Sunday, June 21, 2015

Review of Hoagland on C2C Friday 19 June

        The starting point for this night's Hoaglathon was an article in Izvestiya, translated by the online Moscow Times, that gave rise to some notably inaccurate headlines. I can't now find the exact headline from The Washington Post, but it was something like RUSSIA QUESTIONS US LUNAR LANDINGS. Richard Hoagland pointed out that that was grossly misleading — and it was the last true statement he made that night.

        There followed three hours of near-hysterical hyperbole, as Hoagland latched onto that phrase "scientific — or perhaps cultural — artifacts" and ran with it, and ran, and ran, and ran. Naturally, his interpretation was that the Russians know all about the stuff that Apollo astronauts SECRETLY brought back from the Moon. You know, the head from C3PO that somebody carelessly left at the bottom of a crater called Shorty. Such highly advanced technology (from a civilization that wasn't clever enough to survive, please note) as could usher in a Golden Age here on Earth. Hoagland spent a good ten minutes explaining that reverse engineered Lunar technology could act as a total nuclear shield, preventing any nuclear reactions — be they bombs or out-of-control reactors — from functioning. He pulled this one entirely out of his imagination. It hasn't got the slightest basis in anything real at all. Amazing.

        Hoagland, as usual, didn't mince words. "The Russians have driven a dagger into the heart of the NASA cover-up." "This will not go away." Etc., etc. Well, as one who has had to negotiate with Russians three times in my life, I think I recognize this as something very different from Hoagland's interpretation. For a start, Hoagland missed entirely the reference in the original article to allegations of corruption surrounding Russia's status as host for the 2018 World Cup of Soccer. Then, he doesn't have enough experience to interpret the Russian reaction. In my view, this is "So, my fine friend, you question our right to host the World Cup? Let's have a look at your missing Moon rocks, too. Come, let us open another bottle of vodka and discuss these important questions." In other words, just a bit of semi-serious joshing.note 1 It is, by the way, true, that some Moon rocks are unaccounted for. Wikipedia has an inventory. The robot heads are all missing, too. In the sense that they never existed in the first place. The thing to remember about the SECRET artifacts from the Moon is that Hoagland has never produced one single shred of evidence that they exist.

        Hoagland had some images to show. Starting with the Chinese images from the Jade Rabbit Lunar rover that this blog discussed in April last year. Once Hoagland runs these images through Photoshop, they clearly show CCD detector noise that he says is glass structures, confirming his manipulations of Apollo photography. This blog actually got an oblique reference, as Hoagland said that critics (that's us) claim his images of glass skyscrapers  over the Moon are just scratches or contamination on his scanner glass. "Give me a break," he said, "as if I don't recognize scratches or don't know to clean my scanner glass." Well, Richard, here's the evidence.

credit: NASA, with Hoagland contamination

        Next, he turned to the intriguing images of the asteroid Ceres that have been coming in from the Dawn spacecraft. He tried to tell us that this is a city:

credit: NASA/JPL

        A fucking city, on an asteroid? An asteroid whose mass is only 0.00015 that of Earth, and whose gravity at the surface is 0.029g? Very funny, Hoagland.

        Well, the talk then ranged far and wide, through some familiar territory. How the Apollo astronauts had their memories "adjusted" so they don't remember seeing the glass skyscrapers. How JPL totally faked the color of the first Viking images from the surface of Mars. All poppycock. George Noory's attitude ran the gamut from worship to fury. At one point he said "You're amazing, Richard. Everything you say comes true in the end" (you could almost hear rationalists across the nation screaming "ELENIN!!!! GULF OIL SPILL!!!!"). But near the end, when talk turned to plans for Hoagland to guest-host in July on the occasion of the Pluto encounter, it got a little ugly. Hoagland tried to sandbag Noory on the air by arguing for a five-hour extended show. This was obviously something that had already been discussed and rejected, so Noory shut him down in no uncertain terms. Thanks to a Coastgab member using the name Georgie for President 2016, you can hear the audio. Good fun—arrogance squashed.

[1] For a brilliant rendering of this aspect of the Russian character, see the portrayal of Col. Stok by Oskar Homolka in the 1967 movie Billion Dollar Brain (at 45:40)

See also the Rational Wikipedia article on "Whataboutism."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Amazonian manipulations

        I want to share with y'all the text of a five-star Amazon reader's review of Mike Bara's latest book Ancient Aliens and Secret Societies. The title is "More good stuff from Bara" and I'm reprinting it here and now because I think Amazon will take it down very soon—perhaps before this day is out. The text is this:
I'm a big fan of Mike Bara's books and his knowledge of the machinations of NASA and the secret space program is extensive. If you want to read about what NASA doesn't want you to know, then this is a good place to start, as are all of his books. Lots of good history here concerning the groups that now make up NASA. Are the secret space programs—and NASA—run by elements of various ancient secret societies? Bara says so!
        So why do I think Amazon will take this generous review down? Because its author is none other than David Hatcher Childress, owner of Adventures Unlimited and the publisher of this book. Perhaps if Childress had come clean and identified himself as having an obvious conflict of interest, this subterfuge might have been acceptable, but as things are it surely violates Amazon guidelines—not to mention most people's standards of decent human behavior.

        Quite apart from the conflict of interest, Childress shows appalling ignorance in writing "Lots of good history here concerning the groups that now make up NASA" (emphasis added.) The three "secret societies" Bara claims were the foundation of NASA were Nazis, Occultists, and Freemasons. Wernher Von Braun retired from the agency in 1972, and Kurt Debus —the last of the "Paperclip" Nazis—retired in 1974.The only occultist who ever had anything to do with NASA was Jack Parsons, who died in 1952 at the tender age of 37. So the Nazis and occultists have been gone for 41 and 63 years respectively, and there's no evidence that their private beliefs had any influence on NASA policy anyway.

        That leaves the Freemasons, and no doubt there are some masons in NASA management as there probably are in most large American organizations. But to allege that NASA is run by that group is preposterous.

        The fact that a book publisher has stooped to writing a 5* review of one of his own products signals to me that sales are very, very slow. Neither Childress nor Bara is going to be retiring on the strength of this one.

Update 29 June
It's finally been taken down.

Don't know about this book? See my point-by-point review.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Gary Posner posts 1990-1 recordings of Hoagland boasting

        Gary Posner, M.D. is the author of one of the most comprehensive reviews of Richard Hoagland's efforts at self-promotion available. Under the title "The Face Behind the "Face" on Mars: A Skeptical Look at Richard C. Hoagland" the two-part essay covers "The Face" as well as Hoagland's exaggerated claims to have lectured to packed auditoria at NASA, to have personally designed the plaque on Pioneer 10, and to have been the first to suggest life on Europa.

        What special knowledge did Posner have that enabled him to write this somewhat devastating piece? In 1990 he was the founder of Tampa Bay Skeptics, and editor of its newsletter. He writes:
"At that time, Hoagland was serving as Science Advisor to the For The People radio program, which was based in Cedar Key, Florida, and broadcast daily across the United States on the Sun Radio Network (and worldwide via shortwave). Hosted by Chuck Harder, this "overheated radio talk show"... was devoted partly to useful consumer-oriented advice, and partly to conspiracy and fringe-science themes such as UFOs, suppressed cancer cures, and perpetual energy machines. I began taping some of the broadcasts, saving and cataloging the most preposterous comments (winding up with nearly five hours of priceless "Greatest Hits" snippets, many involving Hoagland), and writing about them in TBS Report."
        Now, in June 2015, Posner has dug out his old tapes and put them on the web. They come in ten parts and Posner has provided a synopsis. Hoagland's monster ego is fully on display, as he rants about Carl Sagan taking credit for his own work, grossly exaggerates his dealings with NASA, and brags about a miniseries he's producing for PBS called Hoagland's Mars -- which, guess what, is then canceled. Here's part of the synopsis on that topic, from tape 8:
Jan. 2 1991: 19:46: Hoagland on the "distorted" reediting of Hoagland's Mars to make him look "deluded." Considering legal action.
26:35: Harder thinks NASA is doing this because they weren't the ones who made these fabulous discoveries about the artifacts on Mars and "their egos prevent them" from giving due credit to Hoagland.
27:14: Hoagland suggests that a Congressional inquiry about all this is in order. Asks listeners to write to NASA and Congress.
        Chuck Harder himself ended up disillusioned with Hoagland. In a letter to Gary Posner, he writes "Mr. Richard Perez of Home Power magazine has filled Mr. Hoagland's shoes as Mr. Hoagland became more and more demanding, wanted money, and wanted to dictate program content." Why are we not surprised by that?

        The audio quality is poor in spots—some of these clips were recorded from shortwave—but they are pure gold. Thank you, Dr Posner.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

RECAP: Richard Hoagland's appalling mathematical blunder

        Today I'd like to remind my readers of the dreadful mathematical blunder that Hoagland point-blank refused to discuss with Howard Hughes on 2nd June. I covered this rigorously back on 25th August 2008, but this time I'm going to use a more narrative format. So here's an account of how badly Hoagland botched the rocket equation—but without the equation.

Altitude and velocity
        To achieve Earth orbit, you have to accomplish two separate tasks. First, you have to raise your satellite high enough that it's above the atmosphere. Secondly, you have to propel it horizontally fast enough that it's unable to fall back to Earth under the influence of gravity. The minimums are roughly 120 km and 7 km/sec respectively. Explorer 1, America's first satellite, did much better than the minimums. It went into orbit at an altitude of 357 km and a velocity of 8.215 km/sec. It achieved this with a four-stage rocket. The first stage, a liquid-fueled "stretched" version of the Redstone missile, took care of all of the altitude problem and a little bit of the horizontal velocity. Then, three separate solid-fueled stages took over the task of boosting Explorer to orbital speed.

        The interesting part, to Hoagland, was that the three upper stages over-performed. The overspeed was 0.197 km/sec (roughly 650 ft/sec in old money). Hoagland suspected that this was more of an over-performance than could be accounted for by variability of normal factors like rocket fuel performance and high-altitude winds. So he sat down to do some calculation.

        The "rocket equation" enables accurate calculation of the velocity contribution of a rocket stage (known as delta-V,) given knowledge of the power of the fuel (measured by what's called the specific impulse) and the mass of the rocket before and after the fuel has done its job. Hoagland's first mistake was that he did one single calculation grouping all three stages together, instead of figuring delta-V stage by stage then adding them up. You can't do that because your result will then ignore the very important point that rocket staging progressively drops off empty stages along the way. That's the whole point of it, really. His second mistake was that he failed to evaluate a logarithm which is at the heart of the equation. It's as if he didn't even notice it.

Howling error
        Well, obviously, he got entirely the wrong answer and it enabled him to state, quite incorrectly, that the velocity excess was more than could be accounted for by those conventional uncertainties I mentioned. He said it was 17%, but the real answer is 4.2%. What that means is that Hoagland's proposition that Wernher Von Braun had "an anti-gravity secret" is pathetically, irretrievably, wrong. Back in 2012, when he was still contributing to his Facebook, he actually acknowledged that his math was faulty but claimed that it didn't matter because the velocity excess was still more than could easily be explained. That, of course, is a lie. And what is truly reprehensible, for someone who has claimed to be a scientist, is that he has never amended the "Von Braun's Secret" web page. Today, it's still as wrong as when he first wrote it in August 2008.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Another failed prediction from Robert Morningstar

James Concannon writes...

        On 22nd May, some loony using the name Ditrianum Media predicted a monster 9.8-magnitude earthquake in California.note 1 The prediction was associated with a weird type of alignment of Venus and Mercury, occurring on 28th May. Ditrianum Media's youtubery (since taken down in shame) showed that the extension of a line joining those two planets passed between Earth and Moon on that date, and this "upsets the gravitation of the Moon" [sic].

        Although there's not the slightest whisper of truth or credibility in that ridiculous analysis, the "civilian intelligence analyst" Robert Morningstar — who never lets lack of truth or credibility stand in the way of an alarmist announcement — posted a link to the video on his Farcebook page. To be fair, he did not endorse Ditrianum Media's exact prediction but he did assert that the planetary alignment would cause unusual seismic activity within a window 48 hours either side of 22:00 UTC on the 28th.

        Nothing happened on the 28th, but by sheer luck two substantial quakes hit the fault line south of Japan on the 30th. The Richter magnitudes were 7.8 and 6.2 and they just squeaked in before Morningstar's window closed.

snapshot from USGS database 31 May, filtered for 7 days, mag 4.5+

Morningstar posted this on the evening of 30th May:
"Note that The Western Rim of the Ring of Fire is rocking and rolling, and "A-Ringinh like a BIG bell" with a cascade of EQs arching over the Bering Straights into Alaska.
I expect this "arching" of the Ring of Fire to continue in the coming hours to descend on the Eastern side of the Ring, with a cascade of EQs that will move down Pacific Coast from Alaska and the Yukon toward BC, the Northwest of the US and down to Northern California."
        He also added some gobbledegook about "planetary gravitational entanglement" which he never got around to explaining. There's no such thing, as far as I can tell. However, for a while things seemed to be going a little bit his way. Three quakes, magnitudes 5.8, 5.5 and 5.9 struck the Juan de Fuca ridge off Oregon on 1st June (they were so close to each other that they look like one single event on the map.)

snapshot from USGS database 1 June, filtered for 7 days, mag 4.5+

        However, that's when the progression of seismicity came to a screeching halt. The filtered USGS snapshot today looks no different from what it looked like on 1st June. Since a week has elapsed since AM*'s prediction, and since he wrote "in the coming hours," I'm confidently declaring it a FAIL. Even if Los Angeles fell over tomorrow, that would not rescue this falsehood.

        Note that the intelligence analyst was similarly embarrassed by a prediction in April 2014.

[1] A little googling reveals that the loony's name is Frank Hoogerbeets. See this article from a woo-woo website for more deets, including a totally spurious claim that Nostradamus made the same prediction

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Richard Hoagland's incredible arrogance

        Richard Hoagland made a surprise appearance on Howard Hughes' The Unexplained web-radio show yesterday. I say "surprise" because he didn't promote it at all. Nothing on his Foolbook pagenote 1(last updated May 2012), his twitter feed (taken over by his homeopathist woman) or even the awful Enterprisemission website (last updated six months or so ago.) In other words, his PR is non-existent these days. If I hadn't come across a reference to it on Coastgab I'd have missed this supreme example of arrogance.

        Hughes had obviously been getting e-mails from people urging him to get a little tougher with the Hoagland propaganda machine. Make him answer some of the many, many criticisms that have been flung at him (and not just on this blog, by any means.) Hughes tried hard, but Hoagland was having none of it.

10:57 Hughes: (after a brief discussion of social propaganda) There would be those who would say -- and I'm going to say it to you now -- that this is a very good backdrop for people to spread lies, disinformation, or just pure misguided falsehood.
Hoagland: Comes with the territory. 
Hughes: Those things of course are things which...
Hoagland: ...trolls and disinformers are spreading all manner of lies against those people that are trying to buck the tide, trying to actually... you know, sound a clarion call about truth, and standing up for what you believe and what you can verify in evidence, and the scientific process in the area that I have chosen. Yeah, we have quite a few enemies. And they're the same tired list. A lot of them are very nicely paid, so their job, 24/7, is to make sure that whatever ideas we put out, whatever papers we publish, whatever discussions we enter into in public media, are denigrated at every turn.
Hughes: OK, well I want to get into this quickly. You know what I'm going to say to you now. I get a lot of e-mails about you...
Hoagland: Who cares?
Hughes: A lot of good e-mails about you...
Hoagland: Look, it is one o'clock AM my time in Albuquerque. It is 8 o'clock -- 8:15 actually --  your time.  You know, I'm doing this because I care about your show, I care about your audience. I'm not going to waste time answering stupid ridiculous ask... accusations from known trolls. Trolls who have in the past tried to actually bribe me. Out of sedition and subterfuge.
Hughes: All right, I want to ask you....
Hoagland: provide them data, and did not have the guts to tell me that they wanted to subject it to independent test. They  actually went through this whole incredible chicanery to get access to information that we published freely on the Enterprise website.note 2  These people have no character. They are certainly not any people that I would... would possibly want to answer to because they're not in the conversation. They are deliberate disinformation artists designed to submerge the truth. So let's move on to the substantive issues in the limited time we have.
Hughes: All right, let's do that, but let me just address one thing if I may, and then we move on, in 30 seconds.
Hoagland: I will not answer any of these stupid accusations. None, zero.
Hughes: All right, I tried. The person e-mailed me and asked me to make a point to you about Explorer 1 and what you said about Explorer 1,note 3 and how that may have been based on incorrect assumptions...
Hoagland: You're trying to do it anyway.
Hughes: Well, I'm trying to do it anyway because that's... that's my job, I'm a broadcaster...
Hoagland: It is a stupid, pointless discussion.
        Well, Mr. Hoagland may consider the discussion pointless, but I think there's every reason to discuss his failure to address what is unquestionably a gross mathematical error. He calls himself a scientist, he concedes that the error exists, but fails to correct it for five years and refuses to discuss the point. Shameful.

        At that point Hughes gave up and moved on, although some people might think he should have just put the phone down. So it was on to the usual performance. Comet 67P is an abandoned space station, Ceres is artificial, even Pluto may be found to be a spaceship when New Horizons arrives next month. On comet 67P, with wonderful imagery still coming in from the ESA's Rosetta mission, he insisted that the science involved was merely a front, a cover story. "Science can be done in an afternoon," he declared, revealing his gob-smacking ignorance of the realities. The real mission, he insisted, is learning about the extraterrestrials who used to live there. At this, Hughes had another valiant attempt to divert the conversation into some semblance of logic:

26:25 Hughes: If there was a secret agenda behind this mission, with all of these nations involved, does it strike you as strange or interesting in any way that so far, nobody has broken ranks and actually spoken about the real purpose of this mission?
Hoagland: Well, what would happen to them if they did? If they didn't have the evidence?
Hughes: People do disappear don't they?
Hoagland: I'm not thinking that, I'm talking about just professionally. They would be completely ostracized from all the other folks. They would be cut off from access to any more data, the good data. They would not be able to publish, they wouldn't have a job, because the job comes from one of the European governments or the private contractors who are getting their money from one of the European governments as part of this consortium called ESA, the European Space Agency. So they'd basically be reduced to driving a cab. Who in their right mind if the game is rigged, and even if they wound up on... on... you know, some... let's say the BBC. Who the hell would believe them if they were one voice in a chorus saying "You're nuts. You've cracked. You obviously have lost it, you need to go to a nice home. You know, take off for a few years."
        That would be good advice for Richard Hoagland himself right now. He came across as a case of senile dementia, frankly.

        There's one other event to watch for in July, other than the Pluto encounter. Promise of a total redesign of Hoagland's Geocities-style website. Wonderful, if it ever happens.

[1] He actually has two FB pages. Nothing on the other one, either.

[2] I assume he's referring here to this brilliant high-risk gambit from Irene Gardner three years ago. It is not true that all the information was available on enterprisemission -- he published no baselines and no controls, and without those the data is useless. It is not true that Irene didn't "have the guts" to say that she wanted to subject the data to independent test. She specifically said that was the whole point.

[3] Here he's definitely referring to this. Although Explorer 1 is a hobby-horse I've ridden around a bit, here and elsewhere, it was not I who urged Howard Hughes to press that point.