Debunked: View of Blue Ridge Mountains impossible on spherical earth

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
To elaborate further on my Google Earth endeavor, this is a really quick graphic i made trying to show how small errors in his numbers can create drastically different changes in observation.


Here's another view on that. The elevation profile of a path from the approximate camera location to Fryingpan then then to Greybeard, the red arrow is at Fryingpan.
20160920-170033-n2g68.jpg

Given the lack of an actual camera location, there's pretty much nothing to debunk here.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Note that the majority of the path is Buncombe county, which is the original form of "bunkum", and hence "bunk" and "debunk".
 

Bass In Your Face

Senior Member.
Showing the path from that coordinate -> Pinnacle, and a path from another location close by that changes the angles and lines the mountains up.

In these 2 gifs, the colors are:
White = Big Bald, Green = Pinnacle, Red = Graybeard, Blue = Fryingpan



Showing another possible observer location with the mountains lined up correctly:



EDIT:

The path without the marked coordinate is further north than the other.
Top down view:
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
To elaborate further on my Google Earth endeavor, this is a really quick graphic i made trying to show how small errors in his numbers can create drastically different changes in observation.



(My perspective comment from before, I believe, was a misinterpretation of what he was trying to show, sorry for the confusion)

Perspective? Aren't we talking about parallax here?
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
Although he was only 1.2 miles from the summit of Tennent Mountain - though over 650 feet lower - entering his actual viewpoint changes the picture substantially:

At 16:12 he says that he was less than 1/2 mile from Tennent Mountain, not 1.2 miles.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
At 19:00 he gives more info about his position- about 3/4 - 1 mile, laterally, from "Graveyard Fields" and the GPS is shown for that location on the vid. He says he is to the left from the shown location.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Given the lack of an actual camera location, there's pretty much nothing to debunk here.
Well, he says the camera was here:

camera position.png

Which I deduced the GPS from by matching this position using the topo lines in Google Maps:

camera position 2.png

Have we got a Google Earth zoom in of the view from that point? I wish I knew how to do that. But seriously don't have the time to learn at the moment.

At 16:12 he says that he was less than 1/2 mile from Tennent Mountain, not 1.2 miles.
1.2 miles is my figure, taken from measuring to the above location.

At 19:00 he gives more info about his position- about 3/4 - 1 mile, laterally, from "Graveyard Fields" and the GPS is shown for that location on the vid. He says he is to the left from the shown location.
From Graveyard Fields to the above location - ie, where he said the camera was - is 1.75 miles.

Possible camera location

From tooling around with the line of sight from Tennent Mountain to Pinnacle and looking at similarly elevated points to where he said he was, I wonder if somewhere like 35.347038, -82.852877 is likely. It's only 600 feet or so from where he pointed to in his diagram.
 

skephu

Senior Member.
Maybe we could invite the maker of the video to come here and discuss his findings directly with him. Better than youtube comments! He indicates in the video description that he is open to hear rebuttals/debunking.
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
Maybe we could invite the maker of the video to come here and discuss his findings directly with him. Better than youtube comments! He indicates in the video description that he is open to hear rebuttals/debunking.
Maybe.

He also says:
"I have ZERO tolerance for drama, insults, manipulation, passive aggressive attacks, lying or deception in any form. Comments possessing any of these attributes will be deleted. And as this is my video I am the arbiter of which comments qualify for deletion."

When someone warns in advance, on Youtube, of all places, that they require total control of any
discussion of what they've posted...well, I suspect that they aren't up for the true skepticism their
work would get here or any open, rational forum where the discussion could not be entirely in their hands.
 

Bass In Your Face

Senior Member.
To reiterate the lineup of the 4 peaks...

White = Big Bald, Green = Pinnacle, Red = Graybeard, Blue = Fryingpan



Showing another possible observer location with the mountains lined up correctly:

 

Rory

Senior Member.
Stellar work.

Do you know how to do the photo overlay thing that Mick does? Or how to get a zoomed in view of the 4 mountains, so that it matches the original photo?
 
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Bass In Your Face

Senior Member.
Stella work.

Do you know how to do the photo overlay thing that Mick does? Or how to get a zoomed in view of the 4 mountains, so that it matches the original photo?
Yes but I havent done it yet, I will when I get home. The best I have so far is a .gif zoom following a straight line from the observer location, past Fryingpan and showing what height the line hits at the further 3 (post #40)
 

Bass In Your Face

Senior Member.
Here is my photo overlay:





I drew another straight line from Pinnacle and THRU the camera (because it was listed at 20m height at that coordinate) to find the actual observer location. Here it is:



This image has the coordinates for the Actual Observer Location:



In Google Earth, the measurements are:

Observer Coordinates:

35*20'48.27" N
82*51'13.37" W

Elevations:

Observer: 5481 ft

Fryingpan: 5326 ft
Graybeard: 5413 ft
Pinnacle: 5667 ft
Bald Knob: 5369 ft

Distance from observer to mountain:

Fryingpan: 5.5 mi
Graybeard: 39.14 mi
Pinnacle: 40.84 mi
Bald Knob: 41.27 mi

Distance from the reference points he noted, to observer:

Tennent Mountain: 1.1 mi
Graveyard Fields: 1.86 mi
 
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skephu

Senior Member.
To elaborate further on my Google Earth endeavor, this is a really quick graphic i made trying to show how small errors in his numbers can create drastically different changes in observation.

Here's a proportional representation of the actual situation, with 37 pixels representing 1 mile:
upload_2016-9-22_11-3-51.png

The thick green line represents Earth's surface, the triangles are the mountains, I assumed them to be all 1 mile (5280 feet) high. I put Fryingpan and Graybeard 5 and 40 miles from the camera, respectively. The red line is the horizontal direction from the camera location, and the blue line is looking at the top of Graybeard when it is aligned with Fryingpan. The angle between the red and blue lines is ~0.4 degrees.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Great work, @Bass In Your Face - really well done.

Yesterday I'd kind of reverse-engineered my triangles to try and work out the viewer height and came up with a prediction of about 5480 feet:

photo.JPG

Angle x I calculated to be 0.314 degrees (and x=y) therefore the side marked "?" - the drop below horizontal from the camera position to the summit of Graybeard - is 1132 feet. Adding this to the height of Graybeard above ground level at "camera" gives a viewer elevation of 5477 feet.

I didn't post it though, as thought it best not to influence looking for something based on what it "should" be.

Nice to see it was so close to where you ended up at. I also tried the same equation with the summit elevation you had posted and received a viewing angle of 0.295° and a predicted camera elevation of 5455 feet.

It's just approximate but pretty good for some rough workings.

I suppose the question now is - why does his altimeter show such a different elevation? Is it just not an accurate piece of kit? Or is something else going on?

Here's a proportional representation of the actual situation. The thick green line represents Earth's surface, the triangles are the mountains, I assumed them to be all 1 mile (5280 feet) high.
Love the diagram. Is it possible to post it with the actual summit elevations?
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
Why does his altimeter show such a different elevation? Is it just not an accurate piece of kit? Or is something else going on?
What? Are you suggesting that he was lying? Something else going on, I think...
http://gpsinformation.net/main/altitude.htm
https://mountaineers.org/blog/how-to-pick-an-altimeter

And in the same article:

Screen Shot 2016-09-22 at 4.08.55 PM.png

In a nutshell: an altimeter being even 200 feet out is not particularly unusual or bothersome, according to those in the know.

So I guess that settles it.
 

Bass In Your Face

Senior Member.
In a nutshell: an altimeter being even 200 feet out is not particularly unusual or bothersome, according to those in the know.

It's funny because in the video he claims he is like 98% sure (or whatever % he gives, I'm not sitting through any more of that video) that his elevation reading is within only 10 feet of it.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
His altimeter is just a $20 barometer altimiter.
Source: https://www.amazon.com/DBPOWER-Multifunction-Altimeter-Barometer-Thermometer/dp/B00HUOPXCY/ref=sr_1_7?s=sports-and-fitness&ie=UTF8&qid=1474583722&sr=1-7

Some bad reviews:
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
His altimeter is just a $20 barometer altimiter.
Source: https://www.amazon.com/DBPOWER-Multifunction-Altimeter-Barometer-Thermometer/dp/B00HUOPXCY/ref=sr_1_7?s=sports-and-fitness&ie=UTF8&qid=1474583722&sr=1-7

Some bad reviews:
I'd probably take that particular review with a grain of salt...
guy seems kind of clueless...no mention of calibrating it.

More troubling is the overall rating. As a guy who visits Amazon
waaaaaay too often, I'm overly familiar with their system:
Even though it's theoretically a "5 star" grading system, 0 stars
is not an option, so grades are really from 1 to 5, pushing the mean
higher than it should be. And Amazon customers tend to grade
generously: for most items, a 4.0 rating (w/ say, 20 or more reviews)
would actually be
a warning flag. This cheap altimeter is just 3.5 stars, from 23 reviews.
Also, reviews on Amazon often take price into account...
so a random item that worked well 95% of the time
might be 4.7 stars for a $20 version, but 3.2 stars for a $60 version,
because purchasers of the latter had higher expectations for the higher
price they paid.

My point is that this crappy, no-name (literally!) altimeter
probably only has a rating as high as (a still lousy) 3.5 stars
because people graded it gently, since it cost so little.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
People's phones are generally far more accurate nowadays. There's really no excuse for going to all this trouble and not at the very least borrowing an old iPhone or Android with GPS.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
The guy seems to have gone to a great amount of effort to do this. To have counted on such a cheap instrument doesn't make sense.
 

skephu

Senior Member.
He has admitted on youtube that his test proves nothing because there is too much possibility for errors. He is now planning a new test that "takes every single point made by debunkers into account with meticulous accuracy".
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
He has admitted on youtube that his test proves nothing because there is too much possibility for errors. He is now planning a new test that "takes every single point made by debunkers into account with meticulous accuracy".

Jolly good. All he really needs is:

1) Accurate Lat & Long of camera
2) Middle mountain in the actual middle
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
People's phones are generally far more accurate nowadays. There's really no excuse for going to all this trouble and not at the very least borrowing an old iPhone or Android with GPS.
Actually a barometric altimeter can still be more accurate than a GPS one. The bad reviews above seem to be down to clueless operators. Barometric altimeters need to be regularly calibrated, either from the known sea-level pressure on the day, or (ideally) by setting the altitude from the map at known points.

I have a Suunto watch with a barometer altimeter. It can measure the difference in height between upstairs and downstairs in my house. GPS can't do that.

Edit: although having said that, newer iPhones have barometric pressure sensors too.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Even better than lat/long would be if he could ALSO stand on a recognizable spot, like a big rock.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
He has admitted on youtube that his test proves nothing because there is too much possibility for errors. He is now planning a new test that "takes every single point made by debunkers into account with meticulous accuracy".

As far as I can tell he has deleted quite a few comments. He seems to have answered a lot of questions which don't seem to be there any more. Not sure how open he is to criticism.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
As far as I can tell he has deleted quite a few comments. He seems to have answered a lot of questions which don't seem to be there any more. Not sure how open he is to criticism.
Yes, he deleted my comments too, even though they were super polite and mostly just questions. So not quite as open as the description makes it sound.

His altimeter is just a $20 barometer altimeter.
Damn you Mick! Before checking this thread I thought I'd track down his altimeter and see how it rated. So I did that, and then came here only to find I'm waaaaaay late on that. ;)

Anyway, the first one I found was on one of those Chinese websites that sells cheap tat wholesale, and then I saw one on eBay UK, which at least undercuts the Amazon one: $11.50 (at today's exchange rate) including free shipping from Hong Kong:

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 7.09.21 AM.png

So if the good ones can be 200 feet out, what can we expect of this?

Here's a still from the video, which shows it is indeed the same model:

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 7.10.02 AM.png
 
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NoParty

Senior Member.
As far as I can tell he has deleted quite a few comments. He seems to have answered a lot of questions which don't seem to be there any more. Not sure how open he is to criticism.
Yeah, the passage I cited above (Post #50, I believe) is the sort of heads-up people give you that, no,
they aren't sincerely looking for a productive exchange...they intend to be dictator of their little corner of YouTube.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
It's a shame he doesn't want to join the debate - assuming he would have looked at our analysis objectively - as he seemed like a pretty thorough and knowledgable believer.

In any case, I've kept him informed from pretty much the start, so he knows this thread is here.

But he seems to have actually moved on to a different and new experiment.

Hopefully that'll be just as fun to analyse too. :)
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
@Ian Dalton has been trying to post Jon McIntye's response to this thread, but it's not working out as he's on his phone. Here's what Ian said:

Basically just misunderstanding the point that it's his indicated viewpoint that's demonstrably wrong, and not the identification of the mountains.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
Basically just misunderstanding the point that it's his indicated viewpoint that's demonstrably wrong, and not the identification of the mountains.

Or maybe he just read a couple early posts which questioned whether he was looking at the right peaks?

PS: I see that point has been covered. He just seems to have been too reactionary to see that people were not "lying", but honestly trying to figure out what he did in his observations.
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
Or maybe he just read a couple early posts which questioned whether he was looking at the right peaks?

PS: I see that point has been covered. He just seems to have been too reactionary to see that people were not "lying", but honestly trying to figure out what he did in his observations.
To clarify: the video maker hasn't read the thread. He was responding to someone telling him that we had decided he was looking at the wrong mountains. This was my first guess, which was quickly shown to be wrong and retracted.

In that sense, he's perfectly justified in defending his position. But, the thing is, he's defending something that he hasn't been accused of, so it's basically irrelevant.

If he responds to the actual analysis, however, then that would be relevant.
 
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