Bara's brief response is at the end.
Dear Mr. Bara,
Richard Hoagland seems to be a man who is quite gifted in certain ways. He could use his gifts in a very positive way if he wanted to. As it is, I feel that what he does is very negative and even destructive. I cannot view him as just a harmless kook or an entertainer, as many do.
My criticism of Hoagland's behavior has been a protest. As with any protest, the intent has always been to achieve change. The issues that I raise are symbolic to me. They represent a certain kind of dishonesty, hypocrisy, and irresponsibility that fully deserve my efforts. Concerning my persistence, which you refer to as obsessive, it became clear to me a long time ago that I had a simple choice - either to give up in my protest, accomplishing nothing, or to persist with the hope that I could make a dent in what I perceive to be a serious problem. Obviously, I chose the latter course.
But it seems that I have not adequately explained myself. Some people who have written to me seem genuinely confused about my motivation and the points that I have made. In fact, there are many things that I feel a need to clarify. Your attempted rebuttal of Gary Posner's SI article and your recent e-mail message to me have made a significant difference too.
It is very difficult for me to quietly accept your "attack the messenger" approach. I feel that I have behaved with complete integrity at every stage. It is also difficult for me to accept your disingenuous dismissal of my criticism of Hoagland, which I feel is completely valid and deserves to be taken seriously.
And so I have made the following decision. My intention is to write a series of messages related to various aspects of my criticism of Hoagland. I will do this slowly over a long period of time. I will try to explain what those issues represent to me. I hope that people will then understand the meaning of all of my efforts.
Each message will be addressed to you, although they will really be aimed at other readers who somehow find their way to them through the internet. I will also post any response that I receive from you.
Let me give you an idea of what my forthcoming messages will discuss. Each message will be quite specific. I will discuss another fax that I sent to Art Bell about the Europa issue. I will discuss your semantics argument about various statements of Hoagland's concerning that issue, which I find exceeding insulting. I will discuss the Squyres affair. I will discuss one episode of the Art Bell Show where Hoagland proposed an experiment which he wanted youngsters to do and which demonstrated (or so he claimed) an anomalous gravitational effect - in my opinion, one of the most mean-spirited hoaxes to ever take place on Coast-To-Coast.
I will discuss the ideas of Gerald Feinberg and of Benton Clark concerning life on Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, and the contents of Hoagland's article about Europa - finally making a comparison as to the depth and value of those speculations. My reluctance to do this before seemed very logical to me, but has been misunderstood. It now seems untenable.
I will also discuss your assertion that something I wrote when I challenged Hoagland to a debate in 1998 represented intellectual dishonesty on my part. Hoagland used that argument as an excuse to refuse my challenge. He stated that I lacked integrity. My opinion of him dropped one more notch as a result. Your interpretation of what I wrote at that time is completely wrong. Perhaps this is an honest misunderstanding on your part. Perhaps it is deliberate. I do not know. But, as I will explain, there was no intellectual dishonesty on my part. In fact, quite the contrary is true. I will also try to explain why I have tried so hard to challenge Hoagland on the mathematical evidence that he has put forth over the years and which is prominently discussed in THE MONUMENTS OF MARS. This is an issue that I feel very strongly about for a number of reasons.
In addition to these messages, I intend to again challenge Hoagland to a debate concerning that mathematical evidence. My contention, as before, is that virtually all of that evidence is fallacious and should be discarded. This is both criticism and advice. I will suggest a debate in writing, to take place at a mutually agreeable location on the internet. It will be essential that Hoagland carefully study the relevant essays on my website. I will urge him to seek the advice and assistance of the best mathematicians or statisticians he can find who would be willing to help him. I truly want him to either put the very best case forward that he can or come to the realization that this evidence is without value, as I have been asserting over the years.
If he wishes to discuss predictions that he has made, and argue that such predictions validate his professed beliefs, that would be fine. I have not addressed that issue in my essays (for the simple reason that I could not adequately document any prediction), but would be delighted to have the opportunity. If he wants to argue that the work of Crater and McDaniel somehow validates all of the other evidence he presents (mostly due to him and Torun), that would be fine. If he wants to debate the content of their work, that would be somewhat surprising to me, but would be fine too. I feel prepared to respond to whatever arguments he wishes to present.
When it is time, I will do my best to get the help of others to put pressure on Hoagland to accept my challenge. I feel that he has an obligation to do so. Let me be clear about one thing. My criticism of the mathematical evidence that Hoagland presents in his book is extremely well-founded. It is not difficult for a mathematician to objectively evaluate such evidence. I have offered not just my opinion about this evidence, but have tried hard to explain the basis for that opinion as clearly as I could. My essays on the topic have been on my website for a long time. I have reason to believe that Hoagland and you have not even bothered to read them carefully, if at all. I wonder if Hoagland even cares whether he is right or wrong.
Let me be clear about another thing. As I stated in one of my first letters to Hoagland, I am not trying to disprove the theory that certain objects on Mars are artificial. It is not possible for me to even attempt that. There is no statement on my website, nor has there ever been, which dismisses or belittles that issue in any way. However, from my perspective as a mathematician, Hoagland is using mathematics to fool people into believing that the case for artificiality is far stronger than it really is. Perhaps he is fooling himself too. It would be extremely difficult for most readers of THE MONUMENTS OF MARS to seriously evaluate that kind of evidence, one way or the other, and Hoagland certainly must realize that. Yet he has turned a deaf ear when challenged on that evidence by a highly qualified mathematician such as myself. In addition, I have no doubt that a number of scientists have looked at his book just out of natural curiosity about the Cydonia issue. Hoagland has provided them with an easy excuse to just dismiss the issue without looking further.
Finally, I have a comment about your error concerning the references to papers of J. S. Lewis about oceans on the Galilean satellites. I do not view that as an innocent error on your part. Your intent was to discredit something that I worked very hard on - namely my article "An Ocean on Europa?" Of course, your mistake negates what you wrote. You do have an obligation to post a retraction, but it is your responsibility to do whatever checking you need to, which you should have done before. If I were in Seattle, I would probably take the trouble to fax you some of that information, as you requested. I am in India right now, and it is rather inconvenient for me to honor your request from here.
When you do go to the library to check those references, I would suggest that you also borrow the book LIFE BEYOND EARTH by Robert Shapiro and Gerald Feinberg. You will learn much more about why life might exist not just on Europa, but also on Ganymede and Callisto - an idea which is starting to be revived by scientists today. I suggest that you also read Benton Clark's article in LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, where you will learn that the deep-sea vent communities discovered on Earth are not an adequate model for what might conceivably be going on under the icy crust of Europa - an important and often overlooked insight.
Bara's response, dated February 4th, 2001
Ok, Ralph I tried. Hoagland warned me it was pointless. Sorry you want to continue this silliness. You seem incapable of admitting any responsibility for the uncivil tone of our discourse.