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The slow decline of a controversy? October 22, 2010

Posted by Simon in Uncategorized.

I was feeling a bit lost without some numbers to crunch, so I’ve started a bit of analysis on how the ALH84001 controversy has changed over the years. My first cut at it, which is a bit crude, was to look at how often the phrase ‘ALH84001’ has appeared in journals and some major newspapers (the online search at UQ seems to include the New York Times, the Observer, the Guardian and the Financial Times).

Here’s the result:



# of occurrences of phrase 'ALH84001' in journals and newspapers


In the journals it’s been a slow and steady decline; in the newspapers it started from a smaller peak and hit zero pretty quickly. This is a bit surprising – I would have thought the newspapers would have kept the story going in order to attract readers, even if the journal interest was fading. Although it is consistent with the story I mentioned at the end of this post.

There are a few more things I want to do with this. Breaking the journal articles down into those that support the Martian life conclusion and those that oppose it, broadening the newspaper search to include more publications, and refining the newspaper search – I’m sure many articles about the controversy just talked about a ‘Martian meteorite’ rather than ‘ALH84001’. Hopefully I’ll update this in the next couple of days.



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