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Why are we still talking about the Oumuamua space alien sighting panic?

Could 'Oumuamua be an extra-terrestrial solar sail?
Artist’s impression of interstellar asteroid/comet, Oumuamua /ESO, M. Kornmesser

Oumuamua cycles through the pop science news once again:

All this hubbub took place in the aftermath of news reports that the Pentagon had been collecting data on UFO sightings for years. Clearly, the hunt for alien intelligence is alive and well in our solar system, and it’s hot news. Indeed, Loeb’s article was approved for publication in mere days.

But while scientists tossing around the idea of alien life may find a rapt public audience, they can also draw cynical, even hostile reactions from their fellow scientists, a response summed up by acclaimed physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who once quipped to CNN: “Call me when you have a dinner invite from an alien.”

This paradox has ripple effects. The threat of being written off as a kook can loom large for researchers, especially young ones. A lot of academics “won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole,” said Don Donderi, a retired associate professor of psychology at McGill University in Montreal who now teaches a non-credit course called “UFOs: History and Reality” in the school’s continuing education department.

Loeb says many discoveries have their roots in theories that were initially dismissed. He thinks open-mindedness keeps scientific inquiry moving forward, while shutting down new theories “reduces the efficiency of science.”

Diane Peters, “The Pitfalls of Searching for Alien Life” at Undark

Look, these people needed a miracle from outer space and it was great while it lasted. But why is the embarrassing story being kept alive? Won’t another, similar one come along soon?

Oumuamua forms part of a religion for many supposedly secular people today. But it’s almost as though they want to make those of us who don’t stand in this kind of special relationship to science believe in it.

That’s a lot to ask when they could just start up another buzz and keep the fun going.

See also: Tales of an invented god (to understand the weirdness)

Tales of Oumuamua:

What? Oumuamua Was Just A Comet? After All The ET Hype?

Astronomer: We’re too dumb to think space object Oumuamua was an extraterrestrial lightsail.Hmmm. In the real world, when you are an only child so far as you know, it is hard to compare yourself to your siblings. Few readily accept criticism for failure to measure up to the standards of imaginary beings.

Conventional Non-ET Explanations For Oumuamua

Astronomers: Solar System Object In Transit, Oumuamua, Might Be A “Light Sail Of Extra-Terrestrial Origin”

Why Some Scientists Saw Asteroid Oumuamua As ET

Why can top scientists get away with extraordinary claims?

Did Interstellar Object Oumuamua Normalize Space Aliens As Science In 2018?


Astronomers: Solar system object in transit, Oumuamua, might be a “light sail of extra-terrestrial origin”

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