Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hoagland: Two travesties

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        Know what that's called? AN UNREADABLE WEB PAGE, that's what. And that's what Richard Hoagland gave us, as his first website update in nearly nine months, under the title It Only Takes One White Crow. At one time I wrote a couple of books about HTML, so I know a piece-of-shit web page when I see it. Any other HTML hackers reading this might like to know that the W3C validator throws 81 errors and 14 warnings when asked to rate the page markup.

        OK, getting on Hoagland's case about his markup is a bit irrelevant, I hear you say. Never mind the technicalities, what about the content? Well, actually, I was giving you the good news first. The content is WORSE.

        The page was composed as a companion to last night's three-hour Hoagathon on Coast to Coast AM. By way of a preamble, he takes us through his brilliant (and totally false) analysis of the original 'Face' on Mars, his absolutely brilliant (and absolutely false) exposition of the Brookings Report, before getting to the meat of the thing -- namely, what Curiosity has found on Mars. I can do this like a picture book for you. (Actually these images are not from the web page but from the C2C-AM archive).

This is a child's sneaker. Surrounded by toys such as a model glider. ON MARS.

This is a cylinder.

This is an engine. ON MARS.

        I'm bored already, I won't continue with the collapsed motels and apartment blocks. We did those already. But you get the idea. This is bad science. VERY, VERY BAD SCIENCE.

        Then, for heaven's sake, he goes off into a wild and utterly ridiculous fantasy about a Reuleaux tetrahedron in West Candor Chasma -- nowhere near Gale crater, nothing to do with the Curiosity rover, and just about as painful as the HTML it's written in. I could tell you what a Reuleaux tetrahedron is but then I'd have to kill myself for even taking this preposterous idea that seriously. Look it up if you must -- everything's on the net these days. The main thing to understand here is that Richard Hoagland is wrong.

Reuleaux woo-woo
        On the woo-woo radio last night, he didn't venture into Reuleaux territory (imagine having to spell that out for George Noory), settling instead for the above-mentioned fantasy of a Martian child's bedroom complete with toys, and a scamper through the Wacky-Accynote 1. At times there were awkward silences, as if neither Hoagland nor Noory could imagine what kind of bullshit to come up with next.

Here's one quote I particularly loved:

"The Accutron is a really robust portable field sensor that allows me to monitor the changes in the field strength in and around these sacred sites."

STRENGTH. Remember that word.

On 8th June, just a month ago, I wrote this in e-mail to Hoagland:

"You say you measure the torsion field, right?

So here's the simplest possible question:

What was the maximum intensity of the torsion field at Coral Castle during the Venus transit of 2004?"

I was favored with a reply, the very same day:

"I have NEVER stated that we're measuring the "amplitude" ... of ANYTHING.             :)

Frequency ... frequency ... frequency ....

Why don't you try actually READING what we've published (so far ...), before you ask (more) inane questions ..."

"Someone's living on the Moon"
        Good line. I bet the Branch Hoaglandians love it. Sad to say, it isn't true. Hoagland repeated that bit of nonsense last night, which is based on his utter misunderstanding of lunar atmospheric pressure measurements from Apollo vs. Chandrayaan. The story is here. Basically, Apollo was doing its measurement at night-time, Chandrayaan daytime. That's why the atmospheric pressure was different -- not because there are seekrit miltary bases.

Two false claims
        Around the middle of the second hour, Hoagland again claimed to have been the first to publish the hypothesis that Europa, the sixth moon of Jupiter, might have an ocean under its icy crust. This claim has been ridiculed by Phil Plait, Ralph Greenberg and Gary Posner. In response to Posner's rebuttal, Mike Bara wrote a vitriolic web page (also white size 4 Times Roman on starfield, but mercifully not 1540px line width) saying "Hoagland has never claimed any such thing".

This is not just bad science, it's disgraceful.

        Toward the end of that hour, Hoagland referred to the Apollo 15 Hammer & feather drop, in which Dave Scott proved that in the vacuum of the Moon, a hammer and feather dropped from the same height reach the ground together. A truly excellent demo. Almost as a casual throwaway, the pseudoscientist told us that the whole thing was his idea.

That is a falsehood. The demo was conceived by Dave Scott, Jim Irwin and Joe Allennote 2.

Bad science. Disgraceful claims. Unforgivable arrogance and mendacity.


1. As ever, a backgrounder on this is here.

2. Thanks to  Jourget for pointing me to this note in the Lunar Surface Journal:

[Scott - "The basic idea was Joe Allen's. It was another thing from sitting in the crew quarters at night, trying to figure out interesting things to do - that were useful, too. And I guess we had a lot of ideas. But Joe came up with the hammer and feather idea, and we decided where to get a feather. I had a friend who was a professor at the Air Force Academy. Their mascot's the Falcon. And we had the (LM) Falcon. So that was indeed, a falcon feather from an Air Force Academy bird. In fact, I had two of them. I was going to try it, first, to see if it worked - because of static charge and all that stuff it might have stuck to my glove. Didn't have time (for the trial run), so we just winged it. And it worked!"]


jourget said...

Great post! Hoagland repeats that tiresome "I thought of the Apollo 15 hammer-and-feather experiment" bit in The Monuments of Mars, too. On the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal page containing the transcripts from the experiment, Dave Scott says the basic idea for the experiment came from (Apollo 15 Capcom) Joe Allen. Dave's commentary can be found in italics about 40 percent of the way down the Apollo 15/The Third EVA/The Hammer and the Feather page starting from here:

Also, I love how Hoagland has wildly backpedaled from his original implication that the Shaler apartments were really apartment-sized, as seen in his original article and discussed on C2C on December 1 with John B. Wells. On his photo caption of the apartments from last night's show here:

he maintains that he "nicknamed" the formation "The Apartments" because of what they looked like. He knew they were a few inches tall all along, you see.

Trekker said...

Expat, your link to Hoagland's new web page doesn't work. You can access it directly though, from the Enterprise home page. (You've left out a '2' in the address).

expat said...

I've added the note about Joe Allen. Broken link fixed.

Anonymous said...

I counted 191 pairs of quotation marks in Hoagland's lastest article. 191... I "think" he "might" be "overusing" them.

expat said...

Yeah... how many unmotivated smileys?

Anonymous said...

Hoagland loves italics doesn't he? I managed to get through the first paragraph, and then lost the will to live. It's supreme irony that he uses the 'face' image as his evidence yet amongst the top image on the header looks like the later higher res image (It might not be of course, but has the same basic outline shape..You have to admire his self agrandising insofar as NASA took a better image because Enterprise Mission asked for it! Ego, moi?


Binaryspellbook said...

Jourget is correct regarding the backpedaling. I read Hoagland's page regarding the "Martian apartments."
In it he clearly equates the strata to an apartment sized formation. He even goes as far as showing the formation alongside the destroyed Murrah building in Oklahoma City.

He states also on his webpage, "NASA to investigate mysterious linear features called Shaler, which Enterprise has previously identified as "Martian apartments."

No mention of a nickname. Hoagland is clearly trying desperately to weasel out of the fact that he was caught with his pants down AND his hand in the cookie jar when the dimensions of Shaler were revealed to be in centimeters. Hardly apartment sized.

Now he states..." A series of strikingly geometric, horizontal structures -- nicknamed by Enterprise "the Apartments" after their eerily "constructed" appearance. Measuring only inches in height, the key aspect of these features is not their scale ... but their INTENSELY "ordered" appearance ... which, to the uninitiated, only superficially resemble "geological strata" (as they've been officially identified by NASA).

Truly shameful.

expat said...

Not only is that passage utter bollocks, he slipped up. He surely meant to write "initiated" not "uninitiated".

But I think he's edited the page today. That paragraph isn't there as far as I can see.

Binaryspellbook said...

That comment came from the C2C site.
I tried to listen to his bore-athon. Fell asleep.

Strahlungs Amt said...

According to my sooper seekrit sources, them apartments are the creaky floorboards in Area 51.

Some guy (even more seekret than Ken Johnston) who works at NASA met me in a secret parking lot in Butt Montana and gave me some seekrit tapes. I can't reveal who he is or the gubmint will send the black helicopters and kill us both.

expat said...

Ah yes -- it's possible the wrong word was C2C's error,too.

Strahlungs Amt said...

I notice he still hasn't cleaned up those deadlinks from the 90s at the bottom of his page. Either he's monumentally lazy or monumentally stupid. Or he thinks the links with content will magically reappear (and not as porn sites).

PS, anybody know the story behind this headline (it's at the very bottom of his page - hard to link to properly using his ancient alien web technology)?

8/6/96 - LEAKED NASA Photos of Possible Micro Fossils

FlightSuit said...

I wonder what other legendary aspects of the Apollo missions were also Hoagland's idea? It sucks that he isn't being given the credit he deserves.

Anonymous said...

Strahlungs Amt said: "anybody know the story behind this headline"

It's here,

From the Wikipedia page: "On August 6, 1996 ALH 84001 became newsworthy when it was claimed that the meteorite may contain evidence of traces of life from Mars, as published in an article in Science by David McKay of NASA."

So the "leak" which is on TEM homepage dated as published on August 6, coincides with the publication of the very same Science article detailing it!


Anonymous said...

In addition to my comment above, the only further reference to the ALH84001 on the TEM site is in the 2001(?) Tides paper, which doesn't render in a modern browser (note to TEM people reading: fix it already!). In it the original article of 1996 and later research is mentioned.


jourget said...

Those are photos of ALH84001, the Martian meteorite that was announced in August of 1996 to potentially contain evidence of biogenic chemistry taking place on Mars several billion years ago.

The results are still really controversial, but Hoagland trumpeting his post as "leaked" photos of "micro fossils" from a Kinko's employee is illuminating of his mindset.

First, the only reason his photos were "leaked" was because NASA itself was preparing to hold a giant press conference the *very next day* (August 7) to announce their results. I wouldn't think a lot of leaks of sensitive information that a government organization wants kept secret would involve Kinko's, but that shows what I know. Fits with Hoagland's shadowy view of the world, though.

Second, the linear bacteria-looking structures in the photos are actually by far the *least* persuasvive evidence of biological activity found in ALH84001, but Hoagland's always been about what he thinks he can visually see, so it's not surprising he gravitated toward the "micro-fossils" and didn't mention the chemistry at all.

expat said...

Anon: Yes, I've commented sarcastically about that appalling tides page previously.

Strahlungs Amt said...

"Let's save time and just
assume I already know everything."

Mike's latest Facialbook t-shirt.

Anonymous said...

Why does Sir Richard insist upon the "(C) NASA and The Enterprise Mission" watermark?

NASA images, for the most part, are not under copyright. And if they were, he couldn't add a few markups and then claim it as his own intellectual property.

Sorry, I get easily distracted by minutiae when presented with such an ocean of nonsense as "One White Crow".


expat said...

Oh, Richard's photo copyrights are a running joke. I don't think it ever got better than this comedy act. Look closely at his ©.

I'm just not sure if that was intentional dishonesty or another example of RCH finger trouble.

Robert Redghostcornwolf said...

Geez, can't you put aside your animosity and give the guy a break once in awhile? It's obvious he was just covering all his bases by nailing down the all-important "apyrights" to that picture.

Anonymous said...


I think I'm going with the latter.

I also found this one amusing for its inconsistent use of quotation marks associated with "Tetrahedral". Typical.


Strahlungs Amt said...

Hey, it's "ORTHOGRAPHICALLY RECTIFIED", (whatever th(@)t "means").

Clearly the man's a genius.

Stay Tuned........

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's "ORTHOGRAPHICALLY RECTIFIED", (whatever th(@)t "means").

I took it to mean it it flattened and assembled such that he can draw lines between sets of random points to construct STUNNINGLY meaningful triangles.

Of course, maybe he was really referring to orthography, which may explain his idiosyncratic "use" of language.


expat said...

"Orthographically rectified" ought to mean "spellchecked." Something Hoagland & Bara's writing is in sore need of.

Jaxmeow said...

Thanks for the review, I fell asleep listening to I do most coast shows & missed a lot. Going to download it at some point so I can listen to the whole ridiculous thing.

Anonymous said...

But all criticisms and falsehoods aside...

That latest White Crow article was in my opinion a pretty good return to form! We now have a new sacred 3D shape and a new collapsed mega-structure on Mars! It's more than I dared to dream of in the latter days of worn out watches.

Can't wait for part II...only lets hope that the type II civilization which could rearrange "entire solar systems" has left something more behind than industrial apartments, steam punk engines and stray shoes.... Is it wrong to expect something more bold in 2013?