATIVE PROBABILITY following your method: 452 x 365 x 89 x 1440 x 2 = 1 in 42 billion


        Guess what? Hoagland's response was to ban Neville Parchemin from the page.

"NASA is terrified"

        He actually said that, about 01:25 into his marathon speech. I was waiting for some shred of justification for the remark, or some explanation of how he knew this, but none came.

        What came instead was Hoagland out-Hoaglanding himself in sheer absurdity.

        He Powerpointed to the image of Elenin captured by the solar observatory STEREO-B on 2nd August. Very cute, with Orion in the background. Elenin is the bluish blob just left of Alnitak.

        But "cute" isn't what Hoagland thought when he saw this. Instead he wandered off into his well-known fantasy that NASA worships Orion. This, he declared, proves that the entire STEREO mission was designed to set up this alignment, making the photograph possible. Yes, the spacecraft, launched on 26th October 2006, secretly had this as its prime mission. Stereoscopic imagery of the Sun was merely a cover. Never mind that Elenin wasn't actually discovered until December last year.

        You're going to say I made this up, I know. Nobody could possibly be that mis-informed. Well, no, sorry. I ran the passage twice to be sure. He really said that. There were no cutaways of the audience, so I can't report how many people left at that point, shaking their heads muttering "well, he's bonkers."

Familiar territory

        The remaining hour and a half was devoted to a random selection of Powerpointery resurrected from previous conferences. The fantasy that the A in the Apollo mission patch stands for the Egyptian God Asar. The fallacy that Ken Johnston was Head of the Apollo photo archive and provided Hoagland & Bara with original photography from the Moon. The Accutron "experiments," which this blog has covered. President Obama's second swearing-in ceremony—another one of my favorites. Poppycock, balderdash, codswallop.

        Finally, lest readers be appalled that I spent $10 on this rubbish in order to review it, let me hasten to say that a back-door version exists, or did exist at the time. Quite possibly the A&A people have closed that door by now. Kudos to Chris Lopes for finding the way in.

Update: Looks like the back door has closed.


Chris Lopes said...

That was an interesting one to say the least. Hoagland though, really needs an editor for these things. 3 1/2 hours is just too long a trip to take to get to where you want to go. I imagine much of that audience (what there was of it) was fading out at the 90 minute mark.

As to the substance, you pretty much covered everything, and did a great job at that. I did like the whole Obama as "Messiah" thing. So it's when (and where) you are born that's important (apparently "water" is a barrier to HD physics), even though what you are genetically was determined about 9 months earlier. In any case, I'm glad Obama's parents were willing to do their part to fulfill humanity's ultimate destiny.

I also liked the whole obsession with the movie Deep Impact and Morgan Freeman. This is another Hoagland classic "they're sending us secret messages in lame ass science fiction movies" thing. Given the plot of the last Transformer's movie, I guess Michael Bay is among the "chosen" too. That would surprise most of his critics.

As to the back door", it has indeed been closed. Since the closure coincides with your review, it's a fair guess that Hoagland (or someone he cares about) actually does read this blog. That would be in direct contraction to the feigned ignorance he professes to have about what his critics are saying about him, which is not to be confused with his unfeigned ignorance of everything else.

expat said...

Yes, "Obama as Messiah" was one of his applause lines (the other was "something is on board Elenin that needs protection [from the tetrahedral shield]"). Perhaps I should have mentioned it.

The audience also warmed to "Hawaii is at 19.5°." Well, yes Richard, a thin slice of it is -- and you really should learn to distinguish between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Too bad Stanley Ann Obama spoiled it all by being at 21° 18' when she gave birth.

Mike Bara, in one of his standard money-spinning lectures, likes to say that the Mayan civilization evolved at 19.5°. Really, they allow themselves so much slop that they might as well whistle Dixie, and get the applause that way.

Biological_Unit said...

I'm hoping he will stop lying someday. I can feel sorry for Mars Revealer, who has some "condition", but this is evil trolling lies right inna you face!

Biological_Unit said...

All Praises to the Barakhnaton, Soul Brother Number One

Chris Lopes said...

Whatever MR might be, Hoagland was more than willing to deal with him and feed his delusions when it suited his purposes. Hoagland's entire business plan is built on creating the alternate reality such people want to live in. So whatever help MR may or may not need, he wasn't ever likely to get it from Hoagland.

Biological_Unit said...

Interesting post about Egypt at RCH's Facebook:

Can they really believe all that crap about tombs,hemp ropes, granite pounders and copper chisels ?

The Egyptians used Diamond Saws yoked to Oxen and Geared Pulleys! This was explained on a recent History Channel documentary.

Chris Lopes said...

You know as well as I do that our ancestors were too stoopid to do much of anything without the help of super-science wielding aliens. Civilization as we know it (the domestication of plants and animals, art, culture, and reality television) would not be possible with such HD Physics inspired intervention.

On another note, I thought it was real classy for Hoagland to suggest to one of his poorer followers to skip a meal so he could afford that presentation. It shows his more humanitarian side.

Paul McNamara said...

I have to admit, I struggled through it, and realised he could have said 19.5 60 times in one minute, sparing us the agony of the "performance"

Truthseeker, said...

The lies pile up likes mounds of excrement. This clown is a joke. His "special" appearance as "Science Advisor" on Coast to Coast gave him so much rope to hang himself this tool did so 5 or 6 times.

A direct lie about a special agent he met 3 or 4 years ago that has ben feeding him "intel", that he referenced in April as someone he just met, cornering him in a bar, saying he was Australian intelligence, and someone "we don't like" is here. Through his powers of inference, he believed it was nazis in space.

Syria is the last of Arab spring because "its name is like Sirius, the constellation NASA is scared of.

I could go on but why? The fantasy comments start spewing whenhe is afforded an open forum, and they don't stop until he is reigned in. Dirtbag. How dare somoeone steal other people's work, expand upon it without any basis, and then take credit for the research. Lying sack of stool.