Wednesday, April 9, 2014

BS artist of the week: Robert Sungenis

Run a news search on the name "Robert Sungenis," and you will find the following series of headlines, posted over the past 48 hours, from various sources:

NPR: Why Physicists Are In A Film Promoting An Earth-Centered Universe

Raw Story: €˜Star Trek€™ actress lends her gravitas to film promoting idea that sun revolves around Earth

Salon: Scientist has no clue how he ended up in Holocaust-denier’s creationism documentary

The documentary in question is The Principle, scheduled for release this spring. The trailer to this film, and more on its executive producer/religious perpetrator Robert Sungenis, can be found below.

“Everything we think we know about our universe… is wrong.”

The voice opening the narration of the trailer will be recognized by Star Trek afficionados as that of Kate Mulgrew, who played Captain Kathryn Janeway on the series Star Trek: Voyager. Mulgrew is also credited on IMDB as the narrator of The Principle.

“There is a crisis in cosmology.”

This second quote comes from renowned physicist, peace activist, and co-author of string theory in field form Michio Kaku.

“This is the moment of truth.”

For The Principle's executive producer (and occasional cast member) Robert Sungenis, this is a moment of truth, if not a self-aggrandizing prophecy. By using misattributed quotes by renowned physicists such as Michio Kaku, Julian Barbour, and Max Tegmart, along with speculative voice-over by an actor who starred in a science fiction series, Sungenis weaves all this into the fabric of his own truth.

The first, and most ancient of Sungenis' truths, is geocentrism, or the Ptolemaic Model, which placed the Earth at the gravitational center of the moon, the sun, the other planets in our solar system, and all other heavenly bodies, as well. This belief system held up until about 400 years ago, when Galileo and Kepler expounded upon Copernican theory, that our solar system is based on a heliocentric model.

Further theory of gravitation, courtesy of Isaac Newton in 1687, should have rightfully ended the notion our planet Earth as the center of the universe. However, geocentrism has since remained in the United States as a religious belief, even over the past two decades (PDF):

Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?

1988 - 73%

1990 - 73%

1992 - 71%

1995 - 73%

1997 - 73%

1999 - 72%

2001 - 75%

2004 - 71%

2006 - 76%

2010 - 73%

2012 - 74%

SOURCES: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Public Attitudes Toward and Understanding of Science and Technology (1988–2001); University of Michigan, Survey of Consumer Attitudes (2004); University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center, General Social Survey (2006–12). Science and Engineering Indicators 2014
Other quotes by Sungenis also appear in the trailer, ostensibly used to buttress his (and Ptolemy's) main argument:

"Science has said 'you must stay in this category here,' or 'you cannot go into the God category, because that's going to destroy our science.'"

"You can go on some website of NASA, and see that they've started to take down stuff that might hint to a geocentric universe."

"... so they set up a satellite, and they find out these temperature disturbances, throughout the universe, were all pointing to the Earth."

(ital ED)

Robert Sungenis has sought this truth for much of his life. Born and raised Catholic, then becoming Protestant at age 19, Sungenis earned degrees at more conventional religious institutions (a B.A. in religion at George Washington University, and an M.A. in theology at Westminster Theological Seminary), before obtaining his PhD (unaccredited in the U.S.) in religious studies at the dubious Calamus International University. His dissertation on geocentrism has since been published, with straight face, as a multi-media CD: Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right.

Sungenis' bold denial of both history and science are not exclusive to the field of astronomy. From the Jewish Chronicle Online (June 16, 2011):

In a 2002 article Mr Sungenis, the founder of a controversial group called Catholic Apologetics International, said of the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust: "The fact remains that no one has ever given proof of the six million figure." He went on to write: "The statistics show us that there was no large difference between the number of Jews living in 1939 as there were living in 1948, so how could six million Jews have died between those two periods?"

Mr Sungenis has been described by a US hate-monitor as "one of the most rabid and open antisemites in the entire radical traditionalist movement". The Southern Poverty Law Centre included him in its "Dirty Dozen" list after he published an article which repeated "a series of ancient antisemitic canards" on the subject of Catholic conversion of Jews. They also noted a piece in which he discussed a Zionist Satanic conspiracy.

Sungenis maintained that "an anti-Christian, Jewish influence has infiltrated the Catholic Church at the very highest levels." His view was such that his local bishop, Kevin Rhoades, made him stop using the descriptor of "Catholic" in his organization name.

***

Kate Mulgrew's narrative voice-over for The Principle was noted by various news sources over the past 48 hours, with little attention given to Robert Sungenis. The bulk of the notice has been directed at Mulgrew, with much shock and speculation over how an actor with her history could inadvertently loan credence to the Earth-centered universe,

an idea that Sungenis comfortably gentrifies into the world of intelligent design, using massage therapy techniques heisted ham-handedly from 2004's "What The Ble*p Do We Know?," another pseudo-scientific documentary that also met with discredit from scientists, one with claims that the film selectively edited his words in order to create a scientifically disagreeable thesis.

Within a handful of hours after the stories broke around Captain Janeway's purported big sell-out to the preposterousness of geocentrism, Kate Mulgrew posted a public reply on her Facebook page:

“I understand there has been some controversy about my participation in a documentary called THE PRINCIPLE. Let me assure everyone that I completely agree with the eminent physicist Lawrence Krauss, who was himself misrepresented in the film, and who has written a succinct rebuttal in SLATE. I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism. More importantly, I do not subscribe to anything Robert Sungenis has written regarding science and history and, had I known of his involvement, would most certainly have avoided this documentary. I was a voice for hire, and a misinformed one, at that. I apologize for any confusion that my voice on this trailer may have caused. Kate Mulgrew”

In that I have some knowledge of video production, voice-over, and editing do I give the benefit of the doubt to Kate Mulgrew, who was simply working, and very likely had no idea, or was misled, into reading a script that, though agreeable to her values, is still a script that becomes woven, enmeshed with the bigger picture that is the film itself.

Another film participant who took objection to the film trailer was an unwitting participant: renowned theoretical physicist and self-described antitheist Lawrence Krauss. At the foundation of his many objections to the film, also promptly posted to social media via Slate, is Krauss' claim that he was never even interviewed for this film.

I have no recollection of being interviewed for such a film, and of course had I known of its premise I would have refused. So, either the producers used clips of me that were in the public domain, or they bought them from other production companies that I may have given some rights to distribute my interviews to, or they may have interviewed me under false pretenses, in which case I probably signed some release. I simply don’t know.

Krauss ends his article by suggesting that those who were scandalized by the film, like himself, should ignore the subject, with the hope that The Principle and its ill-formed concepts will "quickly disappear into the dustbin of history."

Would that this be the case. Unfortunately, and as with many perpetrators of anti-scientific thought, Robert Sungenis is an opportunist. His factual stumbling in pursuit of perpetuating his own misbegotten truth of geocentrism will not likely earn him many new converts, especially given that unlike What The Ble*p Do We Know? and Ben Stein's Expelled, this media backlash against The Principle is occurring before its actual theatrical release.

To Sungenis, this doesn't matter. Whether wittingly or not, he has stumbled upon his own deeper truth, that as long as a quarter of the U.S. population remains traditionally stuck within a mindset of anti-science and creationist mythology, he will have himself a built-in audience.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Talking to the hand that feeds you

If smoking ads were real, and I mean really real, the cigarettes would talk.

 Oh? That is Interesting... (voice tails upward). Just what exactly would these "talking cigarette" ads look like? To allow for imaginative discussion, this concept will be explored through a more historic time context: that of pre-April-of-1970, when airing cigarette ads on television was still legal. Moving... pictures! Mr. Burns clasps bony hands, spurred to motion by greedy anticipation.  

Surely, those ancient purveyors of Philip MorrisTM-brand porno, who capitalized big-time on jacking up the sexual elements of the lone wolf male and the independent female, who then went further into the nuclear family room, to buddy up that same couple's children with Joe Camel... well, let's just say that they could have done the talking cigarette thing. Had the technology. Lacked the remorse. Piece of cake.


Friday, March 30, 2012

A Desire To Stop Meetings

"Is anyone here celebrating one year?" Slowly, I raised my hand. From out of nowhere came a shout of congratulations, followed by a round of applause. At the head table sat the chairperson, who noted this and stood, beckoning me to join him at the podium. Surrounded by warmth, support, and back-pats... given to me, a stranger to this group!... I rose from my fold-out seat.

The cheering grew louder as I approached the front of the table, where the chairperson stood to embrace me (hey now!), while handing me a metallic coin signifying that I had not taken a drink of alcohol for one year.

Nervously, I stepped up to the podium, and looked at the sea of enthusiastic faces. Clutching the coin infused me with a sense of confidence, and  I cleared my throat. "Hi. My name is B.S., and I used to be an alcoholic.”

Monday, March 12, 2012

Just Don't Drink: A Lazy Person's Guide to Alcohol Abstinence

Whereupon one person's solution for the alcohol problem is posted for the world to see. It's not so much a testimonial, as it is like TV's Seinfeld, a show about nothing.

Which suits me fine, just as HAMS, my preferred resource for alcohol abstinence, is (to paraphrase another member) "a support group for people who don't want to be in a support group." Very true, while allowing that both support and groups are wherever one finds them.

More after the NSFW commercial break:




Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Atheist Comedian on marijuana prohibition

This man is really funny. His comedy videos are on youtube, at klfly.

NSFW: one sexual reference, and discussion over an illegal plant.