Here’s an interesting paper posted at Arxiv.org, by pioneer of the theory of panspermia (with giant of astronomy, Sir Fred Hoyle), Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe. It details what he says has been the multi-decade censorship of his paradigm-busting hypothesis, along with those who have presented supporting evidence (up to the recent controversy about alleged alien bacteria found in a meteorite presented by NASA astrobiologist Richard Hooper), by a scientific orthodoxy trying to maintain the status quo:
After 1982, when evidence for cosmic life and panspermia acquired a status close to irrefutable, publication avenues that were hitherto readily available became suddenly closed. With the unexpected discovery that comets had an organic composition, with comet dust possessing infrared spectra consistent with biomaterial (Hoover et al, 1986; Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1986a,b) attitudes hardened to a point that panspermia and related issues were decreed taboo by all respectable journals and institutions. The peer review system that was operated served not only to exclude poor quality research but also to deliberately filter publication of any work that challenged the standard theory of life’s origins.
Even though the general public revelled in ideas of extraterrestrial life, science was expected to shun this subject no matter how strong the evidence, albeit through a conspiracy of silence. It was an unwritten doctrine of science that extraterrestrial life could not exist in our immediate vicinity, or, that if such life did exist, it could not have a connection with Earth.
Needless to say, most scientists who have struggled to put forward new theories (whether right or wrong) would probably feel in some way that their work is being unfairly ignored or silenced. And Professor Wickramasinghe’s recent loss of funding for his University department, and criticism over his support of Hoover’s alien life claim, would only exacerbate those feelings I’m sure. Still, an interesting perspective and insight into the history of this particular topic.
Thanks to ‘Red’ for the heads-up.
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