What’s up with that?

You may know the blog What’s Up With That. It is Anthony Watt’s anti-science blog, dedicated to climate change denialism.

A current post reports the finding of life forms from another planet, in a meteorite.

This looks to be a huge story, the first evidence of extraterrestrial life, if it holds up….

This is from a recent meteorite find in December 2012. A large fire ball was seen by a large number of people in Sri Lanka on December 29th 2012, during that episode a large meteorite disintegrated and fell to Earth in the village of Araganwila which is few miles away from the city of Polonnaruwa.

Look at what the electron microscope shows of a sample purported to be from the meteorite:

Then he shows a picture of a rock with a bunch of contemporary Earth Based diatoms stuck to it.

It is very fun to read the comments. I provided a comment that will not be printed because Watts never prints my comments, but I’ve screen captured it for you (it is below).

Phil Plait has reviewed the Alien Life in the Meteor story here, and as I said, it is not alien life come to earth in a meteor. It is (I guess) a fragment of a meteorite with fresh water diatoms stuck to it. There are fresh water diatoms stuck to your shoe, your car tires, your dog, everywhere. The silica bodies of these tiny algae are part of the dust, not as numerous perhaps as skin cells or, certain times of the year, pollen, or the loess blowing off the melting glaciers and such, but common. This is why real scientists grind down the meteorite, cross sectioning it, before looking at the sample.

As Phil points out, this report is by a “scientist” who has made many outrageous and incorrect claims about aliens, reported in a journal that is famous for printing bogus and incorrect science, the methods are obviously bogus and anyone who knew anything about, say, climate studies (where fresh water diatoms are used all the time as proxyindicators) would at least be suspicious, and would know how to check for veracity of the claim.

Anthony Watts, the anti-science global warming denailist, was not equipped to recognize this bogus science as bogus. We are not surprised.

Comments

  1. #1 Tom Hail
    January 15, 2013

    Ha!

  2. #2 mandas
    January 15, 2013

    Your comment has passed moderation.

  3. #3 StevoR
    January 15, 2013

    LOL. Not surprising but brought a smile. Cheers, Greg Laden.

  4. #4 Sou
    January 16, 2013

    Too funny :D

  5. #5 Jeffrey
    OH-
    January 16, 2013

    Sadly, Anthony watt types are everywhere. I just left the hospital this morning somewhat shocked after a conversation with my nurse, who believes in creation, the literal bible and thinks Darwin was an idiot. It scares the crap out of me when I realize my healthcare is partly in the hands of someone who doesn’t believe in empirical evidence.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    January 16, 2013

    I wonder what she thinks about resistant bacteria, or about the immune system, or genetic disorders, or …. well, everything?

  7. #7 Jeffrey
    Ohio
    January 16, 2013

    Greg, that is frightening. I have a question. She told me that evolution violates the law of Thermodynamics because all systems tend towards entropy. My response was that entropy only applies to a closed system, like the Universe. We get energy coming in from the Sun. Besides, I bet over 99% of all species are currently extinct. I’d be interested in your thoughts.
    Thanks

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    January 16, 2013

    I would say, much like you said, that life is a process that captures energy on its way from a source of production (nuclear stuff happening in the sun) to its dispersal across the universe (via photosynthesis) (with a caveat to explain the slightly more complex process of energy form our forming galaxy being trapped in the earth and fueling chemosythesizers).

  9. #9 Jeffrey
    Ohio
    January 16, 2013

    Well put. I just wonder how people of that ilk pass their biology and chemistry classes without a lot of cognitive dissonance.

  10. #10 Andy
    January 16, 2013

    So Watts says quite clearly he is skeptical of the clam. laden the fool claims he ‘is taken in’ and the even bigger fool PZ repeats the claim.

    Anti-science indeed.

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    January 16, 2013

    Andy, I don’t say he was taken in. I said he did not recognize an utterly obviously bogus claim, and that he demonstrated a less than stellar understanding of some science he should have had a clue about.

    This is not a claim tobeskeptical about. This is a claim to reject right away.

  12. #12 Andy
    January 16, 2013

    Oh so you agree he was skeptical which must entail him recognising or at least appreciating the rather grand claims made, a ‘bogus claim’ in your words…… the story now becomes, Watts correctly was skeptical about some stuff published. This makes him ‘anti science’.

    You look foolish when stooping to such levels.

  13. #13 Lee
    January 16, 2013

    Why should he ‘have a clue’ about meteorites or diatoms? You’ll note in Phil Plait’s post (you read it right?) that even as an astronomer, he had reservations about the paper but needed to recruit an evolutionary biologist before dismissing the findings.

    This post reeks of throwing mud and hoping something sticks. Stick to criticising Watts on his climate stance / data, refrain from the ad hominem.

  14. #14 John
    January 17, 2013

    Is there a reason you chopped off the full first paragraph where he goes rather over-the-top in saying this is a big fat maybe? Let me copy the full thing:

    This looks to be a huge story, the first evidence of extraterrestrial life, if it holds up. I would remind readers that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“. This needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously.

    Oh, and your comment is there, contrary to your comments:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/14/claim-meteorite-discovered-with-signs-of-life-in-it/#comment-1199560

  15. #15 Larry
    Portland, Oregon
    January 17, 2013

    Greg, I believe your screenshot and quote of Watts’ web page inadvertently left out some important wording that would seem Watts wasn’t buying whole hog into the story. His second paragraph included:

    I would remind readers that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“. This needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously.

  16. #16 Dave Lowery
    England
    January 17, 2013

    Andy I agree. Reading the whole of Watts’ original post shows he was clearly sceptical. Posting a slightly larger screen cap would have demonstrated this.

    Is it just me, or is honesty important?

  17. #17 MP
    January 17, 2013

    This is some pretty awesome fraudulent cropping. I salute you! It takes brass ones to cut off the VERY NEXT SENTENCE in the post which utterly contradicts your “point” in bold red type.

    Stunning. Remember when science was about evidence, rational discussion, etc.? Good times….

  18. #18 jones
    south
    January 17, 2013

    Please forgive but you have cropped off the screengrab at a point where the flavour of Mr Watt’s assertion would seem to change significantly if it hadn’t been cropped.

    It should read…

    “This looks to be a huge story, the first evidence of extraterrestrial life, if it holds up. I would remind readers that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“. This needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously.”

    Is this a fair point to make?

    Surely out of context isn’t accurate?

  19. #19 Anders Valland
    January 17, 2013

    So you deliberately cropped the screencap from WUWT to avoid showing the clear and unambigous caveat he stated right at the top of the story. You totally skew the piece, you do not link to it (and probably don’t have to as your followers seem happy to comment about something they did not read for themselves) and to top that you claim that your comment would not be published – actually, none of your comments ever are.

    Since WUWT is a transparent site it is not difficult to search and find the comments by Greg Laden. While I do recognise the fact that you would be better off not having them published, your claims are outright false.

    So, do you have the integrity to correct this post and do the right thing (provided, of course, you do not have to ask what the right thing is….)?

  20. #20 xmarkwe
    January 17, 2013

    Seems odd that you would report it this way, Greg.

    He clearly says on his masthead “ Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news.”

    He expresses his doubts, and the discussion which follows is interesting, and largely dismissive of the claim, and includes your own comment there at January 15, 3.24 PM:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/14/claim-meteorite-discovered-with-signs-of-life-in-it/#comment-1199560 .

  21. #21 Ryan
    January 17, 2013

    What does this imply Greg?

    “This needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously”

    “before it can be taken seriously” i.e. he didn’t at that point take it seriously.

    Don’t let facts get in the way of a good smear.

  22. #22 Typhoon
    January 17, 2013

    Why purpose exactly did you expect your highly selective editing to serve?

    The full story paints a rather different picture:

    One that is completely favourably to Mr. Watts.

    No idea what your motive was for your misrepresentation or what you hoped to achieve by it.

    However, the end result is that you’ve made yourself look histronic, petty, and foolish.
    I suppose that is an achievement of sorts.

  23. #23 Willy Wacker
    January 17, 2013

    You, Greg, are a total idiot

  24. #24 Jack
    January 17, 2013

    Laden,

    You are a fraud. You have selectively reported parts of the original article to smear Anthony Watts and support your alarmist agenda. You have not had the decency to include a link to the original article so your followers can inspect the evidence for themselves (ooh – where have I heard that before – ah, yes, Michael Mann’s hockey stick).

    Given you have so blatantly posted such a misrepresentation of Mr Watts’ article, why should anyone believe anything else you’ve said?

  25. #25 jpj
    January 17, 2013

    Mr Laden,

    You accuse Mr Watts of uncritically reporting the purported discovery of alien life on a meteorite. This accusation is followed by the verdict that “Anthony Watts, the anti-science global warming denailist(sic), was not equipped to recognize this bogus science as bogus.” The piece of evidence is a screenshot of the start of Mr Watt’s blog entry. Since you failed to add the link, I had to google it myself: tinyurl.com/b4obhhv. As anyone will verify, you cut off Mr Watt’s caveat “‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’. This needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously.”

    With all due respect: I cannot imagine how this could be explained as an innocent oversight of yours. And as the original blog entry is just a simple google search away: What made you think you could get away with this? Might I suggest that a retraction and apology along the lines of “I don’t know what came over me?” would stand you in good stead?

  26. #26 Jon Jermey
    Blaxland
    January 17, 2013

    Now expand your screenshot to show the second line of Anthony’s article. Go on, I dare you.

  27. #27 GregK
    January 17, 2013

    Mr Watts began his posting with the words…

    “This looks to be a huge story, the first evidence of extraterrestrial life, if it holds up. I would remind readers that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. This needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously”.

    Your rather selective choice of text to quote was quite dishonest and does you little credit.

  28. #28 marc
    england
    January 17, 2013

    What a disgraceful article,you have deliberately taken Anthony Watts piece and misconstrued his words to make him out to be something he isn’t,are you warmists getting that desperate.Isuggest he sues your balls off.

  29. #29 Johan
    London
    January 17, 2013

    WUWT has won many science blog awards. For good reason. Mr Watts attracts many people who are neither “skeptic” nor “alarmist” to his Blog for the first time and its mix of detail and accessibility is unrivaled. I am a statistician and more of an observer on the climate debate which has become increasingly bizarre and irrationally polarised. Mr Watts is eccentric certainly but “anti-science” is a foolish statement. For me the “anti-science” flag bearers are those who refuse to re-visit their own science.

  30. #30 Katabasis
    January 17, 2013

    I don’t think I could have found a better example of a dishonest blog entry than this. It illustrate why no one should be trusted who claims either that they are “pro science” (and their opponents “anti science”, natch) or that the sky is falling and anyone who says otherwise is somehow deficient.

    It’s also amusing to note Laden’s bloviating that Watts fails to “check for veracity of the claim” whilst also claiming that his comment will not be published on WUWT (which in fact has), revealing a nice neat paranoid persecution complex to boot.

    Blog entry bookmarked in my “comedy gold”, “postnormal” and “charlatans” folders.

  31. #31 Tim Hammond
    London
    January 17, 2013

    Here’s the bit Laden didn’t show you from Watts’ blog;

    “This looks to be a huge story, the first evidence of extraterrestrial life, if it holds up. I would remind readers that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“. This needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously.”

    So laugh away – if you think deliberate fraud is funny.

    Sorry if I disturbed your prejudices,.

  32. #32 Jimbo
    January 17, 2013

    What does Laden have to say about NASA’s claim to have found past life in a meteorite found on Earth? In 2010 NASA reaffirmed its view. It was announced to the world by President Clinton.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/30/AR2010043002000.html
    http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/snc/clinton.html

    Laden may have missed Anthony Watts’ quote so here it is:
    “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“

    Is this quote anti-science? Is NASA anti science?

  33. #33 Dr.Yale PhD
    January 17, 2013

    So Laden thinks science operates by immediately denying or accepting the claim of a paper by sheer intellect at first pass? Watts believes in posting the paper skeptically and opening debate. Remember in the 1990s Dr.Dick Zare published reports of fossilized bacteria in a martian meteorite found in Antarctica. It received widespread debate.

    As a published and peer reviewed scientist, I see Watt’s as the scientist and you Mr. Laden a sensational journslist. Stick to writing fiction.

  34. #34 Keith L
    sydney
    January 17, 2013

    looks like Anthony has just handed your arse to you greggy.

  35. #35 pinroot
    January 17, 2013

    It’s a real shame your capture cut off the very next sentence (or was it intentional?). Here it is: ‘I would remind readers that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“. This needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously.

    Here’s the link to the whole article so your readers can read it for themselves and see both your bias and your comment which you claim wasn’t printed. Hopefully by looking at it, they’ll take note of your extreme bias.

  36. #36 Sou
    http://blog.hotwhopper.com/
    January 17, 2013

    You made Watts very angry, Greg. He even calls you a ‘liar’ – (No – you didn’t lie.)

    I expect it was bad enough that so many of his regulars effectively called him dumb for posting the article. What he really doesn’t like is when real scientists show him up.

    If he didn’t think it might be for real he’d never have posted the article. The fact is, Tony makes an idiot of himself so often without apparently knowing it. When he does realise it he has to find someone else to blame – in this case it seems to be you, Greg. (I wonder if Tony has figured out what a temperature anomaly is yet?)

  37. #37 Barry
    England
    January 17, 2013

    Oh dear, Mr Laden! You seem to have made yourself look an arse. We’ve all done it, me included. The best thing to do is come clean, hold your hands up, and admit that one has been an arse. Otherwise one actually ends up looking more of an arse with every hour that passes. You’ll learn from it, move on, and be more careful next time you want to flag up someone’s comments.

  38. #38 Joe Public
    January 17, 2013

    You deliberately underestimate the intelligence of WUWT’s readers.

    And, seemingly overestimate the gullibility of your readers.

  39. #39 Ric Werme
    http://wermenh.com
    January 17, 2013

    Two blogs, two posts that at their heart are skeptical about Martian diatoms. Just a different tone of voice.

  40. #40 steve
    January 17, 2013

    What a hateful bunch here, fitting just nicely with the author of this site. I hope your cultist religion dies from a thousand cuts. That is what my muslem friends told me to say to hateful religous people.

  41. #41 snafu
    January 17, 2013

    Mr Laden,

    The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.

    Sir Winston Churchill

  42. #42 dean
    January 17, 2013

    You deliberately underestimate the intelligence of WUWT’s readers.

    It is not possible to underestimate something that is bounded above by room temperature but unbounded below.

  43. #43 DCA
    January 17, 2013

    BTW: You also misspelled “denailist” and even the name of his blog “What’s up with that” which the screen caption you posted had spelled correctly.

    You Mr Laden seem to have a problem with the truth.

  44. #44 Greg Laden
    January 17, 2013

    Thanks to all the denizens of What’s Up with That for their visit and their wonderful comments!

    Here is my response to Anthony Watt’s response to my response to his post responding to the Alien Meteorite:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2013/01/17/greg-laden-liar/

  45. #45 Carl Fetterman
    Nampa, ID
    January 17, 2013

    Mr. Laden:
    Clearly, you have let your emotions cloud your thinking. You have also forgotten the purported purpose of this blog. Science ends where propaganda begins. If “Watts Up With That” is such a poor blog, it should not be necessary to distort and deceive in order to make fun of it.

  46. #46 Jimbo
    January 17, 2013

    Laden,
    You have not answered my questions. I will repeat them for you.
    What does Laden have to say about NASA’s claim to have found past life in a meteorite found on Earth? In 2010 NASA reaffirmed its view. It was announced to the world by President Clinton.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/30/AR2010043002000.html
    http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/snc/clinton.html

    Laden may have missed Anthony Watts’ quote so here it is:
    “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“

    Is this quote anti-science? Is NASA anti science?

  47. #47 Russell Seitz
    January 17, 2013

    WUWT has switched to headlining an Australian who is overjoyed that temperatures have reached the 50’s, C, since he thinkis it will take a bite out of the paralysis ticks that empril his doggies. Failing which he recommends adding homeopatic remedies to their drinking water .

    According to Watt’s fans, Dellingpole is waving the Victory Over The Ticks banner in the UK papers.

  48. #48 Russell Seitz
    January 17, 2013

    This Andy seems pretty much interchangable with the eponymous dolt who edits Conservapaedia

  49. #49 Ed Darrell
    Dallas, Middle Earth
    January 18, 2013

    Joe Public, you need to proofread your posts — you reversed that stuff in your last post.

    Someone said:

    She told me that evolution violates the law of Thermodynamics because all systems tend towards entropy.

    It’s fun to get a creationist to explain what “all systems tend towards entropy” means. Especially with regard to biological systems, most of them are completely clueless.

    Look in creationist literature. You’ll see awkward descriptions that this means all things decay. “If you don’t clean your desk, it will get messy. Living things die, and then they decay — tending towards entropy.”

    Each of those examples is wrong, of course. If we took your desk and orbited it in a lunarsynchronous orbit so it would always be in the dark, it would remain exactly as it is. Papers fly away with gusts of wind — inputs of energy. Books fall with gravity. The inkwell dries out because heat evaporates the volatiles in the ink. Even the dust settling on your desk is brought out of the air by gravity. In an astrophysical sense, there is trend to entropy there, but that’s not how the creationists understand it.

    And rotting things? That’s not entropy. The fungus and the insects that breakdown the fallen log all require energy inputs. Rot cannot occur on a slide to entropy. Rot requires energy working against entropy, to rearrange the cellular structures of the former living things, to break them down and digest the chemicals into new living things — new living things which fight against entropy.

    Getting creationists to see the evidence can take a miracle. I’ve had some success discussing this entropy idea, which many of them can finally grasp. Their view of entropy is contrary to Newton’s laws, and they can understand that, finally.

    “Can understand,” not necessarily “will understand.”

    I was on a third round of antibiotics for sinusitis when I discovered my physician was unfond of evolution. I suggested that I feared he might be overlooking evolution of microbes in my sinuses. He ordered a new round of tests, and we figured out it was an unusual staph infection, which a different antibiotic cleared up quickly. He made pains to make it clear to me that he understood evolution enough to practice medicine after that, and we got along just fine.

  50. #50 Mark S
    January 30, 2013

    This is not the first time AW has got a little bit excited. Remember this?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/08/04/presidential-science-advisor-on-potential-for-mars-life/

  51. #51 John Brookes
    May 4, 2013

    Anthony Watts (is an arsehole) is only skeptical about some things. When it comes to other things, he’s gullible as hell. And did I mention that he’s an arsehole?

  52. #52 Amoeba
    United Kingdom
    May 24, 2013

    Greg,
    It wouldn’t be the first time that Anthony Watts has apparently edited comments dishonestly. I don’t visit WUWT because I find it makes me angry and sad. But there are a number of examples where Watts has been caught being serially dishonest.
    Watts’ dishonesty of editing his website:
    “This would have been January/February 2 years ago, if memory serves. Last time I looked for those posts they had been removed, and the time before that, edited to make them look less damning – they may or may not have been put back. As I said, Anthony is nothing if not dishonest.”
    Not proof but consistent with my recollection.
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/01/25/so-thats-why-surfacestationsor/comment-page-1/#comment-77617

    For instance, IIRC, Peter Sinclair was a recipient of a bogus DMCA filed by Watts, which involved a straight, barefaced lie.
    See ‘About’ on:

  53. [...] with him on certain points and I’ve defended him in the past. One example of this was when Greg Laden published an article that in my opinion was unfair to Watts. Also Laden wasn’t helping with [...]

  54. […] By the way, Greg Laden found that Anthony Watts, the climate change denier, was completely taken in by this crap. […]

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