April 1, 2006
NASA and Nostradamus: A Spin PuzzleBy Paul Shlichta
[Editor's Note: This article is satire in celebration of April Fool's Day.]
Nancy Reagan is a loyal American who has endured false accusations in dignified silence and has steadfastly refused to reveal her key role in U.S. foreign policy. I think it's time for the truth about Project Nostradamus to be revealed, at least to the extent that security regulations permit.
In the 1960's, a group of NASA scientists noted a strange correlation between NASA space probes and public events that could only be interpreted by an extrapolation of traditional astrology. The tentative explanation was that a space probe, however small, is a celestial body uniquely identified with the nation that launched it. Therefore, if astrology had any validity, the probe's encounter with a planet should put that nation strongly under the influence of the planet, e.g. love for Venus and war for Mars.
The early data was certainly indicative. NASA's first Venus probe was in 1962, the year of Marilyn Monroe's death, the first conjunction of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and an unprecedented burst of nude advertisements. The second Venus probe in 1967 heralded Jayne Mansfield's death, the Twiggy craze, and the White House Romeo—and—Juliet affair of Lynda Johnson and Charles Robb.
Our Mars flyby missions started in 1965, coinciding with the first bombings of North Vietnam and the first landing of American troops there, and continued through 1969, just after the Tet offensive. The first Mars orbiter was in 1972, when the war was turning against us. The Viking missions were launched during the final pullout from Saigon and were active during the rise of world terrorism. The Viking orbiter gave out its last peep in 1982, just after the U.S. hostages were returned from Iran.
According to a former NASA official, whom I shall call "Deep Space," a group of NASA scientists, ignoring the contempt with which the scientific community traditionally regards astrology, decided to present these findings to NASA's director, who then had the courage to covertly relay them to the White House with the suggestion that this "Nostradamus effect," if proven valid, might be used for the advantageous manipulation of foreign policy. It is greatly to President Reagan's credit that, after careful consideration, he decided to test this hypothesis and, in order to conceal the matter, to use the White House itself as the base of operations.
Mrs. Reagan, when asked to act as a "front" for the covert testing of the theory, graciously consented. And so it was that astrologers began to come to the White House for supposedly personal consultations whose significance they themselves did not comprehend. The press, of course, howled in derision, but Mrs. Reagan endured their mockery in dignified silence.
The Voyager missions to the outer planets were used as an opportunity to test the Nostradamus effect—in fact, it seems to have been the secret motive for launching them. As these probes passed Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, the First Lady, with seeming naivet�, questioned her astrologers about the influences of these planets and passed the information on to NASA. The resulting correlation was strong enough to induce the President to authorize the launching of Galileo, a U.S. orbiter around Jupiter, the planet of expansion and dominance.
Unfortunately, the USSR was also aware of the Nostradamus effect and a new space race was on, with world domination as the prize. As a result of some catastrophic USSR disasters, including a major launch explosion in the early 80's, the Soviet planetary program foundered and the U.S. and Galileo were clearly in the lead. For this reason, some sources have hinted the Challenger disaster was no accident, but this—and the suggestion that we had something to do with the abort of the USSR Mars moon probe—may be mere paranoia. In any case, when Galileo was finally launched, the leaders of the USSR realized that we had won the race to Jupiter and threw in the towel. The result was glasnost.
NASA's post—glasnost missions substantiated the correlation. NASA sent an orbiter and rover to Mars in 1996, during the end of the Rwanda massacres and the Zaire aftermath. Then after several failed missions, NASA succeeded in launching an orbiter to Mars in 2001, placed another orbiter and rover there in 2003, and a reconnaissance orbiter in 2005.
In short, we have been continuously under the warlike influence of Mars since 9—11. Moreover, we have not had any US spacecraft near Jupiter since Galileo crashed into Jupiter in 2003—which may explain our current problems in Iraq and elsewhere.
NASA's next mission of creative astrology was to have been an orbiter around Pluto for the purpose of reducing the trade inbalance and budget deficit. It was assumed that, since ploutos means 'wealth' in Greek, Pluto was the planet ruling wealth. In the nick of time, however, the NASA planners discovered that they were mistaken and that astrologers regard Pluto as the planet of sudden and violent changes. Or it may have been just be a coincidence that the Pluto—Kuiper Express mission was hastily canceled in 2001. Unfortunately, due to changes of personnel at NASA Headquarters, no one currently there seems to be aware of the Nostradamus effect. In consequence, the Pluto mission was reinstated and has recently been launched. As of today (April 1, 2006), the New Horizons spacecraft is already almost 52 million miles from Earth and will cross the orbit of Mars in four days.
Therefore, we are publishing this article in the hope that someone influential in the current administration will read it and urge the President to restructure NASA's planetary missions in the light of the Nostradamus effect. It is imperative that we:
In any case, we owe the heroes of Project Nostradamus, and Mrs. Reagan, an immense debt of gratitude for their foresight and courage.
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NOTE: Keeping in mind what day it is, don't take the preceding article too seriously. But this is no mere April Fool joke. Having written two articles concerning the techniques journalists use to distort the news, I decided to try out for myself some of their methods for cloaking a preposterous idea with a semblance of plausibility. Now it is your turn to play 'Spin' and figure out which truth—twisting methods were used.
Solution to the Spin Puzzle
Here, paragraph by paragraph, are the methods used to distort the facts in 'NASA and Nostradamus'. The ten ploys listed here are but a fraction of the tricks used for deception and hoodwinking—I have already catalogued over fifty—but these are representative of the ones most commonly used by MSM journalists:
� 2: 'Fabrication': a made—up story that no one can prove or disprove, especially if it's supposed to be top secret.
� 3: 'Random Data': There will always be some data that supports any conclusion. In any given year, there are enough romantic or erotic news events to substantiate the influence of Venus; one just ignores the data from the other years.
� 4: 'Highgrading': Among other definitions, this means selecting the best bits of ore from a sample for analysis, so as to provide a falsely favorable assay. In journalism, it means reporting the data that substantiates your claim while omitting the data that refutes it. Harpers Index is a notorious practitioner of this technique. An examination of a list of planetary missions will reveal several that I declined to mention because they did not fit my theory.
� 4: 'Data Bending': the use of evasive or misleading language to conceal discrepancies between one's interpretation of the data and the facts. I used such language here to gloss over the fact that (a) there were no spacecraft near Mars during most of the Viet Nam War and (b) that the Mars orbiter was active for several years while we were not at war.
� 5—6: Anonymous Sources: A favorite ploy of investigative journalists. Although some of them, such as 'Deep Throat' are apparently real, others are simply made up to cover the reporters use of conjecture or casual gossip.
� 6: 'Sympathy Ploy': A form of fabrication relying on dramatic effects to gain sympathy for the parties involved, thereby promoting willingness to believe. The exact opposite, or 'Antipathy Ploy' (of relying on hatred or contempt to promote belief), as currently being used against President Bush, is even more effective.
� 7: 'Fast Forward': Refer vaguely and hastily to a lot of data and no one will have time to notice whether they fit the facts or not. As far as I know, there's no particular correlation between the planetary encounters of the 'grand tour' missions' and world affairs but who's going to bother to compile all that data and check up on me.
� 8: Conspiracy Theory: Everybody loves a good conspiracy, as witnessed by the success of '24.' This is probably because of our love of order and purpose, which we perceive to be lacking in our personal lives and which we hope is more operative in public affairs. Therefore, combining the [probably] unconnected events in this paragraph into a unified conspiracy scenario strongly encourages belief.
� 9: Opportunism: Sometimes, by sheer luck, the data really seems to fit your theory. If so, grab the ball and run with it. This paragraph also contains some flagrant examples of data bending—and of the risks it entails. During a test reading of the article at a writers' circle, Joe Hill, an expert on Rwanda, immediately noticed the two year discrepancy between the massacres and the Mars mission; but no one else did.
� 10—11: 'Cry 'Wolf'': Here, a conspiracy theory ploy leads up to claim of imminent danger and a plea for urgent action. This is a basic method of hoodwinking and tends to suspend disbelief.
Scoring is based on how many of the ten ploys you recognized. If you spotted seven, you are ready to tackle a column in the New York Times. If you got all ten, you are ready for a job there.