Creationists are not the only crackpots

| 70 Comments

A reader asks weather anyone knows what book this page comes from or not:

MysteryWorkbook_600.jpg

I say, wind, shmind, the whether on the moon was stormy that day or not. Anyway, how do they know weather there is wind on the moon – were they there (or not)? Read and understand.…

Submitted by the Whether Underground.

70 Comments

Where’d you get this, Matt? Is this Poe?

It has to be from a christian home schooler workbook.

Where’d you get this, Matt?

I got it from an alert reader, who had sent it around to his list of contacts asking for its provenance (or should I say it’s provenance?). I asked him weather it was OK to post it on PT. He will identify himself if he wants to or not.

Is this Poe?

If it is a fake, it is an awfully good fake.

I agree it must be from some home-schooling book, but our “client” wonders the exact source. I daresay we will find a lot of other denialism if we ever locate the book. Indeed, my comment that creationists are not the only cranks may have been premature – they may well be creationists.

A commenter on this site claims that it was “Found in an English textbook from South Korea.”

I suspect that the scientists who wonder if humans went to the moon or not are the same ones who wonder if the platypus is a hybrid of beavers and ducks, or if Noah’s Ark is on Mt. Ararat or off in Iran or somewhere else.

Or, as the History Channel would ask, was it ALIENS?

Glen Davidson

Next band name: The Whethermen.

That’s it. Gonna call my next band The Whethermen.

sorry, that wasn’t worth repeating.

A reader asks weather anyone knows what book this page comes from or not:

sorry, but poor sentence structure is not a good identifier of crankdom.

the first could easily be not looking carefully enough at a spell checker suggestion, the last reads to me like they were thinking it might be a hoax (not have even come from a book), and just compressed it into online speak.

while the question of the source of the book page is interesting, the question as to whether the person who asked is a crank, is not.

Please name one real scientist who doesn’t believe that the moon missions were real. A real scientist who works in the aerospace industry, or is at least an astronomer. And please be more specific, how many scientists are “some”? Also, please state how many real scientists actually worked on the Apollo missions, including all of the technicians in mission control. How many of them claim that it was all a hoax? How many of the astronauts who actually claimed that they walked on the moon later claimed that it was a hoax? How many scientists named Steve claim it was a hoax? How many moon rocks were brought back? How many scientists worked on them? DId any of them think it was a hoax? How about the scientists who bounce laser beams off of the reflectors left on the moon in order t measure the rate at which the moon is receding from the earth? Do they all claim it was a hoax?

Interestingly enough, I just read a science fiction book that speculated the Neil Armstrong was actually the third person who walked on the moon and NASA covered it up because … Well I guess you’ll just have to read the book.

Nits:

That picture is NOT Apollo 11 / Eagle. It’s at least Apollo 15.

The text seems to imply that Michael Collins landed with Neil & Buzz.

Sloppy at best.

Nobody knows whether the Apollo 11 really went to the moon or not.

Even the conspiracy theorists would have to admit that some people know. Those who would have to be part of the conspiracy, they know, one way or the other. The outside observers (amateur and professional, around the world), too. The people giving out recent photos know whether those photos are legitimate.

BTW, I can’t resist pointing out, however, that the conspiracy theorists actually have theories. So they’re better than evolution-deniers.

The trouble is that the last of the moon landings happened nearly forty years ago. It becomes more and more incredible that it was done at all. Even now, even as we speak, the generation that went to the moon has passed. Now we have iPods and cameras in our mobile phones, not moon landers. People look at the Apollo technology with amused horror, now. So clunky! So primitive!

After all, we cross the Atlantic in a few hours now, so Columbus couldn’t have done it in a caravel. So that’s a hoax. Must be.

And my son has never seen a moon launch. I’m sad for him. Sad for his entire generation. Damn it all, where’s the moon base? Where’s the Mars missions?

I see that NASA is tinkering with an FTL drive. Let it be real. I know it probably isn’t, but let it be real. And if that’s a prayer, then that’s what it is.

I’ve seen suggestions that the art and layout look like ABEKA texts, and the one that fits would be Observing God’s World.

Anybody got an ABEKA set handy to check?

A Beka Book. Named after Rebekah Someone. You can get Observing God’s World for 99¢ on E-Bay – looks like a 6th grade book.

Dave Luckett said:

The trouble is that the last of the moon landings happened nearly forty years ago. It becomes more and more incredible that it was done at all. Even now, even as we speak, the generation that went to the moon has passed. Now we have iPods and cameras in our mobile phones, not moon landers. People look at the Apollo technology with amused horror, now. So clunky! So primitive!

Every year or two, I give a lecture to Chemical Engineering seniors about the pace of technological change, and computing technology is one of the examples I use. Some of the images I show them are of the AGC from Apollo 11, one of the first IC-based computers, clocked at 1.024 MHz clock, with 2K RAM, 32K ROM, and 4 16-bit registers and point out that their phones have more computing power than the AGC. Around the same time, Star Trek was using devices that looked amazingly like tablets, bluetooth earpieces, and flip phones.

Then again, I was also telling one of my classes about submitting computer jobs using punch cards and one of the students, from the back of the room, asked “How old are you?”

And my son has never seen a moon launch. I’m sad for him. Sad for his entire generation. Damn it all, where’s the moon base? Where’s the Mars missions?

I see that NASA is tinkering with an FTL drive. Let it be real. I know it probably isn’t, but let it be real. And if that’s a prayer, then that’s what it is.

I’m right with you on this. I remember watching the Apollo 11 mission on TV and dreaming of moon bases and Mars trips. What do my stepkids have that compares to that?

Interesting reference about A Beka Books: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Beka_Book

The only appropriate answer regarding Apollo 11.

SWT said:

Dave Luckett said:

The trouble is that the last of the moon landings happened nearly forty years ago. It becomes more and more incredible that it was done at all. Even now, even as we speak, the generation that went to the moon has passed. Now we have iPods and cameras in our mobile phones, not moon landers. People look at the Apollo technology with amused horror, now. So clunky! So primitive!

Every year or two, I give a lecture to Chemical Engineering seniors about the pace of technological change, and computing technology is one of the examples I use. Some of the images I show them are of the AGC from Apollo 11, one of the first IC-based computers, clocked at 1.024 MHz clock, with 2K RAM, 32K ROM, and 4 16-bit registers and point out that their phones have more computing power than the AGC. Around the same time, Star Trek was using devices that looked amazingly like tablets, bluetooth earpieces, and flip phones.

Then again, I was also telling one of my classes about submitting computer jobs using punch cards and one of the students, from the back of the room, asked “How old are you?”

And my son has never seen a moon launch. I’m sad for him. Sad for his entire generation. Damn it all, where’s the moon base? Where’s the Mars missions?

I see that NASA is tinkering with an FTL drive. Let it be real. I know it probably isn’t, but let it be real. And if that’s a prayer, then that’s what it is.

I’m right with you on this. I remember watching the Apollo 11 mission on TV and dreaming of moon bases and Mars trips. What do my stepkids have that compares to that?

I am often appalled by how poorly modern software takes advantage of the incredible advances in hardware. It is true that much can be attributed Bill Gates’ army of semi-trained monkeys, but I suspect that they are not wholly to blame. To put things in perspective, I was doing 3D modeling and rendering, using Phong shading,in real time, in 1986. The computer had 512kB RAM, ran 320 x 200 color graphics, and had a 8 MHz 68000 processor (32 bits/16 bit bus). It used a windowing interface and a mouse. The color depth was 4 bits,selected from a 9 bit palette. http://www.atarimagazines.com/start[…]/cad_3d.html Currently, I am running a quad core 64 bit processor, approximately 3.1 GHz, with 6 GB RAM, triple channel (1066 MHz)memory. To simplify things, I will treat the memory as equal to 64 bits running at processor speed. I will use a very conservative 2x multiplier for efficiency boosts from caches, ALUs, support chips, etc., and ignore the CONSIDERABLE processing performed by the graphics card. By my conservative estimate, my current hardware is at least 4600x as fast as my 1986 machine was. For a software comparison, I will use Blender 2.51, running at 1920x1080 and 32 bit depth. Using similar geometry and shading, Blender seems to run be able to update the screen about 400x as fast as my 520ST did, with the lower color depth and resolution. This is a guesstimate, because my monitor is incapable of going anywhere near that fast. So, the software appears to be running 518x as fast. This is a huge discrepancy, especially since much of the graphics processing is actually done by the graphics card, which I did NOT factor in. So, modern software seems to be only about 11% as efficient as earlier software, at best.

Sorry, it was 1989 that I used CAD-3D on the ST.

BTW, I can’t resist pointing out, however, that the conspiracy theorists actually have theories. So they’re better than evolution-deniers.

They have hypotheses.

But no, in the end, they’re not much better. Better than the absolute rock bottom plausible deniability, utter-refusal-to-make-any-comprehensible-statement crap from the DI, sure.

But they show many traits in common with creationists. They create straw man versions of the opposing hypotheses. They quote mine. They present evidence selectively. They re-use arguments that have been shown to be wrong. And likewise, creationists constantly resort to the technique of implying conspiracy to explain why the most informed reject their claims (usually claiming that there is some sort of “atheist agenda” at work).

Ultimately, for the same reason. Because of some underlying biasing agenda, they cannot be convinced by evidence and logic, but rather, attempt to advocate for a presupposition, willingly using deceptive techniques to mislead the ignorant, and, in most cases, to reinforce their own denial.

In short, “the Apollo space program was faked” is a testable hypothesis, but testing it quickly shows it to be a poor hypothesis, not supported by the evidence. Therefore those who cling to it are not much better than creationists.

Here’s a different slant on the moon landings. He says that he’s not certain that we landed on the moon, but he knows for certain that they could not have been faked.

The REAL hoax is the claim that we can’t afford to maintain a viable space exploration program. That’s as annoying or more so than the Apollo hoaxers.

Matt Young said:

Where’d you get this, Matt?

I got it from an alert reader, who had sent it around to his list of contacts asking for its provenance (or should I say it’s provenance?). I asked him weather it was OK to post it on PT. He will identify himself if he wants to or not.

Is this Poe?

If it is a fake, it is an awfully good fake.

I agree it must be from some home-schooling book, but our “client” wonders the exact source. I daresay we will find a lot of other denialism if we ever locate the book. Indeed, my comment that creationists are not the only cranks may have been premature – they may well be creationists.

“It’s” is the contraction of “it is”. “Its” is the possessive of “it”. In this case, the possessive is appropriate.

I am often appalled by how poorly modern software takes advantage of the incredible advances in hardware.

A couple of factors occur to me. One, now that hardware isn’t nearly as limiting as it used to be, not as much effort (or budget $) is made to compensate for it when writing the software.

Two, software that is made dependent on particular machinery won’t run on other types of machines, which annoys users who want the S/W but have other machine types, and annoys the software company by limiting their sales to users with the right hardware.

Henry

Several Apollo landings (11, 14, 15) deployed Lunar Laser Ranging Retroreflectors, which were detectable from earth by pulsing a laser toward the moon and observing the return flash. Something increased the reflection of laser light from the moon as soon as the astronauts (purportedly) deployed the reflectors, and the simplest hypothesis is that the landings actually took place.

As usual, you make very good points.

If one has even the least familiarity with the history of thought, one cannot but be struck by just how hard-won our present state has been. So many people struggling with really difficult questions, trying out every possibility, and, far too often, getting in trouble with the powerful. It is frightening to think of how easily this could be lost. It isn’t so much a matter of the particular issue, as that the denialists are driven to the extreme, and they gladly embrace it, of overthrowing our ability to come to reasonable conclusions from data, only to replace it with nothing. If this is lost, how much work, how much time, would it be to recover it - if ever?

“It’s” is the contraction of “it is”. “Its” is the possessive of “it”. In this case, the possessive is appropriate.

Alas, a joke is not funny if you have to explain it, but that was a joke; the kind of author who might confuse “whether” with “weather” would also make the common mistake of thinking that “it’s” is the possessive of “it”. Not an unreasonable mistake, actually, and (I’d have to research it) but I vaguely recall that “it’s”, “your’s”, and so on were the original possessive forms. A lot of people nowadays drop the apostrophe in possessives altogether.

Henry J said:

I am often appalled by how poorly modern software takes advantage of the incredible advances in hardware.

A couple of factors occur to me. One, now that hardware isn’t nearly as limiting as it used to be, not as much effort (or budget $) is made to compensate for it when writing the software.

Two, software that is made dependent on particular machinery won’t run on other types of machines, which annoys users who want the S/W but have other machine types, and annoys the software company by limiting their sales to users with the right hardware.

Henry

Back in 1989, the hardware was so limited that any usefully functional software had to squeeze every drop of performance the hardware could produce. And so software was evaluated based on performance alone.

Today, the emphasis has shifted. “Good” software means (1) It’s easily portable to new systems; (2) It’s clearly organized and documented so it’s easy for others to understand; (3) It’s easy to maintain, correct, extend, and modify; (4) It’s easy to integrate with, or communicate with, or share with, entirely disparate software written by others, because interfaces are abstract and well defined. Notice that extracting every last flop of performance out of a given stovepipe system isn’t on this list, or anywhere near it.

It might be fun watching KlausH take his 3D rendering program for the Motorola 68000 and getting it to run as an Excel subroutine, selectable from an Excel menu and using internal Excel data, all executing on the latest RISC processor, transparently available to a Linux process across a socket interface. That is to say, today’s software world.

Flint said:

Henry J said:

I am often appalled by how poorly modern software takes advantage of the incredible advances in hardware.

A couple of factors occur to me. One, now that hardware isn’t nearly as limiting as it used to be, not as much effort (or budget $) is made to compensate for it when writing the software.

Two, software that is made dependent on particular machinery won’t run on other types of machines, which annoys users who want the S/W but have other machine types, and annoys the software company by limiting their sales to users with the right hardware.

Henry

Back in 1989, the hardware was so limited that any usefully functional software had to squeeze every drop of performance the hardware could produce. And so software was evaluated based on performance alone.

Today, the emphasis has shifted. “Good” software means (1) It’s easily portable to new systems; (2) It’s clearly organized and documented so it’s easy for others to understand; (3) It’s easy to maintain, correct, extend, and modify; (4) It’s easy to integrate with, or communicate with, or share with, entirely disparate software written by others, because interfaces are abstract and well defined. Notice that extracting every last flop of performance out of a given stovepipe system isn’t on this list, or anywhere near it.

It might be fun watching KlausH take his 3D rendering program for the Motorola 68000 and getting it to run as an Excel subroutine, selectable from an Excel menu and using internal Excel data, all executing on the latest RISC processor, transparently available to a Linux process across a socket interface. That is to say, today’s software world.

Although I think KlausH has a partial point - there is massive redundancy in today’s systems; it’s been years since I bothered to try to clean all the totally useless software off a computer - your point is also quite important.

Software is a tool. Just as a machinist who makes a roofing hammer is not going to work as a roofer, it is best if software programmers can make software that non-programmers can use efficiently.

The bottom line is that electronic “resources” are cheaper than human labor, at least in developed countries. A program that uses more RAM and CPU resources, but is more efficient for a human to use, is usually better than a program that uses few resources, but is counter-intuitive and requires hours of training to use properly.

The mark of a bad, lazy programmer is that he or she always insists that software problems are due to user incompetence.

A machinist who makes 100 pound roofing hammers and then angrily states that they are hard to use because roofers are “weak” is a bad machinist, and that’s true even if a few gigantically strong roofers can use the hammers.

Similarly, while we all agree that there will be stupid mistakes no matter what, arguing that problematic software is good but intended users are “too stupid” to use it is silly. That did used to fly in the old glowing green screen days, when preserving mainframe resources was more important than, say, creating software that an intelligent accountant can use without excessive training and experience time. That usually isn’t the case any more.

For that matter, even in the 1970’s, people used “high level” programming languages, so that they didn’t have to write every program in machine code.

So yes, the relatively vast resources of a modern desktop are partly wasted, but they’re also partly used to make software use more intuitive and universal, without the need for individual training to use every application. That costs resources, but is worth it.

Incidentally, here is a wonderful wonderful free-verse account of how Real Programmers did it in the early days. This is a joy for any programmer to read:

http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/story-of-mel.html

harold said:

I had not even commented on whether (in my option) this difference matters. But from the tone of your penultimate paragraph, it seems I am (or might be) “wrong” for no better reason than that I potentially disagree with Harold, and that somehow demonstrates my lack of intellectual maturity.

Let me preface my comments by saying that my intent here is not to hurt your feelings.

I was actually accused of not wanting to “butt hurt” people earlier, and that’s true.

Unfortunately, many people insist on engaging in intellectual discourse, and then react with angry emotion to critique of their ideas.

There is no possible way to be polite to such people. One is left with the choice of either ignoring them, or responding logically. In either case they will react with an inappropriate negative burst of emotion.

My comment here IS polite - I’m not threatening you, using foul language, making obnoxious speculations about your personal life, using epithets, nor anything of the sort. You’ll perceive it as a personal attack. You’ll respond by making ever angrier, less polite, and less well-thought-out comments. I can safely predict that. But that isn’t me. That’s you.

There are many people who disagree with me on many things, whose intellectual maturity I nevertheless respect. You aren’t one of them. You could change that at any time, but experience leads to predict that you won’t.

And the other kind delusion leads to flying loaded passenger jets into crowded sky-scrapers. Nothing like as serious then?

One thing I’ve learned - when someone makes a comment that is this unbelievably stupid, far stupider than they are in general as an individual, some other type of psychological process is at play.

I’m not calling Dave Lovell stupid, I’m calling this comment stupid. Mind-bogglingly stupid. The logical errors are so many and so obvious that it is painful to list them all.

Let’s see - in the history of the world, once, for complex reasons, a group of ostensibly religious young terrorists committed a horrific atrocity by flying airplanes into buildings full of innocent people.

Dave Lovell claims that this supports the contention that all people who engage in socially sanctioned traditional religious behavior suffer from a delusional mental illness.

Let me reiterate a critical point here - it isn’t the stupidly unfair attack on religious people that bothers me, at least not much. Religious people as a group are dong very well and can take care of themselves. This comment is a stupid, unfair attack on religious people who aren’t terrorists, but I’m bothered more when vulnerable groups are picked on. What annoys me is the implied stigmatization and denigration of people with mental illness, and the implied minimization of their problems. Would you criticize a group of people you don’t like by saying that “they act like such and such an ethnic group”? Hopefully you wouldn’t. Doing the same thing to people who have or have had mental illness is just as bad. It is not nice to analogize everything you don’t like to mental illness, while using insulting-sounding terms to describe the mentally ill.

Now let’s actually bother to logically address the claim.

1) Committing inhumane atrocities is neither specific nor sensitive for a diagnosis of a mental illness with delusions. The unspeakably overwhelming majority of mentally ill people don’t commit atrocities. Many people who are not mentally ill, by expert consensus standards, commit atrocities.

2) Committing inhumane atrocities is not specific to religious people either. Some people who commit atrocities are overt atheists. Pol Pot. Stalin. I believe several serial killers have been professed atheists. Religious people commit atrocities too. And historically, there have always been more religious people than overt atheists, so probably if we tried to make a big list of all atrocities, we’d find more religious people involved. But there is no lack of atheists.

Conclusion - the fact that the inhumane terrorists behind the World Trade Center atrocity were ostensibly religious does not in any way, shape, or form support the argument that “all religious people have a delusional illness”.

It is a sad state of affairs that I have to spell this out.

Hey harold, a day after leaving the conversation, and I find I’ve still got your goat. Here, take it back. It’s far too self-righteous for me to keep.

You seem to be collecting them, phhht. You’ve got mine, too.

Dave Luckett said:

You seem to be collecting them, phhht. You’ve got mine, too.

Why is that, Dave?

Tell me why I’ve got your goat.

Did you ever hear Winston Churchill’s definition of “fanatic”?

“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”

Prove you’re not a fanatic, phhht. Then I’ll take my goat back.

Dave Luckett said:

Did you ever hear Winston Churchill’s definition of “fanatic”?

“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”

Prove you’re not a fanatic, phhht. Then I’ll take my goat back.

That’s beneath you, Dave.

phhht said:

That’s beneath you, Dave.

Dave is beneath most of us, living Down Under.

But he still stands tall.

Or maybe he hangs far off the bottom of the world.

And his internet hookup is on the LAN down under?

In re: Incidentally, here is a wonderful wonderful free-verse account of how Real Programmers did it in the early days.

As a former assembler programmer, I heard about drum systems, but never dealt with them. I have done the “optimize the hell out of the code because you don’t have any room” thing. Now, however, we have the luxury of coding in a way that the next poor sod has a snowball’s chance of figuring out what you did so he can fix your screw-ups. Modern code may not be as efficient, but it’s a lot more maintainable.

Maybe it’s a demonstration of how it’s possible to have silly debates, and the next page talks about how people want to debate about literal creationism.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on December 21, 2013 9:40 AM.

The platypus is not a hybrid. But, these are still fun. was the previous entry in this blog.

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