No, Kate Mulgrew does *not* endorse geocentrism

There’s been quite a stir on the Interwebs over the last 24 hours over actress-extraordinaire Kate Mulgrew’s alleged participation in a ridiculous documentary called The Principle. The premise: Galileo was wrong and the Earth really is the center of the solar system and universe. Take that, science and reason!

Wait, what?!! Kate Mulgrew?!

The second I read this, I knew something was wrong with this picture. To start with, Mulgrew never actually said anything about geocentrism in the trailer. Hell, she’s only in the trailer – there’s no indication she would even be in the film. Her signature, velvety voice simply piques the viewer’s interest with “Everything we think we know about our universe is wrong.” (a statement which is a little true, given there’s practically a new breakthrough in the scientific understanding of the cosmos every other day). She is also a hero to the scientific community and Trekkies (myself proudly included) for her excellent portrayal of Captain Janeway on Star Trek Voyager. Plus, leading experts on everything-to-do-with-cosmology Lawrence Krauss and Michio Kaku also appeared in the trailer. They also never said anything about endorsing geocentrism. And if their lives’ works are any indication, they would rather die than endorse geocentrism.

Yesterday I told a friend that Mulgrew had most likely been hired to narrate the trailer without knowing what the film was about. An actress getting paid to simply say, “Everything we think we know about the universe is wrong,” does not prove anything. Kaku and Krauss, I argued, were somehow tricked into appearing in the movie, which is much easier to do nowadays thanks to the proliferation of the Internet.

I’m happy to say I “called it.” Krauss wrote an awesome post on Slate slamming the movie today, saying he literally has no idea how he ended up in the documentary. I expect Kaku’s comment soon. Kate Mulgrew posted the following message to her Facebook page this afternoon (4/8/2014):

“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 [producer] 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. Kate Mulgrew”

I can rest assured that Captain Janeway has not – and never will- failed us. Now I think I’ll go watch a marathon of Voyager and drink some coffee – black.

Kate Mulgrew as the legendary Captain Janeway

Kate Mulgrew as the legendary Captain Janeway

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“Surviving Progress” For A Sustainable Future

Can progress be a problem? Is bigger, better, faster and cheaper really the best way to advance as a society? How much more can humanity extract and deplete the world’s resources as more nations become “developed?” Could it be that Homo sapiens are evolutionary dead ends?

All these provocative and controversial questions are tackled by the critically acclaimed 2011 documentary Surviving Progress. Executive producer Martin Scorsese brings together some of the world’s greatest minds to discuss humanity’s history, its present “predicament” (to say the least), and what can be done to overcome our self-destructive tendencies (for starters, making a distinction between what Ronald Wright calls “good progress” and “bad progress”).

 

The film destroys the conventional concept of “progress,” one of constant expansion and growth. In short: overconsumption, disregard for the planet, overpopulation, massive debt to private interests, grotesque amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and the alarming growth of income inequality are anything but progressive. How can we praise and preserve the status quo when our very survival is at stake? Our current course is clearly unsustainable and until we realize this and do something to change it, we’re doomed to failure.

“Unlimited economic progress in a world of finite natural resources doesn’t make sense. It’s a pattern that is bound to collapse and we keep seeing it collapsing. But then we build it up because there are these strong vested interests; “We must have business as usual.” And…you get the arms manufacturers. You get the petroleum industry. You get the pharmaceutical industry. And all of this feeding into helping to create corrupt governments who are putting the future of their own people at risk.”

– legendary primatologist Jane Goodall during one of her interviews in the film.

Things clearly have to change. We have to realize that progress does not simply equal more more more.

“All the civilizations of the past and, I think our own, only seem to be doing well when they’re expanding, when the population is growing, when the industrial output is growing and when the cities are spreading outwards. Eventually, you reach the point at which the population has overrun everything, the cities have expanded over the farmland. The people at the bottom begin to starve and the people at the top lose their legitimacy. And so you get hunger. You get revolution.

– Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress, the book on which Surviving Progress is based on

 

Surviving Progress delivers a dose of reality and offers a challenging solution. To overcome this challenge, it is going to take the one thing that seems to have brought us to this point: our brains. The world is an international one. We’re literally one people now and all of our lives are interconnected. It is going to take cooperation with other nations. It’s going to come from consuming less and fundamentally altering our view of what makes life “good.” My two cents: living to make humanity and the world better than it was before our own, mediocre existences began is the “good” life. 😉

Marketing 101: Religious Version

The documentary “Selling God” examines the ways that religions market and sell their image of god. Using good ‘ole humor and marketing models, this film delves into the world of, put simply, selling god. Here’s a section of the film that examines religion’s marketing approach:

———

All modern marketing works the same way, whether you’re selling clothing or cars, soda or salvation, selling god is no different. The first thing that must be done is to create a need. The second is to offer a product or service to fill that need. The third is to offer rewards for buying the product or service and consequences for not buying it. And the final step is to create urgency. There has to be a deadline to act or people will just keep putting it off.

For children, one of the most well-known figures that uses these concepts to adjust behavior is Santa Clause. Yes, Jolly Old Saint Nick; the omnipotent craftsman that lives up North has been used to control the habits of children for centuries. He keeps a list of who’s naughty and who’s nice, so you’d better be good and do what you’re told or you’ll get coal for Christmas instead of toys.

Evangelism in any religious movement uses the same basic principles to spread their message throughout the world and adjust the behaviors of followers. First, they must start by creating the need. If you’re basically a good person, you don’t need what they’re offering. But if by just being born you’re a sinner, then you’re definitely in need of salvation. Next, they offer Jesus Christ who, having already died for your sins, is the perfect product to counteract your previously established ‘sinful nature.’ And attending their church or watching their program is the perfect service to help you fill this newfound void in your life. Guilt is an incredible motivator. Then they offer rewards and consequences, a carrot and a stick, Heaven and Hell.

You go to Heaven if you’re good, which means you obey us. And if you don’t obey us, you go to Hell. And you’re talking here about your eternal soul, either for reward or punishment, which appeals to normal greed of people. And at the same time, it’s a real winner as far as getting their business.

– Bob Harvey, Ph.D. – UCLA Professor Emeritus

Each religion’s conception of heaven and hell is different, but historically, heaven represents everything good and hell everything that’s to be feared. And finally, they create urgency by reminding people that life is fleeting or even that Armageddon is coming; The world is coming to an end and the Rapture, or Second Coming of Christ, is on the horizon. There’s a cottage industry of saving the lost and delivering their souls.

Over the years, there have been repeated periods of religious revivalism, great revivals when fundamentalist beliefs…spread over the country in a kind of hysteria.

– Noam Chomsky, Ph.D. – Massachusetts Institute of Technology