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On Fri, 23 Feb 2001, Hugh Haskell wrote:
Well, I seriously doubt that you ever heard a presentation like the
FOX broadcast was purported to be (I didn't see it, but I have heard
*nobody* say it had any scientific content at all) at any scientific
conference you attended. I certainly have not at any that I have
attended during the past 47 years.
Does "biased" or "wrong" equal "no scientific content"?
We should be very careful not to start labling somebody's evidence as
"unscientific" just because it's being used to support wrong conclusions.
There's plenty of scientific content in the moon-hoax stuff. But is it
science? No. So, WHY is it not science?
The moon-hoax conspiracy theory starts out as scientific: at first
inspection, the NASA photographs are full of anomalies. That much is
genuine. A hypothesis is then made that the anomalies arise because the
photographs were made on a sound stage on earth, or they were caused by
Why is this not science?
Just because the conclusion is highly unconventional does not make it
"unscientific." (Be aware that at one time gorillas were thought to be in
the same class as Bigfoot, and we'd obviously be wrong to judge the
initial eyewitness evidence of gorillas to be "unscientific.")
However, the case for the moon hoax/conspiracy falls apart if we answer
some simple questions: were the anomalies in the NASA photographs caused
by the vacuum environment? And are the "anomalies" actually anomalous (in
other words, would photos of our everyday world have similar "anomalies?"
Nearly all of the "anomalies" presented by the hoax-supporters fall under
one of the two above classes: either they are not anomalies at all, or
they're part of the strange phenomena expected in an airless environment.
There's another major point that everyone is missing. It involves a
particular definition of "crackpot".
CRACKPOT: a person who, once their arguments have been soundly
defeated, ignores the defeat and continues making the same arguments.
The material discussed during the FOX show is *old*. The same evidence
for a hoax conspiracy was presented in various magazines about 15 or 20
years ago. So were the counterarguments which soundly defeat it. (I
can't supply titles and issue numbers unfortunately. I just remember
reading about the whole issue in several places over a decade ago.)
For example, if someone points out that there are no stars in the lunar
photos, and that the shadows behind rocks are brightly lit, that is not
crackpottery, that's a genuine observation. If someone else points out
that stars won't show up in a photo with short exposure and large f-number
(such as used to photograph a scene in bright sunlight), that is not
"debunkery," it is the truth, and it totally explains the lack of stars.
If someone points out that in brightly lit landscapes (such as snow
fields) the shadows are illuminated by scattered light, and the same
applies to a brightly-lit moonscape, that is not "debunkery", that is the
truth. It explains why the shadows behind lunar rocks are not totally
Now suppose some years go by, and then THE SAME DEFEATED ARGUMENTS are
used as evidence for a hoax? Now THAT is crackpottery. It is either
dishonest, or it is a break with reality and the hoax-supporters went into
denail and never even HEARD the arguments that defeated them.
It would also be a good time to show the students the difference
between real science and pseudo science. But I would not pretend that
the program had any scientific standing whatever.
This is a serious problem. If we go into the subject saying that it is
obvious pseudoscientific garbage, then we're just as biased as the FOX
producers who pretend to be telling the unbiased truth. As a student I
think I'd certainly be turned off by anyone who SEEMED to attack the show
thoughtlessly, hostilly, and without APPARENTLY giving it the benefit of
the doubt. A person so biased against the show is not to be trusted.
"Bullshit detectors" swing both ways
Since the show really is that bad, there's no reason to take a hostile
debunking attitude. Instead, genuinely give this show the benefit of the
doubt like real Scientists should, and then analyze it. The show will
stand or fall on its own merits. The lies and distortions are REAL, and
many of them will be exposed by an honest investigation. On the other
had, someone who is not familiar with the issue (and hasn't heard the
counterarguments) might be hard pressed to find many of the errors and
distortions. If we KNOW the show is garbage, but cannot say exactly why,
then we're tempted to use the same style of emotional arguments and
dishonest debate-tactics as were used on the show to support the hoax
well be a significant increase in the sensitivity of their BS
Yes, the best result! Don't trust TV, don't trust teachers, instead find
out the truth for yourself. Critical thought is the only solution, and it
should NOT be selectively applied to obvious pseudoscience while being
witheld from teachers and textbooks. As long as we clean up our own acts,
we have no reason to fear critical thought being aimed at us. I think
this is a continuing problem in education: if students really learn
critical thought, they might inconviently expose things which we all
prefer remain hidden.
((((((((((((((((((((( ( ( ( ( (O) ) ) ) ) )))))))))))))))))))))
William J. Beaty SCIENCE HOBBYIST website
EE/programmer/sci-exhibits science projects, tesla, weird science
Seattle, WA 206-789-0775 freenrg-L taoshum-L vortex-L webhead-L