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Time for a bit of analysis September 14, 2010

Posted by Simon in Uncategorized.
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OK, I’ve spent a bit of time describing the ALH84001 controversy on this blog, now it’s time to start analysing it.

Let’s start with the scientific revolution model. I think it applies pretty clearly in this case. Those claiming that ALH84001 shows signs of Martian life are trying to destroy the existing paradigm (that there is no evidence for Martian life), and if they’re eventually proven right it *will* be a scientific revolution (and a Nobel prize).

I’ll speculate that if that ever happens, people will go back and re-interpret older data from Mars (the Viking experiments and other meteorites, for example) in the context of the new paradigm and discover that they already had evidence for Martian life, but didn’t or couldn’t reach the conclusion because it didn’t fit into the existing (no Martian life) paradigm.

The interesting thing about this controversy is that it’s not completely settled yet. And it’s worth remembering that analysing it in Kuhn’s framework can’t tell you which way it’s going to be resolved!

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