Friday, January 20, 2012

Richard Hoagland's arrow hits the barn

James Concannon was awake enough to hear last night's Coast to Coast AM news segment, and reports this:

        Richard Hoagland's claims very often amount to shooting an arrow into the side of a barn, then running up and painting a target around it. There cannot be any more blatant example of this than last night's performance.

        George Noory reported AvWeek's story that the US Strategic Command has removed links from a web page tracking the final orbit of Phobos-Grunt, which re-entered at 17:45 UTC last Sunday, exactly as expected. He then introduced Hoagland the "science adviser" with the words "I gotta hand it to you Richard, you've been saying for a long time that this is a strange situation." Hoagland smugly replied "Science is nothing if it's not prediction, George" as if this was another brilliant example of his successful analysis. The unexplained action by StratCom allowed Hoagland to claim that the spacecraft had set off on a secret mission to rendezvous with the asteroid YU55.

        The truth is 180 degrees from a successful prediction. Hoagland never predicted that StratCom would fudge re-entry data. What he predicted, on November 28th, was that Phobos-Grunt would depart on its secret mission the next day, because the numerology of 11/29/11 was favorable. That prediction was entirely wrong.

        On October 21st he said that the rotation period of the asteroid was 19.5 hours. That was wrong. He said it was perfectly spherical. That was wrong too. Richard Hoagland is in no position to claim any success, let alone brilliance, at reporting YU55.

The inexorable logic of celestial mechanics

        Now look, if by chance there are any Hoagland disciples reading this, I beseech you in the bowels of Christ to think it possible your guru may be wrong (as somebody once said, more or less.)

        In the first place, a spacecraft designed for a sample return from a 22 km moon would be ineffective for examination of a 400m asteroid, and vice versa. Phobos-Grunt could not possibly have been designed for a rendezvous with YU55 without a thousand engineers going "wtf?" or the Russian equivalent.

        In the second place, could you please ask your leader why, if some sinister cabal wished to send a spacecraft to say hello to the asteroid, they would allow a close pass within 325,000 km to elapse without taking action, instead waiting until it was half way to Mars before setting out in pursuit?

        The producers of Coast to Coast, of course, don't think of these things. George Noory wouldn't care about the truth even if he could discern it. But that doesn't excuse the rest of us from the responsibility to respect the laws of physics.

--James Concannon


Anonymous said...

The analogy of RCH painting a bulls-eye target around an arrow fired into a barn is one of the very best and well-put things I've read!!... Could not be more true!... (Although I might add, if any of RCH's arrows miss the barn completely, they must never ever be mentioned ever and be forgotten about immediately!!)

Chris Lopes said...

If Hoagland's arrow didn't hit the barn, he'd build a barn where it did hit, THEN paint the target.

Anonymous said...

Haha! That's true - after all, his arrow was either zapped out of the way by those HD ray guns the space nazis have, or barry used his Egyptian god powers to telepathically send the arrow off at a 19.5 degree angle and hit a much more hyper dimensionally relevant spot.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute - aren't barn roofs sort of triangular/tetrahedral shaped... like Elenin's force field, and pyramids on Mars, and the window-reflected shaped encoded in barry's christmas card, and Curiosity's Gale crater... ...

Makes ya wonder: what was the inventor of the barn secretly trying to tell us about our long-forgotten history out in space??

Chris Lopes said...

I think the message was "this is how you keep rain off the damn thing."

Anonymous said...

Ah come on Chris, don't fall for the obvious - you gotta see beyond that to the REAL meaning of the tetrahedral triangle... the "barn inventor" was surely using it as a symbolic metaphor for mother earth being our temporary shelter until we were ready to go "back outside" and re-claim of former glorious selves, out in the vast openness of the universe...

...Maybe even the barn was invented in Hawaii or any other place along 19.5?!?!

(That was one leap too far, wasn't it?! Damn, I'm starting to sound like Hoagie!!)... :-o

jourget said...

Of course, science is actually nothing if your results are not replicable by other parties. Hoagland's litany of supposed "predictions" is, as the post pointed out, utter crap.

RCH's take on the peer review process is that since he and his poker buddies don't have many peers in their ramblings, it is unsurprising when the mainstream scientific community does not seriously consider their theories. He is overlooking the fact that when actual works of genius have been published in the past (your Principias, your General Theories), EVEN WHEN the new ideas are completely at odds with conventional wisdom at the time, they are recognized for the accomplishments they are when their predictions are confirmed in experimental results again and again.

Newton and Einstein explain the universe. Hoagland runs up and down pyramids in a bolo waving a tuning fork around. The giants, ladies and gentlemen!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the apple fell and hit Newton on the head at a 19.5 degree angle, and as for Einstein... well, that hair surely had some sort of hyper dimensional vortex thing going on! :-)

expat said...

James Oberg's article in The Space Review is highly recommended.