Saturday, June 27, 2009

Geocentists, UFO's, and other Stupidities

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity -- and I'm not sure about the former. ~ Albert Einstein

The reader may have heard of the Flat Earth Society. These folks insist that, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, the Earth is flat. You don't hear much from these people any more, not so much because we have all manner of pictures and scientific evidence showing that the Earth is in fact round, but because their founder passed away some years ago.

I always thought the Flat Earthers were actually being a bit tongue-in-cheek about their beliefs, but evidently some of them were quite serous. When presented with photos of the Earth taken from space, they announced that these were actually pictures of some of the many "non-luminous" bodies between the Earth and the moon. They didn't bother to explain how something non-luminous could show up when viewed from space but never be visible from Earth.

At any rate, they have pretty much faded away, but it seems like a new group has leaped into the fray to take their place.

I received a brochure in the snail-mail a couple of weeks ago from a group that asks, "Have scientists been wrong for 400 years?" Now the obvious answer to such a question is 'No." Even without knowing what these people are talking about, the answer is "no", because no one poses a question like that when they're about to say something reasonable. So what have scientists been wrong about?

The Copernican view of the solar system. Yes, friends, it seems that ever since Galileo (the group ignores Copernicus altogether in the brochure), scientists have erroneously had a "theory" that the Earth orbits the sun. Well, these geocentrists are here to set us straight. The sun goes around the Earth. Not only that, but the earth doesn't rotate at all. It is a fixed point in the universe.

Remember, you read this revalation here first.

Their proof? Why, the Bible, of course.

Now it would be easy to lump these guys in with Creationists and others who use the Bible as their source of scientific informaiton, but that's not my point here. It's not that people take the Bible literally. The problem is that people are willing to simply ignore physical evidence and the reality of the universe around them. In fact, within the same week, I saw another example of this that has nothing whatsoever to do with Bible-toters.

NASA recently lauched a dual-satellite lunar mission, which, in a few months, will monitor the impact of it's rocket stage into the moon. This isn't the first time humans have crashed things into the moon. The Ranger series, the first photographic surveys of the moon, were designed to crash into the surface, taking pictures all the way to impact. Clementine and, very recently, a Japanese satellite were deliberately crashed into the lunar surface to study the material that was kicked up(in Clementine's case, to look for possible water ice). The current mission is the first where orbiting saltellites would be in a position to study the impact in very close detail.

So, along comes this guy who decries the NASA "bombing" of the moon, because it will upset the extraterrestrials living on the moon.

Just chew on that one for a moment.

I have nothing against the idea of the existence of ET's. Nor do I argue that not everything people have seen in the sky over the years has been adequately explained. However, I don't believe aliens drop in and kidnap drunken backwoods yokels and take them on joyrides around the planet before dropping the off again. While I don't believe every UFO sighting can be explained away, I can't accept any of them as alien spaceships.

And, no I don't believe in Bigfoot, Nessie, OgoPogo, or any other fairytale monsters either.

As Carl Sagan once said, "Extraordinay claims demand extraordinary evidence." What bothers me is that people will not accept the genuine evidence before them while accepting non-evidential sources (like the Bible or mythological sources) or dubious evidence (fuzzy picutres and transcripts that can't be documented).

The Bermuda Triangle has been debunked over and over again, but people will still quote the transcript statements of the Flight 19 flyers that appear nowhere in the Naval records. They will ignore the fundamental fact that more aircraft have been lost and never found in the continental US (where they're sitting on the ground, for crying out loud) than have been lost over the Bermuda Triangle. Heck, they can't even agree where the stupid triangle is, as it gets moved around a lot depending on what ship disaster or reminant of Atlantis you want it to include.

And don't even get me started about Atlantis.

I've never understood the desire of people to ignore the vailidity of factual evidence or theories supported by reason and observation while buying into the wildest, weirdest belief systems. The Internet has been no help in this regard, because many people will believe anything if it comes from the Internet. There's no other way to explain all those folks duped by Nigerian 419 scams.

But, the Internet isn't to blame here. It just isn't helping make things any better. I don't know what the solution is, other than to do a better job educating our kids. With better education, it's possible that the people who are out of touch with reality will be outnumbered by those who have a clue. Trouble is, people don't want to spend money on education or support teachers who want higher standards (and the authority to discipline). If we continue down the path we're going, the geocentrists, the creationists, and the ufologists are going to get the upper hand.

On the other hand, the debate between the geocentrists and the UFO crowd over whether the alien planets don't rotate either ought to be hoot.

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