When Planets Align – The Bad

15 07 2008

[For folks coming to this link looking for scientific information about planetary alignments, please go to this more recent article I wrote.  Otherwise, enjoy this popular post about a silly book I found.  And thanks for visiting!]

So my wife’s friend was throwing out a bunch of old books and I came across this:

I took this book with me to IPS. I told my wife I could get $20 within hours of getting there if I wanted to, but then I decided to just keep it for myself. I did get the opportunity to show it off to my friend Carolyn Petersen who said “What a find! What are you asking for it?” hehe. The inside cover gives the book the title “Prehistoric and the Genesis Truth (part I)” with a print date of 1976. Neat, huh? It’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. Some nut who thinks he found some Biblical code that explains the history of everything without us actually doing any research. Well, that’s not entirely true. He actually proposes some — I hate to say it — very interesting ideas concerning evolution and Biblical history. Let me explain…

The Stupid. This is printed right inside the cover (nothing has been changed… it really is this poorly written):

Front cover:

As the planets move into alignment at the end of 1982, their gravitational pull may cause huge storms on the sun. These storms could alter wind directions on earth, reducing the speed of the planet’s rotation, triggering serious earthquakes — Science quote.

“The picture on the front cover does not entirely pertain to the articles in this volume, but we use it to show the creation and handy work of God!” (Ps. 19:1) “But we do speak of this particular lineup in other prophetic books, that can be ordered concerning events!” — “This important book here, “contains the pre-historic and the Genesis truth, mysteries, revelation and various secrets of God’s cosmic force and creation!” [sic]

Okay, let’s start with the first paragraph. Wow, just wow. I want to go into all the bad things written in those two sentences, but I know you don’t have that kind of endurance. I’ll just hit the major ones. The planets did get in a fairly close alignment in 1982. I was 12 and I can remember all the doomsayers pushing books and interviews and other scary stuff off on us. I found the whole thing stupid at the time, but my classmates were really freaked out. Someone had calculated the exact moment of the alignment (as if that makes any sense) and on the day of we stopped class and watched the clock tick down our final seconds of existence. About 30 or 40 seconds after the end of time class resumed as normal. Later in life I learned that the computer monitor you’re reading this post on has more gravitational influence on you than all the other planets no matter where they are in their orbits.

But then it goes on to describe how solar storms actually mess with OUR weather! Not only that, but the destruction seems quite severe and very much like a real doomsday. This is justified because, of course, *science* said it. Or something. Not really sure what “science quote” means.

That second paragraph is just mind boggling. But it’s true, the book has absolutely nothing to do with the cover. With all the grammatical errors you can be assured this book was not an easy read. And read it I did. Almost as soon as I had it in my hands my curiosity overwhelmed me and I couldn’t put it down! And with all those exclamation points to let me know when I should be amazed!

The Interesting. The book is actually a transcript of a preacher’s sermon, complete and obviously unedited. In it he makes the claim that evolution is real, yet we were not a part of it. He claims, contrary to many of his contemporaries, that when science teaches about the age of the Earth and evolutionary processes we should accept it. Scientists have no ulterior motive in their publications and there’s nothing in the Bible to contradict them. Intrigued, aren’t you? heh. He goes on to explain that after the last mass extinction event the Earth was repopulated with creatures placed here by God, including us. This allows for Genesis to be true while not exactly refuting science. Okay, I know there’s a ton of things wrong with this view, but you have to admit from a religious standpoint it would seem logical if not downright reasonable compared to teaching the earth is 6000 years old!

The logic he uses is persuasive enough to actually be more dangerous than the doomsday claims of the planetary alignment. I can see myself as a teenager getting wrapped up in his argument and believing it. It would appeal to anyone who wishes to see a reconciliation between faith and science yet who doesn’t really understand either. Then again, the preacher was going on 1970’s theories and much has changed since then. That was when it was believed that the dinosaurs died out in an ice age. Don’t know if the incomplete scientific understanding of the time lends him any leniency, but I’m just sayin’. Enough of this… back to the astronomy!

The Truth. We see people so often persuaded into a position out of fear. [Why are you against free elections? Do you *want* the terrorists to win?] Sometimes fear is good [Grabbing the downed power line might make you dead.], but spreading fear irrationally is pure evil. The bottom line is you can’t think yourself out of a position you didn’t think yourself into. People who blindly believe that the planets influence their lives aren’t looking for truth, and they’re certainly not going to believe that scientists, much less someone like my ten-year-old, might understand better than they how the solar system works. They’re going to believe whomever they trust. And trust is something most skeptics have a hard time building with the common Joe.

Anywho, this has been my weak attack on the morons who claim planetary alignments have unpredictable results. Morons.

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6 responses

16 07 2008
Nick Jones

To quote you, “Wow, just wow.” That is an unbelievable book! My biggest concern with planetary alignment is this: What if while they’re aligning and stuff, they bump into each other, get knocked out of orbit, and knock the flat, 6000 year-old disk we live on out of its rightful place in the center of the universe and junk!

17 07 2008
Trey French

Quick De-Gauss the universe. Maybe it will save us somehow from the planetary allignment. Nick you go get Stephen Hawking. Johnson you get a replica of Gauss so we can sacrifice it to the beast with a billion backs. I will run around screaming aimlessly with my hands up at the sky asking God to help us! Ready….break!

20 03 2009
David Fourtytwo

Although there might not be a cataclysmic event there is some interesting scientific occurrences that occur during the alignment of some planetary bodies. Just check out the “Allais Effect” or check out the experiment of measuring a torsion effect during the transit of Venus on June 8, 2004 ( http://www.enterprisemission.com/Von_Braun2.htm ).

20 03 2009
Terry Johnson

I shouldn’t even respond to this for fear to someone might actually go to that site, but…

“Something” had reached out from Venus at the precise moment it was geometrically projected against the visible edge of our closest star — when, remember, Venus was ~25 million miles away from Earth — and (somehow!) “touched ” our little Accutron detector … with an inertial change to its tuning fork fully one sixth of the same effect DePalma had previously measured … when the watch was mere inches from a massive ~30-lb steel/aluminum disc, spinning at 7600 rpm, in his lab!

Venus and the Sun — by means of their own extraordinary masses and separate, but reversed, rotations (Venus spins backwards, remember …) — were obviously creating their own extraordinarily powerful, interfering “torsionl fields” — just as we predicted!!

[snip]

As should be readily apparent to anyone thinking deeply about all this, von Braun himself clearly (if inadvertantly) had tripped over “a vast source of free energy in space…” — simply in those mysteriously enlarged “satellite orbits” — regardless of the details of how he actually did it ….

Which “they,” for obvious reasons (Big Oil, anyone?), immediately suppressed ….

Sigh. My turn.

What this ‘researcher’ is trying to persuade you about is the notion that rotating bodies generate some sort of field (exactly what this field is distorting isn’t quite clear) when they — actually, I have no idea what he’s trying to say. I can’t for the life of me figure out what mathematics was utilized in any of this. There’s a graph of some sort, but it doesn’t account for standard deviations from multiple tests or simple errors in calibration or signal transfer. In fact, this is a quote from the page: “Bill’s system (as you’ll see …) worked perfectly.” Really? Perfectly? How did they determine that? By what standard? What was the reference system? He even claims one of the timepieces (I say ‘one of’ instead of ‘the’ like he did because he doesn’t even mention — or possibly realize — that there are two time pieces in the circuit: his watch and the computer it’s attached to) is only off by one minute per month. I’ve bought watches from Wal-Mart that only get off time by less than 30 seconds per year. This was the measuring device he’s hanging his claims on?

You’ve gotta ponder the professionalism of anyone who finishes a scientific analysis with two exclamation points. Guess he really wants us skeptics to be swayed. Yep, that’ll do it.

Then tying in the conspiracy notion. Nice.

I’m wondering why this ‘scientific’ discovery was never published in any reputable journal but instead placed on a website called Enterprise Mission. Wait… Enterprise Mission??? I recognize that outfit!

Don’t know who they are? One name: Richard Hoagland. Yep! That Richard Hoagland. The one who spread those lies about the face on Mars and little glass houses on the Moon. The one who continues to claim that the government is covering up UFOs and murdered the Apollo I crew.

I consider him a bad, bad man and give no further credence to this hogwash.

23 03 2009
David Fourtytwo

What about the Allais Effect? Which is what they were tryng to measure. Obviously unification theory is hard to grasp but it doesn’t mean we should throw out observation to satisfy the egos of scientists who hold true to what they have learned in school. If we Einstein held onto this train of thought he never would’ve become the man he did and the world would be a different place. Inertial and gravitational tensor fields are not fully understood and unification is still just in the theoretical stages – sigh.
Some more respectable site:
http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/ast06aug99_1.htm

23 03 2009
Terry Johnson

Well, this would be a totally different experiment. That first page you pointed to was from some guy trying to show some effect at the beginning and end of a transit, which is completely arbitrary in visual terms. This second one is discussing gravitational measurements during (meaning through the entire duration of) a solar eclipse. Big difference!

The effects measured were slight enough to have been from changes in atmospheric conditions brought on by the sudden darkening of the sky, the decrease in gamma rays and X-rays from the sun, the moon acting as a buffer from the solar wind on that specific region, or simple changes in atmospheric pressure. Not saying that those are definitely the cause, I’m just saying that they can’t claim some new ‘force’ or whatever just yet.

Scientists don’t argue for ‘accepted theory’. They argue for accurate data. If any of the experiments in the second link you offered are verifiable, then further testing is called for. Notice that that is exactly what happened?

“The initial interpretation of the record points to three possibilities,” says Dr. David Noever of NASA/Marshall, “A systematic error, a local effect, or the unexplored. To eliminate the first two possibilities, we and several other observers will use different kinds of measuring instruments in a distributed global network of observing stations.”

…and then they found 20 (count ’em — 20!) institutions to test this. I haven’t heard of any positive results that could not be attributed to the phenomena I mentioned above, but that doesn’t mean we stop. It just means that we don’t start believing in it yet. Real scientists don’t start talking bad about a theory until they can show evidence of a better one.

But no one would ever think that a faraway planet could influence the gravimetric field locally simply by moving to some arbitrary location relative to our position. And in fact Allais has not published any data suggesting such a thing. All of his data is related to solar eclipses.

I’m glad you wrote that second comment. I spent a couple of hours reading through Dr. Allais’ thoughts (what I could translate through Babelfish) and the efforts of several teams of actual scientists. It was quite interesting, especially the vast array of hypotheses of why a certain result was the way it was. Scientists are quite honest when it comes to reporting data, but not always honest when it comes to reporting their error bars. Heh. But I learned a lot and it made me think for a while. I hope the folks who found anomalies can find a logical explanation for their results, but for right now no one can seem to get their results to even match each other.

So back to your original comment… No, planetary alignments can have no influence on our lives or on our planet other than to remind us that sometimes things look pretty just because they’re rare.

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