Exposing PseudoAstronomy

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.

August 4, 2016

Face on Mars, Face on Hawaii – Pareidolia is Real, Get Over It

News this week that hasn’t been political has included information about Hawaii’s volcanoes finally spilling lava into the ocean again, for the first time in several years. And, a video of one of the calderas has been making the rounds, uploaded to Vimeo and shot by Mick Kalber.

Volcano in Hawaii, USA, Showing a Smiling Paredolia (Mick Kalber)

Volcano in Hawaii, USA, Showing a Smiling Paredolia (Mick Kalber)

One of the main ways this has become viral is pareidolia at work, with headlines such as “Hawaiian Volcano Smiles at Photographer” and such other whimsical things.

Obviously, the volcano, caldera, and lava are not smiling. It’s the human brain trying to make a familiar pattern out of randomness. Which it very happily does. Visually, it’s generic pareidolia. If it were audio noise and you thought you heard something (the ghost hunter’s infamous “EVP” or Electronic Voice Phenomenon), that would be audio pareidolia.

Everyone does it. And yet, there are still some noted pseudoscientists have consistently refused to believe that it’s real. After all, almost their entire repertoire of claims would be blasted away if they admitted that a bit of the right shade here and a bit of the right shade there and something random will appear to be something familiar.

The phenomenon of pareidolia is real. Get over it.

May 2, 2016

On the (In)Ability of Scientists to Give Good Public Talks

When I was an undergraduate student at Case Western Reserve University, the now-more-famous physicist Lawrence Krauss was head of the Physics department. Somehow, he managed to arrange a panel of about six Nobel Prize Winners (probably in physics) to give a panel discussion. I don’t even remember the topic.

What I do remember was my expectation going in and my reality coming out.

My expectation going in was extreme excitement, getting to sit in an auditorium and listen to these men (sorry ladies, it was all men) who pretty much literally had done the research that was recognized as being ground-breaking and reached the top of their field.

I came out thinking that it sucked.

Not a-one of those guys could give a coherent discussion or answer to questions, or do it in a way that was engaging to us in the audience. It was horribly disappointing. (And if one or two of them could, unfortunately that memory has been erased by those who could not.)

Right now, I’m listening to a radio program from April 08 where Will Farrar and Richard Hoagland discussed – in particular to this post – a talk that Chris Russell gave a talk during Space Science Week in Washington, D.C., just a day or so earlier.

Dr. Chris Russell is the PI (the head science-and-everything-else guy) in charge of NASA’s Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres.

In particular, Will remarked that he was unimpressed with Dr. Russell’s talk, that practically every-other-word was “um” or “uh,” and he was not alone in thinking this. Richard Hoagland posited that this was because he was choosing his words carefully — in effect, to make sure he wouldn’t be giving away any of the NASA secrets like city ruins on these bodies.

Or, Dr. Russell just isn’t a good public speaker. And I’ll say it: I have been to two lectures that Dr. Russell has given. I would not elect to go to a third. What Will noticed is par for the course, in my experience, for Dr. Russell’s talks.

I’m reminded of a saying that we like to use in skepticism: Don’t attribute to conspiracy what can easily be contributed to incompetence. (One of the examples most often used is the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US illustrating government incompetence rather than a ridiculously high level of competence to carry out such a coordinated, secret attack.)

I’m not saying that Dr. Russell is incompetent – far from it, for he is a wildly successful scientist – but a good, engaging public speaker, he is not. It has nothing to do with a vast conspiracy to hide The Truth, it’s just that public speaking is a completely different skill set from being able to do good science, and not every scientist is a good public speaker.

January 6, 2016

Ever Heard of the EQ Peg Hoax?

Today, despite being sick since Friday, I finally finished a massive project of mapping about 48,000 impact craters on a region of Mercury for a mapping project that I’m a Co-I (co-investigator) on. Because a lot of what I do involves pretty much literally drawing circles, I listen to a lot of audio, and I recently began digging in my unlistened Coast to Coast AM archives.

I found from late 1998 the curious case of a claimed intelligent signal from the star EQ Peg, which is around 20 light-years away. Surprisingly, this was first promoted by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Richard Hoagland was a proponent of it on the show, and even when it was determined to be a hoax, and the astronomer whose name was used was on the show saying someone used his name without his knowledge, Richard continued to promote some sort of conspiracy surrounding it. As did others, but they weren’t interviewed on C2CAM.

I was in high school when this all happened, and I never ever heard of it before a few days ago. I’m curious if any of you who may be a bit older than I remember it. I think it is probably worth putting in the queue for a podcast episode in the future.

As another interesting tidbit during this saga (I listened to about 7 hours of Richard talking about this across the month of November 1998), I found it interesting that Richard repeated a couple times that it’s “okay” to be wrong, just so long as you’re right more often than wrong. Yeah … that might be a separate blog post. I’ll just say for the sake of this four-paragraph’er that there comes a point where there’s right, versus wrong, versus wrong but thinking you’re right because you don’t know what you’re doing and you have a severe case of Confirmation Bias-itus.

January 5, 2016

No Planet X, Yet, Despite Marshall Masters’ Predictions

Last weekend, Trebor wrote in the comments to podcast 109 on this blog that we should be able to see Planet X by now, according to Marshall Masters. I had to dig — I last addressed his claims in 2014, where he stated in no uncertain terms that things would get very bad in 2015 and we would certainly see Planet X in 2015.

It’s 2016. Nada.

I’m getting a bit tired of this “unsinkable rubber duckie” phenomenon because we keep seeing this, and the same people just push the dates back and back and back. Masters was last on C2C on May 21, 2015. What particularly annoys me and why I think that certain talk show hosts lack any intellectual honesty, is that they do not hold their guests’ footsies to the fire and confront them on failed predictions.

Now, of course, I could be wrong in this case; we’ll see if George Noory has him back (I’m sure he will) and what happens during that show. But I would be very, very surprised if he confronts Masters’ failures year after year for predicting when this mythical Planet X will make doom and gloom.

October 16, 2015

Podcast Episode 142: Who’s on First? Origin of Ideas in Science

With water on Mars,
Discovered again, we look
At who did what first.

It’s been a month, and this is back-dated by over two weeks, but I wanted to put out an episode about the pitfalls of trying to figure out and remember who did what first. In the episode, I gave five examples of how this kind of discussion is important, such as who founds entire fields of science (or mathematics), giving credit where it’s due and remembering past research, pseudoscientists taking credit for things, alleged alien contactees taking credit for things, and preserving institutional memory in science.

The logical fallacies segment discusses the Moving the Goalpost fallacy.

I also revisit the 440 Hz conspiracy by asking you to listen to three tones, strewn throughout the podcast, to see if you can tell the difference. Playing two right in a row last time was too easy for everyone who wrote in.

Finally, yes, this is back-dated, and no, I am really really busy these days and don’t expect this to improve. I will likely take November-dated episodes off, putting out another episode some time in the next 6-7 weeks that’s dated October 16, and then return with December episodes. Next week I go on trip #13 for the year and the following week is #14, in mid-November I head back East for #15 and in December I have a conference that will bring the total to 16 trips this year. Never again.

September 23, 2015

A Piece of Lint Becomes a 10-Mile High Tower on the Moon


I subscribe to Expat’s “Dork Mission” blog in my RSS reader, and so I’m privy to people other than Richard Hoagland that he has made an hobby of watching and looking for perversions of rationality. One such set of claims is by a self-titled “civilian intelligence analyst,” Robert Morningstar.

Robert Morningstar (or M* as he occasionally signs things and I’ll use for short) was on Richard Hoagland’s radio program on September 3, and on the program he discussed many things, but there was one in particular that I’d seen Expat discuss before, but I’d never really investigated myself.

The claim is so bizarre that I wanted to share it with you.

The Claim: Big Ben on the Moon

Robert has made this claim for at least a year, that he has found what he terms “Big Ben” (named for the famous London landmark), but on the Moon. He found this while analyzing lunar photographs. The object is 10 miles high, according to his analysis.

It was only when I heard how he did his analysis and I looked at the photos he presents, myself, that I decided this blog post was worth it.

The Photo

First off, it’s difficult to know what photographs he used in terms of catalog numbers. Robert, like many in his field of anomaly hunting, does not provide documentation to allow independent analysis, rather he only presents the image in and of itself. This also means I can’t go find other versions of it that might be earlier generations, nor can I find the highest quality nor resolution.

Based on the fiducials (crosshairs) faintly visible in the photograph, I think this was Apollo. From searching through Expat’s blog, I found I was correct, it’s Apollo image AS17-M-2366.

To wit, here is the photograph that he claims hosts “Big Ben,” which I got at higher resolution than from Richard Hoagland’s site from another site where M* was interviewed:

AS17-M-2366 Early Scan

AS17-M-2366 Early Scan (click to embiggen)

If you don’t see much, that’s not surprising. What Robert is calling “Big Ben” is a small apparent bright protrusion from the upper-left of the moon’s limb. Here is the enlargement that he provided to Richard:

“Big Ben on the Moon” According to Robert Morningstar (click to embiggen)

He Analyzed a Photograph of His Computer Screen

Let that heading sink in a moment. What Robert did, as he stated on-air, and is evident from the obvious slightly rotated-from-vertical pixels in the second image, is he took the first photo (likely higher resolution than I have, but again I don’t know what the photo is so I can’t look), he likely enlarged it on his computer screen (if he didn’t, that doesn’t matter for this analysis), and he then took a digital camera and took a photograph of his computer screen.

It’s from that photograph of his computer screen that he then did any and all subsequent analysis.

This is one of those cases where I’m literally at a loss for words. It’s almost a situation of Not Even Wrong. To put it as succinctly and briefly as I can, he has introduced a substantial amount of completely unnecessary artifacts into the image that the idea that he thinks this is a proper way to analyze an image makes me question every single other claim he might ever make in the future.

Put another way, he has somewhat close-ish to original “pixels” in the original image (again, this is a somewhat early scan of an early copy of an Apollo photograph). Why would you then go and take a picture of your computer screen and analyze that picture?!


Beyond the ridiculousness of analyzing a photo of his computer screen that was showing a digital image, there is a big red flag that indicates this is simply a bit of contamination (lint, dust, etc.) on the scanner that was used to scan the print: Just under 600 pixels away, there is a very obvious piece of lint on the print, a bright bit that’s 1-pixel-wide that has a slight bend at the end:

Lint in AS17-M-2366

Lint in AS17-M-2366 (click to embiggen)

Lint. Just like “Big Ben.”

And, as others on Expat’s blog have pointed out, in the next frame of that sequence of photographs (AS17-M-2367), from that scan generation, the approximate same pattern of lint has moved off the limb of the moon by what would be ~1000 km:

Moving Lint in Apollo Photograph Scans

Moving Lint

And, in classic pseudoscientific fashion, M* does not look for other scans of the same photograph and show us that the feature is still there, nor does he present us with any images from a half dozen other spacecraft that have photographed the entire moon since Apollo and shown us that the feature is still present.

In fact, towards the former point, Arizona State University is in the process of scanning all the Apollo photographs at much higher resolution than had been done years ago by the Lunar & Planetary Institute (LPI). Here’s the link to AS17-M-2366 where you can download a 1.2 GB version of the image, or you can browse a 660 KB or 11 MB version.

You’ll note that, if you take a look, those pieces of lint are gone. Now I suspect that if confronted by this, Robert would just say that it’s been removed by The Powers that Be to hide it and give fodder to debunkers like me.

Final Thoughts

Here’s the problem: If your only evidence is one version of one photograph, and no other version of that photograph, the next photograph in the series that shows almost the exact same area, nor any other photograph of that area shows the feature, chances are your first photograph is the one that’s wrong, not every other one.

Given that, and given the above, here’s another reason why I don’t have a problem classifying M* as a pseudoscientist. This is a quote from him when he was on a radio program discussing “Big Ben:”

Now these debunkers, they claim that that’s dust on the film, or an anomaly in the emulsion. Again, I’m just showing you a picture that was taken by Apollo 17 — a picture that’s been in the archives for 42 years and I just happen to be the one that found it and recognized it, so I show it to you. And what do you think that looks like? I told you what I think it looks like, so I named it that. I named it “Big Ben on the Moon.”

In that, he completely avoids the content of the criticisms of his claim, and he goes even one more step backwards: He seems unable to even consider that it might not be on the original image: “a picture that’s been in the archives for 42 years.”

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and a feature that looks like lint, only found in one version of one photograph, that looks like lint in other areas of the photograph, and compounded with “analysis” of that feature on a photograph of that image being displayed on a computer screen, does not extraordinary evidence make.

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