Exposing PseudoAstronomy

September 21, 2013

Podcast Episode 87: Colorado Flood Special: Conspiracy Edition

Colorado floods,
When the going gets tough, the
Conspiracists flock.

This episode is unlike any other that I’ve done. It’s a personal account of the Colorado flooding that happened in the past week and how I watched conspiracies start up around me due to different information provided at different times.

Since I just got power back a few days ago and am behind on various things, ONLY the main segment is in this episode. The next episode (puzzler ideas?) will be about Richard Hoagland’s claim (and others’ claim) that Mars’ moon Phobos is actually hollow. I’m going to be in Yellowstone National Park during October 1 (for a full week, around Oct. 1), so the next episode will either be out a few days early or a few days late.


  1. I’m very excited that you will be touching on Hoagland’s claims about a hollow Phobos… Obviously his apparent idea of it being a spacecraft, which I recall he stated explicitly, is nvts. I’m interested in what your more scientific take is on the actual facts re: Phobos.

    Comment by Julian Janssen — September 21, 2013 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  2. Just listened to the podcast, glad you were OK and that none of the conspiracy believers tried to shoot at the ‘stormtroopers’ when they arrived. I’m looking forward to the Phobos episode, I seem to rember Sagan claiming Phobos was a spaceship in “The Cosmic Connection”.

    As for Truthers, my greatest pleasure is asking the Australian Truthers what happened on the 9th of November 2001 (09/11/01) since ‘Down Under’ we put the day before the month…

    Comment by Graham — September 22, 2013 @ 12:18 am | Reply

  3. Hi! Long time listener here, and I thought this was an excellent show, very insightful of the mindset of people. I couldn’t keep but wondering about how much this is an ‘American’ reaction to the situation. Here in peaceful Holland, especially the ‘taking away our guns’ issue is of course not even relevant, but overall I don’t think the level of distrust of the government goes as deep as your examples.
    Anyway, thanks for episode and good luck over there!

    Comment by Willem-Jan — September 22, 2013 @ 2:06 am | Reply

  4. The whole “strap on my gun, it is the rescue people” thing is scary. Personally — having adverse reactions to high speed lead — I would not volunteer to assist in some areas of the country. The loon/sane ratio is just too high.

    Comment by Johan™ Strandberg — September 22, 2013 @ 9:04 am | Reply

    • Yeah, it’s unfortunate.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — September 22, 2013 @ 9:24 am | Reply

  5. It wasn’t The Cosmic Connection in which Carl Sagan said Phobos might be a spaceship — it was Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966) co-authored with I.S. Schklovskii. It was based on a surprisingly low estimate of the moon’s mass. That in turn was based on an estimate of the rate at which Phobos’s orbit was declining. By 1969 better data eliminated the idea. The orbit decline, and hence the mass, were both revised.

    Comment by Expat — September 22, 2013 @ 9:19 am | Reply

    • Thanks for making that correction. It’s been a long time since I read either book.

      One wonders how Hoagland is going to react to the latest photos from Mercury…


      Comment by Graham — September 22, 2013 @ 5:55 pm | Reply

      • I expect he won’t. Or, if he does, he’ll claim that people put it out there to make people less interested in things that look like other things -> his stuff and cast further doubt and disinformation.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — October 5, 2013 @ 8:40 am

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience. I have had many similar encounters arguing with conspiracists; and at one time, it was just me against three regarding 9/11…overwhelming. My tactic now is to ask them for a comprehensive coherent alternative explanation to the predominantly accepted explanation. And it’s fun to add that we must question that the sky is blue because it’s the official story.

    Comment by Torsten Pihl — September 23, 2013 @ 11:46 am | Reply

  7. Well done. You knocked it out of the park.

    Comment by Karl — September 24, 2013 @ 5:29 am | Reply

  8. I prepared a go-bag in the event I need to evacuate my condo building. Fire, another ice storm takes out the power, etc. You never know when you might have to leave, even make your way on foot across a city and arrange a place where a friend/gf/relative who has power can pick you up. The bag contains food, water, food, rain gear, candles, flashlights, batteries for a cell phone recharger, a colored tarp if I have to spend time waiting around on soggy ground, etc. In researching what to put in a go bag (I would have never thought, say, to put a bunch of quarters to make pay phone calls), I found a lot of youtube videos of guys who devote all kinds of attention to guns and ammo to pack.

    It made me wonder. In any disaster you or I are likely to encounter in our life times, when did someone ever say “thank goodness I had a gun!” Your neighbors didn’t invade your house. Mobs did not come to higher ground to seize your food and UPS devices. You banded together. You even banded together with people you wouldn’t even want to be in a room with for five minutes. You had a freezer cook out party. The neighbors all banding together to fix bridges and roads. You cranked up a generator and letting neighbors power devices, When there was the massive black out here a few years ago, or the ice storm that took down the grid in Montreal, or even massive snow storms in NYC, people’s better nature comes out. People help strangers. People share what food they have. To wit, in any disaster, having an extra bottle of water, a granola bar, battery power to let someone charge a phone, these things will buy you good will and mutual safety. More so than letting everyone know you have a .45 strapped to your belt and, well, don’t fuck with me.

    Comment by Karl — September 24, 2013 @ 5:51 am | Reply

  9. Glad that everything turned out ok. As for the conspiracy on evacuations, these people are obviously unaware of many many times people have died in floods, fires and earthquakes because they couldn’t or wouldn’t evacuate. Sad…

    Comment by Flip — September 27, 2013 @ 2:54 am | Reply

  10. I’m a little late to the party Stuart but I really liked this podcast. Glad you and your people are ok. It’s a sad side effect of the internet this obsession with conspiracy. Remember back when THEY hid technology like the internet… so WE couldn’t learn the truth about how much THEY are really screwing with stuff? hmmmm maybe they hid the internet so we couldn’t find logical minded podcasts like this one? whatever… back to my GMO pizza rolls and coast to coast.

    Comment by ziznak — October 9, 2013 @ 1:53 am | Reply

    • Careful with those pizza rolls. Remember, contents may be hot.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — October 9, 2013 @ 11:56 am | Reply

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