Exposing PseudoAstronomy

June 2, 2015

Podcast Episode 133: Element 115 and the Credibility of Bob Lazar’s Claims


Ununpentium’s
Existence: Does it save Bob
Lazar’s U’FO claims?

A return to the roots of the podcast: A simple exploration of a claim, and what was found. Sort of. The first third of the episode is a look into the story of Bob Lazar, a man who is often credited (in part) with re-invigorating the UFO community in the late 1980s / early 1990s. It’s important for context, because embedded within that story is a general lack of credibility for his claims.

Enter element 115, which when it was discovered in 2003, became a rallying point for Bob Lazar’s supporters: The very existence of something that had not yet been discovered when Bob Lazar made the claim, means that his claims must be true. We see this a lot of times in the UFO field, but I really focused in this episode on this specific claim and the specific set of claims about element 115 made by Bob Lazar, before its “mainstream” discovery.

This episode does get a little technical because I talk about some basic particle physics, but I think it’s on par with most of my other episodes in terms of technical jargon and concepts.

And, that’s about it. There’s a short logical fallacy segment, where I ask your help in identifying the main logical fallacy for the episode, which I’ll then discuss next time.

It’s also important to note that the podcast is on Stitcher, and I should’ve checked my stats before I mentioned them at the end of the episode: I’m now on 33 peoples’ playlists and I’m ranked in the 3000s, not on 22 peoples’ playlists and ranked in the 5000s. Not bad for only being entered in late March and not doing much to promote it.

5 Comments »

  1. Concerning the Ununpentium retrodictive claim, Here’s what I think the logical fallacies could be:

    Appeal to Accomplishment/Success (Logically Fallacious, page 29) → good match
    Jumping to Conclusions (Logically Fallacious, page 143) → good match
    Shoehorning (Logically Fallacious, page 195; also Skeptic’s Dictionary Online: http://skepdic.com/shoehorning.html) → best match

    At first, I thought the idea of element 115 being discovered and then used to verify the rest of Mr. Lazar’s claims might work well as an appeal to accomplishment or success. Further digging led me to jumping to conclusions, but that implies impulsive behavior, which might or might not be the case. I think the best one is shoehorning — that is, fitting in anything remotely useful, no matter how marginal, to verify everything he said.

    If anyone found a more appropriate fallacy, please let me know.

    Thanks!

    Comment by Rick K. — June 3, 2015 @ 6:46 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, Rick. Added to the list of possibilities for next episode. Two people have suggested via e-mail that it’s a Hasty Generalization.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — June 10, 2015 @ 11:21 am | Reply

      • I considered Hasty Generalization while skimming through Logically Fallacious, but it was defined there as “Drawing a conclusion based on a small sample size, rather than looking at statistics that are more in line with the typical or average situation,” which I thought wasn’t applicable here. The topic is about Element 115 in relation to Bob Lazar, so talking about statistics and so on didn’t really seem to help much. That’s why I decided to skip over that fallacy and continue looking at some others that seemed to work better.

        If there are other definitions for HG that seem to fit better, please let me know where they can be found — I’d like to add those references. Anyone who says they already know all there is to know, doesn’t want to learn anymore. I want to keep learning, as long as I live.

        Comment by Rick K. — June 10, 2015 @ 8:24 pm

      • One person said hasty because: (Dicto Simpliciter). It’s an inductive reasoning error from too few samples leading to over generalization. Another just suggested it.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — June 12, 2015 @ 9:54 am

  2. I’m not good on spotting fallacies, but I will add here that the fact that Bob Lazar is still resident in the United States is the best evidence that his ‘secret information’ is bogus, although I know that Believers will not see it that way.

    In a related note, Gary Posner has posted audio clips from a 1990’s era program called “For the People” which can be considered a proto “Coast-2-Coast” type show that aside from having a few clips about Lazar when he was still riding high on his claims has lots of stuff from Hoagland who was acting as the show’s ‘science adviser’.

    http://www.gpposner.com/FTP-archives.html#Gregory-1

    Comment by Graham — June 16, 2015 @ 7:46 pm | Reply


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