The Mice of Outrageous Fortune

The Methuselah Foundation is a prize for the first science team to extend the average lifespan of a mouse from three years to five years. The hope is to eventually use the technology to extend human lifespan to 150 years and beyond. One of the teams is here in Phoenix. The website is at www.methuselahfoundation.org

One clue to whether or not a particular science project is legitimate or not is whether or not the process is boring (to the typical layperson). The process of scientific discovery can be absolutely, mindnumbingly boring, because it takes so long to get good data, check the data for errors, starting over if necessary, all for a result that may only be just one small step up a grand staircase of discovery (wow, I’m so poetic!) I imagine someone saying about this project “Who cares about some stupid mouse living an extra two years. Woopdy-Doo, you nerd!” They have no understanding of the scientific method. It is hard work and often starts with research that at first seems stupid and boring.

Whether or not anyone succeeds in the Methuselah Foundation’s goal, the teams’ approaches are legitimate. Now, an example of some truly bad (pseudo)science is the Enterprise Mission, run by Richard Hoagland.

You remember him as the “Face on Mars” guy, friend of Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke, lecturer, and, in my humble opinion, a really bad so-called “scientist”? He claims there is a huge government conspiracy regarding the existence of an ancient solar system-wide civilization, and that if we look closely enough we will find their artifacts all over the place, on the Moon, on Mars, etc. Mr. Hoaglund and his supports analyze images from various NASA missions. They claim to see alien artifacts and lifeforms. You might say “That sounds crazy…of course they are all crazy…who in their right mind would listen to such a guy,” but he has a following you would not believe!

A new article at Space.com discusses Philip Plait’s frustration with bad science and Mr. Hoagland in particular.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.