Message Two, dated May 2nd, 2001.


Bara's response


Dear Mr. Bara,

      You write: "Ok, Ralph I tried." I don't feel that you have tried at all. That is my reaction to your letters. But I want to suggest a first step in the right direction - something that should have been done a long time ago.

      I suggest that you urge Hoagland to make a drastic revision of one of the pages on the Enterprise Mission website - the page which introduces "The Europa Enigma." I will refer to it as "europa.html." Here is the URL:

      I imagine that the Enterprise Mission website has a regular stream of new visitors. Many will find their way to the above page. It is likely that very few of those visitors will know anything about the history of ideas concerning Europa.

      The issue is simply this: Does Richard C. Hoagland want those visitors to believe that he was the first person to propose the possibility of an ocean on Europa? Or does he not?

      As it stands, "europa.html" is extremely deceptive. Please read that page carefully, asking yourself how such a visitor is likely to interpret what is found there. Let me point out a few things on that page.

1. The statement that Hoagland published a "radical new theory" in which he proposed "that a planet-wide ocean still exists under the tens-of-miles-thick sulphur-tinged ice now completely covering Europa." Next to that statement, one finds an illustration of a cut-away view of Europa showing such an ocean under a crust of ice.

2. The statement that "Hoagland's theory" encountered "overwhelming opposition" from most NASA scientists in 1980. Later one finds the statement that NASA scientists have astonishingly reversed their previous opinions and are "now on record as eagerly awaiting confirmation of the existence of Europa's planet-wide, ice-covered ocean via GALILEO information."

3. Arthur C. Clarke's generous, but strangely ambiguous acknowledgement of Hoagland's 1980 article about Europa.

      Mr. Bara, there are people who have read "europa.html" and concluded that it was Hoagland who first proposed the existence of a Europan ocean. I suspect that there are many such people. Doesn't that page state quite clearly that his new theory included a proposal of such an ocean? And isn't it logical for a reader to assume that the adjoining illustration is showing the ocean part of Hoagland's new theory? Doesn't the assertion that the theory was new imply that no one thought of the theory before Hoagland - including the possibility of a Europan ocean? There is not even a hint that various scientists had proposed this possibility before Hoagland even thought of writing an article about Europa.

      Furthermore, if NASA scientists were once opposed to Hoagland's theory and have reversed that previous opinion by now believing that an ocean might really exist on Europa, isn't it reasonable for the reader to conclude that the the ocean idea must indeed have been part of the theory that NASA scientists had previously opposed - Hoagland's theory?

      A visitor to that page would justifiably be disturbed to learn that it was really NASA scientists who first proposed the possibility that Europa might have an ocean due to tidal heating in 1979 and that the theory was discussed by many NASA scientists as a possible explanation of the smooth, almost crater-less appearance of Europa's surface, also in 1979.

      Concerning Clarke's statement, it is admittedly rather confusing as to its meaning, but that ambiguity disappears completely when it is surrounded by the other statements on "europa.html." It adds considerably to the deceptive nature of that page, giving the impression that Clarke himself attributed the idea that an ocean might exist on Europa to Hoagland. (Indeed, it is certainly possible that Clarke actually did believe that was true when he wrote the statement.)

      Once I confronted you with some of Hoagland's misleading statements about Europa (on some BBS). You responded by saying that it is just a question of semantics. I cannot agree with that. The only important question is how people would interpret those statements. Your response suggests that this is not important to you. You totally ignore the fact that many people did in fact believe that the idea of an ocean on Europa originated with Hoagland. When one looks for the reasons for this wide-spread and mistaken belief, one finds statements like those above from "europa.html." Is it not reasonable to conclude that those statements may have been one of the reasons, and perhaps even an important one?

      If you think that I am merely taking the statements on "europa.html" out of context and thereby somehow changing the meaning, then you are wrong. In my website article "The origin of this page." I give the full quotes and discuss the misleading nature of "europa.html" as well as various other statements in some detail. The full quotes don't change the implication one iota. I also document the fact that many people actually did believe that Hoagland was first in proposing an ocean on Europa, including some cases where "europa.html" seems to be partly responsible for that misbelief. In one case, the illustration of Europa which appears on "europa.html" is reproduced and identified as "Hoagland's Proposed Model of Europa" - a very easy mistake for someone to make.

      Mr.Bara, I would suggest that you carefully read my article "The origin of this page." I have recently made extensive revisions. The URL is:

      In one of your messages to me, you asked me to "publicly acknowledge that [I am] satisfied that Hoagland has never intentionally tried to mislead anyone about Europa." It is not possible for me to do that because I am convinced that Hoagland did intentionally mislead people. I believe that my article just cited makes an extremely good case for that accusation.

      But let me add here some simple observations. First of all, whatever is found on the Enterprise Mission website is there with Hoagland's complete approval. It would not be hard to accurately convey the truth about the origin of ideas about Europa. Not hard at all. It seems to me an inescapable conclusion that the misleading nature of "europa.html," in its entirety, is deliberate and is precisely what Hoagland wanted.

      One can add to this other misleading statements that Hoagland has made or which are on his website. These are discussed in my article. He is perfectly able to express himself accurately. If his statements convey the impression that he was the first to propose an ocean on Europa, then I cannot believe that it is unintentional.

      One can also add to this his silence concerning the misleading statements made by Terence Dickinson (in a Toronto Star article) and by Arthur C. Clarke (in "2010"). He had ample opportunity to correct the misimpressions conveyed by those statements, but failed to do so.

      One can add to this Hoagland`s consistent unwillingness in the past to correct the misconceptions that people have had about Hoagland's role in proposing the idea of an ocean on Europa (which is nothing more than popularizing the idea and expressing his belief that it is right). Even when the idea was wrongly attributed to him in the media, he remained silent. Even when I was a behind-the-scenes pest about this situation during a period of more than one year, he refused to be honest about things and continued, defiantly, to make just one more extremely deceptive statement.

      Mr. Bara, do you realize that I first complained about this situation almost four years ago (in June, 1997)? Perhaps it is about time for something to be done.

      I have emphasized here the statements concerning the idea that an ocean might exist on Europa. This very significant idea evolved over the entire decade of the 1970s, based on the research and the imagination of a number of scientists. Hoagland knew very well that this was not his idea. That makes the statements on his website especially offensive. Those statements are disrespectful and unfair to the individuals who truly originated that idea. Above all, they are unfair to the visitors to his website who have been misled by them in the past and the new visitors who will be misled by them in the future.

      At the present time, Hoagland is also aware of the fact that he was not the first person to speculate about life on Europa. If and when Hoagland decides to make the drastic revisions necessary in "europa.html," I strongly suggest that he graciously acknowledge that others thought of that idea too. If he wishes to be honest and fair, that is obviously the right thing to do.

      My next message will be about one such person, Gerald Feinberg, and the book LIFE BEYOND EARTH that he co-authored with Robert Shapiro. Feinberg scooped Hoagland! And he (together with Shapiro) made a more convincing case that life might exist in oceans not just on Europa, but on Ganymede and Callisto too! I will also include several comments about "The Europa Enigma," both positive and negative.

      Mr. Bara, can we hope for some progress on this issue? Then we can move on to other issues. Hoagland misleads people in many ways. But what is most disturbing to me is the negativity and the divisiveness which pervades his approach. It is destructive. It seems designed to put a wedge between people. I believe that it is deliberately conceived to do just that.

--Ralph Greenberg