why reporters shouldn’t quote ufologists

May 13, 2010 — 2 Comments

Sometimes, you just need a story. Maybe you’re under a tight deadline and suffering from writer’s block. Maybe you really want a sensational story to drive some traffic. So what if you have to make it up yourself and pass off your wild speculation as a news item, or even better, rephrase somebody’s wild speculation and publish it as a newsworthy article? That seems to have been the thought process at the Daily Telegraph, which questions whether Voyager 2 has been hijacked by intelligent aliens who are now transmitting bizarre signals back to the engineers at JPL. Really, this is an article you’d expect to see on Above Top Secret rather than a news site and the only thing worse than getting your ideas from a conspiracy forum is lifting this story from a German blog quoting an UFOlogist as its one and only source. I suppose just asking NASA was out of the question…

Now, it’s true that there’s a data anomaly in Voyager 2 transmissions as it approaches interstellar space in a few years. While the probe is expected to keep sending some sort of transmission until 2025 when its battery runs out, computers can break down over time and all spacecraft have odd problems during their missions. If the experts were to elaborate on exactly what was going wrong and how, those who don’t work with the probes themselves and aren’t aware of all the ins and outs of their operation would only be lost in a stream of jargon, diagrams, and detailed technical specs. But of course, for UFOlogist Hartwig Hausdorf and writers looking for conspiracies and sensational tales, that’s not enough. This is why Hausdorf is quoted as saying that Voyager seems to have been taken over by an intelligent alien species, and the article implies that the aliens know our location in the universe after they found the craft’s first contact kit. Their evidence for this claim? Well, there’s none to be found. There isn’t even an attempt to invoke some pseudoscience, or explain why aliens exploring the outer edges of our solar system would want to tap into our probe and send signals back to us.

Let’s remember that alien creatures probably wouldn’t even know how to decipher Voyager’s brief introduction to our planet. There’s also a very small likelihood that they’ll know how the craft works and how to use to send signals to Earth. It’s not that they wouldn’t be smart enough, it’s just that alien technology would be so distant from our own that they’d face the same kind of challenges working with our machines as we would with theirs. And besides, if they can fly between solar systems and figure out where we, why should they even try to send anything to us? Why wouldn’t they just try to swing by and take a quick look? What do they hope to gain with an odd signal being sent through what they would probably see as a crude and primitive mess of wires, circuits, and metal? And why would anyone consult self-appointed experts in hypothetical alien civilizations who utter totally baseless statements devoid of even the most basic awareness of modern astrobiology? I know that it’s all about grabbing an audience, but these kinds of articles are just plain embarrassing. Really, if I want to get my fill of woo-full ufology, I can always check in with Alfred Webre, Michael Salia, and the New Age pseudo- mystics and amateur Infowars and Prison Planet-style conspiracy theorists who serve as their sources…

Share
  • badbass9

    Oh boy. Looks as if someone has seen the first Star Trek movie a few times too many.”Let’s change it up a bit so no one will notice.” PLEASE!!!! Does anyone really take this guy seriously?

    BY the way, love the blog. I’ve been following WOWT daily for about 3-4 months now. Proves to me that there is intelligent life on the internet.

  • Pingback: Nachrichten aus dem Planetensystem kompakt « Skyweek Zwei Punkt Null