Shut up, the Sun

January 16, 2009

“There IS life on Mars” screamed the typical tabloid headline in The Sun yesterday. Well, no actually.

As usual, the truth is a bit less sensational: “There could life on Mars – or active volcanoes or other methane generating processes yet to be discovered.” That would be truer, but then they wouldn’t be able to print it in 1 foot high letters for the hard of thinking.


So, now, probably, we have half the population of the UK wandering around believing there really is proof of life on mars, when in fact all that’s happened is that an intriguing new phenomonen has been discovered – which will have an interesting explanation either way, but too early to claim anything like what the Sun claims.

How can they get away with publishing as if it was the true that ‘there is life on Mars’? I know everyone treats the Sun as a joke, journalistically, and rightly so most of the time, but even so, it’s very wearying.

Amusingly they claim that their ‘expert’ Paul sutherland ‘broke’ the story, when it was a standard NASA press release available for all to read:

I suspect poor old Virginia Wheeler and Paul Sutherland, who laboured long and hard on this sensational scoop misunderstood NASA’s headline: “Martian Methane Reveals the Red Planet is not a Dead Planet”

Of course, this refers to the fact that Mars could be alive geologically or biologically, but that’ll be a subtlety lost on Sun writers I suspect. Or certainly one they don’t care about, which is what is really sad about it all.

Either way, the Sun’s take is a stinky guff of methane of very definite biological origin.