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Week of: July 29, 2001

Let's Look for Life Here on Earth First

by F.R. Duplantier

How can we hope to find life on other planets if we can't recognize life here on earth?

We're so eager to find a trace
Of the least little life in space,
But here on Earth
We bar the birth
Of lives we could embrace.

Don't believe everything you read in the paper (this venerable one excepted). Such commonsense advice ought not to be necessary. Surely everyone realizes that reporters occasionally make mistakes, sometimes let their prejudices and preconceptions get the best of them, and may even seek to advance ulterior motives and hidden agendas. Perhaps, as a journalist and the son of journalists, I more readily acquired a skeptical attitude toward the practitioners of my profession, but the reader's capacity for crediting their fraud and folly still astounds me.

A few years back the news media reported that analysis of a rock from Mars suggested that maybe there was a possibility that there could potentially have been some primitive form of bacterial life on that planet billions of years ago. This speculative piece of puffery was considered a big news story, but what exactly was all the excitement about? It seems to me that the people who get tingly all over at the prospect of life on another planet are often the same people who don't know the names of their neighbors in the apartment across the hall, the same people who after five years still haven't met the family that lives in the house next door. Could there be life on another planet? This they have to know. Could there be life right here on earth? That doesn't interest them.

Does a little splatter of cosmic crud on a supposedly billion-year-old rock indicate the existence -- or, rather, the previous existence -- of some rudimentary form of life? So they tell us. But what about the two-month-old "fetus" in a woman's womb? What does that indicate? Could there be life there too? We mustn't dwell on that. Don't the analyzable designs of the baby yet-to-be-born and the rock-borne residue qualify as evidence of a Creator superior to man? Oh, how they'll scoff with derision at our naiveté.

Well, who's naive and who isn't? Who's open-minded and who's not? Honestly, is there anyone more gullible, more rigidly dogmatic than a starstruck believer in space-based fantasies, denying the down-to-earth reality right in front of his face or swelling in her belly in favor of the unsupported suppositions of the lab-coated acolytes of atheism?

Let's get our priorities straight. If we're going to look for life in the universe, let's at least look for intelligent life, and let's start here on earth. How about in the news media -- will we find intelligent life there? After their giddy, gushing coverage of this Martian muck, I'm not optimistic. But what about the universities, the government, the business world -- will we find intelligent life in any of these places? Somebody, please, send out a probe.


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