Yesterday I got to write one of the most surprising and peculiar stories of my decade or so of writing professionally: Star Trek: Voyager actress Kate Mulgrew narrating the trailer for an upcoming documentary called The Principle…which promotes a geocentric model of the universe. If your copy of Webster’s isn’t handy, the geocentric concept posits the Earth as the center of the universe, with everything else in the cosmos orbiting around it. Needless to say, the involvement of a respected Trek actress like Kate Mulgrew seemed to make no sense, but we were unable to get a comment from her or her representatives. Thankfully Mulgrew officially addressed the bizarre story today, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief to learn that no, she doesn’t believe the sun (and everything else) revolves around our little blue planet.
Mulgrew posted the following to her official Facebook page today:
I understand there has been some controversy about my participation in a documentary called THE PRINCIPLE. Let me assure everyone that I completely agree with the eminent physicist Lawrence Krauss, who was himself misrepresented in the film, and who has written a succinct rebuttal in SLATE. I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism. More importantly, I do not subscribe to anything Robert Sungenis has written regarding science and history and, had I known of his involvement, would most certainly have avoided this documentary. I was a voice for hire, and a misinformed one, at that. I apologize for any confusion that my voice on this trailer may have caused. Kate Mulgrew
Well, allow me to shed my aloof journalistic attitude for a moment and say THANK GOD. It was baffling to think of any Trek actor hitching their wagon to something as nutty as geocentrism, especially since the franchise has been such an inspiration to many, many people who went into science careers because of it. And sure, just because they’re in something we like, that doesn’t guarantee that we’ll like celebrities in real life, but it was doubly disheartening to see one of “the Captains” swimming in yahoo-infested waters. Thankfully she wasn’t swimming of her own volition; she was pushed in unawares.
Nor was Mulgrew the only familiar but unlikely celebrity who popped up in the Principle trailer. Several well-known and respectable scientists are featured as well, including Dr. Michio Kaku and Dr. Lawrence Krauss. They’re clearly not proponents of the geocentric model — any familiarity with their work at all will dispel that insane notion — but their quotes in the trailer are used in a way that suggests they’re admitting to things in modern scientific thinking that would support such a model of the universe. Krauss was eager to nip that in the bud ASAP, penning a stinging retort for Slate. And if you were surprised to see him in a geocentrism documentary, just imagine how he felt. He writes:
I have no recollection of being interviewed for such a film, and of course had I known of its premise I would have refused. So, either the producers used clips of me that were in the public domain, or they bought them from other production companies that I may have given some rights to distribute my interviews to, or they may have interviewed me under false pretenses, in which case I probably signed some release. I simply don’t know.
So it appears that Krauss was, at the very least, misrepresented. That probably shouldn’t be surprising considering the film is bankrolled by Robert Sungenis, who, among other things, runs a blog called Galileo Was Wrong and has a history of attempting to downplay the reality of the Holocaust.
Given all that, you might wonder what action Krauss intends to take in order to ensure his likeness and words aren’t used to promote an idea more batshit-crazy than the Joker’s annual spelunking parties into Mammoth Cave. His answer is unexpected but sensible: just ignore it, and let it be dismissed as the hokum it is. Krauss continues:
Many people have suggested I litigate. But this approach seems to me to be completely wrong because it would elevate the profile of something that shouldn’t even rise to the level of popular discussion. The best thing we can all do when faced by nonsense like that, or equivalent silliness promoted by biblical fundamentalists who claim that science supports a literal interpretation of the Bible, is to ignore it in public forums, and not shine any light on the authors of this trash. As far as this particular film is concerned, one might hope that it has high production value that cost the producers a lot of money. Then, when no one beyond the three people in the country who may somehow have missed the last 500 years of science and history during their education watches the film, we can hope that the whole misbegotten enterprise will bankrupt the production company, or at least severely cramp its style.
So there you have it. I’m enormously relieved to learn how people like Mulgrew and Krauss got entangled in this bit of rubbish, and I’m sure all of this won’t be earning The Principle any good press except among people already batty enough to buy into its antiquated thesis.
You can see the dumber-than-a-bag-of-hammers trailer for The Principle below. The film is scheduled to open sometime in spring 2014.