Thursday Grab Bag: Wolter's Latest Attack, Lovecraft Racism Panel, and Weird Moon Math
Today I have a few brief topics to discuss.
Early this morning, Scott Wolter announced (if I am to read his possessive case usage as written) that I am trying to confuse the issue of whether Europeans colonized America and ennobled the Native Americans with Jesus genes: “I think the word that sums up some of the skeptic’s personal attack strategy is ‘obfuscation.’” I know! All of those texts I examine and the facts I muster to critically examine specific claims from fringe figures’ published works, it’s all a personal attack strategy, unlike Wolter’s much more serious strategy of claiming that he doesn’t read my work but rendering judgment on it anyway, and then threatening to sue over what he imagines I might do. Of course, Wolter might have meant plural skeptics, but that isn’t what the singular possessive implied. I’m still astounded that he confuses a single blog post in 2013 about his own claim of an honorary master’s degree for a widespread multimedia strategy to harp on it for 21 straight months.
Lovecraft and Racism Redux
Meanwhile, the Lovecraft eZine Podcast presented a panel discussion about Lovecraft and racism in which many of the majority white panelists (plus Rick Lai) explained, in large measure, why non-white people (and white people, too) shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about Lovecraft’s racism.
The highlight for me was when Lucky Girl author William Holloway offered a conspiracy theory that liberals and the “Salon [magazine] outrage crowd” were using the controversy over Lovecraft, racism, and the World Fantasy Award in order to push to remove Lovecraft from the list of canonical American authors because, he seemed to imply, Lovecraft was white, conservative, and male.
The host of the show, Mike Davis, asked me to be on the program in February, and he scheduled me for an appearance on July 13. (He says he schedules six months out.) When the appointed day arrived, he never contacted me, so I have no idea what became of that.
Moon Math Madness
Over at Graham Hancock’s website, author of the month Scott Onstott, a former architect turned independent filmmaker, is investigating what he calls the mystery of the number 273, which is somehow related to the Great Pyramid, menstruation, and various and sundry other coincidences. The number is based on the moon’s orbital period, which he gives as 27.3 days, and Onstott provides a list of 273-related measurements. He does not explain why he has chosen to round the moon’s sidereal month to one decimal place when modern measurements give the figure as 27.32 days. Many of these are pretty far-fetched even by the standards of fringe history. Let’s look at a few.
He claims that the “sunspot rotational period” of the sun is 27.3 days. According to scientific studies, estimates using sunspots to gauge the sun’s speed of rotation yield different figures based on the location of the sunspot used for calculation since parts of the sun rotate at different speeds. Figures range from 26 to 38 days.
He claims that the human menstrual cycle is exactly 27.3 days. Menstrual cycles vary by woman and can range from 21 to 35 days, averaging about 28 days.
He claims that the human gestational period is exactly 273 days. The gestational period varies greatly, though the normal range runs from 259 to 294 days, with week 42 (days 274-280) being the most frequent time for giving birth.
He claims that the summer solstice to the vernal equinox takes exactly 273 days. This one is true! But he doesn’t tell you that the periods between other sets of solstices and equinoxes don’t add up to 273. For example, the winter solstice to the autumnal equinox adds up to 276. The numbers orbit around 273 because Onstott has chosen earth measurements with an eye toward looking for those that are most likely to divide evenly into 10 lunar months. In other words, the only reason for choosing a solstice and an equinox was to get close to 10 lunar months in the first place.
Water’s melting point is at 273 degrees Kelvin. This is also true! But it’s completely irrelevant since the Kelvin units are arbitrary, based not on natural measurements but on the earlier Celsius scale, itself derived from a rationalization where 100 units were assigned between the melting and boiling point of water. That the size of a degree is not an iron law of the universe is obvious from the fact that the Fahrenheit scale assigns 180 degrees for the same range. Again, the loss of the 0.02 days from the moon’s sidereal month is felt here since the precision of the coincidence depends on arbitrary rounding. Using a better estimate of the moon’s sidereal month, the corresponding Kelvin temperature would be 273.2 degrees, which exceeds the triple point of water (273.16) and ruins the coincidence.
He claims that the moon’s diameter divided into the earth’s diameter yields the number 0.273, a figure relevant only in a base-10 decimal system. But really depends on what measurement you’re using, since neither the moon nor the earth is a perfect sphere, as well as how many significant figures you’re willing to carry the decimal out to. The equatorial diameter of the moon of 3,476 km divided by the earth’s diameter of 12,742 km yields 0.2728 (to four decimal places). It becomes “0.273” only by rounding to three decimal places. Why choose three decimal places for this number, but none for the moon’s orbit (27.32 days)? However, using the polar diameters (i.e., the length of the axis), the numbers would actually work better! The polar lunar diameter of 3,472 km divided by the earth’s polar diameter of 12,713 km yields 0.2731. But all of this only works if you’re using a base 10 counting system and decimals, which the ancients didn’t do.
Oh, this dancing around with numerology is so familiar. Richard Hoagland & Mike Bara do the same thing with the number 19.5. In three published books they have made the claim that the following features are at 19.5° latitude:
9/25/2014 07:08:08 am
Graham Hancock is currently conducting research in the US for his new book. (It sounds more like a road trip than scientific inquiry, but what do I know.) Anyway, he's traveling with someone named Randall Carlson, who he bills as "a leading expert on cataclysmic events." I'm sure he's a crank, but one I'm unfamiliar with, so I was wondering if you were familiar with his work?
9/25/2014 07:14:51 am
How could a man with a beard like that be a crank?! :)
9/25/2014 07:25:43 am
I'm sure the beard is part of what makes him "uniquely qualified", as I sure don't see any evidence of actual academic credentials...
9/26/2014 01:28:32 pm
What, you mean like these...?
9/25/2014 07:37:03 am
I have never heard of him. He's a "geomythologist" who was on the Joe Rogan Experience, apparently, and sells website subscriptions and "courses" to his "students." He spent some cash on his website, though. The graphics look professionally designed c. 2008, with all the gradients, but, man, the writing is terrible. I read his post on the Holy Grail as a stone from heaven, and it was nearly incoherent, not to mention missing the most important source for identifying the Grail as a meteor: Der Wartburgkrieg 143, which I translated into English for my forthcoming book.
9/25/2014 07:32:42 am
I love how they describe getting together in a circle and staring at a rock or a pyramid, or a crystal or something "research."
7/19/2015 10:37:08 am
John Dunham, you obviously have a high opinion of yourself. Whether it is justified or not remains to be seen. Yours has to be one of the most truly inane and uninformed comments I’ve read in a long time. I can only presume, since you call yourself a researcher, that you know that science BEGINS with observation, or “eyeball science” as the late Gene Shoemaker liked to call it. Apparently, your comprehension of geological science goes no further than “getting together in a circle, or a pyramid, etc.” I think it goes without saying that if you were confronted by an unlithified outcrop with an upward fining, matrix supported diamictic facies and a poorly sorted clast structure you would be utterly clueless as to its meaning and even more clueless as to its significance within the larger geomorphic context of landscape evolution.
9/25/2014 08:09:24 am
I don't care much about fringe ideas, but I can at least understand why Wolter considers your work "obfuscation" while you likely consider "examining texts and mustering facts" logical, hard work.
9/25/2014 08:15:42 am
In context (he was responding in the wrong place to the preceding blog comment), Wolter was referring specifically to obscuring the "issue" of his geological claims with off-topic claims about his character. Since my criticisms of his work focus on the work and not the personality (except where, as on his show, he makes it an issue, as in his belligerent responses to experts) it does not meet his own definition of obfuscation.
9/25/2014 08:28:17 am
I agree. I'd call that "obscuring" rather than "obfuscating" if it actually happened, but I'm no language expert.
9/25/2014 08:31:46 am
Why would anyone want to be tolerant of false and foolish beliefs, especially when they are disingenuously presented and widely disseminated?
9/25/2014 08:36:43 am
>>> false and foolish beliefs
9/25/2014 08:38:12 am
We do not need to be protected - junkies will always exist whatever happens.
9/25/2014 08:43:31 am
As my story indicates, the facts would've indicated my parents' beliefs were false and foolish at one point, but they ended up being correct, as far as I know. Wolter needs many, many currently-accepted facts to be incorrect, however.
9/25/2014 08:47:25 am
>>>there's no need to be tolerant.
9/25/2014 08:50:34 am
The last documentary by Simcha Jacobovici and James Tabor went unnoticed. Their books don't get much publicity anymore. Bauval's latest book went unnoticed.
9/25/2014 08:51:32 am
Walt, do YOU believe Scott Wolter is NOT a fraud? Not even a little bit?
9/25/2014 09:07:55 am
Honestly, I don't, but I hadn't even considered it until that last conversation about the honorary, honorary Master's. The thought never crossed my mind that he wasn't handed some piece of paper by a professor until you mentioned it.
9/25/2014 09:10:03 am
>>> I see it all as entertainment I guess.
9/25/2014 09:11:22 am
666: "Scott Wolter the entertainer - well, he is a laughing stock"
9/25/2014 09:24:38 am
Well there's the problem... We can wish it was just entertainment all we like, but Wolter wants to change history books, sue people, and convince local, state, and the national governments to act on his beliefs. That crosses a big line from entertainment to advocacy.
9/25/2014 09:27:07 am
Not just that, but he is advocating "beliefs" that have only been tested by him so far, and not even in the correct manner as we have seen.
9/25/2014 09:40:18 am
Fair enough... he almost has a political platform at this point with radio appearances, a book, and other groups supporting their politics with his positions.
9/25/2014 09:32:56 am
"six white panelists"
9/25/2014 11:24:29 am
Quite right. Noted and corrected. My first draft actually said "five" white panelists, and in correcting it I saw six faces and I forgot that I had written that because the sixth wasn't.
9/25/2014 09:38:02 am
One small correction - the William Holloway novel is called
9/25/2014 09:49:10 am
9/25/2014 11:29:17 am
Yes, he does. I describe his claims from the book here: http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/review-of-scott-wolters-akhenaten-to-the-founding-fathers-part-2
9/25/2014 01:40:13 pm
9/25/2014 10:18:03 am
1. It looks like Scott Wolter is trying to take attention away from your analysis by constantly harping back on the phony honorary degree.
9/25/2014 10:44:45 am
Those of you who know anything about ancient Greece are sure to appreciate an anonymous commenter on Wolter's blog saying:
9/26/2014 01:15:45 pm
As much as I am against racism, I think there are examples of people having gone too far in their effort to change the cultural condition.
9/26/2014 10:55:11 pm
"Meanwhile, the Lovecraft eZine Podcast presented a panel discussion about Lovecraft and racism in which many of the majority white panelists (plus Rick Lai) explained, in large measure, why non-white people (and white people, too) shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about Lovecraft’s racism. "
10/9/2014 02:35:25 am
"I think we must have watched different shows. I distinctly remember Joe Pulver saying that people are completely entitled to feel uncomfortable about Lovecraft's racism. I thought that the show handled the topic particularly well and the panel did a fairly good job of debunking the notion that Lovecraft fans refuse to confront his bigotry."
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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