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James McCanney's Nonsense

Table of Contents
Comets are not "dirty snowballs" The solar wind is electrically charged Comets don't lose mass, they gain it
Comets are huge, not dinky Miscellaneous nonsense  
Links of Interest


Have you ever gone to a carnival, or a fair of some kind, and played the game "Whack-a-Mole"? It's a table with holes in it, and little mechanical rodents pop their heads out for about a half a second. You have to hit them with a mallet. If you wait too long, they duck back under. But every time you hit one, one or two pop up again. No matter how many you whack, there are always more.

Pseudoscientists are like those moles. You can whack one down, but then another springs up, like the head of Hydra.

In May 2003, when Planet X didn't show up as Nancy Lieder claimed, a lot of people thought the whole Planet X garbage would disappear. I knew better. Even as Nancy's life in the limelight was fading, the vultures were circling overhead. Mark Hazlewood was one. He was a Nancy acolyte, but abandoned ship as soon as he was caught by Nancy doing some rather unscrupulous things. Hazlewood was lost in a sea of pseudoscience, without direction. But then he found what he needed: James McCanney.

Image of Mr. McCanney McCanney's head popped out of the hole a few years back. He's been making wacky claims for decades, but like most tabloid scientists, it was the internet where he finally found an audience (his website is at That, and fringe radio shows. He was an infrequent guest on many of these programs, but of late-- probably due to several astronomical events, like the appearance of some bright comets-- he has been getting more time. He's been on "Coast to Coast AM" quite a bit, for example.

His spiel on these programs is pretty much what you'd expect: he says that everything we know about astronomy (and really, all of science) is wrong. He says that NASA is lying to you, scientists are lying to you, I am lying to you. And, of course, only he knows The Truth.

His topics range rather widely, but he does talk a bit about Planet X, mostly in the guise of his weird comet theory (which I debunk in these pages). Planet X seems to be a topic he has picked up on rather recently, adding it, it seems, as a way to attach a topical flavor to his comet theory. I won't go into his Planet X ideas in these pages much, because I have nailed Planet X pretty thoroughly elsewhere. But his wacky comet theories...

He has lots of theories, and he will talk about them endlessly. However, he says these things without the benefit of being right. I have run into a lot of pseudoscientists saying wrong things in my time, but McCanney is neck-and-neck with Richard Hoagland for being the wrongest. His theories are not just bad, they're truly awful, just as wrong as they could be. In fact, he's so far off base that's it's easy to show just where his theories fall apart (basically, at square one); and I'll be happy to show you the details.

So let's go on that journey, shall we? It's neither a tough nor a long one. Just go to the table of contents at the top of this page, and from there you will be able to see just a slice of some of the wackiness Mr. McCanney doles out.

©2008 Phil Plait. All Rights Reserved.

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