Planetary scientists reject meteorite fossil paper — without reading it

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Richard Kerr of Science is attending the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas, and has written a short article describing the reaction of planetary scientists to the meteorite fossil paper by NASA scientist Richard Hoover. Their reaction, hostile and disinterested, isn’t pretty. These two quotes will give you the flavor:

Whether they have closely examined the paper by astrobiologist Richard Hoover of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center or only heard about it in the hallways, the reaction is the same: not again.

Rather than taking a look themselves, researchers have other things in mind. One leading scientist half-jokingly suggested hanging Hoover in effigy in the conference center lobby.

Is this how modern scientists deal with new results? Isn’t it the hallmark of science to keep an open mind, and only reject something when it is proven false? How can these so-called scientists reject Hoover’s work out of hand, without even reading it?

As I have said, I have serious doubts about the meteorite fossil story. However, for scientists to dismiss it without a reasoned explanation is worse than stupid. It would have been far better for these scientists to describe their valid criticisms of Hoover’s work in detail, rather than simply dismiss his work in such a shallow-minded and empty-headed manner.


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