Exposing PseudoAstronomy

August 29, 2012

Final Words on the Lunar Ziggurat? Pareidolia, Language, and Conspiracy


Introduction

I’ve now written nearly a dozen posts and 19.5k words (notice I don’t claim 20,000, even though Mike did when he wrote 17,650) on this lunar ziggurat “issue:”

The purpose of this post is to wrap up a few loose ends and return to the beginning, where this started. So there are four sections to this post, then a summary of where we are and why I don’t think there’s much more to be said (though I may revise that thought) on this.

Pareidolia

To quote from Mike’s part 5 of 5 posts on this:

“The actual truth is that there is no such thing as “Pareidolia.” It’s just a phony academic sounding word the debunkers made up to fool people into thinking there is scholarly weight behind the concept. It’s actually a complete sham. … The word was actually first coined by a douchebag debunker (is that my first “douchebag” in this piece?! I must be getting soft) named Steven Goldstein in a 1994 issue of Skeptical Inquirer. Since then, every major debunker from Oberg to “Dr. Phil” has fallen back on it, but it is still a load of B.S. There is no such thing.”

First, let’s get this out of the way: I never claimed that the ziggurat image is pareidolia. It’s clearly not. The question for the ziggurat is whether someone superposed a terrestrial ziggurat on a lunar photograph.

As far as I can tell, Mike’s etymology of the word is correct — he may have used the same resource I did, and I can’t find any previous references. (Updated per comments: Actually, the term goes back at least to the mid-1800s. From an 1867 journal: “… or, there is necessary an external and individual object very nearly corresponding in character to the false perception, whose objective stimulus blends with the deficient subjective stimulus, and forms a single complete impression. This last is called by Dr. Kahlbaum, changing hallucination, partial hallucination, perception of secondary images, or pareidolia. Those manifestations which have been hitherto termed illusions, are only in very small proportion actual delusions of the senses (partial hallucinations). For the most part they are pure delusions of the judgement, while a few are false judgments, founded on imperfect perception, or deceptions produced in the peripheral organs of sense and in external conditions.”)

Regardless, claiming that there is no such thing is about at the level of Mike’s claiming that centrifugal force makes you heavier, an annular eclipse is when the moon is closer than normal to Earth, you measure the major and minor axes of an ellipse from two arbitrary points within it, and dark matter denial (stay tuned for a podcast on that last one at some point).

Whether it has a word or not, it is a real phenomenon. The Rorschach ink blot test was created to make use of pareidolia. People make pilgrimages to distant places because they think Jesus or Mary is visible within the knot of a tree or an oil spot on a building window. And that’s just visual pareidolia.

The whole “EVP” (electronic voice phenomenon) is an example of audio pareidolia where you think you hear something in random noise. Skeptoid had a good episode on this, #105.

I’m really not sure why Mike decided to introduce such a blatant falsehood about human perception when it’s not even relevant to the ziggurat stuff.

Language

Another loose end is language. I’ve commented on this before, but it bears some repeating. Mike’s language throughout this was originally pure insults, and when he realized I have a Ph.D., it turned into mocking conspiracy (see next section for more on that). Mine has been remarkably restrained (in my never humble opinion). I’ve refrained from direct insults except in my initial analysis, in which I said my opinion was that Richard was either lying that he had spent weeks studying the image, or that he was incompetent in that image analysis. As far as I can tell, those are the only direct insults, and they’re relatively minor at that.

Contrast that with, say, Mike’s entire Part 1 blog post on this stuff.

The only real progress we’ve made over the last month is that he’s stopped calling me a hater.

Mike also stated that I feel the need to brand him a “heretic,” which is a term I have never used nor implied. I found that particularly humorous because just this past week, Skeptoid addressed that very issue — the need of pseudoscientists to claim that they are being branded as heretics. To quote from Brian Dunning’s transcript:

“It’s noteworthy that the term “heretic” is only ever used by dogmatic authorities. For example, the Catholic church used it during the Inquisition. I’ve never heard a working scientist call anyone a heretic in reference to their scientific work; instead, they simply point out that they’re wrong and why. But promoters of pseudoscience want to be called heretics, because that would make the scientific mainstream into a dogmatic authority. Whenever you run into a lone researcher who’s outside the mainstream and claims to have been labeled a heretic, you have very good reason to be skeptical.” (emphasis his)

That’s really all I have to say on this aspect, but I thought it important, yet again, to point out.

Another thing about language, though. Mike has claimed to “destroy” my arguments and to provide absolute proof that the ziggurat is real. I, on the other hand, have never used such black-and-white terminology. My position has always been that it is my opinion, based on the available evidence, and based on my analysis that I’ve now gone through at great length, that the ziggurat is more likely to be fake than real.

You might think I’m pointing out semantics, but they’re important semantics. Scientists will rarely speak in terms of absolutes except in rare cases (for example, I’ve made declarative statements of facts about noise in images). When stating their position, it is almost always couched in “the evidence shows [this]” or “based on a preponderance of the evidence.” That’s because science is always open to revision, always open to being shown that previous conclusions were wrong based on new evidence brought to light.

And then there are the declarative statements of the pseudoscientists. There’s also, oftentimes, a failure to admit when they’ve made mistakes, even obvious, trivial ones that don’t really matter for their main arguments. I’ve pointed out many that Mike has made that don’t really impact his argument (and I’ve pointed out many he’s made that do impact his argument), but he’s never back-tracked on any of them.

Nor, as an aside, has he backtracked from any of the mistakes he made in his book, “The Choice.” For example, on August 12, someone wrote on his Facebook page: “Mike likes to say in his defence “I never said that, you are trying to get me to defend things I never said.” Well Mike, you DID say on page 32 of “The Choice” that centrifugal force makes us heavier. So you DID actually say that, and it’s simply completely wrong.”

Mike followed that up immediately with, “Show me the quote asshole. It doesn’t say that. And it was a misprint anyway.” Interesting how something isn’t there but that it was a misprint at the same time that it’s not there being wrong. And just last night, he’s now claiming that his book had two minor misprints, 10 words out of 50,000. Anyway, we’re getting somewhat off-topic, so if you’re at all interested in the many more than two basic, fundamental mistakes in “The Choice,” I’ll direct you to this post.

Fear and Conspiracy

Mike has claimed that it is fear (and money) that has driven me to write about this subject. Fear that my worldview will be turned upside-down, that I’m afraid of aliens or what alien artifacts would imply, that the Brookings Report is my Bible (you know, THE report, as opposed to all the other reports that think-tank has released over the decades), etc.

I know that regardless of what I say he won’t be convinced otherwise, but I’ll say it again anyway: It’s not true. As I have written innumerable times on this blog, the whole reason for doing science is to make new discoveries and overturn paradigms (and this is a real plug post for Skeptoid ’cause Dunning addressed this in the latest episode 324, too).

Let’s do a little test: Raise your hand if you recognize the name Albert Einstein. Now raise your other hand if you recognize the name Francis Everitt. For those who don’t have both hands raised, Everitt is the principle investigator of the Gravity Probe B mission that was a test of some of Einstein’s theories. He’s not a household name because he has upheld a paradigm; Einstein is a household name because he created it. ‘Nough said.

Which brings us to the conspiracy and likely why this will be my last post on this subject. After all this discussion, we’re really, in sum and substance, back at the beginning because almost all evidence that I have brought forth is simply dismissed as either apparently wrong (which I’ve explained is incorrect or likely incorrect) or it’s apparently not trustworthy because it’s all a conspiracy.

Mike claims that I lack honesty, and then he corrected himself on the radio and used the term “intellectual honesty.” Meanwhile, Mike has stated at least twice that he baited me with blog posts to do his work for him in finding other images of the location. And then he both dismissed them as part of the conspiracy while also saying that I had the location wrong, which I showed again was not the case. Lying about one’s reason for something and then dismissing it anyway when it shows what you don’t like … and then accusing me of intellectual dishonesty? Seriously?

I had taken more notes of stuff to say at this point, but after writing the above, I really don’t think any more needs to be said. It won’t convince anyone who believes what Mike says, and the people who don’t believe Mike are already convinced and know roughly what else I was going to say, anyway.

Real Quick – The Ziggy Location, Again

I think this bears repeating. Mike claims that I missed the location of the ziggurat.

Here’s my evidence that it’s where I claim it is, courtesy of “GoneToPlaid:”

AS11-38-5564 and M149377797 Ziggurat Location, D

AS11-38-5564 and M149377797 Ziggurat Location, D

Here’s Mike’s:

Location of Ziggurat According to Mike Bara

Location of Ziggurat According to Mike Bara

And here’s Mike’s with the actual, correct craters matched up:

Location of Ziggurat According to Mike Bara

Location of Ziggurat According to Mike Bara

As you can see, it’s fairly clear that Mike got his craters wrong, misjudging the scale and relative positions. He might be better off in the future paying attention to what the planetary geophysicist who actually studies craters says.

Where We Are Now

The question I asked a few posts ago was: What would it take to falsify your belief? Mike has not directly answered that. He’s also pointed out that he doesn’t give (a few swear words) what I think nor about my challenges. Which is then interesting that he spent so much time on responding.

I laid out three primary categories of reasons that I think it’s fake. Mike’s responses to each can be summarized by the indented, bulleted text below each.

1. Why there is less noise in the NASA original but more noise in Mike’s, and why is there more contrast (more pure black and more saturated highlights) in Mike’s? Both of these pretty much always indicate that the one with more noise and more contrast is a later generation … you can’t just Photoshop in more detail like that.

  • Mike spent a lot of time changing his definition of noise and going through a few misconceptions about it, but in the end, he claims that the noise in his version is texture from a poorly stored photo in an album that was later scanned, hence it’s an earlier generation because it’s from an old print. There is no evidence for this other than what he has interpreted as texture, and I argue that the more likely explanation is that it’s a late-generation copy.
  • Mike claims that there is more contrast in the NASA version because the black shadows are pure black (greyscale 0) while the shadows in his version are between ~18 and 31, so show a range. I argue that the range is due to noise, that the dynamic range of his version is roughly half the NASA version, and that the dynamic range within the bright areas is less in his version, thus supporting my statement that there’s more contrast in his version.
  • Mike misinterpreted my statement about Photoshopping in detail thinking I meant details like craters. The point still stands that once you have a saturated pixel, you cannot bring the information back without assumptions and then modeling what you think it should be.

2. Why other images of the same place taken by several different craft (including non-NASA ones), including images at almost 100x the original resolution of the Apollo photo, don’t show the feature.

  • One claim Mike made is that I missed the location of the ziggurat. I have shown that I did not.
  • He also claims that he does not believe any of the current NASA images nor those from the SELENE (Japanese) mission, nor much of anything else except the old Apollo images, and even then, only some of them such as the one that shows what – at first glance to most normal people – appears on its face to be fake. He clearly stated that if the Chinese images don’t show anything there, it’s because they’ve been pressured to not release them or they’re part of the conspiracy or some such thing.
  • He’s brought in other Apollo photographs of the region taken from orbit and when none showed a convincing feature, he stated that they were airbrushed out. Except for one of them, which to me, looks even less like a pareidolia-ized ziggurat than the first (though Mike doesn’t believe in pareidolia … see above).

3. Why the shadowed parts of his ziggurat are lit up when they’re in shadow, on top of a hill, and not facing anything that should reflect light at them?

  • Much of Mike’s response was that scattered light will brightly light any shadowed region, and he has seen hundreds of examples of this.
  • This is something I have stated – that scattered light can illuminate some things, faintly, but not to the effect it allegedly had on the ziggurat:
  • What he showed were mainly examples of scattered and refracted light within the optics of the camera itself rather than on the surface. One of his examples did have some stuff in shadow that was very, very faintly lit by scattered light.
  • To have the ziggurat shadowed part lit by scattered light would require an incredibly reflective surface that somehow withstood [insert time length] years of asteroid impacts to still reflect all the light that’s scattered onto it from a very small crater wall. I suppose this in itself is not impossible, but it strains credulity, especially when taken with all the other very unlikely things needed to be true for this to be real.

I could go through a timeline of stuff, too, but I don’t think that’s really worth getting into. The string of posts at the beginning shows it pretty well, I think.

So that’s where we are. Neither of us are going to convince the other, of course. I’ve stated for awhile now that this would end in one of probably three ways, in order of increasing likelihood:

  1. Mike would admit it’s likely a fake. (near-0% chance)
  2. Mike would just start to ignore it and move on with his other stuff.
  3. Mike would say that any evidence or explanation I bring forward is wrong or that he can dismiss it because it’s part of the conspiracy. After all, he already claims I’m bought and paid for so nothing I say can be trusted (Mike – how much do you make from promoting your ideas?). (near-100% chance)

Final Thoughts?

Clearly, Option #3 was always the most likely and it is primarily what he’s gone with. Which really gets me back to ¿why are we going through this whole thing, anyway?

I cannot read minds, though I often wish I could, but my guess is that Mike feels the need to defend this considering that he’s put so much effort into it and made it a centerpiece of his book due out in October. It also fits entirely within and reinforces the worldview that he sells (literally). He’s also said he really doesn’t care WHAT my analysis shows nor opinions are, so in that sense, I’m not sure why he’s decided to continue writing so much on it even after Richard Hoagland suggested he not.

I’ve continued on with this in part because I’m stubborn, but also because I’ve been learning and teaching as I’ve been going. In terms of the former, I’ve learned how to obtain and process the SELENE images, how to be more precise, how to create videos, and techniques to bolster my claims. That will help me not just in this kind of education and public outreach work, but also in my career. For example, I’m headed to a conference in Flagstaff, AZ (USA) next month on cratering and I’ll be giving two presentations. My work is going to be challenged. If I can’t defend it, then it falls and I’m back to square one.

In terms of the latter, I’ve tried to gear each blog post on this not just towards the boring “debunking” stuff, but to illustrate to everyone who’s reading how to do their own investigations into this stuff and NOT to take my word for things, and also about how certain things are done and stuff works. For example, I’ve gone into great depth now in a few posts AND two podcasts on image processing and about images in general, such as dynamic range, noise, geometric correction, and how some basic filters work. In an age where nearly everyone who has internet (and so is reading this) has a digital camera, this is useful information to have, and I’ll likely refer back to it in future posts on many disparate topics.

But, by this point, I think the impasse is more obvious than ever. I acknowledge that some of Mike’s ideas are possible (i.e., the poorly stored print idea), but in my opinion they are unlikely – and many unlikely things would ALL need to be true for this – when compared with the null hypothesis: The ziggurat is a hoax by someone. Mike has not admitted to being wrong even when he’s contradicted himself, and pretty much every argument I’ve made that he hasn’t attempted to show is wrong has been relegated to a conspiracy. Nothing I say is going to change his mind on that, though that was pretty much known from the beginning.

I think it is probably time for a graceful exit on this issue by both parties. Mike’s explained his position, I’ve explained mine, and you, the reader, are encouraged to do your own investigation and make up your own mind. If you decide the conspiracy is accurate, and you like the way Mike argues by primarily flinging insults, them more power to you because you’ve made The Choice, go buy Mike’s books, spend money to hear him talk, and have fun.

 

Oh, and P.S., this should not be construed as a concession post by any stretch of the imagination.

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31 Comments »

  1. As always, Stuart, very well considered and expressed. As I have said previously, you are engaged in an intellectual debate with an empty box. Yet, as you have acknowledged, Mike will not give up nor will his followers. I am OK with this – but I DO wish he would just ‘agree to disagree’ and clam up. Somehow I don’t see this happening.

    If Mike displayed the least bit of competence in the areas of science and engeerning that he professes, it all would be a lot more interesting. (Mike claims ’25 years’ of ‘engineering consulting and design.’ I cannot help but wonder for whom? Disney?)

    However, I will cede Mike one very limited point. Centrifugal force can increase weight. In the large human centrifuges that the military use to teach fighter pilots to deal with high g forces. But that’s ’bout the only one I know (except for a carnival ride) – and it hardly applies to this argument.

    Comment by JayB — August 29, 2012 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

    • The context of his statement was the opposite: p.32 “Without the Moon’s calming influence, the Earth would spin so fast that the centrifugal force would most likely flatten us all like pancakes.”

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 30, 2012 @ 2:17 am | Reply

    • heft

      Comment by Autymn D. C. — August 31, 2012 @ 5:26 pm | Reply

  2. Google’s Ngram utility shows the use of the word “Pareidolia” in published books going back to 1960, and before that for a brief period around 1930-1940. It doesn’t provide any way to access the books containing the term that I know of.

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Pareidolia&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    Wikipedia’s references section for “Pareidolia” has a few pre-1994 citations.

    Comment by Professor Pious — August 29, 2012 @ 9:30 pm | Reply

    • Very cool, I didn’t know about that. From an 1868 reference: “… or, there is necessary an external and individual object very nearly corresponding in character to the false perception, whose objective stimulus blends with the deficient subjective stimulus, and forms a single complete impression. This last is called by Dr. Hahlbaum, changing hallucination, partial hallucination, perception of secondary images, or pareidolia. Those manifestations which have been hitherto termed illusions, are only in very small proportion actual delusions of the senses (partial hallucinations). For the most part they are pure delusions of the judgement, while a few are false judgments, founded on imperfect perception, or deceptions produced in the peripheral organs of sense and in external conditions.”

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 30, 2012 @ 2:12 am | Reply

    • It’s not in OED.

      Comment by Autymn D. C. — August 31, 2012 @ 5:28 pm | Reply

    • I bet my Jesustoast on “Pareidolia” being a real word and more importantly, a real phenomenon. (Dang, I jut spilled Rorschach ink all over my keyboard.)

      Comment by johanges — September 1, 2012 @ 2:27 pm | Reply

      • Looking at the actual page scan from the July 1867 issue Journal of Mental Science, Volume 13, page 238:

        “This last is called by Dr. Hahlbaum…”

        The name should be “Dr. Kahlbaum”

        (Yeah, it is from 1867, not 1868. The collected volume is from 1868, but the issue is from July 1867. Don’t give the Ziggurat illusionists an inch.)

        Image of page is at http://goo.gl/WStHc

        Comment by johanges — September 1, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

      • As to the phenomenon of Pareidolia itself, it is far older than 1867:

        Enter POLONIUS

        HAMLET: God bless you, sir.

        POLONIUS: My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.

        HAMLET: Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

        POLONIUS: By th’ mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.

        HAMLET: Methinks it is like a weasel.

        POLONIUS: It is backed like a weasel.

        HAMLET: Or like a whale.

        POLONIUS: Very like a whale.

        HAMLET: Or like a Ziggurat?

        POLONIUS: Huh?

        [Mostly] from Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2

        Comment by johanges — September 1, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

      • Ouch. Stuarts comment directly above has the wrong date and name, but the actual update in the post got it right on both counts. Sorry for trying to correct something Mr. Robbins got perfectly correct. I’m appropriately humbled.

        Comment by johanges — September 1, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

      • No, I just happened to update it while you were making your other comments.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — September 1, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

      • Credit to “The Inky Fool” for the inspiration for the Hamlet thing above. http://blog.inkyfool.com/2012/02/pareidolia.html

        Comment by johanges — September 1, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

  3. For the life of me I can’t see how Mike can deny pareidolia. I have been finding large bunnies in cumulus clouds for over 75 years.

    Comment by JayB — August 29, 2012 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

    • I, too, found it an odd thing to throw in there.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 30, 2012 @ 2:15 am | Reply

      • It does seem weird given that you hadn’t made any claims (or indeed even mention) of it being Pareidolia – I wonder if someone else mentioned it on his facebook page and he just got confused.

        Comment by Kurious — August 30, 2012 @ 3:37 am

  4. Get a hold of Noory or Lisa Lion and offer to debate this on the air. Much hilarity will ensue, I doubt any minds will be changed but you can hone your realtime debate skills. Excellent analysis and a delightful podcast you have there Mr. Robbins. You could just literally follow the coasts all with a skeptical deconstruction, once Hoagland said something along the lines of “People said the space shuttle wasn’t perspicacious enough.” He’s a laugh a minute.

    Comment by AdamN — August 30, 2012 @ 5:57 am | Reply

    • I’ve discussed this a few times elsewhere, and while I’m more willing to get into real, live debates than some of the pros (Eugenie Scott, Steve Novella, Phil Plait), I agree with their position that any such debate needs to (a) serve a real purpose and (b) be highly constrained.

      For (a), the question is, what purpose would such a debate serve? If it’s just to argue with someone when you have no chance of “winning,” did the X number of hours you just spent really serve any purpose?

      For (b), debating someone like Hoagland, much like debating a creationist, in an open debate would almost certainly result in a “loss” for the science/skeptic side. That’s because, right off the bat, it’s not a fair debate. First all they have to do is make one statement in their worldview that takes 15 seconds, or is even just three words (e.g., “Face on Mars”), and it could take me then 15 minutes or more to explain my side. Meanwhile, the audience gets bored. Second, they are so much more familiar with their huge selection of arguments, whereas investigation of each on my part takes a long time, and there’s simply no way to prepare for all of them.

      So, any debate would need to have very strict guidelines, have a narrow topic list that I could look into and prepare for before-hand, and have a moderator that sticks to the rules laid out. I don’t trust ANY of the C2C hosts to do that other than, perhaps, Ian Punnett, who’s now only on once a month.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 30, 2012 @ 11:53 am | Reply

      • Good points all but my own thoughts were to both practice your debate style and get a hook into their audience. There are a huge number of people listening to that rot at any given time and I love it when they get hit in the mouth with objective reality. You’d be railroaded for sure and the silly audience poll at the end would give the debate “win” to the more wooish side of things, but on the plus side some portion of the audience might take an interest in what you have to say. To be brutally honest my own road to rational thought came about because of Seth Shostak wiping the floor with Friedman, I’m grateful beyond explanation for that. I only mostly agree on Punnett, he’s quite hostile if you’re an atheist. He pretty much hung up on Mike Shermer last year.

        Comment by Adam N. — August 30, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

      • Understood. It’s interesting that you mention the Friedman-Shostak “debate” — that’s still the main one cited by George, and he brings it up whenever Friedman is on, reminding him that he “overwhelmingly won” that “debate.” And that’s what I was thinking of in the back of my mind when writing my response.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 30, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

      • Whatever wacky things George and others might say about that specific debate now it did me a lot of good at the time. There’s potentially great things that can come from any single person who embraces reason and a more objective view of the universe. Who cares what the true believers continue to parrot back and forth? I might eventually accomplish something useful, so might anyone who gets the woo veil lifted.

        Comment by Adam N. — August 30, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

  5. Not the /whole/ EVP. Their quality matches anything one hears on elèctronic devices: phones, radios, tape. Some are partials of a few words; others are a whole statement; seldom there is a back-and-forth of two statements. Leave your umbrella at the door.

    pure := clean; -> sheer
    their -> one’s

    Comment by Autymn D. C. — August 31, 2012 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

  6. [...] Final Words on the Lunar Ziggurat? Pareidolia, Language, and Conspiracy Share this:EmailPrintFacebookTwitterMorePinterestTumblrStumbleUponRedditLinkedInDigg [...]

    Pingback by August 2012 – Science, Conspiracy and Skepticism in the news. | A Skeptics Guide To Conspiracy — September 1, 2012 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

  7. In the “Language” section above I think you touch upon a point almost as important as all the visual evidence presented. If you re-wrote Mikes initial claim substituting nonsense word from any factual contents, I think you still can tell objectively that this a crank claim. The language used reveals the fraud. (Oh, yeah, using Coast to Coast AM as the journal of publication is pretty damning too.) This is why, in the end, his kind are slightly less harmfull than the Hwang Woo-suk’s[1] of the world.

    No, I’m not claiming that the hoag^Hxers are harmless—far from it—but they can be categorized as frauds with a low P value before some poor grad student throws away a career trying to duplicate a fraudulent claim, or worse[2].

    The counter argument is that if the coasters of the world could destroy public support for Science, the effect will be greater. A strong proposition, but I would argue that the science-fraudsters like Hwang Woo-suk, Pons and Fleischmann, etc., laid the groundwork for the distrust that gets turned into money by Cost to Coast AM’s owners. After the coldfusion debacle in 1989-1990, the public (at least the American public) were less willing to believe scientists just because they said so.

    I think that this is roughly around this time that organizations like the Murdoch group and Clear Channel Communications realized that the hoaxers (who had always been there in abundance) could be turned into cold hard cash. And so we have FOX News, The Daily Mail, and Coast to Coast AM, to name just a few, who all monetize the science-is-fraud meme. The George Noorys and Richard C. Hoaglands of the world eek out a living, and humanity looses..

    I don’t have a clue as to how to turn it around. Stuart, Brian Dunning, James Randi et al. are on the right track. When somebody like Mr Murdoch figures out how to make money from them, we win.

    So much for my cheery thoughts of the day

    –j

    [1] South Korean researcher working on cloning and stem-cells, who was caught in a massive set of frauds in a series of revelations during 2004-2005.
    [2] Andrew Riley was killed at SRI in Menlo Park in 1992 while researching coldfusion.

    Comment by johanges — September 2, 2012 @ 6:44 am | Reply

  8. Mr. Bara won the insult battle, having used more in a few paragraphs than you used in all your posts combined. However, his “evidence” reminded me very much of Velikovsky’s mountains of data he provided to defend his books about Venus and its effects on Mars and Earth (as it made its way from Jupiter to its present orbit), the vast majority completely irrelevant to the disagreement and obviously an attempt to misdirect the discussion to other, more trivial matters.
    Mr. Bara seemed to be more posturing, with his attempts at misdirection and non-stop insults, than actually arguing his position. I think he’s happy for the notoriety, even if it’s an informed opponent. “Any publicity is GOOD publicity!” He will sell more of his books, especially his new one. At this point, any further attempts to engage him would be meaningless and only benefit him further.

    Comment by Rick K. — September 2, 2012 @ 10:43 pm | Reply

  9. Fun little story about finding pyramids with Google Earth. The story has been all over the place, but this link http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/2768-egyptian-pyramids-found-google-earth.html to Life’s Little Mysteries looks like one of the earliest.

    Memorable quote:

    “It seems that Angela Micol is one of the so-called ‘pyridiots’ who see pyramids everywhere,” said James Harrell, professor emeritus of archaeological geology at the University of Toledo and a leading expert on the archaeological geology of ancient Egypt. “Her Dimai and Abu Sidhum ‘pyramids’ are examples of natural rock formations that might be mistaken for archaeological features provided one is unburdened by any knowledge of archaeology or geology. In other words, her pyramids are just wishful thinking by an ignorant observer with an overactive imagination.”

    Does this remind you of anybody?

    –j

    Comment by Johan™ Strandberg — September 8, 2012 @ 6:42 pm | Reply

  10. Today I stumbled across some pretty convincing “face on mars” evidence from 2006… http://www.gocomics.com/brewsterrockit/2006/11/12

    Comment by Johan™ Strandberg — September 10, 2012 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  11. For what it is worth here is the other page hosting this image.

    http://www.holloworbs.com/Pyramids.htm

    Entitled ‘Pyramids’ the author claimed the pictures originated at a (defunct) site called kksamurai

    Comment by Graham — September 20, 2012 @ 4:02 am | Reply

  12. The ziggurat photo dates back to the late 90’s and was used or created by Terry James who went by the handle of kksamurai. I believe the following websites predates the gaming forum’s posting of the photograph. http://www.holloworbs.com/Pyramids.htm Google Terry James and kksamurai for additional information. I think this is just an old hoax retreaded and presented as a new “discovery.”

    Comment by trainedobserver — September 25, 2012 @ 7:44 am | Reply

    • I agree that it likely dates back quite a way, but is there evidence that it was kksamurai? His was the first that I could find, but all because it’s the first reference does not mean that it’s the origin.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — September 25, 2012 @ 11:40 am | Reply

  13. Yes this is the original kksamurai. My name is Terry James. Back in 1999 I received a number of fantastic lunar images. A NASA expert in lunar craters passed away and his son found these images in a brown envelope. He scanned them at 1200 dpi and sent them to me. It is amazing just how much data has been edited out of the same images that are available in the public archive. I also receivved some image numbers that are not available in the public archive. The ziggurat is there and there is so vey much more. Believe it or not it makes no difference to me. Kksamurai.com is not my website any longer, that person posts any of my old data he can find without my permission. But I don’t care to play the game any longer.

    Comment by kksamuai aka terry james — September 22, 2013 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  14. So the photo-prints were in a brown envelope, NOT mounted in an album? Bang goes another of Bara’s arguments.

    Comment by Expat — August 17, 2014 @ 8:13 am | Reply


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