Exposing PseudoAstronomy

March 14, 2016

“They Hate or Fear Me” — The Refrain of the Pseudoscientist


I like to argue. I was never on a debate team, but I would get worked up over things whilst growing up, in college, or graduate school over which I had no control nor power to affect. A common refrain of my father’s, in response to that was, “Harbor your emotional energies.”

Fear and hatred are powerful emotions. As soon as you use observe them in conversation, it colors the entire tone. Just the use of the terms affect your own emotions.

Emotion is also a much easier response than logical thinking. It comes from a more basic, instinctual part of the human brain than conscious thought. Rather than try to address an argument or claim with thought, it’s simply easier to say that the person making that claim hates or fears you, immediately appealing to your audience’s own more instinctual level of lack-of-thought.

That, I think, is part of why we often see that from pseudoscientists when skeptics address their claims. I saw it a lot from Mike Bara back in the lunar ziggurat days almost four years ago (see this blog post where I address the issue of manufactured “hate”). I continue to see it in other areas, such as manufactured fear by anti-GMO or anti-vaccine proponents, appealing to the emotion of fear rather than a logical argument for their position.

And tonight, Ken Ham over at Answers In Genesis (AiG) which is building a claimed replica of Noah’s Ark in Kentucky, USA, has created a new term: Arkophobia.

I really don’t want to link to AiG, so I won’t. But the thrust of the post is this:

The bottom line with the secularist opposition? Arkophobia is so widespread because “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Secularists are in rebellion against their Creator. The fact that He has the right to tell them, through His Word, what is right (e.g., marriage is one man for one woman) and what is wrong (e.g., abortion is murder) angers them.

Secularists oppose the Ark because they are afraid of the Ark’s goal: to proclaim the everlasting gospel.

That’s right: Ham is claiming that people who are against him building this ark are against him because they hate him.

It’s so much easier than really answering why they spend millions of dollars on a theme park rather than give it to the poor, or answer legitimate questions about potential fraud in trying to get tax incentives.

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July 26, 2012

Do Skeptics Hate the People They Debunk?


I recently produced my first podcast/blog-related movie, and it was debunking a claim that Richard C. Hoagland made on a radio show a few nights ago that there is a pyramid on the Moon.

Since that time, Richard’s response has been indirect, speaking via e-mail with some of his supporters stating:

Working to finish the Eclipse Paper (which will blow everyone’s minds), so this “ziggurat herfuffle” comes as a bit of a distraction in the middle of that; however, it seemed appropriate to remind everyone — on the 43rd Apollo 11 Anniversary — how MUCH NASA has been hiding, all these years ….

And, you can quote me (until I can get back to Facebook and explain things more fully myself … )

I find it fascinating the amount of vitriol my posting this simple image on “Coast” seems to have caused.

“Hit a nerve,” perhaps ….?

Let’s ignore the obvious argument from persecution. Meanwhile, Mike Bara, who I only briefly mentioned in the video because he was claiming that he sent the photo to Richard, has gone all out. He wrote a blog post about it and has brought it up several times on his Facebook page. In all writings, he has referred to those of us who have pointed out why it is likely fake as “morons,” “faggots” (an insult in Bara’s mind), and the term used most of all is, “haters.”

Ignoring the obvious ad hominem fallacy with which most people are likely aware (and if not: post 1, post 2), I’m writing this post to briefly address the charge that skeptics are “haters.”

To be fair, I can only speak for myself 100%, but I can speak for several other skeptics (since I know many) indirectly, and I can speak for Expat, at whom most of Bara’s ire has been directed. We don’t “hate” purveyors of woo. Personally, I find interesting many of the claims because it makes me see where people who don’t really know what they’re doing go wrong in their analysis (yes, I realize this sounds condescending, but I’m working on a lack of sleep here — for a good example, see either my first post or my second post on Alex Tsakiris.).

I also see it as a very interesting psychology study. For example, in one of the many posts that Mike made to Facebook regarding this, people responded with things such as, “People are afraid of information that is not given to them by a governmental institution;” “RCH and Mike Bara arent making anything up. Its the idiots & morons who dont know a rats ass about the ancient man-made artifacts spread throughout the solar system;” “Attacking Hoag also. F__K them Mike.;” and “GREAT article Mike! Also just pre-ordered Ancient Aliens On The Moon! Can’t wait for October!”

These people (unless they’re there with false platitudes) follow Mike and/or Richard almost like a cult leader, believing whatever they present uncritically and unquestioningly. A “Thanks for clearing it up Mike, well done!” was posted to Facebook in response to Mike’s blog.

Meanwhile, I have seen no one actually point out any scientific nor logical flaws in my video (except for a brief mention of scattered light in shadowed regions, which I fixed in the updated version).

Anyway, the question returns to, “Do I hate Mike and Richard and that’s why I made the video?” Again, no. I made the blog post because I had already spent 30 minutes in a scavenger hunt in the initial image. I made the video because I thought it would be a good “first” video for my podcast/blog because it was a purely visual argument, and I also wanted to capitalize on Phil Plait’s tweet regarding my post on Hoagland.

Never have I said that I “hate” Richard nor Mike. I did state that in my opinion, based on my analysis, Hoagland was either incompetent in his image analysis or he was lying that he did any analysis on the image. That’s not the same thing. That is pointing out a flaw in a skill set (or lying about performing the task). That’s not hatred.

In speaking with Expat (in e-mail, Skype, and the interview I did with him last year for the podcast), it’s the same general thought process. He doesn’t explicitly “hate” Bara nor Hoagland. Expat finds it annoying and unconscionable that, after being shown wrong time and again, Bara and Hoagland would continue to spread disinformation, wrong science, and continue to fall for the same pareidolia, but that’s annoyance and dismay. Hatred directed at the person is not what’s going on. In fact, I ran this paragraph by Expat before posting, and he wanted me to add: “I don’t hate them. I’ve never met them. For all I know they’re great guys.”

Unfortunately, I doubt that Mike Bara’s tone will change; if he has never acknowledged he doesn’t know what an annular eclipse is nor how to measure an ellipse, then he’s not going to change his diction that gets his fans fired up. But, as with many of my posts, I’m attempting to speak to the “fence sitters,” those that really don’t come in with a dog on either side but want to know more about the situation.

To them, I say: Examine the language used on both sides. See who has substance to what they say. Examine the claims made. Examine who is attacking the messenger, and who is attacking the claims. See if there is ever a rebuttal to the specific claims made on either side. Then decide who seems to be “hating” who, but more importantly, who makes a more convincing argument.

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