Boston paranoia level about to go up a notch

Boston paranoia level about to go up a notch

Boston paranoia level about to go up a notch

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Sept. 12 2008 10:30 AM

Boston paranoia level about to go up a notch

D'oh! I totally forgot to add a tip o' the spacesuit visor to Rebecca for telling me about this article!

Tonight, Fear Factor host and guaranteed conspiracy whacko Joe Rogan will be doing standup in Boston.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Why do I care? Because in the Bostonist article linked above, he said something about me that someone less charitable than I would call a lie. Let's say it's just completely wrong.

Bostonist: There's another topic that you like to push the status quo on and that's wether [sic] or not the Apollo moon landings happened. A couple weeks ago, they repeated the Penn & Teller "Bullsh*t!" show that talked about the moon landings and you've had some debates directly with them about it. As a kid who walked around with an astronaut lunchbox back in the mid-70s, I've always thought it was weird that we haven't been back on the moon in almost 40 years.

OK, maybe this isn't the pinnacle of journalism, but maybe it would've made some sense to the reporter to ask, y'know, someone with experience in this field?

Nope. He asked Rogan, who replied:

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Joe Rogan: I just think it's not smart to just accept things if you have this kind of doubt about them. It's not that we haven't been back to the moon, it's that we haven't been more than 400 miles from the earth's surface since the last Apollo mission and yet supposedly we traveled a quarter of a million miles out and back. There's too many inconsistencies with the evidence and data from Apollo for me to not question it. What's funny is that I've been on the radio and debated an expert [Dr. Phil Plait] and the guy just couldn't answer my questions about the photography, the press conferences, and other things that just seemed inconsistent.

Well now, that's not how I remember it. I debated Rogan on Penn Jillette's radio show last year (twice), and while he had me a bit weirded out for a while the second time we talked, I recovered later and was able to show where he was being silly. In the first part I had him on the ropes. Sadly, Penn's show is off the air, but the shows are archived. So you don't have to trust my word on this (though George Hrab agrees with me here); go grab Part 1 and Part 2 yourself!

Anyway, I was able to answer all his questions on photography -- I just don't think he was listening. I don't remember what he said about the press conferences, so I can't comment about that without hearing the show again. As I said, he did have me wondering what he was talking about for a few minutes, when he brought up a trip Werner von Braun took to Antarctica around the time of Apollo 11. Rogan thought this was very suspicious, though he never could give a reason why. The best he could come up with is that a lot of lunar meteorites were found in Antarctica, so maybe von Braun was there collecting them.

I was baffled by this claim for a while, because it made no sense to me. But eventually I figured out why it was so silly: if they were faking lunar rocks, why send the head of the Apollo program to the south pole to look for them? That's dumb. If Rogan's theories held any water at all, NASA would have sent a couple of goons down there, trained them how to look for rocks, and when they returned with a bag, taken them behind the Vehicle Assembly Building and shot them.

Oh-- the reason von Braun went? It was a working vacation; he was fascinated by exploration and wanted to go on an expedition. I can't blame him at all; I have always wanted to go see Antarctica, and I imagine it was the one place on the planet at the time that he could get away from the press. And I should add it was in 1967, two years before Apollo 11.

Anyway, when Rogan wasn't constantly interrupting me in the second part he was actually very funny, and enjoyed sparring with him the first time. So if you're in Boston and want to see him, please feel free. I'm sure you'll get a laugh or two. And I'll add that Joe and I do agree on one thing: Carlos Mencia isn't funny.