So I make use of the Google alerts feature, and have news stories related to astronomy sent to my inbox daily. Usually these are straightforward, if sometimes mundane stories (things like such-and-such astronomer with such-and-such university is the recipient of such-and-such a grant). However, once in a while something truly bizarre sneaks in, like this editorial at Indiadaily.com:
Now, I frequently see stories from the India Times on astronomy… Astronomy is popular in India it appears, and the stories that I have seen so far in India Times have all been fact-based, pro-science stories.
What is IndiaDaily? Is it the equivalent of a tabloid? The editorial seems to be strangely absent of anything resembling fact or critical thinking. In seven short paragraphs, it makes the amazing claims that:
a) ‘Some Scientists’ say that the system is dominated by strange extraterrestrial life forms
b) These life forms are ion-based
c) These life forms are intelligent
d) These life forms are slightly more advanced than us
e) Ion-based life forms are also present in the earth
d) These earthly ion-based life forms are ‘primarily undetected’ by our ‘primitive’ technologies.
Actually these claims are in the last three paragraphs. The first four paragraphs appear to make unremarkable claims about observations of a star that is lighter and cooler than expected. I haven’t fact checked those yet, and I don’t think I’ll bother.