Episode 76: Nancy Lieder's Astronomy Clip Show
Recap: 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 for Episode 76: There was no puzzler for this episode.
Answer to Puzzler from Episode 74: The solution is a qualified "yes." The qualifier is because doing detailed atmospheric modeling and throwing simulated dust into it and sticking a camera in there isn't that easy. But, from basic principles, we can say that the atmosphere is primarily carbon dioxide. From what I can find, there is almost no visible light absorption by carbon dioxide, so it would be pretty clear. And, as Phil pointed out in the Feedback, at the atmospheric density on Mars, there's so little air anyway that even a good scatterer like nitrogen wouldn't be effective, and the sky would be pretty black. So, the only way you get a color of the sky instead of it being like the Moon is the dust. Dust particles are the right size to scatter red and infrared light and to absorb other visible colors. Those effects combined give you the red.
Q&A: There was no Q&A for this episode.
- Audio Clips Used
- For the Puzzler solution: Mars' Surface Color
- Logical Fallacies / Critical Thinking Terms addressed in this episode: Channeling, sounding sciencey, Occam's Razor, Non sequitur
- Relevant Posts on my "Exposing PseudoAstronomy" Blog
Background: By way of brief background, some of you may remember way back to September of last year with Episode 51, the Fake Story of Planet X, Part 4. In it, I discussed the version of planet X propagated by Nancy Lieder, a now elderly lady who insists she is in contact with aliens called the "Zetas" who tell her various things. I recommend going back to Episode 51 for a flavor of what happened when her Planet X did not come in May 2003, though in this episode, you should get a good idea for her general understanding of other concepts of astronomy.
Preface: Details of Her Non-Channeling
There is a bit of context that I do need to go into again so that you have some idea of the root of her claims.
Nancy says that she is not a medium and not a channeler, though she says she does channel the Zetas, but they don't take over her body. She describes her interaction as though they are holding up flash cards and she's reading off of them when she's speaking for them. When doing this channeling, she will start by saying, "This is the Zetas on that ..." and then go into it, and she'll end with something like, "This is the end of ZetaTalk." She's very good at branding.
Her description of how she says she channels is actually quite ingenious, in my opinion. Because she has to communicate questions to the Zetas, and they have to prompt her with concepts that she puts into words back to us, she says that if she forgets the question or doesn't understand it, then she can't relay it to the Zetas. So if I, for example, were to ask her to ask the Zetas about quantumchromodynamics to see if they really were advanced aliens, she wouldn't do it because she doesn't understand it, therefore she can't relay it to the Zetas.
This is also her excuse for when she says things that are factually wrong, though until things are pointed out to her live, on air, she emphatically states those things of factual wrongitude. Which we'll discuss some examples of in this episode. But, she claims that since the Zetas aren't giving her exact English words to say, that if she has a wrong impression in her head, they can't get their message through. To quote her: "I am a true translator. You know, I'm a participant. If I have something in my head that's wrong, they have a hard time getting their concepts through that veil. So sometimes I will stumble. If I don't understand the topic, if I'm not on the same page, and I don't have a background in it, I can-- I can really bloop."
This also accounts for her word choice slips when channeling, sometimes using "I" instead of "we" when she's supposed to be talking from them. Otherwise, like other channelers - even though she says she isn't one - she does try to slip into a slightly different word pattern when channeling, generally just speaking faster but putting in a lot of "um"s and "uh"s because she can't quite keep up with herself.
Nancy's Ideas on Gravity
The first broad claim I want to address is Nancy's ideas on gravity. Back in a 2003 interview, she claimed this about the Moon: [clip from Coast to Coast AM, April 25, 2003, Hour 2, starting 32:39]
"Our Moon, according to Newton, should not be up there. It's moving too slow and weighs way too much. Should be crashing into Earth! If you put the, uh-- reverse-square law uhhh, of gravity attraction together with Newton's um, Centrifugal Force law, i--they don't sit together! That's 23 million k-- trillion tons of adjusted weight moving at less than the speed of the Concord uh, uh around, um, ou-our globe. And-and we've done that study on sci.astro debates, the end of 1998. Take that click on the ZetaTalk website and read, uh, those Moon uhhh, discussions. Humans are pretty stupid, and-and we don't admit to our frailties, um, and certainly you're not admitting to them."
Let's see .... she lists two numbers about the Moon. First is how much it weighs, which she puts at 23 trillion tons. Assuming Google did my math right, that's 2*10^16 kg. She's a tad off ... by about a factor of 50,000,000. It's about 7*10^22 kg.
The other number she gave was its orbital speed which she put down as slower than a Concorde jet. Based on a quick search, the Concorde flew somewhere around Mach 2, which was around 2200 km/hr. Dividing by 3600 gives us around 0.7 km/sec. The Moon goes around Earth with an average speed of 1.0 km/sec. If the number I found for the Concorde was a bit low, then we can say they have comparable speeds.
But that doesn't mean anything. It's like saying there's no way an eagle should be able to stay in flight because I can hit a baseball faster than it can fly. Or, someone else can hit a baseball faster than it can fly ... I suppose you have to be able to actually hit a baseball first. One has nothing to do with the other. All it means is that if the Concorde jet worked in space and could get there, it would maintain a stable orbit around Earth at its top speed.
This is also a good example of Nancy trying to use sciencey terms to sound like she knows what she's talking about. It's the Inverse-square law of gravity, not reverse-square law, and there is no such thing as a "centrifugal force law."
It's been a long time since I mentioned the show's sponsor, so ... Kepler! For the first few dozen episodes of the show, it seemed like every-other one was dependent upon this sixteenth century astronomer. Kepler's third law relates how long it takes something in a stable orbit to do that orbit given its distance from the orbited object. Newton's Law of Gravity helped specify various terms in it. And, you can use Newton's form of Kepler's Third Law to determine exactly how fast the Moon needs to travel to be in orbit around Earth.
The other part of this is that the mass of the Moon simply doesn't matter. Unless it's maybe within 10 times the mass of Earth, or more generally, the orbiting object being 10 times the mass of the orbited object, its mass does not factor in at all. It's insignificant, minuscule, and doesn't matter according to the physics. And the Moon's mass is just about 1% Earth's. So she's just wrong.
Newton was actually fascinated with the Moon and some say that his theory of gravity was in part motivated to determine why the Moon does orbit Earth.
But that's not the only way she's wrong about gravity: [clip from Coast to Coast AM, April 25, 2003, Hour 1, starting 41:00]
"You know we have an ecliptic where all the planets kinda float around, in a ring outside the sun, similar to Saturn's rings-ring. And-and the reason for this, according to the Zetas, is that there's a back-wash of sub-atomic particles which we're not even aware of, that-that wash back in to-towards the middle of the sun. And-and uhhh, and it's very crowded, and there's actually an adjunct to gravity, uh, which is called 'repulsion force' where gravity pulls toward. The reason the large planets don't bump into each other or fly into the sun is cause there's a repulsion force, so there's much we don't know."
I'd posit that based on this statement, and others, it's that there's much Nancy doesn't know. Similar to Lloyd Pye's book, "Everything You Know Is Wrong," it should have been, "Everything Lloyd Pye Knows Is Wrong." But that's a different podcast.
Anyway, I suppose it's POSSIBLE that we don't understand gravity on such a large scale as Nancy is claiming. It's a FACT that we don't understand it on very small scales because we have no theory that merges quantum mechanics and relativity, but that's also a different podcast.
My point here is that our current ideas on gravity fully explain with a relatively simple system everything she's trying to explain with a more complicated system. It's unnecessary. And until there's actual evidence for what she claims, the onus is on her - or the "Zetas" - to come up with evidence for it.
I mentioned at the start of this set of claims on gravity that these clips were from 2003. By 2005, she had merged them: [clip from Coast to Coast AM, August 9, 2005, Hour 2, starting 4:37]
"... there's a gravity repulsion force, which according to the Zetas why the moon stays up there - it's way too heavy and moving too slowly not to be dropping to Earth, it's NOT centrifugal force that keeps our moon up there."
There's really not too much else to say at this point about her gravity claims.
Earthquakes and Magnets
The second claim of Nancy's goes along with her Planet X saga: [clip from Coast to Coast AM, August 9, 2005, Hour 2, starting 14:27]
"Since March of 2003, when Planet X was zooming up to-- snug up close to the sun, it, uh, we started getting this, where all the live seismographs - dozens of them! - uh, the USGS [US Geologic Survey] gives us regularly, online, would shudder and-and show this black-- you know. Simultaneously, all over the globe, it was when the Atlantic Rift would either face the sun and Planet X or be in opposition. Ma- magnets like to line up, and uh-- and Planet X was saying to the Earth, 'Stick with me.' It's because the Atlantic Rift in and of itself, is a big surface magnet, uh, and uh, of hardened lava, recently ripped apart, uh, and-and that's, it's sorta-- there's no other explanation, George, for that global shuddering at the face and dark, nor has any kind of a cover-up explanation ever been tried to be put out."
One thing that I like about Brian Dunning's "Skeptoid" podcast is that he often points out that the first step in investigating a claim is to see if it's real. If it's not real, you don't have to come up with any explanation and your job is made much easier.
Obviously, I would not be bringing this up if it didn't apply in this case: Absolutely none of what Nancy said in that 50-second clip is real. None of it happened. None of it is happening. My work is done.
But, as with many topics I discuss, let's at least get into WHY even if SOME of what she said was happening, the rest wouldn't. First, many planets do have magnetic fields. Her Planet X probably would, too, given what we know about planets. Could it cause Earth to shudder and shake by passing nearby? No. As with Planet X not causing a pole flip because there's nothing for it to grab on to and it's not sitting there trying to tug but just passing by, the same goes for magnetism.
And that's because the Mid-Atlantic Rift is young crust. Volcanically active. Freshly deposited magma on the bottom of the seafloor, spreading the continents. But it's not like it has some gigantic magnetic field associated with it. It couldn't ... it has the same magnetic field as the field of the rest of the planet when it formed. All because it's fresh, new rock, doesn't mean it's crazily magnetized.
Which is why, besides NOTHING in her statement being true, it wouldn't be true even if other parts of it were.
Taking National Security Oaths
Another claim of Nancy's is a very quick one that, rather than be indicative of any particular science misconception, gets more towards how astronomers work and how Nancy's conspiratorial mind works. Keep in mind for this clip that when she says "they," she means "astronomers": [clip from Coast to Coast AM, August 9, 2005, Hour 2, starting 7:59]
"If they [astronomers] get access to, uh, large observatory 'scopes, they have to take a national security oath agreement because, they're seeing UFOs. They're seeing those motherships all the time, and do we hear about this in the media? Do they come forward and say, 'Oh, got a mothership again, got an image of it.'? No! Because they're under a national security oath not to cause panic, the alien presence is one of those panic things, Planet X is an even bigger panic bucket-- button."
As I usually try to do, I'll again point out that if it's a UFO, it is not a "mothership." She has identified it as a "mothership," therefore by definition it cannot be "unidentified.
As for the claim, all I can go on is my own experience, but I've gotten time on large observatory telescopes, and I've observed on a 2.4-meter telescope before. I have never had to sign a national security oath agreement. I have never taken an image of a UFO.
And, this is one of the stupidest ways to take a picture of a UFO. You're usually talking about a telescope that has a field of view smaller than the size of the moon, and you're talking about taking an image for several hours. A still image mind you, not a movie.
If you wanted to photograph an alien ship supposedly going through our atmosphere, you'd want a wide-angle camera lens and you'd want to take a movie. The exact opposite of what you do on a large observatory telescope.
Stuff Not Covering
There's a miscellaneous list of other crazy astronomy claims that I'm not covering. At the risk of listing something that someone's going to write in and say they want me to go into more detail on ... I'm just going to list them:
She refers to the "dark side" of the Moon instead of "far side."
She claims the Galactic Federation made the Anunnaki leave Mars.
The Big Bang is what made the planets go around the sun in the same way. But also that big bangs and black holes "happen periodically" in different places in the universe to replenish it.
Oil forms by Planet X dropping water into volcanoes. It mixes up with magma and forms hydrocarbons, which is oil, so oil is abiogenic. Global warming is also caused by Planet X, but chemtrails are only on the rise because THEY want to hide Planet X from you.
The asteroid belt was once a larger body made of water that was "bashed to pieces" that formed comets. ...Not sure how you can bash water to pieces. (See episode 29-30.)
The pole shift is already happening, evidenced by people reporting that the sun is too far north when it sets. (See Episode 24.)
Provide Your Comments:
Comments to date: 5. Page 1 of 1. Average Rating:
Hypatia's Daughter Atlanta, Georgia
5:05am on Friday, July 5th, 2013
I find it hilarious when people say that professional astronomers and observatories are "hiding" sightings or images of UFO's.
Phil San Diego
10:33am on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
I can't help but feel it's a little unfair to criticize Nancy because it almost feels like you're taking advantage of someone who's just ill.
3:28am on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013
Planet X aside her knowledge of academic institutions (& the world at large.) is atrocious, I mean, "...Portsdown University in Germany...", I know she's relying on the audience not checking anything up, but really...
Stuart R Boulder, CO, USA
10:43pm on Saturday, June 1st, 2013
Nope. Are you referring to about 3 minutes into hour 2: "Actually it showed up, it just didn't pass over our heads. It has a sling orbit, it actually, it passed two different suns. Our sun is a binary, but our binary is a dark, unlit sun, so therefor we really can't see it. According to the Zetas, it's 18.74 Sun-Pluto distances out into space, in the direction of Orion. And-- and when everything coalesced out of the Big Bang, this planet did not go 'round and 'round one sun, it started slinging past, and then both gravity forces were behind it so it slung back again. Whoops! now both gravity-- so like a pendulum. Back and forth, past these two suns, and it slings through our solar system every 3657 years, very close to Zecharia Sitchen's Ancient Sumerian, uh, interpretations, 3600 bashar. Well the last time it came through was the Jewish exodus period when there was all this red blood in the rivers and, we did in fact have a shift in our axis according to Portsdown University ... read more »
10:41pm on Saturday, June 1st, 2013
Looks like this will be a good listen, but (Sorry to ask this.) are you going to cover the 'slingshot orbit' claims from the 2005 Coast-to-Coast clip. I'd listened to it in preparation for this episode and I still can't quite visualize it.