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Semiformalishmaybe

Lessons about Humanity, from Mars

As many of you already know, yesterday NASA's MSL-Curiosity rover discovered something, or so we think, in a chemical sample taken on Mars. They haven't released the specifics yet, wanting to check their instruments first, being sure that if correct it's going to be a big deal. Most likely, they found organic compounds.

Like everyone else following the thing, I'm rather curious and kinda wish that the results were out there, but like someone who's done scientific research, I know that science is about the slow and self-correcting progress in advancing knowledge. If you see a study suggesting something novel, you replicate the study before you get too excited.

Science isn't that great for spectators. Watching it as it happens will easily lead one to confusion, false excitement, and the like, all eventually cleared by the later parts of the scientific process (peer review, publication, etc). Just like judging the romantic ties of others, the "at-the-moment" feeling is usually less important than adopting the long view; science is all about that long view. While I personally believe that I can weigh things appropriately and deal with tenative conclusions, so I'd love to know what NASA thinks it has found, I understand why they're not sharing it for now.

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