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I was at an astronomy meeting a few months ago. I had a number of Mars images spread out on the table in front of me from MRO HiRise. I had already had a discussion about Cydonia with a couple of people. I had mentioned the Face on Mars, but I had deliberately not bought along any images of it. Neither was I making it the focus of my presentation which was taken up by the image of a possible Mars Glacier.
Nevertheless, a woman came up to me (forgive me, I forget your name) and actually said “You aren’t one of those Mars Nuts, are you?”.
It’s as if some kind of virus has crept into society.
I was reading an article by Jimbo Wales in the Guardian. He, brilliantly in my opinion (it’s often difficult to state these things in simple terms) states that there is no such thing as “The Madness of Crowds”. Assume good faith. People will do the right thing if given a chance. Could this myth that people are somehow innately evil … original sin .. come from the way we treat them ? We use top down, monolithic approaches to society that assumes that they cannot make their own decisions or even that wars will happen if people aren’t strictly controlled and manipulated. Actually it is that strict control and manipulation that actually causes those wars because not enough people are given a chance to challenge their ignorance. We’re caught in a loop. The action taken on some assumed point is actually causing the thing that led to that action being taken in the first place. A loop, an infinite regress.
The same thing can be seen in the Psychiatric system. It is assumed that a patient will never get through their problems (it is possible however serious they may appear to be) so they are never given that chance. They are given mind destroying drugs that cause further madness. It’s the same thing. Ignorance. There never was any original rational thought. Only a knee jerk reaction against the assumed state that human beings are supposed to be in …. some kind of innate stupidity. Like Jimbo Wales I believe, I know that that just does not exist.
So we get the same thing in Science (Sometimes ! Believe me, I like Science !). A top down, Monolithic approach that deems non Scientists as “unqualified”. Wider society has nothing to offer and only qualified Scientists can participate. What nonsense ! I respect those hard earned degrees and Masters. Most Scientists have much to offer and can do many great things for society. But where did the attitude come from that I started this article with ? Namely the lady who suggested I am a “Mars Nut” ?
It’s not just me. I was heavily involved in the Mars Face debate. It taught me many things and led me to find things like Wikpedia. Actually partly because of the personal attacks I was seeing and the often ignorance by the parties involved of basic facts.
Assume good faith ! If Scientists, are so enlightened then why do they resort to personal attacks and knee jerk reactions ? I am still a member of a well respected site. I highly recommend it, but I was put off it by the initial dealing with me by the site owner. I posted about the Face. The post was deleted “because we have many highly respected dignitaries here” ! I don’t want to be bitter here. I assume good faith of him. He was only trying to run his site properly, bless him. But could he have moved my post to a sub section of the forum ? Maybe he should actually ask these “dignitaries” what their opinion of “The Face” is and keep the debate going. It has taught me much.
Another forum. They actually do provide a way of discussing “Pseudo-science”, but again, I don’t go there anymore. I found the discussion revolting to be honest ! Just because a point was made by some one that “could not be true” and because they stuck to it doggedly the debate descended into nasty personal attacks. Snidey remarks about the persons character. The clubbing together of people into a “chosen few” mentality who “know” that “The Face” is not real. Ga !
Actually I still highly recommend that site (but be careful of the kind of thing I describe). I do not believe in a “Face” either way, what concerns me more is the attitude towards so many people. See the Cydonia article Wikipedia talk page for some examples.
Assume good faith !
Might those people actually have something to offer ? Yes, they probably do go off into wacky conspiracy theories. But, really, who is to say what is wrong and right ? No one certainly knows everything in this World to say the least. People make mistakes. New evidence comes to light. How can anyone be SO sure some people are talking “nonsense”, or are “nuts”.
Ah! That word again … “Nut”.
Has there ever been such a lame resort to an insult just because there is no other way to conduct the argument ? We should all get a grip on ourselves a lot more. Words do determine reality. Behaviour is the sacred responsibility of us all.