Pharyngula

Can you stand one more Gene-Ray-level internet crackpot? A reader sent me a link to this guy, Neal Adams, who has this insane “Growing Earth” idea. Forget all the physics and geology you think you knew—this animator and comic book publisher has invented his own solution, and it involves reworking particle physics (there are no electrons!) and making bizarre calculations, all ‘demonstrated’ with computer animation.

That last link give you another reason to despise this kook: he’s responsible for that awful annoying commercial with the big-eyed bee hawking allergy medicine. I hated that stupid bee—it was the work of someone who’d never even looked at an insect, and why did it have that dumb French accent?

Comments

  1. #1 Mike Haubrich
    December 10, 2006

    I don’t see how you can doubt his single particle theory. I mean, he backs up his statements by OVERUSING CAPS! And the math works ( I did notice that he didn’t provide any actual math, but trust him, it works.)

    Finally, he has been interviewed by George Noory on Coast to Coast, so if Coast to Coast takes him seriously, we must listen carefully.

  2. #2 The Science Pundit
    December 10, 2006

    Furthermore (on the bee), he seems oblivious to the fact that most nasal pollen allergies are caused by wind pollinated plants, not insect-pollinated plants. What a maroon!

  3. #3 Shem
    December 10, 2006

    I’d quibble a bit with “artistic hack.” Neal Adams was one of the great comics artists of the late ’60s/early ’70s … his work on Batman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow is still revered and heavily imitated. And he was one of the first to press for unionization of comics writers and artists, and giving them greater rights over how their work was used.

    Unfortunately, in the ’80s he also turned into the sort of environmentalist who takes it as a given that humans and modern technology are evil. Sad to see that he hasn’t wised up.

    And I had no idea he was behind the Nasonex bee. Feh. Did you know that it’s Antonio Banderas providing the damn thing’s voice?

  4. #4 Bobryuu
    December 10, 2006

    If he was right (big suspension of disbelief there), how if there were no oceans anywhere, and only shallow seas, did the dinosaurs walk about the northern hemisphere?

  5. #5 Justin Guy
    December 10, 2006

    Several months ago Neil Adams was a guest on “The Skeptics’ Guide to The Universe”. If you want to chew on the cud straight from the cows mouth I suggest you check it out.

  6. #6 Elayne Riggs
    December 10, 2006

    I’m sorry PZ, you’re way off base here. Neal Adams is one of the most respected and influential people in the comic book industry. I sat on in his Science Project presentation, and I didn’t find anything that disparaged scientific inquiry. All he’s doing is asking for an open-minded investigation of his theories, which I find very reasonable.

  7. #7 Opabinia
    December 10, 2006

    Man, a little knowledge and look what happens. I just watched his video on how sea floor spreading proves his goofball theory. So for four billion years the surface of the Earth was entirely composed of continental material?

    It always feels like such a travesty when someone uses your discipline for stupid.

  8. #8 PZ Myers
    December 10, 2006

    He may be a respected comic book guy, but his science isn’t just laughable…it’s insane.

    And that bee is unforgivable.

  9. #9 Jim Harrison
    December 10, 2006

    I don’t know why you’re so hard on the ad. It’s about time the damned drones did some work!

  10. #10 Jim in STL
    December 10, 2006

    …open-minded investigation of his theories…

    Theories?

  11. #11 James
    December 10, 2006

    You can get the Skeptics Guide to the Universe interview with Adams at http://www.theskepticsguide.org/skepticsguide/podcastinfo.asp?pid=51

    It has to be heard to be believed. Every time the NESS guys bring up “but if this idea of yours is true, that conflicts with this aspect of another branch of science”, Adams responds with “we have to throw out that branch of science too”.

    Did you know that hydrogen atoms are neutrons? Or that gravity is electromagnetic in nature? Everything anyone ever taught in school is, to Adams, wrong by definition. Apparently all the scientists got together around 100 years ago, decided what “science” was going to be, and have ignored everything that’s come up since.

  12. #12 Orac
    December 10, 2006

    why did it have that dumb French accent?

    Actually, it’s Antonio Banderas who does the voice of the bee. However, although the accent certainly doesn’t sound French (and I studied French for several years), I’ll agree that the accent doesn’t quite sound Spanish, either.

    I’ll also agree that the bee irritates the hell out of me every time one of those commercials comes on.

  13. #13 Orac
    December 10, 2006

    All he’s doing is asking for an open-minded investigation of his theories.

    Except that they’re not “theories.” The word “theory” implies a large amount of evidence supporting the concept (you know, like the Theory of Relativity, the Theory of Evolution, Germ Theory, etc.). At best they’re “hypotheses,” and not even good ones at that.

  14. #14 Wes
    December 10, 2006

    For some reason, several of the great comic book writers and authors are into some really, really kooky stuff. Alan Moore is into occult magic, Grant Morrison is an ubervegan and PETA member. And Neil Gaimon is, well, Neil Gaimon. I seem to remember a few others who are great artists but total cranks, but I can’t recall their names off the top of my head.

    Maybe working in Sci-Fi/Fantasy your whole life warps your mind. I still enjoy reading these guys’ stories, though. Sometimes the cranks are so divorced from reality it frees them up to write some really out-there sci-fi.

  15. #15 Blake Stacey
    December 10, 2006

    Neil Gaiman seemed pretty on the level the only time I met him. . . . I think there’s a pretty big gap between writing stories full of magic and personifying aspects of the Cosmos, which is what he does very well, and being a deranged anti-rational loon outside of your word processor.

  16. #16 SteveF
    December 10, 2006

    Funnily enough, a couple of expanding earth papers have been published in Journal of Biogeography recently. There are responses to these availabe.

    McCarthy, D. (2003) The trans-Pacific zipper effect: disjunct sister taxa and matching geological outlines that link the Pacific margins. Journal of Biogeography, 30, 1545-1561.

    McCarthy, D. (2005) Biogeographical and geological evidence for a smaller, completely-enclosed Pacific Basin in the
    Late Cretaceous. Journal of Biogeography, 32, 2161-2177.

    http://www.4threvolt.com/

  17. #17 davis
    December 10, 2006

    I’m not a scientist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Expess, and this guy is nuts. I tried to read his piece on gravity and pressure, but couldn’t get past the seventeenth “stuff”. WTF? I should have stopped at the definition of gravity (the very first sentence).

  18. #18 waldteufel
    December 10, 2006

    Neal Adams would be a great Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute. His version of “science” just about fits right in with ‘em.

    Then, Casey Luskin could write fawning posts about him . . . and Luskin et al could tutor Mr. Adams on how to promote teaching the “controvery” . . . . . .

    Ugh . . .

  19. #19 BC
    December 10, 2006

    Since subduction doesn’t really happen, I wonder how he explains the existence of mountains (like the Himalayas) at the apparent collision locations along tectonic plates.

    My other thought on his ideas is that it seems like he must think continental theory and atomic theory are theories in the layman’s terms – i.e. wild guesses. Since they are “wild guesses” (in his own mind), then any imaginative alternative theory (like his) is probably just as good, right? right? (I wonder how he would view his ideas after taking a few college-level courses on the subject.)

  20. #20 Rey Fox
    December 10, 2006

    Actually, Grant Morrison’s big thing is magick (with the magic ‘k’). It’s all in the unofficial guide to The Invisibles. In one issue’s letter column, he instructed his fans to make a sigil and masturbate to it in order to keep The Invisibles from being cancelled. And apparently, he was being serious. I suppose one couldn’t write such a torrent of weirdness as The Invisiblesand do it justice without actually believing in at least some of it, but nevertheless, it was a bit of a shock to me.

  21. #21 Jonathan Vos Post
    December 10, 2006

    Wes: “Neil Gaimon” is the quantum of the “Neil Gaiman wave.”

    Somewhere I have a copy of the Timothy Leary comic, which graphically elaborates on the “Mind Expansion, Life Extension, Cosmic Migration” theory of the late professor Leary.

    I await graphic novels of Erasmus Darwin’s “Zoonomia” (the epic poem that predicted the evolutionary theories of his son) and the youngest of the 3 Darwins theory that the Moon was torn loose from Earth, probably leaving the Pacific Ocean as a crater. That’s the “daughter Moon” theory. It was actually the greatest scientific result of the Apollo project that Darwin was wrong about the origin of the moon. Also wrong were the two other dominant theories: that the Moon was gravitationally captured (the adopted daughter Moon theory) or formed in earth Orbit at the same time that Earth was formed (the sister Moon theory). Apollo moon rock analysis showed that the enaswer is: (d) non of the above. That is the Mars-sized impactor theory.

  22. #22 anomalous4
    December 10, 2006

    he’s responsible for that awful annoying commercial with the big-eyed bee hawking allergy medicine. I hated that stupid bee–it was the work of someone who’d never even looked at an insect, and why did it have that dumb French accent?

    For that matter, why did it have a male voice? All the male bees do is hang around and get fed, go chasing off after their Feminine Ideal on the outside chance of getting laid exactly once in their lives, and drop dead.

    I mute 99% of TV commercials just on general principles, but I’ve never been so quick on the mute button as I was when that damn fool bee first came on!

    BTW, wind-pollinated flowers aren’t the only ones that cause allergies. I know someone who can’t walk into a room with a single rose in it without getting black eyes. You can literally see her face swelling up, and she can barely breathe.

  23. #23 An Enquiring Mind
    December 10, 2006

    M. Adams stuff reads like he channeled the Urantia Book “spirit” guide. I defy anydamnbody to wade thru that dreck. It’s even worse than Dianetics or the Book o’ Mormon.

    That fuqing bee sounds like the racist “Chicano” accents you used to hear on “Chico and the Man” et al. and revived by Mancia on Comedy Central. Regardless, I hate the fuqing thing as well. How about some other commercials that make you want to play Elvis with a handgun in an hotel room and Robert Goulet on the teevee:

    #1.) That fuqing Honey Toasted Oats or whatever the fuq they call it commercial with that stupid ass Johnson munching away while his boss fires his ass. If’un I was Johnson’s boss, I’d whup ‘im up the side o’ the head with a tire iron. Hear me, now, you fuqing cow?

    #.2) That fuqing John Basedow “do a billion sit-ups and git ya some 6-pak abs” commercial.

    #3.) e-fuqing-Harmony-fuqing-dot-fuqing-com. Fuq Neal Clark Warren and his 29 fuqing dimensions of fuqing harmony survey. Sounds as hideous as one of those galldurn fuqing Scientology “personality quizzes.”

    Happy Hollydaze, y’all!

  24. #24 Drhoz!
    December 10, 2006

    There’s a certain amount of irony in the fact that he would have been sitting in front of an electron gun when he was typing all this up.

    (assuming he wasn’t using an LED screen, which frankly isn’t much better anyway)

  25. #25 Tukla in Iowa
    December 10, 2006

    “What does this article mean. And why is my brain flying around the room.” –Neal Adams

    That actually explains a lot.

  26. #26 mark
    December 10, 2006

    Back around 1972 I came across a paper, “The Expanding Earth Theory” by (as I remember) D. Parker Farrell. We undergraduate geology students enjoyed it very much, for such diagrams as “magnetic field off–mountains lift up and continents slide out from beneath.” I think the paper was privately published.

  27. #27 qetzal
    December 10, 2006

    “And that bee is unforgivable.”

    And how. Anything written by the creator of that bee is guaranteed to be complete drivel.

    I realize that’s an ad hominem argument, but I’m sure we can agree that in this case, it’s justified.

  28. #28 Laurel
    December 10, 2006

    That bee has teeth–enough said.

  29. #29 richard blaine
    December 10, 2006

    NOOOOOOOOO! Not Neal Adams! I listened to his interview on the Skeptics Guide, and it gave me a headache rivaling anything I ever got from too much ethanol. If you are really masochistic, try reading the subsequent e-mail exchange between Adams and Steve Novella (host of the Skeptics Guide). It’s on the info page for episode #51.

    Caution: If you know anything about geology or physics or astronomy or paleontology, you may go insane.

  30. #30 Scott Hatfield
    December 10, 2006

    Before I went to my first San Diego ComicCon (a must, BTW) my brother, an academic who specializes in comics (he’s at CSU Northridge) alerted me to Adams’ bizarre belief system. To wit, his interesting takes on plate tectonics (it doesn’t happen, says Neal) and the standard model (all bogus, and he’ll be happy to explain).

    Adams is a perfect example of someone who is truly outstanding within their given field but whose talent and ego are allowed to ferment for decades in uncritical fandom. Eventually, they become so convinced of their superiority that they dive head-first into matters that they think they understand, but don’t. He has become something of an embarrasment to many of his fans, and (according to my brother) eventually had a falling-out with his chief syncophant, who had ambitions of penning the definitive Adams biography.

    Nor is Adams alone. It’s my impression (and I have no idea why this seems to happen) that the comics field seems to attract misanthropes who become consumed by their own elaborate belief systems. Steve Ditko (Spiderman, Dr. Strange) essentially shuns any media coverage, has virtually no close friends and apparently is only interested in projects that can some how push his take on Objectivism. Barry Windsor-Smith (the original Conan artist) believes that he may have been abducted by UFO’s. Gary Panter’s Jimbo “comics” resemble nothing so much as illuminated manuscripts in the manner of William Blake, albeit a Blake who seems to have ingested considerable hallucinogens. Eccentricity seems to be something of an occupational hazard….SH

  31. #31 PZ Myers
    December 10, 2006

    And you haven’t even mentioned Dave Sim yet.

  32. #32 Stanton
    December 10, 2006

    I just finished reading the email correspondence between Steve Novella, and Neal Adams…
    I can sum up my response by saying “And Jesus wept into a bag of cookies.”

  33. #33 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 11, 2006

    And when “Growing Earth” becomes boring, we have… “Shrinking Sun”! ( http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/11/shrinking_sun_part_1.php ; http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/11/shrinking_sun_part_2_1.php )

    Brought to you free by your favorite network for channelling kooks: the creationism movement. ( http://www.creationism.org/ackerman/AckermanYoungWorldChap06.htm )

  34. #34 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 11, 2006

    And when “Growing Earth” becomes boring, we have… “Shrinking Sun”! ( http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/11/shrinking_sun_part_1.php ; http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/11/shrinking_sun_part_2_1.php )

    Brought to you free by your favorite network for channelling kooks: the creationism movement. ( http://www.creationism.org/ackerman/AckermanYoungWorldChap06.htm )

  35. #35 beccarii
    December 11, 2006

    One feature of the commercial that has intrigued me (mee?) is that the Nasonex bee has a “French” accent and general stereotypical French affect, given the fairly recent France-bashing frenzy (“Freedom Fries” and other inanities).

    The creators of the commercial did indeed decide that depicting the bee as French would increase sales; that can be(e) inferred by the fact that the commerical exists and continues to run. Why?

  36. #36 Reinder
    December 11, 2006

    Beccari: Maybe French-bashing isn’t all that popular outside the Internet and media circles.
    One advantage of picking on the French online is that, by and large, the French aren’t around to hear it and take offense. They tend to stick to their own French-language sites, though that seems to be changing lately.

  37. #37 Scott Hatfield
    December 11, 2006

    PZ wrote: “And you haven’t even mentioned Dave Sim yet.”

    I seldom do unless I stub my toe. Sim’s interesting in that he’s rather pugnaciously engaged with the rest of the world. He’s known to write *long* letters (2,000 words plus) berating the editors or reviewers in various publications. He’s definitely withdrawn or isolated, as are some of the other examples I gave.

    Speaking of comics, how about a shout out for Jim Ottoviani’s science comics before Christmas? Jim holds a master’s in physics, has worked as a librarian and his comics are labors of love. I’ve met him twice at conventions with my brother and always buy his latest stuff. You can check it out at:

    http://www.gt-labs.com

    SH

  38. #38 Scott Hatfield
    December 11, 2006

    Sorry, I meant to write that Sim is NOT withdrawn or isolated. I hasten to correct that so that I will not receive one of his legendary replies myself.

  39. #39 KL
    December 11, 2006

    Dear lord. The e-mail exchange between Neal and Steve is terrifying. Steve keeps patiently explaining things, Neal keeps sinking further and further into a paranoid delusion.

  40. #40 joshdobbin
    December 11, 2006

    I can forgive a lot from the man that brought the world those amazing issues of X-MEN, before that horrible Chris Claremont ‘new’ team came on the scene. He also gave the world Speedy (Green Arrow’s side-kick) shooting up smack.

    You calling him an “artistic hack” is like him calling you a “pseudo-scientist.”

    Also, FRENCH? How does the obvious voice of Antonio Bandaras sound french to you?

    Look, his science is straight outta Jack Kirby’s HUNGER DOGS, but that doesn’t mean you can then call his art into question.

  41. #41 Ichthyic
    December 11, 2006

    It always feels like such a travesty when someone uses your discipline for stupid.

    ooooohhh. I do like that one. An original invention?

    would make a good sig.

    _____________________

    It always feels like such a travesty when someone uses your discipline for stupid.

  42. #42 jon H
    December 11, 2006

    PZ writes: “He may be a respected comic book guy, but his science isn’t just laughable…it’s insane.”

    Yeah, but at least he has the art skillz as a redeeming value. Most of ‘em just have the kook science.

    Regarding Neil Gaiman, he’s had a blog for several years, and has always seemed entirely well-grounded in reality. While he certainly has an appreciation for the weird and fantastic, that appears to be firmly in the willing-suspension-of-disbelief area, not blended into his real-world views. (Except perhaps for purposes of entertainment, whimsy, or to whatever degree might be temporarily useful to foster creativity when writing.)

  43. #43 Kesh
    December 12, 2006

    He’s shown up at the Bad Astronomy forums. Trying to read his posts is headache-inducing… not just for the lack of real scientific inquiry, but the way it’s written is atrocious. I feel sorry for the folks in the comic industry who had to transcribe his writing into the comics.

  44. #44 Steviepinhead
    December 12, 2006

    I actually preferred the Claremont team at X-Men.

    I’m not saying that Adams doesn’t have artistic ability (even some of the “anatomical expertise” that he claims; though clearly his reach exceeds his grasp when he attempts to extend that “expertise” into paleontological, the idea isn’t laughable, witness technical illustrators like Carl…), but the scritchy-thin weight of his line and the elongation of his figures wasn’t to my taste.

    But then, comic book artistic preferences is just that, an area where “taste” and “opinion” rule (though sales still dictate income and success over the long term); weighing the validity of scientific claims is a mostly non-overlapping magisterium. There certainly may be persons within whom the skills required for success in the two realms might overlap, but Neal Adams does not seem to be one of those fortunate few.

  45. #45 Steviepinhead
    December 12, 2006

    I actually preferred the Claremont team at X-Men (and the still-earlier KIrby regime).

    I’m not saying that Adams doesn’t have artistic ability (even some of the “anatomical expertise” that he claims; though clearly his reach exceeds his grasp when he attempts to extend that “expertise” into paleontological, the idea isn’t laughable, witness technical illustrators like Carl…), but the scritchy-thin weight of his line and the elongation of his figures wasn’t to my taste.

    But then, comic book artistic preferences is just that, an area where “taste” and “opinion” rule (though sales still dictate income and success over the long term); weighing the validity of scientific claims is a mostly non-overlapping magisterium. There certainly may be persons within whom the skills required for success in the two realms might overlap, but Neal Adams does not seem to be one of those fortunate few.

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