Harvard’s Avi Loeb, and Florida Tech’s Manasvi Lingam, do science and their own reputations a great disservice in a recently published fake history of the term astrobiology. In their self-described “Treatise,” they present the subject as the result of a simple progression of people and ideas, and provide 120 references purporting to follow their growth in understanding the subject. They even credit themselves with “theoretical and experimental breakthroughs in resolving the question of how life originated on our planet.”
Yet not a single reference from Loeb et al. is to Dr. Chandra Wickramasinghe and Sir Fred Hoyle.
This would puzzle any scientist in the 1970’s and 80’s — pro or con panspermia. All relevant scientists at that time knew who was publishing on that then crazy “discipline,” again and again and again and again in Nature. Fred and Chandra. Those scientists then, now largely dead, would watch today in disbelief as the current clique of 2020 media hungry posers deny their own genesis in order to credit themselves.
Loeb, Harvard’s presumptive “Astrobiologist,” has habitually ignored the two scientists who founded modern astrobiology, one deceased and the other certainly living.
But H-W are not obscure figures in science history. H-W are all over science publication archives, videos, newspapers, magazine articles and books, albeit many over three decades old. What actually happened before is what history is supposed to be about. So Loeb and his like cannot be excused for ignorance.
As evidence for microbial life’s persistence in space grows exponentially, the cynics like me understand that cats like Loeb use the only option available to them in order to cover their creepy tracks. After years of obscuring the truth, it is too late for the current and newly minted cohort of “astrobiologists” to give props to the people who first made the claims they yearn to prove.
So it is not in their personal interest. And they lie.
Avi Loeb, Chris Cockell, and many others of their generation, have fed off the “mystery” of life’s origins their entire careers. When those researchers were pups, and ever since, H-W were in intellectual penury and certainly an unattractive path for ambitious but well-schooled cowards. So rather than attribute inspirational grit or prescience to these disregarded partial-persons of science, they treated the difficult problem of life as one to be solved in forthcoming decades by committees, departments, budgets and soundbites.
I’ll conclude (for the moment) by sharing a worthy defense of the astrobiological truth from Dr. Ted Steele regarding this particular offense to the history of science.
No answer from “Harvard” of course.
July 4, 2020
Dear Members of the Department of Astronomy and Institute for Theory and Computation at Harvard University, and members of Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences Faculty, Florida Tech College of Engineering and Science
We alert all members of both faculties at Harvard and in Florida of the scientific misconduct of Professor Avi Loeb and Dr Manasvi Lingman. It has been our sad task to bring Professor Avi Loeb to task again as he is now clearly a serial offender of scientific misconduct and has now appeared to have duped a younger colleague into rewriting the history of science on the origins of the new science Astrobiology founded by the great pioneering efforts, against considerable opposition, of Professors Sir Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe. Just check out the recent published papers by N. Chandra Wickramsinghe and colleagues both at PubMed and on the wider net that could have been cited. This is another disgraceful episode in the history of science.
As has been brought to our attention by a colleague ” In your newly published article (https://arxiv.org/pdf/2004.11312.pdf), you say you will focus on the subject question. Yet you make no mention of Hoyle and Wickramasinghe. They detected evidence for freeze-dried bacteria in interstellar dust, and published extensively in scientific journals, books and popular media. Seeing the very wide range of your other references, I am truly puzzled. Please comment. ”
This again has been copied to the office of the president of Harvard University (attached).
We trust you will do the right thing and appropriately cite and restore the accuracy of the published scientific record.