As much as we want to believe otherwise, there was only one shooter in Dallas, Elvis is still dead and, as of this week, the mother ship has yet to land.
On Friday, Dr. Richard B. Hoover’s reported discovery of extraterrestrial bacteria in a rare form of meteorite hit media and news outlets like gangbusters. By Sunday, his paper, Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1Carbonaceous Meteorites, had gone the way of all flesh. This marks the second time in three months that we have been reminded that we’re still all alone in the universe.
NASA, Hoover’s employer, threw him under the bus revealing that the paper was dismissed by the peer-review board of the National Journal of Astrobiology in 2007. The (il)logical next step for the doctor was to submit his work to the Journal of Cosmology, an online-only, pay-to-publish journal that espouses a belief in the theory of panspermia, the idea that life exists as seeds floating throughout the universe, subsequently pollinating planets with organic life. While this does illustrate Dr. Hoover’s dedication to publishing his work, it says very little for his academic decision making.
Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1Carbonaceous Meteorites might not have been worth its weight in ink to the astrobiology in-crowd (read: educated professionals), but in the end, it means everything to us. We all drank the Kool-Aid.
There was no reason not to.
Whether it be faith in God, extraterrestrial life or hollow earth, people rely on the hope that there is something, anything above and beyond them, often going to great lengths to experience whatever it may be. It is a curious faith that is categorized by the individual’s desire to know what they are afraid they might find. The Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” comes immediately to mind. In it, the commingling of excited curiosity and abject fear culminates in heartbreak. On the other hand, take this sketch from the Kids in the Hall:
In quite literally cutting God off at the knees, this little piece of philosophical satire exemplifies the need to keep some mysteries at arms length. Otherwise, it won’t be business as usual, it may very well be Mars Attacks! What’s important is not that there is life on Mars, but the question “Is there life on Mars?” In the end we will never know who the second shooter was, whose body is buried at Graceland or what’s hidden in Hangar 84. We don’t want to know, we want to believe, and that’s what keeps us looking for what we will never find.
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