Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Arsenic-based life study flawed


""""Redfield blogged a scathing attack on Saturday. Over the weekend, a few other scientists took to the Internet as well. Was this merely a case of a few isolated cranks? To find out, I reached out to a dozen experts on Monday. Almost unanimously, they think the NASA scientists have failed to make their case. "It would be really cool if such a bug existed," said San Diego State University's Forest Rohwer, a microbiologist who looks for new species of bacteria and viruses in coral reefs. But, he added, "none of the arguments are very convincing on their own." That was about as positive as the critics could get. "This paper should not have been published," said Shelley Copley of the University of Colorado.""""

The hasty, conclusionary thinking typical of the NASA researchers--"we've discovered a new form of life"!---might be considered symptomatic of corporate research, or what one might term the Factoid-as- Entertainment business ( Factoid-bots live for the newest research or pop-science discovery; paraphrasing that clever factoid-positivist Bertrand Russelll, provide a necessarily true argument that the world didn't start yesterday).

Al Gore did much the same via his pitch of global warming, overlooking many difficult scientific issues (ie, proving whether natural or manmade CO2 results in warming, for one) jumping to conclusions, thus creating both mindless "climate advocates" and a yokel backlash. Uncertainty doesn't move product.

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