Sunday, July 22, 2007

The benefits of skeptical thinking and a little research.

MarsI was perusing one of my favorite news aggregators yesterday and ran across an article that piqued my interest. Not more than a few sentences in I was left aggravated and a bit disgusted that such an article made it into the "headline news" again, having been debunked for several years now.

Original article: NASA hides the true color of Mars.

So I went digging in my old archived bookmarks and thankfully immediately ran across the link I was looking for.

And the thorough debunking of it, 3 and a half years ago: NASA Is Not Altering Mars Colors.

The main point here is that almost anyone with a cursory knowledge of astronomy or even basic science could probably come up with the idea that there are different colors involved in the light of a different planet with a different atmosphere than ours and that color correction has probably been applied to images that hit the press versus images that the scientists are using internally.

Beyond that somewhat obvious first skepticism, some actual research could have further explained the issue before running off on a conspiracy theory. Furthermore, the fact that the article not only has persisted on the internet for several years after being debunked, but then again made the news, simply saddens me.

As an aside, the ending comment in the first article also mentions a mysterious formation that might be involved as a reason for the color correction cover-up, which also should fail under the same basic critical assessment as the color correction. A rather thorough debunking of that phenomenon can be found in the thread Martian crater with golf ball in it (?) found on the Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum.

Or to take the risk of hearing it right from the proverbial horse's mouth (which I'm sure the conspiracy theorists would object to), Revealing Mars' True Colors: Part One, directly from NASA's Mars Rover website.

Think people.

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