Exposing PseudoAstronomy

August 23, 2012

Where Is the Lunar Ziggurat, Anyway?


This is I guess part 1 of what will be at least a three part reply to the five-part series that Mike has posted tonight. His posts are very long and so I’m unlikely to go into as many details as the nearly line-by-line of my first response to him. I also hope he’ll be kind enough to grant me a few days to respond before calling me further names – he took a week, after all – but we’ll see.

This post is specifically in response to his fourth post in the series in which he claims that the location of the ziggurat is something that I’ve missed entirely. There are of course plenty of names that he calls me in the process, which is also interesting considering that on his radio appearance tonight he’s accused me of lying about him, writing nasty comments, and putting attacks out.

I think if anyone has examined what I’ve written about this subject versus what Mike has, they’ll be able to see who actually does the writing of nasty comments, attacks, etc.

There are also numerous side-points made in Mike’s post that I think are side issues and not really worth dedicating time to mentioning. Suffice to say, you can read it if you really want to.

Anyway, the subject at hand: The crux of his “part 4” is that Mike claimed I “missed” the location of the ziggurat by somewhere around one half to one mile, putting it outside of the LROC NAC frame I’ve been linking to. Since Mike doesn’t believe any digital space agency images these days anyway, I’m not sure why he chose to harp on this (well, likely because he thinks it makes me look stupid and “shows his [Stuart’s] incompetence”), but we’ll go with it. He also says that this means all the detail regions of other images I’ve shown are showing the wrong place.

He mentioned this at least three times, and Mike claimed the actual location is 174.24°E, -8.90°N, and he did this by lining up a few craters.

As Mike has posted images directly from my blog during this “discussion,” I’ll link to one of his:

Mike's Ziggurat Location

Mike’s Ziggurat Location (click to enlarge)

Where’s the Ziggurat

I was sent this a few days ago by someone I know who prefers to go by the pseudonym “GoneToPlaid.” In it, he goes through what I think is a pretty good analysis, matching up not four, but 25 different points to show where the ziggurat location would be if it were real.

Here’s the series, and you can click on any of them for a larger version. The only issue I have with this is that his final footprint (the fourth image) just is the “lit” part of the alleged ziggurat and does not show the extent of the NE and NW “walls.”

AS11-38-5564 and M149377797 Ziggurat Location, A

AS11-38-5564 and M149377797 Ziggurat Location, part A

AS11-38-5564 and M149377797 Ziggurat Location, B

AS11-38-5564 and M149377797 Ziggurat Location, part B

AS11-38-5564 and M149377797 Ziggurat Location, C

AS11-38-5564 and M149377797 Ziggurat Location, part C

AS11-38-5564 and M149377797 Ziggurat Location, D

AS11-38-5564 and M149377797 Ziggurat Location, part D

And, here’s the image with the alleged ziggurat so you can compare and see that we’re talking about the same region in the Apollo AS11-38-5564 region.

Original Lunar Ziggurat Image from Call of Duty Zombies Forum

Original Lunar Ziggurat Image from Call of Duty Zombies Forum

Mike of course makes my point then, since this is where his ziggurat is: “What he [Stuart] points to as the “feature” is … simply a hill and a crater next to (“behind”) it. … It’s obvious from comparing the LROC map on the web page he links to that we he thinks is the Ziggurat – or what he asserts to his “fans” is the Ziggurat – is actually just an “X” shaped feature some small distance away.”

Since that IS the location of the feature, Bara has really made my point: What I pointed it is a natural feature. Ergo, since what I pointed to is where his ziggurat is, and his location is wrong, the ziggurat is not a real feature.

Final Thoughts on This Issue

I had done my own analysis originally, way back in July, to find the location. That’s how I found the location in lat/lon. I had matched up about a dozen craters to do so. I happen to post GoneToPlaid’s versions above because I think he shows an excellent job in a good, easy-to-see presentation style.

Mike is showing four points that are incorrectly linked up to the overhead non-oblique shots in this case, and he has a few others in other places on his blog post. His craters are actually correct in his “Missed it by that Much” image on the above-linked blog post, but it is not in the next image.

I’m surprised that this is actually an issue, though perhaps I shouldn’t’ve been. Anyway, as is now I hope very clear, my initial placement of the ziggurat region was correct, Mike’s location is clearly not.

This doesn’t prove/disprove the ziggurat at all, but it does show more incorrect image analysis.

One could ask at this point why I keep talking about this. In fact, some have, on both sides of the “issue.” The reasons are several, and you can read much more on my thoughts on this in the comments section of this post, starting with Tara’s post.

But to briefly summarize, with every post I have made on the topic, I’ve tried to address this from a critical thinking standpoint as well as show how you can go searching for information on your own and figure out what’s going on. There are also numerous misconceptions floating around throughout this and they’re common, and they don’t just apply to this tiny, insignificant “issue.” For example, in this post I showed you how you can go do your own independent analysis to figure out where an image is on the lunar grid. Maybe that’ll be useful in Jeopardy some day.

Almost everything I’ve talked about is applicable to a much broader array of things, and also, I think, this process is important to show how to investigate claims. And, since every scientist has to be able to convince their own colleagues of their results, explicitly being able to “get all your ducks in a row” is an ongoing learning experience for my own career.

In terms of “What’s the Harm?”, in this kind of stuff, there really isn’t too much specifically. You can believe whatever you want. If you want to believe there’s a ziggurat in some location on the moon built by ancient aliens or whatever, fine, I really, honestly don’t care. I had never heard of the “Brookings Institute report” before I listened to Coast to Coast and heard Hoagland talk about it, and I can almost guarantee you that the vast majority of astronomers have never heard of it, either. But more on that in (probably) part 3.

But, when you then spend money on this kind of stuff, such as the people who gave money to send Richard Hoagland to test hyperdimensional physics stuff in Egypt during the Venus transit but then he didn’t go and hasn’t published anything on it, well, I see that as harm. Yes, it was those peoples’ money and they can do what they want with it, but if they made the choice to send Richard $100 instead of buying groceries for a week (as one message going around has claimed, though I don’t know if it’s real or not), that’s a problem.

Part 2 to come …



  1. Stuart.
    Mike Bara just posted ” The Daedalus Ziggurat – Rubutting Dr Stuart Robbins specious science” in five parts. It is both a tedious & piteous attempt at establishing “there is something there”. I am probably as “ignorant” as the rest of the debunkers but I`m not seeing anything. During previous conversations on Expat`s blog & Facebook, I candidly admitted I had no expertise whatsoever in maths & physics, but I do field anthropology & archeology, & again, from my own perspective “there is nothing there”. I guess I am also part of the conspiracy of silence…(but trust me,I`d love to discover exo-archeological artifacts).

    Comment by Tara Jordan — August 24, 2012 @ 12:25 am | Reply

    • Yup, he did, but I’m going to bed now. This post was a response to his Part 4, and I just also finished reading his Part 1. There’s nothing really to talk about in Part 1 except what I just added a few minutes ago to the previous post on how scientists get funded (see the last section of it). I’ll look through his other parts tomorrow.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 24, 2012 @ 12:28 am | Reply

      • For some reason, he’s now removed Part 4 from his blog.

        Comment by Trekker — August 24, 2012 @ 11:54 am

      • He could be trying to re-order parts 4 and 5. But, regardless, I have them all saved. I do that so people can’t claim I’ve misquoted them.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 24, 2012 @ 11:57 am

      • He’s changed the URL.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 24, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

      • I am ok with the idea that people might want to prove or dismiss the evidences of artificial structures in outer space, what I find pathetic is the incapacity to admit when they are wrong.Obviously there is no Ziggurat, but I`m not surprised with Bara`s reaction, this is not about empiricism or scientific endeavor, but about business

        Comment by Tara Jordan — August 24, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

    • You’re right, Tara. I’ve taken a look through Mike’s excruciatingly badly laid-out blog (font too small – page too wide for monitor), and even though he makes much of his ‘correct’ location, there’s still nothing there. Stuart has nothing to worry about.

      Comment by Trekker — August 24, 2012 @ 6:57 am | Reply

      • Indeed Mike Bara doesn’t have a chance, especially when he tries to make things out of thin air. I still consider there are legitimate & very interesting geological formations that need to be investigated (on Mars),but science has the answers. It is very unlikely that New age authors have anything to bring to the table. So far,ufologists & “alternative researchers” contributions have been abysmal,confusing & ridiculous

        Comment by Tara Jordan — August 24, 2012 @ 10:12 am

    • “Rubutting” – lol! How he expects anyone to take him seriously with that sort of carelessness, I don’t know….and that’s quite apart from the adolescent stupidity of continually referring to Stuart as “Stuart (PS4NASA)”. That might have raised a chuckle the first time, but to use it over and over again is idiotic, quickly becomes tiresome, and does nothing to enhance his credibility

      Comment by Trekker — August 24, 2012 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

  2. there is definately harm in believing in crazy stuff , sure it is your constitutional right to believe and say whatever you want , but if you care about people and society in general it is worth it to put some work in and do what you can to clear away nonsense whenever possible , it makes the world a better place . good work stuart thank you!

    Comment by Walter Walkie — August 24, 2012 @ 1:52 am | Reply

  3. Let us not forget the resurgence of one of Mike’s key pieces of “evidence,” namely that the NASA image has pixels with 0 brightness value, and that the only way that can occur is if one “paintbrushes” them in. It couldn’t possibly be that the source image or even raw scan has far more dynamic range than is capable of being stored in an 8-bit container.

    Then he makes the leap from “it must have been paintbrushed over” to “therefore this image I found on a website is the original.” Even his followers can’t be that stupid, right?

    Comment by James — August 24, 2012 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

    • I’ll be covering that in the next post (I think). 1800 words already written on noise, dynamic range, and detail/clarity/resolution/pixel scale. But now I’m going to record the podcast that needs to come out today.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 24, 2012 @ 5:26 pm | Reply

      • Perhaps add some info on noise reduction algorithms (eg the native photoshop tool Mike is evidently fond of), and how they affect detail (e.g. why they are used liberally in fashion photography).

        Comment by James — August 24, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

      • Thanks, I had actually forgot to put that in the draft, though I likely would’ve remembered when re-reading Mike’s post. Actually, I’m not sure of the exact algorithm that Photoshop uses. A simple Google search didn’t reveal it. The simplest codes are a median combining/smoothing or sigma-rejection. I don’t suppose you know off-hand what PS uses by default?

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 24, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

  4. Unable to reply to a reply to a reply. Sorry, no I don’t. I assume it’s proprietary.

    Comment by James — August 24, 2012 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

    • It’s a WP quirk. You can hit reply to the previous one that you could reply to.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — August 24, 2012 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  5. Thanks for keeping on this. As you say, the “what’s the harm?” meter on the Ziggurat is pretty low (though non-zero), but it a perfect illustration of a dubious but testable claim being made, and evidence of said claim being explored. It’s a great case study in skepticism. Though I can’t decide if Bara’s histrionic cognitivie-diss-o-thon is entertaining or just said. I suspect more than anything, it’s just financial.

    Comment by porlob — August 24, 2012 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

  6. Found an interesting reference on the Skeptic’s Dictionary website, in a book review from 1996. I was reading the review, then ran across a paragraph that made me immediately think of the ongoing disagreement between Dr. Robbins and Mr. Bara.


    Start at the paragraph that begins, “It is not an accident…”

    It was interesting to see that skeptics, even in 1996, were fully aware of the awful tactics used by true believers in defending their faiths.

    Comment by Rick K. — August 27, 2012 @ 9:03 am | Reply

  7. Bara and Hoagland seem to be cut from the same cloth. They appear to be either self-deluding, and / or pathological liars for profit. I don’t see any other reasons for perpetuating this ridiculous waste of time (and I’d love it if there were some clear, irrefutable photos of what they are claiming).

    Comment by Alex — September 25, 2012 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

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