It always pays to look closely at the debunkers and their arguments. Have they really
done the job? Have they too been partial in selecting
evidence and argument?
It's obvious from Oberg's wiki entry
that he's NASA's go-to guy for debunking. He's a member
of CSICOP, an organisation known for its predisposition to ignore and manipulate data to its advantage.
Have a look at this thread - Pseudoskeptics and Disinformants on ATS
- for some
background on CSICOP and its adherents.
As for the photo, the "face-like" features may no longer be apparent in that viewpoint and lighting, but there is nonetheless an underlying symmetry
beneath features that may have been eroded.
Proceding to Oberg's piece of debunkum
, there's a lot of slippery stuff in there that I for
one don't trust.
Before he even gets into his rebuttal of Hoagland's claims, Oberg tries to claim the moral high ground by saying that Hoagland is dangerous because,
Apart from the comic relief value of such crackpot ideas, there’s a darker aspect of this kind of cultural pathology, just as there are serious
analyses pointing to the socially toxic effects of the JFK assassination “alternate theories”. For spaceflight, being distracted by the wrong
cause means being tempted by the wrong fix. That’s never amusing, and often can be expensive.
"Serious analyses"? "Socially toxic effects"? We are not treated to any examples of these serious analyses, nor of the socially toxic effects
they analyse, so it's hard to comment on this assertion... or to take it seriously. For anyone looking at the evidence, it's impossible to conclude
that Oswald killed JFK, or that he was anything other than what he himself said he was - a patsy.
However, moving on... who does he think is going to be "tempted by the wrong fix"? What does that mean? When you look closely at what he's
written, it falls apart.
He then spends rather a lot of space attacking one specific claim by Hoagland. Now, I haven't researched this so it's hard to come to any firm
conclusion either way - it's possible that Hoagland's guilty of some journalistic hyperbole. I haven't read the book myself yet, though I'd like
to. I have to say that Oberg's assertion that
Actually, whether a radio is turned on or off, practically all orbital insertion burns on lunar and planetary missions occur out of radio
contact. This is a result of the geometric alignment of the probe passing behind the planet (or moon) and hence having its radio signals
...sounds a little implausible to someone with no knowledge of orbital mechanics. I'm open to correction on this, but it does strike me that if you
want to insert a spacecraft into a planetary orbit, you'd execute the burn before the craft had started to swing around the planet, which implies
that you've still got line-of-sight contact. I'm assuming, in this line of thought, that you'd want the relative position of Earth and Mars to be
as close as possible at the time of insertion - if the probe only starts relaying data when Earth and Mars have the sun between them to mess up the
signal, it doesn't seem like good planning to me. I'm open to correction on this, of course - but "practically all orbit insertion burns"?
If anyone has Starry Night
software, they could check out the relative positions of Earth and Mars at the time of insertion. I haven't got
room to install it on this computer or I'd do it myself.
Anyway, Oberg spends a lot of time demonstrating that turning off the radio was part of the mission plan, which is apparently fair enough: though
again, I don't know enough of the background to be sure one way or another. It's quite possible that the report itself, when viewed in the proper
perspective, is as much of a work of fiction as the 9/11 Commission Report.
He then contradicts himself, however:
Nor is it true that “no cause for the probe’s loss was ever satisfactorily determined”, as Dark Mission claims. To the contrary, in
hindsight it was excruciatingly clear what almost certainly happened.
“The Board was unable to find clear and conclusive evidence pointing to a particular scenario as the ‘smoking gun’,” the report
explained, but “the Board concluded through a process of elimination...
I think the passage I've bolded shows where Hoagland got his conclusion from: yes, there may well be a cause established through a process of
elimination as probable - but it's hardly "excruciatingly clear", otherwise the Board would not have hedged its bets in such an unequivocal way.
As for the next assertion about the acceptance testing for the Mars Polar Lander, this seems like an attempt at damage limitation. There were, by
Oberg's own admission, two fatal flaws in the design. One was to do with the braking thrusters:
“They tested the [engine] ignition process at a temperature much higher than it would be in flight,” UPI’s source said. This was done
because when the [engines] were first tested at the low temperatures predicted after the long cruise from Earth to Mars, the ignition failed or was
too unstable to be controlled. So the test conditions were changed in order to certify the engine performance.
Oberg states that
the flaws in the [engine] testing were uncovered only a few days before the landing was to occur on December 3. By then it was too late to do
anything about it.
I frankly find this difficult to believe. In a multi-million dollar programme that would become quite a focus of attention from scientists and media
around the world, whoever was in charge of acceptance testing for a mission-crucial piece of kit was able to fudge the results? And how and why was
this only discovered a few days before the burn was due to take place?
As a piece of damage limitation, this begs more questions than it answers.
We are also required to believe that NASA engineers have no equivalent of integration
. I may, as an ex-programmer and analyst, only know the software jargon for this process, but surely there's an engineering
Post-accident tests have shown that when the legs are initially unfolded during the final descent, springs push them so hard that they
‘bounce’ and trigger the microswitches by accident. As a result, the computer receives what it believes are indications of a successful touchdown,
and it shuts off the engines. Ground testing prior to launch apparently never detected this because each of the tests was performed in isolation
from other tests. One team verified that the legs unfolded properly. Another team verified that the microswitches functioned on landing.
I'm asking myself, are NASA really
that stupid? And I'm finding it difficult to answer, "yes". Although, I have to admit, Oberg does make
a good case that, thanks to political pressures and a poor climate of management, human errors have crept in.
I don't believe everything Hoagland says. He can get carried away by his own rhetoric at times: but i do think there's something fishy in the
depths of NASA - there are enough whistleblowers on the Disclosure Project 2000 press conference video to demonstrate as much.
I do think he's right about certain things though: I'm pretty accustomed to the overwhelming probability that there's been a high-level cover-up of
back-engineering and ET contact going on since 1947: and naturally NASA would have to be "kept onside" as part of that.
I haven't read Dark Mission so I don't know if Oberg has dealt the book a mortal blow. I don't trust Oberg because of his background, however, and
as I say some of the article doesn't sit right for me.
And if you look at the photos of Iapetus Hoagland has on his website, they're pretty freaky IMO. Check it out.