Friday, November 20, 2015

This is the real danger of pseudoscience

        When people like me complain (here, here and here, for example) about that travesty of a TV series, Ancient Aliens (BullshitHistory Channel,) there's a strong tendency for the show's supporters to say "Oh, lighten up. It's just entertainment."

        Well, no longer. The Thingummyjig Channel has now extended its slimy tentacles into full-bore propaganda aimed at children in the 8-10 age range. The Young Investigator’s Guide to Ancient Aliens — a very smartly-produced large-format (22 x 28 cm) book — was published last 21 July (an interesting date for those of us who study the history of spaceflight) by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Macmillan. As I write, the hardback edition of this wretched thing is ranked #744 in Books > Children's books > Education & reference > History > Exploration & discovery by Amazon, and has as yet no reader reviews.

Update: James Oberg contributed a stinger later on the 20th.Don Davis added another a few days later.

       So it doesn't appear to be doing very well, but Jason Colavito, whose research I trust absolutely, writes today that:
"According to the Toronto Public Library’s website, they purchased an astonishing 31 copies of the book to ensure that 23 branches of the library had one or more copies on hand. WorldCat reports that 97 libraries currently stock the book in their children’s sections."
        To nobody's surprise, the book does not hold back for the sake of the kiddies, but recycles all the worst of the TV show's stunning lapses of logic and borderline racist interpretations of history, holding up dilettantes like Giorgio Tsoukalos and David Hatcher Childress as bona fide historians with a credible story to tell. It even feeds the young minds who read it with the fantasy that they might aspire to be "ancient alien theorists" when they grow up. Lawks-a-mercy.

        Well, speaking of 21 July, what made my blood boil was that this nauseating volume alleges that NASA is engaged in a conspiracy to hide the truth about aliens and that Neil Armstrong and other Apollo astronauts helped to cover up evidence of aliens on the moon. And you know which "ancient alien theorist" we have to thank for that barefaced lie, don't you. Step forward Mike Bara, world-renowned bullshit artist. I'm generally a law-abiding sort and a respecter of other people's property, but it might be an idea if we all go down to our local children's libraries and deface this piece of shit.

23 comments:

astroguy said...

Having worked in a library for several years during high school, defacing something does not do any "good" as a form of protest. The library will just order a new copy, and it requires several person-hours to document why, go through the purchase, and go through the processing of a new book.

You would do much better to contact the Childrens' Librarian at each branch and the main library to discuss the issue and to demonstrate why it's BS. You can also contact the branch manager. Each should have the ability to control childrens' books within their branch.

Anonymous said...

GOT YOUR "GEORGE NOORY FOR PRESIDENT!" BUMPER STICKER YET? PERSONALLY, I PREFER 'NOORY KNOWS NOTHING".

jim oberg said...

For folks new to this site who followed the link, here's my report explaining the silly origin and dishonest promulgation of the Apollo-11 secret alien sighting myth -- http://www.jamesoberg.com/apollo-11-white-spot-150415.pdf

Dee said...

JC: "WorldCat reports that 97 libraries currently stock the book in their children’s sections."

This is probably entirely inaccurate. Worldcat reports possession but often refers to the library's depot function. It's stored in the library or perhaps available through interlibrary loan but certainly not in some cute browsable "children section". It can be requested and viewed simply because it's published. This is no validation of content.

Even my own self-published, self-printed "garbage", a childhood sin, sits in Worldcat and is available in several libraries. It's meaningless, luckily, especially in the case of The Young Investigator’s Guide to Ancient Aliens.

Chris said...

I can't decide whether I'm more apalled or angry by the likes of bara foisting their own inadequacies onto children via this kind of book. Evidently children are great for sales whether they're alive or dead [1]

[1] http://mikebara.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/connecticut-school-shootings-generate.html

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with your opinion on "pseudo"-"science"....but be unbiased...and state that the same goes in many cases for "science"...that would truly be objective. Otherwise it would just be another rant in the same category. Playing up one side and downplaying the other side.....well that is just good old fashioned propaganda

Adrian.

expat said...

Thanks for the comment. I cannot agree with your perspective, which seems to be that there are two disciplines, science and pseudo-science, and both should have an equal chance in education.

The true story of Project Apollo is inspiring and heroic, told now many times over by some of its participants and authors such as Andrew Chaikin and Robert Zimmerman.

The notion that Apollo astronauts covered up an alien presence on the Moon is simply false. It's NOT TRUE. Giving this fiction "equal time" with the real truth is exactly what I'm objecting to.

Trekker said...

Anonymous - can you give some examples of the point you're making here, re science as propaganda? Where exactly would science need to be 'downplayed' to make it equal to the critique Expat has made of pseudo-science?

Anonymous said...

@Trekker
Sure I can...no problem, a few examples...: Global Cooling/Ozone Holes/Global Warming/Climate Change [in order of appearance since the 6ties and 7ties of the 20th century] - Eugenics [since the beginning of the 20th century and currently pushed by the Gates family and others] - Evolution Theory as being the sole explanation for origin and existence - Space and Weapons propaganda since these called Cold War in the 20th century - Genetic modification of food and products of the pharmaceutical industry
etc etc etc

So yes..there is a very good reason and/or reasons that it should be "downplayed" in the same logical and above all skeptical way. The few examples I gave where and/or are all political and/or economical driven wherein "science" is used to "sell the product".

Adrian

Anonymous said...

@expat

I do not mean that there are two disciplines, science and pseudo-science, and that they should have equal chance in education. What I do mean is that the same logic and above all skepticism should be applied to science as well...because...its the essence of scientific thought and analysis. If a he or she [or a whole bunch of them :-] with PHD, BS etc state, write, propagate etc in the name of science....does not automatically mean that is science as it should be. Oh and please don't retort with "that is why we have things like peer review and the lot to filter out the "bad apples"....you know as well as I do that this system is by no means a guarantee for objective skeptical science. So in essence there is only one science wherein all the criteria that makes it science should be applied always throughout the process. If this is corrupted even in the slightest manner....science erodes into opinions and motivations...for whatever reason [money/status/inflated ego/political/economical/social-engineering are definitely in the the top ten ]

Adrian

Anonymous said...

@trekker/expat

and just for the fun of it...a beautiful example that brings it all together in some way...
the misuse/propaganda of science...in this case from the medical/psychological/pharmaceutical corner.
Have you ever heard of a disease/disorder called oppositional defiance disorder ODD in short? Or Reactive attachment disorder RAD in short? Well, maybe you have...but did you also know that this so called science is used on people who are critical and skeptical [you know the two main factors in science ] They are arrested without any legal platform and whisked away to a loony farm. See Rutherford Institute for references and further reading

Adrian

expat said...

I couldn't find anything about ODD and RAD in connection with the Rutherford. Peripheral research indicates that these are pediatric diagnoses in cases of recalcitrant children. In what country can adults be arrested and incarcerated without trial for this?

Trekker said...

Sounds to me like an outpouring of unsubstantiated paranoia, to be honest.

expat said...

Comment disallowed from somebody (Mars Revealer, I suspect) posing as astroguy

Anonymous said...

@expat

"In what country can adults be arrested and incarcerated without trial for this?"
in the us of a. Being applied to veterans and others who challenge the status quo. J. Whitehead attorney.

Adrian

Anonymous said...

@trekker
"Sounds to me like an outpouring of unsubstantiated paranoia, to be honest"

That is not an argument but good old fashioned smear darling, really. So if you want to let your remark pass as an argument [for arguments sake :-] then my "counter argument" to your "argument" is....Sounds to me like an overload of cognitive dissonance to be fair.

Adrian

Captain Novvak said...

Patrick, you have admitted in an earlier thread, that you accede to science as democracy. That is, it's fine by you for a group of supposed scientists to attend a conference in a pleasant Tropical location, and vote on what half assed hypothesis has the best chance of ever becoming a testable theory with the likelihood to be proven true; the majority view becoming the accepted theory in lieu of the Scientific Method.

expat said...

Theadora: If by "Patrick" you mean me -- I don't think I would have endorsed the consideration of half-assed hypotheses. If people have to suffer the mosquitos and bad tap water of tropical locations, at least let their hypotheses be fully assed.

Captain Novvak said...

Nine out of ten such scientists prefer Mai-tais to bad tap water, where the smart choice is Gin and Quinine.

Strahlungs Amt said...

I get really scared at the number of young people today who believe the Moon Landings are fake and it's all a big cover up. I kid you not, at least half the people under 30 today think it's fake. What's worse is when I explain it to them I get the answer: Oh well that's just your opinion. It seems they are so used to hearing "Both Sides Of The Story" (TM) that they apply that thinking to everything. I was even told not to believe everything written in a science book.

They do know their Astrology though.

I can deal with people who disagree with me or who believe wrong stuff. It's the scientific ignorance I find most scary. Remember, these are the next generation who will be running the world.

expat said...

Don Davis points out that we're now half-way between Apollo and the time when nobody alive will have seen it with their own eyes. I think we can be sure that the problem you identify is only going to get worse.

Strahlungs Amt said...

Is this what he's referring to? Shift it 35-45 years and you will get the average age of the audience in 1969 (I was 6 at the time but I didn't understand what was going on).
https://xkcd.com/893/

When I say lack of scientific understanding, I don't mean no stars in the sky or the flag blowing, I mean they don't believe it because how could they have filmed Neil Armstrong getting out of the LEM before somebody got out first to mount the camera? When I explain that the camera was already attached to the outside they don't believe me. Also, how could they film the ascent module taking off if nobody was there to operate the camera since they didn't have radio control back then either? Again, when I explain it was Apollo 17 and the camera was on the moon buggy they still don't get it. Never mind that radio control was around since Tesla.

I give up on humanity.

I hope Bart Siebel isn't planning a big picture book for kids.

Anonymous said...

@fake

Nasa and their astro"naughties" gave moon rocks to more than 100 countries following lunar missions in 1969 and the 1970s. Years later it turned out by means of chemical analysis that a bunch of them were fake....So don't blame it on today's generation, even if their reasoning is somewhat flawed or unsubstantiated.

Adrian