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Jan 07 2014

In the proud tradition of Expelled

Gosh, where do the kooks get their money? Watch this slick trailer for a fancy new “science” documentary called The Principle. There’s Michio Kaku…oh, wait, he’s always getting cheerfully dragged into woo…and Lawrence Krauss? Krauss is one of those hard-headed rational types who wouldn’t be a knowing part of any nonsense. But just watch, and the subject of this movie will gradually emerge.

It’s a pseudo-documentary about geocentrism. Zeno tells me he heard about on that weird Catholic zealot Michael Voris’s show. It’s being made by weird uber-kook Rick Delano, who’s sole claim to fame seems to be advocating geocentrism, and showing up in the comments of every blog that ever laughs at the subject (so don’t be surprised if he appears here).

What isn’t at all surprising is that Lawrence Krauss has already repudiated the movie.

65 comments

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  1. 1
    marcus

    Of course it’s nonsense! I am the center of the Universe, no the multiverse! Solipsist unite!

  2. 2
    gworroll

    I have a feeling I’ll enjoy this in the same way I enjoy Ancient Aliens- as a comedy.

  3. 3
    rturpin

    Hey, coordinate systems are entirely a matter of convenience. We can put the origin wherever someone wants it.

  4. 4
    thinkfree83

    Geocentrism seems to be surprisingly common in Orthodox Judaism. “Free Inquiry” had a good article about this, but it’s stuck behind a paywall now.

  5. 5
    Ichthyic

    where do the kooks get their money?

    that is the only really interesting question about all of these things.

  6. 6
    felidae

    Amazing how the theists use the uncertainties of science to reinforce their certainties of belief–when someone says “we don’t know conclusively”, they respond with “we know, because its in this book”
    The problem with revealed knowledge is that it starts with a fixed, ambiguous data set–”Scripture” (how I hate that word) which leads to divergent interpretations. Just look at the multiplicity of brands of Christianity.
    Empirical knowledge is convergent as the data set expands leading to a convergence of knowledge

  7. 7
    Becca Stareyes

    rturpin @ 3 But capital-G Geocentrism seems to imply that somehow that Earth-centered coordinate system is somehow Righter than any other, beyond ‘it makes the math easy for some problems and more difficult for others’. (Granted, I’ve seen people try to have it both ways: use modern physics to say ‘well, heliocentrism isn’t special or anything’, then imply that geocentrism is with no apparent awareness that their first point contradicts their second.)

  8. 8
    sean

    This calls for an inquiry, preferably one full of lols. Bring in the Spanish Inquisition! (nobody expects that).

  9. 9
    raven

    That there is no preferred reference frame means that:

    1. There is no center of the universe and

    2. Any and all points can be chosen as the center of the universe. All points are equal.

    But really, Geocentrism is for slackers. Real kooks believe in the Flat Earth. Amazingly enough, there are still a few of those around.

  10. 10
    woozy

    To play kook’s advocate are we being fair to call this goldilocks zone and earth is special attitude “geocentrism” when the true meaning of the word means *literally* believing the earth is stationary?

    Becca #7. Heliocentrism *is* “special” in the specific framework of orbiting bodies of this specific solar system. The whole point of frames of references is they are relevant and only relevant within scopes with which they are significant. Geocentrism *is* acceptable for atlas mapping and celestial navigation (the authors of my sailing books seemed to take perverse pleasure in stating “we take it as a fundamental basis for our purposes that the earth is stationary globe 24,000 miles in circumference upon which we sail and around which the rest of the universe revolves”; it’s the only time they can get away with saying something like that so they make the most of it). The interior cabin of my automobile zooming down I-5 is acceptable for me, the cookie crumbs falling off my dashboard, and the fly lazily buzzing in front of my nose. The buzzing-fly-in-my-automobile centrism is only good for the fly.

  11. 11
    moarscienceplz

    The Earth is a very special place. No two ways about it.

    …but we shouldn’t try to do anything about climate change, or pollution, or overfishing, or overpopulation. We can just keep being selfish little assholes, and God will clean up after us.

  12. 12
    David Marjanović

    Solipsist unite!

    Thread won in the first comment. No fair. …But then, that’s only logical.

    Hey, coordinate systems are entirely a matter of convenience. We can put the origin wherever someone wants it.

    No.

    Steady motion is relative, but acceleration is not. Any change in the velocity vector – in direction as well as in speed – counts as acceleration and is not relative. In short, the Earth really is moving. You can have an accelerated reference frame, but you cannot pretend that it’s not accelerated.

  13. 13
    robster

    Famous scientist, another famous scientist, un-named Australian god-botherer advocating godly fantasy, another scientist and then same god botherer advocating god fantasy again. Hmmm, strong roster.

  14. 14
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Does anyone else notice that the actual scientists quoted aren’t coming anywhere near close to talking about Geocentrism?

    Can’t wait to see what Michio thinks…

  15. 15
    Robin Pilger

    Someone cue Douglas Adams’ puddle.

  16. 16
    woozy

    One of my flaky new-agey friends posted a video about how everything we know is wrong. “We are all taught that the earth orbits around the sun in a perpetual and repeating circle; this is shockingly and fundamentally wrong; as the earth orbits the sun, the sun itself is traveling in a line and the path of the earth is actually a spiral always advancing and perpetually dynamic.” I pointed out that’s like saying “We are all taught that we fly east to New York and west to San Francisco but in actuality we are always traveling east even when we are standing still. On the way to New York we fly east very quickly to not only cover the 3,000 miles between SF and NewYork but also an additional 8,000 miles as New York zooms further and further east. On the flight back to SF we simply reduce our natural eastwardly direction to allow NY to slip away and SF to catch up with us.” She responded “That’s very true! It’s amazing what we think we know and what is actually the real truth!” and I pounded my had on a coffee table.

  17. 17
    Trebuchet

    Here’s a thread at the Cosmoquest forum (formely Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy Bulletin Board) on the film.
    http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?147917-Captain-Janeway-goes-geocentric-!

    It finally got shut down when someone got a little to direct with the thread originator for that very-polite forum. Just as “someone” intended.

    I’d have to suspect Kaku’s participation was based on false pretexts, kind of like PZ’s in Expelled. Can’t be too sure, though, since he’s been more than willing to lend his name to various woo in the past. It makes me very sad that so many legitimate scientists, doctors, and engineers are willing to believe in nonsense.

  18. 18
    unclefrogy

    I could watch the whole thing I do am limited in that way.
    uncle frogy

  19. 19
    unclefrogy

    let me try again
    I could not watch the whole thing I am limited in that way.
    seems like the stress has other effects
    uncle frogy

  20. 20
    Al Dente

    NateHevens @14

    Does anyone else notice that the actual scientists quoted aren’t coming anywhere near close to talking about Geocentrism?

    There’s likely to be some heavy duty, weapons grade, industrial strength quote mining in this movie.

  21. 21
    David Marjanović

    I could watch the whole thing I do am limited in that way.

    Please to be trying again for making sense.

  22. 22
    pacal

    Do these people have any real understanding? Of course the Earth is at the centre of the Universe if you plot it in three dimensions, just like any other point in our Universe if we plot it in a three dimensional way. Why? Well because our Universe is curved in a fourth dimensional way! Look at it this way- if a thousand dots are put on the surface of a balloon all are in terms of two dimensions at the centre of the balloon Universe, but in three dimensions none are at the centre. Well in our three dimensional Universe curved into a fourth dimension it is the same.

  23. 23
    LykeX

    For those interested in more detail on the problems of geocentrism, this is a good series of videos. It takes some crazy shit to get those models to work.

  24. 24
    Trebuchet

    For those interested in more detail on the problems of geocentrism, this is a good series of videos. It takes some crazy shit to get those models to work.

    Or just a little simple religion. Kind of like creationism in that regard.

  25. 25
    lclane2

    On the virtues of geocentricity

  26. 26
    sc_84a85b5cf407a99905674235b3cbc2ac

    Is the earth perfectly “tuned” to support life? You know, the other day I came across a puddle that – amazingly – perfectly fit a hole in the ground. What are the odds this puddle would randomly happen to be an exact fit for that one of a kind hole in the ground? I tell you, that puddle was designed just for that hole – perfectly tuned! /Poe

  27. 27
    Nathaniel Frein

    Is the earth perfectly “tuned” to support life? You know, the other day I came across a puddle that – amazingly – perfectly fit a hole in the ground. What are the odds this puddle would randomly happen to be an exact fit for that one of a kind hole in the ground? I tell you, that puddle was designed just for that hole – perfectly tuned! /Poe

    You’ve got Adam’s analogy backwards. The puddle comes to the conclusion that the hole was specifically tailored to fit that puddle, which is the essence of the “fine tuning” argument.

  28. 28
    Alex

    Nonsense! The hole was designed for the puddle! Anyhow…

    It really boils down, I think, to the problem that you can of course change your definution of what the center is such that first of all there is a well defined one, and it coincides with the center of the earth or so. It’s just that there is no physics reason why this choice is special as opposed to any other place. There is however the notion of acceleration, and of choosing a frame which is as little accelerated as possible and s little as necessary for the problem at hand. The rest frame of earth is more accelerated than that of the sun, and that of the sun more than that of the Galaxy. Even though we haven’t said anything about absolute positions in space, it is clear that earth is not at rest in the least accelerated ones anyhow.

  29. 29
    Randomfactor

    Sociologists observe, a kook
    has dumber fans who’ll buy his book
    and they farm dumber suckers’ dough
    and so it goes, to depths below.

  30. 30
    Bicarbonate is back

    N. Frein @27

    What an utter failure of logic, Frein!

    Everyone knows you can have holes without puddles but not puddles without holes. Therefore, God made the holes first and then he made the puddles to fill them. And only later did he make the human children to jump in them. Because God is transcendent logic and it all has a very deep meaning even when the puddles are shallow.

  31. 31
    had3

    Catholic Church retracts apology to Galileo, says it jumped the musket, promises it won’t happen again.

  32. 32
    Dena N.

    I’m trying to figure out what the heck I should care whether the earth is in the center of the universe? I am curious as to why the guy at 2:00 claims life is extremely rare. I do not know how he could possibly know that to be true but maybe his statement was edited.

  33. 33
    Steve Caldwell

    raven wrote:

    But really, Geocentrism is for slackers. Real kooks believe in the Flat Earth. Amazingly enough, there are still a few of those around.

    One of the best theories surrounding the OJ Simpson murder trial comae from the Flat Earth Society.

    Their spokesperson said that OJ had been framed by the round earth faction for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldmanand because of his role in Capricorn One. This movie suggested that the NASA manned space voyages were all faked in a TV studio.

  34. 34
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Wait, that one guy searched the whole fucking universe* so he knows that we’re the only place with life on it?** Fascinating!

    *I apologize for the use of the word “fucking”. It was in no way an attempt to silence any creationist who might happen to pass by.

    **No, I don’t believe in ET, but I think it’s pretty possible that at some place and some time some other life did/does/will/exist

  35. 35
    Peter Morris

    I’m trying to figure out what the heck I should care whether the earth is in the center of the Universe? I am curious as to why the guy at 2:00 claims life is extremely rare. I do not know how he could possibly know that to be true but maybe his statement was edited.

    The more I think about it, the rarer the potential for life in the Universe becomes – I am sadly inclined towards the conservative end of the Drake Equation.

    But…

    … the Universe is so mind-buggeringly vast, the numbers are so brain-melting, that no matter how unlikely life is, there is STILL going to be several cubic zillion craploads of it out there!

    Somewhere. Sometime.

    Sadly, we are unlikely (in our short terms) to detect any of it – but it makes absolutely no sense to say it ain’t so.

    And as for these geocentric idiots? Jesus Fucking Christ on a stick! :-)

  36. 36
    kevinalexander

    The last time I looked the red shift was the same in every direction, therefore I am the centre of the universe!
    What I want right now is a bacon and tomato sandwich so the purpose of existence is a bacon and tomato sandwich.
    QED, high fives all around, send me money.

  37. 37
    raven

    I always thought I was the center of the universe.

    Right now my cat is disputing that. She thinks she is the center of the universe and the purpose of the universe is to feed her.

    Which I just did. She slowly ate half and then walked away. Which means: the whole purpose of the universe is to waste cat food and mildly annoy me. Hardly worth the Big Bang and 13.8 billion years, IMO.

  38. 38
    Nick Gotts

    Contrary to what several people have said, there is a preferred frame of reference: that of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. The earth is moving at approximately 371 km/s relative to this. This is faster than the movement of the earth relative to the sun (just under 30 km/s), or the sun’s relative to the galactic centre (just over 134 km/s).

  39. 39
    Nick Gotts

    raven@37,

    A similar line of reasoning is one of my responses to the fine-tuning “argument”. However unlikely it may be that the universe would have had the right initial conditions* to produce life, it is surely far more unlikely that it would have had the right initial conditions to produce me. Therefore, by the same same logic as the fine-tuners use, the universe was evidently designed for the latter purpose.

    *Or more generally, boundary conditions, if we want to allow for irreducible indeterminism at times since the start.

  40. 40
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    , it is surely far more unlikely that it would have had the right initial conditions to produce me. Therefore, by the same same logic as the fine-tuners use, the universe was evidently designed for the latter purpose.

    Reminds me of some people

  41. 41
    tomfrog

    I think the words Tim Minchin wants on his tombstone after his death are relevant here:

    “Who will the world revolve around now?”

  42. 42
    Alex

    In the context of General Relativity, things are slightly more subtle because there is more freedom to choose coordinates, and there are no gravitational forces. In that formalism, putting the earth at a constant coordinate point leads to a geometry which diverges for large distances. This then introduces a fake gravitational force which lets the entire universe rotate around the earth. A non-accelerated frame of reference would then correspond to a coordinate choice where the metric is as little divergent as possible for large distances.

    But Nick Gotts has a good point, the CMB gives us a cosmologically meaningful rest frame, and the earth is definitely not in it. Case closed.

  43. 43
    Alex

    @kevinalexander

    The last time I looked the red shift was the same in every direction,

    No, see the dipole component of the CMB

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_microwave_background#CMBR_dipole_anisotropy

  44. 44
    opposablethumbs

    Alex, Nick Gotts et al – is there any sense in which it is meaningful to say there is a centre of the universe at all? (I would have thought not, but my grasp of the science involved is less than rudimentary (so I don’t really get why a 4D object can’t have a centre in 3D)). If so, which way is it from here? :-)

  45. 45
    Holms

    “So they sent up this satellite, and they find out these temperature disturbances throughout the universe, were all pointing to the Earth!”

    Classic anthropic mistake. This ‘movie’ is trash from that one line.

  46. 46
    Alex

    @opposablethumbs

    No, we are in the center of the visible universe, but that is trivially true for every observer. The universe looks so homogeneous that there is no sensible definition of a center. The argumentation above goes even further back: If we are not even at rest in the only special frame that can be sensibly defined (from the CMB), it makes no sense to argue whether we are in some special point in this frame.

  47. 47
    Alex

    “So they sent up this satellite, and they find out these temperature disturbances throughout the universe, were all pointing to the Earth!”

    Say what? :-D

  48. 48
    Alex

    Addendum: It is generally misleading to think of the big bang as the universe expanding from a point in space. The universe may have been infinite from the very moment space was a well-defined thing, or it may have been finite but closed up upon itself like a torus, in which sense there was no center point.
    Only if it is spatally finite with boundaries is there a sensible definition of center, is there? But there are no indications that there are such boundaries, and even if there are, there is no reason to think that the true center is even within the observable universe which we see. The flatness of the observed universe is an indication that the entirety of space, if it even is finite, is much, much larger than the observed bit.

    In the inflationary scenario, the universe is thought to have rapidly expanded by a factor of 10^30 or so 14 billion years ago, and what we not see is an correspondingly tiny section.

  49. 49
    Alex

    -> and what we NOW see is an correspondingly tiny section.

  50. 50
    Alex

    Ok now I’ve watched the trailer. WOW what word salad they made out of the Kaku and Krauss quotes! I have seen many talks by both, so I can guess what they are actually talking about in every snippet, and of course it has fuck-all to do with what the creators of the movie want us to think they mean to say. Unfortunately, Kaku is annoying as hell in his languange even if you don’t quotemine him, and so is a particularly easy target, but the fact that they also did it with Krauss tells you that they simply cut up random sound bites to a meaningless collage.

    Also, good grief what a moron is that geocentric guy. It hurts my head that people can be so incapable of reasoning, misrepresent facts so blatantly, and still play an expert in a movie.

  51. 51
    LykeX

    Sometimes, the biggest problem with dealing with crackpots isn’t to refute them, but to understand what the hell they’re saying in the first place.

  52. 52
    opposablethumbs

    Thank you, Alex.

    I get that of course every observer will be in the centre of their own visible universe, by definition, and I get that the observed universe is only a tiny fraction of the universe. And I certainly wouldn’t expect the Milky Way or our local group to be at any special point in the frame as defined in relation to the CMB. I suppose I was wondering if current understanding of the CMB implies the existence of any point at rest or if it uses an arbitrary point-at-rest … (as you can tell from my question, what I know about this subject is to all intents and purposes indistinguishable from zero). It’s mainly due to lack of imagination on my part; it usually takes at least a generous dose of Brian Cox or similar before I get the torus thing, and after a while my grasp of what that means dissipates and has to be jump-started again :-)

  53. 53
    george gonzalez

    Let me guess, it will have some grainy black and white fake footage of Michelson and Morley looking into brass eyepieces and shaking their heads. No change in the interference patters, no ether wind, therefore the Earth is at the exact center of everything.

  54. 54
    Alex

    @opposablethumbs

    I think it is a bit confusing to talk about a “point at rest”. In the context of cosmology, when we say that there is a special rest frame given to us by observations of the cosmic microwave background, what we really should say is that at every point in spacetime, there is a velocity vector which indicates in which direction and with what speed (*) you would have to move at that point to be at rest with respect to the CMB – meaing that the CMB looks the same from all directions for an observer who moves like this. This does not contain any statement about any point being special. What we can say is that the earth does not move in this fashion because to us, the CMB does not have the same average frequency to all sides.

    (*) depending on the coordinates of your choice

    Concerning the torus example – just imagine space being set up such that, when you keep going straight in one direction, you can end up coming back to the same point from behind. This universe would have a finite volume, but no spatial end or beginning.

  55. 55
    opposablethumbs

    at every point in spacetime, there is a velocity vector which indicates in which direction and with what speed (depending on the coordinates of your choice) you would have to move at that point to be at rest with respect to the CMB – meaning that the CMB looks the same from all directions for an observer who moves like this.

    Ah! OK. I think I get it (or more than before, anyway). Thank you very much!

  56. 56
    Nick Gotts

    Alex, Nick Gotts et al – is there any sense in which it is meaningful to say there is a centre of the universe at all? – opposeable thumbs@44

    No, not as far as we know, as others have said. But the geocentrists think Earth is stationary, and with respect to the best cosmic frame of reference we have, it isn’t. What’s more, its velocity relative to that frame varies considerably over the course of a year, and much more so than the sun’s does. In turn, the sun’s velocity relative to the CMB varies as it moves around the galactic centre, more than that of the centre. So the CMB provides a real sense in which it’s more accurate to say the earth revolves around the sun, and the sun around the galactic centre, than to place the earth at the centre.

  57. 57
    Sastra

    “Everything we thought we knew about the universe is wrong!”

    You see this sort of statement coming from the science & spirituality crowd over and over again. It’s a self-serving bit of framing and it actually means the opposite of what it appears to mean. Naturalism — the view that there is no supernatural and everything mental can be reduced to the nonmental — is a very new, very surprising, and very unpopular view. It came out of scientific thinking and most people don’t or won’t bring themselves to apply science all the way down and examine religious views as hypotheses. The belief that human beings are not at the center of cosmic concern can be considered marginal when compared to humanity as a whole.

    So the “we” in the above statement is disingenuous. What it should really say is “The modern scientific consensus on the universe is wrong and everything we religious folk thought we knew about the universe is right!”

    But that way they don’t get to pretend that they’re on the cutting edge of science. They don’t get to pretend that the vast majority of the world is atheist and it’s only a small but brave segment of maverick scientists who are starting to lead the way to a startling new conclusion: God exists! Whoa! Who’d a thunk?

    Whenever you see the words “everything we think we know is wrong!” coming from the woosters be prepared for that “we” to mean “Richard Dawkins.” And then be prepared for another dreary game of after-the-fact probability calculating. 1.) Pick something amazing. 2.) Figure out how many ways it might not have been. 3.) Conclude that it is therefore in fact objectively amazing and Someone must have picked it. Put it in;pull it out.

  58. 58
    peterh

    @ #57:

    “What goes in must come out; Teslacle’s Deviant to Fudd’s First Law of Opposition.”
    TFT

  59. 59
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    “Everything we thought we knew about the universe is wrong!”

    DC Comics tries this trick every 5 years or so…

  60. 60
    digibud

    Let’s see…complicated life form takes millions of years to evolve from non-life to adapt to complicated physical sets of conditions. Resulting sentient life form remains stupid enough to say “it’s all so complicated it’s perfect and must have been planned”.

  61. 61
    jamesmcgrath

    I’ve had a geocentrist trying to defend the film’s claim that the Earth is uniquely at the center of the universe on my blog, after I blogged about the movie: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2014/01/geocentrism-is-better-than-young-earth-creationism.html

  62. 62
    Holms

    Say what? :-D

    Don’t look at me like that, the stuff in quotes was transcribed from the trailer. It’s trash.

  63. 63
    Sili

    Krauss is one of those hard-headed rational types who wouldn’t be a knowing part of any nonsense.

    Perhaps they told him it’s a film about one of his kid-diddling friends – that seems to be good bait for him.

  64. 64
    untheist

    The fact that they misspelled “movie” in their page title certainly fills me with confidence.

  65. 65
    vole

    This is very like the cover of Paul Beaumont’s novel “A Brief Eternity”, an atheist novel abut the afterlife, which I recommend.

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