Message Three, Part 2 (July 30th, 2001)


Bara's response


Dear Mr. Bara,

         In response to your offer, I do not need a therapist to cure me of my persistence. That is one of my very best qualities. It has served me very well in my career as a mathematician. It is considered perfectly normal in mathematics to work on problems for five years, ten years or even more. There are problems that I have worked on for more than fifteen years - not continuously, but following a pattern of periodically returning to them.

         My persistence in my criticism of Hoagland is partly a consequence of how things evolved over the past five years. As I have said before, it also is a form of protest. It seems to me that there is an epidemic of the kind of hypocrisy, pretense, irresponsibility, and intellectual dishonesty that Hoagland exemplifies (to an extreme in my opinion). The only way that I can carry out this protest is to focus on specific issues.

         Concerning the issue of Europa, it is clear to me that if someone with my persistence had not come along, the myth that Hoagland was the first to propose that Europa might have an ocean, and that he was therefore far in advance of the scientific community on that idea, would be flourishing just as it did before.

         When I was challenging that myth behind the scenes during the period June, 1997 to Summer, 1998, Hoagland showed no inclination whatsoever to correct it. Quite the contrary! The statement he made on the Art Bell Show in December 1997 (which I have no doubt was in response to my fax sent the same day, unread on the show) did nothing but help to perpetuate the myth. In January, 1998, an ABC news article appeared concerning Europa. That article attributed the idea of an ocean on Europa to Hoagland. It is not conceivable to me that this article was not brought to Hoagland's attention. Again, even though that article showed clearly that this myth existed, even enough to find its way into the major news media, Hoagland did nothing to correct it.

         I have already pointed out that the references Hoagland makes to to the work of Cassen, Peale, and Reynolds in The Europa Enigma just do not solve the problem. The myth has flourished nevertheless. But let me add that no matter how clear those references might be, they cannot be considered as an excuse or a licence for making misleading statements elsewhere, or allowing others to make misleading statements, or placing such statements on his website. This is obvious and should not have been necessary for me to explain. It is just common sense.

         You ask why Hoagland would place the article on his website, with references to Cassen, Peale, and Reynolds, if he wanted to mislead people. The question doesn't make any sense to me. That was the article he wrote twenty years ago. How could he brag about it if it was unavailable? It's difficult to find the original magazine article in libraries. The myth that Hoagland was the first to propose an ocean on Europa flourished nevertheless. Hoagland certainly realized that. Perhaps he even convinced himself that it could be considered true, although it is hard for me to understand that. (I note for example a very bizarre statement about the Nobel prize which he makes in the Michael Corbin interview.) In any case, he obviously felt safe in making statements which blurred the truth (and therefore were misleading) and in having such statements on his website, composed by other people.

         And if anyone ever complained, he could take the approach that you have taken for him, pleading that he never intended to mislead anyone and that the references in The Europa Enigma are the proof.

         One other matter. You have asked me to repudiate CSICOP and The Skeptical Inquirer. I do not have any reason to do that. I am not aware of any dishonesty on the part of that organization or the authors of the articles. You strike me as completely hypocritical. You attack people viciously in your articles on the Enterprise Mission website. You have still to apologize to me for your Orwell article, comparing me to Hitler, referring to my criticism as poison and mendacities. You have failed to correct the mistake about references to John S. Lewis that you made last November. Eight months have passed. That is not good, Mr. Bara. I note in contrast that Gary Posner immediately made corrections of mistakes that were pointed out to him. Those mistakes were acknowledged on his website, and in a recent issue of The Skeptical Inquirer. Perhaps that is indication of who is honest.

Ralph Greenberg