Sunday, January 25, 2004

…and this one is clearly a Pringles can
Secular Blasphemy and Pharangyula have noticed that Richard Hoagland is still quite active. Hoagland became a staple in fringe science circle about twenty-five years ago when he began pushing the face on Mars (a mesa in the Cydonia region) as proof positive of an advanced extraterrestrial civilization in the distant past. When NASA wasn’t sending anything to Mars during the Reagan and papa Bush administration Hoagland claimed it was because they were afraid and demanded Mars probes. When NASA began sending lots of probes during the Clinton administration, Hoagland claimed it was to carry out a fiendish cover-up. Now he and his gang are going over the Spirit pictures rock by rock and declaring each one to be a manufactured artifact. Apparently the Spirit landed in a Martian auto wrecking yard. Naturally, when Spirit went silent for a while it was so NASA could work on the cover-up.

Update: Reader Rodger Stevens, points out that I got Mr. Hoagland's first name wrong. It is Richard, not Edward, as I first mentioned and have now corrected. There is at least one Edward Hoagland out there that I am aware of (the source of my confusion), a prominent essayist, whose subject matter is nothing like Richards.

Richard Hoagland is an entertaining example of one of the things that I find fascinating about certain inhabitants of the fringe. He is very intelligent and well read. Before he dicovered the face in Cydonia, he was a science journalist at the top of his game. I'm told he's a great speaker. But for some reason he looks at the same information as others and comes to radically different conclusions. P.Z. Meyers suggests he has apophenia, "the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena." Whatever the source, he has plunged deep into a conspiratorial outlook and shows no sign of coming out.

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