Mars: "Rogue" memes and the laughter curtain
Wed, 21 Jul 1999 20:04:31 EDT

>Open letter, huh? Well, for what it's worth, Crocker's right and you're
>wrong. You're insufficiently skeptical and most of the "mysteries"
>you've been posting about are known loads of crap.

I honestly think this issue is an emotional/social one; the nature of the Cydonian formations is a secondary issue at best. Paul was right in his post of a few days ago. I have the distinct impression of being rejected by a hive mentality. The name-calling, the repeated refusal to correctly read my's all characteristic of a communal aversion response. It's a shame that the minds behind these posts can't excavate far enough behind the "laughter curtain" that's been built around the subject; there's real meat at the heart of this issue (near-mantric references to Richard Hoagland and conspiracy theories aside), and while no one cares (or, more accurately, wants to care--which is excusable, but only to a degree), I'm not going to cave in.

Examining planetary surfaces for ET artifacts is completely legitimate (it was, ironically, one of the stated agendas of the Viking mission). The business about Cydonia that causes the uproar among the self-proclaimed rationalists is that the "Face" is a face. If it's real--a big "if," naturally--then some sort of terrestrial connection seems in order, and mainstream science just isn't equipped to deal with such an absurd prospect after "Chariots of the Gods" and countless other pseudoscientific attempts to prove we're not alone. And so we've isolated ourselves to the possibility: if I mention a group of actual no-kidding scientists who are working on the subject, they're labeled "crackpots" or misguided hucksters.

(Lee Crocker, apparently recognized as one of the most rational posters, accused me of _making up_ SPSR. Of course, he also denounced the relevance of my commentary for, among other reasons, my use of the word "morphology" in regards to a landform instead of "shape." I was, in his esteemed opinion, baiting the "masses" with an unnecessarily "scientific-sounding" word.)

Just as I wouldn't butt in with a bunch of rash conclusions about nanotechnology if I hadn't read Drexler, I think it's only fair to expect a _basic_ degree of literacy about the subject of planetary SETI before a list member makes some sweeping pronouncement about the "Face." I wonder if any of the posters who seem so confident and knowledgeable have read the basic texts re. the issue: "The McDaniel Report" by Stanley V. McDaniel, "The Martian Enigmas: A Closer Look" (second edition) by Mark Carlotto, "The Face on Mars" by R. R. Pozos and SPSR's "The Case for the Face." _None_ of these publications pretends to arrive at a final conclusion. But, interestingly, they're all a hell of a lot more cogent than the knee-jerk drivel and name-calling that my postings have met. "Boundless expansion" my ass; you've got a nice club going, and you're trying your best to maintain the status quo.

I'm apparently the only person on this list who _doesn't_ know if the "Face" is artificial or not. Everyone else, it seems, has been there already and subjected the Cydonian enigmas to their own hands-on reality tests. In a perverse way, I envy their certainty.

I've said before that it's neither my intention nor my hope to "change anyone's mind" re. the "Face" (which, I should reiterate, is but one of the peculiar formations in the region and--to some researchers--one of the least interesting!) I agree absolutely with the poster who asserted that the "keep an open mind" crowd were a bunch of self-contradictory kooks. You can't keep an "open mind" about everything. You _can_, however, keep a kind of mental gray basket for phenomena for which you have insufficient evidence. There's nothing wimpy or un-extropian about this, and it's certainly as divorced as can be from the "I Want to Believe" mentality (with which my stand on Cydonia has been confused by several reportedly intelligent people).

I'm actually less interested in the violent dismissals I've received than the _reasons_ for justifying the dismissals. If nothing else, it's a good example of epistimology at its worst. So that's my take on this. Scientific discussion was obviously never in the cards, so I'm salvaging this sad "discussion" thread as a sort of short-course in online anthropology.

Fact: Throughout Cydonia there are bisymmetric formations perched on crater rims, without any sign of being affected by impact ejecta (in fact, they look quite sharp and relatively "new"-looking). These features (the "Cliff" feature to the far right of the "Face" and sharing its orientation, and the "Crater Pyramid," farther south and easily the tallest structure in a 100-mile radius), are set at right angles to their respective craters. Faulting, etc. has been ruled out. Whatever these things are, they formed _after_ the meteor impacts. How? This is an unanswered question, and one that doesn't involve tedious bickering about facial resemblances and pattern interpolation (as valid as this discussion can be when done democratically).

Prediction: List members who don't know what the hell I'm even referring to will inundate this list with "skeptical" griping (and will probably work in the word "crackpot" while they're at it).

The bottom line is that there is reason to seriously consider possible ET ruins on Mars. The "Face," at this point, becomes almost immaterial, the tip of a vast iceberg of unprecedented weirdness that has yet to be explained geologically. Fortunately, we're dealing with objects we can demystify _this year_, with the Mars Global Surveyor.

Back in high school, I won a paid trip to NASA headquarters in Florida to present my proposal on Cydonia and possible artificiality. NONE of the scientists I talked to in the course of evaluating my paper exhibited the utter refusal to consider the evidence I've met on this list. Sure, some of them had their doubts, and often said as much. But--and this is crucial--they didn't make pronouncements beyond what they knew. They didn't go beyond their data. The resistance I've encountered on this list appears to be peculiar to "extropians" (or should that be with a capital "E"?)

Are extropian list members necessarily smarter than anyone else? I've certainly had more interesting dialogues with a quite skeptical planetary geologist. Are extropians privileged to some vast fount of secret knowledge denied the rest of the world?

Why am I the only person on this list who doesn't know if there are nonhuman artifacts on Mars or not...?

--Mac Tonnies