Saturday, January 31, 2009

When Pseudoscientists Attack

In response to an email from an interested reader of Enterprise, David Morrison, the director of NASA’s Lunar Science Institute, had this to say about my venerable co-author:

“I know Hoagland, and I also know that quite a few items in his bio are fiction: namely his references to working for NASA, working with Sagan, and talking at Ames. I would not want to stoop to "debate" with him. My interests are in science, not pseudoscience.”

David Morrison
Interim Director, NASA Lunar Science Institute
Senior Scientist, NASA Astrobiology Institute
Cell phone 408 621 0237

Now, everybody is entitled to their opinion (and we all know what opinions are like, don’t we Dave?), but as usual, NASA does not respond with any substantive arguments on the evidence we present, they simply go to personal attacks as a reflexive response. As I put it in Dark Mission, mentioning Hoagland’s name around NASA elicits a reaction akin to what you get when you place a crucifix in front of vampire. After 30 years of this, you would think that NASA would have a better counter argument then simple name calling or easily rebutted mendacities.

You would think.

But that’s only if you buy their arguments that our work is “pseudoscience.”

As usual, Richard has better things to do than rebut such non-arguments, and frankly, so do I, but since this is my blog more than his I guess it falls to me to point out the obvious.


Let’s start with the “substance” of Morrison’s diatribe.

“I know Hoagland…” This is actually the only thing in Morrison’s response which is true. They do know each other, from over 30 years ago when Hoagland was covering NASA for CBS and the early years of the Voyager missions at JPL. A decent start, Dave.

“…and I also know that quite a few items in his bio are fiction…” Oh really? Do tell!

“…namely his references to working for NASA, working with Sagan, and talking at Ames.”
Okay, let’s take these “fictions” one by one, shall we? According to you, Dave, Richard never worked for NASA. I’m sure it benefits tossers like you tell people this, in the hopes of damaging Richard’s credibility or making yourselves look good, but it doesn’t really work as an argument for one simple reason: It’s a lie.

Here is Richard’s actual badge from his days working as a consultant at Goddard. You may notice it has a NASA logo emblazoned on it and says “NASA” about 87 times. It also says “GSFC,” which stands for “Goddard Space Flight Center. Last time I checked, that was a NASA facility. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

And yes, despite the 70’s porn-star ‘stache, I can testify that absolutely is a picture of my co-author. I’d recognize him anywhere.

How unfortunate for you Dave that he kept his old badge all these years. I wonder if it would still get him in the door?

Probably not.

It’s interesting you can “know” his claim of working for NASA is “fiction” when it’s quite obvious it is not. I wonder how many other things you think you “know” that you will turn out to be utterly clueless about?

Let’s find out.

Next, you claim that it is also fiction that he ever “working [ed] with Sagan.” Again, you haven’t quite got the story straight, Dave. Let’s see what Carl has to say about the whole thing.

Sagan says in his paper “A Message from Earth,” by Carl Sagan, Linda Salzman Sagan and Frank Drake, that the idea for the Pioneer plaque came from Hoagland and Eric Burgess. In fact the exact quote is:

"... the initial suggestion to include some message aboard Pioneer 10 was made by Eric Burgess and Richard Hoagland ..."

-- Carl Sagan, SCIENCE, 175 (1972) 881.

This paper can be found in any university journal library. A scan of the appropriate page can be found here.

Now, I suppose somebody as desperate (or ill informed) as you are Dave might try to argue that this somehow doesn’t constitute “working together,” but please. If the idea for one of Carl’s most significant accomplishments came from Hoagy, I think most reasonable people (this excludes expat and JimO) would beg to differ with you. And of course, Carl and Richard knew each other much better than that, having several conversations about Cydonia and the Face in various public forums, and they even spent time vacationing together on various science cruises in the 1970’s that were witnessed by hundreds of people.

And lest we forget, Carl saw fit to include a gratuitous money shot of Hoagland in his own Biography Channel Obit episode.

Now, as to the last part, that Richard never talked at Ames (meaning the NASA Ames Research Center in California), well, you’re sort of half right. He never did.

Of course, he’s never claimed he did, either. Ever. Anywhere. So no wonder you don’t think it’s true.

He did however speak at NASA-Lewis. That’s in Ohio, and it’s now called NASA-Glenn. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

It’s really hard for me to figure out how it can be “fiction” that he claimed he spoke at Ames, when he never made any such claim. But I realize you just work for NASA, and logic isn’t really a strong suit for you guys…

So that’s 3 for 3 that you have flat wrong Dave. It’s too bad that you then use your comedy of errors to justify hiding behind your desk instead of debating the issues.

“I would not want to stoop to ‘debate’ with him. My interests are in science, not pseudoscience.”

Translation: “He’s shredded waaaaay smarter guys than me on national TV before. I think I’ll just call him a name and then take my ball and run home. I don’t want to get anywhere near a substantive debate with this guy.”

Pretty smart move here Dave.

Really, Morrison displays the sort of institutional ignorance that permeates NASA at all levels. I could go on, but he’s not really worth my time. I shall pillory him no further.

I do have to say though, being called a “pseudoscientist” by a representative of a science agency that hasn’t noticed that Mars has obvious Tidal Bulges and continues to foist the junk science alarmist bilge of global arming on the public is pretty ripe. They even have to resort to falsifying the data to bolster their idiocy.

It would be kind of romantic to think that this was all part of some big conspiracy on NASA’s part to keep us out of the headlines, but that gives far too much credit to the likes of Morrison, IMO. I tend to think he’s just a garden variety useful idiot that parrots what he thinks he knows about us, while happily taking a salary from the most discredited government agency on the planet (and, given the state of our current government, that’s saying something).

Or, to paraphrase Ronaldus Maximus,

“It’s not that our NASA loving shills are ignorant, it’s just that they “know” so much that isn’t so.”

And yeah, I guess I did pillory him some more. But let’s face it, he was low hanging fruit…

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blogging From ABQ This Weekend

Well, I'm off to Albuquerque this morning to have a Dark Mission II summit with Richard. I'll try to blog a bit in the mornings while I wait for him to get out of bed, haha (he's not generally an early riser).

Maybe JimO could drop by for a drink. We're bachelors this weekend.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MRO Confirms Mars Tidal Model

Recent findings by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have confirmed a key argument made by Dark Mission co-authors Mike Bara and Richard C. Hoagland in chapter 10. In that chapter, we asserted that infrared images of Mars taken by the Mars Odyssey 2001 THEMIS instrument revealed the existence of vast ruins beneath the ground at Cydonia. These infrared images, downloaded and processed by MOC image processor Keith Laney, were controversial because Arizona State University’s THEMIS website, which posted the original source data, later surreptitiously substituted a highly degraded version of the same source data, making confirmation of the findings next to impossible.

At the time (September 2002), the working model was that the deeply buried ruins of Cydonia were encased in an enormous block of ice that was covered with a thin layer of “poof dust,” making the ground appear opaque. Severe criticisms were immediately forthcoming, primarily arguing on two major points. First, that the THEMIS IR instrument couldn’t penetrate thousands of feet below the surface to generate a return signal to the instrument, and second that there was no evidence other than our controversial images that such a layering of ice even existed.

Dr. Phillip Christensen of ASU, principal investigator on the THEMIS device, later put the first item to rest, stating in an interview that THEMIS has been more successful at penetrating the Martian surface than even he imagined. His claims of at least “a meter” of penetration for the thermal instruments jibes well with our model of a few inches (at best) of Martian “poof dust.”

But the key to our model would be the discovery at Cydonia of significant quantities of sub-surface ice. That is no longer a problem.

Two new papers produced from results of the MRO’s ground penetrating radar data confirm that vast glaciers cover much of the mid-latitude northern hemisphere of the planet, just as Dark Mission and our own Mars Tidal Model predict. Geologist Jeffrey J. Plaut of JPL, who will be publishing results about the ice deposits in the American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Research Letters, stated in an MRO press release that most of the ice is in two latitude bands stretching from about “35 to 60 degrees in both hemispheres.” This would neatly encompass the Cydonia region, which lies at 41 degrees north latitude.

And once the infrared signal from the THEMIS instrument on Mars Odyssey got past that thin layer of obscuring dust, there is no telling how deeply it could have penetrated through the transparent block of ice.

However, from the pictures, a safe conclusion would be all the way to main street.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dr. Tom Van Flandern 1940-2009

I learned in a phone call tonight from Richard that Dr. Tom Van Flandern has passed away in Washington state.

As far as I'm concerned, he is a truly remarkable man and true scientist in every sense of the word. I will have more on this in a few days. An obituary is here.

My condolences to his friends, family and colleagues. He will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NASA Announcement of Mars Life Coming Soon?

A new article on one of my least favorite web sites,, indicates that a new NASA announcement concerning the search for life on Mars will be made in the next couple of days. Speculation centers around the possibility that previous methane findings are most likely caused by biological, rather than abiotic sources. We of course told you this years ago.

NASA has known there is life on Mars since 1976. They have even suppressed proof of past life on Mars. We wish they would just get on with it.

As always with NASA, we remain skeptical. This would seem to be the long rumored news that the two presidential campaigns were briefed on in August, but who knows?

Here is the official press release.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Return of the Big O

James Oberg and "Dr. Phil." Douchebags.
As some of you may have noticed, James Oberg is at it again. I thought I would create yet another new thread to chronicle the latest. It all started up again with this recent post from him:

"Too bad you didn't swing past Belen to ask Ken Johnston for any documentation he ever was a pilot, as your book insists. But that might have been a waste of time.I have now obtained a copy of his official military records, via FOIA. But it's not for purposes of ambush or embarrassment, it's for truth. So let's be civil.Answer me again: Was Johnston EVER a pilot in the military? Did he ever receive any aircraft ratings?Your book says he was. Do you care to show maturity by changing your assessments in light of new evidence?"


I have no reason to ask Ken if he was “ever a pilot, as [my] book insists,” because I know for a fact he was. During his training, he flew T-37’s, T-28’s, T-2J’s, DC-3’s and F-4 Phantom’s. I also know that as a civilian he flew Piper Colts, Cessna 150’s, 172’s, Grumman single engine planes, Piper twin Aztec's and logged hundreds of hours on the Boeing 727, 757, 767, and 747 simulators.
Oh, and he also logged over 3,000 hours in the Lunar Module and the LM simulators, where he taught all of the Apollo astronauts to fly the LM. I'm not sure why NASA would hire him as a flight instructor if he was never "a pilot, as [my] book insists,” but I'll leave it to you to work out the logical contortions of that one.

I notice you aren’t really interested in "the truth" about that…

Nor do you seem interested in the “the truth” about multiple versions of NASA frame 4822, for instance. Or why so many demonstrably different versions of this image exist all. Or why NASA would put what actually appear to be different photos under the same frame number, which just happens to be blacked out in the Apollo catalog.

Nor do you seem interested in telling our readers “the truth” about how long you’ve known Ken, or how many times you’ve contacted him in the past. I mean, we know you have his private email. If you have questions about his record, why don’t you just send him (another) email instead of wasting taxpayer money on an FOIA request?

Try looking in your “Survivor MIR” folder…

Now, if you think something in my book has been mischaracterized or is inaccurate on page 144, then by all means make your case and show me your evidence and I’ll be glad to make a change in the revised edition. I’ve already sat down with the Scientologists and have agreed to make some changes in what I said about L. Ron Hubbard’s time hanging out with Jack Parsons and the JPL crowd. I afford you the same privilege.

But I’m left wondering just what it is about Ken and his story that is so threatening to you and your NASA masters. Could it be that what Ken was ordered to do by his superiors was not just wrong, but illegal? Is that what’s got you so determined to attack Ken, instead of simply making your case to have me correct an error that I might possibly have made?

Just curious.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

NASA Says "Lethal Trauma" Killed Columbia Astronauts - Duh

A new report issued by NASA just before the New Year reveals that the Columbia astronauts died from either a depressurization of the main cabin or a lethal trauma caused by being tossed around the cabin during Columbia's chaotic descent and break-up nearly 7 years ago. The report really just confirms the obvious, and seems to have been released mainly for public relations purposes ahead of the new Orion space capsule. NASA seems focused on letting the public know that lessons have been learned from the Columbia disaster, and that future vehicles will be safer.

A piece of "environmentally friendly" foam breaking off the external fuel tank and striking the leading edge of the shuttle's left wing is the suspected cause of the destruction of Columbia during re-entry.

Still not officially addressed or explained is the mysterious purple streak photographed by an anonymous astronomer (or astronomy buff) as the spacecraft re-entered over California.

Here is a video reconstruction of the final minutes of Columbia's descent: