In2-MeC

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands
30 May 2004

The Faith Science Reserves for Itself

From the Internet (Yahoo. com News Service), 28 May 2004:

Nasa Discovers Likely Youngest Planet
Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. --One of NASA's space telescopes has discovered what scientists believe may be the youngest planet ever spied--a celestial body that at 1 million years old or less is a cosmic toddler.


On Yahoo News where the article appeared, this image was captioned "Reuters Photo"

In its first major findings, announced Thursday, the Spitzer Space Telescope also has shown that protostars, or developing stars, "are as common as the cicadas in the trees here on the East Coast" and that the planetary construction zones around infant stars have considerable ice that could produce future oceans.

"Oh, my goodness, it knocked our socks off," University of Wisconsin astronomer Ed Churchwell said of the trio of discoveries.

Spitzer is an infrared telescope has been orbiting the sun and studying the universe since last summer. It did not actually "see" the toddler planet, but yielded evidence that enabled scientists to infer its existence.

The object is in the constellation Taurus, 420 light-years away--quite close by astronomy standards. It is believed to be on the inner edge of a planet-forming dusty disk that encircles a 1-million-year-old star.

University of Rochester astronomer Dan Watson said a sharply defined hole in the middle of the disk suggests that a planet created the opening. That gaseous planet would have been formed sometime since the star's formation.

By comparison, the Earth and the rest of the solar system are 4. 5 billion years old. And up until now, the youngest planets observed around other stars were a few billion years old.

Astronomer Deborah Padgett at the Carnegie Institution of Washington cautioned that instead of a planet, the gap in the dusty disk could be caused by asteroid formation or a smaller unseen stellar companion. She said it is also possible that the heat and light of the star are forming the gap by blowing all the dusty material out.

However, she said that it is "very likely" a planet, and that additional research by Spitzer and future spacecraft should settle the debate.

There was more to the news report, but it added little to what is cited above.

Now let's deconstruct what we just read.

First the title: Nasa Discovers Likely Youngest Planet. The word likely means "possible", even "probable". "A good chance" that something is what we think it is.

Does this title tell us that it is possible NASA discovered the youngest planet? No. The title tells us with complete certainty that NASA has discovered a planet; what is likely is only that this planet is the youngest.

The youngest planet? Where, in the whole galaxy? In the whole universe? How in the hell does NASA know?

Never mind that for now. What is established by the title is that NASA has discovered a planet.

Going from the title to the first paragraph, we find the same information repeated with the addition that the planet was discovered by a space telescope, and that it may only be a million years old or less.

Next up is the color .jpg image titled "Reuters photo. " Wow. Does it mean that the space telescope took this photograph of the new planet? Skimming quickly through the rest of text of the article, we don't find any explanation for the image. Well then. . . let's go back and look at it closely. Hmmmm. . . it doesn't look like a photograph. It's. . . I dunno. . . maybe a painting? It appears that the Reuters Photo caption is clickable, so let's see what happens. . . CLICK!

 

What you get when the image is clicked on

Okay, good, an enlargement of the image. It's clear that this is definitely no photograph! Just see, this enlargement comes with a caption:

The youngest planet ever detected--a baby less than one million years old--may be orbiting a young star in the constellation Taurus, scientists using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reported on May 27, 2004. In this artist's conception, the possible newfound planet spins through a clearing in a nearby star's dusty, planet-forming disc. The possible infant planet was spotted circling a star known as CoKu Tau 4, some 420 light-years away, according to astronomer Dan Watson of the University of Rochester, New York. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY NO SALES REUTERS/NASA/Handout

Whoa! This is the youngest planet ever detected, less that a million years old, that MAY be orbiting a young star? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Oh, and look at this, will you? IN THIS ARTIST'S CONCEPTION. Damn! Why'd they label the original image a photo then? And why do they keep calling it a "possible infant planet"?

All right, having finished with that "photo"--sheesh!--let's go back to the text of the article.

OK, now here's some scientist talking about protostars being as common as cicadas in the trees. And here's some other one saying his socks were knocked off. Then. . . HEY! WHAT THE #%$ ARE THEY TRYING TO PULL HERE?

It did not actually "see" the toddler planet, but yielded evidence that enabled scientists to infer its existence.

Fiddlesticks and Hubble pix! So the photo that isn't a photo, turns out to be an artist's conception of something that the telescope DIDN'T EVEN SEE!

My sweet Lord.

Read a bit more and we learn that what the telescope did see is a star in the constellation Taurus. The scientists say this star is a million years old. The telescope did see a dusty disk around the star. The scientists call it a planet-forming disk. In this disk the telescope did see a hole.

There's this astronomer guy, Watson, who says the hole was made by a planet. A "gaseous planet. " Yeah, made of hot air, I bet.


Then there's this lady scientist Padgett who c a u t i o n s that--get this, will you?--a planet may not have made the hole at all. She postulates three alternatives. Well, to tell you the truth, at this point I'm ready to postulate an alternative of my own. How about this: the ghost of Albert Einstein has assumed cosmic proportions out there in the constellation Taurus. He keeps puffing up and deflating a relativity balloon. Every time he puffs on it, the expanding curved space-time skin of the balloon puts a hole through the dusty disk.

Now scientists will say the chances of that are somewhere between fashionably slim and severely anorexic. But how do we establish the "chance" of the things they say? Padgett the lady scientist says the cause is "very likely" a planet. But she's spoken of three other possible causes too. So what's the deal? Is it like a 1 out of 4 chance that the hole was made by a planet, and a 3 out of 4 chance that it was made by the other causes? In the end Padgett seems to cop out: "future spacecraft will settle the debate. " Oh yeah. Future spacecraft that will travel to another star in the constellation Taurus.

In a book called The End of Science, John Horgan writes on page 18:

Humans, made of flesh and blood, may someday travel to other planets here in our solar system. But unless we find some way to transcend Einstein's prohibition against faster-than-light travel, chances are that we will never even attempt to visit another star, let alone another galaxy. A spaceship that can travel one million miles an hour, a velocity at least one order of magnitude greater than any current technology can attain, would still take almost 3000 years to reach our nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri.

There it is:

"Chances are that we will never even attempt to visit another star. "

Ergo: this article titled NASA Discovers Likely Youngest Planet is hogwash from beginning to end.

The title is hogwash. It tells you right to your face that NASA discovered a planet. What NASA discovered wasn't a freaking planet, it was a lousy hole in dust, for crying out loud! This makes as much sense as a guy walking along a dusty footpath, tripping over a hole in the ground, falling flat on his face, and then, with his nose still in the dust, shouting aloud, "Eureka! I just found. . . a. . . whole. . . OTHER. . . WORLD!" Screw your head back on, chumcha. All you found was a hole. A hole and some dust.

The picture is hogwash. They all but tell you to your face it's a photo of the new planet. Then you find out it's an artist's conception. Then you find out that what it shows, in all those nice colors and all, wasn't even seen!

The only practical use of that picture is to illustrate the cover of a science fiction novel.

The talk of the likeliness of the hole they did see being made by an unseen planet is also just hogwash. Likeliness means a good chance. Chance means odds: 2 to 1, 5 to 1, 10 to 1. In this little game of chance the scientists are inviting us to play, no odds can be verified.

"Hey, let's play dice. "

"What, betting real money?"

"Yeah, sure! Fifty bucks on the first throw!"

"OK, but are we playing with one die, or a pair? 'Cause if it's one, I got a 1 to 6 chance; if it's a pair, I got a 1 to 12 chance. "

"Well-ll-ll, the thing is, the dice I'm talking about, you can't see. True, I can't see 'em either, but because I'm a scientist and you're not, I can infer what numbers come up. "

"You can infer. . . ?"

"Yeah! Like. . . whatever I say the number is, that's the number. Get it?"

"What the. . . ?"

"And another thing, because I'm a scientist, I can at any time say the number is different from what I said it was. And you. . . you can't say anything. 'Cause you're not an expert. Like me. So. . . wanna play?"

NO THANKS!

The only way this so-called news report can be appreciated is through the eyes of faith.

I mean, we what have here before us in the form of this report is sheer religion.

And look. . . LOOK. . . what this religion--the one called science--gets away with!

The lady journalist who wrote the report is an "Aerospace Writer," which means she is a member of the cult.

Let's call it the Mystic Tube Cult, because they believe in visions that come through a mystic tube (telescope).

So here she is, a member of the Mystic Tube Cult, and her article is page one news around the world. Nobody says to her, "Uh. . . sorry, Miss, our policy is that we're a strictly secular news agency. Your article represents. . . ah. . . certain beliefs that are. . . simply. . . unverifiable. Now we do respect your beliefs, of course. You and your cohort are welcome to practice your faith among yourselves. But. . . we publish facts here, Miss. Not beliefs. "

Nobody complains (except me here on In2-MeC!) that the title of her article makes a claim tantamount to

Mystic Tube Reveals the Face of God in Constellation Taurus!

Nobody complains that the image published in her article is tantamount to an image of a face captioned

The Face of God Photographed Through the Mystic Tube!

Nobody complains as, later in the article, what gradually becomes clear is tantamount to it becoming clear that no face of God is actually visible in constellation Taurus, it was only "inferred" to be there; and that the "photo" is really just an artist's conception of the face that is not visible.

Nobody complains. Why? Because they believe in science.

But if a religion somehow did the same thing, announcing that the face of God--or hell, even a baby planet (I mean, that is far out too!)--is now visible in constellation Taurus, and if all the online news channels uncritically promoted the report all over the Internet, complete with bogus headline and "photo", there would be cries of outrage everywhere!

"I go on line to see the news, dammit! I don't wanna be preached to by some kooks!"

"Hasn't anyone told you people at Yahoo about dangerous cults? Why, there was a mass suicide a few years back by some wackos who wanted to hitch a ride on a comet! And now you got these wingnuts proclaiming the good news that a baby planet appeared in constellation Taurus! God, what's next?"

"I'm a Christian! This stuff is Satanic! I'm cancelling my Yahoo services! Repent! Jesus Saves!"

"Who is this person you got writing your news articles for you? Polly the Preaching Parrot from Medicine Hat?"

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