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01/26/07
Paranoid Conspiracy Theories
Filed under: Ramblings, Space
Posted by: Tim @ 10:15 am

Wow.  OK, so I know that the government can be messed up.  But I just listened to another Space Show episode with Richard Hoagland as the guest.  He thinks NASA and the US government are covering up the “truth”: that there are fossils on Mars and the remains of alien structures on the Moon and Mars.   This guy is totally paranoid.  His conclusions do not logically follow from the “evidence”.  They are “possible” reasons, but not the most likely ones, nor is the “evidence” conclusive.  This baloney is even more ridiculous than the theory that we never actually went to the Moon!

For instance, Hoagland claims that one of the recordings from Apollo 10 (I think) was edited to remove some of what was said about the alien structures.  In one portion, one astronaut in the Lunar Module said something like “we’re really down among ‘em”.  Hoagland claims this meant they were down among huge alien glass structures.  After a deleted potion, the other astronaut reprimanded the one who spoke reminding him that they had a “hot mike” - that the folks back on Earth (i.e., Mission Control, etc.) could hear.  Well gee, sure, that’s proof positive that they were descending over a huge alien glass structure.  Yeah, that’s it.  It couldn’t have been that he said anything inappropriate, it was specifically about alien structures.  Also, I’m wondering whether that phrase “down among ‘em” is fighter-pilot speak?  Or maybe referred to craters or mountains, or whatever.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that anyone can see things that are not there and use their imaginations to come up with some really creative explanations.  The “evidence” is circumstancial at best.

The interesting thing about conspiracy theorists is that they tend to play the “conspiracy” card to cover for any real objections or holes in the evidence.  For example, they might interpret a fuzzy, out-of-focus shape in a photo from Mars as alien technology.  When you say it’s a coincidence that the object looks like something artificial and it’s too hard to see in the photo anyway, they claim “of course, NASA intentionally blurred the image so you wouldn’t be able to see it”.  You can’t even have a reasonable conversation with them…which is probably why real scientists tend to just ignore them instead of trying to argue with them.

Now I’m not saying there never are conspiracies, but that you must use real science and not use your imagination to fill gaps in the evidence with your pre-conceived notions.  And you can’t say that just because you don’t have the evidence you want that it’s because there is a conspiracy.  Plus, sometimes people don’t engage conspiracy theorists because they are extremely annoying, not because there is a coverup.  Would you want to cooperate with someone who acted like an obsessed raving lunatic that didn’t believe anything you said and that was trying to use you to find “evidence” that you were covering something up…especially when you knew you weren’t covering up anything?  Think about it.  Did you ever have someone call you a liar about something that you are telling the truth about but cannot necessarily prove otherwise?  They don’t accept anything you say, do, or show them and claim all your evidence is “doctored”, etc., so why even waste your time?  Actually, it might even be fun to mess with them to get them all riled up about their alleged “conspiracy”.

Anyway, Hoagland is apparently going to unveil more “conclusive” evidence at a conference in Los Angeles next month. I suggest a healthy dose of skepticism and real scientific review here.  Or maybe we should just ignore it and not give him the press coverage he wants.  Check out what Phil Plait (Bad Astronomy) has to say about Hoagland.

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