Message from discussion Is Mars Habitable? By Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913)
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From: John Stockwell <john.19071...@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Is Mars Habitable? By Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913)
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2011 08:34:48 -0800 (PST)
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On Dec 20, 4:29 am, "Steven L." <sdlit...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> "AGWFa...@ipcc.org" <AGWFa...@ipcc.org> wrote in message
> > On Mon, 19 Dec 2011 20:07:44 -0800 (PST), John Stockwell
> > <john.19071...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > On Dec 19, 8:53 pm, AGWFacts <AGWFa...@ipcc.org> wrote:
> > > >http://librivox.org/is-mars-habitable-by-alfred-russel-wallace/
> > > > In 1907 Wallace wrote the short book Is Mars Habitable? to
> > > > criticize the claims made by Percival Lowell that there were
> > > > Martian canals built by intelligent beings. Wallace did months of
> > > > research, consulted various experts, and produced his own
> > > > scientific analysis of the Martian climate and atmospheric
> > > > conditions. Among other things Wallace pointed out that
> > > > spectroscopic analysis had shown no signs of water vapor in the
> > > > Martian atmosphere, that Lowell’s analysis of Mars’ climate was
> > > > seriously flawed and badly overestimated the surface temperature,
> > > > and that low atmospheric pressure would make liquid water, let
> > > > alone a planet girding irrigation system, impossible. (from
> > > > Wikipedia)
> > > >http://www.archive.org/download/is_mars_habitable_cal_librivox/is_mar...
> > > Yep. Percival Lowell---another great intelligent design theorist.
> > Heee! You are right---- that never occurred to me. But he was not
> > the only astronomer who believed he saw artificial canals on Mars:
> > there were a handful of people who made astonishingly accurate
> > measurements, and detailed maps, of these utterly imaginary canals
> > and seas.
> > Wallace took as fact that the canals existed as described. That
> > was perfectly reasonable on his part, considering he didn't have
> > his own telescope *AND* considering the other astronomers besides
> > Lowell who reported seeing the canals.
> > It freaks me out, and I find disturbing, how these perfectly
> > rational, reasoning, critically-thinking scientists were able to
> > fool themselves; even Lowell said many of the largest canals he
> > observed seemed to briefly appear, then disappear for long periods
> > of time.
> > It makes me wonder what other things scientists of the world see,
> > but don't actually exist. Peer review is supposed to limit this
> > problem, but what happens when instrumentation to make
> > observations exists in the hands of a tiny few?
> There was the infamous example of Dr. Painter, who after careful
> examination through a microscope in 1923 concluded that humans have 48
> chromosomes. That figure was widely accepted for decades.
> It wasn't until 1956 that other scientists discovered that Dr. Painter
> had been wrong, and that humans have only 46 chromosomes.
> While microscopes were widely available in the 1930-1950 period,
> sophisticated techniques for cytology were not. And so that 48 number
> was accepted for 30 years without peer review refuting it.
That's just an observational error. The "canals on Mars" issue is
in the case of Lowell, and other canals of
Mars watchers, it was Giovanni Schiaparelli's use of the word
"canali" (channels) mistranslated to "canals" that launched a whole
mythology of regarding an alien civilization on a dying planet
Compare this with Peter Nykos' "directed panspermy" speculations. When
the observations plus the explanation yields and ever increasing
of unconstrained speculation, then you can see that you have left the
Where Lowell stuck to the science, his work was built on.
> -- Steven L.