Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

There goes the Sun

Yesterday I received a friendly email from a loyal reader of Skeptophilia of the "You think that is stupid, wait till you see this" variety.  As well-intentioned as these generally are, I always hesitate to read further, because my general impression of human foolishness and gullibility really doesn't need any further reinforcement.

This one was in response to last week's post about the Flat Earthers, so already we've set the bar for comparative idiocy pretty high.  But as I continued to read the email (yes, I succumbed to my 'satiable curiosity), I found that said bar was cleared in a single leap by this particular claim.

So without further ado: the idea that makes the Flat Earthers look sane and sensible.  Ready?

The Sun doesn't exist.

According to a group of loons calling themselves "asunists," what we're calling the Sun is just an illusion generated by light collected and beamed at the Earth by an array of curved mirrors.  You might be asking, "Light coming from where, exactly?", but that is only the first of the many problems we encounter upon delving into the situation.  Apparently the idea came about when someone googled "solar simulator" and found that there is a device that approximates the radiation spectrum and illuminance of the Sun, and is used for testing solar cells, sunscreen, plastics, and so forth.  So in a classic case of adding two and two and getting 147, they then interpreted this to mean that the Sun itself was a simulation.

[image courtesy of NASA]

Who is responsible for this?  Well, nasty old NASA, of course.  Same ones who keep the Moon hologram going and are suppressing information about the Earth being flat and/or hollow, not to mention the impending catastrophic visit by the fabled planet Nibiru.

What evidence do we have?  The producer of the above-linked YouTube video explains how he knows that the Sun isn't real, and a lot of it seems to be the fact that in some photographs, the outline of the Sun is "fuzzy."  It used to be clear and sharp, but now because of "chemicals in the air" the Sun has gotten all blurred.  So apparently we used to have a real Sun, but now it's been replaced by a simulator which just isn't as good as the real thing.

My question is -- well, among my many questions is -- don't you think someone would have noticed when the real Sun was taken down, and the simulator put in place?  Oh, and what did they do with the old Sun?  Was it sent to the stellar retirement home?  Was it just turned out into the cold vacuum of space, to wander, lost and forlorn forever?

Of course, the question that applies to all of these wacko conspiracy theories is why anyone would bother to do all of this.  Don't you think that if the Sun really was a big bunch of mirrors, the Earth was flat, or whatnot, the scientists at NASA would tell us?  What could they possibly gain by pretending that the Sun exists and the Earth is an oblate spheroid?

The oddly hilarious postscript to all of this is that the whole the-Sun-doesn't-exist conspiracy theory received a boost from none other than Ray "Mr. Banana" Comfort, the outspoken young-earth creationist who a couple of years ago got his ass handed to him when he showed up to distribute creationist literature at a talk by Richard Dawkins hosted by the Skeptic Society.  Well, Comfort has picked up on the "asunist" thing and used it as an argument against atheism (in Comfort's mind, everything is an argument against atheism).  He tells us about his perception of the "asunists" -- mischaracterizing their claim as stating that they believe we're actually in the dark -- and compares that to atheists' conclusion that god doesn't exist.

Which just shows you that there is no idea so completely stupid that you can't alter it so as to make it way stupider.

So to the loyal reader who sent me the email, all I can say is "thanks."  I now am even more convinced that Idiocracy was a non-fiction documentary.  It's time to get myself a cup of coffee and try to reboot my brain so that I make some degree of sense in class today.  Also time to start watching for the sunrise.

Or the solarsimulatorrise.  Or whatever.

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