Sky News, in the persons of Rowan Dean, Rita Panahi and James Morrow, had a guest on their show, whose name is David Burton and who was said to be an ‘astrometeorologist’. He supposedly can predict the weather up to one thousand years in advance by the position of the planets in the solar system and by the star Vega, which is 25 light years away1. I saw part of the ‘interview’ with him which was sent to me. In that, Burton initially cast aspersions upon ‘Flannering’, presumably meaning Tim Flannery, with whom Rowan Dean has a particular problem, to the extent that he seems to like to ‘verbal’ him (i.e. attribute words to Flannery that he did not say)2.
During this ‘discussion’, Morrow asked Burton: “What is the science behind planets affecting droughts and rainfall… [and] things light years away with this star Vega. How does this all square up with how much it rains?”
Burton replied with a word salad: “Well, it’s energy [what sort of energy?] points that line up at certain degrees, and Jupiter’s the biggest planet [and] has the greatest magnetic pull [it’s a dipole, like earth], so when other planets get in between the earth and the sun; it’s quite complex actually; but the angles or matrix causes heat and drought and rain and floods.”
Dean then asked: “So you’re not talking about astrology as in the Virgos and all the rest?”
Dean: “You’re saying the physical bodies rotating [he means revolving] around the sun have a magnetic pull?”
Morrow: “And that sort of pull that far away can actually do something to how much it rains here?”
Burton replied with another word salad: “Well if you think about it, the sun…. all the planets revolve around the sun in exact mathematical order, like Jupiter’s 11.86 years; Saturn’s 29.45 years; Uranus is 84; Neptune 164 [might have something to do with their distance from the sun] et cetera, et cetera. So they’re in a whole system that pull [sic] in and out. Not only do they work in a declination, they also work in aphelion and perihelion which is furthest away and closest. So, last September, for example, when we had that heat wave in Europe, Mars was closest to the earth [in late July actually] and also closest to the sun. So Mars is one of the planets that increases more [sic] heat.”1
Panahi spent almost all the time this conversation took place looking like a ventriloquist’s dummy minus the ventriloquist.
David K. Burton was born in New Zealand and travelled to Australia in 1978 to work as a mechanical fitter in the mines in Western Australia, but after a couple of years he left that and moved into marketing. He then moved into broking (he doesn’t say what type, but it is presumably stock). He also does not state which company he worked for, just that it was ‘Asian’4. At this time, he got into astrology and he read books by W.D. Gann, an astrologer who supposedly used astrology, astronomy and geometry to trade in stocks and commodities5. Given the site at which Burton’s biography is located (i.e. School of Gann)4, one would expect Gann to have made a significant amount of money from his trading. However, Gann could not support his family by trading, but earned his living by writing and selling instructional courses. Gann was a good promoter, not a good stock or commodities trader5. It seems that Burton has taken Gann’s techniques for promotion to heart, and he has found the perfect gullible buffoons on which to exercise it.
The gullibility of these people on Sky News is extraordinary. Morrow asking Burton about the science behind his ‘assertions’ is supremely funny. Burton replies with a meaningless word salad and Morrow assumes it means something, and acquiesces. I was actually surprised at the supreme gullibility of Dean who asked if this was astrology, and when Burton replied ‘no’, Dean believed him. This inability to distinguish science from pseudoscience is characteristic of Dean and simply demonstrates that he is so bereft of knowledge that the epithet ‘stupid’ beckons irresistibly.