View Full Version : Bad Astronomy in UFO books

2006-May-10, 09:36 PM

During a radio debate on 21 July 2004, SETI scientist Seth Shostak said to ufo researcher Stanton Friedman that “You say a lot of misleading things about SETI”.

I wonder if members of this forum have any favourite example of bad astronomy in UFO books. I'm particularly interested in examples of straightforward and clear-cut factual _errors_, and not so interested in examples of alleged failures to apply logic or consider various factors.

The most extreme example of such errors that I've noted at the moment is from a book by a ufo author called Susy Smith. She included the following paragraph in her “Strangers from Space” (1977):

“A group of scientists who got together to consider the findings of Project Ozma, a radio astronomy observatory set up at Green Bank, West Virginia, in 1959, set the stage for the open mind in astronomy. When strong signals were heard unmistakably in intelligent code from one of the nearest suns likely to have planets - Tau Ceti - they issued this statement, known as the Green Bank Formula: ‘There are between 40 and 50 million worlds which are trying to signal us or are listening for messages from Earth”.

Reading the above paragraph, I lost count of the number of factual errors which would have SETI scientists groaning (or falling about laughing).

Kind Regards,

Isaac Koi

2006-May-11, 12:21 AM
You are likely correct, that Susy Smith is wrong about this alleged quote, however when you consider the number of things our government and media lie about, considering the possibility is not irrational.
Nearly all books contain some glaring errors, so we should expect to find at least a few errors in books written by persons not educated in general science, nor one of the hard sciences.
The late Phillip Klass made numerous false inferences, and glarring half truths, so this is common among debunkers as well as supporters of various UFO hypothesis.
My own hypothesis (for which I have no proof, nor compelling evidence) is somewhat like the movie "Men in Black" A vast array of not very smart aliens are here on Earth. Most of the time, they successfully place screen memories, so we don't remember accurately our encounters of the third kind. Even when the screen memory works poorly, the remembrence is so bazar the experiencer makes "corrections, edits and improvements" which in effect are self discrediting. Neil

2006-May-12, 12:31 AM
Moved from Astronomy to Small Media at Large.

2006-May-12, 12:59 AM
neilzero, I was going to ask what prove you had of any of your claims, but since you admit to having nada, I'm simply going to suggest you take a walk out in the sunlight and fresh air, and then I'll get back to work.

2006-May-12, 06:37 PM
One book I have , Looking fot the Aliens by Randles and Hough, has a bit of Bad Astronomy in it. They describe how a signal was picked up by the Cyclops radio antenna in 1976 apparently from the star 'Ophiuchi'. This signal has apparently defied explanation.

This signal is not one I am familiar with (the more famous 'Wow signal was picked up a year later) and there is no star named simply Ophiuchi; there is a constellation named Ophiuchus, and the brighter stars in that constellation are given designations starting with Alpha Ophiuchi, then Beta Ophiuchi and so on. Calling a star just Ophiuchi (twice!) indicates that Randles and Hough are unfamiliar with astronomical naming conventions.

Worse that that, but not yet in any book that I am aware of, is the great SERPO hoax; this is a convoluted tale about a group of American astronauts that were sent on an exchange mission to Zeta Reticuli. The details given for the orbit of the planet in this double system are laughable, and the separation of the two stars is wrong by a factor of several thousand; but still some people are hanging onto the belief that this is a true account.