What’s next? Flat earth?

Regarding this whole skeptic thing, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about pseudoscience and bizarre, unscientific beliefs, it’s that, just when I think I’ve seen it all, the world slaps me in the face (facepalm, to be precise) to show me that I haven’t seen it all after all. Such was what happened when a truly bizarre conference started popping up around the skeptical blogosphere at blogs like Pharyngula, Unreasonable Faith, and Starts With A Bang. If you think that one thing that kooks can’t deny is that the earth revolves around the sun, you’d be wrong. Witness the Galileo Was Wrong conference, to be held “near” Notre Dame in Indiana:

Galileo Was Wrong is a detailed and comprehensive treatment of the scientific evidence supporting Geocentrism, the academic belief that the Earth is immobile in the center of the universe. Garnering scientific information from physics, astrophysics, astronomy and other sciences, Galileo Was Wrong shows that the debate between Galileo and the Catholic Church was much more than a difference of opinion about the interpretation of Scripture.

Scientific evidence available to us within the last 100 years that was not available during Galileo’s confrontation shows that the Church’s position on the immobility of the Earth is not only scientifically supportable, but it is the most stable model of the universe and the one which best answers all the evidence we see in the cosmos.

As Ethan explains, there was a real scientific controversy about geocentrism versus heliocentrism–500 years ago. I do like, however, the creationist-sounding pronouncements, like this:

Has modern science led us down the primrose path and convinced us of something that they cannot prove and that is in actuality false? Were the Fathers, the Medievals, our popes and cardinals of the 17th century correct in believing that the Earth, based on a face value reading of Scripture, was standing still in the center of the universe? Come with an open mind and allow these two authors to show you facts and figures that have been hidden from the public for a very long time. This is a page turner that you will find hard to put down, once you get riveted by the astounding material these authors have assembled for you. Prepare yourself, however. Your world will be rocked, literally and figuratively. Not only will you see from Volume I how modern science has documented for us in bold fashion that the Earth is motionless in space and occupies the center of the universe (yet have done an equally remarkable job in keeping these important facts out of our educational system), you will now see in Volume II how deeply the popes of the 17th century were involved in condemning heliocentrism, guiding the process step-by-step and finally castigating it as “formally heretical.” You will also see how effusive is the data in Scripture that teaches a geocentric universe in the most detailed exegesis of Holy Writ ever presented to the public on this topic.

Yes, that’s right. They’re invoking scripture. This is, of course, rather odd, given that Catholics tend not to emphasize scripture that much. I know. I was raised Catholic. In fact, at the Catholic high school I attended, I learned accepted science about the universe. Heck, our biology teacher (who was a priest) made no bones about teaching evolution without the slightest hint of creationism.

Personally, though, I really, really love the gushing reviews of this book. They sound eerily similar to reviews of Michael Behe’s books by creationists, particularly the persecution complex:

Unfortunately Galileo Was Wrong is likely to be scorned not only by the mainstream scientific community but also by the mainstream creationist movement. But all who believe that man’s creation was not by “accident” would do well to consider the following questions, posed by the authors. Is the earth an insignificant rock, a mere chance artifact of the Big Bang, one out of many planets in one out of many solar systems, of no special position but hurtling with great speed through the cosmos towards no final destination in particular? Or has the earth been specifically designed by a benevolent Creator as the habitation place for man, the highest creation in the physical universe, and therefore placed in the central position in the universe?

Pure crank awesomeness!

You know what scares me the most about this book, conference, and website, though? No, it’s not that, here in 2010, there apparently really are people who will deny all the evidence of science to place the earth at the center of the universe, with everything else rotating around it. No, it’s not that they can apparently even organize “scientific conferences” to promote their medieval ideas. No. You know what scares the hell out of me?

This tidbit that Ethan’s post led to:

While polls show that 79% of Americans know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, 18% thought it was the other way around and 3% didn’t know.

Only 79% know that the Earth revolves around the sun? If that isn’t a blanket condemnation of science education in this country, I don’t know what is.

I will give Ethan a lot of credit. He explained why heliocentrism came to supplant geocentrism in incredible detail. He reminds me of me slapping down anti-vaccinationists. Even though Ethan does it a lot more politely than I do, the same overkill is there. I respect that.