Honolulu Lite










by Charles Memminger

Monday, December 9, 1996


Hale-Bopp will be a flop
for alien fans

MICHAEL W. Perry mused the other day on KSSK radio about the sudden weird happenings in outer space.

He was talking about all the wackos who believe recent strange events in space mean we are about to be visited by aliens.

Examples?

Approach of the comet Hale-Bopp, which some people believe is either an alien spaceship or a comet being shadowed by a spaceship.

Signs of possible life on Mars, or at least on a little chunk of Mars that smacked into the earth.

Discovery of ice on the moon, which was thought to be drier than a Milk Bone dog biscuit.

Satellite photos of a "face" seemingly etched in the Mars surface.

The sudden explosion of a Mars-bound Russian rocket.

The mysterious "jamming" of a fairly unsophisticated hatch aboard the space shuttle. (Where's Bob Vila when you need him?)

Recent launch of an American rocket which is supposed to land a capsule on Mars on July 4, (a.k.a. Independence Day.) Which, by the way, just happens to be about the same time Hale-Bopp will pass between Mars and the Earth.

All this has conspiracy fans atwitter.

The Internet, which has become a vast wasteland of silly thinking, is now a battleground for scientists, psychics, seers and sages trying to sort out the science, nonscience and nonsense.

Anyone who believes that Hale-Bopp is an alien spacecraft visiting the Earth on some sort of thousand-year cosmic milk route is labeled a nut and any scientist who doesn't believe it is labeled a CIA lackey and agent of the New World Order.

The fact that we are only three years away from the new millennium promises that the nuttiness will not only continue, but grow proportionately more wacky as the year 2000 approaches. Hold on to your space helmets, kids, it's going to be a rough ride.

THE reason for all this hysteria, of course, is ignorance. Blame it on the decline of real science and the growth of pseudo-science. Why has this happened? Because learning real science takes work while simply believing in someone's nutty idea is easy. Why bother to learn astronomy and the mathematics of planetary movement when it is easier to just believe that the giant bright thing racing this way is an alien spaceship?

What proof is there it is a spaceship? Who needs proof? Besides, it's on the Internet. Even smart guys like journalist Pierre Salinger believe what they see on the Internet.

It doesn't matter that the Internet is merely a method of transmission, not authentication. Believing something just because it's on the Internet is like believing your butt is on fire simply because someone calls you on the phone and tells you it is.

What the world needs now is an extra-large dose of skepticism. People need to quit accepting silly ideas because they don't want to hurt someone's feelings.

If someone says they are psychic and can read your past, say "Who cares, I already know my past." If they say they can tell the future, say "Prove it." If they say a comet is actually a flying saucer, say "That's a bunch of crap, you moron."

They will look at you with pity for being under the control of CIA brain-wave scanners. But at least you won't have to talk to them anymore.

There may have been life on Mars. There may be ice on the moon. But I'll give anyone willing to put up $100,000 100-to-one odds that the comet-like thing coming this way is NOT a spacecraft flown by aliens.

Come on. If it's not a comet, you get a hundred million bucks. Somehow, I don't think even the richest UFO-logist will take me up on the offer. They may be reality-challenged, but they aren't stupid.



Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite" Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802 or send E-mail to charley@nomayo.com or 71224.113@compuserve.com.



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