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Is That Lipstick On The Doll’s Head? Part One: Perfunctory Material

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Every so often I have the occasion to sit down and do a bit of reading.  Often it can take me weeks or even months to finish a particular book because of my schedule but, eventually, I get to the end.

Well, except for this particular book on the history of the Knights Templar. One chapter to go and it still sits on my night stand where I put it over three months ago. Not that I have no interest. It’s just that other things keep getting in the way. Also, I am the type of person who needs absolute silence when I read. I cannot stand distractions like the radio or television or mindless background chatter. This of course limits my reading to great lengths of time of almost fifteen to twenty minutes every few days or so.

hoagland-thadeHowever, one book in particular that I have, quite intentionally, been putting off since it came out last year is the ‘latest shocker’ from our long-time friend Richard C Hoagland, founder of The Enterprise Mission, recipient of an Angstrom Medal, former science advisor to CBS News and Walter Cronkite, author of The Monuments of Mars, co-creator of the ‘Pioneer Plaque,’ originator of the ‘Europa Proposal,’  and principal investigator of The Enterprise Mission and a guy who clearly does a pretty mean impersonation of General Thade) and one of his periodic co-authors, the equally stern-looking Mr Michael (Mike) Bara, who is, according to The Dark Mission Blog he maintains, an engineering consultant.

mbaraAlso, according to the ‘About the Authors’ page of the book, Mr Bara ‘is an aerospace structural engineer with more than twenty-five years’ experience in the field,’ which goes to show that the areas of speculative or edge science and conspiracy theory (perhaps even conspiranoia if you will) draw people from all walks of life and with all manner of background. That is not meant to be disparaging of Mr Bara’s abilities or background, but merely pointing out that really just about anyone with the drive, the interest, the ambition, the resources, and the intelligence to sort out the genuine anomalies or connections from the wealth of nonsense and misinformation, can delve into this field of study in its vast array of forms from alien agendas to xenobiology. It helps, obviously, to have some speciality on which one can draw but as long as you have a well-polished skill set and can keep a keen objective eye at all times, this area is wide open. Do any of these aforementioned notions apply? We shall see…

The reader of this blog knows that I, too, am greatly interested in all things conspiratorial and speculative (especially when it comes to the poorly named ‘edge sciences’) but of course I haven’t written a book so what I think really doesn’t matter.

dmbookThe book to which I am referring, by the way, in case you haven’t guessed, is Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA. You can check it out for yourself through Amazon.

The main reason I put off reading this book was due to the fact that, although I have been a faithful follower of Mr Hoagland’s theories and ideas for…well…just about from the very beginning (which means, kids, way back in the dark days before the advent of the internet and when computers were still the giant ungainly things seen in Colossus – The Forbin Project) I have begun to find, on an entirely subjective level, a certain sense of consummate irritation with his choice of delivery techniques, for lack of a better term.  This should come as no secret or surprise to you, as I have never danced round the subject whenever I have addressed it in previous posts.

One might think, from the tongue-in-cheek jabs I have on occasion taken at Hoagland here in the Magical Land of Make Believe, that I do not appreciate what he is trying to accomplish or that I do not subscribe to his ideas, and that is not entirely true. Though more often than not I have my serious doubts. What has grated on my nerves for several years now (as either a listener to his radio appearances or as a reader of his sporadic written work) is what I perceive to be the absolutely incessant Chicken Little-ing, the never-ending tangents, the circuitous ramblings that finish in incomplete thoughts, the incomplete thoughts which dangle emptily without even the circuitous ramblings to prop them up, the needless aggrandisement of language to elevate simple base concepts to a pseudo-scientific level as if to somehow prove they are important and difficult concepts that only years of education and research can comprehend, and the abhorrent and completely unnecessary bombast with which absolutely everything is presented.

One could liken Hoagland’s chosen mode of delivery (in whatever media) to a car advertisement where the announcer is screaming and screaming and lights are flashing and loud music is clashing against disjointed jump-cuts to back up a barrage of numbers and words flying out at you as if desperately trying to induce in the viewer a grand mal seizure. You just want to scream back I fucking GET it!’ And frankly, when it comes down to it, when I do finally buy a car it will probably end up being the Mercury that Jill Wagner is the spokesperson for because she delivers the information in a friendly, up-beat, enthusiastic, non-threatening, and level-headed way without making you feel violated and spent. And she looks great in that grey sweater. Really great.

But I digress…

Another reason I put off the inevitable was that I had, some time ago, begun to find so many of Hoagland’s threads to be largely directionless and, thus, thoroughly maddening – also discussed here from time to time. That is not to imply irrelevance, but simply that he has occasionally started a number of topics (mostly on his web site or blog – which is, as of this writing, now approaching the three year mark without an update) – and has never finished them, such as the now infamous Iapetus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh. Sorry. Did I just leave you dangling out there?

Anyway, Hoagland’s writing style, as it is, makes the editor in me want scream his bloody head off. It’s almost as maddening at Stephen King’s I Am Obscenely Well Paid And Therefore Do Not Care How Lazy You Think My Writing Is style that is simply a slap in the face to the ever belittled Constant Reader.

So I was apprehensive when Dark Mission first came out. I put off buying it because I just didn’t think I was capable of subjecting myself to the literary Bataan Death March I felt it would be just to come away with a few small nuggets of information I didn’t already know from Hoagland’s web site. Yet, seeing that Mike Bara was his co-author, I decided to take the chance. I held out such high hopes for Dark Mission when I first cracked it open. I’ve read Mike Bara’s Enterprise Mission (and every so often the Dark Mission blog) entries and they are, generally speaking, fairly well-written pieces that tend to get to the point quickly and pause for exposition only when necessary and explain what needs explaining in a concise and comprehensible way. And they are not riddled with ridiculous over-emphasis. I had hoped that, with Bara there to help guide and restrain Hoagland, to perhaps be a voice of reason (to some degree), and to assist in presenting Hoagland’s topics in a more mature, reasoned, level, and respectable format, perhaps Dark Mission would prove to be far more readable and approachable than its predecessor The Monuments of Mars.

And, thankfully, it is.

And then you get to page 15 – almost to the very end of Chapter One – and it all begins to go so thoroughly and horribly pair shaped.

I often wonder if these giant publishing houses have ever considered having English majors on staff,  proof-readers, or perhaps someone who can sit down with a potential author (or authors) and tell them gently and in the nicest, most helpful way possible that, ‘Yes, this is a spectacular tale and, yes, the public must be made aware of it, but, well…you see…things is, your presentation is, in a manner of speaking, as it were, a pile of dog shit, not to put too fine a point on it, and if you really want us to publish your book, we will have to do some serious tweaking. And, no, I don’t mean on acid.’

A simple perusal of a basic style manual or any good writing class will teach you that there are certain cues, certain visual stumbling blocks, that break up the narrative, disrupt the smooth flow of information and distracts the reader to such a degree that they will finally stop reading altogether because it appears obvious to them that the author has little or no regard for either how their information is presented or how the reader perceives the content of their work. It effectively removes whatever willing suspension of disbelief a reader might have previously had because the structure and form overpower the information.  As a Communications Major in college, I can tell you that the power of persuasion in the mass media is a remarkable thing when it is handled deftly, and a spectacular failure when it is not.

I first read Immanuel Velikovsky in 1977, when I was in what was then called ‘Junior High’ and now isn’t. Worlds In Collision was an eye-opener: I devoured the information with an unimaginable voracity and annoyed my science teacher to distraction with counter-arguments for the things we were being taught. It was the beginning of a life-long fascination with Catastrophism.  And it was simply due to the fact that Velikovsky wrote with a scholarly sort of authority that, whether or not it was truly supported by education and research, was very persuasive.  Zecharia Sitchin does much the same thing, but of course now I tend to be a bit more objective and can sit back and say, ‘Yes, it’s all very interesting. I do not disagree with your findings but I must ask why would a space-faring race build everything out of stone?’

Other writers in this broad and general arena – Graham Hitchcock (occasionally), Robert Bauval, David Icke (though only just), and a hundred others – seem to be able to examine and display their theories in such a rational manner that, by contrast, when I read Hoagland, I have to wonder who it is he is trying to convince with all the orotundity? Just because you’re the loudest voice does not necessarily make you right.

I’m certain I have addressed the idea here before, but I sometimes have to wonder if the reason he is metaphorically screaming and flailing his arms so much is because he is the very voice of ‘disinformation’ he so often rails against. That is not to say that his ideas and information are wrong, only to say that if NASA (or whomever) wants specific information to get out to the public but are unwilling for any number of political or social reasons to release it themselves, who better to rely on than the conspiracy theorist crowd? The researchers are quietly fed the pertinent information, later they suddenly ‘discover’ it (after painstaking research of course) and get it out to the eager public with their usual I Told You So aplomb. NASA (or ‘The Government’ or the notorious ‘They’) get their much needed ‘plausible deniability,’ all the while having a fringe element ‘someone’ to publicly throw stones at periodically just for show, and everyone is happy.

That of course is entirely wild speculation.

Whatever the case, as I read Hoagland I develop this visceral desire to take out a highlighter about the size of a Titan rocket and start attacking the book. Allow me to illustrate why:

‘From my experience I cannot doubt but that man, when lost to terrestrial consciousness, is indeed sojourning in another and uncorporeal life of far different nature from the life we know, and of only the slightest and most indistinct memories linger after waking.’

This is a quote from Beyond The Wall of Sleep by Howard Phillips Lovecraft, written in 1919. Now let’s take this well-considered and thoughtful quote and apply to it what I like to call a Hoaglandisation technique. We arrive at something like this:

‘The stunning rectilinear pattern (as one can “clearly” distinguish for themselves at any given set of random – and yet strikingly organised – points through the variable length of what has often been defined as a so-called “span” of a human lifetime..!) to which highly remarkable and clearly regular flow all sentient biological entities are inescapably linked in the course of time (as a scalar physical “form” as represented in the world view of classical “Newtonian” mechanics…) can effectively be disengaged, not by what one would consider an accepted Lorentz transformational model, but through the complex neurological “process” of participant non-remembered—

‘REM atonia!’

Did I lose you there? Exactly my point. The irksome grandiosity wears thin after about two sentences. Enthusiasm for your subject matter is one thing. Pointlessly putting off your reader with convoluted hyperbole is another. And quite frankly it’s pretty fucking stupid if you ever intend to be taken seriously or want people to understand what you’re talking about. Were it an academic thesis for a doctorate or a submission to a ‘peer reviewed’ journal it would be laughed out of the room no matter how often you claim it is a ‘major paper.’ I’ve read enough scholarly material in my time to know that there often isn’t much need for playing to the cheap seats.  Save the exorcise in advanced pseudo-technical writing for someone else.

Here in the quasi-solitude of the so-called ‘blogosphere’ I can write formally or informally as the humour strikes me. I am not being paid, very few people really read my ramblings and whinging (although ‘KatieFun789’ seems to be a hugely popular instalment, according to my statistics page, which is odd), and I can play with whatever form I choose, allowing my fondness for etymology and linguistics – and language forms most ancient – to frolic about. I am fond of the aposiopesis, the well considered parenthetical, the infrequent ellipse, a bit of paronomasia, often a sardonic turn, and a dash of periphrasis went it suits. Because I can.

If, on the other hand, my intention were to persuade and inform – possibly even to disclose – in a published form, I would choose to address my audience – my paying audience – in as straightforward a manner as possible given the parameters of a specific topic.

And yet in Dark Mission the inconsistent and pleonastic over-use of ellipses (as if for some forced, incomprehensible dramatic effect), the staggering amount of seemingly unnecessarily italicised words, the droning homiletics – these are some of the many dead horses we see ruthlessly and endlessly beaten in this manuscript.

This obviously only addresses the underlying mechanics of the book, the methodology by which the information is delivered up to the audience, and my complete personal disdain for what I see as a  pointless exorcise in structure over content. My view is entirely subjective. I think paid professional writers ought to exhibit some interest in and concern for their reading audience instead of displaying what amounts to contempt. Some people, however, might find it thoroughly engaging to be lead down the theoretical garden path only to find that their guide has double backed on them and left them alone in the dark and scary part of the woods in front of an incongruous gingerbread house. I don’t. It just irritates me to no fucking end.

In the next part of this review we will explore some classic Hoaglandisms and begin our journey into the heart of Dark Mission.

Stay tuned…

Is That Lipstick On The Doll’s Head? Part Three: It’s Just a Jump To The Left

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In the trailers for Jan de Bont’s 1996 film Twister there is a brief shot of what appears to be the twisted, ruined remains of a full-size pick-up truck tumbling violently towards a potential head-on collision with the storm-chasing vehicle containing the heroes played by Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt (who, despite what Peter Griffin thinks, is, in my opinion, quite hot). And yet in the final theatrical release, this hair-raising dramatic shot is nowhere to be found.

The 2005 film The Exorcism of Emily Rose was advertised widely as a horror film and yet it turned out to be rather a mundane courtroom drama, which surely pissed off millions of school kids looking for a good scare after forking over wads of hard-earned money they got from hours of working at the drive-up window.

Graham Hancock’s book The Mars Mystery: The Secret Connection Between Earth and the Red Planet stops being interesting about halfway through the derivative tale of other people’s research and discoveries and abruptly becomes a banal rallying flag for finding and stopping Near Earth Objects before they decimate our planet, a noble cause to be sure but very little or nothing whatever to do with the title or presumed content of the book itself.

Deceptive side steps and misdirection may be great if you’re a magician but in just about any other situation, however, they tend to spark anger, disgust, and animosity, making people feel betrayed and even humiliated, sort of like Fergus discovering Dil brought the wiener to the picnic.

Purchasing a book, whether fiction or non-fiction, is generally based on a previous knowledge of, or a passing familiarity with an author’s work or an interest in, or a desire to learn about the subject matter. But it is almost always done with the implied understanding that the title (often the first thing to draw a reader to a work) will be relevant, in some way, to the overall content of the manuscript or vice versa. Yet continuing in the long, rich tradition of public deception, Dark
Mission: The Secret History of NASA
shows the reader a few tantalising glimpses of The Great & Secret Show and then immediately whisks them away to the House of Mirrors to fumble aimlessly about.

In the Air Force (and it’s probably common in all branches of the service and of the government) we lived by the axiom ‘Hurry up and wait,’ and it appears that the manuscript of Dark Mission was written with this same consideration in mind because, ultimately, despite the promises made in the introductory matter, it bears very little resemblance to an actual ‘History of NASA’ – secret or otherwise – and serves as more of a recycling bin for Everything Richard C Hoagland.

So is my criticism simply that the title is stupid or ill deserved? Well, if this were a discussion of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 being translated for metric-based countries as Celsius 232 or being made more kid-friendly with a title like Fireman Guy, it might be. Or maybe if we were talking about The Teletubbies being called Fox News one could make an argument for stupidity. But here is something to consider: When I was in very early primary school I used to wear Red Ball Jets (a type of trainer) because, the belief was, if you pressed the little red ball on the heel of the shoe it automatically switched on the jet power which could then make you run faster. And as the fat kid, I needed all the extra power I could get. But does my providing you with that information necessarily constitute a history of Red Ball Incorporated or of the LaCrosse Company who bought them out? Not entirely. And that’s my point. This book is about a History of NASA in the same way that The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins is about the history of haberdashery.

Without a doubt NASA loom large in this tale, but they are essentially the giant evil windmills against whom Richard C Hoagland’s sad little Don Quixote keeps tilting as he relentlessly parades about on his allegorical Rocinante, waving victoriously to a crowd of none.

Perhaps some suggested alternative titles could be:

1. NASA Are Mean and Don’t Like Me and Don’t See How Smart I Am

2. Michael Malin Is A Poopy Liar

3. Mein Own Sort of Kampf

4. I’ve Got an Angrstom Award, Be-otch, What The Hell Do You Have?

5. Dark Mission: Exposing The Hidden Agenda of NASA

or

6. Almost Everything I’ve Ever Published On My Website: The Book. Or How I Just Got You To Spend $25 For Something Mostly Available For Free If You Only Bothered To Look by Richard C Hoagland, founder of The Enterprise Mission, recipient of an Angstrom Medal, former science advisor to CBS News and Walter Cronkite, author of The Monuments of Mars, co-creator of the ‘Pioneer Plaque,’ originator of the ‘Europa Proposal,’ and principal investigator of The Enterprise Mission. And Mike Bara.

After the expository groundwork in the introduction, the reader is prepared to face the challenge of a far-ranging document; a scathing exposé whose sprawling, epic scope will, for the first time in full view of the public, pull down the shorts of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and point and laugh at its winkie.

But first, it’s just a jump to the left, as we take time out after fourteen gruelling pages of preliminary material to embark on chapter one, entitled The Monuments of Mars, based on the book The Monuments of Mars by Richard C Hoagland. marsfaceHere we are treated to a sixteen page (twenty if you include the photos) encapsulation of the entire 350-600 page book (depending on the edition in question) The Monuments of Mars first written in 1987 in which Hoagland spells out in striking, explicit and perhaps not just a little dubious detail the stunning discovery of the ‘Message of Cydonia’ and the mathematical key with which to unlock that message. I say dubious because there have been, over the years, a number of detractors who have shown that there are some serious flaws in Hoagland’s mathematics. I for one am exquisitely not gifted in this area (though I do know someone who owns a calculator) and, frankly, wouldn’t know the difference. This is one of the primary reasons why I say that if someone is going to leave an important ‘message’ for you lying about for thousands of years, they would probably make it as obvious as they possibly can. Because it would be fairly presumptuous to believe that absolutely everyone is (or will be) mathematically inclined enough to point at an otherwise random collection of rocks and say, ‘Oh! See! That’s obviously the 19.5 degree position represented by the idea of circumscribed tetrahedral geometry!’

And speaking of tetrahedral geometry, let’s take a step to the right and drag ourselves even farther from anything about NASA and go slogging through chapter two, 44 pages (or 50 if you count the pictures) all dedicated to Hyperdimensional Physics and the defence of James Clerk Maxwell entitled Hyperdimensional Physics. As exposition, this chapter is not only tedious but wildly out of place in what is ostensibly a ‘History of NASA.’ In fact it has so little to do with anything other than the need for a bit of Hoagland soapboxing that, as you turn the last page and realise that you have just pissed away seventy pages of manuscript and learnt nothing of the History of NASA, you start to get really bloody annoyed.

With our hands on our hips, however, we vault into Political Developments – chapter three – where NASA are mentioned a staggering five times on page 71. Generally these are in reference to their purported  ‘curiosity’ regarding Hoagland’s work on Cydonia. It’s interesting to note that this chapter is begun with a quote from Carl Sagan – ‘The question is not whether you are right or wrong, sir. You are not even in the conversation’ – because it strikes me that, appropriately enough, Hoagland has been trying to either insinuate himself into ‘the conversation,’ assume he is part of one, or start a new one for almost thirty years with varying degrees of success. It is also interesting to note that Hoagland makes a comment early on that, throughout the 80s, ‘as interest in the Cydonia issue began to reach unprecedented levels, NASA began to march out troops to try and quiet the unrest.’

I envision a scene from Battleship Potemkin when I read this, with screaming crowds demanding the truth from NASA as they muscle through police barricades and armed officers throwing tear gas. Maybe in some scientific circles or in the ‘anomalist community’ there was ‘unrest,’ but for the real world in the 80s we had Reaganomics and Wham! to deal with. And Ferris Bueller. And eventually ‘A Thousand Points of Light’ and the Church Lady.

I was fully aware of The Face on Mars and Cydonia at that time and would read anything I could find relating to the topic as I researched it, but to classify these things as ‘firestorms of controversy’ (as Hoagland periodically does) is, I think, overstating the issue a bit. Or a lot. Not that Hoagland is any stranger to overstating. For a vast majority of us ‘regular people,’ however, these topics never even registered on the radar. So the idea of NASA marching out their stormtroopers to ‘quiet the unrest’ seems rather self-aggrandising.

But I digress. And so does Hoagland.

barsinisterThe bulk of chapter three is given over to a tired discussion centred around Hoagland’s proposed nemesis – his Simon Bar Sinister – Dr Michael Malin and how, in conjunction with NASA (this book is about the History of NASA, as you might recall), Dr Evil has tried to thwart every possible attempt to correctly image (or re-image) Cydonia. And then there’s a big chunk of the text which again concerns itself with the finer details of the Kennedy assassination – so much so that I found myself  beginning to look back at the cover from time to time just to make sure I hadn’t grabbed the wrong book.

I do, however, generally agree with Hoagland’s assessment that Bar Sinister has a history of tampering with and manipulating data. One example of this, outside of Planet Hoagland, can be found in a multi-part examination entitled Lowell’s Legacy where, in a section about half-way down the page called ‘The Doctored Image and the Pareidolia Paradigm,’ is an interesting examination of Malin Space Science Systems tinkering with Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) data.

But NASA, who are again referenced in the next chapter, The Crystal Towers of the Moon, are not the only ones who tinker with and manipulate data (as will be shown). Here the references to NASA, unfortunately, have even less to do with ‘History’ and even more to do with how NASA not only disagree with Hoagland’s theories about giant ‘glass-like’ structures on the Moon, but how they are also ‘hiding’ from the public these giant structures they don’t believe in.

And this is one of those areas of Hoagland’s research that I simply cannot follow.

The much-referenced ‘Brookings Report’ or, more properly, Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs somewhat bizarrely stated, in 1961, that ‘face-to-face meetings with it (extraterrestrial life) will not occur within the next 20 years.’ There is no hedging or equivocation, no maybes, just a point of fact which, treading in conspiratorial waters, gives one pause to wonder if this was just a lucky guess or if there was some foreknowledge of things to come. The report goes on to say that ruins or artefacts ‘left at some point in time by these life forms might possibly be discovered through our space activities on the moon, Mars, or Venus’ which, again, seems an odd bit of ‘prognostication.’

I don’t doubt for a moment that this prediction may very likely have come true. I also do not doubt that there are anomalies on our moon that have yet to be fully explained…

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…perhaps even things purposely denied and hidden from public view by NASA. I don’t doubt that there might be (A) odd structures built inside massive craters, (B) ‘towers’ reaching out into space, (C) multi-storey buildings, (D) a huge triangular construction in Ukert crater, or (E) ‘glass domes’ jutting from the lunar surface. Not personally having been to the Moon, I cannot say with any certainty that these things actually exist or not, though I’d like to think that maybe they do. Read that carefully: I’d like to think that maybe they do. But I have my doubts.

Even though I often tend to side with the group that says there’s some good evidence for further research, I’m also wise enough not to leap to conclusions and to understand that these images could also have perfectly natural explanations. The ‘towers’ or ‘domes’ may be a chance-in-a-million photo of out-gassing, strange geologic activity, volcanic plumes, random meteoric impact, or photographic blemishes. Have these objects been photographed again for comparative purposes? Could the other, more structural type of anomalies simply be pareidolia – seeing things as significant when they are perfectly mundane, like seeing faces in clouds?

So, as much as I may agree with many anomaly hunters that there are unknown, unusual, and mysterious things ‘out there,’ and as much as I generally tend to agree with (or at least find interesting) some of Hoagland’s findings, I just simply cannot believe, in any way, his assertion that there are ‘miles high glass structures’ covering vast areas of lunar real estate. For me, the hard evidence is simply not there. And what little evidence there seems to be is, in my opinion, scant, subject to closer scrutiny and qualified peer review and, at the very best, suspect.

Logically speaking, if there are in fact vast glass structures sprawled out across the moon, why don’t we see them with our telescopes? Oh. Right. Because they’re clear glass and therefore invisible. But don’t clear glass things often reflect light? Oh. Right. They have lunar dust on them from long centuries or millennia of just sprawling there in the vacuum of space. But if they’re dusty, then they aren’t really clear any more and we should be able to see them, then, right? Oh. Right. Because the moon is too far away for us to see them from the Earth. So why didn’t the astronauts see them? Oh. Right. They did. But they were ‘made to forget’ or they were sworn to secrecy. Why haven’t other space agencies seen them? Oh. Right. They have. They’re just not saying anything until we say something first. Why didn’t our initial lunar probes, or the Soviet probes, smash into them? Oh. Right. Because we knew they were there and we navigated around them. Why don’t they show up in photographs? Oh. Right. Because every single photograph taken of the lunar surface – every single image ever – has been meticulously doctored.

The litany of lunacy is endless.

I recommend that, if you are interested in pursuing the issue, you take some time to browse through the Lunar Anomalies site, which is about the only place you are going to find even a portion of this information, as any and all references to these ‘crystal’ structures have nearly completely and inexplicably disappeared from The Enterprise Mission archives. Even a Google search won’t pull up the original Crystal Towers of The Moon pages that once so proudly cluttered up Hoagland’s site. Or perhaps I’m doing it wrong. Your mileage may vary.

§

It had been my original intention to make this the final instalment of my theoretical ‘review’ of Dark Mission, except that I have, whilst reading it, begun to discover, much to my consternation, quite a number of interesting, surprising, and somewhat irritating things – and I want to share them with both of you – so it will necessitate an additional post. But allow me to share these as a preview:

moonguy-hoaglandOne of the examples used in Dark Mission to illustrate for the reader the existence of these so-called ‘Crystal Towers’ is a photograph (click on the thumbnail image on the right for a larger version) which is said to show ‘backscattering’ of light off of one or more of the gigantic structures ‘hidden’ by NASA. The description is essentially that Gene Cernan – or ‘Cerman’ as he is mistakenly referred to in the blurb – is taking a photograph of Harrison Schmitt who, in turn, is holding some piece of equipment. That photograph is capturing ‘an “impossible” lunar phenomenon,’ so says the text, of the sunrise (which would be behind ‘Cerman’ and shining towards Schmitt) reflecting light back at the camera, creating both the reddish band across the image (the so-called ‘backscattering’) and the little tell-tale sliver of prismatic distortion (which Hoagland has enlarged in the giant black box at the bottom centre of the image so you can see it better). This is, by the way, the best image I could muster, after numerous attempts, from the very crappy photo in the book. Sorry if it’s not the best quality, but it does represent as accurately as possible the original image used in the text.

sunsetThis is what backscattering looks like in a real world application –  something that, I hope, nearly everyone has seen at one time or another in their lives and an analogue which is fairly understandable. I won’t go into all the physics regarding optics and how atoms do this or that because, frankly, it’s virtually irrelevant to the topic and I cannot explain it adequately anyway. If you really want to dive in and dissect the How & Why of Backscattering, a quick Google search will provide you with all the information you really need to know. But this is the poor-man’s version: what I can see and explain in basic terms without brow-beating you (and there’s really no need for that anyway). Anyone who has even a basic understanding of photography (and I mean the old fashioned kind, kids, with real film) can tell you that they’ve seen this very effect millions of times – light shining off something in the strangest possible ways. It happens in digital photography, too, but these NASA images in question were originally taken on film and it is a medium with which I am much more familiar. In my Film School days I could have merely glanced at a photo and likely told you the kind of film stock used and the approximate aperture settings. Though I am rusty these days, much of it is like riding a bike and it will eventually come back to you as you go along.

Anyway if you look closely, you will see that the reflection of the sun coming off Harrison Schmitt’s helmet (because he is facing the sun and photographer Gene Cernan), is virtually identical in shape, size, and colour to the apparent ‘reflection’ from the theoretical ‘glass structure’ we are told is towering invisibly behind him. Behind him. How can an object reflect off the front of his helmet if it’s behind him?

It can’t.
moonguy2
You can also see that the two ‘reflections’ are not only amazingly almost the very same length, but they both share the same ‘hot spot,’ the brighter portion where the sun is reflecting the most, and they are on exactly the same angle, though the ‘floating’ one is slightly offset. The reason this is such an ‘impossible’ photo is because it is just precisely that: impossible. This is not a photograph of a ‘crystal tower’ scattering light on a lunar sunrise. What you are seeing is a reflection from Schmitt’s helmet appearing to ‘float’ in space, not ‘behind’ him, but to his right. This is an incredibly common artefact of bright sun photography. It’s called lens flare. sunreflections

Even when not facing the sun, a photographer can experience lens flare on a bright day. Obviously the most common occurrence is in direct sun, which is why, in the photo to your right, it looks like there’s a UFO flying just over the trees. I suppose one could argue that this photograph depicts crystal shafts towering over the forest and that the UFO is flying out of them to return to its secret base on the double suns we don’t have, but I think it’s an absurd suggestion.

The other telling thing about the Dark Mission photograph of Harrison Schmitt is the reddish band which Hoagland assures us is from backscattered light. When I first saw this image in the book, bloody awful as it is, my response was twofold: one, either the reddish band was also caused by lens flare or by a reflection from off the convexity of Schmitt’s helmet, possibly even something as simple as an over-exposure or a bit of ambient light from any number of sources leeching on to the film stock; or, two, the image used in the book was an amateurish scan of a photo and there was ‘light bleed’ coming from the scanner bed. The first scanner I bought back in the 90s – an ugly beige Hewlett Packard tank of a thing – regularly scanned images, especially glossy images like photographs, with a massive red streak through them, tonnes of annoying granulation, and everything was pushed to the red end of the colour spectrum no matter how often I calibrated and re-calibrated it.

Again, every photographer in the world has seen this same sort of phenomenon at some point, even when they aren’t taking snaps of invisible crystal towers. And with no atmosphere, the moon is in hard, direct, unfiltred sunlight bouncing everywhere. I recall once taking a photograph of a friend sitting on his sofa and, somehow, the resulting image came out looking like a photograph of an LSD trip: crazy colours everywhere, bizarre distortions, and nothing at all about the circumstances were anything other than absolutely ordinary. I pointed the camera at him and took the picture. What came out was completely anomalous. This stuff happens.

Frustrated, however, with the terribly poor image quality provided in Dark Mission and tired of trying to get a decent scan from the horrid quality of the printed page, I decided to locate a clearer version of the image to work with and, with luck, prove my hypothesis.

And imagine my surprise.

Hoagland, rather irritatingly, gives no catalogue number for the Schmitt image, but he does provide a number for an adjacent image which is equally as bad. So, armed with a vague notion of where to look, I went to the Apollo 17 image library and spent about four hours searching through it. Strangely, I could not find – anywhere – the Dark Mission version of the image as used by Hoagland. It wasn’t until I conducted a laborious second search through the NASA library that I finally discovered the answer as to why I was unable to find the image the first time through: It wasn’t quite the same.

moonguy-AS17-134-20426-smIf you click on this for a full size image, you will see a dramatic difference between it and the Hoagland version. I did nothing at all to this image other than to resize it for inclusion here. Otherwise it is exactly as it appears in the NASA catalogue as AS17-134-20426 (found in the Apollo 17 link after quite a lot of scrolling) just in case you don’t believe me. This is the smaller version. There is also a high resolution version available and I urge you to check it out for yourself if this smaller version is insufficient.

The Dark Mission version has, for reasons I cannot quite fathom and which are never fully (or even vaguely, for that matter) explained in the manuscript, been ‘enhanced’ by Richard C Hoagland. It says so right in the description of it. Typically ‘enhancements’ are, by their very definition, striving to achieve a clearer and cleaner image or, in general, improve upon the overall quality of a poor or damaged original. Look at, for example, the restoration of classic films such as Lawrence of Arabia or King Kong. This ‘enhancement’ by Hoagland does nothing of the sort. If anything, it appears to make the image worse. I reckon you could make all sorts of things ‘pop out’ of an image when you crank up the red filtre in Photoshop. The one thing the new image did prove to me, though, is that I was correct.

moonguycorrectdetail

If, as Hoagland claims, the ‘reflection’ off the enormous glass structure you can’t see behind Schmitt is ‘clearly’ broken into the prismatic spectrum, then why is that ‘reflection’ or lens flare (seen more clearly in this NASA-obtained image as well as the Hoagland ‘enhancement’) also consistent with the reflection on Schmitt’s helmet?  Is it because I failed to crank up the red to the point of eye-watering absurdity? No.It’s because it’s fucking lens flare and standard optical goofiness that happens hundreds of thousands of times in bright sun photography. Were any of the astronauts professional photographers by trade? My guess is, probably not. Even if they were, they’d still get anomalous optical artefacting every so often. It’s a natural and occasional (and sometimes damned annoying) by-product of rendering the three dimensional world into a two-dimensional form.

Hoagland also insists that the light from the rising sun is passing through the glass and scattering. But why, then, is the so-called light scattering happening on our side of the ‘glass’ – the front side, relatively speaking, the side facing us? If the light is passing through the glass and scattering, as Hoagland would have it, wouldn’t that scattering be happening on the opposite side of the glass structure – the back of it, away from us? And if the morning sunlight was bouncing back from the front side of the glass, then there would be obvious ‘hot spots’ and the light would be very like what is coming off the upper left corner of Schmitt’s visor, only magnified greatly. And if the scattering is happening in front of the glass, effectively coming towards the camera, then why is it, A) also in front of  Harrison Schmitt and seen in a hazy band across his helmet when it ought to be behind him and, B) why is the light red-shifting rather than blue-shifting? Light red-shifts when it is travelling away from an observer. That’s Physics 101 – hyper-dimensional or not. Red-shift is used to calculate the distance of deep space objects, amongst other things. If that theoretical ‘light scattering’ was happening the way Hoagland insists it’s doing, it would be blue-shifting towards us.

I will illustrate more of this in the next segment. For now, let me just say that chapter four ends with the reader holding 198 pages in their left hand and staring over at the remaining 350 pages (photos included) with a heavy sigh.

A Conspiracy Unfolds, the title of chapter five, draws our knees in tight and devotes roughly 28 pages to Hoagland’s ‘Ritual Alignment Model’ (not to be confused with the dozen or so other ‘Models’ he has, or had, in the works) in which we discover that virtually all of NASAs launches, landings, announcements, informational releases, restroom breaks and telephone calls are all scheduled round the agency’s occult belief system centred on the ancient Egyptian religion. As interesting as this ‘Model’ is, and as compelling as the evidence seems to be – especially when he claims it can be verified by independent research or by anyone using Redshift software – it is not a History of NASA. It’s a fascinating peek behind the curtain into the possible inner workings of NASA, but not really a history. It is also loads of rehashing of work previously done by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval, but I guess that’s fair considering Hancock’s The Mars Mystery was largely derivative of Hoagland’s Cydonia work before it went wildly off the rails.

Finally, however, the pelvic thrust arrives about half-way through the book, on page 226, when we sort of get what we’ve been promised from the beginning. Starting with a sub-section entitled The Early Years: 1930 – 1960, the details are laid out about the Nazi scientists who helped develop our space programme after World War II and the supposed connections to figures like Aleister Crowley and the Masonic Lodge. Then approximately 22 pages later, we are directed back to what is clearly the main thesis of the book: how Hoagland is still tilting at windmills and how Simon Bar Sinister continues to be a thorn in the side of hard science and the ‘anomalist community.’ This drags on, quite literally, for the next six chapters.

We have now Time Warped through 460 pages of My Important Discoveries and How Important They Are (cunningly entitled Dark Mission) to be faced with one more chapter and an epilogue. As the bulk of the material in these final two bits are especially pertinent to the photographic manipulation and interpretation I alluded to earlier, I shall reserve my ‘review’ of them for the forthcoming instalment.

But let me leave you with this thought to ponder until next time:

There is a classic verbal Get Out of Jail Free card used by millions of people every day to diffuse potentially volatile situations. That phrase is, ‘I’m Just Saying…’ Somehow this magical talisman can protect an unexpected offender from harsh backlash or reprimand by making it clear that, no, I didn’t mean to imply that you are a fat pig, I’m just saying…

Simon Bar Sinister stated once that no-one he knew ‘would waste their time doing a “scientific study” of the nature advocated by those who believe that the “Face on Mars” is artificial.’ The response to that statement, by the authors of Dark Mission, is:

‘This was of course a gross misstatement of the argument. No one, not even Hoagland, had expressed a specific belief that the Face or any of the other objects at Cydonia were artificial.  Although we strongly suspected they might be, we’d merely argued that they deserved further study and should be imaged at every opportunity. But Dr Malin had a long history of distortion and obfuscation when it came to the Face and Cydonia.’

That’s the longest version of I’m just saying... that I have ever read.

Is That Lipstick On The Doll’s Head? Part Four: Do You See What I See? 1.0

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ONE

Sleight of hand and misdirection when properly and deftly handled by a skilled practitioner can be a wondrous thing. I once saw, at a live performance, David Copperfield ride a motorcycle into a giant cage which was then covered with a sparkly blue curtain and drawn up some thirty feet above the stage floor. When it dropped, not only was the cage gone, but David Copperfield was instantaneously just two rows behind me in the theatre revving the motorcycle.

It was pretty cool.

Thinking back on it though, one has to admit that the spectacle surrounding the trick is developed for two reasons: one, for purposes of entertainment and two, to distract the audience from what is really happening right in front of them. Just making the motorcycle ‘disappear’ isn’t so exciting. But when you add in pulsing industrial dance music, misty underlit vapour crawling across the stage floor, obscenely hot women wearing a few thin strands of strategically-placed sequins, loads of flashy hand movements like you’re playing Let’s Make A Deal in pantomime, and roving spotlights shifting through the colour spectrum in rapid succession, the ‘trick’ suddenly assumes this epic sort of stature and you are fooled into believing that David Copperfield is truly beyond human.

Later, if shown how the trick was accomplished – probably by Penn & Teller – you might not be so amazed by it. You might still be impressed by the technical prowess by which it was achieved, but the glamour is suddenly gone.

And, as one delves ever deeper into the realm of ‘The Anomalist Community,’ you sometimes rather inadvertently discover, like Dorothy pulling back the curtain, that the trick being played on you isn’t so cool after all; that you’ve been misdirected – and very often quite badly so – into seeing only what someone wants you to see, and the glamour is suddenly stripped away, often along with much of the practitioner’s credibility, because you also discover along the way that even the technical prowess is clumsy and incomplete.

Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe. I choose to believe. I can’t not believe. To imagine that we are alone in the vast and infinite totality of the universe is taking a narrow and egocentric view of life; it is dogmatically religious and eerily Inquisitional; it is breathtakingly shallow and myopic; it is moving through one’s existence with blinders on. So, yes, I want to believe.

The sceptic in me, however, also demands proof. I want to be shown the irrefutable evidence that either proves we are not alone or is compelling enough that it cannot easily be dismissed. ‘When you have eliminated all which is impossible,’ Sherlock Holmes stated many times, ‘then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ So I want to look behind the curtain at the inner workings and see the truth for myself, without all the misdirection and distraction. Allow me to decide for myself. Don’t block my view and distract me with arm waving and bullshit and expect me to blindly agree because the first thing I’m going to think of is: ‘What are you hiding? What are you not telling me?’

Unfortunately, for me, Dark Mission seems to have loads of arm waving and bullshit.

Needless to say, I criticise Richard C Hoagland quite a lot. But my point in doing so, as I’ve stated many times, isn’t to imply that I entirely disagree with him. On the contrary, I find many of his theories very compelling and thoroughly believable and he himself seems quite intelligent. However, some of his theories, like the Crystal Towers of the Moon, are completely beyond my capacity as a rational person to accept even in the tiniest possible manner. And the fact that he seems to have a tendency to see conspiracy in, and have ‘models’ for, virtually everything from Colony Collapse Disorder to exploded planets just grinds on my nerves like a cheese grater on a severed arm. There seems to be no central focus. And it’s difficult to take very seriously that confounding lack of focus and the frankly sometimes baffling claims based on horrendous photographic ‘evidence’ and what appears to be fairly spurious methodology when the line of credibility tends to stretch painfully thin.

And just because Hoagland is one of the loudest voices amongst the Anomalists does not necessarily make him right.

It is for this very reason that I often think, in my own conspiratorial way, that Hoagland is himself an agent of disinformation. It’s purely and wildly speculative, of course, and I’m probably completely wrong, but ask yourself this: Given the wealth of absolutely amazing and so much better evidence of former and/or current life on other worlds available to those who take the time to look (and some of it, such as the things being discovered at Mars Anomaly Research, are often quite frankly far more deserving of the titles ‘stunning’ or ‘striking’), why does Hoagland seem to insist on focussing his – and by extension our – attention on some of the most ridiculous ‘evidence’ imaginable?

What’s happening right in front of us that Hoagland doesn’t want us to see? This is where the Chicken Little effect seems most prominent. It seems he’s running about waving his arms and screaming about ‘striking’ this and ‘stunning’ that and ‘rectilinear’ whatever, and having us look at ridiculous pictures of supposed ‘miles-high glass-like structures on the moon’ (the airless moon, he constantly and annoyingly reminds us) whilst photographs from Mars, for example, showing some truly interesting and so far unexplained anomalies such as A) old coins, B) a so-called ‘airport,’ C) elliptical structures, D) snow-tipped peaks, E) ancient streets or, F) humanoid skulls…

anomalies

…all seem to get inexplicably ignored.

Hoagland calls his Enterprise Mission a ‘NASA watchdog and research group.’ I reckon that makes me a Hoagland watchdog. Or a devil’s advocate. What I want, as he wants from NASA, is better science, and better proof. And I want it without so much arm waving distraction and bullshit.

I’m not a scientist and make no claims to be. But I’m not an idiot, either. I’ve had more than thirty years’ worth of experience with photography and know my way around imaging software enough to know when someone is metaphorically pinching my nose and trying to force feed me a big sloppy dose of Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir.

So I occasionally get the very insulting impression that Hoagland expects us to be gullible enough to just stupidly take his word for everything without ever stopping to consider the factual foundations upon which much of his photographic ‘evidence’ is based.
moonguy-smIf you recall in the last instalment of this ‘review,’ I discussed an image Hoagland uses in Dark Mission which, he insists, illustrates ‘backscattering’ of light through the so-called ‘glass-like’ structures hovering for miles in every direction on the airless moon. That would be the reddish band running through the image. Backscattering – and more specifically Rayleigh scattering – is generally seen when light is travelling through a gas – you know, like an atmosphere – which, we have been told ad nauseam by Hoagland is not present on the moon. This scattering can also happen in liquids (like you might see in a swimming pool) or when light hits a transparent object (like glass) and is reflected back in the direction it came. Go shine a light on a mirror. You’ll get the idea.

And, yes, I know. Some of this may sound familiar. I briefly addressed this issue in the previous instalment. I simply wanted to make the matter clear.

AS17-134-20426-smallDue to the sub-standard quality of the available photograph which (as one discovers quite often) Hoagland fails rather conveniently (in my opinion) to provide a reference number for, I took the scant information he alludes to that the image was taken sometime on the December 1972 Apollo 17 mission and then spent hours digging through the Apollo Image Gallery to find a better, cleaner image to use here because I felt that it was necessary to provide the best and most accurate information I could locate rather than use the garbagey image from his stupid book.

Another thing to note is that Hoagland does not often seem to overtly cite the sources for some of his material; just tells us ‘Here is the image.’ He doesn’t tell you there are more. Of course, to be fair, he doesn’t tell you that are aren’t more either. So not implicitly but certainly by omission the impression given is that the only data – or presumably the only correct data – available is his.

To my surprise, NASA image AS17-134-20426 (you’re welcome, Richard) is not quite exactly as it appears in the pages of Dark Mission. The reddish band of so-called backscattering Hoagland claims as critical evidence of these ‘highly eroded geometric ancient ruins towering over the airless lunar surface’  is not, in fact, present on the original NASA file. At least not this one. And it is not present on any of the other numerous versions of this image I have so far been able to find. It is, however, an artefact of image processing and manipulation. I say this because at the very bottom of the crap Dark Mission version it says in parentheses ‘Color Enhancement: Hoagland.’

This reddish band is also fairly typical of a badly-scanned photograph, something I’m sure anyone may be vaguely familiar with if you’ve ever tried scanning a glossy image from Playboy a magazine. It is stated (slightly ambiguously) on page 115 of Dark Mission that Hoagland armed himself ‘with a 486 personal computer, a 1600 dpi scanner and a variety of then state-of-the-art digital photo-processing software’ to analyse ‘old NASA photos and negatives.’ There is no specific date cited for this, but there is reference to his work on this subject starting after the loss of Mars Observer, which places it somewhere after 21 August 1993.  This indicates to me that this particular rabbit being yanked from the hat is at least a fifteen year old scanned image of an even older photo.

For the sake of argument, though, let’s play along and say that the reddish band really is there. And  if you look very very very closely at the high resolution image you might just see an ever so tiny ghostly hint of some almost vaguely pink tinge running across the image roughly consistent with where it seems to be on Hoagland’s version, so let’s say it’s there. Let’s say that what we are seeing is indeed Rayleigh scattering. Physics tells us that Rayleigh scattering happens this way:

‘Particles in our atmosphere that are approximately the same size as the wavelength of visible light cause the white light from the sun to scatter and split into individual components. Oxygen and Nitrogen (the main components of our atmosphere) scatter violet and blue light due to their small size. This is why the sky appears to be blue in the day time, especially at midday when the Sun is closest to us.
During sunrise and sunset the distance that the light has to travel from the Sun to an observer is at its greatest. This means the a large amount of blue and violet light has been scattered so the light that is recieved [sic] by an observer is mostly of a longer wavelength and therefore appears to be read. [sic]’

(This explanation is from Physlink.com and provides a concise definition without a lot of needless scientific terms.  Also, take a few moments and read both of these answers available at the same site for a good, plain English description of light travelling through glass.)

So if the scattering of the white light from the sun appears red because of certain components in our atmosphere, how does it look red on the airless moon? Is it interstellar reddening? Is it Mie scatter (that’s right up Hoagland’s alley as it concerns Maxwell’s equations)? Why isn’t everything else tinted slightly red (Hoagland’s ‘enhancements’ notwithstanding) as one would see on Earth at sunrise or sunset? Is it because it’s reflecting back at us through glass? It seems to me that the light – brilliant white light from the sun, unhindered by an atmosphere (because the moon has no atmosphere, if you recall) – would reflect off of the glass in every direction or possibly bounce right back towards the camera in a blinding white ball, much like driving behind another car late in the afternoon on a bright day when the sun is blazing off the back windscreen and making it impossible for you to see without wincing.

AS17-134-20426-detailBut if the light is, as Hoagland indicates, ‘refracting prismatically through [emphasis added by me] the fragments of glass structure arching overhead’ then wouldn’t that imply that the light is coming from behind the glass? Anyone who owns or who has ever seen the cover of Dark Side of the Moon ought to know that we don’t usually see a colour spectrum effect until a light source has already passed through a certain medium, so what’s behind the ‘clear glass structure’ to reflect the light, and why isn’t that material (whatever that might be) – a material which, simply by the nature of the photograph, must also be reflective in some form – in turn creating a bright white blob instead of  just one tiny sliver of a prism floating not only a few feet away from Harrison Schmitt, but strangely in somewhat better focus than the distant landscape it is theoretically ‘towering above’ as though it were much closer to the camera than we are lead to believe?

(And breathe…)

Compounding the issue even further, Hoagland emphatically states that the astronauts wore gold-shielded visors ‘to specifically see the blue rayleigh [sic] scattered glass ruins towering over the landing site.’

Blue.

So which is it, red or blue?

And if we’re still going with red, then why is it that he doesn’t include these other Apollo 17 images as additional ‘striking’ and even more obvious and ‘stunning’ proof of his theory?

apollo-badfilm

The frame in the lower left corner has a reddish band that is positioned almost identically to the ‘backscattered’ light from the ‘miles-high glass ruins’ shown in Hoagland’s image, relative to the size of the frame and the subject being photographed. Why isn’t that used as proof?

It’s because the virtually identical red banding in three of these frames is a common problem in bright sun photography and a type of lens flare or aberration called ‘fogging.’ It can, as previously mentioned, also be caused by scanning a photograph with a non- or poorly-calibrated scanner.  The bottom right frame is an ‘up-sun’ image to illustrate just how harsh the sun appears on the lunar surface. And it is this very brightness which leads to such fogging because the lens of the camera is picking up oblique light sources (which in this case is practically everywhere) and the light, in turn, is either bouncing about inside the lens or it is polluting the film emulsion by leaking through the shutter gate. And, if it’s leaking through the shutter gate, it’s typically going to do so in roughly the same spot every time because there’s something not allowing the shutter to seal completely.

hasselbladThese cameras were big, clunky Hasselblad 70mm monstrosities usually equipped with standard 50- to 80mm lenses, sometimes even with 250- to 500mm telephoto lenses, which create their own set of imaging problems and chromatic aberrations depending on the quality of the optics inside.

Either way that’s a huge surface area to protect. And as you can see in the left-hand image there were no lens hoods used to block out ambient or oblique light which means the cameras were susceptible to all manner of optical issues. They also had no viewfinder on them, so in order to capture an image you just sort of held the camera (worn dangling rather awkwardly on your chest) in the general direction of the subject being photographed and pretty much hoped for the best. As a result the astronauts really had little or no idea exactly how the photos they took were going to turn out.

I would imagine that, apart from obtaining special high-speed film stock for the Hasselblad cameras, NASA really never bothered to take the time to consult with professional photographers for technical advice prior to the Apollo missions. If they had done, perhaps there wouldn’t have been so many lunar images left looking like junk holiday snaps. It’s also not too difficult to guess that the astronauts themselves were not exactly trained photographers, as can clearly be seen by this frame sequence near the end of a film magazine.

apollo-images

So when given the choice of believing in ‘ancient highly-eroded glass-like structures’ spanning countless hundreds of miles over the lunar surface which are backscattering prismatically-separated light over the ‘airless moon,’ or just a handful of really shit pictures from a multi-billion dollar mission that are riddled with very typical bright-sun photographic lighting problems common amongst even the most experienced professionals, I choose the latter.

I keep hearing the Doobie Brothers singing in my head: ‘What seems to be is always better than nothing.’ Maybe it’s just a neural disorder.

Before we move on to the next segment – oh yes, that’s right, there’s more – I would just like to point out that, in order to see if anyone was interested enough to catch it, and to prove my previous point about manipulation and being made to see what someone else wants you to see, I lied. Not all of the images seen in the first illustration regarding Mars anomalies were real. No. Not the sled. The sled was real. The ones after that.

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On to the next chapter…

Is That Lipstick On The Doll’s Head? Part Four: Do You See What I See? 2.0

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TWO

Always wanting to beat the pants off of us ‘Capitalist Pigs’ during a mythical time called ‘The Cold War,’ the Soviet Union – a now equally mythical land like Atlantis or Lemuria – made it clear that they were the leaders in yet another mythical thing called ‘The Space Race’ by launching a little tin machine called Sputnik into the starry void in the early evening hours of 4 October 1957. And two years later, on 7 October 1959, the Soviet-launched Luna 3 spacecraft transmitted to Earth the first ever views of the far side of the moon.

zond3-dalekIn less than ten years, as we busied ourselves trying to fulfil John F. Kennedy’s 1961-stated dream of ‘landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth’ by tinkering with Pegasus and Saturn V rockets and blowing things up quite spectacularly on the launch pads, the Soviets fired into space on the afternoon of 18 July 1965 a Mars 3MV-4A – more popularly known as Zond 3 which – rather oddly, resembled a heavily modified Imperial Dalek.

Two days after its launch, Zond 3, equipped with a television system which allowed for on-board film processing capabilities, sent back to the Earth via facsimile transmission an approximately 30-frame sequence also of the far side of the moon and then continued on into space.

In 1987, Jane’s Information Group published a book called Solar System Log (now apparently out of print) which catalogued the details of some 100 different space-faring vehicles and included some of the images they had captured. Amongst the missions detailed was that of the Zond 3.

zond3-1And from a Zond 3 photograph provided in the pages of this publication, Richard C Hoagland, founder of The Enterprise Mission, recipient of an Angstrom Medal, former science advisor to CBS News and Walter Cronkite, author of The Monuments of Mars, co-creator of the ‘Pioneer Plaque,’ originator of the ‘Europa Proposal,’ and principle investigator of The Enterprise Mission shows us even more iron-clad evidence of strangeness on the lunar surface. And that would be the indicated bit sticking up on the right-hand side of the provided frame.

This image, such as it is, aptly labelled ‘Image #1’ (presumably by Hoagland), was the best version I could find. It originates, it seems, from a much larger and equally poor image available on The Enterprise Mission website (and found used again at said site here way way down at the bottom of the page if you care to scroll forever to see the full graphic in its more or less original context) and dates from Hoagland’s 1996 investigation into lunar anomalies.

One may surmise, as it is not stated directly anywhere in Dark Mission, that this discovery was derived from some of the research Hoagland dove into after the Mars Observer ‘went dark’ on 21 August 1993 and he was suddenly left with very little to do.

zond3-2Another image from the Zond 3 mission, here given the title of ‘Image #2,’ used in the original Hoagland 1996 montage (which you just saw if you followed the link), has been apparently drawn from Exploring Space With a Camera, which a bit of further research reveals was first printed as NASA Special Publication 168 in 1968. You might be able to read the source information on the bottom of the image but I figured I would save you the effort and the eye strain.

I provide the general history of the Zond 3 flight (which you may read more about here or here for a start, if you’re interested in learning more) for two reasons: one, it lays out a little helpful background information and, two, it offers a couple of otherwise innocuous clues easily overlooked and certainly not mentioned anywhere that I have been able to find in conjunction with Hoagland’s research.

On 21 March 1996 Hoagland, along with a ‘team of scientists and engineers,’ went before the National Press Club in Washington to present their findings on lunar anomalies. As this event took place more than twelve years ago, the trail is somewhat cold – which certainly gives one pause to consider if the length of time it took for Dark Mission to be published was intentional, so that proper and necessary sources for ‘peer review’ would be quite difficult to find – and locating information or sources on it now is rather scant.  This was still in the more ‘formative years’ of the internet and many of the sites referenced in contemporary reports are no longer extant; relics lost in the darkness and distance of the information superhighway.

What does exist is an IRC log (at The Enterprise Mission site) and some scattered blurbs about it afterwards which is about as close to the event as anyone is going to get without investing a vast amount of otherwise useful time. Therefore any inaccuracies supplied here are only due to the limitations of the available source material, and that includes Dark Mission itself, which tends to frequently side-step specific details.

Later that evening (21 March) Hoagland went on the national late night radio show Coast To Coast AM (then hosted by the masterful and sorely missed Art Bell). With him was Dr Ken Johnston, a former manager at the Data and Photo Control Department at the NASA Lunar Receiving Laboratory and one of the ‘team’ assembled by Hoagland. (The entire transcript of the broadcast is posted, in four parts, on The Enterprise Mission web site and can be found here if you are on the edge of your seat).

Although Ken Johnston was the only one joining Hoagland for the broadcast, Hoagland was asked by Art who the remaining team were. Hoagland never really answered that question. Big surprise. The best I have been able to piece together is that the other individuals involved with the Press Club Briefing were Marvin Czarnik, a retired aerospace engineer whose ‘experience goes  back all the way to the Mercury program and Gemini,’ Ron Nicks, a geologist formerly with the Battelle Institute, Alex Cook, a student and amateur astronomer who represented ‘the best and brightest of ordinary folk who are properly motivated,’ Brian Moore, PhD, ‘lunar construction techniques, Moore space, Inc., worked at Kennedy Space Center for two years,’ and Robert Fiertek, ‘architect, Fiertek Design’ who was interested in anomalies on the Moon and Mars for nine years.

One of the more pertinent bits regarding the present topic, though, is from the transcript of the second half hour in which Hoagland states:

‘We now have a second frame from the Zond-3 mission, on July 20, 1965. And remember – the first Zond frame showed this 30-mile high dome-like protrusion of the lunar limb. This second frame shows a twenty-some mile “Tower” – very massive tower -which is farther to the north, on the limb of a photograph taken a few seconds earlier. It’s in this 28-frame sequence that we can’t get our hands on, out of Moscow.’

Clearly the numbering of these images has changed in that they no longer correspond numerically to his description. Then again this was twelve years ago. You can’t always be expected to keep this kind of stuff straight.

It is stated in Dark Mission that Hoagland had, in 1995, visited the National Space Science Data Centre at Maryland where he had seen a NASA publication (SP-168) containing an image from Zond 3 which had been sent to NASA headquarters in July 1965. It also states that he was unsuccessful at obtaining ‘original versions (negatives or prints)’ of Soviet space missions from the National Academy of Sciences at Moscow.

So then… We are apparently looking at two images which were part of a 30-frame sequence (24 seem to be of any practical use) taken by a camera with a 106mm lens from a distance of roughly 10-12,000 kilometres (or 5500-7400 miles) and whose original negatives are presently forever drifting through the vastness of space on a heliocentric orbit, which might explain why Hoagland – or anyone else – will never see them: Innocuous clue one.

The negatives were processed on the spacecraft and scanned at 67-line resolution (some later were rescanned at 1100-lines) and transmitted to Earth through essentially a fax machine and prints were then struck from these transmissions. Later, two images, both of unknown resolution, generation, or origin, found their way into Jane’s Solar System Log and SP-168 respectively, which means that they no doubt had to be imaged again in some fashion to end up in books. They were then ‘discovered’ by Richard C Hoagland (in the aforementioned publications) and, one would obviously have to presume, either re-photographed, re-photocopied, re-scanned or re-imaged in some manner once more so that Hoagland could create his 1996 montage. And then probably re-imaged yet again for his press conference: Innocuous clue two.

So here we have before us a copy of a reproduction of a reprint of a photo of a fax and are being told that it’s conclusive proof of striking and stunning revelations. Please forgive me if I am sceptical. There can be no definitive ‘proof’ here because there are no possible means of knowing where these images themselves came from or how they were printed or handled – or mishandled – prior to being reproduced long before we, or Hoagland, ever saw them.

Zond03_24-big-Here, in a clearly much smaller form, is a version of what is called by Hoagland ‘Image #1.’

By the way, Zond 3 images are still currently available (with some considerable amount of searching) at a few sites here and there, but getting decent, let alone complete, image sets and information can be rather tricky. It took quite some digging to find these sites which, I think, are probably some of the best currently available, which isn’t saying much. The versions of these images now available from the NASA web site, for example, are quite frankly pretty crappy, leading one to speculate, again, about the veracity of some of Hoagland’s claims.

zond3-24-detailCertainly when you enlarge a better version of ‘Image #1’ – which appears to be otherwise known as Zond 3 Frame 24 to the rest of the interested parties in the world – there is a fairly strange (and one might even say anomalous) smudge on the upper right side of image which doesn’t really seem to totally correspond to the other pixels on the image, but it’s difficult to be sure  just precisely what it is. At such high enhancements the image becomes so degraded and pixellated that it’s hard to determine if what you’re looking at is part of the actual image or an artefact of the processing.

It’s important to remember that when you are dealing with digital imaging – or more specifically a digitally-rendered copy of an original film negative or, as in this case, a printed photograph – you can always take pixels away but you cannot add them. Well, actually, yes you could do, but taking pixels away typically makes an image smaller and, conversely, adding pixels makes and image larger. However, taking pixels away does not enhance fine detail, and adding pixels in does not add quality. And certainly does not, in any way, add any detail not already there to begin with. Pixel addition will make an image larger, yes, but it also makes the image ‘softer.’ And sharpening those ‘details’ afterwards only makes the image worse:

imaging-101

In order to enlarge even a small portion of the Zond 3 image, I needed to add one thousand pixels to the existing image. Sharpening only degrades the image even more and increases the artefacting as it begins to highlight the individual pixels – something Hoagland’s images are often riddled with and, typically, the very things he points to quite often as conclusive ‘proof.’
Zond03_28-big

Here, too, is a better quality version of Zond 3 Fame 28 (or Hoagland’s ‘Image #2’) in which it is fairly evident that the so-called thirty-mile high dome he alludes to as ‘stunning’ proof of his glass-like structures model is no longer present. Could it be that the  image Hoagland used – one taken from a book – could have simply had printing defects from one of the numerous times it was copied or recopied? I am sure that the case could be made that the images I have used here, taken from various sources on the internet, could also have been doctored or manipulated to eliminate the ancient ruins but, honestly, if you ‘enhance’ the region Hoagland presents as evidence…

zond3-28-detail…there seems to be no obvious suggestion of tampering with the photo or of somehow digitally obscuring the thirty-mile high glass dome, so where is it?

One of the bits of arm waving and bullshit seemingly meant to divert attention is the absolute ambiguity with which Hoagland ‘explains’ the procedure or steps involved in achieving his ‘enhanced’ images.

In the transcript of the 1996 Art Bell broadcast he states:

‘…we put these photos under the optical scanner, and used the computer algorithms that we’ve been working with now for several years.’

Although it is indeed subtle, one can almost imagine Hoagland casually passing his hand before the face of a viewer or listener, waggling his fingers – ‘These are not the driods you’re looking for…’ – because, really, what has he told us?

He scanned the images into the computer.  Saying ‘optical scanner’ apparently makes it sound more high-tech and flashy, providing that ‘Oooo’ factor: ‘Oooo! See? Not just any scanner. It’s an optical scanner!’ He also mentions ‘algorithms’ in something of an airy fashion as if to suggest that he is simultaneously discussing concepts far above our heads whilst courteously ‘dumbing it down’ for the rest of us mere mortals to comprehend. This verbal masturbation seems remarkably self-aggrandising when you consider that an algorithm is basically a method of calculation – a list of steps taken to reach a result – and is the foundation of virtually every piece of computer software ever made.

It’s all H.O.G.W.A.S.H.

It bears repeating that in Dark Mission, Hoagland states he used ‘a 486 personal computer, a 1600dpi scanner and a variety of then state-of-the-art digital photo-processing software’ to do his enhancements. Specifically he says ‘commercially available software.’ Even the IRC log mentions Hoagland as saying ‘You only have to have a home office computer and image software to scan and enhance the data.’

But how it is he produced these images he claims are evidence, or just what ‘algorithms’ he used to enhance them are never hinted at nor explained. Perhaps because our brains would merely explode at the vast amount of information we would have to take in just to understand it all. In 1996 I would probably guess that he used Photoshop 3 or 4, maybe CorelDRAW 5 or 6. There were (and still are) hundreds of off-the-rack imaging software products available in a vast array of capabilities and price ranges, so who knows how he produced (or presently produces) his images? That information is never fully divulged. That would destroy the illusion.

I find it interesting that, reading the Art Bell transcript, one finds Hoagland saying:

‘And this…is part of the pattern that we have noticed. I have not seen any overt examples, that I could put my finger on, in this lunar work – of outright retouching or air-brushing or faking of pictures, or destruction of data. What I find, is a pattern of deception, a pattern of losing information, of mis-labelling it… In other words I see a pattern of…trying to deter people, trying to dissuade people – from getting access to the data…’

hoagland-vegasThat has an oddly familiar ring to it.

Like a couple of scantily-clad dancers at a David Copperfield show on the Vegas strip, our Dark Mission authors seem to want to distract and obfuscate; to divert our erstwhile attention away from the finer details and minutia behind some of the images being presented as some sort of unassailable truth of The Great Lie Perpetuated By NASA.

It begs two questions, really:

1) Can they honestly believe that we will wilfully except these very often ridiculous bits of photographic nonsense and such easily refuted claims being touted for some inexplicable reason as ‘hard science?’ and;
2) What the hell is in the background over there that they don’t want us to see?