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James McCanney's Nonsense: Conclusions

Table of Contents
Comets are not "dirty snowballs" The solar wind is electrically charged Comets don't lose mass, they gain it
Comets are huge, not dinky Miscellaneous nonsense  
Links of Interest


As with other pseudoscientific garbage, I could go on and on, because just about everything McCanney claims is wrong. It's astonishing, really, the scope and breadth of his wrongness. In his book he rages against NASA, scientists, The Powers That Be, all because no one will give him credit for his ground-breaking ideas. It never occurs to him that he might simply be wrong. In fact, his book is filled with hubris; he beats his chest nearly constantly about his brilliant ideas.

He has had some choice words about me as well, over the years. Many of these are outlined on the Bad Astronomy Bulletin Board (my favorites are this one and this one). He has called me a NASA disinformation agent, and weirdly, a "greenhorn", as if his being older than me doesn't make him really, really wrong.

His self-promotion and attacks on me and others are irritating, certainly, but that's not what really gets my dander up about him. What really irks me is that, like many before him, he scares people for a living. He says that the government is hiding all kinds of data (for which he has no evidence), he says NASA is lying to you (for which he makes up evidence), he says that disaster from the sky is looming just around the corner (so you'd better buy his book to find out what to do). He says all this, and much more, to scare people into believing him. I'm no Pollyanna, and I won't say that things aren't dangerous and scary. But I prefer to stick with facts, and evidence, and critical thinking, and good old plain and simple horse sense. And my horse sense (and all the others) tell me that McCanney is wrong, wrong, wrong.

He is, however, somewhat more canny than Nancy Lieder: by not giving a date for Planet X coming in, he can keep up his own brand of garbage for years to come, shilling his book and other products indefinitely. There will always be people like McCanney; the individuals come and go, but Bad Astronomy is here to stay. And as long as people like McCanney, Hoagland, Lieder and the others are out there, I'll do what I can to shine the light of reason on the darkness of their methods.

©2008 Phil Plait. All Rights Reserved.

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