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Ocean
03-05-2011, 07:13 PM
We'll have to follow the development of this news. (http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/nasa-scientist-sees-signs-of-life-in-meteorites/)

bjkeefe
03-05-2011, 07:27 PM
We'll have to follow the development of this news. (http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/nasa-scientist-sees-signs-of-life-in-meteorites/)

Heh. As it happens, I just finished reading this (http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/05/6198177-life-in-meteorites-study-stirs-debate), thanks to a RT by @carlzimmer (http://twitter.com/carlzimmer).

And Tara said (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=200049#post200049) humans couldn't share information quickly! We are becoming a hive mind.

bjkeefe
03-05-2011, 07:32 PM
We'll have to follow the development of this news. (http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/nasa-scientist-sees-signs-of-life-in-meteorites/)

Phil Plait's post (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/03/05/has-life-been-found-in-a-meteorite/), linked to from your source, is also good, if you haven't already checked it out.

bjkeefe
03-06-2011, 03:22 PM
PZ's take (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/did_scientists_discover_bacter.php), via @seanmcarroll (http://twitter.com/seanmcarroll/status/44428859285831680), begins as follows:

Did scientists discover bacteria in meteorites?

Category: Kooks
Posted on: March 6, 2011 9:44 AM, by PZ Myers

No.

No, no, no. No no no no no no no no.

No, no.

No.

With that out of his system, he goes on to use some other words.

Ocean
03-06-2011, 04:19 PM
PZ's take (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/did_scientists_discover_bacter.php), via @seanmcarroll (http://twitter.com/seanmcarroll/status/44428859285831680), begins as follows:

Did scientists discover bacteria in meteorites?

Category: Kooks
Posted on: March 6, 2011 9:44 AM, by PZ Myers

No.

No, no, no. No no no no no no no no.

No, no.

No.

With that out of his system, he goes on to use some other words.

Well, I did notice that his impetus for denying was gradually decreasing with each line. Perhaps he'll have second thoughts soon. ;)

SkepticDoc
03-06-2011, 06:50 PM
You should read the blog posts in their entirety:

http://rrresearch.blogspot.com/2011/03/is-this-claim-of-bacteria-in-meteorite.html

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/03/aliens-riding-meteorites-arsenic-redux-or-something-new/

The last sentences from PZ:

I'm looking forward to the publication next year of the discovery of an extraterrestrial rabbit in a meteor. While they're at it, they might as well throw in a bigfoot print on the surface and chupacabra coprolite from space. All will be about as convincing as this story.

While they're at it, maybe they should try publishing it in a journal with some reputation for rigorous peer review and expectation that the data will meet certain minimal standards of evidence and professionalism.

Otherwise, this work is garbage. I'm surprised anyone is granting it any credibility at all.

bjkeefe
03-06-2011, 06:50 PM
Via @carlzimmer (http://twitter.com/carlzimmer/status/44543143156252672): Microbiologist Rosie Redfield (http://rrresearch.blogspot.com/2011/03/is-this-claim-of-bacteria-in-meteorite.html) thoroughly analyzes the paper and is thoroughly unimpressed.

Bottom line:

The Ivuna meteorite sample showed a couple of micron-scale squiggles, one of which contained about 2.5-fold more carbon than the background. One of the five Orguil samples had at least one patch of clustered fibers; these contained more sulfur and magnesium than the background, and less silicon. As evidence for life this is pathetic, no better than that presented by McKay's group for the ALH84001 Martian meteorite in 1996.

Ocean
03-06-2011, 07:00 PM
Via @carlzimmer (http://twitter.com/carlzimmer/status/44543143156252672): Microbiologist Rosie Redfield (http://rrresearch.blogspot.com/2011/03/is-this-claim-of-bacteria-in-meteorite.html) thoroughly analyzes the paper and is thoroughly unimpressed.

Thank you for the link.

Hoover's publication was reminiscent of the previous fiasco. That's why I named this thread the way I did. It's always good to read the expert's critique, especially those who maintain objectivity without reaching for obnoxiousness.

bjkeefe
03-06-2011, 07:03 PM
Thank you for the link.

Hoover's publication was reminiscent of the previous fiasco. That's why I named this thread the way I did. It's always good to read the expert's critique, especially those who maintain objectivity without reaching for obnoxiousness.

Glad you enjoyed it.

As you know, I am unpersuaded that obnoxiousness is never warranted.

Ocean
03-06-2011, 07:05 PM
You should read the blog posts in their entirety:

http://rrresearch.blogspot.com/2011/03/is-this-claim-of-bacteria-in-meteorite.html

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/03/aliens-riding-meteorites-arsenic-redux-or-something-new/

The last sentences from PZ:

Thank you. See my other post (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpost.php?p=200138&postcount=8), with special reference to the obnoxiousness of commentary.

PZ has excellent points and an audience hungry for arrogant snark.

bjkeefe
03-12-2011, 05:09 PM
The drama continues! The drama continues! (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/the_journal_of_cosmology_repli.php)

Official Statement The Journal of Cosmology,
Have the Terrorists Won?

Ocean
03-12-2011, 05:55 PM
The drama continues! The drama continues! (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/the_journal_of_cosmology_repli.php)

There must be some terrorist attack. I can't load the page.

bjkeefe
03-12-2011, 06:21 PM
There must be some terrorist attack. I can't load the page.

My link? Just tried it again -- loaded okay for me, although it looks like one of their ad servers is having problems.

Ocean
03-12-2011, 06:37 PM
My link? Just tried it again -- loaded okay for me, although it looks like one of their ad servers is having problems.

I tried again and it didn't load. I loaded other pages to see if it was my internet connection, but the others are loading okay.

bjkeefe
03-12-2011, 07:10 PM
I tried again and it didn't load. I loaded other pages to see if it was my internet connection, but the others are loading okay.

Sorry to hear that. Loads for me, in two different browsers. Maybe try clearing your browser cache?

Alternately, here is the Google-cached version (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:esnSpg55AZQJ:scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/the_journal_of_cosmology_repli.php+site:scienceblo gs.com/pharyngula+%22The+Journal+of+Cosmology+replies%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com).

Simon Willard
03-12-2011, 07:43 PM
We'll have to follow the development of this news. (http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/nasa-scientist-sees-signs-of-life-in-meteorites/)

I have good friends who research various questions related to extra-terrestrial life. They are smart people, and their enthusiasm is contagious. I always bite my tongue when it comes to questioning their activities because I don't want to offend my friends. I have seen a number of situations where a piece of flawed data leads to a "WE FOUND IT" moment, and in one case I actually identified the data flaw and had to explain to them why they had been misled.

There's a canals-on-mars effect that makes people see what they hope to see. It's very asymmetrical -- people never jump up and down exclaiming "the data show no sign of extraterrestrial life".

More power to them. I'd love to meet a little green man. But it pays to be skeptical. And when my skepticism is labeled as "defending the status quo", that's unfair.

bjkeefe
03-12-2011, 08:26 PM
I have good friends who research various questions related to extra-terrestrial life. They are smart people, and their enthusiasm is contagious. I always bite my tongue when it comes to questioning their activities because I don't want to offend my friends. I have seen a number of situations where a piece of flawed data leads to a "WE FOUND IT" moment, and in one case I actually identified the data flaw and had to explain to them why they had been misled.

There's a canals-on-mars effect that makes people see what they hope to see. It's very asymmetrical -- people never jump up and down exclaiming "the data show no sign of extraterrestrial life".

Except in the previous paragraph.

;)

More power to them. I'd love to meet a little green man. But it pays to be skeptical. And when my skepticism is labeled as "defending the status quo", that's unfair.

Who does that on this matter? My impression is that anyone who's even semi-responsible follows Sagan's dictum on this one.

Ocean
03-12-2011, 09:09 PM
Sorry to hear that. Loads for me, in two different browsers. Maybe try clearing your browser cache?

Alternately, here is the Google-cached version (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:esnSpg55AZQJ:scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/the_journal_of_cosmology_repli.php+site:scienceblo gs.com/pharyngula+%22The+Journal+of+Cosmology+replies%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com).

I can't load either of them.

Ocean
03-12-2011, 09:17 PM
I have a somewhat different view. I have been so inclined to think that there's no reason why we should be the only life forms in the universe, that finding extraterrestrial life is just a question of time. So, whenever something like this appears in the news, I'm curious, but not overly excited, because, it feels a bit like saying "well, we have known this all along, haven't we?"

Of course, if we came in contact with sentient, advanced life forms with whom we could communicate, then, that's news!

But I would be very skeptical, except for a few commenters in this forum, of whom I've been a bit suspicious. ;)

operative
03-12-2011, 09:19 PM
I have good friends who research various questions related to extra-terrestrial life. They are smart people, and their enthusiasm is contagious. I always bite my tongue when it comes to questioning their activities because I don't want to offend my friends. I have seen a number of situations where a piece of flawed data leads to a "WE FOUND IT" moment, and in one case I actually identified the data flaw and had to explain to them why they had been misled.


Is one of them Courtney Brown?


I have a somewhat different view. I have been so inclined to think that there's no reason why we should be the only life forms in the universe, that finding extraterrestrial life is just a question of time. So, whenever something like this appears in the news, I'm curious, but not overly excited, because, it feels a bit like saying "well, we have known this all along, haven't we?"

I'm of the same belief. It seems implausible that there would be no other form of life in the universe; it's a matter of when we find it. I do however share Hawking's misgivings about the idea of contacting an intelligent species, if there is another one out there.

bjkeefe
03-12-2011, 09:33 PM
I can't load either of them.

Okay. Sorry to hear that. Don't know what else to suggest, but here's a copy of the post (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/the_journal_of_cosmology_repli.php) (which will probably be somewhat of a letdown after all that!):

The Journal of Cosmology replies

Category: Kooks
Posted on: March 10, 2011 8:58 PM, by PZ Myers

How nice. The Journal of Cosmology has published a set of commentaries on that awful 'bacteria in meteorites' paper (http://journalofcosmology.com/Life101.html) — they're almost entirely positive, almost fawning. There seems to be a dearth of critical thinking in this field…or it's a filtered list. They have also added a Statement (http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2011/03/bacteria-fossils-in-meteorites.html) to the article. And oh, what a Statement!

Official Statement The Journal of Cosmology,
Have the Terrorists 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 scientists come forward to attest to the validity? The answer is: They are afraid. They are terrified. And for good reason.

The status quo and their "hand puppets" will stop at nothing to crush debate about important scientific issues, and this includes slander, defamation, trade libel... they will ruin you. Three hundred years ago, they would burn you for questioning orthodoxy. Has anything changed?

The scientific community must march according to the tune whistled by those who control the funding. If you don't do as you are told, if you dare to ask the wrong questions, they will destroy you.

JOC offered the scientific community a unique opportunity to debate an important paper, but for the most part they have declined.

The message is: Be afraid. Be very afraid. Or you will be destroyed.

Why is America in decline?

Maybe the terrorists have won.

I am very impressed. That's some raving paranoia.

I am a little mystified by one thing, though. The critics I see getting cited all over the popular media for their debunking of the story are me (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/did_scientists_discover_bacter.php) and Rosie Redfield (http://rrresearch.blogspot.com/2011/03/is-this-claim-of-bacteria-in-meteorite.html), although there are a few others mentioned less frequently. I know I don't have much clout with the academic establishment, and I certainly don't control the funding, which means…Rosie Redfield must be the tyrant queen of science. Who knew?

Of course, the terrorists, burning of heretics, and decline of America…yeah, that's my fault. Sorry.

bjkeefe
03-12-2011, 09:40 PM
Is one of them Courtney Brown?

??? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtney_Brown_%28defensive_end%29)

;)

I'm of the same belief. It seems implausible that there would be no other form of life in the universe; it's a matter of when we find it.

Do you not think it possible that life, especially intelligent, space-faring life, is plausibly rare enough that we'd be so separated (in space and time) that there's a good chance we'll never encounter each other?

I do however share Hawking's misgivings about the idea of contacting an intelligent species, if there is another one out there.

I don't share this. My own feeling is that a species advanced enough to be able to visit Earth is likely to be either evolved enough not to be fans of killing or enslaving (or would not see the point in an interstellar journey just to do that), or would look at us as interesting curiosities, the way we look at, say, tadpoles. If it's the latter, well, sure, a few of us might get probed in the ways we're always hearing about, but I don't see an existential threat to our species from above.

Ocean
03-12-2011, 09:50 PM
Thank you for that. I think that PZ found out about my critical comments about him and managed to block me from visiting his blog.

(I don't know whether technically it can be done. But it seems a plausible, if mostly humorous, explanation. ;) )

SkepticDoc
03-12-2011, 10:28 PM
Thank you for that. I think that PZ found out about my critical comments about him and managed to block me from visiting his blog.

(I don't know whether technically it can be done. But it seems a plausible, if mostly humorous, explanation. ;) )

TG it is not evidence of paranoia!

(or TFSM)

Ocean
03-12-2011, 10:34 PM
TG it is not evidence of paranoia!

(or TFSM)

If it wasn't that paranoia and humor don't mix well!

operative
03-12-2011, 10:37 PM
??? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtney_Brown_%28defensive_end%29)

;)


Haha. Nope, a far more interesting CB (and one that didn't help set the Browns back 10 years): http://www.courtneybrown.com/


Do you not think it possible that life, especially intelligent, space-faring life, is plausibly rare enough that we'd be so separated (in space and time) that there's a good chance we'll never encounter each other?

Intelligent life, almost certainly. The scale of the universe is still hard for my to fathom. Non-intelligent life, though? Not necessarily.



I don't share this. My own feeling is that a species advanced enough to be able to visit Earth is likely to be either evolved enough not to be fans of killing or enslaving (or would not see the point in an interstellar journey just to do that), or would look at us as interesting curiosities, the way we look at, say, tadpoles. If it's the latter, well, sure, a few of us might get probed in the ways we're always hearing about, but I don't see an existential threat to our species from above.

It may not even be intentional malice--it may just be an issue of incompatibility, the same way many Indians were killed off not by the malice of the Europeans (though there was plenty of that to go around) but rather by Old World diseases. Who knows what kind of funky bacteria a Thing from Outer Space might be carrying? Being in the process of getting over a rather nasty flu, I'm inclined to desire to avoid anything potentially infectious.

bjkeefe
03-12-2011, 10:55 PM
Haha. Nope, a far more interesting CB (and one that didn't help set the Browns back 10 years): http://www.courtneybrown.com/

For perhaps excusable reasons, I mentally expanded "CB" as "cornerback." ;^)

Intelligent life, almost certainly. The scale of the universe is still hard for my to fathom. Non-intelligent life, though? Not necessarily.

Agreed. But the latter kind is going to be hard to detect, and is highly unlikely to visit us.

It may not even be intentional malice--it may just be an issue of incompatibility, the same way many Indians were killed off not by the malice of the Europeans (though there was plenty of that to go around) but rather by Old World diseases. Who knows what kind of funky bacteria a Thing from Outer Space might be carrying? Being in the process of getting over a rather nasty flu, I'm inclined to desire to avoid anything potentially infectious.

Could happen, sure. But again, I go back to my earlier thinking, that if some species was advanced enough to cross interstellar space, they'd almost certainly be aware of something like a contamination problem.

Also, don't forget: what made smallpox, etc., so harmful to the Indians was that they were essentially the same species as the Europeans, except for not having built up an immunity. There's some reason to think, in the invading aliens case, that the bugs that infect them -- presumably, They would be a wildly different species -- would not be nearly so opportunistic when they encountered human bodies.