Sunday, June 18, 2006

True Batshit Craziness

One of the delights of browsing at our local alternative bookstore, the Bookshelf Cafe in Guelph, Ontario, is the opportunity to encounter some real craziness, often in the form of wacked-out British conspiracy tomes. (Why are so many crackpot authors, for example, Arnold Arnold, from England?) No, I'm not talking about creationism, or astrology, or chiropractic -- you can meet those at any chain bookstore. I'm talking about the really insane drivel that can make you sit up and take notice.

Last night I had the pleasure to encounter Dark Moon: Apollo and the Whistle-Blowers by Mary S. Bennett and David S. Perry. I didn't buy it (since I have a policy of never supporting pseudoscientists by purchasing their works new) but I'll definitely be on the look-out for it at future used book sales, as it seems an essential addition to any good pseudoscience library.

Bennett and Percy are not your usual "the moon landings were hoaxed" crackpots. No, their argument is even more delusional than usual. They think people have indeed been to the moon -- it's just they weren't the 12 Apollo astronauts:

"The main thrust of this book is to question the entire validity of the official record of mankind's exploration of the Moon especially the Apollo lunar landings themselves. We are not however claiming that astronauts from Earth have never walked on the Moon. Our personal interpretation of the evidence is that surrogate astronauts were employed."

This lunacy reminds me of the old joke about the man who believed that Shakespeare's plays were not written by William Shakespeare, but by another man with the same name.

Bennett and Percy's arguments fall into two classes: long-debunked arguments about shadows, radiation, etc., and breathtaking non sequiturs. Here's an example of the second class:

"So what then are our own reasons for accepting the Roswell incident as genuine and meaningful? Well, one of them is the fact that the incident/placement occurred in 1947 -- and indeed at the midpoint of 1947.

At this juncture the reasonable reader might again throw up their hands and mutter: "Oh dear. These poor people really are mad." Yet we are quite sure that when we demonstrate the significant role played by the mathematical value 19.47° in astrophysics, alongside all other evidence, any doubting readers will retract and reconsider."

Now that's genuine fruitcake!