Re: Re: Open Letter
Thu, 22 Jul 1999 02:53:41 EDT

Amara wrote:

>>I didn't create SPSR (though I'm flattered by your accusation).
>>SPSR is a group of trained scientists of various types who
>>single-handedly convinced NASA to take a second look, and who
>>have presented papers at the American Geophysical Union and elsewhere.

>I had to smile when I read this, because I see the other side. Just
>because someone presents something at a meeting doesn't mean that
>it's good work.

Of course it doesn't.

>Also, how do you know that those scientists are not
>simply humoring the person/group, in order to not face a bigger

In the case of SPSR, this may indeed have been the case, but if it was it was for the wrong reasons. Also, if reputable groups are humoring SPSR (an organization with several members who _don't_ endorse any sort of ET explanation), then this "humoring" has gone all the way to NASA and JPL. It was SPSR's thoughtful, nonpartisan approach that got NASA to take the new pictures (and now, suddenly, even more pictures that aren't being hyped). It was SPSR who first discovered ice in Cydonia: a significant find, even if it has nothing to do with ETI. NASA's certainly taking _that_ discovery seriously enough.

SPSR isn't a bunch of nuts, just some qualifed and curious scientists of various disciplines. Don't take my word for it; do your own homework.

>Oh, NASA and other scientists are faced quite often with the dilemma
>of what to do about crackpots.

Nothing particularly new here...

>Often, they are simply too busy to do much, so they ignore it.

Which is often the prudent thing to do.

>And even more importantly, those that have large decision-making
>responsibilities are aware that their actions may look like
>censuring, and that's something they wish to avoid. And so they
>walk delicately.

This is a serious issue with real implications re. the democratization of space science data. My stand is that science is anyone's game, and the "referees" should be as hands-off as possible. Unfortunately, we live in a culture with absolutely awful science literacy. This is a worthwhile topic; I can see a whole new thread emerging from it.

>Last year a poster by Hoagland made it into the poster displays of
>the annual Division of Planetary Sciences meeting. The poster was
>displayed alongside the other scientific results of Mars research.

Hoagland has been a big disappointment to me. I read the first edition of his "The Monuments of Mars" and was impressed; it's an excellent piece of _speculative_ science writing, with a lot of ideas and a good grounding in then-contemporary Mars research. Back then, Hoagland was able to differentiate speculation from fact, which, sadly, he is unable to do now.

But what are you going to do? Let Hoagland drag the whole subject into the mud with his conspiracy blather? A subject like this attracts cranks and paranoids. I don't think there's any getting around it.

--Mac Tonnies