In my post I said I wouldn’t do any more Curiosity posts unless something big happened. Well, it has according to the ever-so-trustworthy source (they should have put on a smiley as otherwise given some of the woo peddled at HuffPo people might believe this story), UFOs flying in the sky, UFOs landing on the ground. Curiosity found them!
The mysteries began as soon as Curiosity touched down.
Now somewhere in this country (and probably not in the rest of the world where there is still some science education) some number of people will have just heard the headline or a brief soundbite and now a new Mars face or aliens conspiracy story will start. Few will take the time to see an explanation about dead pixels in the imager (or, even how many will know enough about CCDs to understand that even if they heard it). Or about optical distortions when too much filtering is applied. Nope, none of the explanations will matter, just the soundbite, either believed by the credulous or dismissed by the skeptical.
With science literacy declining in this country at an unprecedented rate I believe we should require any publisher, even bloggers to refrain from sensationalist headlines that misstate whatever the even slim evidence in the article points to. Can’t have another Orson Welles War of the Worlds effect with people at shooting swamp gas (and we have way more guns today, lots of people would get killed, but Florida probably has an exception on homicide when the shooter thought they were in danger from aliens).