archiv~1: Re: SETI from David Whitehouse.

Re: SETI from David Whitehouse.

Fractenna@aol.com
Mon, 2 Nov 1998 22:10:47 EST

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Thanks!

NC

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In a message dated 11/2/98 5:11:31 PM Eastern Standard Time,
Dr_D_Whitehouse@email.msn.com writes:

<< Greetings,

Given what I have read on this list in recent days about the EQ Peg hoax
perhaps I may make a few comments.

It is clear that the accumulating inconsistency in the data on EQ Peg force
one to believe that it is a hoax but that said, it is a great journalistic
story.>

*By what criterion was this 'news'?

<That it could be a hoax is exactly what we said in our news online item last
Wednesday "Either the most important discovery ever made or an elaborate
hoax." We ran the item because, given the debate it had started, >

*There was no debate. Starting with my comment on 10-26--immediately after the
data was downloaded onto the public list--we ALL knew it was hoax.

<we wanted
to tell our viewers, in the words of Richard B-W on this list, that "there's
this thing going on." Those of you who have read the report will see that it
includes nothing that is incorrect or scientifically inaccurate.>

*But it says nothing. That's not news.

< I think our approach was the correct one, pointing out that it could be a
major discovery or a case of interference or a hoax and then going on to
talk about seti and the problems in identifying a signal from interference.
It will not surprise you that it was the story with the most hits on our
website last week. I do not think viewers left the site misled.>

*They left the BBC site without information. For example, who is the person
behind the 7193 web site? Did you CALL GU0NHD and ask him about the alleged
confirmation? Why not? Did you speak to Paul Dore (if he exists). Why not?

<There is a lot to learn from this incident. >

*We do not have time to re-write 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the
Madness of Crowds'. Apparently you wished to add another chapter... tough
luck.

<What was surprising was the
slowness of any 'official' response from seti organisations and individuals.
It seems that the serious-seti people were always behind the story and were
never in command of the situation. >

*That was absolutely incorrect. Denouncement occurred on 10-26 after the
release of the data on a public list. Many people arrived at this conclusion;
indeed the SL had done so over the weekend (or so I was informed later on
10-26) and corroborated my explanation immediately after it was said. THEY DID
NOT WISH TO CREATE A STORY, Dr. Whitehouse, BECAUSE THERE WAS NO STORY.

*Your coverage was so provoking that I had to cancel early morning range/lab
time to respond on 10-29. WHEN THE PRESS PICKED IT UP (THAT IS THE VENERABLE
BBC) IT WAS IMMEDIATELY SHOT DOWN. That is what responsible Ph.D.'s do.That
was 10-29.

*SHOULD I OR SOMEONE ELSE HAVE CREATED A STORY BY DOING A PRESS RELEASE
EARLIER?! That is utterly perverse. There would have been NO STORY if YOU had
not created it.

*Let me repeat that: There would have ben NO STORY if YOU had not created it.

<Also the Setileague press release of last
Saturday refers to the "Apparent" hoax in its title, leaving room for doubt
in the minds of journalists who may only read the headline.

Finally a minor point. My Ph.D is in radio astronomy from Jodrell Bank (and
I have used the big dish there many times and always looked in my data for
anything seti-like even though that was not the object of my observations.)
Also I am on the IAF Seti committee.>

*How could you have acted so irresponsibly with a Manchester Ph.D.?!

<Regards to you all,

Dr David Whitehouse - BBC.>

*Dr. Nathan Cohen