Exposing PseudoAstronomy

February 1, 2015

Podcast Episode 125: The Black Hole Conspiracy

Black holes: Are these dense,
Massive objects for realz, or
Are they just Sci Fi?

This is a bit different from a straight-up old-school “debunking” episode where the emphasis is more on the process of science and process of elimination rather than solid, cannot-be-dismissed evidence for something. That’s because, by definition (we think), black holes cannot be directly observed. That’s why I use a part of a blog post by Mike Bara as a very rough outline to go through some of the theoretical reasons for why we think black holes exist and then some of the observational evidence from material interacting with the theoretical objects.

This episode continues the Logical Fallacies segment and introduces you to the Burden of Proof fallacy. Which is a tricky one. There are also some old stalwarts like Argument from incredulity, argument from ridicule, ad hominem, straw man, and argument from authority.

And, for the first time in what seems like a year, there’s Q&A!!!

I’m still doing my listening “research” for the Hale-Bopp episodes, which is looking like there’s so much material that I may turn it into a three-parter. We’ll see. Hard to say at this point. It’s slated to be the next episode, but I may have to postpone that if I haven’t finished listening in time, and I’ll do a different episode instead. I’m also trying to line up at least two future interviews, but given past experience, I’m loathe to announce them before they’re recorded.



  1. Mr @Robin Mmmmm,….I think it’s a good idea,if in your Free Time,you watch Instellar Movie 🙂

    Comment by perahucadik — February 2, 2015 @ 7:33 am | Reply

  2. Very nice — I’ll need to re-read it later, quantum physics at 7 am is a bit taxing. I worry slightly that you give Mike Bara too much credibility by treating him as though he were a physicist with controversial ideas, rather than an ignorant and bad-tempered jerk.

    Comment by expat — February 2, 2015 @ 8:29 am | Reply

    • I did that because I didn’t think it was necessary to start a fight over this. I think it’s pretty clear what my thoughts are regarding Mike’s claims for anyone who regularly listens to the podcast or reads my blog. I also had a few moments in the episode (such as when I discussed Mike’s lament about scientists who get paid to write papers) where it’s fairly clear what I think.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — February 2, 2015 @ 11:28 am | Reply

      • Yes, OK — the point about starting a fight is moot anyway, since Mike announced last Saturday on Coast to Coast AM that he now blocks all input from critics.

        Comment by expat — February 2, 2015 @ 12:27 pm

  3. I really, really enjoy your podcast, and this one was no exception. Not only do I get updated summaries of the state of the art of astronomy, but I also get a smart deconstruction of bad science and conspiracies.

    I did enjoy the logical fallacies segment and I hope you keep it. And now my mouth is watering for the next episode. Thank you, Stuart.,

    Comment by jayphailey — February 2, 2015 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

    • Thanks!

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — February 2, 2015 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  4. Interesting episode, though I’d never heard of Black Hole denial before. On the Hale-Bopp episode, if it has to go to three parts, do it. I’d love to know what happened to Chuck Shramek, the amateur astronomer, who saw something in a photograph and rather than call an astronomer to double check called Coast2Coast to claim he had a picture of an alien spacecraft. I visited the library and they did have back copies of Sky & Telescope. I think I’ve identified the articles I remembered in the August & September 1997 issues.

    Hopefully their photocopier will be working today.

    Comment by Graham — February 3, 2015 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, though I’ll repeat that it’s not necessary if it’s going to cost you. I, too, would be interested in knowing what happened to Chuck, the Man Who Started It All. But, I can’t find anything. 😦

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — February 3, 2015 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

      • If you check your email you will find a link to a file containing the articles and a letter to the editor from the July issue that you might find interesting.

        I am going to scan an article from the May ’97 issue of Sky & Telescope that looks into past fears about comets, that will be posted later in the week.

        Comment by Graham — February 4, 2015 @ 9:49 am

  5. Another article claiming that black holes don’t exist, this time due to what I think (I’m no expert) is quantized space-time:


    Comment by Graham — February 6, 2015 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

    • Yup. Tweeted about it before I took off from Houston.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — February 6, 2015 @ 7:24 pm | Reply

  6. Stuart,

    As usual, very good podcast.

    I’ve included a link to it from my blog as well as adding a few items I’ve addressed on some of the ‘GPS doesn’t use relativity’ claims.


    Comment by W.T. Bridgman — February 8, 2015 @ 5:26 pm | Reply

    • Thanks! There’s definitely an EU component to black hole denial, but I decided not to get into it.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — February 8, 2015 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: