Exposing PseudoAstronomy

December 31, 2016

Podcast Episode 154: Impact Crater Pseudoscience Mishmash

Impact cratering
Is neat, but crazies like to
Abuse the science.

To end 2016, we have some crater-related pseudoscience. This is an episode where I talked about three different claims related to impact craters and how two of them misuse and abuse impact craters as a way to make their brand of pseudoscience make sense, in their own minds. The third claim falls under the “bad headlines” category and I get to address the Gambler’s Fallacy.

I’m still experimenting with a new microphone setup and you can hear the audio change tone noticeably part-way through. That’s when I moved my computer from off to the side so I was talking into the side of the microphone to more in front of me so I was talking into the top of the microphone. I also have a new laptop and figured out that the clicking/crackling that’s been in some recent episodes is when I stop recording, start again, and for a few seconds, every fraction of a second, the computer just records nothing for a much tinier fraction of a second. In this episode, I spent an extra half-hour editing all those out so there’s much less of it.

Artistic Rendering of Asteroid Impacting Earth

Artistic Rendering of Asteroid Impacting Earth

December 15, 2016

Podcast Episode 153: What Is Radiation?

“Radiation” is
As common in life as ’tis
In pseudoscience.

This is one of those basic science episodes where I tried to provide solid background to a typically misunderstood concept that is beloved by pseudoscientists: Radiation. I go through what radiation is and is not, different kinds of radiation, what it means to say that something is ionizing vs nonionizing, and the effects of thermal radiation. It’s a longer episode, clocking in at 51 minutes.

There are two additional short segments in this episode, the first being logical fallacies where I discussed the nautralistic fallacy, and the second being feedback where I finally addressed Graham’s feedback about the Catholic Church and a round vs flat planet.

"Caution: Radioactive" Sign

“Caution: Radioactive” Sign

November 30, 2016

Podcast Episode 152: Modern Flat Earth Thought, Part 3 (Young-Earth Creationists Debunking Flat Earth)

Wow! Young-Earth Christians
Still get some science correct:
A flat Earth is wrong.

Finally out, the second episode for November 2016 just before December hits, is another flat Earth episode. In this one, I make a positive case for Earth being round rather than a negative case for it not being flat. It’s rare that I do these kinds of episodes, but I thought this one in particular would be interesting because I use a young-Earth creationism website to make the argument. As young-Earth creationists tend to reject a lot of modern science, I thought this an interesting pairing. Lots of different lines of evidence are made, including eclipses, ships at sea, parallax, and star visibility.

There are three additional short segments in this episode, the first being logical fallacies (where I went through, very briefly, the three that were talked about in the episode; this was completely unscripted, unlike normal), second being an announcement about why the episode was late (depressed about the US election, then got sick and you may be able to hear a stuffy nose in the episode), and third being feedback: No, I’m not going to debate a flat-Earth proponent.

And, no episode would be complete without microphone issues. I have a new computer I was using and it sounds like when I started doing the three smaller segments, every time I would pause the recording and then re-start, there was some static. Fun times.

Flat Earth Graphic

Flat Earth Graphic

November 6, 2016

Podcast Episode 151: The Fake Story of Planet X, Part X – Nancy Leider Redux and Planet Nine Claims of 2016

Nancy Leider: Still
Claiming Planet X will kill.
But … what’s “Planet Nine”?

Yet another Planet X episode, this time addressing one of the originators of the doom-and-gloom mythos for Planet X, Nancy Leider. I also use Nancy Leider’s latest claims as a springboard to talk about some of the real science announcements, papers, and headlines that have been in 2016 about possible (real) additional planets in our solar system.

There is only one very brief additional segment in this episode, keeping it at just a little over 30 minutes long.

Distant Planet Artistic Rendering

Distant Planet Artistic Rendering

October 23, 2016

Podcast Episode 150: Is Dark Matter Liberal Pseudoscience?

WTF is this
“Dark Matter” stuff, anyway?
Lib’ral poppycock?

Getting away from Earth and going to the biggest scales of the universe, this episode addresses dark matter. I think I can justify it as being on such an important episode (150!!) because I spend the bulk of the episode trying to make the case to you, the listener, that dark matter is real science, in contrast with pseudoscience.

There are two additional segments in this episode: Logical fallacies and two announcements, including an announcement about the release schedule (duh — it’s not exactly on the 1st and 16th of the month).

I also must apologize for the audio – again – on this episode. Only in the editing process did I hear that it sounds horribly muffled/garbled, especially during the first 6 minutes. I’ve had issues with my Blue®™ Yeti® microphone ever since I bought it more than five years ago. I think it might finally be dying, but I’ll try a few things next time and test. Sigh. Thought based on the audio starting around 20 minutes in, which is when I re-started the software, I think it’s possible that I was going in through my laptop’s microphone instead of the Yeti. Again: Sigh.

Conservapedia on the Liberal Pseudoscience of Dark Matter

Conservapedia on the Liberal Pseudoscience of Dark Matter

October 4, 2016

Podcast Episode 149: Modern Flat-Earth Thought, Part 2 (U.N. Flag and Airplane Flights)

“Modern Flat Earth Thought”
On maps, flags, and airplane flights …
Does it make sense? No.

Back to the flat Earth, this time discussing map projections and the United Nations flag, and then how some flat Earth proponents use and abuse airplane flight paths to argue that the planet is flat and looks just like the United Nations flag. I want to thank Michael R. (@SkepticalBelg on Twitter) for for reviewing and making several corrections to my text on how the airline industry works.

This was a particularly long episode, nearly a full hour. I also recorded this in a hotel room, and it sounds like I was too close to the microphone and at an angle at times and the room echoed, so my apologies for the audio quality in this episode. It was still better than the audio in the last episode, which was recorded on a phone outside, but it’s not perfect.

There are three additional short segments in this episode, the first being logical fallacies (detailing the argument against antiquity), second being feedback (the correction(s) from Episode 147), and the announcement to thank Michael.

Flat Earth Graphic

Flat Earth Graphic

September 26, 2016

Podcast Episode 148: (BONUS) X-Rays from Pluto

Does discovering
X-rays from Pluto change all
We know and hold dear?

First interview episode since The Return, an interview about the discovery of x-rays coming from the vicinity of Pluto. I talk with one of the main authors of the paper announcing the observation of x-rays from Pluto, and we discussed why the find is not severely unexpected, and while it’s interesting it is not something that is completely unexplained. In fact, there’s a very good, natural explanation.

As what was intended to be a 5-10 minute interview ended up running about 50 minutes. Hopefully it was worth it. Note that this was recorded really ad hoc, outside on a university campus, using both an iPod Touch and Samsung Galaxy S5. Interestingly, the iPod performed better relative to noise, but it had a low-end filter; the Samsung had a high-end filter. Therefore, I lined up the audio precisely and combined both so you get better audio, and I tried to lower the relative intensity of each recording if one was picking up the wind more than the other.

There are no additional segments in this episode.

I hope that you enjoy this episode.


September 17, 2016

Podcast Episode 147: The Hollow Earth According to David Icke

The hollow Earth … Sigh.
David Icke hasn’t met a
Crazy he don’t like.

Continuing on the theme about the structure of the planet, I take a look at something not talked about for 139 episodes: The Hollow Earth. In this particular case, I take a look at the claims about the hollow planet made by conspiracy guru David Icke.

As mentioned in this post, I was recently on an episode of Cognitive Dissonance where I had read chapter 12 of David’s 1999 book, “The Biggest Secret.” We discussed a lot of the conspiracy in the chapter but only tapped the topic that made up about 25% of the chapter, David’s claims about Earth being hollow. Since I spent so much time reading his nonsense, and I took notes, and I even highlighted (in 4 different colors!!!!), I had plenty of material to get a podcast episode out of it, and … here it is!

There are three other segments beyond the main one: Logical Fallacy (focusing on the Gish Gallop), Feedback (going back to episode 145 to try to explain a few things in easier terms), and mentioning people who have left iTunes reviews since the last time I mentioned them (back in December 2015).

I hope that you enjoy this episode.

P.S. Already a correction that I’ll mention in the next episode: I incorrectly stated that if you’re inside Earth, you would not be pulled to the inner surface of the shell, you would be pulled to the center. This is incorrect. The Shell Theorem holds that any particle inside of a perfectly symmetric sphere would experience an even force of gravity, everywhere, such that if you placed yourself anywhere inside the sphere, you would stay there. David Icke is therefore still wrong, but my explanation of what would happen was not correct.

Hollow Earth Image with Hole at Pole

Hollow Earth Image with Hole at Pole

September 14, 2016

Podcast 146: BONUS: Tracking Failed Planet X Predictions of Marshall Masters

Marshall Masters’ doom
And gloom from Planet X, is
Wrong, false, fake, and dumb.

This is a “bonus” episode which was originally going to be short but ended up being nearly 20 minutes. I document every Coast to Coast AM interview that Marshall Masters has ever given (since late 2011, plus one from 2003) and pulled out clips where he specifically put a time table for when Planet X and doom and gloom would strike. Each time, it’s about a year away. Each time, he’s wrong. Why should his interview from 13 hours ago be any different? And at what point does the interviewer have a responsibility to hold him accountable?

Gallifrey in the Skies of Earth (from Doctor Who episode S04E18)

Gallifrey in the Skies of Earth (from Doctor Who episode S04E18)

September 11, 2016

Planet X Keeps Being 1 Year Away: Anyone Want to Call Into Coast to Coast AM on Tuesday?

Gallifrey Passes by Earth (from Doctor Who episode S04E18)

Gallifrey Passes by Earth (from Doctor Who episode S04E18)

I know I just came back from hiatus with the podcast, but I’m already starting to plan special shorts, with the first one coming out this week. In particular, listener Dick from Florida wrote in to alert me that this week, the night of September 13, 2016, Marshall Masters is scheduled to be on the program for the latter half of the show to talk about Planet X: “Author, publisher, and producer Marshall Masters specializes in Planet X and ancient prophecy research. He’ll detail the evidence pointing to an object on the other side of the sun, which could be Planet X. He’ll cover the various ways we can cope with the coming tribulations via enlightenment and survival methods.”

I initially wasn’t going to do anything because I already covered his claims in Part 9 of the Planet X series of my podcast (episode 109). But, that was in May 2014.

And, the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I became. This guy is an unsinkable rubber ducky on C2CAM, coming back about once a year to claim that Planet X will cause planet-wide catastrophe within a year. And somehow he’s still at it.

So, I pulled every episode I have with him on – which is all of them except three from 2003 (I have one of the four from 2003) and I have listened to the roughly 14 hours of audio over the last two days (while working on other stuff and generally listening at 1.7x speed). The goal was to pull every specific prediction with a time statement and use that in a special podcast episode, matched with whatever he claims on September 13.

With the possibility of influencing the experiment, I’m posting the majority of the transcript for this planned podcast episode now, here, in advance, so you can look at it, make up your own mind, and potentially call into the program and challenge him, assuming that the host, George Noory, does not.

Planet X doom and gloom causes real harm. People get scared, they empty their savings accounts, break off social ties when no one listens to them, and literally run for the hills. Marshall Masters should be called on the unsubstantiated fear he promotes, over and over, when he’s demonstrably wrong and either a liar or his memory is so bad he should not be trusted to deliver such important prognostications.

First up was his claim in August 2003: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 05 September 2003, Hour 1, starting 09:46]

AB: “Something’s pointing to September 6 [2003], though, right?”

MM: “Right, now this was a formation that appeared back in 1995, the Titchform(??) formation. And it has, um, it has basically just a chart of our inner solar system, and when you align it, it comes up perfectly with Mars basically being the time measure on the outer ring, and, you know, we sat down, we checked it out ourselves, we vetted his work, and he’s on— you know, he’s on the money with his times. And what he’s showing on the sixth of September is that there’s going to be an object that will be between the orbits of Venus and Earth. It’ll be on the other side of the sun.”

In other words, he was predicting something would happen in just a month. This also sets the tone for at least the next decade in terms of using crop circles as his primary guide, and sets the tone at least through the present about claiming that his object is usually, somehow, just on the other side of the sun which is why you can never see it, while at the same time claiming that he has pictures of it.

Starting in 2011, Marshall started to get on the December 2012 bandwagon: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 10 April 2011, Hour 2, starting 20:39]

“Timing wise, uh, according to the Avebury 2008 formation, which I document in [my book] ‘Crossing the Cusp,’ uh, we’re going to see Planet X in December 2012. And this is also the period of the solar maximum when the sun is forecast to be its most violent.”

And, just in case that wasn’t clear, one minute later he re-iterated December 2012: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 10 April 2011, Hour 2, starting 21:51]

RS: “So when is the return date for Planet X, as you have calculated it.”

MM: “Well, according to the Avebury 2008 formation, it’s in early December that we will see it, of 2012.”

He was then on twice in 2012 and had completely jumped on the December 21, 2012 date. Here he is in April 2012: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 30 April 2012, Hour 2, starting 10:35]

“The Avebury 2008 formation is telling us that on December 21, 2012, we’ll see a comet-like object and from the northern hemisphere, if you’re standing in the fields of Avebury, down— just wait for sunset, look, you know, 45° right, 45° up – ¡Bing! – it’s gonna be there. That’s when we see it, that’s when we know the guacamole hits the fan.”

And again, four minutes later: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 10 April 2012, Hour 2, starting 14:50]

“Okay, what we’re— what I’m saying is there’s a [crop circle] formation’s appeared in— in England, in August, it was, uh, in two parts, about the size of, uh, nearly four soccer fields. It says that on December 21, 2012, we’re going to see what appears to be a— a second sun in the sky at about this time, there is going to be a horrific solar storm, similar— similar perhaps to the one that’s portrayed in the movie, “Knowing.” And uh, it’s going to be devastating for us.”

But, in his last interview of 2012 on Coast to Coast, he was already starting to hedge his bets, saying sort of that it would come when it would come, but he still did not back down from the December 21, 2012 date: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 06 October 2011, Hour 2, starting 37:56]

“What the formation shows us is that, uh in December and actually just prior to December 21, 2012, that we will see a comet-like object off to the right of the sun. Upper-right quadrant. About, you know, about 45 right, 45 up.”

Interestingly, in his first foray in 2013 AFTER his demonstrably wrong predictions for 2012, he said the he would never ever scare people. This is from March 18, 2013: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 18 March 2013, Hour 2, starting 06:36]

MM “The thing about Planet X as a topic is that, it doesn’t matter if there’s uh, these false events, like I remember back in 2003. Uh, with, uh, Mark Hazelwood, had published a book, ‘Blind sighted.’ Really stirred up a lot of fear. […] So we published and we said, ‘Not now, it’s not that it’s not coming, it’s just not now.'”

GN: “It’s not now. And I think they were talking about May 2003. Weren’t they?”

MM: “Yeah! May of 2003, and uh, but what I remember about that – and it really stuck with us – were the letters that we got because people were writing us, because we were publishing on that— I had— I think I had my first article went up [unintelligible] 2002. And we were studying it, and they were coming to us essentially for a second opinion. And the letters were— You could see where someone was really biting their lip and trying to sound rational, and coherent, and calm— The fear and the panic was oozing out of the lines. These were people getting ready to cash out their savings and-and head for the hills!”

GN: “Which they always do when they think there’s a catastrophe impending, huh?”

MM: “Some do, some don’t! Uh, but a lot of people do, and this was so upsetting for these people that reading these e-mails and responding to them was one of the most depressing times of my life! And I just swore that I was never going to do anything like that. On the other hand, that doesn’t stop me from looking for Planet X.”

Gallifrey in the Skies of Earth Causing Panic (from Doctor Who episode S04E18)

Gallifrey in the Skies of Earth Causing Panic (from Doctor Who episode S04E18)

Of course, he went directly on to repeat all his previous statements documented in episode 109 about how Planet X would cause giant outbursts from the sun, earthquakes, a magnetic pole shift, lots of people dying, volcanoes, meteor impacts, tsunamis, horrible weather, and that in the past it caused Noah’s Flood, the Plagues of the Book of Exodus (AKA Moses v Pharaoh), and the sinking of Atlantis. So much for being a kind, gentle, non-scaring people person. He also predicted that it would be visible in just a few months, in this clip 12 minutes after that one I just played. [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 18 March 2013, Hour 2, starting 18:23]

“And right now, they’re saying, George, in June of this year, it’s visible, to everybody in the northern hemisphere.”

He re-iterated that an hour later, going even a bit earlier: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 18 March 2013, Hour 3, starting 15:25]

“If we use the timing, that Zero-Zero Sky View (??) is using, and they’re actually making infrared observations of the mini-constellation and the dark star at the center of that constellation, and what they’re saying is this summer – mid-summer – it’s going to become visible. Which would mean the object that we’re looking at would become visible before that, perhaps in May. And, uh, that’ll happen!”

And then, two minutes later, he said this little gem: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 18 March 2013, Hour 3, starting 17:54]

“I can’t debunk it! Nobody can debunk it!!”

And he doubled-down on Planet X coming in 2013 at the end of the third hour of the program: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 18 March 2013, Hour 3, starting 35:19]

GN: “And-and again, what’s the time table?”

MM: “The time table?”

GN: “Yeah.”

MM: “I think, in terms of what I’m looking at, for me it’s always been, for all the years I’ve been on your show, I’ve always said the same thing: 2012 is the warm-up band, the headline act is 2013. Whatever’s gonna pop, is gonna pop this year. If nothing happens this year – which would just plum tickle me to death! – then, at that point, we can say, ‘Aright, maybe, you know, we were lucky, and it’s a benign flyby. We’ve only had a bit of disruption, and we’ll get through this, and things are gonna be calm.'”

GN: “At least this time.”

MM: “But, on the other hand, it could be, you know, by the time we finish this year, we’re going to see all kinds of havoc that’s going on!”

Forgive me for pointing this out, but so far, I have literally played for you every single clip from every appearance by Marshall Masters since 2011, plus one in 2003, where he stated any sort of time for his predictions. And, he never EVER mentioned 2013. So that’s just a flat-out, unadulterated lie.

And, after he was proven wrong, yet again, in August of 2013, he still was not challenged on his consistent failures and instead just predicted that something would happen later in the year, that we would start to notice solar storms and Earth changes in a few months: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 07 March 2013, Hour 2, starting 16:46]

“The timeline right now is [cough], I would say, uh, late 2013 to early 2014.”

For Planet X specifically, he said that we would start to see Planet X in 2015, setting the date almost 1.5 years ahead: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 07 August 2013, Hour 3, starting 24:51]

“What really concerns me is what’s going to start happening, I’d say from 2015, on. Uh, this is uh— In 2015, first off, the outer-most orbital, which right now, we’re tracking from a volcano at, right, 7000 feet, uh— That’s the whole problem that this stuff hasn’t come close enough that’s visible below the clouds for the rest of us mundane mortals, if you will. And, so, uh, but in 2015, that object is going to become— that outer-most orbital [unintelligible] the ‘Blue Bonnet’ that we’ve been tracking – that’s going to become visible below the clouds. We’re going to be seeing that.”

He also may have finally learned his lesson and expressed his distaste for setting dates: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 07 August 2013, Hour 3, starting 33:45]

“And I’m really loathe to do dates anymore.”

He also repeated his sad story from several months earlier about 2003 and people being afraid. George followed up with a question: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 07 August 2013, Hour 3, starting 37:24]

GN: “Well, uh, are we gonna start that again by talking about 2015?” [referring to the fear-mongering frenzy in 2003]

MM: “I, you know, I thing— I think it’s a different thing. 2003 was a tempest in a teapot. I think with 2015, I’m not interested in going down the Nancy Lieder path. Uh, my position right now is December 21, 2012— Alright, which was, uh, a media event principally driven by the cable channels.”

And, just a month later, he was still at it, back to naming dates: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 26 September 2013, Hour 3, starting 32:29]

GN: “What is your time table, Marshall?”

MM: “Time table is, I think by the end of this year, we’re— it’s— you know, we’re seeing it now, the question is, ‘Are people going to start looking?’ But we’re seeing it now. My concern, because particularly if, and-and your caller, who called about this fireball – I think he’s really got the right instinct because we could very well have some impact events that start happening.”

His interview in 2014 was in June, when he said: [Clip from Coast to Coast AM, 19 June 2014, Hour 4, starting 04:44]

“We’re fairly convinced that, sometime in 2016, Nibiru is going to be naked-eye visible all around the globe.”

Interestingly, in 2015, Marshall did not state, and was not asked, when we would definitely see Planet X. The only reference to a timeline was this:

GN: “How many times could some of those past people say, ‘Hey! It’s coming! It’s coming!’ And then nothing happens.”

MM: “Well, you know, I have never, in-in the past, and you can go through my work— We’ve talked about projections—”

GN: “Yeah, no, this is the most adamant you’ve ever been.”

MM: “This is now, because all of this, all of the trends, all of the empirical data that we have been following, it is happening, and we are in the 11th hour.”

Now, to be fair, in the clip I played he said he always presented his work in terms of projections. I suppose that’s true, but he always presented his projections as 100% true and valid and absolutely, 100% what was going to happen. In episode 109, I played for you that clip where he said he was absolutely certain that Planet X was going to swing by very soon (a few years ago), and separately that he was 100% certain it was going to cause catastrophe on Planet Earth. So, forgive me if I don’t put much stock in forgiving him for now claiming that his predictions before were just “projections” with the implication that he wasn’t sure about them.

And so, while that was the only reference to a specific, observable date or time period, he spent his entire two hours reiterating, yet again, for the Nth time, just restating, over and over, how he was seeing Planet X in all these images and it was going to create havoc and mayhem and catastrophe and only 1 out of every 15 people in the world would survive.

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