Conspiracy theories debunked

2013-06-21 10:50
President Jacob Zuma visits the Square Kilometre Array site in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape. (Picture: Sapa)

President Jacob Zuma visits the Square Kilometre Array site in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape. (Picture: Sapa)

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Cape Town - A group of local experts has answered a numbered of the conspiracy theories that are growing in popularity mainly on the internet.

The group, collectively known as the Friendly Astronomer, is based at the Cape Town Science Centre which has recently moved to Observatory.

Despite the growth in technology in modern society, there are many commentators who insist that mainstream science is flawed on fundamental aspects of understanding nature.

In this section on astronomy, the Cape Town Science Centre Friendly Astronomer answers some of the conspiracy theories that are circulating on the internet.

The Earth is hollow; it has holes at the poles that allow so-called UFOs to enter and leave.

CTSCFA: Gravity doesn't create hollow objects.  The Earth was formed by accretion of smaller particles onto a core, similar to when you make a snowball and roll it on the ground to make it bigger as it accumulate more snow.  It grows from the centre to the sides.  In order to claim a hollow sphere, you also need to explain how those are formed naturally. 

As far as UFOs are concerned, there is no proof that they exist.  If they did, how would *you* know their purpose?  Do you have a special relationship with them that other humans don't have?  Claiming that they need a hollow sphere to enter and exit is a strong claim demanding a strong proof to be considered seriously.

The spin of the Earth is a fraud because if it were true, the Earth should move below your feet if you jump up.

CTSCFA: You are also moving at the same speed as the Earth moves. The same happens when you jump up in a plane, you don't get smashed against the back wall when your feet leave the floor yet the plane moves forward at super-fast speed.

You move with your reference system, that's because the air in the plane also moves with the plane, same as the atmosphere of the Earth, it moves along.  Now, if you were to try to jump up from the roof of a moving bus, you would see the bus move forward below you. 

If you jump high enough, you would crash land on the road with no bus under you. That's because the air outside the bus doesn't move with the bus "system" and the outside air would slow you down compared to the bus.  Someone jumping from inside the bus wouldn't have the same problem.  The same way our atmosphere moves with the Earth.

Astronomy is fake because scientists refuse to look for evidence of God in the universe.

CTSCFA: Scientists tend to dismiss God because it doesn't help our understanding of the observable universe.  Saying "God did it" is a shortcut that leads nowhere, similar in scientific value as saying: well, we can never understand that so let’s not even try. 

The existence of God has never been proven, a holy book doesn't count as proof or evidence in a scientific context, it's a claim.  Scientists have no more reason to look for God in the universe than to look for pots of gold at the end of rainbows. 

You can't postulate what your result/conclusion will be (God) and then look for evidence that will make this result possible.  In science it's the opposite, you make an experiment then imagine a plausible explanation that agrees with your observations and conclude on a most likely solution.

You share your results and encourage other scientists to make more experiments and try to disprove or refine them.

That being said, proving God would be the greatest discovery any scientist could ever make.  The first one that manages to prove God with an experiment that can be repeated by other scientists will become more famous than Newton, Einstein and Darwin. 

If the Sun travels around the Galactic centre and the planets follow it, then the planets do not strictly orbit the sun.

CTSCFA: If you are on a big ocean liner and are walking on a straight line on the deck, but the ship is going in circles around an island, are you still walking on a straight line?  To anyone on the ship yes, to people on the island no.

The Moon orbits the Earth, and the Earth+Moon system orbits the Sun.  One doesn't exclude the other, the Moon *does* orbit the Earth no matter what the Earth is doing.  And guess what?  Our galaxy is also moving, in what we call the "Local Group", that sure doesn't prevent the Sun to orbit the galactic centre.

There are alien bases on the moon and the information is being covered up by the global astronomical community.

CTSCFA: Perhaps you should stop watching conspiracy theory videos on the internet?

The Cape Town Science Centre has a programme for children where they will be exposed to educational programmes related to engineering, robotics and mathematics during the school holidays, from 22 June to 14 July.
Read more on:    cape town  |  science  |  technology

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