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Does the Universe Revolve around Me?

A Critical Review of the Geocentrism Documentary The Principle

In 2014, a group that believes Earth does not orbit the Sun released a documentary called The Principle. What’s their science like?

In the January/February 2015 Skeptical Inquirer, I presented an article about the modern geocentrism movement (“Modern Geocentrism: A Case Study of Pseudoscience in Astronomy”). I mentioned that geocentrists had produced a movie titled The Principle. This movie brought more attention to the geocentrists than they had previously experienced, with media outlets from Popular Science (Lecher 2014) to Slate (Krauss 2014) to NPR (Neuman 2014) reporting on the movie. The news media were interested because the producers of the movie had managed to include interviews with noted scientists such as Lawrence Krauss and George Ellis, but these scientists (as well as narrator Kate Mulgrew) later indicated they had been deceived into participating. This movie was released in October 2014 and had a very limited theatrical run. It was released on DVD on December 8, 2015. In this article, I give a brief overview of the backstory behind the development of The Principle, summarize the movie’s main points, and critically analyze the science presented.

The Backstory

The makers of The Principle are geocentrists—people who claim that the idea that Earth orbits the Sun is wrong and that Earth is in fact motionless at the center of the universe. The major movers behind The Principle are Robert Sungenis and Rick DeLano, although a number of other people were enlisted to direct and produce the movie. Robert Sungenis holds a master’s degree in theology and is the founder of an organization called Catholic Apologetics International. Sungenis did not invent the idea that Copernicus was wrong and the universe is in fact centered on the Earth (Keating 2015), but he did reinvigorate the movement with the publication of his 1,200–page book Galileo Was Wrong, the Church Was Right (Sungenis and Bennett 2007). Rick DeLano is an associate of Robert Sungenis. He does not list any notable educational credentials, but he indicates he has extensive experience in film and music production.

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Does Astrology Need to Be True? A Thirty-Year Update Does E = mc2 Imply Mysticism? Does the Universe Revolve around Me? A Skeptical Response to Science Denial Skeptical Inquirer’s 2016 Reader Survey Results
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