Friday, August 7, 2009

Whiskey Tango Friday

In this inaugural edition of Whiskey Tango Friday (WTF), I present a piece of the internet that I've been meaning to share for a long time.

At last May's AGU meeting, I was perusing the research posters when I ran into one that piqued my interest. I can no longer remember the exact title, but it was something along the lines of how space ions can impact terrestrial weather. Okay, sounds neat, I'll give it a look. It didn't take long for me to realize that the poster didn't make much sense. It asserted that a strong electric field, called the SOLAR CAPACITOR [emphasis not mine] was responsible for ALL weather, especially the scary stuff, such as hurricanes. The author said that comets are the result of this SOLAR CAPACITOR, and astronomers were dumb for calling comets "dirty snowballs" (a gross over-simplification of decades of observations).

After re-reading a few of these points to make sure I wasn't nuts, I realized that the author was a crank. He also had a few self-published books on display, covering topics such as how to use a new form of math (using non-base-10 number systems) to calculate all of the prime numbers and other "science" books with no data, no references, but a lot of hand-drawn pictures that seemed to ignore a lot of physics. The more I reviewed his material, the more I realized he was good at being a crank.

The identity of this man? James McCanney. For this first WTF, I present his website in all of its cranky glory. A few highlights demonstrate that James McCanney is a scientific rebel:
  • Pictures? Paragraphs? Layout? Sentences that end in anything but ellipsis or exclamation points? Screw that! Why water down James McCanney's message of truth? Take THAT, grammar!
  • A link to a page where he's selling Doulton (?) personal water filters. Take THAT, fluoridation!
  • An opening statement (buried in a link 1/3 down the page) that explains how astronomy relies on four incorrect axioms- axioms that, if exposed, will bring down our astronomer overlords! These four lies have been taught to every astronomy PhD student since the 50's, rendering those degrees useless! Take THAT, astronomers!
  • Note that James McCanney doesn't have a PhD, just a masters degree. Not because he wasn't good enough, but because he was TOO SMART to be tricked by said axioms. Take THAT, establishment!
  • After all of his theories, rants, and links to his books, there is a small section called "about conspiracy theories." It reads, " ... occasionally i hear someone say this page contains "conspiracy theories" ... that term was created by a government think tank back in the 60's to de-rate and ridicule anything not broadcast by the official news media on the evening news[.]" That's right, he just conspiracy-theoried away conspiracy-theories. Take THAT, rational thought!
Some day I'll have to work through his space weather section and show why it's just plain wrong. It would be horribly unfair of me to pick on his work without saying why it's wrong. But alas, such is not the goal of WTF. I just have time to bring such oddities to light.

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