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Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Commentaries posted at Journal of Cosmology

The Journal of Cosmology has now posted 21 commentaries on the "Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites" paper by Richard Hoover that I have critiqued in my "Life from Beyond Earth on a Meteorite, or Pareidolia?" post.

The majority are uncritical (some don't even seem to have read the actual paper), and zoom off on tangents assuming the Hoover's paper is valid. Two posts are critical (commentary 5 and commentary 9), and bring up the same issue I do (but with more references), that abiotic minerals can imitate the shapes of bacteria, and that without further tests, there is no way to say these filaments are fossils of any sort.

As for the majority, well, largely I think they are sad. The near complete absence of any critical engagement with the paper is very telling, and there is much leaping to unsupported conclusions. I would dearly love for extra-terrestrial life to be found, but I'm not going to grasp at epsonite straws to pretend it's been found. Hoover's flawed paper is not evidence of extra-terrestrial life.

Oh, and the journal has added a long rant to before the main article:

Have the Terrorist(sic) Won? Only a few crackpots and charlatans have denounced the Hoover study. NASA's chief scientist was charged with unprofessional conduct for lying publicly about the Journal of Cosmology and the Hoover paper. The same crackpots, self-promoters, liars, and failures, are quoted repeatedly in the media. However, where is the evidence the Hoover study is not accurate?

Few legitimate scientists have come forward to contest Hoover's findings. Why is that? Because the evidence is solid.

But why have so few scientist come forward to attest to the validity? The answer is: They are afraid. They are terrified. And for good reason.

Apparently I am a crackpot and charlatan (sighs expressively), at least I'm in good company with Phil Plait, PZ Myers and Rosie Redfield (and really, read commentary #9 carefully).

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