That Time A Star Trek Captain And A Physicist Got Tricked Into Doing A Documentary On Geocentrism

from the all-hail-the-earth dept

What with the democratization of filmmaking technology, we've seen a relative explosion in films, as production has been opened to a whole population that would otherwise be unable to produce their wares. This, by and large, is a good thing. The barriers to entry have been lowered, streaming sites like YouTube provide an avenue for distribution, and we all get as many cute puppy videos as we can possibly handle. The flipside is that there are some jackasses out there who put out terrible crap. The whole Innocence Of Muslims fiasco is but one example, with actors reportedly being duped, controversial producers who remained in the shadows, and a finished product that would be most at home in the nearest dumpster. The technology is a great thing, but that doesn't mean there aren't pitfalls, and those lending their names to films and shows need to be careful about what they're getting into.

Like Kate Mulgrew, for instance. The former Star Trek captain apparently did some voiceover work for a film that pushes the theory of geocentrism (Earth as the center of the universe).

Kate Mulgrew—best known as that show’s Captain Janeway—has lent her familiar voice to The Principle, an upcoming documentary about the belief that the Earth is the center of the universe. The film has been in the works for a while, though it’s mostly been as ignored as those who have propagated the theory of Geocentrism past the 17th century. In a post on her Facebook page, the actress addressed that discussion, denying any involvement beyond being a hired gun who maybe should have asked a few more questions:

"I understand there has been some controversy about my participation in a documentary called THE PRINCIPLE. Let me assure everyone that I completely agree with the eminent physicist Lawrence Krauss, who was himself misrepresented in the film, and who has written a succinct rebuttal in SLATE. I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism. More importantly, I do not subscribe to anything Robert Sungenis has written regarding science and history and, had I known of his involvement, would most certainly have avoided this documentary. I was a voice for hire, and a misinformed one, at that. I apologize for any confusion that my voice on this trailer may have caused."
Lawrence Krauss, should you not know, is a famous physicist that would push the idea of geocentrism as much as he'd claim the moon was made of cheese (it's not by the way...). He published an article in Slate stating that he's unaware of how he ended up in the film, but it probably resulted from filmmakers pulling clips of him from around the internet and editing them in such a way as to make it sound like he supported the theory. Krauss, being smart, refuses to dignify the film with any legal action.

The man behind the film is Robert Sungenis, who has dedicated his life to arguing for geocentrism, among other crackpot nonsense.
Sungenis—who has a Ph.D. in religious studies from “a private distance-learning institution in Republic of Vanuatu”—has used those credentials to establish a career as a leading proponent of Geocentrism, based on an understanding of astrophysics drawn from that most esteemed of scientific manuals, the Bible. In addition to denying anyone can prove the Earth revolves around the sun, he’s also well known for denying anyone can prove 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust. He’s also claimed that Jews are in league with Satan to take over the planet.
Delightful. In any case, it would be very easy and understandable for Mulgrew and Krauss to be royally pissed over this and pursue legal action. In fact, in light of the recent ruling in favor of Cindy Garcia, Mulgrew may even have a copyright claim to make, as ridiculous as that is. What a wonderful world of litigation Judge Kozinski has opened for us all, despite his proclamation on how rarely his ruling could be enforced. We're mere weeks away, yet here's another situation in which an actress who should have done her homework can point to Cindy Garcia's victory and claim copyright. Fortunately, Mulgrew seems to understand what Kozinski did not: that she was a "voice for hire" and that a good deal of the responsibility for knowing what she was lending her voice (and thus credibility) to is her own.

I'd argue that a little public refuting without any legal action, which would only serve to put The Principle in the headlines, and a more proactive approach to vetting the material before committing to a project is all that's required. After all, it's not like any substantial number of people will take this film seriously. As long as the public knows some of those involved were duped, that should be the end of it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 7:54pm

    Doctor of Astrodiscombobulation

    "Sungenis—who has a Ph.D. in religious studies from “a private distance-learning institution in Republic of Vanuatu”"

    I bet this guy is a real gas to talk to. Just don't forget the tinfoil (for the conspiracies) and a pancho (for the BS).

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 1:30am

    I can not but wonder exactly what religious branch was his supposed specialty. Were it to be Islamic then we can understand the use of lies to get his tale told on film as I think I recall their belief is that is it ok to lie to non-believers of their faith.

    Yet the article mentions drawing his scientific source from the bible. If he is a believer of Christianity, then one of it's tenets is about lying if I remember correctly.

    I would like to think that Mr. Sungenis is not really religiously oriented; at least not sanely. For which religion would want to claim him as one of their own?

     

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  3.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 2:00am

    that pushes the theory of geocentrism (Earth as the center of the universe)

    What celebrity would ever accept this stupid theory? Of course they all know that THEY are the absolute center of the universe.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 2:40am

    If there are people who believe that earth is metaphorically the centre of the universe then that's fine with me.
    But if there are people who think it is literally, then I would punch them in the face.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 3:15am

    Re:

    If you go back to medieval times, you will see a catholic push for geocentrism and prosecution of anyone denying it. Thus, if not literally part of the bible (all religious understanding is interpretative to some extend), it is part of at least a historic religious tradition.

    As for Islam, you are claiming a moral inferiority, much like Sungenis is claiming a moral superiority in denouncing jews and understanding earth as gods center-piece.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    James Jamieson Junior, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 3:54am

    If I was Kate M, I'd be apologising first for that ridiculous "Gilligan's Island in space" that we had to endure as part of the Trek universe :-)

    Just kidding, Kate. It wasn't that bad.

     

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  7.  
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    justok (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 4:32am

    Well, she isn't the right captain to say "Make it, sue."

     

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  8.  
    icon
    slander (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 5:37am

    Re:

    Just kidding, Kate. It wasn't that bad.

    Yes, it was.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Rich, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 6:01am

    Re:

    Oh really? Please look up "Galileo Galilei", et. al.

     

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  10.  
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    Votre (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 6:44am

    Just goes to hammer home the old adages about knowing who you're getting into bed with; and being judged by the company you keep.

    That said, this is just a tempest in a teacup for Kate.

    (There's nothing to see folks... Move along.)

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 11:42am

    By Their Choices Shall Ye Know Them

    SUE DON'T SUE
    Cindy Lee Garcia Lawrence Krauss

    100

    Once again demonstrating the statistical truth that half the people you encounter have a below-average IQ.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Emelio Lizardo, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 2:30pm

    Well, anywhere you are in the universe is the center of the universe, that's just the weirdness of the universe.

    What he's proposing is that the universe was created specifically for us to be.

    This can't be proved or disproved.

     

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  13.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 5:42pm

    Re:

    May I direct you to 'Russell's teapot':

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot

    Those making a claim have the burden of proof on them, they can't just say 'Well you can't prove it didn't happen that way!' and expect to be taken seriously.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 6:06pm

    Re:

    "anywhere you are in the universe is the center of the universe"

    Metaphysical references are great for meditation but they will not be of use when calculating ephemeris.

     

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  15.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 11:12pm

    Re:

    No matter where you go, there you are!
    - Buckaroo Banzai

     

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  16.  
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    Paul A'Barge (profile), Apr 13th, 2014 @ 11:39am

    Ephesians 5:11

    Ephesians 5:11 - just trying to be helpful.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    John, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 11:49am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 12th, 2014 @ 1:30am

    Unfortunately, he is. He's a traditionalist Catholic and an apologist to boot. I haven't had any contact with him in about a decade now after he first went off the rails with stuff about Jews and geocentrism. I see that nothing has changed since then. Pity.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    NikFromNYC, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 12:53pm

    It's a scam.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Ulises Jorge, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 12:57pm

    Comment, what else...?

    "After all, it's not like any substantial number of people will take this film seriously. "

    They probably said the same thing about Al Gore's and his global warming "documentary"...

     

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  20.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Apr 13th, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Comment, what else...?

    Here's one of the big differences: Global warming? That has scientific backing, and a lot of it. There may be some minor quibbles over whether or not it's human driven, but the scientific consensus is pretty solidly on the side that it is happening.

    The idea that everything in the universe, or even just the solar system revolves around the earth, rather than the sun? That has the exact opposite of scientific backing, to the point that any reputable scientist or person that knows anything about the field, and isn't getting their 'scientific knowledge' from a couple thousand years old book, will point out how arrogant, egotistical and laughable such an idea is, with pretty much no actual real science behind it.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Mark Byron, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 2:23pm

    Sungenis is Catholic

    When he's not doing geocentrism, he's a Catholic apologist on the right edge of Catholic thought; Pope Benedict would be a flaming liberal by comparison. I've seen is name come up over the years for being a couple notches "out there" for even my conservative Catholic blog-buddies.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Comment, what else...?

    Because they definitely the same thing, right?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Matthew M, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 7:29pm

    Re: Sungenis is Catholic

    It has been noted that Bob Sungenis was previously employed as a catholic apologist with a traditionalist bent. That's true.

    Thing is, he went off the rails years ago. The local Catholic bishop some time ago ordered him to stop publishing his junk as 'Catholic'. Such public denunciations are exceedingly rare. But Sungenis is a terrific fruitcake.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Just Another Anonymous Troll, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 6:12am

    We should put this guy on a rocket and launch him into the Sun. Then he can view the Earth revolving around the Sun. Then he will burn up, because it's not a good idea to get that close to the Sun. It's a win-win!

     

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  25.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    If he is a believer of Christianity, then one of it's tenets is about lying if I remember correctly.

    Sounds more like a case of crazy than lying.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 6:46am

    Re: Re: Comment, what else...?

    There may be some minor quibbles over whether or not it's human driven, but the scientific consensus is pretty solidly on the side that it is happening.

    Even the deniers have given up claiming it's not happening. They've shifted to arguing about the cause.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 6:53am

    Re:

    "This can't be proved or disproved."

    If something can't be proved or disproved, then it falls outside the realm of science. It's more properly in the field of religion or perhaps philosophy.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    MacCruiskeen, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 6:57am

    :Fortunately, Mulgrew seems to understand what Kozinski did not: that she was a "voice for hire"

    Mulgrew is presumably enough of a professional that if she were doing a job like this for pay, there would have been some sort of contract spelling this out explicitly. And while one could say that actors should think about these things more carefully, clearly the producers are counting on the fact that often they do not. I mean, Mulgrew claims she was duped; what was Jonathan Frakes' excuse for the alien autopsy TV special, or Mitch Pileggi for the moon hoax Fox special?

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Dreddsnik, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 7:26am

    Re:

    I though it was pretty good until it became the 7 of 9 show. That was the start of the big downhill slide.

     

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  30.  
    icon
    Fushta (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    Re: Doctor of Astrodiscombobulation

    That's pretty amazing that Vanuatu has a "distance-learning institution," since they didn't even exist until Survivor was filmed there in 2004.

    The winner of that season was Chris Daugherty who was elected Ruler of Vanuatu for life. He is not to be confused with Chris Daughtry who is a soloist for the Vanuatu Bald Men's Choir.

     

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  31.  
    icon
    pixelpusher220 (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re:

    well, 2 big hills anyway :)

     

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  32.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re:

    7 of 9 was the only reason to watch that series. It was awful, but at least you could look at some eye candy.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Critical Thinker, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 9:33am

    Airheads Incorporated

    She got paid, didn't do due diligence to see what she was narrating, and probably didn't understand enough about science to realize what she was reading in the narrative. So what's the gripe? This whole thing only reveals that she is scientifically illiterate. That's why its called "acting."

    At least some nitwit politician didn't try to put her on the board of NASA or the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Within Reason, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 9:34am

    Re:

    Sungenis—who has a Ph.D. in religious studies from “a private distance-learning institution in Republic of Vanuatu”—has used those credentials to establish a career as a leading proponent of Geocentrism, based on an understanding of astrophysics drawn from that most esteemed of scientific manuals, the Bible.

    Uh, Geocentrism isn't in the Bible, it's an old, abandoned Roman Catholic doctrine.

    In addition to denying anyone can prove the Earth revolves around the sun

    I presume he has a degree in "La la la, I can't hear yoooouuuu!"


    he’s also well known for denying anyone can prove 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust. He’s also claimed that Jews are in league with Satan to take over the planet.

    Potential tagline for "THE PRINCIPLE": See no stupid, hear no stupid, speak no stupid.

    Mind you, that applies to anything Sungenis says.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Within Reason, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Was Neelix the Jar Jar Binks of the Star Trek franchise? I think so.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Within Reason, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 9:37am

    Re: Ephesians 5:11

    Fruitless deeds have been exposed. Job done.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Within Reason, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    I'm sure he'll agree to go if we promise to send him at night... ;P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Erbo, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 10:45am

    The First Duty

    At least Mulgrew ultimately remembered the words of another Starfleet captain:

    "The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it's scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth! It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based!"
    - Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, "The First Duty"

     

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  39.  
    icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, please do. The reality is far more complicated (and far more interesting!) than the simplistic "the church persecuted Galileo for teaching heliocentrism" myth that everyone's heard since grade school.

     

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  40.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Doctor of Astrodiscombobulation

    Might want to check your sources, the 'Republic of Vanuatu' is indeed a real place, and has been around for a lot longer than that.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Vanuatu

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    Re:

    It might be so too for muslims, but it's actually the Talmud that says "a jew shall not lie except to gentiles".

    It's one of the most classic quotes found on various atheist sites showing the evils of abrahamic religions.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    smith, Apr 21st, 2014 @ 8:10am

    Re: your comment

    "I can not but wonder exactly what religious branch was his supposed specialty. Were it to be Islamic then we can understand the use of lies to get his tale told on film as I think I recall their belief is that is it ok to lie to non-believers of their faith."

    christian religion lies too and probably even more than most others.
    you white people like you are so hateful.

     

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  43.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 21st, 2014 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: your comment

    you white people like you are so hateful.

    Racist much? And what makes you think he's white?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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