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.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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