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Motivations August 31, 2010

Posted by Simon in Uncategorized.
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It’s interesting to think about the motivations of the institutions involved in the ALH84001 controversy. To oversimplify, it’s NASA against the universities.

The NASA scientists seem to have the absolute backing of their organisation to continue their research – refining the evidence for fossilised bacteria in the meteorite and refuting the attacks of those who disagree.

Why is NASA so committed to the research, when nobody else seems to be supporting them? Off the top of my head, I can think of 3 possibilities:

  1. NASA is more objective than its critics, and will continue with the research until there is absolute proof one way or another about what’s in the meteorite.
  2. Continued speculation about life on Mars is good for NASA’s budget.
  3. The highest levels of NASA promoted this research from day 1, and don’t want to admit they got it wrong.

I don’t know if I’m going to be able to conclude which (if any) of these is the right answer, but I’m trying to understand people’s motivations when I’m analysing the controversy.

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