Space object Oumuamua was rushed into the limelight as an extraterrestrial light sail. Seems odd to be in such a hurry:
Hype in science can be seen as an outgrowth of the larger crisis in journalism, as the precipitous decline in journalism jobs has meant that few news outlets employ dedicated science journalists. While many scientists blame hyped-up science news on a lack of journalistic expertise, the reality is more complex: As the bottom fell out for science journalism jobs, many science journalists were faced with the choice between battling it out as freelancers or using their skills to work in the communications offices of the institutions housing scientists — usually universities.
So the National Hush Hush went mainstream.
Over at the Atlantic, Marina Koren has written about how institutional prestige — in this case, Loeb’s position as chairman of the Harvard Astronomy Department, along with his long list of other accomplishments — can add a certain gravitas to a claim that might be dismissed if it came from somewhere else. But it also shapes who can get away with extreme ideas in the first place. Pushing the boundaries of plausibility comes with risk to one’s career and reputation, so while anyone can use hyperbole as a tool, the risk that one bears is substantially higher if you are not insulated by a name-brand institution, along with titles and accomplishments from adjacent name-brand institutions. Outlandish claims are, in some sense, a luxury concentrated in the hands of those who already possess other luxuries — a kind of academic weight whose heft accumulates with time. Lucianne Walkowicz, “Why scientists sometimes make extraordinary claims” at Washington Post
These are all tales of an invented god, of course.
The opinion piece is basically an extended defense of the kind of atmosphere in which the most ridiculous claims for Darwinism, for example, flourish and any questioners had better be careful. There is a lot of that out there in many areas now and the faithful are continually exhorted all the more to trust science, whether it’s sense or nonsense.
Note: A book on the new pop science religion might well be titled “Tales of an Invented God.” An author would likely be challenged to keep up with all the non-events breathlessly documented in both AI and ET and their merger in the extraterrestrial cyborg. After all, the technocrats who invent their future gods can change, re-envision, replace, upgrade, eliminate them at any time.
See also: Astronomers: Solar System Object In Transit, Oumuamua, Might Be A “Light Sail Of Extra-Terrestrial Origin”
Did Interstellar Object Oumuamua Normalize Space Aliens As Science In 2018?
Be kind to ET. He is some people’s deity
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