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Videocast 1: The Cydonia Region of Mars

Explores claims made by "Mars anomalists" that the Cydonia region of Mars (the region with the "Face on Mars") was constructed, designed, or arranged by intelligent aliens. This episode takes you through the context of the claim, some of the math behind it, an exploration of the "null hypothesis" (what the results would be if it were purely random), and draws conclusions based on the latest orbital imagery of Mars.

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This movie has also been released to YouTube.

Special Video (#01): Richard C. Hoagland and the Ziggurat on the Moon

Richard C. Hoagland is at it again; this time, I take you on a short journey exploring Hoagland's claim that there is a ziggurat on the Moon. In this video exposé, I graphically show why this is a hoax, how this is a hoax, and conclude that Hoagland is an incompetent investigator (or lying that he did any investigation).

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Episode 162 - Geocentrism, Take 2

Young-Earth creationists who are not geocentrists - those who accept the Copernican Revolution so far as Earth's place in the universe - have a vested interest in combatting some forms of pseudoscience, including geocentrism. In this episode, I lay out some of their more convincing arguments against geocentrism and point out that their methods of argument are very similar to scientists, which leads one to wonder about hoe much cognitive dissonance one mind can hold.

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Episode 161 - Water on Earth: Coriolis and Tides

Inspired by one of the longest-running primetime television shows in history, and frustration with late-night radio hosts pretending they can Science, this episode addresses two common misconceptions about the forces from and on water on our planet and their effects on human scales. I first discuss whether Coriols makes toilet bowls swirl in opposite directions in opposite hemispheres, and then whether the moon's tides are strong enough to affect the water in your body.

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Episode 160 - Apollo Hoax: The US Flag Waving, and the Moon of No Return

A return to a tried-and-true subject of skepticism: the Apollo Moon Hoax. In this shorter episode, I discuss two of the most common claims that you may hear: Why does the US flag appear to be waving in photographs, and if we went to the moon, why haven't we been back?

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Episode 159 - A Proposal for the Geologic Definition of "Planet," Interview with Kirby Runyon

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union sparked an uproar and furious debate among scientists and non-scientists alike when they voted for a definition of the word, planet. Numerous proposals since that time have been made for the definition of that term. Eleven years later, a new proposal has gotten a lot of media attention and in this episode, we discuss that new proposed definition. This is closer to a friendly debate style because the host of this podcast and the guest have different points of view on this issue.

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Episode 158 - Getting Beyond the Photograph: Image Tricks with Dr. Tod Lauer

In past episodes, I have talked about how you can't get any more information out of an image than what is in a single pixel. Tod Lauer is an astronomer who has worked on all kinds of telscopes and instrument data and has developed numerous image processing techniques over his career. In this episode, we discuss some of those and how to correctly - versus incorrectly - apply them to image data to get to the best representation of the original object, or what the image was trying to capture.

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Episode 157 - Special Cross-Over Episode with The Reality Check, Astronomy Edition

In a special cross-over episode, the cast of The Reality Check (Cheque?) podcast come over and we all did short-ish segments on astronomy-related topics: Do we live in a black hole, the Drake equation, are aliens likely to be hostile, did Earth's magnetic field recently collapse, and lunacy. I also did a quiz and learned how difficult it is to make quiz questions that work over a podcast.

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Episode 156 - The Scientific Method: How We Get to What We Know

The scientific method is the process through which most modern science is done. Whether done explicitly in its formalized steps or not, it underlies the very basics of how we know what we know, why science is inherently a self-correcting process, and why when there exists a long-standing scientific consensus with broad support, it should not be taken as a political whim by a few motivated people.

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Episode 155 - New Science: Evidence for the Mandela Effect?

Magic mirror on the wall, when will reality shifts affect us all? A phenomenon known as the "Mandela Effect" has been making the rounds of paranormal shows for the last year or so, and it seems silly until they start to use real science to back it up. Then, I get mad, and you don't want to see me get mad. In this episode, we learn about our changing knowledge about the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Fallacies Detailed:Argumentum ad populum

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Episode 154 - Impact Crater Pseudoscience Mishmash

Impact craters form the basis of, or fit into the claimed evidence for, several different kinds of pseudoscientific claims. In this episode, I review two of them and also discuss some sensational headlines and why those headlines were wrong.

Fallacies Detailed:Misuse of Statistics, Gambler's Fallacy

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Episode 153 - What Is Radiation?

Radiation is a mechanism for a large array of pseudosciences out there today, almost on par with quantum mechanics. The purpose of this episode is to provide a primer of radiation - what it is, what it isn't, why some is scary, and why some isn't. In going through this discussion, I also address numerous pseudosciences, including claims by proponents that the Apollo missions were hoaxed, that granite countertops are deadly, that microwave ovens are irradiating your food, and that cell phone and wifi signals are harming you in some way.

Fallacies Detailed: Naturalistic Fallacy

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Episode 152 - Modern Flat Earth Thought, Part 3 (Young-Earth Creationists Debunking Flat Earth)

This podcast show most often focuses on refuting pseudoscience with real science, but it rarely sets out to make a positive case for real science. This episode is one of those rarer ones where I have used an unlikely source - youn-Earth creationists - to explain the case for why Earth is round and not flat.

Fallacies Detailed: Special pleading, Argument from authority, No True Scotsman

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Episode 151 - The Fake Story of Planet X, Part X - Nancy Leider Redux and Planet Nine Claims of 2016

Planet X is one of those topics that keeps coming up in pseudoscientific circles, in part because people who have been claiming it will come by and cause destruction continue to do so, making up new excuses as to why their last prediction failed. In this episode, I delve into the latest claims by Nancy Leider, one of the originators of the Planet X causes doom mythology, and I discuss some of the supposed discoveries and announcements in 2016 in the scientific community about a real extra, as-yet-unseen planet in our solar system.

Fallacies Detailed: none detailed

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Episode 150 - Is Dark Matter Liberal Pseudoscience?

Moving away from the Earth-centric episodes since The Return of the podcast, this epsidoe addresses the concept of dark matter and claims that it is pseudoscience (and liberal pseudoscience at that!). Throughout the episode, we explore the history of the concept, how it arose, and why it arose, and then some alternative explanations. I make the case that it is not pseudoscience at all, but real, genuine, Grade-A science.

Fallacies Detailed: Ad hominem, God of the Gaps, and Occam's Razor

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Episode 149 - Modern Flat Earth Thought, Part 2 (U.N. Flag and Airplane Flights)

Flat Earth proponents have numerous claims that they use to promote the concept that Earth is flat. In this episode, we examine two of the claims that are somewhat related: The world looks like the United Nations flag (therefore "they" are "giving it away"), and airplane flights somehow prove Earth is flat.

Fallacies Detailed: Argument Against Antiquity, Argument from Gut (Argument from Anecdote / Personal Experience), Straw Man

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Episode 148 - BONUS: X-Rays from Pluto

When a NASA press released announced that scientists had observed x-rays coming from Pluto, my knee-jerk reaction was that certain people would use this to claim that Pluto was built by aliens. A later thought was that some might use it to bolster their ideas of the electric universe. Conveniently, I was going to be seeing one of the main study authors, Dr. Casey Lisse, just a day later at a conference, so I interviewed him about the find to really figure out what was going on, what was expected, what was unexpected, and if aliens built everything.

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Episode 147 - The Hollow Earth According to David Icke

After 139 episodes, a return to some of the claims that Earth is hollow, this time as presented by David Icke. An examination into how gravity works, the structure of comets, magnetic fields, icebergs, and muskox migration patterns wrapped in an atmosphere of conspiracy that everything in our lives is run by fourth-dimensional reptilian aliens from Planet X.

Fallacies Detailed: Gish Gallop (mentioned: Argument from popularity, appeal to ridicule, argument against authority)

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Episode 146 - BONUS: Tracking Failed Planet X Predictions of Marshall Masters

Sometimes, things just get to you. A Planet X proponent who has been preaching catastrophe for years, keeps saying the doom will happen in about a year, and yet is objecitvely proven wrong each time, got to me. This episode is a documentation proving that Marshall Masters' Planet X timeline is wrong, that for years he's been saying it's about a year away and will be obvious to everyone, and that his latest statements for December 2017 will just be more of the same: NOTHING.

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Episode 145 - Modern Flat Earth Thought, Part 1

A beginning examination of some of the modern claims put forth by the very recent resurgeance of Flat Earth proponents.  This episode focuses on common (or not-so-common) sense, Earth's curvature, and the overall shape of the planet.  It has three additional segments past the main one: Logical Fallacy, Feedback, and Announcements.

Fallacies Detailed: False Dichotomy

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Episode 144 - Why We Know About Things Far Away but Not Nearby, and Lots of New News

A close examination of why astronomers claim that they know about things on the other side of the universe, but they can't figure out what's going on in our own backyard. Since this episode comes out two months after my previous, there are also three New News stories where I discuss a recent exosystem mystery, space law, and, conveniently, the new most-distant known object in our solar system.

Fallacies Detailed: False Equivalence

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Episode 143 - Round-Table Discussion with New Horizons Early Career Scientists

On July 7, 2015, one week before NASA's New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto and Charon, I sat down with six other early career scientists and interviewed them about several different topics related to the mission and just being a planetary scientist or scientist in general. And, for those listeners who stay to the end, there is a bonus of over 3 minutes of outtakes!

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Episode 142 - Who's on First? Origin of Ideas in Science

From an ego standpoint, it's nice to get credit if you're the first to do something or figure something out. But from a scientific standpoint, it's also important to remember what has been known so we don't waste resources rediscovering something. And, from a pseudoscientific standpoint, many people like to take credit for imaginary claims about discovering something before scientists. On this episode, I explore all of these.

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Episode 141 - The Physics of the A=440 Hz Conspiracy

A conspiracy idea is that part of Nazi Germany propaganda was to redefine the musical standard for the world, moving it up in pitch from a standard A4 note that vibrates at 432 Hz to the more jarring 440 Hz which allows mind control and agitates people to be more war-like. I look into this claim from a physics and physical standpoint to determe if it could have any validity.

Fallacies Detailed: Natural Fallacy (Argument from Nature)

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Episode 140 - Doomsmonth: September 2015

There are a lot of rumors going around that September 2015 is going to result in doom and gloom, with the destruction of financial markets, or maybe the world will end in a Christian New Testiment way, or we'll just get whacked by an asteroid. I talk about five different rumors in this episode and I put them in context with other, past claims, and other, past claims of the exact same thing that (obviously) did not result in doomsday.

Fallacies Detailed: Correlation = Causation (Post hoc, ergo propter hoc), Cherry Picking

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Episode 139 - New Horizons Pluto Encounter Conspiracies, Part 2

A look at many of the conspiracies related to the New Horizons mission through the Pluto-Charon system. This Part 2 episode focuses on anomaly-hunting -based conspiracies, including the alleged secret space program and a lot of image analysis.

Fallacies Detailed: Anomaly Hunting, Single Cause Fallacy

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Episode 138 - New Horizons Pluto Encounter Conspiracies, Part 1

A look at many of the conspiracies related to the New Horizons mission through the Pluto-Charon system. This Part 1 episode focuses on some of the more mundane conspiracies, such as those related to naming conventions, the data download plan, and young-Earth creationism.

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Episode 137 - Why Earth Is Old, Without Radiometric Dating

Most often when discussing the age of the Earth or the solar system, scientists refer to radiometric dating. In kind, young-Earth creationists will try almost exclusively to poke holes in radiometric dating. But, before radioactive decay was discovered over one century ago, scientists in many different fields had already concluded that Earth was at least millions, if not hundreds of millions of years old. This episode discusses the reasoning they used.

Fallacies Detailed: Non sequitur (related to Episode 133)

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Episode 136 (BONUS) - How Science Journalists Go from Scientists to the Public

I briefly spoke with two of the science journalists who are embedded within NASA's New Horizons team for the spacecraft's flyby of the Pluto-Charon system. I asked them how they work to convert the complicated and technical science into something the public can digest and get excited about.

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Episode 135 - How New Horizons Takes Photographs, Interview with Dr. John Spencer

I bring you an interview with Dr. John Spencer, head of the hazards search for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto, and co-deputy of the Geology and Geophysics Investigation team for New Horizons. We discuss how spacecraft images are processed, unique challenges for New Horizons, and some of the things we're doing to try to avoid creation of anomalies that some people might try to claim are evidence for a conspiracy.

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Episode 134 - Big Bang Denial

The Big Bang is the model that is used to explain what happened just after the origin of the universe. No more, and no less. But there are different kinds of arguments that people make to argue that the Big Bang never happened. In this episode, we go through some of these arguments and the arguments made by scientists to support Big Bang cosmology.

Fallacies Detailed: Argument from Personal Incredulity, Argument from (Final) Consequences, Over or Hasty Generalization (Where there's smoke, there's fire), Appeal to Accomplishment or Success, Jumping to Conclusions, Shoehorning

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Episode 133 - Element 115 and the Credibility of Bob Lazar's Claims

Bob Lazar is often credited - at least in part - with re-energizing the UFO field in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Unfortunately for the field, most who have looked into his claims have found them lacking in veracity. In this episode, I look specifically into his claims about ununpentium, also known as Element 115, which is supposed to be the source of propulsion for UFOs and work in their energy production.

Fallacies Detailed: Argument from Authority

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Episode 132 - In Search Of Planet X (Live from Denver ComicCon)

On May 24, 2015, I presented a live talk at the Denver ComicCon modeled after Leonard Nimoy's "In Search Of" televsision series. The session title was, "Skeptical Science." The topic was Planet X, chosen because it has grown into a large class of different claims all under the moniker "Planet X," and so an exploration of it can explore a wide variety of critical thinking -based concepts.

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Episode 131 - Clip Show #3: Blood Moons, Ceres' Bright Spots, MESSENGER's Death, and Funding in Science Follow-Up

A lot of small threads are discussed in this episodes: The latest lunar eclipse and its relation to the Blood Moons phenomenon, the bright spots on Ceres and conspiracies surrounding them, MESSENGER's crash landing into Mercury, and a follow-up to the Pamela Gay interview about funding in science. Also in this episode is my - and listeners' - tribute to Leonard Nimoy.

Fallacies Detailed: Argument from Anecdote, Unrepresentative Sample ("Cherry Picking")

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Episode 130 - Dealing with Pseudoscience at Scientific Conferences

Who can present at a scientific conference is often shrouded in mystery to non-scientists, and it is viewed as an Ivory Gate by pseudoscientists. In this episode, we hear from the program committee chair of the largest planetary science conference in the world, Dr. Dave Draper, about how selections are made and what happens when ideas against the mainstream are submitted for presentations at these meetings.

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Episode 129 - The Saga of Comet Hale-Bopp and its Fugacious Companion, Part 3

Comet Hale-Bopp put on a fantastic display for Earth-bound skywatchers for over two years, often considered "the" comet of the 20th century. But, conspiracies and fear marred the event and led to the suicide of 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult. In this Part 3 of 3 episodes, I discuss the cult's belief system, their suicide, and the continued pseudoscience about Comet Hale-Bopp after their deaths.

Fallacies Detailed: Straw Man

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Episode 128 - The Saga of Comet Hale-Bopp and its Fugacious Companion, Part 2

Comet Hale-Bopp put on a fantastic display for Earth-bound skywatchers for over two years, often considered "the" comet of the 20th century. But, conspiracies and fear marred the event and led to the suicide of 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult. In this Part 2 of 3 episodes, I discuss how decidedly unceientific claims and methods were used to divine information that became a key component of the mythology.

Fallacies Detailed: Argument from authority; the Skeptics' BS Meter

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Episode 127 - The Saga of Comet Hale-Bopp and its Fugacious Companion, Part 1

Comet Hale-Bopp put on a fantastic display for Earth-bound skywatchers for over two years, often considered "the" comet of the 20th century. But, conspiracies and fear marred the event and led to the suicide of 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult. In this Part 1 of 3 episodes, I discuss the photographic claims of a companion object and their eventual reveal as a misunderstanding and fraud.

Fallacies Detailed: Argument Against Authority, Cum hoc ergo propter hoc

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Episode 126 - The Facts and Misconceptions Behind Funding in Science, with Dr. Pamela Gay

The issue of funding in science is near and dear to my heart ... or, perhaps to my grocery, rent, and utility bills. Most people who are not in science do not know - and have many misconceptions about - how research scientists get funding and what they do with it. In this episode, I interview and discuss with Dr. Pamela Gay this significant issue and why it is a larger issue than many realize.

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Episode 125 - The Black Hole Conspiracy

Black holes seem like a given in popular culture: They exist, they have to, right? Well, some people claim they don't. In this episode, we go through the theoretical underpinnings for black holes, some of the observational evidence for their existence, and examine some of the claims made by credentialed and practicing physicists who state that black holes cannot exist.

Fallacies Detailed: Argument from (Personal) Incredulity, Argument from Ridicule, Burden of Proof

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Episode 124 - The Astronomical Distance Ladder

Measuring distance in every-day life requires some basic tools like a ruler. But who holds the other end when we want to measure the distance to the next galaxy? In response to young-Earth creationist claims, this episode delves into some of the science of how we measure distances across the cosmos and how all those different measurements fit together in what we call the Astronomical Distance Ladder.

Fallacies Detailed: Argument from (Personal) Incredulity, Argument from Ridicule

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Episode 123 - The Science and Pseudoscience of Communicating with Aliens

Lingust, Dr. Karen Stollznow, discusses some of the communication problems on our own planet and how that translates to the huge potential problems of communicating with any type of intelligent creature who originated off our planet. We used this information to discuss some claimed contactees and how linguists have debunked their claimed communication with aliens.

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Episode 122 - Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and Rosetta Conspiracies

The Rosetta mission with a destination of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has faced numerous conspiracies circulating throughout the internet (and even more mispronunciations of its target). In this episode, I talk about a few of them.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 121 - James McCanney's Views on Other Stuff in the Universe, Part 2

I've listened to Coast to Coast AM for many years, and one of the repeating "science" guests I have not yet talked about on this show is James McCanney. His ideas can broadly be classified as falling into the Electric Universe model, and he is best known for his ideas about comets. While Part 1 dealt with those cometary ideas exclusively, this Part 2 deals with his ideas regarding Venus, the Big Bang, the Apollo moon landings, Planet X, weather, and conspiracies in general.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 120 - James McCanney's Views on Comets, Part 1

I've listened to Coast to Coast AM for many years, and one of the repeating "science" guests I have not yet talked about on this show is James McCanney. His ideas can broadly be classified as falling into the Electric Universe model, and he is best known for his ideas about comets. It is these cometary ideas that are the focus of this Part 1 episode.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 119 - The Norway Spiral

On December 9, 2009, a strange spiral anomaly appeared in the skies over Trøndelag, Norway, and Northern Norway, a day before President Barack Obama arrived to accept his Nobel Peace Prize. As with other weird, unexplained events, this gigantic blue- and yellow/or/white-glowing spiral has become a pet example of many different fill-in-the-blank paranormal phenomena.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 118 - The Big Mars Hoax / The Two Moons Hoax

"Come one, come all! See the never-before-seen and never-to-be-seen again phenomenon of two moons in the sky, when Mars appears as large as the moon! This August 27 ... don't miss it!" So the paraphrased claim goes. And goes around every August. I don't seem to recall seeing Mars as big as the Moon in the sky, so in this episode I explore the origins of the claim and why it can never be true.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 117 - Eyewitness Accounts and UFOs, Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Loftus

The majority of UFO = aliens reports today - if not in quality then at least in quantity - come from simple eyewitness testimony. People often point to "trained observers" as being key witnesses, such as police officers or pilots. But, skeptics tend to dismiss these reports, and in this episode, Dr. Elizabeth Loftus shares her research into the fallibility and manipulability of human memory, with implications for why this kind of testimony is not considered good evidence.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 116 - The Electric Universe, Part 1, with Dr. Tom Bridgman

Continuing from Part 1 which was a broad introduction to the Electric Universe concept, in this episode we delve into four different Electric Universe models for the Sun and explore whether the direct predictions made based upon those models bear out in observations.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 115 - The Electric Universe, Part 1, with Dr. Tom Bridgman

When originally formulated, the Electric Universe umbrella of ideas was a serious area of investigation. And Dr. Tom Bridgman describes many of the early tests that were done ... and why they failed. In this Part 1, we discuss a lot of these early ideas, tests, and a general overview of the Electric Universe.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 114 - Ethics in Science, with Special Guest Interview, Dr. Jeffrey Robbins

This episode was spurred by the #FacebookExperiment where researchers tried to influence moods of ≈700,000 people, without their explicit knowledge or consent. Using that as a starting point, I interview my father (Dr. Jeffrey Robbins) about ethics in science and especially in human research. I then talk about my take on the subject and bring it back to ethics in general, and contrast that with pseudoscientists.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 113 - The Blue-Haze Limb of Mars

The True Color of Mars conspiracy was dispelled in Episode 74, but a niggling part remained: What about the haze of blue around the limb of Mars seen in many photos of it from Earth orbit, especially from the Hubble Space Telescope? This part of the conspiracy has a surprising result -- it's true!

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 112 - Is Mercury's Magnetic Field Decaying? Does that Prove Recent Creation?

In 2008, and ever since, young-Earth creationists have claimed that MESSENGER spacecraft results from the planet Mercury indicate that Mercury's magnetic field has been decreasing, in-line with creationist Russell Humphreys' prediction back in 1984. Find out if the data support this, and if there are other explanations. Or, if we need to throw out an old Mercury for a recently created one.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 111 - The Cydonia Region of Mars

Explores claims made by "Mars anomalists" that the Cydonia region of Mars (the region with the "Face on Mars") was constructed, designed, or arranged by intelligent aliens. This episode takes you through the context of the claim, some of the math behind it, an exploration of the "null hypothesis" (what the results would be if it were purely random), and draws conclusions based on the latest orbital imagery of Mars. (Note: This episode is inended as a companion to the video, also in the podcast feed and on YouTube, by the same name. It is stand-alone, however.)

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 110 - Solar System Mysteries "Solved" by PseudoScience, Part 2 - The Pioneer Anomaly

Imagine, if you will, that NASA sent two spacecraft out into the solar system, launched in 1972 and 1973. Their sexy encounters with Jupiter and Saturn over a mere two and six years later, respectively, they were alone and pretty much forgotten by most of the world that had watched their launch, though they continued to return data to interested scientists. It was only when something weird was observed, first as early as the 1980s, but not seriously investigated until 1994, that the world began to again take notice, and as is often the case of something unexplained, everyones' pet idea came out of the wood work.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 109 - The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 9 - Marshall Masters

This is the story of a time in the present, a time of myth and legend. When the ancient tales are petty and cruel, and they will return to plague mankind with suffering. Only one group dared to challenge the disinformation machine, led by a man named Marshall Masters. Masters possesses an intellect the truth movement rarely sees, being a member of Mensa, an intellect surpassed only by the power of his heart to get the word out. He journeyed the internet and late-night radio programs, battling the minions of the evil disinformationers, and the all-powerful NASA.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 108: Practical Application of Uncertainty - Getting Around the Solar System

Episode 94 was probably kinda boring, learning about error, uncertainty, accuracy, precision, and all that stuff. Well, it's back, but this time more interesting! Learn all about what our inability to make perfect measurements means for how we get around the solar system - from Superman flying to Mars to satellites orbiting to asteroids hitting Earth to observing objects with spacecraft.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 107: Clip Show #2

It's that time again when several small bits of pseudoscience have accumulated to the overflowing point, and I've put them together into another clip show. This one discusses whether gravity is a force (or if we've been lied to about it), whether the moon is a hologram (put up there by Illuminati aliens?), and something weird about rainbows and chemtrails and evil.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 106: A Fission Origin for the Moon, Part 2

From forming the moon by budding it off Earth in the last episode, we go to forming the planets by them budding off the Sun. This is mainly an idea by the late Tom van Flandern, and I go through his model, his evidence for it, and the evidence against it, and there is a discussion of some of his surviving advocates.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 105: A Fission Origin for the Moon, Part 1

While I talked briefly about the fission model of lunar origins in Episode 53, it deserves a more in-depth discussion, especially as a setup for the next episode about a fission formation for the planets, from the sun. This episode takes you through a historic context and justifications for the "Big Split," but it ultimately why it has been rejected by the scientific community today.

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 104: Pyramids on Mars

Pyramids on Mars may not be as sexy, popular, or well-known as the "Face," but they are much more prevalent with many different persons pointing to many different features on the planet that appear to be pyramids. Now the question is, ┐Are they natural or unnatural?

Puzzler: There was no puzzler in this episode.

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Episode 103: Does Jupiter Support Young-Earth Creationism?

Any legitimate field of science or scientific object is fair game for young-Earth creationists in their attempts to sew doubt about an old universe. Somehow, Jupiter is dependent on evolution and since Jupiter can't be old, evolution can't have happened, therefore Goddidit many (where many = 6) thousands of years ago. Or not.

Puzzler: Same as Episode 103.

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Episode 102: Q&A and D at the Launceston Skeptics in the Pub

A Q&A and discussion happened after I gave my presentation at the Launceston Skeptics in the Pub (Episode 99). Listen in as we talk about the goals of skepticism, what other kinds of astronomy topics there are, and about real astronomy observations.

Puzzler: Same as Episode 101.

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Episode 101: The Chualar Barley Field Crop Circle and Reporting on it by Linda Moulton Howe

A mysterious crop circle appeared during the night of December 27-28, 2013, in Chualar, California. Security guards quickly came to guard the circle, and then it was mysteriously plowed under just a few days later. Crop circle researchers point to numerous lines of evidence that this was made by aliens, but it was later revealed to be a publicity stunt by NVIDIA. Or was it?

Puzzler: How could you tell if something was done by extraterrestrials?

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Episode 100: The Hundredth Episode Spectacular!

For the hundredth episode of the Exposing PseudoAstronomy podcast, I pay homage to paranormal radio programs and play the credulous host with two guests and several callers. The show is complete with commercials and bumper music and spans two nearly hour-long segments.

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Episode 99: The Saga of the Lunar Ziggurat

In July of 2012, I did an analysis of a photo purported to show a genuine ziggurat (a step pyramid) on the Moon. I showed that it was more likely to be a hoax than not. What ensued grew to more than I expected, with name-calling, mud-slinging, various side-claims, and other things that I relate in this live talk I gave twice while in Australia.

Puzzler: Same as Episode 94.

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Episode 98: Interview with Michael Heiser on Ancient Aliens and Zecharia Sitchin, Part 2

Michael Heiser is an expert in ancient languages and his work led him to investigate the possibility - or the claimed evidence for - ancient aliens and related materials. In this second part of a two-part series, we talk about the claims of Zecharia Sitchin; we don't discuss the specific details, but rather we delve into the claimed evidence that Sitchin used in his numerous books about the Anunnaki and Nibiru.

Puzzler: Same as Episode 94.

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Episode 97: Interview with Michael Heiser on Ancient Aliens and Zecharia Sitchin, Part 1

Michael Heiser is an expert in ancient languages and his work led him to investigate the possibility - or the claimed evidence for - ancient aliens and related materials. In this first part of a two-part series, we talk about how he got interested in the topic, his approach, and an investigation he facilitated into the infamous "MJ12" documents.

Puzzler: Same as Episode 94.

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Episode 96: The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View with Aaron Adair

The Star of Bethlehem is perhaps one of the most famous astronomical events, but it's one that we're not even sure really happened. Much ink has been spilled on the topic, and in this interview, Aaron Adair talks about his new book ("The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View") and the methodic approach he takes, examining primary source material, interpretations of the text and possible events at the time, and what, based on the available evidence, the famous Star may have been, or if it was ever there.

Puzzler: Same as Episode 94.

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Episode 95: The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 8 - Zecharia Sitchin, Revisited

Zecharia Sitchin's ideas about Planet X were discussed in Episode 23, where I also presented numerous reasons why his Planet X - Nibiru - does not exist. This episode discusses some of the news stories over the past decade that the man posted to his website and claimed supported his ideas, and I address whether they do or do not.

Puzzler: Same as Episode 94.

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Episode 94: Error and Uncertainty in Science

What a scientist means by "accuracy" and "precision" are usually different from common, every-day use. The process of formal error analysis and their propagation to a final formal uncertainty applied to a final result is also generally not well understood. This episode discusses all of these, focusing on different types of error in scientific data and experiments.

Puzzler: The equatorial circumference of the earth is 21600 nautical miles, 24901.55 miles, or 40075.16 km. What is the circumference of the moon in nautical miles?

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Episode 93: The Importance, Methods, and Faults of Peer Review

Peer Review is one of the foundations of modern science, and yet, outside of science, it is a poorly understood process even though many think they understand it. It is also one of the common threads of ire among pseudoscientists, mainly because they cannot pass it. This episode goes through how peer review works not only for scholarly papers but also how that research may have been funded to begin with, grant review.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 92: Spiral Galaxies and a Young Universe

A classic young-Earth creationist claim is that spiral galaxies would wind themselves up and become a uniform disk if they had been around for millions or billions of years. In this episode, I go through this basic claim and why a basic misunderstanding of spiral galaxy arms leads to its conclusion.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 91: The Binary Star Hypothesis

Some think that our Sun is part of a binary star system, that there is another star out there, gravitationally bound, that does bad things to us from time-to-time. This has some observational data that it can explain. But, what about current data, and what about current searches for such an object? And, where do genuine scientific pursuits cross the line into pseudoscience?

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 90: Investigation into Billy Meier's Alleged Foreknowledge About Stuff About Jupiter and Saturn

It is claimed by many that Billy Meier is a UFO contactee. As partial evidence of this, it is claimed that he wrote about things well before anyone on Earth (including scientists) knew about them. In this episode, I go through a lengthy process of exploring some such writings that people have claimed are good evidence of this, specifically ones related to Jupiter and Saturn.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 89: Remaining Issues with Lunar Formation, Interview with Robin Canup

Dr. Robin Canup is the Associate Vice President of the Planetary Science Directorate at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO. She received her BS in physics from Duke University and her PhD in planetary sciences from the University of Colorado, and Robin has been at the forefront for over a decade in simulating how the moon may have formed. In this interview, we discuss some of the remaining issues with how the moon may have formed and what the current state of the research is.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 88: Is Phobos Hollow?

A common claim by Richard Hoagland is that various celestial objects are artificial or have artificial objects or structures upon or within them. One such object is Mars' inner moon, Phobos. This episode is a look at the history of the claim and the evidence presented.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 87: Colorado Flood Special: Conspiracy Edition

A special behind-the-scenes look at the development of mini-conspiracies surrounding the recent Colorado floods by yours truly.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 86: Was Mars Murdered?

Xenon-129 was discovered in abundance by the Viking landers on Mars. Xenon-129 can only be produced in nuclear reactions, so claims John E. Brandenburg. Ergo, Mars was murdered in a vast nuclear exchange. Or was it?

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 85: Blood Moons, Jewish Holidays, and the End of All Things

Around 2008, the claim that Jewish holidays occurring during a Blood Moon in 2014 and 2015 was going to signal the Apocalypse. The claim persists in some circles today. Exploring the nature of eclipses and the Jewish calendar itself sheds some light onto the basic claim.

Puzzler: Is there ever a time when the moon is up that, with modern photographic equipment, you can capture both the moon and hundreds of stars and have both be visible AND properly exposed in a single shot? If so, when, and if not, why not?

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Episode 84: David Sereda's Claims Clip Show, Part 2

David Sereda started as a UFOlogist who became interested in "alternative" energy, propulsion, and anti-gravity. Over the years, he branched out into what most would term a general "new age" movement with quantum vibration jewelry and harmonic resonances. In this second of two parts, I discuss numerous varied claims that he has made related to basic science, physics, and astronomy, that illustrate various misunderstandings of each field.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 83: David Sereda's Claims Clip Show, Part 1

David Sereda started as a UFOlogist who became interested in "alternative" energy, propulsion, and anti-gravity. Over the years, he branched out into what most would term a general "new age" movement with quantum vibration jewelry and harmonic resonances. In this first of two parts, I discuss this evolution and go through a few of his claims. Part two will focus on many more of his claims.

Puzzler: Same as Episode 82

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Episode 82: How to Design a Hyperdimensional Physics Experiment

Richard C. Hoagland has claimed now for at least a decade that there exists a “hyperdimensional torsion physics” which is based partly on spinning stuff. I assume he is correct in his model and claims and that his Accutron watch can actually measure what he claims. I then go through how you would properly design an experiment to test the claims and show why the data that Mr. Hoagland has presented is, quite literally, meaningless.

Puzzler: I mentioned that Richard Hoagland actually claims the orientation relative to the spinning sphere matters. If that's the case, how would you modify the basic design of the experiment I outlined, and what additional things would you need to keep track of?

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Episode 81: Is the Speed of Light Constant?

Astronomical objects are an astronomically large distance away. So far, in fact, that for light, at its current speed, to get from there to us so we can see them, that the universe must be more than 6000 years old. Young-Earth creationists have a problem with that. This epiosde discusses one of the ways they try to solve that problem.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 80: The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 7 - Mark Hazlewood

In yet another edition of "Fake Planet X" stories, this time I talk about Mark Hazlewood's claims surrounding his failed prediction of a 2003 approach. Hazlewood borrowed a lot from Nancy Lieder (she claims he copied her), but he is much more conspiratorial.

Puzzler: On its current orbit, could Mars ever appear as large as our Moon? If not, why? And, if not, how close would it need to be to Earth to appear as large as the Moon?

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Episode 79: Is the Movie "John Carter" a Leak by Those "In the Know?"

By most accounts, Disney's "John Carter" movie, based on the books by Edgar R. Burroughs, was a box office flop. It did get decent reviews, and I don't think it's not worth seeing. But Richard C. Hoagland saw something different, and in an exclusive, three-hour interview in April 2012, he laid out his case that "John Carter" was depicting Mars as it really was, and the Therns who controlled things from behind the scenes were what is going on today, on Earth.

Puzzler: The Guinness Book of World Records lists the farthest long jump for a male as 8.95 m (29' 4.4"), and the highest high jump for a male as 2.45 m (8' 0.5"). The movie, John Carter, shows the protagonist jumping at least several hundred meters/yards. Is that realistic, given the difference in gravity between Earth and Mars? If not, then how far should he have been able to travel, if you take the numbers for a male on Earth for the longest and highest jumps?

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Episode 78: Historic and Modern Geocentrism

Ancient astronomers searched for evidence and found none that Earth is not the center of the universe. Thousands of years later, we found that evidence, but there are still people today who point to other reasons and claim heliocentrism is wrong. This episode explores those and some independent ways to show why geocentrism doesn't work.

Puzzler: All orbits are ellipses. Some are more elliptical than others, but there are no perfectly circular orbits. Why is that?

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Episode 77: 2012 Back-Peddling

In the long-delayed "2012 Back-Peddling" episode that is this, I talk about a few examples of people saying one thing or group of things is/are going to happen on or about December 21, 2012, and then their reactions (or lack there-of) when it didn't. Or claims that it still did. We'll see ...

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 76: Nancy Lieder's Astronomy Clip Show

Nancy Lieder is best known for her failed prognostications about Planet X coming in May 2003. Lost among her many Planet X claims is a deeper misunderstanding of astronomy. In this episode, I delve into several of her astronomy misstatements and explain what's really going on.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 75: Young-Earth Creationist, David Coppedge, Sues NASA for Discrimination, and He Loses

Back in 2010, David Coppedge, a young-Earth creationist and an Intelligent Design advocate, sued NASA for workplace discrimination, alleging he had been discriminated against due to his religious views. He later amended the lawsuit for wrongful termination after he was fired. In early 2013, the lawsuit was thrown out in its entirety. This episode is an interview with a legal expert about the case.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 74: The True Color of Mars

The color of Mars seems like it should be something fairly simple to know and represent. Scientists claim to have solved it very early on, but a branch of conspiracy theories claims that, in fact, NASA and other space agencies have lied about the true color of Mars for decades.

Puzzler: Could scientists use the atmospheric measurements, looking at composition and particle size, to determine from first principles what the sky color should be?

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Episode 73: Image Analysis for Skeptics: From Faces to Pyramids (Live Talk)

The first public, and abridged, version of a TAM 2013 workshop on image processing and analysis for skeptics. This was a live talk presented at the Denver 2013 Skepticamp in front of a live studio audience. Besides background information, this talk used basic skills to analyze the infamous Face on Mars and a lesser known lunar step pyramid.

Puzzler: I mentioned that it takes thousands of years for light produced in the Sun to reach Earth. Why is that?

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Episode 72: Solar System Mysteries "Solved" by PseudoScience, Part 1 - Iapetus

In this first edition of Solar System Mystery Science Theater, we learn about Iapetus, a weird moon of Saturn that has features unlike any other object in the solar system. Some have explained those with exploding planets and spaceships. Others look for something that makes sense.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 71: The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 6 - Andy Lloyd's "Dark Star"

Andy Lloyd has a chemistry background and has had an interest in astronomy his whole life. He also likes Zecharia Sitchin's idea of Nibiru and the Annunaki. In his book, "The Dark Star," Andy tries to reconcile what he knows about astronomy with Sitchin's model to create a "neo-Sitchin" proposal that just might be plausible, so long as his changes don't introduce their own new problems.

Puzzler: Why do objects become tidally locked?

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Episode 70: The Ringmakers of Saturn

The Ringmakers of Saturn by Norman R. Berbrun makes a premise, claimed to be consistent with all other research on Saturn's rings, that the rings are created by the exhaust of gigantic space vehicles. He determined this through analyzing blow-ups of photographs returned to Earth by the Voyager spacecraft.

Puzzler: Something I found absolutely amazing - and still do - is that Saturn's rings are tens of thousands of kilometers across, but they are, literally, only about 10 meters thick. Why are they so thin relative to their horizontal extent?

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Episode 69: The Solar Neutrino "Problem"

A problem for particle physics and solar physics sparked a somewhat technical argument by young-Earth creationists that our Sun is a young star, only a few thousand years old. Unfortunately for them, the problem was solved in 2001, but I'm getting ahead of my story ...

Puzzler: I mentioned that it takes thousands of years for light produced in the Sun to reach Earth. Why is that?

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Episode 68: Expat in Hoaglandia: A Fantasia of NASA Conspiracies

My first returning guest - and my first guest ever - is the pseudononymous "Expat" who produced numerous programs for the BBC about the Apollo-era space program. He has spent his semi-retirement battling pseudoscience espoused by Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara, and in this podcast we discuss several of the more conspiratorial NASA-related claims of Richard Hoagland and his followers.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 67: Russian Meteor Conspiracies

The Chelyabinsk meteor is the largest known to pass through Earth's atmosphere since the Tunguska event in 1908. Given the technology today, it's also the best studied and so we know a lot about it. However, many different conspiracies and related ideas have cropped up in just the past two weeks since the explosion, and this episode covers some of the major ones.

Puzzler: How could you find out whether it was a comet or an asteroid that hit?

Retro Puzzler for Ep. 66: How many logical fallacies can you spot - and what are they - in the quote about the Fashion Pendant?

The basic technology of what is inside our Fashion Pendant is what is called a Schumann Resonator. What makes it so special aside from you will learn below, is how we designed the electronics. We are the first to create such a device that runs off a standard watch battery and still lasts for an estimated one year. ... The energy emitted from our Fashion Pendant also is the first of it's kind to travel through people. ... Schumann Resonance is the fundamental tuning fork of the planet, and is used by all living things as a base frequency that tunes and balances the mind and body. The Schumann Resonance frequency range is the same as the human brain Theta and Alpha waves, and these brain waves are in part tuned by the Schumann Resonance frequency range. It is also evident as seen by an EEG machine that the human brain responds extremely well to Schumann Resonance and responds very badly to the 60HZ EMF emitted by electrical wiring and power lines. Even NASA continues to research the impact of Schumann Resonance.

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Episode 66: The Schumann Resonance

Many proponents of "new-age" thought reference the Schumann Resonance, claiming that it's increasing as we approach something, or that it's being drown out by electromagnetic pollution from modern society. In reality, it's a phenomenon that's well understood, is basic to how Earth and the atmosphere interact, and is very constant.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 65: JosÚ Escamilla's Movie "Celestial"

The movie "Celestial" is an hour-long fantasia of misunderstanding images and parediolia. In this episode, I talk more about the basics of image processing and delve into more detail about color compositing than I have in previous episodes.

Puzzler: Why does the Sun appear yellow?

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Episode 64: Quantum Nonsense

This episode is a mostly informational one about quantum mechanics -- what are its primary concepts and some popular thought experiments. In the middle of the episode, I bring in some clips demonstrating misuse of these terms and concepts, and then the episode ends with answering the question of whether classical mechanics is dead now that we have quantum mechanics and general relativity.

Puzzler: If I'm writing a recipe that calls for 1 part butter, 4+ε parts peanut butter, and 8-ε parts powdered sugar, and 4 parts semi-sweet chocolate, what am I making?

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Episode 63: Clip Show #1

It was bound to happen at some point: The clip show, characterized by several miscellaneous claims that are too small to be their own show. This clip show deals with pendulums, Earth's moon, magnetic fields, habitability, and exoplanets.

Puzzler: What logical fallacy or fallacies best sum up this quote? "We took our books when they first came out, and we sent them to a whole series of leading scientists, and begged and plead with these people to get back to us and tell us where we had gone wrong. In other words, where were our numbers wrong. And, um, the reaction has been absolutely nothing. And we feel sure that if somebody could take our book to pieces and say, 'Look, you invented this, or look you massaged this, or look you've made this,' that somebody would have done so by now. And the fact is that our numbers are sound. And if our numbers are sound, then the strangeness of the Moon is sound. We need some explanation!"

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Episode 62: Interview with Bill Hudson About 2012hoax.org

Bill Hudson is an amateur astronomer out of California (USA) who, for four years, operated the 2012hoax.org website. In this interview, we discuss his motivation for starting it, some of the stats on how the site was visited, Bill's favorite back-peddling now that we're into 2013, and his new endeavor: cosmophobia.org.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 61: Is Invoking Giant Impacts Special Pleading?

Giant asteroid strikes have been used to explain a host of weird things about the solar system. The question is, is doing so a form of special pleading, or is there a good reason to blame these impact events?

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 60: The Face on Mars, Part 2

In the second of two parts, I review why the Face on Mars is best explained by pareidolia. Then I discuss Mark Carlotto's image analysis, other faces found by various people on Mars, and finally the conspiracy angle.

Puzzler: Send in your favorite/best example of pareidolia from a planetary image.

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Episode 59: The Face on Mars, Part 1

In the first of two parts, the history and some of the claims surrounding the famous "Face on Mars" are discussed in detail, including several follow-up images. Pareidolia and image analysis are discussed at length, as well.

Puzzler: Search through any image from any spacecraft to Mars and find an example of pareidolia that you think is BETTER than the original Viking image of the face. And it can't be the Smiley Face crater.

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Episode 58 (BONUS): Post-December 21, 2012 Solstice - We're Still Here

The solstice of December 21, 2012, has now come and gone. Guess what? We're still here.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 57: Doom from the Sun on December 21, 2012

For the final 2012-related episode, the one major science claim not yet covered is something from the sun doing something bad to us on December 21, 2012. With protective eyewear recommended, this episode peers into the basic claim, the physics involved, the unknown - and the known - about what could happen from the sun that could cause us grief on Earth.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 56: Photography Claims of the Apollo Moon Hoax, Part 3

The third of three episodes regarding photographic claims related to the Apollo Moon Hoax conspiracy. This contains a slew of miscellaneous claims, ranging from why we can't image the landers from Earth to why there are no stars in the photos to the infamous "C" rock.

Puzzler: If you were to be approached by a rational Apollo Moon Hoax proponent, what do you think is the most convincing piece of evidence that the landings were real?

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Episode 55: Interview on Extraterrestrial Life with Dr. Brian Hynek

Dr. Brian Hynek (no relation to J. Allen Hynek) is a professor in the geological sciences department at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Over the past decade, he has built a multi-faceted research program to explore different ways of getting at the basic question: Is there life on other planets in our solar system? In this interview, we talk about the different ways to address this question and some of the ways not to address it.

Puzzler: If we were to design a mission to another planet today, what type of mission (lander or orbiter) and what instruments would be best to make what kinds of measurements to try to detect microorganism life, assuming it's life as we know it? Put another way, you are put in charge of planning a mission to search for life. What kind of mission would it be, what kind of measurements would you need to make, and what kind of instruments would you need?

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Episode 54: The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 5 (IRAS Discovery in 1983)

In yet another episode on the Fake Story of Planet X, this episode explores the claim that NASA's IRAS survey actually found Planet X in 1983, and it was even reported in news papers. Since then, it's all been covered up. At least, that's what they claim.

Puzzler: This puzzler is an exploratory one with perhaps a few possible answers. One hypothesis that has existed is that there's a planet Vulcan interior to Mercury. Or perhaps a population of asteroids called the vulcanoids. So far, none have been discovered. Given that Mercury is so difficult to observe, how can we go about trying to determine if such a planet or population of asteroids exists? And as a hint, astrology is not a correct answer.

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Episode 53: Lunar Formation and Origins

A run-down of the various models of how the moon formed. This episode doesn't have much pseudoscience to go with it, but it's a good example of the scientific process at work.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 52: The Mystery of Phobos 2

Did the Soviet Phobos 2 mission encounter an alien mothership just before it was lost, or was this something created two years after the fact by UFO enthusiasts who played fast and loose with the facts to create a fanciful tale based on image artifacts and conspiracy?

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 51: The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 4 (Nancy Lieder)

Up through mid-2003, Nancy Lieder claimed Planet X would come close to Earth and cause major catastrophes. It didn't happen. She's still active, claimes Planet X is still there, and while many don't take her seriously, we can learn a lot about the 2012 phenomenon from what happened with her in 2003 and the subsequent years.

Puzzler: Nancy Lieder claimed that it's 23x the size, so we'll assume diameter, of Jupiter, and that it's 4x the mass of Jupiter. She also said its gravity is 50% more than Earth's - we'll assume she means surface gravity - and that it is a water world with just a few landmasses. Is what she said plausible based on what we know from basic physics?

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Episode 50: Lunatic Earthquakes: Do Tides Cause Quakes?

It would seem that if lunar tides cause or trigger earthquakes that everyone would know about it and beware of doom during the supermoon, but according to a few people, a vast conspiracy by Some has kept this free and easy-to-use earthquake predictor out of the general knowledge. Find out what the statistics actually show.

Puzzler: There were two puzzlers this episode. First, while the Moon causes tides on Earth, there will also be tides on the Moon. When are tides largest on the Moon? Same time their largest on Earth, or at a different time -- why? Second, we don't think that Mars has any plate tectonics. Would it experience quakes, and if so, what could cause them? Keep in mind for both of these that there may be more than one answer.

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Episode 49: Billy Meier, Michael Horn, and Asteroid Apophis

A look into the timeline of the alleged prediction by Billy Meier that a "red meteor," later linked to asteroid Apophis, will strike Earth in 2036. The conclusion is that the evidence is most consistent with a retrodiction.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 48: Image Processing and Anomalies, Part 2

So many pseudoscientific claims rely on photographic evidence, and astronomy is no exception. In this Part 2 episode, I build on the basics from Part 1 and talk about dynamic range, noise, rotation, resizing, and adjusting the range of colors displayed. In almost every case, the computer is estimating the final result based on the original image, and anomalies can easily form.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 47: Image Processing And Anomalies, Part 1

So many pseudoscientific claims rely on photographic evidence, and astronomy is no exception. In this Part 1 episode, I go through the basics of how an image gets from photons to pixels, the corrections we make to the image to try to get it to best represent the original, and some anomalies that can result.

Puzzler: Let's say you run across a website that claims to have found fossilized life on Mars in photos from the Mars rovers. What steps would YOU take in order to look into the claims?

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Episode 46: Immanuel Velikovsky's "Worlds in Collision"

Immanuel Velikovsky's "Worlds in Collision" laid forth the idea that Venus was a comet ejected from Jupiter just a few thousand years ago, and much crises happened as a result. Many today still use his ideas. What they were and whether they stand up to scrutiny is the subject of this episode.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 45: The Moon's Changing Recession Rate

A young-Earth creationist claim is that the Earth-Moon system can be no more than 1.4 billion years old because, at that time, the Moon would have been touching Earth. Find out if this dooms "evolutionary theory," or if the YECs are wrong.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 44: Independent Evidence the Apollo Moon Landings Were Real

Here I talk about and explain four of the most convincing arguments that the Apollo moon landings were real: Ultraviolet photos, lunar rocks, lunar laser ranging, and actual spacecraft photos of the sites from orbit.

Puzzler: An oft-repeated claim until 2009 was, "Why don't you just point Hubble at the Moon and photograph the landings. Since NASA hasn't, it's proof they aren't there!" First, what kind of fallacy is that? Second, the answer to the question is that optical telescopes from Earth were and are incapable of the resolution needed to photograph any relics from Apollo. But, is the resolution of any other Earth-based telescope or array in any wavelength they detect capable of imaging Apollo? Please show your math!

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Episode 43: The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 3

In this edition of the ongoing Planet X (fake story) saga, I address the conspiracy theory that Planet X is approaching from the South Pole, which is why we can't see it, but governments have secretly built a telescope at the south pole so they can observe it.

Puzzler: One of the pervasive Planet X claims is that it's coming at us from "behind the sun." This has been claimed for several years, at least since the 2003 Planet X stuff. Is it possible for this to still be true - a Planet X coming at us from "behind the sun" for several years, always just next to the sun and showing up in fuzzy photos on YouTube? Why or why not?

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Episode 42: Our Solar System Is Not of This Galaxy!

In 2003, scientists released a detailed map of the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy that's being ripped to shreds by the Milky Way Galaxy. In 2007, a few news outlets took this and used it to say that our solar system is not native to the Milky Way. Find out what the evidence shows in a, "Who's yo' mamma?" episode of intrigue.

Puzzler: There is no puzzler for this episode.

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Episode 41: Crater Age Dating and Young-Earth Creationism, Part 2

A detailed look at a few different methods that young-Earth creationists use to try to show that craters really do indicate that the Earth-Moon system (and universe as a whole) is only 6000 years old.

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Episode 40: Crater Age Dating Explained, Part 1

An overview discussion of craters and how they are used to date surfaces in the solar system as well as some of the caveats, complications, and limitations that go with the method.

Puzzler: If a 1-km-diameter comet hits the moon, and a 1-km-diameter asteroid hits the moon, is the crater created by the asteroid likely to be larger, the same size, or smaller than the one created by the comet. Why or why not?

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Episode 39: Radiometric Dating and Young-Earth Creationism, Part 2

After going over the basics of radiometric dating in Episode 38, here I discuss some of the main young-Earth creationist complaints about the technique, and their arguments to try to invalidate it.

Puzzler: Is the geologic column ever seen complete on Earth? Why or why not?

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Episode 38: Radiometric Dating Explained, Part 1

Overview episode of radiometric dating via an interview with geologist Rachael Acks. We discuss the history, the how, and the why of radiometric dating as well as some of the caveats of issues with the method and cases where it can not work.

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Episode 37: Space Law and Extraterrestrial Property Rights, Interview with Nigel and Lady Saint Whitehall

I interview Lord and Lady Saint Whitehall, two lawyers with pseudonyms, as a follow-up to Episode 27 (Stellar Scams). We discuss the Outer Space Treaty, legal precedents in the relevant areas, and extrapolate to what may need to happen legal-framework-wise in the future as private companies start to exploit extraterrestrial resources.

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Episode 36 (BONUS): GAPs Young-Earth Creationists Must Believe or Ignore (Geology, Astronomy, and Physics) Live Talk

Stuart gave a live, half-hour talk about geology, astronomy, and physics that young-Earth creationists have to believe or ignore in order to be young-Earth creationists. This was given at the Denver, Colorado Skepticamp in May 2012. This is a live recording.

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Episode 35: Photography Claims of the Apollo Moon Hoax, Part 2

In this Part 2 of a two+ -part series, I go over four alleged anomalies related to crosshairs and shadows made by Apollo Moon Hoax proponents. I also introduce a new segment, "New News" related to previous episodes.

Puzzler: What was the first spacecraft to orbit the Moon after Apollo that would have been able to photograph and resolve the Apollo landing sites?

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Episode 34: The Giza Pyramid / Orion Correlation

Robert Bauval originated "The Orion Correlation Theory" in the late 1980s that claims the three main stars in the belt of the Orion constellation align with the three main Giza necropolis pyramids. This has been criticized by some, praised by others -- what's the real story?

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Episode 33: Flat Earth

It might be a parody these days, but there are websites out there that claim Earth is flat. Learn some "do-it-yourself" ways to figure out that it's round.

Puzzler: Can two different objects, when illuminated by a single distant light source, ever cast non-parallel shadows? If you can take a photo to support your answer, that would be best.

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Episode 32: Interview About the Billy Meier UFO Case with Derek Bartholomaus

Derek Bartholomaus explains the basics of the Billy Meier claimed ongoing UFO contact case. From the beginnings to photographs, to videos, to metal, sound, and prophecies, we touch on several of the major components of the scenario and discuss how they can either be easily explained by Earthly means or are misquotes, misrepresentations, or mistakes.

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Episode 31: Photography Claims of the Apollo Moon Hoax, Part 1

In this Part 1 of a two-part series (to be continued in a month or so), I go over the basic claims made for why the astronauts could not have taken the photographs. Part 2 will focus on what's actually in the photographs.

Puzzler: Figure out how to take a photograph of the moon so you can see detail. Then figure out how to take a photograph of the stars - they don't have to be sharp or not show trails - just so that you can actually see them. Then use the settings on the camera you used for the moon and see if you can see stars with that setting, and then use the settings you used for stars to take a photo of the moon. To get "full credit" on this, you'll need to provide the four photographs which I will post with your name or handle to the show notes for Episode 33 when we go over this.

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Episode 30: Was the Asteroid Belt a Planet? Part 2

Last episode was on mainstream evidence - or lack thereof - for the asteroid belt having been a planet. This episode gets to one of the pseudoscientific ideas, from Tom Van Flandern, of Mars being a moon of one of the planets that supposedly exploded to make the asteroid belt.

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Episode 29: Was the Asteroid Belt a Planet? Part 1

A discussion on the history of the asteroid belt's discovery and four solid ways of showing that the asteroid belt could not have been a single planet that broke up or exploded. Stay tuned for next episode on the "Exploded Planet Hypothesis."

Puzzler: One supposition of exploding planet people is that Mars was a moon of this hypothetical Planet V. An observation they point to to support this is that half of Mars is heavily cratered, which was the side facing Planet V when it exploded 65 million years ago. What is one of the many lines of actual scientific understanding about Mars that this is not correct?

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Episode 28: The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 2 (Gilbert Eriksen's Wormwood)

In the second of at least four episodes on different ideas about Planet X, this time we go into Gilbert Eriksen's ideas about the rusty-red star/planet that is presently causing earthquakes and tsunamis, the likes of which we have never before seen.

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Episode 27: Stellar Scams

Teachers tell students to "reach for the stars," but some companies out there offer to sell them and land on other planets to you. I give a recap of some of the legal issues involved and what's really going on.

Fact or Fake?

Item 1: From a dark sky site, there are around 10,000 stars visible to the unaided eye.

Item 2: There is documentation as far back as the 1800s with people claiming ownership rights to the moon, though not necessarily to try to sell it to other people for profit.

Item 3: After Galileo discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter, he gave all the rights to their surface to his local funding source, the Medici family.

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Episode 26: Richard C. Hoagland, Part 1 - 19.5░

One aspect of Richard Hoagland's view of the universe has to do with a hyperdimensional number, 19.5° where everything energetic on all objects in the solar system is supposed to manifest. Hogland points to many features on many planets that do. This is an in-depth look at them and this claim.

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Episode 25: The Magnetic Pole Shift

We've discussed the geographic pole shift on this podcast, now we address the other kind - could Earth's magnetic pole shift, flip, or have something bad happen to it in 2012?

Puzzler: Let's say you're an architect in a reasonable part of the world that is poleward of the Tropics. You're designing a patio for a client, and the client wants the sun on the patio from the autumnal equinox through the spring equinox, but because it's hot in, say, Florida, during the summer, they want the roof or awning to block the sun from the spring through autumnal equinoxes. A typical patio in this area is 4 meters on a side and the awning or roof is three meters from the floor. The question is, how far should the roof extend from the poleward side of the edge of the patio? Include latitude as a variable in your solution.

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Episode 24: Help! The Sun (or Moon) Is Moving!

A conspiratorial or just wacky claim out there is that the sun and moon are rising and setting in different spots than they "used to." Find out why both premises in that idea are wrong.

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Episode 23: The Fake Story of Planet X, Zecharia Sitchin, Part 1

In the first of many episodes on the Fake Story of Planet X, we delve into the feasibility of a planet on a 3600-year orbit that was made famous in part by the late Zecharia Sitchin.

Puzzler: The first part I already did for you: if an object were on a 3600-year orbit around the sun, what would its semi-major axis be? Second, if the closest approach to the sun were Earth, what would its farthest distance be? And finally, if its closest approach were Earth, about how much time would it spend inside the orbit of Jupiter? Please show your math for full credit!

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Episode 22: Proof We Are Not Experiencing a Pole Shift, Part 2

Find out why there is no physical mechanism proposed by 2012ers that could cause a geographic pole shift, and also how to tell whether or not we have gone through one recently or are going through one now.

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Episode 21: The Geographic Pole Shift, Part 1

Some people claim that Eath's geographic poles did, are, or will be moving around dramatically. Here's a look at some of their mechanisms and evidence.

Puzzler: How would we know if Earth has already experienced a geographic pole shift if you assume that the doom and gloom scenarios wouldn't happen? How could you tell?

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Episode 20: Interview on Combating Creationism as a High School Student

One of the big "think tanks" for young-Earth creationism is the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), now located in Texas in the United States. Half a world away, a high school student, Peter, takes on nearly all their daily articles, blog posts, and other output. I interview Peter to learn more about what it's like taking on the ICR from his viewpoint.

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Episode 19: John Lear

An accomplished arline pilot and son of the inventor of the Lear Jet, John Lear has some rather interesting ideas about the universe. Discussed in this episode are just a few: The atmosphere of Venus, atmosphere of the moon, and lunar formation. Pareidolia is also talked about in detail.

Puzzler: As with the puzzler in Episode 17, this one is going to deal with a claim I did not address in this episode: Lear claims that the surface gravity on the moon is 2/3 that of Earth, not 1/6. What's an experiment you could do with any available data that would show what the gravity on the surface of the moon is?

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Episode 18: Interview on Ancient Aliens with "Dumbass"

"Parrot," AKA "Dumbass," has spent many hours on his own podcast and blog dissecting Ancient Aliens claims and evidence. In this episode, he shares some of what he's learned about the ideas, claims, and people involved.

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Episode 17: Gregg Braden and Data Mining

In discussing the new-agey claims by Gregg Braden of evidence for consciousness altering the world around us, I also use this as the start of what will be an ongoing series in fallacious ways to argue: In this case, data mining.

Puzzler: One of Gregg Braden's claims is that the magnetic field put out by the heart is 5000x stronger than that of the brain. First, is this true? I'll warn you that you'll need to be very careful in defining your terms in this one. The second part of the puzzler is that Braden claims that because the heart is where we have our feelings and beliefs and that we communicate these through the magnetic field of the heart which connects to the broader fields around us. (I'm not making this up.) The second part of the puzzler here is let's say the field strength of the human heart is 10 pT at the surface of the human body. At what distance from the surface of the chest is the magnetic field of the heart equal to the field of Earth if we take the average value of Earth's magnetic field at the surface, 100 µT? And with your answer in mind, does ANY of what Braden claims here make sense?

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Episode 16: What the Sky Looks Like on December 21, 2012, Part 2

What's the galactic alignment on the solstice in December, 2012, and what else in the sky is special about that date? Find out and whether it portends doom or enlightenment in this false dichotomy.

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Episode 15: Galactic Alignments, Part 1

I discuss five ideas propagated by 2012ers about the Sun, Earth, and Galaxy all coming into alignment in some way to do something in 2012. Find out what's really going on ... if anything.

Puzzler: There is a widely propagated myth that you will find in many media outlets every March 21 that states the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere is the only day out of the year that you can balance an egg on its end. Let's assume the myth is actually that you can do it on either equinox. Can you come up with an actual force that would in any way help you to balance an egg on its end on an equinox?

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Episode 14: Interview on the Mayan Calendar and What the Mayans Think of 2012

Join me in an interview with Dr. Johan Normark, a Mayan scholar, to learn about the Mayan calendar, its relationship with 2012, and what the Mayans "actually said" about 2012.

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Episode 13: The True Story of Planet X

As the first of my four episodes of Intro to 2012, I take a look at the true, historical story behind Planet X and delve a little into why a big planet won't swing by Earth any time soon.

Puzzler: Rather than the normal form of the puzzler, I want to ask a broad question, and I'll read some of your responses on December 16th's episode. The question is, what do you think a planet is, and why? And yes, I do realize that the international astronomical union has a definition of a planet that's out there, but almost no one actually likes it.

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Episode 12 (BONUS): Conspiracy Skeptic Interview About Nazis in the Hollow Earth

"The Conspiracy Skeptic" Karl Mamer discusses, in a follow-up episode to Episode 8 on the Hollow Earth, some of the conspiracies related to Nazis currently living inside the hollow of Earth at the South Pole.

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Episode 11: Dust and Rock Claims of the Apollo Moon Hoax

Something as boring as rocks and dust has fueled many peoples' conspiratorial ideas relating to American's manned moon landings. Find out if they are well grounded.

Puzzler: One hoax claim that said there shouldn't be any dust on the moon at all. But there's another that states the dust is so deep that the astronauts should have sunk down to over their heads in it. In reality, we know that the depth of the lunar regolith does vary across the surface. Why isn't it uniform? After all, it's not like there's seasonal rain in some parts to wash it away.

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Episode 10 (BONUS): Interview About Mike Bara's The Choice

A year ago tonight, Mike Bara presented "The Choice" to over 10 million people. One man called him out on his numerous, basic, fundamental mistakes relating to astronomy. I interview that man in this episode.

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Episode 9: Earth's Decaying Magnetic Field

It's a fact that Earth's magnetic field strength is decreasing. Young-Earth creationists use this to argue Earth is only a few thousand years old. Is this plausible?

Puzzler: Let's say that you are at Earth's magnetic north pole - where it is on the surface. You have a compass needle suspended by a thin thread, so it can move in any direction. How would it be aligned? And, would your answer be different if you were at the magnetic south pole, and if so, how; if not, why?

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Episode 8: The Hollow Earth

The idea of a hollow planet - specifically Earth - has been around for a long time. And though it's rare, there are people who still believe Earth and the other planets and moons are hollow. I go through some of these ideas and give you no less than four independent methods to determine that Earth is indeed solid.

Puzzler: Let's say that you have a solid shell with compressible material inside it. You are able to rotate this shell very quickly about an axis through it. Does a cavity form? And if it does, what kind of shape would that cavity take on, and why?

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Moon Hoax PosterEpisode 7 (BONUS): Live "Apollo Moon Hoax" Talk at Skepticamp

Stuart gave a live, one-hour talk about the Apollo Moon "Hoax" at the Colorado Springs Skepticamp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in August 2011. This is the live recording. It has some explicit language.

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Episode 6: Astrology Basics and a (Non-?)Changing Sky

Astrology is an ancient science about the predictive power of the heavens. But put under a modern light, what are its inherent contradictions, observational problems, and what do statistical studies show?

Puzzler: An astrologer claims, "Venus will make a rare planetary loop above the Orion [constellation]." What is she talking about?

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Episode 5: Heat and Radiation Claims of the Apollo Moon Hoax

Two classes of claims about why Apollo astronauts never landed on the moon deal with heat and radiation. Find out why your common-Earth-sense doesn't help you on the moon, and why these claims aren't worth the energy.

Puzzler: In this scenario, you only have an hour or two before you have to make your dinner and have to thaw chicken breasts from the freezer. You have the following options available to you: (1) Put it in the refrigerator; (2) Put it on the kitchen counter; (3) put it in a container of cold water; or (4) run a tiny stream of cold water over it. Of those options, what is best and fastest mechanism to thaw the chicken?

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Episode 4 (BONUS): Comet Elenin Special

For some odd reason, there are a lot of crazy claims out there about Comet Elenin. In recognition of its closest approach to the sun on September 10, this bonus episode addresses many of the common claims out there about the comet including an exposé into Richard Hoagland's magical numerology that apparently proves it's a spaceship.

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Episode 3: Young-Earth Creationist Claims About Comets

A mainstay of young-Earth creationist arguments is that comets prove the solar system cannot be more than 10,000 years old. Listen in and find out why this claim ignores science.

Puzzler: Asteroids tend to have, overall, pretty circular orbits and they generally orbit within the rest of the plane of the solar system. Comets, though, generally have highly elliptical orbits and are generally on more inclined orbits to the planets. Why?

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Episode 2: You Can't Know the Distance, Size, and Speed of UFOs

Often you will hear "expert" witnesses proudly and with certitude declaring the distance, size, and enormous speeds of UFOs (where "UFO" despite its actual meaning is taken to be an alien craft). I discuss why this is simply not possible based on a visual observation.

Puzzler: In searching for extrasolar planets, one of the most favorable scenarios is where a planet passes directly in front of their star as seen from Earth, so we see it transiting (hence why it's called the "transit" method). Let's say an Earth-sized planet transits in front of a Sun-like star, and a Jupiter-like planet also transits in front of that star. They are very slightly offset so that they don't overlap as seen from Earth. First, does it matter how close either planet is to the star to how much light it will block? Second, does it matter how far away we are (assuming we're at least several light-years) as observers to how much light each will block? You can assume that the system is many light-years away from us.

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Episode 1: Introduction and the "Dark Side" of the Moon Misconception

In this episode, I gave an overview of what the podcast is going to be like as well as my own background in astronomy and public outreach. I then briefly discussed the misconception of a "dark side" to the moon, when there really is no side of the moon in permanent shadow.

Puzzler: Imagine that the moon were a perfect white cube. It still orbits around Earth the same way as it does now with its orbit tidally locked. Would a cuboidal moon show any different phases to Earth, and if it did, what would they be?

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