Intelligence falls into a black hole

By Phil Plait | May 3, 2009 1:01 pm

Everyone’s been posting this, and I’m nothing if not a slavish follower of the pack. So here is The Daily Show eviscerating the crank Walter Wagner, the guy who scared lots of people last year falsely claiming the Large Hadron Collider would create a black hole and destroy the Earth.

If you thought this guy was anything but a grade A goofball before, watch what he says from 2:30 – 3:30 into the video. He would fail 6th grade math.

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Sometimes, when I see the media falling all over themselves to give obvious crackpots like Walter Wagner credibility, I do think the Earth is doomed. And I’m also very glad for The Daily Show, the only media outlet that calls ‘em like they truly are. If CNN, MSNBC, or any of the other MSM had half the brains of TDS, the world would be far better informed.

Comments (90)

  1. IBY

    That probability comment was so stupid, it deserves the Picard double facepalm pic. The FAIL is just too big. I mean really, by that reasoning, the dice has a 50% chance of rolling into a 1 because it will either happen or not happen, not happen being 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Supposedly, he is a high school teacher, but he doesn’t have a high schooler’s understanding of probability… so silly.

  2. Yeah, I used to use that “it’ll either happen or it won’t, that’s 50/50!” thing as joke because it’s so obviously false. I weep for his students.

  3. You know all hope is lost, when even Jesus gives you a Facepalm:

    http://i34.tinypic.com/2vae5fr.png

    Sorry, Picard just didn’t cut it for this one…

  4. IVAN3MAN

    IBY:

    That probability comment was so stupid, it deserves the Picard double facepalm pic.

    Picard -- Double Facepalm
    Picard — Double Facepalm.

  5. Electro

    In a perfect world some principal would haul this clown on the carpet and say…”based on your recent performance in the media I have serious doubts about your ability to continue as an educator here”
    I know , It’ll never happen.

  6. Oded

    “It’s cold”
    “f***ing cold”

  7. gila

    @IBY: The scary thing is that, BECAUSE he is a high school teacher, what he believes will eventually BECOME a high-school understanding of probability. And then the world gets stupider.

    Really, there should be some kind of qualifying exam…..

  8. mus

    HA HA HA! that’s gotta be one of the best daily show segments ever.

    I love the hardhat comment, and the procreation comment at the end. That’s just golden.

  9. If CNN, MSNBC, or any of the other MSM had half the brains of TDS

    I have often said this myself, but then when I think about it, it makes me even more afraid. Here’s Jon Stewart and his self professed comedy team doing better journalism than the professionals. That’s just scarry!

  10. John Oliver is amazing! That piece is brilliant!

  11. ccpetersen

    Larian — they’re doing better than a lot of us who ARE trained science journalists but can’t get face time on TV because we’re not pretty enough, or not willing to debase ourselves to the current standards of most news shows. Let’s face it, having a brain doesn’t seem to be a qualification for some of these folks (either TV journos OR teachers, apparently).

    (Not a slap at the teachers and journos out there who DO work hard and do well…wish there were more and it was sexier to be smart than act like a bimb on tv)

  12. Narenek

    My favourite bit is John and Wagner looking at a PC that clearly has a Windows safe mode start up screen, with Wagner pointing at it as if illustrating his theories.

    Marvellous.

  13. Philip from Australia

    Does anyone else think that it is sad that a COMEDY show has to show these people for what they are?

    Though I did love the high fiveing. Sexual innuendo for the WIN. ;)

    PfA.

  14. Johnsix

    I love how John Oliver pwns him at the end.
    “By your logic it has a 50/50 chance of working.”
    Genius.

  15. tacitus

    Does anyone else think that it is sad that a COMEDY show has to show these people for what they are?

    I think the problem is that the American media has come to place too much value on the notion of “fairness.” This is somewhat ironic given the right-wing’s recent hyperventilating over the “Fairness Doctrine”, but more often than not you see journalists bending over backwards to allow all sides of every debate an equal hearing even if it’s clearly not merited. It’s almost as if many journalists have forgotten that it’s part of their job description to call a spade a spade with they see a spade.

    Curiously enough, you don’t get that anywhere near as much in the UK, even the BBC, and their charter actually requires them to provide balanced coverage of an issue. Obviously there isn’t the same pressure from religious types and pseudoscientists to given a “fair” chance at stating their position since they don’t exist in any great numbers in the UK, at least as a political force.

  16. I personally think it deserves the no facepalm pic (edited to be SFW):

    From FPE
  17. Tim

    I think everyone here is missing the biggest discovery in the entire clip: a man has a 50% chance of mating with another man. Gross…

  18. tacitus

    I meant to add that “balanced coverage” obviously doesn’t equate to equal time. When the scientific consensus is overwhelmingly against you, then you’re lucky if the correctly “balanced coverage” merits you any coverage in the media at all.

  19. Adam

    Dang, Nareneck beat me to it. Using the safe boot screen as part of his “explanation” really lends him credibility huh?

  20. Just a geek OT, the anecdote at the start of the interview with Hugh Jackman for Wolverine is great, click my name for more.

  21. ccpetersen

    Tacitus, “fairness” back when I was in j-school meant that you went out and got the WHOLE story, not just a one-sided version of events. It was simple.

    Now, that whole fairness thing has been twisted to mean “give equal coverage to every argument/POV no matter how silly.” Which has left common sense in the dust.

    And the fairness doctrine the right wing loves to p*ss and moan about? It’s simple: when one political party gets some time on TV or radio, the opposing party should get equal time. At the expense of broadcastters, who are making money off the public airwaves. The idea is that the airwaves, belonging to the public, should be available when messages for the public good and political news are avialable… equally to all (usually both) sides of a discussion.

    But, as usual, the right wing doesn’t like that either because it means that other people get to have their say, too. And, if those “others” happen to be non-rightwing, then it’s unfaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiirrr!!!! (Mind you, when Wingnuttia controls the airwaves, they still whine about fairness… which is ironic, when you think about it.)

  22. Sonny

    All propaganda. No serious thinker has listened to the scientists ever since they were caught red-handed covering up the indisputable fact that the Moon is hollow.

    Do you think we, the American people, will allow these clowns to recreate the Big Bang? Dream on.

  23. Supernova

    “Um, I don’t think that’s how probability works.” Awesome.

  24. Sonny

    All propaganda. No serious thinker has listened to the scientists ever since they were caught red-handed covering up the indisputable fact that the Moon is hollow.

    Do you think we, the American people, will stand back and allow these clowns to recreate the Big Bang? Dream on.

  25. Jason

    Come on now. There are just as many left-wing nuts who want to silence the opposition as there are right-wing wackos who wish to do the same. Think of the “animal rights” nutjobs who try to silence dissent by blowing up labs and threatening the lives of scientists. Probably not a lot of registered Republicans in that group. . . (and, before anybody drops an ad hominem argument, nobody I know would describe me as either a conservative or a Republican).

  26. Funny enough, with the help of Dr. Ian O’Neill, I put together a post which indirectly addresses both the probability of creating black holes in a collider and what would happen if one was actually created at some point at the future.

    The resulting singularity would be so small, it couldn’t even devour a subatomic particle and so short lived, it wouldn’t even have a chance to try and gobble one up. The smallest stable black hole would have to have the mass of Mount Everest and the physics say that it could either blast off into space due to electrostatic repulsion or take tens and tens of billions of years to digest enough of the planet to be noticeable. Though if you’re keeping count, that’s long after the planet and the Sun are long dead and gone…

    http://worldofweirdthings.com/2009/03/06/plugging-into-black-holes/

    And yes, Wagner has no idea what he’s talking about and never did.

  27. tacitus

    There are just as many left-wing nuts who want to silence the opposition as there are right-wing wackos who wish to do the same.

    Not in America. The power and influence wielded by the right-wing wingnuts is much greater that their left-wing equivalents these days. Such nuts exist on both sides of the debate, but currently the large majority of the political and scientific battles against reason are being waged by the right. Even in areas usually associated with left-wing nuts like anti-vaccine, anti-pharma, pro-natural cures” etc, the right-wing (mostly religious) nuts are well represented too.

    I agree that in other countries it’s much closer as to which side has the more trouble from nuts, but not in America.

  28. Phineas J Whoopie

    HAHA. Phenomenal segment. “Why are we wearing hard hats then?” and the 50/50 chance of breeding — hilarious. John Oliver’s brilliant.

  29. One of the people I worked with years ago (former Radio Station Program Director) used the same ‘statistics’ as Walter… for pretty much everything. He also insisted there was a ‘year zero’ (instead of properly going from 1BCE to 1CE/AD). He learned hypnosis to ‘study’ regression (past lives) and had ‘been abducted’ by Greys several times.

    The SafeMode boot screen caught my eye watching this time, didn’t register when I watched the original show.

    Fairness Doctrine: does not apply to networks, but to licensed stations, and any ‘rebuttal’ had to be to one specific claim (e.g. could not ‘rebut’ the entire Rush Limbaugh show, only one claim made). The ‘equal time’ provision is not true, the rebuttal may be allowed up to the same length of time if needed, but could be far shorter if that is all that is required for the rebuttal. (Yes, I did take Broadcast Law in college)
    Besides, if the MSM is so ‘liberal’, it would apply equally to allowing right-wing-nut views in theory.
    ccpetersen: doesn’t simply apply to political parties, I recall individuals doing commentaries in response to the TV station’s manager doing a commentary… both the original comment and response are unpaid… (directly, it’s not ‘bought time’) as a part of the license requirement for ‘public convenience and necessity’ that requires public service announcements and programs.

    J/P=?

  30. Ad Hominid

    Walter is either a communist mole or he isn’t. The same is true of the possibility that he is a Al Qaeda cell-leader or an extraterrestrial spy.
    .5^3=.125
    We are down to only a 12.5% chance that he isn’t a subversive, and other analysts have not even weighed in yet. I say an 87.5% chance of subversive intent is too great a risk given his presence in the high circles of American scientific discourse. Lock him up.

  31. T_U_T

    the false equivalence strikes again

    There are just as many left-wing nuts

    can you support your assertion with statistics ? can you ?

  32. I’m sorry guys, it doesn’t matter how many facepalm pictures you put up, that comment at the end was perfect. I can’t believe he sat there for that. That was frickin hilarious, you know because either those two men can mate and reproduce….or not, 50-50 chance!

    Too funny.

  33. Jason

    “can you support your assertion with statistics ? can you ?”

    Fair point. I can’t back that assertion anymore than anybody can support the assertion that the right wing dominates this area. Since most of us on this board lean to the left, however, I can’t see anybody else calling out one of our own for making a (scientifically/statistically) unsupportable claim, so I thought I’d bring it up.

    I’ve worked on a university campus my entire adult life, so, granted, I spend more time around far-left leaning academic types guilty of this behavior, but I am aware of no controlled study that proves one side or the other is more guilty.

  34. IBY

    @sonny
    Is that a satire of some sorts? Because if it is, it is kind of funny.

  35. Lawyer

    Phil, you should definitely look up the “Large Haldron Collider” Rap on youtube ( http://nate.koechley.com/blog/2008/09/09/large-hadron-collider-lhc-rap/ )which is hilariously funny and scientifically accurate and illuminating for LHC novices (I).

    Alphine Kat, the lady who made it, created it to prevent “scare-mongering” by black hole creationists.

  36. IVAN3MAN

    I don’t know why but for some reason the “Double Facepalm” picture that I have posted above appears normally via IE7, but not via Firefox 3.0.10. WTF?! :|

  37. Fizzle

    Wow I’m lucky to be alive then, at 50 50 chance of death every day the odds of my living as long as I have is 1 in 6819
    —————————– 2.

  38. Justin

    That was sarcasm, right Sonny?

  39. Harbles

    When corporate media news organizations treat the news as a form of entertainment first and the sacred trust to inform the public of the truth far down the priority list it does tend to boggle the mind that an entertainment show can be so much more effective at revealing truth.

  40. Davidlpf

    When he heard TDS was doing a bit on him he thought 50% they are going fun of me or 50% they are not going making fun of me.

  41. Cassie

    Yes. That Jon Stewart . . . he’s brilliant in oh so many ways.

    http://www.pjtv.com/?cmd=video&video-id=1808

  42. Maltodextrin

    Dr. John Ellis totally could pull off the evil genius look.

    In fact, the crew of the LHC should totally show up in their best mad science outfits for the ignition of the LHC. Because everything is better in double-breasted lab coats and goggles.

  43. Procyan

    Although encouraged to see some intelligent lambasting of another anti-technology fallacy, I am disheartened to hear the frequent use of vulgar language in the effort. This trend (pandemic?) toward casual profanity in public media does not help our cause because it erodes credibility and creates the impression that we are all on par with the lowest common denominator, namely the teeming masses that we strive to save. Even occasional use creates a slippery slope that even tripped up Dr. Ellis. I’m afraid someone will have to dob a shilling into the swear jar, or shall we flip for it?

  44. Comedy Central via The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are the court jesters of today. They speak the truth when others do not have the courage.

  45. Tim B

    “…and creates the impression that we are all on par with the lowest common denominator, namely the teeming masses that we strive to save.”

    …but we’re already on par with the “teeming masses”, and we are trying to save everyone, ourselves included. I think it erodes credibility more to set humanity into the camps of “saviours” and “saved”. Science isn’t about establishing anointed elites, but about determining the truth.

    Also, constant profanity certainly tends to dilute speech, but occasional profanity does not. In some instances it’s actually appropriate to swear.

  46. Procyan, they bleeped it out. No profanity. Public profanity is good anyway. Overuse for the sake of overuse does get tiresome but casual profanity can be funny as illustrated by the clip. But, I am from a culture where the “S” word can be used on TV any time after about 6pm, the “F” word from about 8.30pm and even the odd “C” word can be thrown in. We do have the occasional wowser whinging about it but who gives a flying ****. :-)

  47. ccpetersen

    John Paradox, yes, you went into more detail on the equal time than I did… it’s really the subject of several books and court decisions… I just wanted to give the general gist.

    thx

  48. James

    I lol’d when I saw the safemode boot screen.

    Completely distracted me from what they were talking about.

  49. Chris

    Haha I love that!

    “1 in a million, 1 in a billion…”

    “1 in 2″

    Looks like he needs to be a student instead of a teacher

  50. Phil, you better start being more respectful when you criticize these nutjobs.

    You may be committing felony ‘Cyberbullying’!

    Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and 14 other democrats have introduced the “Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act”

    This proposed law would make it a felony punishable by up to two years in prison to transmit an electronic communication (“including email, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones, and text messages”) “with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person”.

    Clearly your attacks on anti-vaxers, flat earthers , ufo nuts, and the Texas School Book Committee all could clearly be considered harassment under this definition, thus subjecting you a felony conviction for your speech. See HR 1966 ( http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.1966: ).

    I wish my liberal friends would read the Frankenstein books. They clearly want to grant the government huge power to limit free speech (fairness doctrine, card check, now this) , and they seem to think that this power will only be used to suppress the speech of people they don’t like (i.e. Rush Limbaugh, Fox News). They are wrong.

    Our Frankenstein government will turn on its creators as well as those evil right wingers.

  51. IBY

    @cassie
    That statement is null and void anyways, because Stewart admitted his error publicly. That is something that no most of the mainstream media would have had the guts to do.

  52. Daffy

    OK, may I just point out to everyone congratulating themselves on how clever they are that the word media is PLURAL.

    Carry on.

    (Loved the segment, btw)

  53. ColonelFazackerley

    I quite enjoyed Ethan’s explanation of just how many ways the doomed scenario is wrong.

    http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2009/05/the_lhc_black_holes_and_you.php

  54. Tim G

    Walter Wagner would have a very hard time in Las Vegas.

  55. madge

    I Loved this. At the time of the big switch on of LHC last year My son’s science teacher and I spent a whole open evening explaining to students, parents and even one or two other teachers that world wasn’t about to be sucked into a giant hole.
    The whole 50/50 thing is so obviously wrong even my ten year old daughter worked out that by the same reasoning there was a 50/50 chance of us buying her that pony! TY TDS :)

  56. T_U_T

    with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person”.

    so we are safe as long as someone does not intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person.

    Seriously. Would you like someone to do the Megan Meier thing to your daughter and go unpunished because bullying someone to suicide via internet is not illegal ?

  57. Dark Jaguar

    Firstly, I’ve been bullied. It’s a horrible experience and should be illegal, and the verbal is worse. Yes, a law like that does help. No, mocking someone’s idiotic ideas is not bullying. Now if BA decided to constantly mail this guy insulting e-mails repeatedly for months on end and tell the guy he’s worthless and should kill himself all the time, then yes, that’s harrassment.

    Secondly, Frakenstein was more about a creator abandoning his creation than a monster “turning on” it’s creator. The monster could have been a decent thing with the right upbringing.

  58. MHS

    Living in The Netherlands I had never heard of this Walter Wagner. I heard that there was this guy who wanted to sue CERN, but I didn’t know it was him. Anyway, when I saw this video for the first time last week, I was convinced he was part of the sketch. I thought the 50/50 comment was actually quite a funny joke. Then he went on and I started thinking, wait a minute… this guy is for real! Unbelievable.

  59. Jarrad T

    I noticed the bit of him pointing at the Windows start-up screen also! Fail.

  60. Sonny

    Wake up. The scientists are lying too us and trying to poison our children’s minds. The Moon is an alien spacecraft, Big Science has known about this since Ancient Greece and they have continually been trying to cover it up. Don’t listen to any more of their lies.

  61. @Sonny

    You forgot to put your post in pink comic sans with lots of exclamation points.

  62. Sonny, you’re obviously cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

    Mmm, Cocoa Puffs….

  63. Tacitus said, “Even in areas usually associated with left-wing nuts like anti-vaccine, anti-pharma, pro-natural cures” etc, the right-wing (mostly religious) nuts are well represented too.

    To my knowledge there are just about as many left nuts as right nuts, with the disparity being created by industrial and household accidents and the prevalence of right handedness.

    Oh wait, we’re talking about political parties. Nevermind.

  64. DaveR

    “One in the front, one in the back? Ohhh!” *high fives*
    “That was rude. I shouldn’t have said that. And you shouldn’t have high fived me.”

    The Daily Show owes me a monitor and a fresh cup of coffee!

  65. Terminology Nazi

    @ Lawyer : (May 3rd, 2009 at 4:07 pm)

    Alphine Kat, the lady who made it, created it to prevent “scare-mongering” by black hole creationists.

    Uh … by definition wouldn’t a “Black hole Creationist” be a person in favour of creating black holes? ;-)

    That would make the people at CERN – LHC “Black hole creationists” and the people trying to stop them “Black hole anti-creationists.” Technically speaking.

  66. ccpetersen

    The Chemist said: “To my knowledge there are just about as many left nuts as right nuts, with the disparity being created by industrial and household accidents and the prevalence of right handedness.”

    Wait!!!! Have you personally inspected ALL the left nuts and right nuts to back up your blanket statement?!?

    And what does chirality have to do with it? (homo or otherwise?) :)

    (I guess the more important question is, would you WANT to inspect them all?… )

  67. Terminology Nazi

    Not that I’m implying anything other than a weird and rather contradictory use of lexicon there.

    For the record I’m guessing :

    “Um, I don’t think that’s how probability works.”

    As noted by ‘Supernova’ on May 3rd, 2009 at 3:12 pm & in the clip is about to become a new catchphrase! 8)

  68. Flying sardines

    Hitler apparently only had one – wonder if that was a left or a right? ;-)

  69. Flying sardines

    Sonny : (May 4th, 2009 at 7:12 am)

    “Wake up. The scientists are lying too us and trying to poison our children’s minds. The Moon is an alien spacecraft, Big Science has known about this since Ancient Greece and they have continually been trying to cover it up. Don’t listen to any more of their lies.”

    No no, no.

    Teh Mooon iz made off GREEN CHEEESE!!!!!

    The reason Apollo was faked was to hide this fact because of a powerful conspiracy of French cheese fanciers who feared their snobbery and living standards would be destroyed once cheap lunar cheese made the elite creme de brulet pleasures of teh cheeseboard available for everybody even the proletariat! Itz a Conspiracy! For rof note how nobosy has ever been allowed tosmell lick or worst of all thelunar rock samples let alobe eat with red wine! ;-)

    Quick email everyone, let the secret get out! Do not allow this truth to be censured a brave resistance band who are even now being censored and risking their lives like Copernicus and Galileo and Wagner and Jesus to give us this cheesy Moon verde truth!

  70. Flying sardines

    PS. Ah if only it was April fools day! ;-)

  71. Flying sardines

    For rof

    Wow. Even for me that’s a lousy spelling of the word “proof!” That’s :

    For proof, note how *nobody* has ever been allowed to smell, lick or worst of all devour the lunar rock samples let alone eat one as part of a sumptuous repast along with a bottle of red wine!

    - Doing my bit for the Lunar sample analysts everywhere! ;-)

  72. ccpetersen

    Flying Sardines, I say “the heck with the cheese, let’s just have the wine!”

    A fine Georges duBoeuf cabernet sauvignon, anyone?

  73. Lawyer

    Howard, great post, I looked it up and it looks pretty ridiculous (and Dems are supporting it? I thought liberals like Rep. Linda Sanchez were supposed to support FREE SPEECH – sadly according to http://www.OpenCongress.com Sen. Clinton supports is which is bizzare).

    T_U_T : Its completely ridiculous to think that this type of law (as phrased) will prevent the tragedy that happened to Meier’s (who was 16 and has been on severe mental medications since at least 10 years old).

    WHAT IS CERTAIN – is online comments will be subjected to lawsuits. For example, should I as an American not have the absolute right to be critical about public figures affecting my life? YES! Debate it good for democracy and defamation laws cover the rest.

    Its classic, get a new technology (the Internet), and LAWYERS will come in and screw it up for the masses under the disguise of being “their keeper.”

  74. The Daily Show did seem to imply the court case was alive when it is actually on life support. The case was dismissed on September 26, and Wagner started an appeal.

    If you liked the 50/50 argument, you should see some of the appeal arguments. They were so bad, in February I suggested to Wagner that we bring them to the Daily Show’s attention.

  75. Gary Ansorge

    All the noise and hulla-ba-loo about the LHC reminds me,,, intelligent discourse trends toward equivalence when all sides get equal coverage,,,

    kinda like entropy,,,

    See the following link about entropy and cosmology.(it applies to intelligence, too)

    http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/23464/?nlid=1997

    Gary 7

  76. If Walter Wagner sends me $1,000, I’ll send him a million. Either I will or I won’t so it’s a 50-50 shot. Don’t you think that those are good odds? He can even improve his odds by sending each poster here $1,000. Then he gets 50-50 odds from each of us. ;-)

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play the Lottery. Since I’ll either win or I won’t, I have a 50-50 shot at winning. After all: “All it takes is a dollar and a dream and a complete lack of knowledge of how probability is determined!”

  77. @Sonny,

    So what you’re saying is: “That’s no moon! It’s a space station!” It all makes sense now! Star Wars was George Lucas’ attempt at educating the masses of the vast conspiracy while looking like harmless space opera. I’m off to study my Jedi skills to combat the Lunar Invaders. ;-)

  78. Rowan Bulpit

    HAHAHAHAHAHA

    That was pure BRILLIANCE.
    “Then why are we wearing hardhats?”
    “No..th-…for safety…”
    “CHECKMATE!”

    And the 50/50 breeding comment. Wagner really IS an idiot, of gargantuan proportions.

  79. BW

    I still don’t understand how John Oliver gets people to cooperate on his wind-ups. I mean, his victims know which show he works for, right? Does he pretend to people on both sides that he will portay them as the good guys? I don’t get it – that Wagner guy must be reasonably media-savvy, or he wouldn’t have managed to get the attention that he did?

  80. mike

    Look the media just wants sensatalisum that is all they want .why? because it sells and drives the rateings up it has nothing to do with fareness
    it has to do with rateings . The more weirder, wacker , and stupid sells why do you think thousands read the supermarket tabloids ? And those thousands actuly beleve : in JFK conspiercy Elvis faked his death ufo crashed at rosewell area 51 and other nonsense and thats what they want to hear they think the turth is boring and so the media caters to them . I think some who left comments should watch the 1970s movie NETWORK and you will see what I am talking about . This movie predicted todays media . This is the price we pay for free speach

  81. A point of correction here

    Wagner is not actually a high school teacher. He did a brief stint as an Earth Science teacher at Arroyo Junior High, Oakland, CA, in the mid-80′s. He appears to have substituted at a number of other schools in the area as well during the same time frame – but he hasn’t been a teacher in quite some time, unless he has (very) recently returned to it. Which is possible, he may need the cash – he recently lost a multi-million dollar civil judgement brought against him by his former employer, World Botanical Gardens in Hawaii.

    Wagner is also not a lawyer, as he’s claimed on a number of occasions. He does have a “law degree” from a non-accredited school in California, but has never taken or passed the bar exam in any US State. He is not listed as an attorney, practicing or otherwise, current or former, in any US State. Nor is he a physicist in any sense of the word, he has a BA in Biology from Berkeley with a minor in physics, awarded in 1973. Though he is often referred to as “Dr. Wagner” he does not in fact hold a research doctorate in any field. He did a brief stint as a “scanner,” i.e. a minor lab tech, in a physics lab during his time at Berkeley – and was mentioned for his very minor role in a research paper for a high profile discovery, a discovery that has long since been discredited. And his claim to radiation safety officer is also misleading – he was an RSO for a VA Hospital in the San Francisco area from 1979 to 1984, his job description is public record and shows nothing whatsoever to do with high energy particle physics or research – basically he was the guy who checks the insulation on the X-ray machines and disposes of the used barium enemas.

    We’ve spent a lot of time and effort running Wagner’s so-called credentials to ground and exposing the truth about this crank. Jon Stewart and the Daily Show’s ridicule of this nutjob was simply brilliant.

  82. paul mann

    Why dont you spend a lot of time, instead of doing ‘ad hominem’ disqualifications, the oldest trick of the book, discussing the issue, which is by no means walter’s credentials but ‘scientific theory and experimental evidence’. And so far what we know is a theoretical dispute between Einstein, whose classic concept of a black hole is a frozen star with a ‘cut off’ of dense matter (in which case it would be made of top quarks, discovered after his death and produced in great quantities at LHC, as they have and probably are equivalent to Higgs as per Anthony zee and lee smolin, physical review) and so if Einstein is right, as relativity implies that size doesnt matter and there are no quantum effects, those black holes will eat the earth. On the other side we have Hawking, which says Einstein is wrong and black holes have no substance (no quarks), they are mathematical objects (singularities) that evaporate, because mr. Hawking changes in his quantum entropy equations a + time symbol for a negative one (time travel, breaking of 2nd entropy law, information paradox) because he just likes to do so. So it is 50 vs 50, hawking vs Einstein, and that seems conservative, as Einstein has beenproved right most times and hawking lost all his bets.
    And then there is an even easier fact, called a strangelet, strange liquid, which theorists (wen, cheng) consider in his lattest papers to happen with 5000 quarks. lhc will produce 1 million per second. Enough to detonate 200 planets. And then we have the obvious evidence all over the Univese of explosive black hole growth. As they must be born inside novas, extremely small. Not to speak of the ethical issues of taking risks with this planet without consulting anyone. Who cares who denounces those facts? what matters are the facts. Bad astronomy indeed is what they pretend to do at CERN. bETTER spend that money in a telescope.

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