And Gets it Blackened in The Attempt
For years, the authors and publishers of "Skeptical Inquirer," the monthly bible of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation on Claims Of the Paranormal (CSICOP) have tried to pass themselves off to unwitting scientists and the public as a voice of "mainstream reason and sanity" in the often chronically incoherent world of UFO and paranormal investigations. They have piously wrapped themselves in a papal robe of science and wisdom, appointing themselves as the sole arbiters of what is logical and true in an increasingly dubious world that increasingly is seeking non-mainstream answers to the most intriguing questions of the day. Even the very terms, "skeptic" and "inquiry," are meant to imbue a sense of dispassionate truth-seeking to the reader, a belief that the purveyors of this "skeptical inquiry" will bring a comforting order to a world "gone mad" in its increasing passion to understand ALL the phenomena around it that "don't fit."
The truth however, especially obvious to those that look at any depth into the "logic" and "reason" that these modern day Cardinals of The Church of Debunkery dispense, is that CSICOP is anything but an impartial truth seeking organization. Its methods are anything but "scientific" or "skeptical," at least in any honest definition of those words, and their passionate desire to crush anyone on the other side of the issues of the day bears a far closer resemblance to religious fanaticism than it does to the cool, rational empiricism they claim to champion.
In short, what they do is neither skepticism (a reservation of judgment) nor inquiry (a search for truth). Rather, they are a modern day Spanish Inquisition, self-appointed "thought police" hell bent on spreading the word of the patron saint of their cause, Carl Sagan, to all corners of the Earth. Anyone who takes an alternative view from the "mainstream," who ventures that "maybe things aren't quite as simplistic and mundane as the Church advocates," are to be swiftly crushed and held up as defrocked examples of the heretics to "Truth" they truly are. They seek to ensure that others do not follow in their wake, perchance to find the same "unsanctioned" truths ...
Here at Enterprise, we have always referred to them (not so affectionately) as CYCLOPS -- because they are half blind (at best) and lack depth both in their arguments and methods -- but for the most part we have ignored them and their absurd, twisted vision of reality. As long as they left us out of their particularly nasty brand of debunkery (gross distortion of facts followed by brutal character assassination) we were content to let them have their (increasingly shrinking) market share of the whole UFO/Paranormal debate. After all, to give them any attention is to elevate, if only momentarily, their attack dogs to the level of intellectually honest and civil discourse.
But with Enterprise principal investigator Richard C. Hoagland now the subject of a full frontal assault in a cover story for the November issue of their pedantic, dirty little rag, the gloves are coming off. We did not choose this fight, but neither will we sit idly by and allow these Lilliputian intellects to distribute their poison unimpeded. The school bully has just picked on the wrong kid on the playground.
The first thing that you will notice as you read the hit piece is that in inimitable SI fashion, these supposed champions of science have chosen not to say virtually anything at all about anything having to do with the science at the heart of the Enterprise mission. Their story is devoid of any such intellectual concerns in favor an innuendo laden, factually false and breathlessly inflammatory Geraldo-like version of a series of events that took place over a decade ago. We must admit, we thought that when they finally came after us it would be a little less transparent than this. But no, CSICOP is determined to have this fight down in the slop, perhaps hoping that if they just get us dirty that no one will want to touch us or notice that they are the ones who took a beating. This piece, with it's blatant lies, distortions and Clintonian half-truths is hardly worth the bother. Except that we suspect that it is just the first in a series of such attacks. So just this once, we have determined to make them wish they had picked on someone else, like that skinny, wimpy little Firmage kid ...
Over the years, CSICOP has developed a standard technique for dealing with any story they decide to take on. From the outset, they immediately assess how to attack the claim or event in question. They never for a moment consider the possibility that it might have validity. If it does, especially in the eyes of the media, they ramp up the rhetorical noise level to deafening volume. If they fail to achieve their aims (i.e. the thousands of people who saw the Phoenix lights pass right over their houses don't believe they were actually flares 60 miles away) then they shift gears and attack the individuals making the claim. Since most thinking people scoff at their nonsense explanations as more preposterous than the "paranormal" claim being made, this is usually the mode they end up in. Such is the case with their attack on Richard C. Hoagland.
From the outset, it is clear that the CSICOP article is going to be a vicious hit piece with no interest in a fair hearing. The cover of the November issue of SI trumpets the story with the headline "The Face behind the Face on Mars" and shows an image of the Face, evidently from Viking frame 35A72. I use the word "evidently" because not only is the image the raw, unprocessed version rather than the excellent Carlotto enhancement, but it has also been grossly distorted by overexposure. In fact, it is so bad that it is nearly unrecognizable as 35A72.
This pattern continues throughout the article ...
processed version of Viking frame 35A72 (left) by Dr. Mark Carlotto.
Raw, unprocessed version used by Skeptical Inquirer (right).
Mark Kelly (Left) and the infamous "Catbox" image used by Skeptical Inquirer (right).
This pattern even continues when it comes to Hoagland himself. Rather than use one of the many images of Hoagland freely available on the web, they insert a freakishly weird sketch done by one of their leading hatchet boys, Joe Nickell. This "artists rendering" makes Hoagland look like some sort gene-spliced cross-breed of Grizzly Adams and Michael Malin. This has to be one of the weirdest editorial decisions of all time.
The text of the article itself, authored by Gary P. Posner, starts off with an immediate Clintonian half-truth:
This is, as I stated above, only a half truth at best. It is true that Viking did take several images of Cydonia. Beyond that ...In July 1976, as NASA's Viking 1 spacecraft orbited Mars, a couple of its photographs included coverage of a geographic region designated as Cydonia. Strewn with rocky mesas and devoid of dried river channels, this landscape did not strike NASA as an inviting target for their next lander mission to search for traces of possible ancient life.
While it is basically true that Cydonia does not have much in the way of "dried river channels," it is thought to be the location of an ancient Martian ocean and as such would have all the necessary elements to have supported microbial life. The action of this ocean is in fact one of the many (and contradictory) explanations frequently cited to account for the process that created the Face in the first place. So to claim that Cydonia is not a good place to look for life is patently absurd.
The next two paragraphs then begin a pattern of misrepresentation which permeates the article:
But when the photos were released to the public, one of the many mesas seen in Plate #035A72 captured the national spotlight because of its striking resemblance to a humanoid face, complete with headdress (right). Speculation then arose in some quarters that perhaps this mile-long structure was not a natural surface feature at all, but rather an artificial monument. But was it constructed by a once-thriving Martian civilization? Was it erected by beings from elsewhere in the galaxy, during a brief junket through our solar system, perhaps as a "calling card" for when we became a space-faring species? Or might earthlings -- from our own future -- be responsible?The person most intimately associated with the "Face on Mars" is Richard C. Hoagland, a gifted speaker and author of the 1987 book The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever. Yes, a "City." For within 035A72, Hoagland and his associates believe they have also discovered evidence of, among other relics, a "fortress," an artificial "cliff," a "five-sided pyramid . . . apparently damaged by explosive penetration [that] seems to possess . . . the proportions of humanoids [with] its 'head' pointing directly toward the [more-famous] 'Face'" (italics in original), and a collection of structures dubbed the "City Square." According to Hoagland, the city may date back approximately 500,000 years to a time when, if one had stood in the middle of the City Square, "the Summer Solstice sun would have arisen directly over the 'Face'."
Next, he gives a short dissertation on a radio program called "For the People," presided over by radio talk show host, Chuck Harder. Hoagland made several appearances on Harder's nationwide show in the early 1990's. It is not clear to me what these "For the People" paragraphs are supposed to mean in investigative terms, but apparently Posner is seeking to imply that Hoagland was at the time claiming that he had somehow influenced NASA's agenda with regard to Mars. Unfortunately, he fails to produce a single quote or shred of evidence to support this claim:
But by 1990, despite the popularity of Hoagland's book, there still appeared to be no NASA program in the works to aggressively explore Cydonia. Yet, to hear Hoagland tell it, all was about to change dramatically, thanks to his efforts.
The first problem here is that Chuck Harder is not Richard Hoagland. How can Hoagland be chided for making a claim that even Posner shows was actually made by the radio talk show host? This is a blatant attempt to impugn Hoagland's credibility by holding him accountable for something he never even said!My initial inquiries into some of Hoagland's pronouncements on For The People had concerned the first of his two 1990 presentations (March 20) at the NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. In a May 13, 1990, Letter to the Editor of TBS Report, Chuck Harder had claimed that
NASA invited [Hoagland] after their own internal investigation of the [Cydonia] photos gave his mission sufficient credibility to ask him . . . to present the program to 4,000 NASA scientists and employees. Hardly a laughing matter. . . . Thus on the "NASA ALERT Presentation -- Was There Life on Mars?" I suggest you contact Joyce E. Bergstrom at NASA. I have photocopied her business card (attached).
At Harder's suggestion, I wrote to Bergstrom on May 19. And on June 5 she telephoned me, only too happy to clarify the circumstances surrounding Hoagland's presentation at NASA/Lewis. She explained that the Lewis center "brings in speakers on a variety of topics of interest as an employee perk. They can legally charge their time for one hour away from their job to go to the auditorium to listen to a colloquium." Regarding the "ALERT" designation attached to the title of his presentation, Bergstrom told me that ALERT is just a "catchy acronym" for Alert Lewis Employees on Relevant Topics, and connotes no special importance to the subject matter. And as for this being "no laughing matter," Bergstrom chuckled at the suggestion that Hoagland's invitation had resulted from "an internal investigation by NASA giving sufficient credibility" to his claims, saying, "No, sir. Not at all. Hoagland was invited to the center by our director as a guest for the day based on an employee's recommendation that he would have an interesting subject." She added that no NASA scientist had ever expressed to her a belief in Hoagland's theories about Mars.
On the July 13 For The People program, Hoagland discussed his March 20 presentation at NASA/Lewis. Among his statements was one to the effect that NASA's Dr. John Klineberg, as he introduced Hoagland, credited him with playing a role in President Bush's decision that we reinvigorate our exploration of Mars. But Klineberg informed me (in an October 24, 1990, letter) that his remark was "of insufficient gravity to be quotable" since he had "no insight" into any such connection. Lewis's Director of Internal Affairs, Americo F. Forestieri, had written to me on October 4 saying, "I understand [Klineberg's] remark was made with tongue in cheek."
During the same July 13, 1990, FTP broadcast, Hoagland said that his second NASA/Lewis invitation was to address an upcoming September 11 "major national NASA education conference." On the September 17 FTP program, he described what had been "a packed auditorium full of teachers and scientists and engineers and educators." He added that NASA's Dr. Eddie Anderson had "made a very big point of congratulating me, of expressing his interest in our work." But, according to Forestieri,
This conference . . . [of] the NASA/Oklahoma State University Aerospace Education Services Project . . . was attended by about 50 people. . . . To say this was a "major NASA education conference" and that "the auditorium was full" would be stretching it a bit. . . . According to Dr. L. Bondurant, the organizer of the conference, Mr. Hoagland was invited to speak at this conference "to stretch the peoples' minds [and] give them something to think about." Dr. Eddie Anderson's comment to me, when I asked him your question, was that he was just being a genial host in expressing interest in Mr. Hoagland's findings. He made no comment as to their veracity. . . . I took the liberty of contacting some of the people that worked on the Viking program [and] also some working on the proposed new mission to Mars, and they are not aware of any interest in Mr. Hoagland's claims.Hoagland also announced on September 17 that NASA was preparing a three-part "miniseries" on his presentations, entitled Hoagland's Mars, to air on PBS. He added, "I and Carl now both have our own miniseries," as if to compare his to Sagan's award-winning series Cosmos. In a November 5, 1990, telephone conversation, I learned from Craig De Sagnick, a contract video production manager to NASA/Lewis, that the original two-show project had been reduced to a single, half-hour program about Hoagland's March 20 presentation, which would carry a disclaimer making clear that Hoagland's theories were his own and not NASA's (the second half-hour production was deemed of insufficient technical quality to warrant a TV show being made). He told me that NASA produced between 13 and 26 new shows per year on a variety of space-related topics, which any individual PBS station could elect to broadcast if it so wished.
But it gets better. Not only did Bondurant conduct the interview himself, from the actual interview tape it is obvious that he had read Monuments "cover to cover"; the Director of the NASA/Lewis Education Office spent over two and a half hours asking a series of serious, sober and highly detailed questions, based on an obvious extensive knowledge of the work of not only Hoagland, but of the other "Mars anomalies investigators." He knew the details -- some of them quite obscure -- of almost a decade of research on Cydonia carried out by DiPietro, Molenaar, Carlotto and Torun. This hardly seems the behavior of someone "just being a genial host," and having no real interest in Hoagland's ideas or published works. So, what did this all imply about the "official" stance of NASA/Lewis toward Hoagland's controversial research, and how does it jibe with Posner's implication that it was all "no big deal?" The totally unexpected answer came the next day.
When Dr. John Klineberg, Director of NASA/Lewis introduced Hoagland the following afternoon, he stated that Hoagland's work had been a major influence on then President George Bush's decision to launch the Mars Exploration Program in 1989! Posner seems now to be arguing that while Klineberg did say that Hoagland's research had influenced President Bush's decision, he didn't "really mean it."
This is absurd on the Face of it. Is it likely that the director of a major NASA research facility is in the habit of mis-attributing the statements of the President of the United States? Of course not. And, when you read the actual text of what Klineberg said, it becomes even more obvious that his comments are anything but "tongue in cheek."
Beyond that, only minutes before his public statement, Klineberg had informed Hoagland and several other attendees in a private meeting in the Director's office that NASA was under "intense scrutiny from Congress." Why would he then go out and make an untrue and irresponsible statement about the President (and over such an intensely controversial issue, certainly inside NASA)-- with multiple television cameras and recorders running -- about a man (the President) whose support would be desperately needed in the ongoing Agency political battles?"Richard Hoagland is also the man who managed to convince the President to state that a return to Mars is one of our goals ..."
And he didn't. What Klineberg and Bondurant were doing was what they believed the White House wanted them to do. Their actions and Klineberg's comments only make sense in this context. And the whole idea is strikingly supported by a completely separate, secondary line of proof.
We have a poster from the White House Mars Exploration Program proposed by Bush. This poster was commissioned by the Boeing company and is designed, as all such materials are, to raise awareness and inspire enthusiasm for a given program. In this case, the artists saw fit to inspire their workers and the public by creating a depiction of NASA astronauts ascending a cliff (perhaps the Cliff, there is a suspiciously "Face like" edifice in the background) and encountering nothing less than clearly artificial ruins -- on Mars!
Click on thumbnail for full size image
The poster also includes a quote from President Bush explaining "Why Mars?" In actuality, the illustration says it better than any words could. The ruins are a series of partially buried, stacked stones with a variety of Egyptian or Sumerian appearing symbols and glyphs on them. But the image is dominated by the face of what appears to be a black man in an Egyptian styled hat. It is obvious that Bush was as interested in Hoagland's work as Klineberg suggested that day, his later comments (assuming he actually made them to Posner) notwithstanding.
There's a curious postscript to this story:
Months before his "red carpet treatment" at NASA/Lewis, on the day of Bush's astonishing announcement -- July 20, 1989 -- regarding the President's dramatic 30-year plan for a Space Exploration Initiative culminating in a manned Mars landing (in the tradition of Apollo), CNN suddenly called Hoagland for an interview. The producers of the political program "Crossfire" specifically wanted Hoagland -- of all the possible NASA Mars experts they could have called upon -- to present "the case for Mars," following the President's surprise announcement.
Now, just who do you suppose recommended Hoagland to defend the President's controversial "Moon/Mars Initiative?" And, what do you imagine they thought he'd talk about on CNN ..?
In any event, while there is still more to this story that deserves telling (someday), what happened after Hoagland's initial NASA/Lewis presentation on March 20th, 1990 is another curious story that bears repeating. And it may shed some light on Klineberg's later downplaying of his own initial comments.
A few months after his appearance at NASA/Lewis, Hoagland was invited again to the facility by none other than the same Dr. Bondurant who had so thoroughly interviewed him back in March. The intent this time was to hold a full briefing and educational workshop for representatives from various high schools, universities and even NASA headquarters itself on The Monuments of Mars. It was certainly a "major" event, as all the attendees were leaders in their fields, and the workshop came complete with pre-printed workbooks and references (prepared by NASA/Lewis). Since this was a special session for educators, rather than a general presentation for the whole facility, it was held in a room with a capacity of about 50 because that's how many educators from around the country were invited. And it was absolutely full.
Posner actually doesn't argue with any of this. He simply uses a statement by Forestieri to imply that Hoagland is "stretching it a bit" by claiming that his second appearance at NASA was a "major national NASA education conference" at" a packed auditorium full of teachers and scientists and engineers and educators." He apparently bases this solely on the fact that "only" about 50 educators attended the conference. What's the implication? That a conference cannot be "major" unless it is attended by more than 50 people? And if those 50 people are top flight educators, including from NASA headquarters itself, than is it too much to assume that this is a fairly major event? Is Hoagland wrong or self serving to have described it that way?
Of course not. But that is what Posner wants you to think. If we use his standard, which is apparently that an event sponsored by a major NASA division is not "major" unless it is attended by more than 50 people, then isn't Hoagland's previous NASA/Lewis appearance, viewed by over a thousand NASA scientists and engineers in the NASA/Lewis Main Auditorium live and shown to literally thousands more around the Center via closed circuit television, to be considered "major?" You can't exactly have it both ways can you ..?
Now you can argue that it was Forestieri, not Posner, who made the claim that Hoagland was "stretching it a bit." But let's Face it, if Posner did not agree with Forestieri's standard, why did he use it in his article? He used it because he wanted to give the impression that Hoagland (at the least) exaggerates the importance of his appearances at NASA\Lewis. The evidence would seem to argue to the contrary, that it is Posner that is "stretching it a bit" to try to make something disingenuous (on Hoagland's part) out of these events.
And it gets better. Not only did Bondurant put on this conference, but he also used it to announce to the assembled scientists, engineers and educators that this session and Hoagland's previously taped appearances were going to part of an upcoming PBS miniseries ...
Bondurant had evidently been planning (obviously at the behest of his boss, Klineberg), since that initial "night before" interview in front of the NASA/Lewis logo, to create this program series. Hoagland, along with everyone at the conference, was surprised at this announcement, since they had not been in the loop on the plans at all. The process of creating the series went forward (with no input from Hoagland; it was 100 percent a NASA/Lewis production), and was being prepared for broadcast on January 6th, 1991. Then, less than three weeks before the scheduled broadcast, on December 13th, 1990, Bondurant called Hoagland with bad news. Sounding (according to Hoagland) "like death warmed over," he somberly informed Hoagland that "the plug had been had pulled on the planned 'Hoagland's Mars' Series," and he was to report to NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. immediately with all the tapes, scripts, and graphics for the programs. When Hoagland asked what had happened, Bondurant told him that JPL had somehow "got wind of the series," and had absolutely "raised hell" back at Headquarters about it. Later, Hoagland confirmed as much from another long-term source within NASA Headquarters itself.
So what had happened? The problems evidently began with something known as the original "Enterprise Mission." In early 1990, Hoagland had begun an educational project of his own in Washington D.C., at Dunbar Senior High. Drawing unabashedly upon the Star Trek motif of his friend, Gene Roddenberry, the "U.S.S. Dunbar" was designed by Hoagland and colleagues to stimulate interest in science among the students at this 99% black inner city school by focusing their research on various real space science issues and arguments within NASA, such as Hubble, the Magellen Venus Mission, and Mars ... The prototype Dunbar experiment for a national program was to end by tackling the thorny issues swirling around the Face and "Cydonia" itself!
Hoagland promptly sent a tape of her appearance (shot by the students themselves) to Bondurant, and suggested it be included in his production of "Hoagland's Mars," because of the specific references to the Washington D.C. "Enterprise" experiment that Bondurant had included in the "night before" interview months before. This is apparently when the "stuff," as they say, "hit the rotating receptacle." It seems that the notion of the First Lady of the United States, the wife of the President of the United States, tacitly endorsing the notion of "artificial ruins at Cydonia" by her sheer presence at a Hoagland project, was just a bit too much for the folks at JPL.
Perhaps this is also why Klineberg's formal introduction of Hoagland, back on March 20th, somehow was mysteriously excluded from the "official NASA/Lewis versions" of the Presentation video tapes (including those that went -- very late -- to ABC News), due to "simultaneous failure of both cameras." Good thing they both came back on line just in time for Hoagland to begin speaking ...
In the end, the program was reduced to a single half hour featuring a "balanced response" from such unbiased figures as Michael Carr and his JPL cohorts (the same ones who according to two sources had killed the pro-Hoagland version in the first place). It had nothing to with a lack of "technical quality." Believe me, I have seen both Bonudrant's original March 19th interview tape and the "Hoagland's Mars" tape that was eventually released by the Mars Mission. There is nothing wrong with their "technical quality."
The point of all this is that the actual events, as described in Monuments and when viewed with any sort of objectivity, clearly support Hoagland's version of the events, rather than Posner's ugly characterizations. Hoagland certainly did not exaggerate the importance of his appearances at NASA\Lewis, and indeed it seems he was on track to a significant endorsement of his work until "JPL happened."
Next, Posner takes out after Hoagland on the "Pioneer Plaque" with predictably nasty charges and undertones.
Speaking of Sagan, the Pioneer 10 plaque and its elegant message (right) have always to me epitomized his poetic genius. But Hoagland told the FTP audience on July 13, 1990, that "Carl for many years has been taking public credit for the Pioneer plaque which, of course, Eric Burgess and I conceived." On a broadcast later that year (November 16) he added that "Carl . . . was involved with Eric Burgess and me in the design of [the] message." And in the publisher's foreword to The Monuments of Mars we find this passage:
Among Hoagland's most valued contributions to history and science is the conception, along with Eric Burgess, of Mankind's First Interstellar Message in 1971, an engraved plaque carried beyond the solar system by the first man-made object to escape from the sun's influence, Pioneer 10. Hoagland and Burgess took the idea to Carl Sagan, who successfully executed it aboard the spacecraft and acknowledged their creation in the prestigious journal Science.When I inquired of Carl Sagan as to the precise nature of Hoagland's role in the "creation" and "design" of the Pioneer 10 plaque, Sagan's reply of September 6, 1990, made clear that "Eric Burgess and Richard Hoagland did no more than suggest to me that a message be put aboard Pioneer 10 and 11. Frank Drake and I, with an assist from Linda Sagan [Carl's wife at the time, who prepared the artwork], did the design, and I was responsible for getting it through the NASA and White House approval process. . . . [Hoagland] did not contribute one bit of data towards the message design."Frank Drake confirmed Sagan's account (September 27): "Neither Eric Burgess nor Richard Hoagland contributed any ideas or even suggestions as to what should be on the Pioneer 10, and no suggestions as to any message content. They did point out that Pioneer 10 was going to leave the solar system and it would be nice to put some form of message on it. That was as far as their involvement went. I am sure that Eric Burgess would be glad to confirm this. . . . The idea that there should be an engraved plaque, and the type of information which should be engraved, was developed mutually by Carl and me. . . . I remember very clearly that we started with completely open minds as to what the message should be, and without any prior suggestions as to possible message content."
In a note of acknowledgements (right) at the conclusion of Sagan and Drake's February 25, 1972, Sciencearticle entitled "A Message From Earth" (which may be accessed from the bottom of this page), Burgess and Hoagland are credited with the "initial suggestion to include some message aboard Pioneer 10." But as Hoagland acknowledges on page 98 of his own book, it was actually Burgess who first said to Hoagland, "It ought to carry a message." (Then, on the next line, Hoagland claims that he had already thought of the idea: "That was the unvoiced thought, which had been nagging at me ever since I'd gazed in through [the craft's] thick quartz windows" [italics in original].)
At Drake's suggestion, and thanks to his tip in helping me locate Eric Burgess (who had been a writer forthe Christian Science Monitor at the time of the Pioneer 10 project), I telephoned Burgess, who told me the following (and subsequently mailed me a copy of the epilog to his 1982 book, By Jupiter: Odysseys to a Giant, in which he recounts a virtually identical sequence of events):
I came up with the idea [that the craft carry a message from Earth]. And I mentioned it [at lunch that afternoon] to Hoagland [then a freelance writer] and Don Bane [Los Angeles Herald Examiner ]. . . . And I said that the right man to get this onboard would be Carl Sagan. So I went around to JPL [NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory] -- Hoagland was in tow with me -- and found Sagan. . . . And I said, "Hey, Carl, I've got an idea for you." All Hoagland did was support me and say it's a good idea.
... When my attention was drawn to the possibility of placing a message in a space-age bottle, I contacted the Pioneer 10 project office and NASA headquarters to see if there were any likelihood of implementing this suggestion ...
As to the question of the "message design," and Hoagland's and Burgess's contribution of ideas for it, Sagan is suffering from at best "selective memory." All parties can certainly agree that Burgess did not contribute any ideas as to what the message might contain. But Drake's alleged statement to Posner, that "neither Eric Burgess nor Richard Hoagland contributed any ideas or even suggestions as to what should be on the Pioneer 10, and no suggestions as to any message content" is just simply not true. To give Drake a benefit of the doubt that Posner is not willing give Hoagland, it is possible that Sagan never told him about the exact circumstances under which Hoagland and Burgess put their idea to Sagan. If he had, Drake would certainly know that Hoagland did make a number of very specific suggestions to Sagan as to the message content. Let's go back over the details of that day in sequence.
There is, unfortunately, some difference between Hoagland and Burgess's version of just how the idea came to each of them. As Posner is quick to point out above, Burgess now says that the idea was his alone and that he came up with it over lunch. Hoagland's version, well documented in Monuments, places the moment at TRW in the actual bay where the Pioneer spacecraft was being held prior to launch. After a discussion of the idea, they went (together) to various officials at TRW with the concept. During the course of this, they learned that Pioneer had an "extra" five pounds available because of the last-minute cancellation of an on-board experiment. Eventually, they realized that the folks at TRW were not going to be of any help on such a "far out " idea, and that the one man who might be able to sell such an extraordinary concept to NASA in the short time remaining until launch was ... Carl Sagan.
So they headed back up the San Diego freeway in Burgess's car headed to JPL where Sagan was giving a press briefing. Hoagland was "tagging along" on this trip for one very good reason -- he and Burgess had driven together to TRW.
Once Hoagland and Burgess had cornered Sagan back at JPL between "two hot cups of coffee" in the spacecraft museum just outside his briefing, they submitted their idea. Hoagland also, in stark contrast to Drake's dismissive statement, had a whole series of specific suggestions as to how the "message" could be composed that afternoon. He proposed that a sort of "space-age time capsule" could be encased in a high-tech glass brick (glass is not only stronger than steel in a vacuum, it also would effectively protect the contents from the effects of interstellar radiation). The brick could hold up to 5 pounds -- an enormous amount of weight by spacecraft standards -- of items from the Earth, including the "brick" itself. Hoagland suggested that the contents include images of the Earth and its people (in long-lasting silver); actual examples of terrestrial plant and animal life; and even a specimen of human DNA!
Sagan absorbed all this rapid-fire input, and in the end according to Hoagland in "Monuments" said "Oh, what a nice idea ...". He then promised that he would take it up the chain to NASA Headquarters.
That was the last either Hoagland or Burgess heard of the project, until Sagan himself called Hoagland at home the night before the launch from Cape Canaveral -- only informing him "the deed is done." In the intervening four months, Sagan took the design of the message "in house" between himself, his wife at the time, and Drake. And as we see above, most of the credit.
As to why Burgess now insists the credit is his alone, we can only speculate. Burgess is an elderly man now well into his 90's, and his income is dependent on a series of NASA sponsored books and publications. It is plausible that he is not willing to back NASA's public enemy #1 against the hand that feeds him, or that he simply remembers the incident differently (he was in his 70's when he wrote the account that Posner cites in 1992). But there is no question as to what the official record (Sagan and Drake's Science paper) says: it gives equal credit to both men.
Let's think about this. If Hoagland had something to hide, if he were trying to misrepresent his role in the whole "plaque affair," why would he acknowledge that Burgess was the first to voice the idea? If he was being deceptive, wouldn't he have told a version (as Burgess apparently has) that gave him the credit exclusively? Or at least that he voiced the idea first? Of course he would! So while Posner cites Hoagland's version of events as some sort of proof of Hoagland's dishonesty, it in fact proves just the opposite. He's telling the events as he remembers them. And in this he is supported by Sagan and Drake and the official record.
Next, Posner turns his attention to Europa, repeating the now tiresome intimation that Hoagland has tried to take credit for the work of Cassen, Reynolds and Peale on a liquid water ocean under the ice crust of Europa. In this he cites once again the obsessive campaign of Ralph Greenberg, a mathematician at the University of Washington with CSICOP ties who has made something of a second career out of pushing this idea. The problem of course is that Hoagland has never claimed any such thing, and he has cited Cassen, Reynolds and Peale in his original paper on the Enterprise web site and frequently in his on air appearances. So again, we raise the question, if Hoagland were trying to take false credit, why would he cite the work of Cassen, Reynolds and Peale, and then put it on his own web site for all the world to see?
Hoagland is also widely believed to have been the first to deduce the tantalizing notion of an ocean, possibly harboring life, flowing beneath the icy crust of Europa (right), one of the moons of Jupiter. Even Arthur C. Clarke, in an acknowledgment at the end of his book 2010: Odyssey Two (his sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey ), credits Hoagland:
The fascinating idea that there might be life on Europa, beneath ice-covered oceans kept liquid by the same Jovian tidal forces that heat Io [Jupiter's volcanic moon], was first proposed by Richard C. Hoagland in the magazine Star & Sky ("The Europa Enigma," January, 1980 [accessible from the bottom of this page]). This quite brilliant concept has been taken seriously by a number of astronomers (notably NASA's Institute of Space Studies, Dr. Robert Jastrow), and may provide one of the best motives for the projected GALILEO Mission.
But late into my preparation of this article (in fact, some days after I first posted its precursor on my Web site), I came across the "Europa" Web site of Ralph Greenberg, a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington in Seattle, who has been attempting for several years, without success, to have Hoagland clarify the record on Europa. One night in July 1996, Greenberg was listening to Art Bell's wildly popular late-night Coast to Coast A.M. radio program (now hosted by Mike Siegel following Bell's retirement). Bell's guest was Richard Hoagland, who proceeded to accuse NASA of preparing to steal the credit for his own original ideas about Europa. Hoagland singled out a particular NASA scientist, Cornell University's Steven Squyres, as one who had already begun the process earlier that month during a scientific meeting in England. Greenberg knew nothing of these matters, but was disturbed that Hoagland would make such an accusation, in a national venue, on the basis of a newspaper account of that meeting. (It turned out that Squyres had made no claim to having been the idea's originator.) As Greenberg relates on his Web site, "During Hoagland's [later] frequent guest appearances, Art Bell would often mention some recent news item about Europa and either he or Hoagland would bring up the subject of Hoagland's 1980 article, always giving the impression that it was he who first proposed [the idea]. Art Bell would then usually add some sarcastic comments about the scientific community not giving Hoagland his due credit."Then, in early 1997, Greenberg happened to see an article in Science News mentioning that the idea of a liquid-water ocean under the ice of Europa had first been proposed in 1971 by John S. Lewis. Taken somewhat aback, Greenberg decided to do a little more digging, and found that a series of additional scientists had also chimed in with concurring articles throughout the 1970s. And he found at least three scientists who, prior to 1980, had speculated publicly about the possibility that life might have evolved in such an ocean (Robert Shapiro, Gerald Feinberg, Benton Clark), as well as science-fiction writer Duncan Lunan.
In his 1980 article, Hoagland clearly does acknowledge (on page 28) that "it was [space scientists] Cassen, Peale and Reynolds who arrived at the estimate [of] Jupiter's tidal influence upon [Europa]. . . . Those energies should produce . . . internal heating." Hoagland shortly thereafter offers the following, which one might incorrectly assume to be an original flash of extrapolated insight: "Unless . . . There, in the tidal calculations, was the provocative potential that beneath a thin, outer shell of ice, the bulk of Europa's planetary ocean was still ocean" (italics in original). He doesn't mention that this was the central point of the scientists' paper, and that it was entitled "Is There Liquid Water on Europa?" (Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 6, September 1979).
Posner here admits that Hoagland does give credit to Cassen, Reynolds and Peale, but this still apparently isn't good enough. How can Hoagland be claiming false credit for the idea and at the same time be giving appropriate credit?When Greenberg sent to Arthur C. Clarke (and others) six pages summarizing the history/chronology of this evolving view of Europa, Clarke replied that "I have [since] become aware of the fact that many others had thought of it first, as you point out." But Clarke also expressed his enduring gratitude to Hoagland for his "excellent 1980 article [which was] my first introduction to the idea."
As to the only question that is ultimately relevant -- whether there is really life in that global Europan ocean, increasingly now suspected beneath that global cover of ice -- again the academic record is quite clear. In the first major journal paper on the subject (On the Habitability of Europa, Squyres, et al.) the earliest prior reference is Hoagland's paper, "The Europa Enigma." Just as obviously as with the question of an ocean, the authors did not consider the other possible "prior works" now cited by Greenberg as relevant. This isn't too surprising, since most of the Greenberg "anti-Hoagland references" are from obscure lectures or conference presentations, which are generally not considered appropriate forums for scientifically credited work. Beyond that, simply mentioning life in a certain place, without putting forth a specific (and ultimately correct) model is not a valid claim to ownership of a specific theory. If it was, then "credit" for the microbes ostensibly found by NASA researchers in the "Martian meteorite" in 1996 would have gone to Percival Lowell -- who asserted over a hundred years ago that there was "life on Mars," when he gazed through his telescope and thought he saw canals. And he even published!
For readers wishing to learn more about the lineage of the Europa controversy, Steven Squyres and Ralph Greenberg's role in it, and Hoagland's standing in the historical record, I highly recommend my previous articles on the subject "Orwell and the Internet," and "Europa Reveals More of Her Secrets."
Next, Posner indulges himself in some good old fashioned name calling:
Indeed, the Monuments of Mars "Publisher's Foreword" makes Hoagland sound like somewhat of a science prodigy:Richard C. Hoagland is, by career, a science writer as well as a consultant in the fields of astronomy, planetarium curating, and space-program education. . . . In 1965, at the age of nineteen, [Hoagland] became Curator (possibly the youngest in the country) of the Springfield, Massachusetts, Museum of Science. . . . In 1966 Hoagland served as NBC [Television] consultant for the historic soft landing of a U.S. spacecraft on the moon -- Surveyor 1. Later he appeared on "The Tonight Show" explaining the significance of the landing to Johnny Carson. . . . At Christmas [of 1968, for the Apollo 8 lunar-orbital mission] he was asked to become a consultant to CBS News . . . and served as [a science] advisor to Walter Cronkite.But I learned from Dr. David Morrison, Chief of the Space Science Division at NASA's Ames Research Center, that Hoagland was largely "self-educated" in science. In an August 31, 1990, letter, Morrison told me that he knew of "no one in the scientific community, or who is associated with the NASA Mars Science Working Group, or who is working on Mars mission plans at such NASA centers as Ames, Johnson, or JPL, who ascribes even the smallest credibility to Hoagland or his weird ideas about Mars." So much for the "groundswell of official NASA interest" that Hoagland boasted of during his July 13 For The People appearance.
Of course, all of this nonsense about the standing of Cydonia researchers in the "scientific community" is a catch-22. With individuals like the senior editor of Nature on the CSICOP board, what chance is there that any paper with Hoagland's name on it, no matter the subject or quality of research, would get published in that journal? And how can any member of the "scientific community" support Hoagland's ideas when anyone who shows the slightest interest, like Dr. Tom Van Flandern, Dr. Mark Carlotto, Dr. John Brandenberg, Dr. Brian O'Leary, or Dr. Stanley McDaniel, are automatically ostracized from that community? If this is the standard, then of course the approval of the "scientific community" will never be forthcoming no matter the quality of the research."He's certainly a legitimate individual. There's nothing flaky about his credentials."
In the next section, Posner moves into absolutely ridiculous territory, implying that Hoagland is somehow responsible for corruption in a west African nation ...
Hoagland also endeavored to help create a groundswell of public interest in a set of souvenir stamp sheets that was being sold through mail order, by promoter (and occasional stamp dealer) Alan Shawn Feinstein, for more than $100, roughly two to three times its face value. The thirty-seven-stamp series from Sierra Leone was devoted to "saluting the coming exploration of Mars" by the ill-fated Mars Observer craft, which was to have returned high-definition photographs of the red planet, including the Cydonia region. The stamps depict likenesses varying from Galileo and Percival Lowell to space probes and Martian surface features, including the "Face" (right).
According to Michael Laurence's "Editor's Choice" column in the April 30, 1990, issue of the authoritative Linn's Stamp News, Feinstein's sales pitch included the following heads-up: "If that Face should turn out to be created by intelligent life, this stamp set could become one of the most valuable collector items in the world." Laurence noted that Feinstein's latest venture combined "his interest in extraterrestrial life with his penchant for selling stamps at high markups to non-collectors." (A recent Web search revealed that Feinstein has since created the Feinstein Foundation, whose Web site describes him as "a nationally known philanthropist and humanitarian [who] founded the World Hunger Program at Brown University . . . the World Hunger Brigade . . . and the Feinstein International Famine Center at Tufts University.")
In a follow-up December 10, 1990, column, Laurence reported that the stamp set from Sierra Leone, "an obscure and corrupt-ridden African nation," had recently been "blacklisted by a Swiss-based combine of international stamp organizations [due to Sierra Leone's violations of] the philatelic code of ethics of the Universal Postal Union." He also noted that Richard Hoagland had been engaged by Feinstein for some months "as an expert witness to support the assertion that the Sierra Leone set will soon be worth five figures." Laurence then quoted from the October issue of Feinstein's Wealthmaker Quarterly Report, in which Hoagland asserted that the stamp set;
"... should soon be worth $10,000 or more. That's what I believe. I know basically nothing about stamps. But I know a great deal about the specific subject of the Sierra Leone stamp set. On the basis of my research, that's what I think that set is going to be worth. The value of a commemorative is dependent on the intrinsic value of the event it is commemorating. . . . [The "Face"] is a constructed monument made by intelligent life. When the world finds that out, it will be nothing less than the greatest discovery in the world. It will have an unprecedented effect on people everywhere, and on the value of the Sierra Leone set."Michael Laurence's learned response followed: "Those who believe such breathless nonsense probably deserve financial disappointment. And that's the likely reward in store for anyone who expects speculative profit from this overpriced and highly manipulated stamp set." Indeed, Laurence informs me that the current philatelic retail value of the set remains less than $100. But don't lose hope. Several Web sites contain "Sale" listings for the set (in mint condition) with owners requesting anywhere from $99 (rare), to several hundred dollars (more plentiful), to Hoagland's $10,000 figure. (Most appear to be asking for about $5,000.)
Posner then turns his eye toward toward Hyperdimensional physics and the "N-machine" of Dr. Bruce Depalma ...
During the course of my 1990 monitoring of For The People broadcasts, Hoagland (with Chuck Harder) was also engaged in selling a book, published by FTP and edited by Hoagland, which promoted a perpetual-energy device dubbed the "N Machine." According to Hoagland on September 7, the machine opens "a gate to the 4th dimension [as it] reaches into space-time and converts direct electrical energy from the basic properties of the space-time continuum." He "clarified" matters on November 16:It [only] looks like it's perpetual motion, but it's not. Because what I think is happening, based on our Cydonia work, is that the rotation of the magnets opens a gate to the 4th dimension, and the energy simply flows downhill from the 4th to the 3rd, and is manifest in 3-space as electrical energy. [The magnets] are hexagonally shaped in terms of their crystalline form, and it's the hexagonal pattern, which is really the double tetrahedral pattern, which is the heart of our Cydonia equations. . . . [And] there's a more general field effect [going on], a more general energy transfer, and that's what's doing the slowing down of time.
Further, Hoagland's studies in "tetrahedral geometry" suggest to him a connection not only between the "N Machine" and the Cydonia structures, but also with our own planet's "crop circles": "The measurements of the units by which this object on Earth [crop circle] was laid out are part and parcel of the exact same units that the objects on Mars are laid out -- Alexander Thom's famous megalithic yard, 2.72 British feet" (July 27).
Referring to Dr. Duncan G. Cumming's article about the "N Machine" in the Fall 1990 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, Hoagland claimed on November 9 that "If you carefully read the article, they . . . take potshots but they never do the experiments." In reality, Dr. Cumming does discuss his experiments in the article. On November 5 I had written to Chuck Harder: "In the interest of full disclosure, I would request that you please send a review copy [of the book] to Dr. Cumming, and arrange for an on-air interview with him. . . . If necessary, I would be willing to pay for the book and shipping costs." Harder replied on November 27, informing me that he was "sending [my letter] on to Richard Hoagland who will respond." When Hoagland failed to do so, I sent Harder a reminder on January 12, 1991, to which he responded, "If you or Duncan Cumming want a book from us, you can order one from the catalog and pay for it."
According to FTP, a variation of the "N Machine" was already in full operation. Thus, on September 21, 1990, I wrote to B. Premanand, founder of the Indian Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal:
I would like to know if the Indian government has in operation a power generator that produces more energy than it consumes (i.e., a perpetual energy machine). This claim is being made repeatedly on the "For The People" radio program (heard on 7.520 MHz. internationally from 2400 to 0200 hours UTC).
The machine is supposedly a magnetized gyroscope, located on the west coast of India in a city that sounded like "Caroa," which is supposedly south of an old Portuguese colony that sounded like "Doa." If I heard correctly, a German company that sounded like "Gadori" may have actually built it.
Although Premanand's letter of reply never made its way back to me, mine did reach him. I was quite surprised, and delighted, to discover that, as a result of my letter, he had devoted nine pages to this subject in the April 1995 issue of his group's Indian Skeptic newsletter (in which a copy of my letter was reproduced). Premanand wrote about his efforts to track down Dr. Paramahamsa Tewari, who, according to a 1987 Indian newspaper account, had demonstrated his machine in Hannover, Germany, before an audience that included 1,500 scientists from around the world. His Space Power Generator (SPG), one of about twenty-five similar machines presented at that conference, supposedly extracts power from the vacuum of space. Though the prototype was said to have been built at the Tarapur Atomic Plant in India, Premanand could find no one in the Department of Science & Technology of the Indian government who knew of Dr. Tewari or his SPG.
In a June 21, 1994, letter (reproduced in Indian Skeptic ), N. A. Janardan Rao, Vice President for R&D and Technology Development of Kirloskar Electric Company Ltd. in Bangalore, wrote (to the author of a 1994 Indian newspaper article), "Many years ago I had corresponded with Dr. Thiwari [sic] and he had sent me a small book written by him on this subject. I then proceeded to actually design and fabricate a free energy machine. We incurred an expense of more than one hundred thousand rupees and 8 man months in fabricating this unique device. Subsequent testing showed that there was no free energy as claimed; an infinitesimal electrical output was detected which could be attributed entirely to Faraday's law" (emphasis added).
Rao's letter went on to provide Tewari's whereabouts: He turned out to be Director of the Kaiga Project for the Indian government's Nuclear Power Corporation in Karwar, Karnataka. Premanand then wrote to Tewari, whose August 25, 1994, letter of response reported, "The experiments on various models of Space Power Generators are continuing with a hope to come out with the most commercially viable system. . . . By end September  one of the machines [should] be in operating condition."
Six more years have since transpired, with still no confirmation of the miracle machine that Hoagland and Harder had touted as operational (and sold books about) back in 1990. No matter. Largely with Hoagland's help, For The People's ratings (according to Harder) soared that year (e.g., up by more than 1,000% in Gainesville, Florida). Given the program's (and its companion magazine's) pro-paranormal, conspiratorial bent, such is certainly understandable.
As to the efficacy of the "N-machine," the experiments were not completed because the funds ran out, and Depalma died. The plans still exist and at at least one of the workers who assembled Depalma's version says he could build another one. If we were able to obtain funds, we would certainly like to continue the experiments. So there is no mystery as to what happened.
Posner wraps up by summarizing Hoagland's departure from Harder's program, then lurches in a bizarre fashion forward in time to the March, 1996 Lunar press conference. There is no connection made between the two issues, and Posner seems to want to bring in the press conference just so he can quote from a particularly nasty (and just plain dumb) news story on it ...
But like a Hollywood marriage, the Hoagland/Harder relationship didn't last, and by 1992 Hoagland was no longer a fixture, or even a footnote, on For The People. The reason (improbable as it sounds): Apparently Hoagland had seen fit to chastise Harder for promoting a wild claim without first having nailed down the facts! Harder had been hyping a story about an "intelligently guided" asteroid that was slowly decelerating, and making course corrections, as it worked its way toward the inner solar system. An authentic-looking New York Times article, dated October 6, 1977, quoted a number of scientists as confirming the artificial nature of the "asteroid," and projecting that it would enter Earth's orbit, between Earth and Moon, on or about October 25 -- 1977! The fact that no such event had occurred was not enough to quash Harder's fascination. Writing in the first 1992 issue of UFO (Vol. 7, No. 1), the magazine's research director, Don Ecker, reported that Hoagland had "embarrassed host Chuck Harder on the air, thereby severing his weekly spot on Harder's show. . . . On one of Hoagland's weekly spots, he attacked Harder on the air, lambasting him for giving out the story without, according to Hoagland, checking out the facts. . . . It turned out that when the New York Times Index was checked, along with microfiche copies from that date and several days after, no such article could be found." [Note: Following publication of this article in Skeptical Inquirer, I have since been informed that the split between Hoagland and Harder was not permanent, and that Hoagland has been a frequent guest on Harder's radio program during the past few years.]On March 21, 1996, the scrupulously skeptical Hoagland presented his best evidence for extraterrestrial civilizations during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. According to Richard Leiby's article in the following day's Washington Post,
Reporters from about 50 worldwide media organizations came to see . . . "suppressed evidence" . . . "apparent lunar ruins" . . . [and other] proof of aliens. They scrutinized grainy blowups of old NASA photos and slides of impossibly fuzzy objects -- including a blob that [Hoagland's] assembled research team called "the castle." To be more precise: "an extraordinary, highly geometric, glittering glass object hanging more than nine miles above the surface of the moon," in the words of Richard Hoagland, the New Jersey author and noted pseudo-scientist who [organized] the conference.Hoagland, 50, is, basically, a kook. He's famous for popularizing the sighting of an alleged "human face" in the terrain of Mars, and he more recently claimed that the Bosnian peace talks were held in Dayton, Ohio, so the world leaders could view alien bodies housed in an Air Force hangar there.
But . . . the collective media didn't snort with laughter and walk out. Instead, journalists politely asked [questions]. . . . Later, reporters from CNN and the Associated Press, among others, called Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean to ask whether he'd ever stood on the moon near a "massive tier of glass-like ruins," as alleged in one Hoagland handout. . . .
Hoagland said a source at [NASA's] Goddard Space Flight Center . . . leaked him a pristine negative from the Apollo 10 mission showing a 1 1/2-mile-high "shard" protruding from the lunar surface. . . . "I see absolutely nothing like the so-called shard," said Paul Lowman, a Goddard geologist and expert in orbital photography, after examining the frame cited at the news conference. "He's seeing some sort of a [photo] processing defect."In 1998, a bit more than a decade after publication of The Monuments of Mars, the Mars Global Surveyor orbital craft returned an image of the "Face" (Photo #22003) with more than 10x greater resolution than Viking had obtained two decades earlier. Contrary to Hoagland's theories, the new 20/20 view (right) revealed the "Face" to be nothing more than what NASA scientists knew it to be all along, one of many similar natural features sculpted into the dusty, rocky surface by the red planet's fierce, swirling winds. And a 1999 view of the "City Square" (Release No. MOC2-142) revealed it, also, to consist of nothing more than buttes and hills.With benefit of hindsight, has Hoagland now abandoned his "City" on Mars? A visit to his "Enterprise Mission" Web site reveals quite the opposite.
"Much to the disgrace of present day journalism in the Nation's capitol, Hoagland was treated with veiled ridicule and disgust by [some] demeaning reporters after his presentation in the National Press Club ... [despite the fact that] he was backed by a brace of seemingly qualified scientists."
And Lowman is hardly an unbiased observer or someone who is disposed to be open about such things. He is the "anonymous author" of the infamous NASA memorandum "Technical Review of the Monuments of Mars," which was widely circulated by the agency in the late 1980's as a justification for not making re-imaging of Cydonia a priority. Dr. Stanley McDaniel, Epistemologist and Professor Emeritus at Sonoma State University, had this to say about the memorandum in his book "The McDaniel Report";
This memorandum cannot be taken seriously as a responsible scientific evaluation. It refers only to a limited selection of claims in a single work on the subject (a popular book not intended as a strict scientific report). The claims that are dealt with are taken in isolation, generally misrepresented, and the evaluations are cursory and significantly flawed. Although the paper is characterized as a technical review, it does not deserve the title by any reasonable standard. The use of it in an official communication sent out by NASA in response to an inquiry by a United States Congressman raises a very serious concern about the integrity of NASA's treatment of the subject.
Posner wraps up his diatribe with the usual claptrap about how the MGS image has made it clear that the Face is natural. It's important to remember that this evaluation, like all such CSICOP "scientific" evaluations, is nothing more than an opinion. In contrast to the view offered by Hoagland, Van Flandern and the other Mars anomaly researchers, this opinion is not based on any kind of specific evaluation of the images, comparison to the existing Viking data, or prediction of secondary characteristics or features. In every way, the CSICOP claims are flat psuedo-science without a thread of data or logical argument to support them. But this should not surprise us. These zealots will do anything to keep the lid on ideas outside the mainstream from becoming accepted.
If this were a boxing match, it would be TKO for Hoagland in the first round. CSICOP has been shown to have used distortion, deliberate misrepresentation and outright lies in a vicious and demonstrably untrue personal attack. The politics of this particular smear piece are entwined in a larger agenda that has to do with timing. There are some interesting days ahead of us and it is evidently important for them to energize their base just now. But remember, if a political campaign (and make no mistake, that's what this is) has to energize its base this late in the game, it means they know they are losing. And they are.
Please keep in mind here that Posner himself is not really the issue. He's just a good foot soldier, a mind numbed robot marching in lock-step (or is it goose-step?) with the orders of the Church to destroy anything and everything that threatens its view of the universe. The bigger issue is the conduct of CSICOP itself, its willingness to use lies, propaganda and character assassination -- as it demonstrably has here -- to achieve its aims. Is this the conduct of "Scientists?" Is it the conduct of rational, thinking men or is it the conduct of demagogues and extremists?
And if they are mere rabble rousers, how then should we deal with them? Should supposed arbiters of truth in science like Nature have members of an organization like that on their staffs? If we substituted the phrase "African-American" for their term "believers," would any civilized person view their tactics as anything but racist, bigoted propaganda? Is the standard of civil behavior so much lower just because they claim to defend the notion of "reason?" Don't universities and journals that employ these people bear a responsibility for the conduct of their members? If they proudly call themselves members of an organization that advocates such immoral tactics, should they not be held accountable to their real world bosses?
In the end, the only way we can defend ourselves is with the truth, and by demanding accountability of those who seek to suppress it with their particularly rigid dogmas. Don't bother writing in protest to SI or CSICOP. If you are going to expend energy on such an endeavor, hit 'em where they live. Here is a list of CSICOP's senior fellows, along with their affiliations. Let their bosses and department heads and university presidents know how you feel about their membership in an organization that practices such tactics. And send the media a copy for good measure.
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