Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Point-by-point critique of Mike Bara's HIDDEN AGENDA

The full title of this book is Hidden Agenda: NASA and the Secret Space Program, and it's really awful. An embarrassment.

        I think I can guess how this book came about. David Hatcher Childress called Mike Bara up back in March, saying "Well Mike, your last two books sold like shit, but if you want to have another go this year, I'll publish it." So Mike, having no special idea for a book, just looked through stuff he's written before, checked what the hot topics du jour were on ATS, and said "Sure, I'll cobble something together."

        So here we have a real potboiler, and a slim one at that (192 pp., cf. 266 for last year's book.) As far as I know there's nothing original here at all--Bara merely plundered his own archives and those of other people (notably his former co-author Richard Hoagland.) It's what Chris Lawrence (a regular commenter here) calls "Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V scholarship."

        David Childress, the publisher, has been marginally less stingy than usual on this one. He didn't pay the $750-odd it would have cost to make an index, but he stumped up for an 8-page color signature, and he presumably shelled out a bit for copy editing. I only counted five keyboard errors in the whole book, and we know Mike Bara averages way more than that. The chapter header on every page of chapter 7 is incorrect--oops. It's a dead giveaway that the book was composed on Microsoft Word™, whose section header controls are notoriously slippery.

So here goes with 14 specific points:

1. pp. 24-27. Vimanas. This meme is so well-known in woo-woo circles that it's the name of an arcade game released in 1991 ("Taking place in an unnamed solar system, a devastating war overtakes an inhabited alien planet.... bla bla bla".) It's an article of faith for UFO loonies to believe Vimanas were advanced flying machines developed in ancient India, but they are almost certainly mythological, designed to inspire awe but having no reality (why am I thinking of Deepak Chopra and yogic flying?) Almost half the text on these four pages is Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V from internet sources like wikipedia. No sign of anything that might be called a Secret Space Program (SSP) yet.

2. p.85. The EM Drive. In the intervening pages we've scampered through Roswell, the Nazi Bell and Majestic-12, plus other standard UFO topics. There's nothing specifically to criticize here-- Bara is simply treading well-worn paths, and there's still no SSP. Bara writes of the EM Drive that "the results were astounding" when tests were done at the Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xi'an, China. Very funny. These results have now been shown to be experimental error. As Stuart Robbins of Exposing Pseudoastronomy pointed out in July 2015, the largest measured thrust (in the micro-newton range) was from the control experiment. I blogged about this a year ago, and here's a sensible article about it. Here's another one.

Bara writes that superconduction could theoretically increase thrust by a factor of 1,000, but that has not been shown. Interest in the EM Drive has already tapered off, and I expect it to go to zero pretty soon. And by the way, since there's nothing secret about this device, I feel entitled to ask WTF it's doing in this book.

3. pp. 87-89 Explorer 1. These pages are Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V from Bara's own work, as he repeats his catastrophically faulty analysis of the orbit of America's first satellite. The planned orbit was 220 x 1000 miles, and the actual orbit was 225 x 1594 miles. A layman might say "That's a 60% higher orbit than expected," and that's just what Bara, a layman in this science, does say. He writes "I can't emphasize how impossible this is" (missing word there, I believe.) But it's not impossible if the calculation is done right. The 60% excess just applies to the apogee measured from the surface of the Earth. And that's not a very useful factor in assessing the energy in the orbit. That can only be done by comparing the planned vs. actual semi-major axis of the entire orbit. When done like that, with the diameter of the planet included, the answer is 4868 miles actual, 4571 planned; an excess of 6.5%. You only have to look at a diagram to see immediately that +60% is a major, major error.

 credit: Enterprise mission

This is what a 60% larger orbit would look like:

Three more points on this topic. a) Bara rejects all conventional explanations for the excess, insisting that it can only be an anti-gravity effect induced by the rotation of the rocket's upper stages. But Bara himself has the answer to this enigma without realizing it. He writes (p.93) that the reason the upper stages were rotated was "because it had a cluster assembly of solid rocket boosters which had a tendency to fire unevenly." Quite right--those little Baby Sergeant military rockets (15 in all) did indeed have unreliable thrust, and that's all the explanation you need for a 6.5% increase in energy.

b) What Bara fails to realize is that, by the time those solids fired, the stack was traveling horizontally, so anti-gravity effects would not be too much help.

c) Bara writes (p.88) "At the time, there were only three stations in the worldwide satellite tracking network." Not true. The Microlock network had five stations, and the Spheredrop network had five more. The stations were at Antigua, Earthquake Valley (near San Diego), Florida, Ibadan, Singapore, China Lake, Temple City, White Sands, Cedar Rapids and Huntsville.

4. pp.91-2 Luna, Pioneer, Ranger. On these pages Bara Ctrl-C's material from p.30 of his book Ancient Aliens on the Moon. He's fretting about the failure of early attempts to send spacecraft to the Moon. The Soviets went first with Luna 1, missing by 3,725 miles. Then came the DARPAnote 1 project Pioneer 4, missing by over 37,000 miles. NASA's Ranger 3 missed by 23,000 miles. Ranger 4 scored a hit but with dead systems. Bara ascribes all this failure to the fact that these spacecraft were either spin-stabilized or had spinning gyroscopes stabilizing them, and to his layman's mind spin induces surplus speed, accounting for the errors. But, as I wrote in September 2012, Luna 1's problem was an admitted mission management error, and in any case 3,725 miles is just 1.5% of the distance traveled. Pioneer 4 was never designed to impact the Moon-- it was a flyby, carrying a lunar radiation environment experiment. Rangers 3 & 5 suffered a whole series of booster malfunctions which were well understood before NASA launched Rangers 6 & 7 successfully.

What made me LOL was Bara writing (p.91) "Shooting the Moon ... should have been like shooting fish in a barrel. All you have to do is boost the probe into orbit, and then fire the thruster on a trajectory to the spot you know the Moon is going to be in two days." Those two sentences serve to emphasize what a total dilettante Bara is on this topic.

He writes that Wernher Von Braun "must have" figured out that rotation was the problem, and made allowances for it. Elsewhere he has written that Von Braun "sneaked" an additional term into the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation without anyone noticing. That got another LOL, or even a LMFAO. Now we're very close to half way through this book and still no sign of a SSP.

5. p.95 Well, lookee here--rumors of a SSP at last. Bara speculates that by the time NASA was created in 1958, the Russians had perfected anti-gravity technology for spaceflight. He thinks--without citing any evidence whatever--that Kennedy and Von Braun came to a crisis decision. "Rather than develop their own anti-gravity propulsion systems, the quicker solution is to simply go to the Moon, where they will likely find abandoned "Anunnaki" technology, and reverse engineer it."  You gotta love that "simply" there, don'cha? So the Secret Space Program was just a layer of the very unsecret Project Apollo, according to Bara, and this is exactly what he said on Jimmy Church's Fade to Black podcast last June. The only part of the story we lack is EVIDENCE.

6. p.105. Bara writes here of Kennedy's May 1961 We Choose to Go to the Moon speech. He's confusing two different speeches here. May 1961 was the date of Kennedy's "I believe this nation should commit itself..." speech in Congress. "We Choose to Go to the Moon" was delivered at Rice University on 12 September 1962.

7. pp.110-115 Project Horizon.  In my opinion, Project Horizon is a swing and a miss at a SSP. Yes, true, it was a US Army outpost on the Moon, proposed in 1959, to cost $7 billion and be home to 12 personnel by December 1966. Yes, it was canceled before any components were even built. But secret? For how long? The illustrations in Bara's own book make it obvious that before it was half built every amateur astronomer on Earth would be saying "Er...excuse me.. what's THAT THING?"

Bara writes (p.115) "I see no reason why these plans couldn't have been carried out behind the scenes, in parallel with the public NASA space program." You couldn't, eh Mike? How about the 61 Saturn I and 88 Saturn II launches it would have taken to get the job done? Think they could have been secret too? Don't those rocket thingies make a lot of... you know, NOISE?

8. pp. 115-126 Apollo 12.  Now, 60% into the book, we're getting to the nitty gritty at last. Mike Bara alleges that whereas Apollo 11 was purely ceremonial, Apollo 12 was the start of the real seekrit effort to go get the Anunnaki technology. He's about 25% right. Apollo 11 was largely ceremonial, and Apollo 12 had as part of its mission the retrieval of technology. But the technology was ours to begin with--part of the soft-lander Surveyor 3 which had successfully touched down in Oceanus Procellarum in April 1967. Mike Bara offers us not even the ghost of a piece of evidence that alien technology was collected or even contemplated. Instead  he gives us a cock-and-bull story. According to him, the accidental misuse of the color TV camera, shutting it down for the whole of both EVAs, was not an accident but deliberately contrived to avoid showing us plain evidence of alien ruins on the horizon. Well, this is really ridiculous. Quite apart from the hundreds of high-quality 70mm stills that the Apollo 12 astronauts shot, we have the following pseudo-evidence from Bara's former co-author Richard Hoagland. In promoting the book they wrote together, Dark Mission, Hoagland created a web page with some come-ons he thought would make punters buy the book. Among them was this picture, which he said showed Alan Bean deploying the ALSEP experiments on Apollo 12 with a backdrop of... you guessed it, alien ruins!!

Actually of course, those splotches in the sky (which also appear in the astronaut's shadow) are the result of Hoagland's photoshopping efforts with the brightness and curves controls. For comparison, here's an unmanipulated version of that image.

So here we have, on the one hand, Mike Bara telling us that Al Bean was so determined that we should not see what he was seeing that he deliberately ruined a vital piece of equipment, and on the other hand, Richard Hoagland (and Bara must have known about this too) showing us that Al Bean's fellow astronaut, Pete Conrad, was not at all shy about showing us the alien ruins. Both these propositions cannot be true, can they? Actually, neither of them is true. Apollo 12 was a supremely successful lunar mission that brought back only what it said it did, and there are no alien ruins at that site or anywhere else on the Moon.

9. p.117. Crystal towers? Bara here writeth: "I believe the Moon, especially the front side, is mostly covered by towering crystalline, glass-like structures which acted as a makeshift meteor shield for the various alien basses [sic, one of the five keyboard errors] operating on the surface below." By way of illustration, he adds an image, and here it is:

Know the only problem with that image? It's upside down. The original is a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter oblique shot showing landslides down the rim of Marius crater, in Oceanus Procellarum. Take a look. 

This can only be deliberate deception, and as a reader of what's listed as a non-fiction book I don't take kindly to it. David Hatcher Childress, please take note. And by the way, if that's what Mike Bara really thinks the front side of the Moon is like he can't have spent much time studying the thousands of images we now have at a resolution of 0.8 metres/pixel. This error is truly awful.

10. p.123 The "secret radio channel." Bara writes that the Apollo astronauts, while on the Moon, had the ability to talk privately to Mission Control. He writes "One way is to use the bio-medical telemetry feed, which had duplex capability and could be used for private voice communication." Totally untrue. There never was any secret channel. The more mundane truth is that they could arrange to talk to the flight surgeon and/or their families without those conversations being released to the media. But they were conducted over the exact same S-Band link as all the other chit-chat. Mike Bara told the same story on Ancient Aliens S11E11, Space Station Moon. It's just wrong.

11. p.145 Technology transfer. Bara writes that fiber optics, lasers, integrated circuits and transistors were all technologies captured from the Roswell aliens. He believes this because he Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V'd it from Philip Corso's book The Day After Roswell. He writes that these technologies were "far beyond the industrial capacity of the United States at that time." Of those technologies, only the transistor saw any kind of breakthrough development in the second half of the 1940s, and that was undoubtedly due to William Shockley's patient work rather than any alien secrets. Fiber optics was not far beyond anyone in 1947--the technology was known but not mature. It took the idea of doping with titanium to make optical fibers really useful, and that didn't happen until 1970.

12. Chapter 7, pp.145-160. The header of this chapter is "The Whistleblowers," and as I started it, I was getting ready to roll my eyes at Ken Johnston's outrageous claims about NASA tampering with original negative film. In fact, Bara's heros are even worse. They include Bob Dean, who claims that certain of our celebrities are genetically modified Anunnakis. They include--incredibly--Bob Lazar, whose story is so utterly ridiculous that even the wackiest of the ATS crowd won't swallow it. Bara believes (p.155) that there are gigantic secret orbiting space platforms staffed by military officers. His evidence is from Youtube.

13. Chapter 8, pp.161-177. Just when I thought this insanity could get no worse, Bara came at me with an entire chapter on Project Serpo. Serpo was the mother of all space hoaxes, dreamed up by an author as publicity for his new book. It's so excruciating that I can't bear to write it up--readers are directed to the Rational Wikipedia article.

14. p.174 John Glenn. In this blog, February 2012, I had a good laugh at Richard Hoagland for totally misunderstanding John Glenn's guest appearance on the TV comedy show "Frasier" (March 2001.) On the show, Glenn agreed to go along with a joke which had him sitting down in a radio studio and blurting out a spoof confession about seeing aliens in space. The producers provided a laugh track just in case anybody thought Glenn's "confession" was real. Here's the sequence, see for yourselves, folks. Well, guess what? Here in this book Mike Bara totally falls for it, missing the joke. What's worse, he has the goddam nerve to call John Glenn a liar for having denied that same story in public. I nearly shredded this book in disgust. David Hatcher Childress, please take another note: Readers do not take kindly to whipper-snappers like University dropout Mike Bara insulting our foremost national hero. Decorated combat pilot, first American in orbit, oldest man to fly in space (STS-95), Senator for Ohio 1974-1999, Chair of the Senate Committee for Governmental Affairs 1987-1995, candidate for US Vice president 1976. On behalf of Senator Glenn, FUCK YOU, MIKE BARA.

[1] Bara wrote DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.) Actually Pioneers 3 & 4 were joint projects of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (Von Braun's outfit at the Redstone Arsenal, later MSFC) and JPL under the direction of NASA. It's noteworthy that these space probes were launched by Juno II, a rocket stack virtually identical to the one that launched Explorer 1. Although not a perfect performer, Juno II had 4 successes out of 10 launches.


Trekker said...

I found the 'crystalline structures' on the LRO ActReact map. This view corresponds with the tips of the landslide in the close-up image on your link. In different lighting, they naturally look very un-crystalline looking!


expat said...

Thanks, trekker, but that link only shows me the full lunar disk. Could you try again please? I'd like to see those features.

jourget said...

Great write up, Expat. Just a couple of irritatingly pedantic points:

In your point 4, there's another Mike Bara error (Barror?) that you don't mention: all of the Rangers were three-axis stabilized, not spun. So any supposed anti-gravity effect wouldn't have applied anyway. Also, even though the booster difficulties were resolved, Ranger 6 still failed due to electrostatic discharge frying the television system on liftoff. Maybe you just meant it was launched successfully, without a booster issue; sorry if I misunderstood.

Also, in point 6 JFK's Rice University speech was on September 12 of 1962, not 1961.

Finally, it's pronounced PEDant, not PEEDant.

Dee said...

Mike "vulture culture" Bara seems to have trouble picking any flesh in his own closet stacked with bleak carcasses from a more hopeful past. And somehow there's still a book being published. The true audacity does surprise me and would almost tempt me to credit something to "will" or "faith" involved to reanimate the dead. But even that is possibly too kind.

As for this: "Actually of course, those splotches in the sky (which also appear in the astronaut's shadow) are the result of Hoagland's photo-shopping efforts with the brightness and curves controls".

I'd add that this is also a very testable falsification. Take any uncorrected photo or scanner image involving CCD sensors and play with those frequency curve controls in any photo editing software. The same structures will always pop up in varying patterns (eg: CCD bias: pixel-to-pixel variation in zero-point). Did Hoagland ever thought of testing all his scanned images for these structures in dark patches? Note that there are ways to minimize this noise during processing by professional image editors or scan operators.

Hoagland re-measuring his own mental noise while Bare re-publishing his own inner barf. Truly, some endless loop of recycled woo. And there is also no end to it: a near perfect psycho-pumped closed-loop system has been created. Too bad for them that it's not turning lead in gold anymore.

Trekker said...

Oops, sorry! Forgot to post the direct link! Here it is:


expat said...

Jourget: Thanks a lot for your impeccable corrections. I over-trimmed my text in the interest of brevity, but it's corrected now. Ranger 6 was a success in these terms because it actually hit the bloody Moon. Bara maintains that the only reason Ranger 4 hit was because, being dead, its gyros weren't spinning.

I've also corrected the date of "....not because they are easy but because they are HAAAAAAD." Thanks again.

Trekker: Very nice, thanks. Bara should have his author license yanked for using that pic upside down.

Chris said...

Place your bets - did he deliberately turn it upside down and laugh at his stupid readers, knowing that his deception would never be found out by his typical reader? Or is he genuinely so staggeringly stupid? My money's on the former.

expat said...

The former seems a cert if you understand that this was discussed on the original "Dark Mission" blog, 9 Nov 2009. Part of the archive is still readable.

Trekker said...

Did none of those commenters on that archive even think of looking for the LRO image to see the original for themselves?

Hoagland even posts it on his website (but seemingly doesn't realize he links to an image which explains exactly what it is)!


Scroll down to the hyperlinked words 'stunning new official images' and it takes you directly to the NASA page where it clearly states that the image shows a landslide!

expat said...

Priceless. Good research, trekker.

Chris said...

Trekker: nice find - so we have Hoagland posting an upside down image then linking to the NASA page showing them the right way up and explaining them as landslides. Then we have Bara lifting the Hoagland image and using it dishonestly in his book. This is *literally* Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V stuff! What a bunch of con-artists!

I notice Hoagland was called out 7 years ago on this


Binaryspellbook said...

Good review me ole mucker.

It looks like Mikey is running on empty. Absolutely nothing original. Then again, has he ever written anything original? It looks like he's written the same book at least 4 fucking times. Vimanas, Annunaki, Apollo, Roswell, Von Braun, Explorer I, JFK, alien ruins, and all the rest of the copy/paste shite he's been peddling for years.

I would really love to have access to the book sales figures. Is there any way we could at least get a ballpark estimate on how many books he has sold? I'm thinking he makes more cash doing the woo-circuit than from book sales. Just a guess.

expat said...

Publishers Weekly has book sales figures but you need to subscribe, and I doubt they'd even have data on a crap publisher like Adventures Unlimited.