This weekend, in a conversation with Dr. Andrew Rosenberg on the Union of Concerned Scientists about the diminished role of independent scientists as witnesses in Congressional committee hearings, I bemoaned the increased use of false equivalences. As an example, I cited a panel on climate change that includes three distinguished climate scientists testifying on the impact humans have had on Earth's climate, but also includes three climate change deniers who have been funded by Big Oil or other industries to quash accurate information by claiming the opposite.
I said that the ratio is not three versus three, but 97% vs. 3% (probably higher). Then I added that you could probably find a couple of people who claim the Earth is flat, but you wouldn't included them on any panel with real scientists.
I was kidding of course, but this morning, I'm reading about a documentary that claims something equally as ridiculous -- that the Earth is the center of our solar system and the Sun revolves around our planet. Talk about a minority view! It has only been five centuries since Copernicus discovered the truth about our planet (and the others) orbiting our sun, a fact that's been verified over and over again. You'd think this one fit right into the settled-science category with gravity, but there are always fringes that choose their own facts.
This geocentric bible-based bullshit is being promoted by a guy who also denies the holocaust, so it should be ignored -- I won't even tell you his name or the title of the documentary, which is narrated by Kate Mulgrew, who plays Red on the Netflix series "Orange Is The New Black."
There are two possibilities here. The more likely is that Mulgrew knew nothing about the producer or the intent of the movie and was just a voice for hire. The other is that she did know and is on the same page as the nonsense-spewer.
Because she once played a starship captain on one of the "Star Trek" spinoffs, sci-fi fans in the Twitterverse are apoplectic, asking how an actress with a credit like that could participate in a movie like this. Those fans are confusing Hollywood with reality, a common mistake amongst the instant-anger set. They've forgotten that while Mulgrew played a space traveler on television, she is not a scientist (not that you have to be a scientist to know how our solar system works).
Her TV role doesn't exclude her from having all sorts of bizarre beliefs, and starring in a space soap doesn't require any actual knowledge of how the universe works. As long as you hit your marks, say your lines, and don't throw the production into overtime, you can buy into any garbage beliefs you like, especially in a country where Tom Cruise and John Travolta are still big stars despite their devotion to Xenu.
On the other hand, I'd better not see the nitwit who produced this trash documentary show up in a congressional hearing opposite Lawrence Krauss
or Neil deGrasse Tyson
. I can't even calculate the ratio on that false equivalence.
Updated at 4:14pm...
Mulgrew has disassociated herself
from the movie, explaining she was, as I suspected, merely a hired voice.
Labels: science, skepticism