Exposing PseudoAstronomy

December 12, 2013

Podcast Episode 95: The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 8 – Zecharia Sitchin, Revisited


Is Zecharia’s
Planet X supported by
Recent discov’ries?

I revisit one of the classics in this episode, the Planet X claims of Zecharia Sitchin. This is NOT an episode where I specifically refute Sitchin’s claims. Rather, I go through some of the current events (current a decade ago) that Sitchin wrote about and claimed were evidence that his Nibiru exists. This was actually prompted by a recent e-mail that I had received and was BCC’ed to Michael Heiser (who will be a guest in Episodes 97 and 98, to be released in early January 2014).

As with last episode, I also managed to fit in a short Q&A and Feedback, though the Puzzler is repeated from last episode and the solution will not be discussed until, probably, Episode 101.

I’ll remind everyone that I will be at the Launceston Skeptics in the Pub on January 2, 2014, where I’ll be talking about the Lunar Ziggurat saga, not only from a skeptical point of view, but from an astronomical one as well as from a more social science point of view — dealing with “the crazies.” I’ve also actually put fingers to keyboard and typed out the Intro in what may be my first eBook, currently with the working title, “Tilting at Monuments on Mars.” I also plan to do one on Planet X, , and I may finally work on some of the planned podcast-related videos while I’m on vacation in Australia.

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April 17, 2013

Podcast #71 – The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 6 – Andy Lloyd’s “Dark Star”


A dark star could save
Sitchen’s Anunnaki claim
But problems it has.

When I upload the RSS feed for the podcast, I have to provide both a “subtitle” (short description) and “description.” I use the “description” from my 3-4 sentence summary I post for every episode. I never know what to put for the other. I’ve decided to start posting haikus related to the episode.

Anywho, this episode is yet another in the Planet X saga. It covers Andy Lloyd’s idea, which is an offshoot of Zecharia Sitchin’s Anunnaki-hosting planet Nibiru from his interpretation of Sumerian tablets. Andy’s major change is to stick the planet around a brown dwarf star. In the episode, I do actual math and show why what he proposes is impossible.

There’s also a puzzler (yay!), new news item, and two announcements. The episode is also a bit longer than normal, coming in at a bit over 37 minutes.

Regarding the second of two announcements — Brian Dunning, the guy who does the Skeptoid podcast, has pled guilty to wire fraud. Based on this material, he is likely facing jail time. I greatly admire his skeptical work and think that clearly still stands on its own, and this does not diminish what he has done for our community.

March 12, 2009

Planet X & 2012: My Interview on “The Conspiracy Skeptic” Podcast


This is a quick post to alert my loyal readers (hi Hanna) that I have been interviewed for an episode of “The Conspiracy Skeptic” podcast put out by Karl Mamer. I admit up-front – this is a looooong interview, with the edited version being about 111 minutes. But the time just flies by!

In the interview, I touch on nearly all aspects of the 2012/Planet X conspiracy/doomsday stuff that I’ve discussed so far on my blog, but this time in “condensed” form.

The site for the podcast is here, and at present, my interview is at the bottom of the page. A direct link to the episode MP3 is here.

In other news, now that I’m nearly done with a grant renewal and conference poster, I should be getting back to semi-regular posts shortly.

February 18, 2009

Planet X and 2012: Could Planet X Be a Planet Around a Binary Star to Our Own – a “Dark Star?”


Introduction

This will likely be one of my last posts on 2012 and Planet X in the near future. I’ve been waiting awhile on an interview I sent out to a Mayan scholar but he has yet to get back to me. It may have been because my questions were too long, but we’ll see. If he does, I will be certain to post his take on what the current scholarship is in regards to what the Mayans actually thought about their calendar and 2012 (on our calendar).

This post, however, is about Andy Lloyd’s (not “Andrew” – I just don’t want you to think I’m using a derogatory nickname) ideas on Planet X. And to be honest, they make a lot more sense than most.

All posts in this series:

Andy’s Premise

Andy runs his “Dark Star” website where he advocates his various conspiracy theories and other ideas. He also has a BSc in Chemistry which may be why his “Dark Star” premise (not “theory”) is more plausible than others: He actually seems to have taken actual astronomy into account.

Andy is an advocate of a modified idea of Zecharia Sitchin – the man who thinks he’s decoded Summerian texts that prove a race of aliens called the Anunnaki came from the Planet X, Nibiru, to mine our gold. However, he was dissatisfied with Sitchin’s ideas because they didn’t make sense in an astronomical context: How could Earth-like intelligent life survive on a planet that goes from the frigid outer solar system where it’s maybe -220 °C to the inner solar system where it’s closer to 300 °C? It doesn’t make sense.

So Andy proposes a modification: The sun is in a binary star system – it has a gravitationally bound companion star. Only, this companion star is a brown dwarf, a type of failed star that never gained enough mass to start fusing hydrogen into helium as normal stars do. This brown dwarf star is the one that has a highly eccentric orbit (as many binary star systems do) that brings it from the outer solar system to the inner solar system. And, orbiting around that star is Nibiru, home of the alien race of Anunnaki.

How this Solves Problems

It really beautifully solves a few major problems of Sitchin’s ideas. First, it solves the temperature problem. While a brown dwarf star is not a star that produces heat through fusion, it does produce heat through gravitational contraction. A planet that orbits the star sufficiently closely could conceivably be Earth-like, getting enough heat to bring temperatures near the triple point of water (where water can exist as a solid, liquid, or gas).

In addition, Andy doesn’t think that it has anything to do with 2012. He rightfully knows that a planet (or star) in a regular orbit cannot go from the outer solar system to the inner solar system in just 4 years. Granted, he believes that it’s come close in the past and has delivered its alien cargo and the populace is responsible for lots of things on Earth, but he at least does not in any way connect it with 2012.

He also places its location in the constellation Sagittarius. For those of you not intimately familiar with the night sky, Sagittarius is a rather large constellation that is visible during the summer in the northern hemisphere. Part of it looks like a teapot. But another feature of it is that the core of the Milky Way stretches through Sagittarius, making it one of the richest areas of the sky to look at nebulae, star clusters, and other objects … making it very difficult to search for a small, faint, red object. This – at least to his reckoning – answers the question of why we haven’t found it yet.

Is This Falsifiable? Is This Provable? Are We in Danger?

A problem with his idea that I hinted at in the previous paragraph is that it really still is unlikely that we would not have found a binary companion if it’s really gravitationally bound to the sun (as it is in his hypothesis). A brown dwarf would be one of the brightest infrared sources in the sky (infrared can be thought of as “heat” light). He cites the fact that there is no complete infrared sky survey and so there’s still a chance that his dark star could be in the gaps.

But while there is no one complete sky survey, there are several different infrared sky surveys that do cover pretty much all the gaps. And the ecliptic – the plane of the solar system that passes through Sagittarius – has been thoroughly imaged in high-resolution in searches for solar system objects. While it’s possible that we may have missed an object like a brown dwarf star within our solar system, the likelihood is practically nil.

Which brings us to falsifiability. Andy recognizes that his hypothesis is testable and can be shown wrong by just looking for the object and not finding it. Conversely, it’s obviously provable by finding it. However, since Andy harps on the the IRAS (InfraRed Astronomy Satellite) from the 1980s and does not acknowledge more recent surveys (such as 2MASS, the 2 Micron All-Sky Survey), I am not certain how genuine he is when stating that he would readily accept that he was shown to be wrong.

Rather, he seems to be of the mind that once his condition is met (which it really has), he will either not acknowledge it or will say something along the lines of, “Yes, but it could still be possible because of [fill in the blank].” This is a moving the goalpost logical fallacy (commonly employed by conspiracy theorists and creationists – every fossil just creates two more holes).

Final Thoughts

So what’s the bottom-line here – does Andy’s “Dark Star” with its orbiting gold thieves exist? In the interest of academic honesty, I have to say, “possibly.” But it’s around the same likelihood that when the LHC becomes operational it will create a polka-dotted unicorn that farts out rainbows. Or for those of you who are Simpsons fans, perhaps it’ll make a twonicorn.

In other words, it’s very unlikely. It should be incredibly bright in red/infrared light. And that’s just addressing the astronomical aspects. All the other parts of the idea – the anomaly hunting within historic records – come up short in (a) plausibility, and (b) evidence. In my opinion, from the evidence (or lack-there-of), Andy Lloyd’s “Dark Star” is another failed Planet X premise.

February 6, 2009

Planet X and 2012: Why a 3600-Year Planet X (Nibiru) Doesn’t Exist


Introduction

Those of you reading the title of this post may be wondering why I choose to address such a specific and odd-sounding claim: Why would I claim that there isn’t a Planet X coming around that has a period (its year) of 3600 Earth years? That seems like such an odd claim.

However, it features very prominently in Zecharia Sitchin’s claims of Planet X (which he calls Nibiru), its alien population known as the Anunnaki, and them coming to steal all our gold in 2012. He was pretty much one of the infamous founding fathers of the modern Planet X movement (at least as it relates to aliens) by his reading of interpretation of Sumerian texts.

I still haven’t quite decided whether or not to devote a post to his claims because I’m not a Sumerian scholar, I don’t play one on TV, and most of his claims deal with aliens’ desire for gold and not with actual astronomy claims. But, he claims that the year of this planet lasts 3600 Earth years, and that the Anunnaki’s planet last came around nearly 3600 years ago.

All posts in this series:

First Off, Why There’s No Planet X Coming in the Near Future

Rather than repeat myself, I will refer to the two posts on this topic that I’ve already written: “Planet X and 2012: The Real and Historical Story of Planet X” and “Planet X and 2012: Why Planet X Is NOT Coming in 2012.”

Why Planet X Didn’t Visit (Almost) 3600 Years Ago

Disclaimer: This is another case of proving a negative, which you really can’t do in astronomy. However, the evidence that I can present that it didn’t come by should either convince you or cast serious doubt on much of the other evidence that people present for it having come by.

And that’s really in this simple statement: Planet X folks place huge emphasis on the skill of ancient civilizations to make astronomical observations. The Mayans had their amazing calendar and knew everything about Venus’ orbit. The Chinese have the oldest records of comets. All 15 major civilizations in 705 B.C. apparently revised their calendar within the next 5 years due to observing Earth’s year had switched from 360 days per year to 365. These are all major pieces of “evidence” for various claims in the Planet X and 2012 doomsday scenario and conspiracy.

So let’s assume that’s correct.

If that is correct, then these same civilizations, a mere 3600 (nearly) years ago must have observed something as large as a planet that reached – if nothing else – as close as the inner solar system. After all, the Chinese could see comets, much smaller than a planet. They could see Saturn, much farther away than Mars (by a factor of around 25 times). And they knew that these objects were different than regular stars. They recorded them. Practically every civilization knew about them.

And yet, somehow, there exist no records whatsoever of a planetary body encroaching on the inner solar system.

If nothing else, this is the blatant logical fallacy of “inconsistency.” They were great astronomers. Yet they all managed to miss this gigantic event.

The only efforts I’ve seen that attempt to explain this simply are required to resort to conspiracy theories: The evidence was there but every single shred of it, and everyone who knew about it, has been kept hidden by the world governments. Except for those token few who manage to get the truth out, past the Army of Darkness, to be brought into the Light. (Yet somehow they are not subject to attempts of silencing.)

Final Thoughts

It occurs to me that in my blog, of late, I’ve strayed a bit into resorting to some sarcasm and a teensy bit of ad hominem attacks. I really haven’t done the latter, at least not directed at any one person. I’ve simply examined the claims directly and only based tests of validity on them. Not said they’re wrong based on the person (or group) making them.

However, I fully admit to the sarcasm seeping into the blog. At least as I continue to explore the 2012 and Planet X claims. I think it’s because I’m starting to get a little weary of the topic when the claims are so demonstrably wrong and not internally consistent (an example of the former being the galactic alignment, an example of the latter being this post). It’s difficult not to get a little snarky, as I did in the last paragraph of the last section.

But the point remains: If you’re going to tell a story, be consistent. A theory has to explain the evidence. The evidence can’t contradict itself. And you can’t selectively look at some evidence and not other evidence. So you simply can’t say ancient civilizations three millennia ago were stupendous astronomers and yet they somehow missed a giant planet that swung by.

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