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Q&A With NibiruShock2012 – Part 1

May 13, 2009 2 comments

UPDATE: We never got round to asking NibiruShock2012 anymore questions. Repeated attempts at trying to contact him via YouTube have failed.

Sorry its been a while since any new posts on our blog, we have so much stuff to go over ready for new future articles that we’re pretty bogged down at the moment sorting out the important stuff from the not so important. The following article, or Q&A we feel is very important. You may have read some of our past articles mentioning the YouTube user by the name of NibiruShock2012. Over the past few weeks we here at Yowcrooks have been submitting questions to NibiruShock2012 about his hoax videos that he posted on YouTube back in February 2008 that caused a frenzy of activity in the Nibiru world, and he kindly allowed us to make a Q&A article about it. This will be published in two parts. So, without wasting anymore time, lets get to it.

Yowcrooks: We would like to start off by thanking you for accepting our Q&A invite. I suppose the first and obvious questions would be, why did you make the hoax videos?
NibiruShock2012: You’re welcome. I’m glad I have finally got a site like yours that wants to ask serious questions and not be abusive towards me for what I did. The reason why I made the videos was simply a test. A test to see how many people could be so easily fooled by afew pictures that took me about 10 minutes to make in photoshop. I didn’t expect the videos to get as many views as they did in such a short period of time and certainly didn’t expect websites to start running articles on them and saying they believed they were 100% genuine.

Yowcrooks: Was this the desired effect you were after when making/uploading the videos for YouTube?
NibiruShock2012: Well I wanted to see how many people could be fooled. I didn’t expect high profile people in the Nibiru community to analyse the pictures and say they were genuine. If anything I expected them to dismiss the pictures instantly.

Yowcrooks: How did it make you feel that so many people believed the photos were real?
NibiruShock2012: At first I found it funny that so many people could believe they were real. I found it funny that so called “experts” in the Nibiru field said they analysed the pictures and proved 100% they were not photoshopped hoaxes. At first this was the reaction I was after but if anything that made it worse.

Yowcrooks: Made it worse in what way?
NibiruShock2012: I think by people who are pretty well respected by Nibiru believers analyzing the pictures and saying they were genuine made it worse. I started getting hundreds of messages in my YouTube inbox from people who were really terrified by the videos I uploaded and seeing videos by other people who analysed the pictures and said they 100% real.

Yowcrooks: What kind of questions were these people asking you?
NibiruShock2012: They were asking me things like how much time do they have left? Where is the best place to go to try and survive this? I remember one message I got from a young woman saying she wanted to have an abortion because she didn’t want her child to go through this. I even got messages off people saying they wanted to commit suicide because of this whole Nibiru 2012 thing scared them so much. This is when I decided to pull the plug and come clean about the videos.

Yowcrooks: Lets talk a little about the hoax declaration. Why did you upload the “X Configuration” video and the coded message video that spelled “THIS IS A HOAX”? rather than just simply saying all the videos are hoaxes?
NibiruShock2012: Good question. I’m not entirely sure myself to be honest. I think I wanted to keep a little more mystery in the videos rather than just blurting out it was all a hoax. The X Configuration video was done just to see how many people would stop, and think to themselves hang on a minute this is getting silly now. Either way it wouldn’t have mattered, too many people were already convinced the pictures were real and then conspiracies started going around that my account had been hijacked by a government agent that was trying to dismiss the videos as a hoax.

Yowcrooks: Lets talk a little about that. What do you think when you see people saying your account was hijacked? We have also noticed another channel on YouTube, NibiruShock2010 that claims they are you and they have re-uploaded your first three videos. Alot of other people have also re-uploaded your videos. How does this make you feel?
NibiruShock2012: Well first of all the people who say my account was hijacked are just pathetic conspiracy theorists that just want to keep the Nibiru myth alive via my videos. They have no proof my account was hijacked apart from the words of one man, Marshall Masters. That’s why afew months ago I decided to re-open my account to prove it wasn’t hijacked and closed. The NibiruShock2010 user I have no idea who that is or why they are claiming to be me. It’s pretty low and desperate to say the least. As for others who have uploaded my videos there is nothing I can do about that. But that should be enough to convince people I’m not a government agent trying to get rid of these videos because if I was I would have made sure that not one of those videos remained on YouTube. But because I’m not I don’t really care who re-uploads them. At the end of the day I know I am who I say I am and I know I was the one who made those pictures. I don’t really care what people say or think about them anymore, I know they are fake and there isn’t much longer to wait now before everyone else who believed they were real will be proved wrong.

Yowcrooks: You mentioned Marshall Masters there. There was a time when people thought you could actually be Marshall Masters and these videos were a ratings and publicity scam to sell more books. We here at Yowcrooks were also suspicious of this. Did you have any contact with Marshall Masters of yowusa.com during your hoax? Also what do you think of his so called “analysis” and “highly credible” conclusion regarding your photos?
NibiruShock2012: I think he contacted me via YouTube once or twice but he sent quite alot of messages trying to get me to reply before I messaged him back. This was when the hoax was peaking and he was writing all sorts of articles about the videos and also uploading his own videos about them. I did send a lenghy reply back which he then decided to sell on his website before allowing people to read it. I do honestly have to say that because of the videos I made he got alot more people visit his site and probably sold alot more books and got more subscriptions, so on that side of things he got what he wanted out of it. As for his analysis on my pictures I found it hilarious that he could come to a “highly credible” conclusion. At least for me anyway it proved that he and his disciples have no idea what they’re doing or what they’re talking about. I honestly believe he knows they are fake but because he ran so many articles and did his own videos on them he wanted to keep as many people believing him as possible. It would probably have had a severe impact on his credibility otherwise. But I knew he would be one of the first to jump in my inbox and make a buck from it, it’s what scam artists like him do but unfortunately for the people that believe his rubbish they’ll have to learn that the hard way.

Yowcrooks: That brings us to our next question – what do you think of the people like Marshall Masters that are using this Nibiru hoax to make money?
NibiruShock2012: There isnt really anything anyone can do about it apart from keep on exposing them for what they are. I could have quite easily made money from my hoax by saying I had more pictures but I want paying for them but I’m sure people like Marshall Masters has made a nice sum of money from my hoax. It’s probably one of the reasons why he jumped on them so quickly, he saw a golden oppertunity. But scammers like this wont stop, there are alot of people making money from similar scams across the internet. Even when 2012 passes and Nibiru fails to show up once again I doubt the myth will die, it will just be modified and reinvented ready for the next wave of gullible people to part with their money.

Yowcrooks: Our final question to you for now is this – do you regret hoaxing those photos and uploading the videos to YouTube?
NibiruShock2012: Yes. If I could go back in time and change it I would, but I can’t. The only thing that gives me peace of mind is the fact I know the pictures I made and what I said about them is complete rubbish which wont happen, other people will realise this soon and I just hope they wont be so quick to believe in something so stupid in the future, but here’s to wishful thinking!

Yowcrooks: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us NibiruShock2012. We look forward to talking with you again soon.
NibiruShock2012: You’re welcome. I hope your readers will have had some questions answered regarding myself and my videos.

Part 2 of this Q&A will be published soon.

Gregg Braden’s “Choice Point 2012”- a HIGHLY critical analysis

January 26, 2009 11 comments

From TheNibiruChallenge:

The claim that sometime in 2012 our planet is going to be creamed by the magical planet Nibiru is just one strand of the larger tapestry of quasi-New Age modern superstitions that I call 2012 apocalypticism, which are the general beliefs that some sort of terrific cataclysm or other civilization-altering event that will forever change humanity is preordained or prophesied to take place sometime in the year 2012.

Believers in the 2012 apocalypse have been duped by the dishonest or unqualified authors of expensive paperbacks into believing that Mayan calendars, magnetic fields, Sumerian gods, quantum consciousness, aliens, the ‘singularity,’ and a small number of other motifs that form the mainstay of the modern New Age all prophecy the demise of civilization in a few years. That none of these authors have anything even plausibly mistakable for evidence for their claims is irrelevant since the rhetoric is apparently so appealing to anyone who has bought into the general premises of the New Age.

In this sense, the 2012 apocalypse milieu is very similar to creationism- a small number of arguments repeated ad nauseum, authors who (shrewdly, necessarily) bypass peer review for the popular press, a general distrust of mainstream science, etc. And like creationism, 2012 apocalypticism has created a whole new, largely internet-based industry, with CDs, DVDs, books, pamphlets, and magazines dedicated to the “mysteries of 2012.” As always, the New Age proves highly incestuous- 2012 apocalyptic claims can be found on the same forums as quantum consciousness, in UFO cults/the abductee movement discussion boards, and general conspiracy rhetoric. And, of course, there are the Nibiru people.

One recent, highly comprehensive anthology on this subject, The Mystery of 2012, published by the hilariously appropriately-titled Sounds True Publishing, is a particularly credulous collection of essays by a diverse crowd of profoundly unskeptical promulgators of 2012 rhetoric. It is worth noting that Sounds True Publishing sells New Age books and CDs for as much as $100 a pop on its website, despite the clearly anti-materialism bent of several of its publications.

The keynote address of this collection is Gregg Braden’s essay Choice Point 2012, which provides a good, general survey of the core claims of 2012 apocalypticism. What follows is a point-by-point critical discussion of the inexcusably bad science, the flagrant falsehoods, and the New Age gobbledygook that this article flaunts. Hopefully, this discussion will entail an informed rebuttal of many of the most common arguments of the 2012 apocalypticists, since Braden deploys several of the favorite mainstay fallacies of the New Age arsenal in defending his vision of the 2012 apocalypse.

Braden helpfully includes a summary of the five points of the article (they are included in an online excerpt of this article), which is where I will begin, and then use material from the article to discuss where Braden has, erm, missed the boat on a number of important issues. These are his five main points:

  • The end of the Mayan Great Cycle marks a rare alignment of our planet, our solar system and the center of our galaxy – one that will not occur again for another 26,000 years.
  • On March 10, 2006, a cycle of solar storms ended and a new cycle began. It is predicted to peak in 2012, with an intensity of 30 to 50 percent greater than previous cycles.
  • Scientists agree that Earth’s magnetic fields are weakening quickly, and some suspect that we are in the early stage of a polar reversal.
  • Correlations between the magnetic fields of the Earth and human experience suggest that it is easier for us to accept change and adapt to new ideas in weaker fields of magnetism.
  • Recent validation of quantum principles proves that the way we perceive our world – our beliefs about our experience – strongly influences our physical reality.

These are all claims that are echoed across the spectrum of New Age rhetoric.

So then, right to it. Scarcely do we get a half-dozen words into Braden’s first point before the first, glaring, fatal error is exposed. Let us examine that error, since it is one of the most oft-repeated errors of the 2012 milieu:

The end of the Mayan Great Cycle…

Hold up. What Braden is referring to here is the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar, which is an incredibly complex calendar system developed by the Mayans that keeps track of several different means of reckoning time that overlap periodically, and the particularly profound overlaps (such as December 21, 2012, when several of these reckoning means will enter a new cycle on the same day) demark the “Great Cycles.” To be clear- Braden and his co-apocalypticists are correct when they point out that December 21st, 2012, is a day of significance in the Mayan calendar. Unfortunately, he gets pretty much everything else on this issue wrong.

One critical error is the statement that the Mayan calendar “ends” (a word he uses in this context more than once in the essay) or terminates on December 21st, 2012, which is simply untrue. On that day, the Mayan calendar will just chug on along into another cycle; it is the equivalent of saying that the world will end shortly after Christmas this year because the Gregorian calendar “ends” on December 31st. This is obviously ridiculous; the calendar doesn’t “end,” it simply starts another cycle. In fact, the Great Cycle has come to a conclusion several times in recorded history and catastrophe has not materialized. The last time a Great Cycle restarted was September 18th, 1618, and surprisingly, the world did not conclude. Nor did it on June 15th, 1224, or on March 13th, 830. There is no evidence anywhere in the archaeological record of Mayans who associated the restarting of the Great Cycle with cataclysm.

But this is not even the most outlandishly erroneous statement that Braden makes about the Mayans. Anyone familiar with the rhetoric will recognize the obvious wink-and-nod to the Eric von Daaniken/Zecharia Sitchen types that goes on in this little gem of a paragraph on Mayan history from earlier in the essay:

Why did an advanced civilization suddenly appear over 1,500 years ago with the most sophisticated galactic clock known until modern times, build a massive civilization focused on expansive galactic cycles, and then disappear?

This is pure bunkum from tip to toe. Firstly, the Mayans did not “suddenly appear” as an “advanced civilization” 1,500 years ago- they developed gradually from coalitions of indigenous Mesoamericans, and we actually know quite a bit about this normal, gradual development. We have several artifacts dating from thousands of years prior to high urban Mayan civilization clearly indicating that the Mayans developed civilization in exactly the same way and general timescale as their Mesopotamian counterparts; the assertion that Mayan civilization appeared “suddenly” is simply rank falsehood.

They also did not just pop into existence (intelligent design, Sitchen-style?) with their calendar intact, the calendar system developed over a period of centuries. As far as we can tell, the Mayans probably did not invent this system wholesale- rather, it appears to have been agglomerated from several Mesoamerican cultures over many years of cultural diffusion. Again, Braden is simply hyperbolizing to give us the impression that there is some magic to Maya civilization that warrants a devotional attitude towards its calendar.

And as for “disappearing,” I imagine that what Mr. Braden is implying (that the Mayans suddenly vanished, a claim substantiated only by cranks and kooks for decades) would come as something of a shock to the continuous bloodlines of original Mayan stock that persevere to this day in Mesoamerica, with an unbroken cultural tradition far predating the Conquistador holocaust of the 15th-18th centuries. If Mr. Braden likes, he can actually contact these people at the link provided above; I imagine that they will be delighted to hear all about how they don’t exist and how their ancestors blinked out of existence century ago.

If Braden did not do even the minimal research necessary to establish these points, then he is incompetent and unqualified to speak on these issues. If he did do the research and reports the facts falsely anyway, then he is a fraud. There is no way to mince this point: Braden has overlooked some very basic facts about his own claims.

But, we have dwelled here long enough. As for the rest of his first argument, that bit about the “rare alignment of our planet, our solar system and the center of our galaxy,” I can only find this claim substantiated by the most meager of sources (Braden does not include a footnote). But even supposing it is true- so what? Braden provides no evidence that such a convergence will have any impact on our planet or on our civilization, and this claim not offer any insight into the future beyond the banal anomaly-hunting that appears endemic in 2012 mythmaking. See here for a great discussion of what harmonic convergences actually entail for humanity.

His second claim:

On March 10, 2006, a cycle of solar storms ended and a new cycle began. It is predicted to peak in 2012, with an intensity of 30 to 50 percent greater than previous cycles.

This claim is a trivial diddle to deal with because it is factually correct but wholly irrelevant. Sunspot activity peaks at fairly regular and indeed fairly brief intervals (the last such peak was around 2001). The worst that such peaks do is offer minor inconvenience for electronic telecommunication- nothing else. Furthermore, there is no evidence that this particular cycle will peak anywhere near the magic December 21st date, so as far as I am concerned Braden is just anomaly-hunting.

Furthermore, the claim that this upcoming sunspot cycle will be a particularly nasty one do not appear to be substantiated by NASA, which has predicted that the next cycle will probably be only slightly more intense than the previous one, by a degree of about 20 sunspots, which, for purposes of predicting disruption to telecommunication technology, is insignificant. This business about the sunspots reads to me as little more than a scare tactic designed to plant the unsubstantiated notion in the reader’s brain that there will be some kind of Y2K-style technological backfire in 2012. Needless to repeat, this assumption is wholly groundless.

The next two claims are very closely linked as a sort of modus ponens. They are also linked in that they are two of the most demonstrably false and outrageous claims in the entire essay:

Scientists agree that Earth’s magnetic fields are weakening quickly, and some suspect that we are in the early stage of a polar reversal.

Correlations between the magnetic fields of the Earth and human experience suggest that it is easier for us to accept change and adapt to new ideas in weaker fields of magnetism.

First, to be clear, this first claim is a bit exaggerated (“weakening quickly” translates to a loss of about 10% of field strength in the last 160 years), but more or less true, and no one who knows what’s up is terribly put off by it.

But first, what is this business about us being in the early stage of a “polar reversal,” you might wonder. A polar reversal sounds really scary- it’s when the magnetic field collapses and then the poles literally reverse as the geodynamo reboots- compasses would point towards the South Pole in the aftermath of such a reversal, for example. But what does this actually entail? This National Geographic article is extraordinarily even-handed on the issue, and listen to the veritable nightmare that is on the way for us:

Without our planet’s magnetic field, Earth would be subjected to more cosmic radiation. The increase could knock out power grids, scramble the communications systems on spacecraft, temporarily widen atmospheric ozone holes, and generate more aurora activity.

Oh, the horror! In short, a pole reversal might give you some brownouts, and could genuinely ruin your day if you live on the space shuttle, but otherwise, it is nothing to worry about. Gary Glatzmaier, an expert on this question working out of UC Santa Cruz puts it nicely: “The field has reversed many times in the past, and life didn’t stop.”

So, even though Braden offers no evidence that such a collapse-and-reverse are on schedule for precisely 2012, certainly not for December 21st of that year, we can actually toss him a bone and suppose that such a thing could be true without being particularly dissuaded from planning for the future.

Here is a lesson plan designed for grade schoolers that Braden can read up on to maybe help explain to him why his is wrong. I offer it because he obviously is not too big on looking into the research on his own.

As an aside, this is one of those interesting confluences of conspiracy/New Age rhetoric, as the “pole shift” or “polar reversal” meme is abundant in the Atlantis crowd, many of whom make hand-waving references to pole shifts to explain what might have destroyed the totally unsubstantiated anachronism that is “Atlantis.” Needless to say, I hold more or less as much skepticism for that field of claim-making as I do for the 2012 apocalypticists.

So of course, this claim by itself is harmless. But view it in context of the third claim. Braden claims that weaknesses in the terrestrial magnetic shield could somehow actually spur human creativity. This, of course, is a doozy of a claim, and this is one of those times that it really becomes apparent why people like Braden bypass peer review for the popular press. But just wait until you see his “evidence.”

Looking earlier in the article for how this rather extravagant claim is substantiated, things quickly devolve into woo-land madness. Read this gem of a factoid from a few pages back in the article that attempts to give us some reason to expect mountains to move for a pole shift:

We know, for example, that magnetic fields have a profound influence on our nervous systems, our immune systems, and our perceptions of space, time, dreams, and even reality itself.

And there you have it. No footnote, no reference, no citation, just bare assertion. How Braden “knows” this is a complete mystery- presumably this is more cross-cultural diffusion among the credulous, since these wild claims abound in New Age literature, particularly (obviously) in bunkum like magnet therapy.

Even if we offer him the best possible evidence in favor of the faith-based proposition that magnetism alters “reality itself,” we get at best a few enticing tidbits about endocrinology. Dreams? Nervous systems? Please. Show me the evidence. If you are interested in a fun home experiment on the ability of magnetism to completely change your life, go get an MRI (MRIs basically bathe you in an intense magnetic field). I’ve had one. I was not transformed into a creative dynamo, nor has any kind of remotely reliable analysis shown that MRIs make Twains and Tolkiens of us all, nor does it do the opposite (whatever that would be exactly).

Again, we can (and I will) give Braden the best available scientific evidence for magnetism having funky effects on the nervous system freely because such evidence does not substantiate any part of his claims. The effect sizes are tiny, the results are minor, the claim is bunk. To say that there is some “profound influence” of magnetic fields on “our nervous systems” or “reality itself” is, put nicely, ridiculous.

Braden himself tries to gasp his way into evidence for this proposition, but it is so bad that I fear that mentioning it will make me look like I’m ad hominizing this clueless woo woo. He concocts an obscene pseudo-hypothesis he calls the “magnetic glue model,” which is built on the wholly unfounded foundational premise that magnetism plays some vital role in consciousness and that the amount of magnetism going on in your particular neighborhood on the planet has a marked effect on how creative you are. He figures that places with higher magnetic activity are less conducive to creativity than places with lower magnetic activity. And how does he substantiate this claim? Brace yourself; what follows is not a joke:

Our “magnetic glue” model suggests that places with stronger magnetic fields (more glue) are more deeply entrenched in tradition, beliefs, and existing ideas. In places where the fields are weaker, just the opposite is true. In these places, people seem compelled to create change… In our Middle East example, we see the struggle that can result from the attempt to preserve ancient tradition in a place that compels change [the Middle East has a magnetic gauss rating of 0]… A simultaneous zero magnetic contour line exists parallel to America’s West Coast… Central Russia, 150 mag gauss, historically, change comes over time. Once change begins in these areas, it carries a momentum that makes itself known in a way that cannot be missed.

And you see why I had to disclaim that this is not a joke.

So, now Braden would have us believe that a religiously conservative tradition magically fell into the place despite being a homogenously creativity-driven population (since of course, everyone in the Middle East experiences a similar magnetic field density, which is obviously why all Middle Easterners are creative), and of course we have to believe that all of the geopolitical problems in the Middle East can be chalked up to an imaginary tension between magnetically-charged creative people and the religious tradition that apparently deviates from what should be the norm in the Middle East.

And of course we have to believe that the West Coast is full of creative people from top to bottom (looking at you on this one, Arizona). And those uncreative Russians, whose creativity-impoverished backwards culture has only yielded Dostoevsky, Shostakovich, Lenin, Tolstoy, Baryshnikov, Ayn Rand, Kasparov, so forth, and we know that change comes gradually to those slow-minded Russians because it took a whole year for an entire capitalist empire to be overthrown by the world’s first functioning communist government.

Here is a website designed for middle-schoolers explaining why the magnet-consciousness link is junk.

This “evidence” is ridiculous at best and insulting at worst. And it is how Braden attempts to substantiate one of the seminal claims of the work- that a pole shift-induced magnetic upheaval will have a dramatic effect on human consciousness. And we are supposed to believe it because everyone in the Middle East is creative and no one in Russia is creative.

Not only does he fail to offer any kind of remotely plausible mechanism for how this might be the case, the circumstantial evidence he offers in its favor isn’t even mistakable for accurate or convincing.

But he isn’t done yet. He gives himself a safety net against the obvious absurdity of the above claim with one that is borderline as absurd:

Even without such evidence, we know intuitively that we are affected by planetary magnetic forces. Any law enforcement officer or health-care practitioner will attest to the intense, and sometimes bizarre, behavior that is seen during a full moon…. Artists and musicians know this and often anticipate full-moon cycle as periods of great creativity.

And once again, that is it. No footnote, no reference, not so much as an anecdote or a quote from some luna-stricken hyper-creative “artist” or “musician,” no statistical evidence correlating emergency room visits or crime rates with the full moon.

It is probably good for Braden that he made not even a hand-waving effort to substantiate this claim with evidence, since if he did, he would probably found that the full moon does not correlate with antisocial behavior, violent behavior, geriatric mental function, prison violence, suicide or homicide, aggression, depression or anxiety, psychosis, or emergency room visits. In short, he is wrong and he is relying on less than anecdotal evidence to argue this point, By talking about “health-care practitioners” and “law enforcement officers” without offering either studies or even anecdotes, he is actually relying on an anecdote about an anecdote: firstly, we have to believe that the full moon positively correlates with violence and madness, and secondly, that every doctor and cop in the nation knows it. And he is wrong on both points.

And as for the bit about artists and musicians, I could find no evidence either way on that, but (and call me premature), I doubt that any appropriately-controlled study would yield much by way of results on that front.

Of course, if this claim falls, then every argument that follows from the worry about a pole shift also falls, since if we have no cause to worry about or expect some kind of global consciousness-changing from changes in the Earth’s magnetism (which we don’t), then we have no cause to think that even if a pole shift does occur in 2012 (there is no reason to believe that it will) that it will have any of the effects that Braden wants it to have. He has plunged headlong to an absurd conclusion based on no evidence (remember that he has no citation at this point in the article). Even when I give him the best available evidence, nothing he wants to capture with his argument synchs up with reality.

His final claim is a diddle to deal with:

  • Recent validation of quantum principles proves that the way we perceive our world – our beliefs about our experience – strongly influences our physical reality.

This is just a lame, hand-waving reference at the most grossly misinformed pseudoscientists playing the game today, which are the quantum consciousness quackos. The Deepak Chopras and Rustem Roys of the world rely on the simple fact that the average person does not understand quantum physics in order to swindle them out of their money at the bookstore.

Read my lips: quantum effects do not manifest themselves in any system larger than an atom. None of the so-called “intention experiments,” or experiments set up to show that human consciousness can somehow magically alter the outcome of certain physical interactions, has yet shown any good results. Most of those studies are poorly-controlled, and some of them (like the “water memory” gobbledygook) are so poorly designed that no amount of controlling will rescue us from the fact that the quantum quacks either have no idea how to do good science, or they refuse to ever actually do good science for fear of hurting book sales.

It would be interesting to see what Braden has confused for “validation” of these misinterpretations of available experimental data, but, sadly, surprisingly… no footnote, no reference, no link, no nothing.

His claims about the Maya are simply false. His claims about the pole shift are unsubstantiated scare tactics. His claims about magnetism are false, absurd, ridiculous, simplistic, and insulting. His claims about quantum effects are simply exposés of his own gullibility, and are useful only as another good example of the kind of cross-cultural diffusion that sends bad ideas flying around like ping-pong balls in the 2012 community.

And there you have it.

The Mayan Calendar Does Not End In 2012, Jim

January 23, 2009 2 comments

From The Teapot Atheist: I’ve commented on Jim Harold’s “PARANORMAL PODCAST” (and yes, it is in all caps on iTunes) before. I ripped on them when they had Noreen Renier, the “psychic detective,” out promoting her traveling fraud gig, but now I bring them up because they had on a guest whose ignorance can serve a useful didactic purpose.

Perhaps you’ve heard from a coworker or a nice young man on the street selling pencils from a cup that the world is going to end in 2012. The chief line of “evidence,” as Paranormal Podcast episode #33’s guest Marie Jones uncritically parroted, is that the ancient Mayan calendar supposedly ends some time towards the end of the year 2012. To be clear- Jones and her co-apocalypticists are correct when they point out that December 21st, 2012, is a day of significance in the Mayan calendar. Unfortunately, she gets pretty much everything else on this issue wrong.

The critical error is the statement that the Mayan calendar “ends” or terminates on December 21st, 2012, which is simply untrue. On that day, the Mayan calendar will just chug on along into another cycle; it is the equivalent of saying that the world will end shortly after Christmas this year because the Gregorian calendar “ends” on December 31st. This is obviously ridiculous; the calendar doesn’t “end,” it simply starts another cycle. In fact, the Great Cycle has come to a conclusion several times in recorded history and catastrophe has not materialized. The last time a Great Cycle restarted was September 18th, 1618, and surprisingly, the world did not conclude. Nor did it on June 15th, 1224, or on March 13th, 830. There is no evidence anywhere in the archaeological record of Mayans who associated the restarting of the Great Cycle with cataclysm. Period.

This is of course ignoring the obvious fact that one cannot logically infer truth from the wild astrologies of dead theocracies. Even if the Mayan long count ended with “and then the Earth will explode in 2012!,” this would still not be a good reason to think that any such thing would occur. But, the 2012 crew keeps chugging away with no evidence whatsoever, proving that once you permit yourself to be mesmerized by the pseudoscientific trappings of this or that fad belief (be it quantum quackery, creationism, 2012, any such nonsense), only by some incredible inner fortitude can you rescue yourself from the BS, not by the mere power of truth being given to you by a skeptic from the outside.

Giant Skeleton Hoax

December 4, 2008 3 comments
Summary:
Emails with attached images supposedly depicting the skeletal remains of gigantic humans claim that the skeletons were unearthed in the Arabian or Indian deserts (Full commentary below.

Status: False

Example 1: (Submitted, July 2004)

FYI. Just got this Email, only God knows better about this story, but check it out:

Recent gas exploration activity in the south east region of the Arabian desert uncovered a skeletal remains of a human of phenomenal size. This region of the Arabian desert is called the Empty Quarter, or in Arabic, ‘Rab-Ul-Khalee’. The discovery was made by the Aramco Exploration team. As God states in the Quran that He had created people of phenomenal size the like of which He has not created since. These were the people of Aad where Prophet Hud was sent. They were very tall, big, and very powerful, such that they could put their arms around a tree trunk and uproot it. Later these people, who were given all the power, turned against God and the Prophet and transgressed beyond all boundaries set by God. As a result they were destroyed.

Ulema’s of Saudi Arabia believe these to be the remains of the people of Aad. Saudi Military has secured the whole area and no one is allowed to enter except the ARAMCO personnel. It has been kept in secrecy, but a military helicopter took some pictures from the air and one of the pictures leaked out into the internet in Saudi Arabia. See the attachment and note the size of the two men standing in the picture in comparison to the size of the skeleton !!

Example 2: (Submitted, July 2007)

Subject: FW: Legendary skeleton

Recent exploration activity in the northern region of India uncovered a skeletal remains of a human of phenomenal size. This region of the Indian desert is called the Empty Quarter.

The exploration team also found tablets with inscriptions that stated that our Gods of Indian mythologicalyore, Brahma, had created people of phenomenal size the like of which He has not created since. They were very tall, big, and very powerful, such that they could put their arms around a tree trunk and uproot it. They were created to bring order among us since we were always fighting with each other. One of he sons of Bhima of the Pandava brothers is also thought of to have been carrying these genes. Later these people, who were given all the power turned against all our Gods and transgressed beyond all boundaries set. As a result they were destroyed by God Shiva.

The Geo Exploration team believes these to be the remains of those people.

Govt of India has secured the whole area and no one is, allowed to enter except the NatGeo personnel.


Commentary:
This classic leg-pull has now been circulating via email, blogs and forums for several years and has even been published by some news outlets as factual. In fact, the “giant skeleton” images that travel with these messages are not photographs depicting real discoveries but instead clever manipulations. A lot of recipients would be quick to doubt the authenticity of the images. However, submissions indicate that the high quality of the fake images coupled with the vaguely plausible explanations that accompany them are apparently enough to convince many recipients that the “discoveries” are genuine.

So far, there have been two popular variants of the hoax. The first variant (Example 1 above) claims that a skeleton of a gigantic human was discovered during a gas exploration in the south east region of the Arabian desert and sports an attached photograph to “prove” the claim. However, the cleverly created image of the giant skeleton is actually an entry in an image manipulation contest by artist “IronKite” in which participants were instructed to create “a picture of an archaeological discovery that looks so real, had it not appeared at Worth1000, people might have done a double take”.

The message tries to add legitimacy to its fanciful tale by referencing the Quran’s Prophet Hud and the people of Aad (or “Ad”). Some Islamic references do claim that the people of Aad were thought to be giants. However, other material describes them as having a “stature tall among the nations” or as simply being “physically well-built”. The Christian Bible also makes mention of giants.

The second variant (Example 2 above) moves the “action” to the Indian desert and replaces the Islamic references with mentions of characters in Indian mythology, including Brahma and Bhima’s son. According to Indian legend, Bhima’s son Ghatotkacha was a powerful fighter with magical abilities, although he is not generally described as a giant. Other than the change in mythological references, much of the wording in the two hoax variants is virtually identical.

The Indian based variant includes IronKite’s image along with three other giant skeleton pictures that also originate from the same Worth1000 contest. The second picture in the set, complete with giant revolver, is titled everlasting rest and was created by amaranto. The third image is an entry simply named Giant Skeleton and was created by Anakinnnn. And the fourth image in the set is named Uncovered Giant and was created by Trit.

The hoax was apparently republished by several media outlets in Indian, Bangladesh and elsewhere. A scan of one of these newspaper articles is included in one version of the hoax email. Such articles have given the hoax undeserved credibility.

IronKite’s creation has even been featured in a YouTube video entitled “Proof evolution is an evil lie from satan (the devil)”. The video’s creator uses IronKite’s giant skeleton, along with other dubious images, as “proof” that giants once lived on Earth. The inclusion of a well-documented hoax image, in addition to a number of logical flaws, seriously undermines the video maker’s credibility and has earned him the ridicule of his fellow YouTubers.

The image and “Arabian desert discovery” description is also included in another fanciful YouTube video warning of impending disaster for Earth. Again, the blatant use of a well-known hoax as “proof” decimates what little credibility the video had to begin with.

Even if you do believe that a race of giants once walked the Earth, you can rest assured that these photographs do not depict some of their remains. In their original context as part of a Worth1000 contest, the status of the images as purely fictional “archaeological discoveries” is quite clear. Apparently, however, some unknown prankster stole IronKite’s image from its original setting, added some seemingly relevant text, and sent it on its way. Perhaps due largely to the talent of its creator, the image has circulated ever since. In due course, others have apparently added more Worth1000 images to the hoax messages.

The photo was created by altering an actual photo of a Cornell University excavation of a mastodon skeleton outside Hyde Park, New York, where the Paleontological Research Institution and the Cornell Department of Geological Sciences are excavating the skeleton of a mastodon. Real photos below.



IronKite digitally superimposed a human skeleton over the mastodon-dig photo, he told National Geographic News in December 2007. IronKite started with an aerial photo of a mastodon excavation in Hyde Park, New York, in 2000. He then digitally superimposed a human skeleton over the beast’s remains. The later addition of a digging man presented the biggest technical challenge. “If you look, he’s holding a yellow-handled shovel, but there’s nothing on the end,” IronKite said. “Originally, the spade end was there. But [it] looked like it was occupying the exact same space as the skeleton’s temple, making the whole thing look fake. “Now it looks like he’s just holding a stick, and people don’t notice. It’s funny.” IronKite also altered the color of the man’s clothing to create a “uniform tie-in” with the white-shirted observer peering down from the wooden platform. The two figures work to exaggerate the scale of the skeleton, he added. If you also look in the bottom right corner of the original mastodon-dig photo, you can see a tusk of the animal that IronKite left in his altered ones. IronKite said he’s tickled that the picture—which took only about an hour and a half to create—has generated so much Internet attention. “I laugh myself silly when some guy claims to know someone who was there, or even goes so far as to claim that he or she was there when they found the skeleton and took the picture,” IronKite said. “Sometimes people seem so desperate to believe in something that they lie to themselves, or exaggerate in order to make their own argument stronger.”

Zecharia Sitchin and The Earth Chronicles

December 4, 2008 Leave a comment

“. . .he’s just another nut making a living selling books that treat folks to a tale they want to believe in.”
Rob Hafernik

“…the Sumerian Epic of Creation is not an allegorical myth but a sophisticated cosmogony scientifically describing how our solar system came to be….” Zecharia Sitchin

Zecharia Sitchin, along with Erich von Däniken and Immanuel Velikovsky, make up the holy trinity of pseudohistorians. Each begins with the assumption that ancient myths are not myths but historical and scientific texts. Sitchin’s claim to fame is announcing that he alone correctly reads ancient Sumerian clay tablets. [Of course, he didn’t announce this by taking out an ad in the New York Times but by implying it with his “translations” that do not jibe with the work of legitimate scholars in the field.] If Sitchin is right, then all other scholars have misread these tablets, which, according to Sitchin, reveal that gods from another planet (Nibiru or Niburu, which orbits our Sun every 3,600 years) arrived on Earth some 450,000 years ago and created humans by genetic engineering of female apes. Niburu orbits beyond Pluto and is heated from within by radioactive decay, according to Sitchin. No other scientist has discovered that these descendants of gods blew themselves up with nuclear weapons some 4,000 years ago (The War of Gods and Men, p. 310).* Sitchin alone can look at a Sumerian tablet and see that it depicts a man being subjected to radiation. He alone knows how to correctly translate ancient terms allowing him to discover such things as that the ancients made rockets (ibid., p. 46).* Yet, he doesn’t seem to know that the seasons are caused by the earth’s tilt, not by its distance from the sun.

Sitchin was born in Russia, was raised in Palestine, and graduated from the University of London with a degree in economic history. He worked for years as a journalist and editor in Israel before settling in New York.

Sitchin, like Velikovsky, presents himself as erudite and scholarly in a number of books, including The Twelfth Planet (1976) and The Cosmic Code (1998). Both Sitchin and Velikovsky write very knowledgeably of ancient myths and both are nearly scientifically illiterate. Like von Däniken and Velikovsky, Sitchin weaves a compelling and entertaining story out of facts, misrepresentations, fictions, speculations, misquotes, and mistranslations. Each begins with their beliefs about ancient visitors from other worlds and then proceeds to fit facts and fictions to their basic hypotheses. Each is a master at ignoring inconvenient facts, making mysteries where there were none before, and offering their alien hypotheses to solve the mysteries. Their works are very attractive to those who love a good mystery and are ignorant of the nature and limits of scientific knowledge. They are especially attractive to those who are ignorant of biblical and historical scholarship.

Sitchin promotes himself as a Biblical scholar and master of ancient languages, but his real mastery was in making up his own translations of Biblical texts to support his readings of Sumerian and Akkadian writings.

He’s let us know he’s going to twist the translations around to support his thesis. Indeed, a reader of Sitchin’s book would do well to keep a couple of Bibles handy to check up on the verses Sitchin quotes. Many of them will sound odd or unrecognizable because they have been translated from their familiar form (this is made harder by the fact that Sitchin rarely tells you just which verse he is quoting). This would be much more acceptable if he wasn’t using the twisted translations to support the thesis that led to the twisted translations (Hafernik).

Most of Sitchin’s sources are obsolete. He has received nothing but ridicule from scientific archaeologists and scholars familiar with ancient languages. His most charming quality seems to be his vivid imagination and complete disregard for established facts and methods of inquiry, traits that are apparently very attractive to some people.

Sitchin’s ideas have been appropriated by Raël, another wise man, who has started his own religion (Raëlian Religion) around the idea that humans are the result of a DNA experiment by ancient visitors from outer space. Raël has even written a channeled book, dictated to him by extraterrestrials. It is called The Final Message. We can only hope it is.

Link to original post: Zecharia Sitchin and The Earth Chronicles

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