Remember this before and after picture in the news recently from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity?
Well, it appears there’s a conspiracy theory under every rock, more fodder for Lewandowsky and Cook I suppose.
Science doesn’t advance by lawsuits, though some people think it does.
I’ll point out the obvious: that “biological organism” hasn’t moved since.
The explanation from NASA’s mission leader Steve Squires (al la Occams’ Razor):
“We think the most likely hypothesis is that it was dislodged by the rover wheels from a location that may currently be obscured by the solar arrays,” he said via email.
Squyres described the rock as “white around the outside, in the middle there’s low spot that is dark red. It looks like a jelly donut,” and said it’s like nothing they’ve ever seen before on Mars.
And Squires has a photo to back up the claim:
Anyone who’s ever driven a vehicle down a gravel road knows that rocks get dislodged by the tires and may move a foot or two.
The lawsuit seemed almost too ridiculous to be real, so I checked to see if the plaintiff was real. Yep, he has his own Wiki page.
Rhawn Joseph is a neuropsychologist who worked at the Veterans’ Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in California.
Joseph is the author of Astrobiology: The Origins of Life and the Death of Darwinism, published in 2001. In the book he writes that “Contrary to Darwinism … the evidence now clearly indicates, that the evolution of life had been genetically predetermined and precoded…”
Joseph has been described by some evolutionary biologists as a crank for embracing unorthodox mechanisms of evolution. In one instance, the blogger P.Z. Myers ridiculed a claim by Joseph that a rock found on Mars is a living organism similar to a type of fungus existing on Earth.
In the lawsuit there is this language:
“Petitioner immediately recognized that bowl-shaped structure, hereafter referred to as Sol 3540, resembling a mushroom-like fungus, a composite organism consisting of colonies of lichen and cyanobacteria, and which on Earth is known as Apothecium.”
“When examined by Petitioner the same structure in miniature was clearly visible upon magnification and appears to have just germinated from spores.”
Strangely, and for the first time ever, I find myself in agreement with P.Z. Meyers.
h/t to reader Ed Zuiderwijk