Sungenis Followers Double Down

In my last article, “The ‘Simple’ and ‘Scary’ Mindset of Robert Sungenis,” I took a somewhat lighthearted look at Robert Sungenis falling hook, line, and sinker for a Youtube video which purported to “prove” the incredible claim that our sun is much less massive than the Earth. Sungenis’s original verdict on the video’s claim was that, “It’s so simple it’s scary — scary in that it makes you wonder what other simple ideas we are missing because we’ve been so brainwashed by the Copernicans. I can’t find any flaw in this man’s logic or math . . .” Two days later, after receiving help from others, Sungenis completely reversed himself, declaring that the video was instead, “wrong, very wrong”.

This highlighted Sungenis’s fundamental incompetence in matters of physics. It also highlighted a remarkable credulity born of a deeply conspiratorial mindset – he was quite ready (even excited) to believe that the entire scientific world has been utterly wrong about something so elementary as the sun being more massive than the Earth and that it’s only due to brainwashing that we can’t see the “simple” flaws in that view. (Please keep the enormity of this claim firmly in mind – in fact, the Sun is over 300,000 times the mass of the Earth.)

Not surprisingly, the folks on “Ask Robert Sungenis About Geocentrism” took umbrage with my article. Their comments were fascinating, providing all the more support for the very points I was making.

Why Won’t You Debate?

Several voiced frustration that I supposedly will not debate Sungenis. This isn’t true. My position is that oral debates often generate considerably more heat than light, being prone to reduction to grandstanding and rhetorical tricks rather than being a sober evaluation of truth. Unmoderated written discussions in online forums often suffer from the same problems. I have proposed instead a public, moderated, written debate with each installment posted at each of our respective sites. This would be presented in normal debate format: a formal resolution, opening statements, cross examination, and closing remarks. There would be a word count limit instead of a time limit. I advance the following resolution: “The Catholic Church does not propose that the Earth is the immobile center of the universe to the faithful as a matter of divine revelation.” I will take the affirmative.

Some years ago Sungenis’s associate Mark Wyatt proposed a formal written debate on different topic (see here) and Sungenis accepted (see here). So his current stance that a formal written debate isn’t a “real” debate simply won’t bear scrutiny.

Does Sungenis Have “Specific Expertise” in Basic Physics?

The central point in my last article was that Sungenis repeatedly demonstrates that he is not competent to evaluate even simple scientific claims. Matt Singleton – the fellow who originally brought the Youtube video to Sungenis’s attention – chimed in to say that he was sorry that his original posting had brought embarrassment to Sungenis, but made an excuse for Sungenis’s gaffe:

Singleton, Sungenis Needs Specialized KnowledgeI think Singleton’s response highlights the heart of the problem. He claims that without “specific expertise” the video can appear convincing. Sungenis – the leader of the new geocentrists – has written a gigantic book purporting to overthrow the entire world of astrophysics, yet he found this fundamentally erroneous video completely convincing. Shouldn’t Sungenis’s followers and fans like Singleton expect their leader to have at least the sort of elementary “specific expertise” that would allow him to spot the flaws in a claim that the sun is much less massive than the Earth? If not, then how in the world can they trust his analysis of the complex physics and mathematics involved in proving the case for geocentrism?

By way of contrast, Dr. Arnold Sikkema, a physicist with a genuine doctorate, noted on my Facebook page that the errors in the video were immediately obvious:

Sikkema on ZenFlowerRadio Pseudo-scienceIt doesn’t require a doctorate in physics to spot the flaws in the video. And yet Singleton and the others who chimed in are unconcerned that Sungenis demonstrated before their very eyes that he doesn’t even have the “specific expertise” needed to evaluate this simple (and outrageous) claim.

Oh You Rotten So and So!

Jonathan D’Souza took a different tack, accusing me of blatant dishonesty.

D'Souza, Downright DishonestD’Souza is long on accusations, but short on substance. Is it true that Bob fell for the claims in the video hook, line, and sinker? Yes. Is it true that, as I reported, he then changed his mind only after he got some help from other people? Yes, that’s true too.  So what exactly is untrue in what I wrote?  D’Souza doesn’t say.

What “context” is there that renders my report unfair? Singleton brought the video to Sungenis’s attention. Sungenis enthusiastically endorsed it, stating that, “I can’t find any flaw in this man’s logic or math . . .” The thread then veered off into a back and forth discussion about an upcoming DVD, until finally Sungenis chimed in again to say that “we” have determined that the video is “wrong, very wrong.” That’s it. What in the context supports the claim that I am “downright dishonest”, “deliberately sinning”, and “bearing false witness”? D’Souza doesn’t say. Neither does he explain why Sungenis’s enthusiastic support for this video doesn’t logically call into serious question his competence to be discussing matters of astrophysics.

Taken together, Singleton’s and D’Souza’s comments highlight what I’ve been saying for years about the new geocentrism and its supporters. The new geocentrists want to convince you to reject a massive, centuries-long scientific consensus held in common by Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and, yes, even atheist scientists on the motion of the Earth and believe them instead. And yet they have no demonstrated competence in any scientific field. They do no experiments. They submit nothing for peer review. They will not (and apparently cannot) do the actual, hard work that scientists do.

Instead, they commit basic scientific and mathematical errors (see for example “Geocentric Physics – Is That All You’ve Got?”, “Elementary Physics Blunders”, “Sungenis Botches the Math Again”, and “Sungenis to Catholic Answers: Get Some Science Education!”). They cite others’ work out of context (see “Context Anyone?”). Sometimes they steal the work of others, presenting it as their own (see “Top Geocentrists Caught Plagiarizing” and “The Geocentric “Defense” On Plagiarism” and “Plagiarism: The Folly of Defending the Indefensible”). They repeatedly do the very thing they accuse real scientists of doing, namely, start with an established conclusion and then twist the evidence to fit. And most damaging, they seek to convince others that their web of special pleading and conspiracy theories is a matter of faith that must be believed.

It’s remarkable that none of this seems to faze their followers in the least. In the world of the new geocentrists, demonstrated scientific competence is unnecessary. Instead, they seem to be following a cult of personality and conspiracy. Even with contrary evidence right before their eyes, their followers continue to insist that the leaders of the new geocentrism are competent and trustworthy.

While the new geocentrists decry the fact that some scientists have crossed the line into philosophy and even quasi-religion at times, they seem completely oblivious to the blind faith required to follow them in their quixotic quest to prove geocentrism. Strange stuff.

Posted in Credibility, Science |

The “Simple” and “Scary” Mindset of Robert Sungenis

Recently a fellow on “Ask Robert Sungenis About Geocentrism” pointed Sungenis to a Youtube video that purported to “prove” that the Sun is actually much, much less massive than the Earth.  Sungenis responded enthusiastically:

sungenis-nice-find

So what we see here is that, on his own, Sungenis couldn’t find any factual, logical, or mathematical flaws in the presentation. He was fully prepared to believe the remarkable claim that the Sun is actually much less massive than the Earth. (The wording is clear that he gave this some serious thought.) And for him it’s evidence for yet another conspiracyAmazingThe “Copernicans” have brainwashed us all. It belongs to fellows like Sungenis and “ZenFlowerRadio”, each with a few undergraduate physics courses under their belts, to find “simple” flaws – flaws so simple that they’re “scary” – and set the whole world of astrophysics straight.

Well, not so fast. A couple of days later Sungenis chimed in again:

sungenis-wrong-very-wrong

So what happened to change Sungenis’s mind about the Sun being far less massive than the Earth? Here’s a hint: Notice that the “I” of Sungenis’ initial enthusiastic comment who couldn’t find any logical or mathematical flaws in the video suddenly turned into “we” who had checked it out and found that it was disastrously wrong. In other words, Sungenis – the leader of the new geocentrists – wasn’t able to see the blatant, factual and mathematical errors in the video. He needed help from others in order to discover them. So, yet again, Sungenis has demonstrated his personal incompetence in basic math and physics (see also for efacepalm-bear-2xample “Elementary Physics Blunders in Sungenis’s Reply to Sky and Telescope’s Camille Carlisle” and “Sungenis Botches the Math Again”). The point is not to suggest that Sungenis is unintelligent. But as we’ve said all along, he has a conspiratorial mindset that makes him susceptible to reflexively believing whatever aligns with his views. He also lacks the necessary expertise in the relevant fields.

Sungenis and his fellow geocentrists have not fared well when challenged to produce their own, real mathematics or science (see, for example “Geocentrists Fail the Lagrange Point Challenge”, “Geocentric Physics: Is That All You’ve Got?”, “Dr. Tom Bridgman Weighs In On Flunking the Lagrange Point Challenge”, and “Will the New Geocentrists Take the CMB Alignment Challenge?”). They have topped it off with habitual plagiarism, conspiracy mongering, bogus academic credentials, and egregiously citing sources out of context.

As remarkable as that is, it’s even more remarkable that some people see all of this incompetence and paranoia repeatedly demonstrated in front of their eyes, yet they still conclude, “Yes, these geocentrists are honest, competent, trustworthy experts and I should trust them instead of virtually the entire world of astrophysics.”

While the new geocentrists decry the fact that some scientists have crossed the line into philosophy and even quasi-religion at times, they seem completely oblivious to the blind faith required to follow them in their quixotic quest to prove geocentrism.

Posted in Credibility, Science |

Karl Keating’s “The New Geocentrists”

www.catholic.com

As I have been saying for years, the new geocentrism is a massive exercise in scientific special pleading, gummed together with conspiracy theories. Karl Keating’s fine new book, The New Geocentrists, provides extensive support for that characterization.

Let’s take a look at the evidence in order. First, scientific special pleading. One facet of the outcry against Keating’s book makes me laugh. A common complaint is that he doesn’t cover “any” of the scientific aspects of the topic. And yet a Google search will reveal that the counter-critics have expended thousands of words responding to Keating’s scientific critiques of geocentrism, which in the next breath they claim don’t even exist in the book. Clearly, Keating hit a nerve.

But Keating is quite explicit that in the book,

The focus is more on the people than on their scientific and religious claims. Their claims are not neglected, but I make no attempt at comprehensiveness and feel no obligation to do so. Today’s geocentrists have worked up dozens of main and hundreds of subsidiary arguments spread over thousands of book pages and innumerable web pages. It would be as tedious to refute those arguments, one by one, as it is to read them—more tedious, actually, since it often requires a full paragraph to correct a single wrongheaded sentence, and there are many wrongheaded sentences in the works of the new geocentrists.

Geocentrists are oblivious to problems in what they write. They are confident in their science and exegesis—confident to the point of not seeing weaknesses in their position. They think their logical armor has no chinks. They betray no doubts, no signs of hesitancy. Conflicting evidence does not exist or is dealt with summarily. The only logical flaws are with those who fail to accept the geocentric thesis (The New Geocentrists, p. 5; Kindle edition).

If you’re like most people and you find yourself wondering why anybody would embrace geocentrism in this day and age, Keating provides a good answer. He notes, “There is an attractiveness in thinking oneself part of a group that has been preserved from errors that infect the rest of society, whether those errors are political, cultural, scientific, or religious. There is a sense of anticipation in being part of a movement that might become the wave of the future. There is satisfaction in being privy to knowledge that is unknown to the generality of mankind” (ibid., pp. 4f.)

In other words, there is a quasi-gnostic quality to the new geocentrism.

The New GeocentristsWhy write about a fringe movement like the new geocentrism? Because ideas have consequences. Keating notes,

“When a crabbed reading of Scripture is joined to an insupportable understanding of the physical world, today’s adherent may become tomorrow’s agnostic, both in science and religion. After spending time as a follower of the geocentric gnosis, he may conclude that sure knowledge is not attainable in either realm. The new geocentrists are keen on having people accept the truth as they understand it to be, but in the end they may leave people wondering whether truth can be ascertained at all” (ibid., p. 7.)

I have a section on this site highlighting the conspiratorial views of a number of geocentrists. Keating has cast his net more broadly and I was fascinated to learn more about several individuals about whom I knew little. The early chapters of Keating’s book are taken up with Catholic geocentrists Solange Hertz and Paula Haigh. It is these chapters that have elicited criticism from at least one traditionalist Catholic writer, who complained bitterly that Keating was illegitimately using geocentrism just to attack the Catholic traditionalist movement. He cannot understand, for example, why there would be any connection between geocentrism and topics such as monarchy, evolution, and the Latin Mass. The answer to his accusation is plainly found in the book. Keating writes:

Neither [Haigh nor Hertz] has any background in science. Neither can work through the simplest equations of physics. Neither has much use of astronomical terminology. What they bring to the table is “attitude” and an insistence that the Church went off track not after Vatican II but much earlier, at least by the time of Galileo in the seventeenth century (ibid., p. 16; emphasis mine.)

It was not Keating, then, who first made the connection between monarchy and geocentrism and decried the “liberal Leo XII” for his openness to non-monarchical governments. That was geocentrist Solange Hertz. It was not Keating who made the connection with evolution. That was Paula Haigh: “For Haigh, evolution is the root of all error; it can be traced even as far back as Galileo, though of course the term was not then in use” and “In Haigh’s mind, biological evolution and heliocentrism are yoked together, and they are to be rejected together.” And who first brought Quo Primum [a papal decree on the traditional Latin Mass] into connection with the geocentrism controversy? Not Keating, but Miss Haigh again.

Keating was illustrating the penchant for Catholic geocentrists to date the supposed decline of the Church and dereliction of the Church’s hierarchs to the period immediately following the Galileo incident, rather than to the post-Vatican II era as expressed by many Catholic traditionalists.

Moving past those early Catholic geocentrists and their particular outlook on Church history, the book documents how the new geocentrists and their supporters commonly embrace a range of conspiracy theories, from 911-Trutherism, to lunar landing denial, to holocaust denial/revisionism.

Is it just ad hominem or guilt by association to point this out? Not at all. As some of Keating’s critics have rightly pointed out, ad hominem argumentation would be to argue, for example, that because Robert Sungenis has written many thousands of words of anti-Semitic material his arguments on geocentrism must be wrong.

www.magleydesign.com

But Keating never deploys such an argument. Rather, as Wes Grant has astutely observed, Keating operates in the book more like an attorney impeaching the credibility of a so-called expert witness. Sungenis and the other geocentrists have put themselves forward as experts on the topic and they address their arguments to people who, by and large, do not have the specialized knowledge to judge the validity of those arguments. As such, it is crucial to determine whether or not the geocentrists are credible or not. Keating systematically demonstrates that they are not.

Wes Grant interviewed three attorneys who are acknowledged experts in criminal legal proceedings in order to compare Keating’s approach with accepted legal standards (which are more demanding than those imposed on writers). He found that Keating’s approach stacked up quite well, indeed:

All three of the attorneys I spoke with said they would present this information to exclude Sungenis or any of the geocentrists as expert witnesses and if they were somehow still allowed to testify (which they all found almost inconceivable) to then impeach their honesty/credibility once on the witness stand.

1) Credentials: Keating documented that Sungenis had dishonestly led people to believe that he had a degree in physics. He also brought out that Sungenis advertises an illegitimate “PhD” and that he has no degree in any scientific field at all.

2) Treatment of sources: Keating demonstrated that Sungenis has handled research materials dishonestly. For example, with Ronald Clark’s biography of Einstein, he found that Sungenis used ellipses to paste together two sentences that were **separated by eighteen thousand words** and cut out two of Clark’s three points, leaving only the one that agreed with Sungenis.

3) Plagiarism: Keating brought out the plagiarism of Sungenis, Bennett and Bouw. He defined plagiarism according to reputable sources, documented that Sungenis has tried to re-define the word and then gave a link to detailed documentation of what Sungenis, Bennett and Bouw have done (found here: http://www.geocentrismdebunked… ). He pointed out that even an online high-school plagiarism detection tool caught the plagiarism. One of the attorneys I spoke with said this would be “a huge deal.”

4) Errors in basic scientific concepts: Keating demonstrated that Sungenis doesn’t understand the difference between a GPS satellite and a geostationary satellite and that he’s said other false things about these satellites. He documented that Dr. John Hartnett has stated Sungenis and the geocentrists have misrepresented what the Cosmic Microwave Background indicates and defines. He also documented and demonstrated at length that Sungenis makes statements about crop circles and NASA that reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the science behind lasers. (These claims were made front and center on Sungenis’s website, not hidden “in a combox somewhere” . . .

5) The complete absence of recognized experts who agree with him: Keating documented that Sungenis and the geocentrists interpret the evidence in a way that is rejected by virtually the entire scientific community.

6) Inability to do basic math: Keating demonstrated that Gerardus Bouw made mathematical errors. See also http://www.geocentrismdebunked…

7) Religious bias: Keating demonstrated at length that Sungenis, Hertz, Haigh and the other geocentrists hold to geocentrism primarily as a matter of FAITH, not science. Therefore, their approach is biased. (Note: FRE 610 explicitly allows admission of such evidence relating to religion if it is “for the purpose of showing interest or bias.”)

8) Misleading presentation of the evidence: Keating documents that Dr. John Hartnett has publicly stated that in the movie The Principle, by the use of voice over, cut-ins and animations, Sungenis and DeLano gave a misleading impression of what he was actually saying.

9) Financial interest: Keating demonstrated that Sungenis has a financial interest in geocentrism because of all the money invested in The Principle. Sungenis also has a financial interest causing bias because the success of the “case” will directly impact his financial future. He has a vested interest in the outcome.

All three attorneys found 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 8 to be very significant. They generally found 7 and 9 to be less so, depending upon the specifics.

There are two other quick pieces of information I want to mention. I also asked all three attorneys if they would present evidence that a supposed “expert witness” held to or promoted conspiracy theories like those denying the lunar landing, denying Sandy Hook occurred or Holocaust revisionism. All three said Yes. They indicated that if these theories could be documented in his body of work, then they were fair game. Then, I even brought up the specific case I mentioned below to you about a person who claimed to witness their client kidnap someone but who also believed he was being kidnapped by aliens each night. They all said such information would be very significant, relevant and important in terms of establishing credibility regardless of whether the witness presenting himself as an “expert” or not (link).

Most people don’t have the time, energy or specialized knowledge necessary to sift through lengthy and elaborate theories like those proposed by the new geocentrists. At some point, it’s reasonable that it comes down to who is credible and who is not. So read Karl Keating’s penetrating look at The New Geocentrists and judge for yourself.

Posted in Credibility, Science |