Episode 49: Billy Meier, Michael Horn, and Asteroid Apophis
Recap: 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.
There was no puzzler for episode #48.
There was no puzzler for this episode.
There was no Q&A for this episode.
- Audio Source: Coast to Coast AM from January 14, 2010, Hour 4
- Additional Resources
- Logical Fallacies / Critical Thinking Terms addressed in this episode: Retrodiction, Moving the Goalpost / Gish Gallop.
- Relevant Posts on my "Exposing PseudoAstronomy" Blog
Claim: The basic claim is that the alleged UFO contactee Billy Meier predicted that the asteroid Apophis will strike Earth in 2036. This is a claim that I've investigated in-depth, and based on the evidence gathered, it turned out to be a retrodiction. This episode is going to go through the history of that claim based on the writings of Billy Meier that I have been able to find.
The Data on Apophis
Asteroid 99942 Apophis was discovered in June 2004, and two of its three co-discoverers were fans of the TV series "Stargate SG-1" and so chose a name that was one of the recurrent villains for the first four seasons, the Goa'uld named Apophis.
The asteroid orbits the sun once every 324 days, and it's roughly 270 meters, or around 0.17 miles wide.
The asteroid gets as close to the sun as about 75% the Earth-Sun distance and its farthest point is about 10% past Earth in units of the Earth-Sun distance. This means it crosses Earth's orbit.
When its orbit was initially determined, there was a 2.7% chance that it would strike Earth in 2029. With more observations over a longer time period, that chance dropped to effectively zero that it will strike Earth or the Moon in 2029, but in that year there is a chance that it will pass through a very small region of space that's no more than half a mile or about a kilometer wide that would alter its orbit and send it on a collision course for Earth on April 13, 2036.
That was until August 2006, when further refinement of the orbit from more observations lowered the chance of impact, and as of October 2009, the probability is about 1 in 250,000 chance of it passing through the proper region of space for this to happen. The next good opportunity to get observations to further refine the orbit will be next year, in 2013.
IF it were to strike Earth, the current estimates are that it would hit with around 510 megatons of TNT of explosive power, or about 100x the energy that created the Barringer crater in Arizona, or the estimate for the Tunguska event a century ago. It's about 10x the energy of the largest hydrogen bomb ever exploded, the Tsar Bomba.
If it hits, the current estimates for its path spans from Russia eastward, then heads south over the Pacific to cross around Hawai'i, continues east through Panama and the tip of south America, and ends off the eastern coast of Africa. Europe is not in the possibility of being hit.
Enter Billy Meier and Michael Horn. I interviewed Derek Bartholomaus in Episode 32 that'll give you a good overview of the subject. But, as I said, this episode is about a very specific claim.
If you ever listens to Michael Horn speak about Meier's alleged prophecies, you will quickly notice that he frequently makes reference to books and copyright dates that would prove his case in any court of law. These things aren't really disputed, what's disputed is the specificity of what was written.
The earliest writings that can be found related to this subject date back to 1981 and one of Meier's contact reports, specifically #150. These are all written in German, which I don't speak, so I'll be reading the English translations.
These contact reports are alleged conversations with his alien friends that are transcribed, word-for-word by Meier. They are often very lengthy and frequently compliment Meier.
In #150, Meier wrote that he stated to the Plejaran "Quetzal:" “I am particularly interested in the ‘red meteor.’ Now, is this the Destroyer, or is this another comet that passes again and again through our solar system?”
"Quetzal" responded: “Neither, my friend. The meteor mentioned in the prophecies, which will exhibit an enormous size and cause very vicious, destructive havoc on Earth, and which threatens to bring climatic and also tectonic and other changes, will also threaten to split the Earth’s crust, from today’s North Sea to the Black Sea, but this doesn’t have to be true with certainty because now, certain factors speak otherwise.”
And that's it. So, in 1981, Meier wrote down that there's a prophecy about a "red meteor" that WILL cause destructive havoc on Earth but THREATENS a bunch of other stuff, too, but MAY not happen because of "certain factors." And that's it for over 20 years.
2002 Reader Feedback
The next mention that I could find was not by Meier, but by Michael Horn.
A man named George Madeyski asked Meier, “Is the impending ‘Red Meteor’ event still on? (it will rip a gush [sic] in Europe from Baltic Sea to Black Sea). Is it fair to ask you this. When you say ‘IMPENDING’ does that mean: within next 20 years, 50 years or what does that word realy [sic] imply? Will this event stop the growth of the food crops for few years and consequently cause famine leading to war for food sources by nations who have nothing to loose(desperate)?”
Michael's response, as the Authorized North American Media Representative of Billy Meier, was: “It is still on its way. It has not yet been discovered. Well, “officially” Billy doesn’t know. :) Regarding the end question: No, and the Earth will not explode.”
So, 21 years after the initial mention of a red meteor, there is a request by a follower for more information and there is none.
Two years later, in 2004, Apophis was officially discovered and announced.
2008 Contact Report 471
But, the next mention of anything related to it by Meier was in 2008 with Contact Report #471. Meier, in what he calls a conversation with the Plejaran Ptaah (which sounds kinda Klingon), states: “But since we are talking about Mars, the red planet, the Red Meteor comes to my mind, of which it is written in a prophecy. … If I remember correctly, he said that the great danger by the meteor would threaten Earth on the 13th April 2029, while at the same time he also named a date for the year 2036.”
Okay, so remember the timeline here: 1981 was the first mention, 2002 no new information, 2004 Apophis is found and its orbit calculated and all this other stuff, and then, FOUR YEARS LATER, Meier very directly links his red meteor with the astronomical data of Apophis, though we don't have it by name.
There was nothing connecting the two before, and Apophis isn't exactly red, but now he's put the red meteor together with the dates of Apophis.
2008 Contact Report 475
Four contact reports later, Meier wrote: “Regarding the Red Meteor that endangers Earth on the 13th of April, 2029 and of which we have already spoken on the 16th of September, I have been asked about certain things and, therefore, would like to know how big that bloke is. To my knowledge the terrestrial astronomers have already detected it for quite some time and are calling it Aprophis or something. It shall either hit Earth in the year 2029, or only whizzing by very closely. Should it be the latter case, it (the meteor) would reappear in the year 2036 and its close approach to Earth could really lead to a catastrophe if the scientists undertake nothing against it.”
So now he's fully linked his "red meteor" with Apophis and that's that.
To most people who study those who make claims of prophecy, this is something we encounter all the time, and it's called "retrodiction."
Prediction where you're saying something will happen before it does. Retrodiction is the opposite, where you say something was going to happen after it already did, or you said something vague and then when something specific happens, you claim that vague thing was the specific happening.
For example, I could claim now that I'm making a prediction: A man will win the presidency of the United States in 2012. After November of this year, then I could say that I had a conversation with my imaginary friends and during that conversation, I say, "So yeah, you remember when I said that a man is gonna win the White House? Clearly that man, named [fill-in-the-blank with a name], won on November 6, 2012, at 9:42 PM Pacific time." And my imaginary friend replies, "Yeah, you were so right on, you rock, you're so smrt!"
I'm exaggerating a bit here, but it's to make a point: This is what Billy did, whether he intended to or not, whether he actually knew it was Apophis before this or not, the only EVIDENCE that we have is most consistent with the retrodiction hypothesis. There is no unknown-information-before-the-science-announcement releases by Meier that anyone can point to that would clearly and unambiguously show he knew about this information before it was available to everyone else.
Michael Horn's Claims on Coast to Coast AM, January 14, 2010
Fast-forward about a year and a half to January 14, 2010, when Michael Horn was on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory as host for the fourth hour. Some time after that, he was actually banned from Coast because Michael's argument style was too obnoxious even for Noory, though recently he was back on with a different host.
That aside, the hour hits the ground running with Michael making much of the 1981 writings that I told you about earlier. He spent several minutes going on about how the publication is out there, it would stand up in any court of law, etc. etc. What he didn't say was that it never specifically mentioned Apophis, just the "red meteor."
If you head about 10 minutes into the hour, you have this ~2-minute clip: [Coast to Coast AM clip from January 14, 2010, Hour 4, starting at 10:05]:
“‘This could be’ – I’m not saying with certainty … – ‘their way, by naming it this, of giving us the ultimate clue we need’ – which this translates to, ‘this is going to hit your planet.’ … This just blew my mind. … Here’s the kicker: The scale wasn’t even developed until 1995!” (George’s response was, “Jeez! He was way ahead.”)
Basically the claim here is is that Meier called it "red" in 1981, the Torino Scale was developed in 1995, and now that Meier is linking this to Apophis, the red in the name means red on the Tornio Scale which means it's going to hit, so we need to figure out a way of deflecting it.
Hopefully I don't have to point out that this is yet another retrodiction, and a long-stretch at that. A few reasons why Meier said "red" initially would be: 1. 'Cause it's an evil color in almost every world culture; 2. He could have picked it 'cause it's a "danger" color on most scales for things because of reason 1; 3. He could have picked it on a whim. But claiming that he called it red because he was predicting the Torino Scale which is more evidence for his prophecy is, well, we'll just say "not rigorous evidence."
This next clip is shorter, and it immediately followed the first one: [Coast to Coast AM clip from January 14, 2010, Hour 4, starting at 12:22]:
“Skeptics will say, ‘Well, you know, he’s calling it a “meteor” why isn’t he calling it an “asteroid?”‘ And here’s the last piece of the puzzle that I found! According to something called the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, Apophis is a ‘good match’ for a rare type of stony meteorite known as a Type LL Chondrite. So they gave Meier a clue in the first part of it – ‘red’ – and they told him not to call it an asteroid, but a meteor. And here, in totally unrelated information …, they are corroborating this.”
This quote is an example of grasping at about as many straws as the whole "red" indicator. To be clear, the proper terminology is that an asteroid is a chunk of rock in space, a meteor is when the object is falling through the atmosphere, and the meteorite is the object once it's hit the target. And by saying "target" I'm avoiding all those "what if" games where someone says, "Well, what if a meteor hits an airplane so never hits the ground?"
So off the bat, Billy is using the wrong terminology. Meteor is when it's going through the atmosphere, meteorite would be if it hits, and right now it is ASTEROID Apophis. But, Michael tries to save it.
Saying that the asteroid Apophis is spectrally a good match for an LL chondrite on Earth means that we have some idea of what it's made of, where LL stands for Low-iron, Low-metal, and chondrite refers to a type of spherical rock grain called a "chondrule." What Michael Horn apparently does not know is that EVERY asteroid can be classified spectrally based on meteorites on Earth. For example, asteroid 5535 Annefrank is an S-type asteroid matching stony meteorites on Earth.
Oh, and LL chondrites aren't that rare - roughly 1 in 10 meteorites are LL chondrites.
So saying that Meier called it a meteor because it's going to hit because it matches the LL chondrites is like saying that car I saw driving down the road is definitely going to crash because I saw another car of the same type in a car crash two years ago. Seriously, that is exactly what he is saying.
Subsequent Response from Horn
After I published all this investigation and analysis, and Derek Bartholomaus published it, with permission, on the Independent Investigations Group (West) web site, Michael Horn still, of course, claims that Meier has forecast this event. Actually, the specific term is "prophecy" meaning that it could be changed, rather than prediction which Michael says can't be changed.
What would it take for me to falsify my beliefs and re-examine my analysis? Really one simple thing: Unambiguous evidence that links the "red meteor" with specific data about Apophis before Apophis was discovered. I pointed that out numerous times in my writings about the subject, though I also pointed out that it would not be evidence it's going to hit, but evidence there may be more to this than simple retrodiction.
For over a year, Michael punted in the comments section of my blog and in his own writings. He kept referring me to OTHER things and never provided any of the evidence that I asked for, nor EVER specifically refuted my timeline for the Meier writings. Throughout that, I repeatedly stated that I was not interested in the other stuff, I had only investigated the Apophis and "red meteor" writings, and attempts to side-track the issue wouldn't succeed.
This is something that anyone who investigates claims needs to be aware of, recognize, and not be mislead by: Stay on-target. Don't let the other person keep bringing in extraneous information nor ideas, stay focused on the specific thing you're addressing.
Nearly 21 months after my initial analysis, on September 14, 2011, Michael wrote a blog post entitled where he ostensibly responded to my initial request for that single bit of information that would have linked Apophis to the "red meteor" before its discovery. Anything, not necessarily even a name, just a year when it'll swing by Earth or some other unambiguous link would've been nice.
In "The Answer" post, Michael's premise is simply plausible deniability. In other words, and in my own words, Michael's response was, "The evidence you ask for isn't available because that information was withheld to protect those involved."
In other words, as with most conspiracies, evidence for the conspiracy is evidence for the conspiracy, evidence against the conspiracy was planted and so is evidence for the conspiracy, and a lack of evidence indicates evidence was removed and so is evidence for the conspiracy.
A few weeks later, on October 4, 2011, Michael wrote: "Robbins demanded answers and didn’t like them when he got them, so he neither acknowledged nor responded to them. He was offered amazing, ironclad evidence and refused to examine and/or comment on it."
I didn't like the answers because they weren't answers, they were excuses. And if Michael doesn't want to stand by the red meteor stuff, if he wants to go to other things, then he should take it off his website.
And that's really where we stand. Does this one case disprove everything? Of course not. But it was a case that Michael put forward as strong evidence for the Meier veracity, and an analysis of the available evidence, a lack of any other evidence when requested, and even a lack of refutation by the proponents of that analysis pretty much shows that it's not a valid prediction.
It's a retrodiction until other evidence refuting it is brought to light.
Provide Your Comments:
Comments to date: 2. Page 1 of 1. Average Rating:
3:46am on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
10 million isn't end of the world, but it is prttey apocalyptic. I imagine that this would be a couple of orders of magnitude more human deaths than had ever previously occurred due to a single more or less instantaneous event. I mean, the Hiroshima bombing probably holds the current record, and that was about 140,000.Of course, that figure SEEMS to be based on the actual impact of the asteroid. I'm not sure if they figure in the climatological impact, or the ridiculous numbers of people who would die in the area in the aftermath of the utter destruction of basically all of South American society. And if you think there's a lot of Latinos moving up north now, imagine the wave of migration in the year before the asteroid was predicted to hit We would also get to enjoy a sudden and sharp transition from whatever level of global warming we've reached in 2036 to the asteroid equivalent of nuclear winter, which would probably take many years to wear off.
9:02pm on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
Your accusation of retrodiction is poor. It is ever more apparent that the skeptics are grasping at the last few scraps of news and accurately prophetic information left. He called it the red meteor in the first place and it was merely Horns theory on what it meant. "Stay on target" is just your way of saying "help me spread more disinformation".