"Scientists say the Phoenix spacecraft has found a substance in the Martian soil that might be detrimental to possible life. ... NASA is investigating whether the substance could have gotten there by contamination."and comments,
Funny how the press never reports NASA studying whether life-friendly substances are the result of "contamination."My friend thinks this is hypocrisy - but it isn't exactly. Many journalists have a grand story to tell, and any deviations must be treated as a minor plot inconvenience. The grand story goes like this:
- We find life on Mars
- That proves there is life - and lots of intelligent life - throughout the galaxy
- That in turn proves life got started on earth by chance
- That in turn proves that all religions except atheistic materialism are sentimental gush (standard newsroom wisdom)
In this dreamlab, the cameras zoom in on an amiable Francis Collins type who points out that you can still believe, of course. In other words, he tells the world loud and clear that it is not illegal to be an idiot.
The legacy mainstream media who front this stuff will probably go under (for unrelated reasons) before anyone notices that their grand narrative is falling apart and has become about as plausible as daytime TV drama. But ... it is very difficult to change a grand narrative in mid-flow, and most show no sign of even trying.
Here are some difficulties the storyteller journalist who did try would encounter:
- we find perchlorate on Mars (which, we are told, does not rule out life, though it makes life less likely). This is just the sort of unexpected finding that must be played down, not up, because it doesn't fit into the grand narrative. Excuses and forlorn hopes that would be questioned elsewhere will be readily accepted here.
- That proves there is perchlorate - and lots of intelligent perchlorate-based life - throughout the galaxy! Huh? No, wait! Send that one back to rewrite ... we're not quite ready for that yet ....
- That in turn proves life got started on earth by chance (How? If abundant life shows that life got started by chance, what would rare life imply? Oh wait, we better not let logic be our strong point.)
- That in turn proves that all religions except atheistic materialism are sentimental gush (standard newsroom wisdom - reaffirm that, but subtly!)
So, if they do get hold of Collins, they will pump him with a well-worn theme and tack away from specifics.
Grand narratives are altered when a civilization's philosophy changes. When nature merely fails to confirm the expectations of the philosophy, narrative byways are offered instead (= perchlorate doesn't really mean there's not likely to be life).
It's all fun to watch.
See also: Perchlorate on Mars? Neither good nor bad (but actually bad) for life?