Monday, February 4, 2013

Tenth anniversary of Hoagland lies

==== R.I.P. ====
Rick D. Husband, Commander
William C. McCool, Pilot
David M. Brown, Mission Specialist 1
Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist 2
Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander
Laurel B. Clark, Mission Specialist 4
Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist 1

        I've already commented about the colossal error made by Mike Bara, who asserted mistakenly that it was the decision to use "green" insulation that was the death sentence of the above seven heroes.

        Ten years ago today, Richard C. Hoagland made a bad situation worse by comprehensively misinforming the audience of Coast to Coast AM about the Columbia tragedy. This was well before the true cause was known, and his "angle" was that the likely cause was sabotage. "Somebody," he said, had interfered with the thermal protection system. He told the following lies:

All the thermal tiles are replaced between Shuttle flights
Nonsense. Some tens, or at most hundreds, of tiles are replaced.

The tile replacement is done by low-paid workers any one of whom could “easily” be a Moslem saboteur. 
Nonsense. The grade of these workers was increased in 1999 as a specific result of a review by a safety oversight committee. Background checks are carried out, and, while obviously not infallible, that procedure would make it far from easy for a saboteur to be in a position to cause harm to the Shuttle.

Tile replacers are known to have spat in the bonding compound, weakening it. 
That’s impossible — the silicon RTV bonder is not water-soluble.

Responding to a question about the possibility of meteorite damage, Hoagland dismissed it totally, declaring that “the likelihood of a meteorite strike at the exact moment of re-entry is just too remote”. 
He doesn’t understand that a meteorite strike at any time during the mission would be capable of causing failure of the thermal protection system.

        I was able to save myself some keyboard time in making the above list, since I was quoting myself in a letter to the radio show's executive producer, Lisa Lyon, dated 8th February 2003. I added the following:

I would ask you, therefore, to consider replacing Richard Hoagland with somebody who’s qualified to discuss and report on spaceflight. There is no shortage of articulate space enthusiasts, and it seems a pity to feature somebody like Hoagland who has no standing in the space community whatever. Because of his ignorance, your audience has been seriously misled on important questions.

I got no response from Ms. Lyon. Her e-mail address is


Anonymous said...

For those of us who are not statisticians, can you elaborate as to whether the likelihood of a meteor striking the shuttle is higher while it is in orbit than during re entry?

My suspicion is that meteors are fairly random events. Either the shuttle is there or it isn't there, regardless of its mission segment.

granted, its more likely that the shuttle will be hit at any old time than at a specific time, but it seems odd to conclude that it couldn't have been hit at a specific tine because such an event is unpredictable.

By extension, he could claim that at no specific time has a shuttle been hit because at any specific time its unlikely.

expat said...

You're correct -- the chance of a meteor strike is equal at any time a spacecraft is out of the atmosphere. A hit at the exact moment of de-orbit might seem extraordinarily unlikely, but it's no more so than at any other time you might select in advance of the event. This gets back into the question of ex post facto reasoning that I dealt with over coment Elenin.

jourget said...

The chance of a strike at any given moment is basically equal, but the likelihood of a meteor hit during the orbital phase of the flight versus the reentry phase was undoubtedly greater, simply because Columbia was in orbit for 16 days and only reentering the atmosphere for about 45 minutes. That doesn't make Hoagland's statement any less idiotic, because you'd think a strike during the longer orbital phase would be the first thing to enter his mind when discussing such a subject.

Expat, where do you find your old Hoagland Coast to Coast shows that you quote from sometimes? I would never do anything as morally questionable as torrenting, but if I did, I have the feeling that I'd find almost nothing from before 2005, only a few from 1997-2001.

Phenomenal post, by the way. I had never heard anything about what Hoagland said about Columbia as it was happening before. I guess it shouldn't surprise me, because he makes snap judgments about everything, but seriously: what an ass.

expat said...

Ignislucis is good for any show in 2012. Before that, random Youtube nuggets only.

I would not have been able to quote from the 10-year-old show if I hadn't kept a copy of my letter to Lisa.

Trained Observer said...

"Tile replacers are known to have spat in the bonding compound, weakening it."

This false statement embodies everything you need to know about the fellow.

He makes an incredibly slanderous statement that makes no sense whatsoever, unless you are wholly ignorant of both the science and the procedures involved.

That turns out be the essence of all the "NASA is the enemy" crowd who see it populated by cultists, irrational numerologists, liars, and mystically minded missile men.

In reality Hoagland and his ilk who proclaim themselves "truth seekers" or "truth tellers" are nothing of the sort. You can account for their motivation however you like: opportunistic confidence men, deluded true-believers, quasi-religious fanatics, pseudo-science aficionados, or ill equipped paranormal investigator, it doesn't really matter. Truth, if it ever makes it into their spiels and pitches, is an unwanted stranger.

How much slander and libel, not to mention psychological and emotional harm come from this nonsense is probably incalculable.

In the end he is just another "character" on Coast to Coast AM and the "Fantasy prone and Easily Hoodwinked" talk show circuit fueling the paranoid delusions and emotional instability of those waiting for the NWO to break their doors down or the secret space program to spirit away the elite to condos on Mars while aliens or errant asteroids make short work of the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

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