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Tom Toles
Posted at 08:37 AM ET, 01/09/2013

Sunken treasure

Suppose we found a sea on Mars. We’d be pretty eager to explore that, right? And suppose it turned out to have UNKNOWN CREATURES in it! Liviing ones! Well, you can just imagine the frenzy, can’t you? There would be a lot of talk about humankind’s thirst for discovery! Our quest for knowledge! The innate curiosity we have that must be satisfied! We would, as we must, rise to the calling before us.

Now, if ever there were an opening paragraph that telegraphed that it was LEADING SOMEWHERE, that was it. And I wouldn’t want to disappoint expectations. So where I’m leading is here. We HAVE found an unexplored sea, teeming with strange and unknown geology and LIFE FORMS, but it’s too nearby to bother much with.

I dislike almost everything about this video except the main thing. The earnest Slideshow Hero of the TED Talk format bestrides the stage discussing the Amazing Thing that you’ll want to know about. Polite applause arrives on cue to signal our recognition that yes, We’ve Been Dopes, but Now We Get It. Even when we don’t. The science/discovery angle is contaminated by hints that it’s all a big resource we can exploit and consume. And then the life forms are oddly downplayed relative to the geology. But whatever. The fact remains that all the things we’re looking for in vain under every dead pebble in space, are teeming right here, unexplored on the Home Planet. My own angle is, let’s find, study and appreciate the astonishing species of life on earth, and then see to it that we take care not to destroy them. If we can’t manage that, heaven help any life we find Out There.

By  |  08:37 AM ET, 01/09/2013

 
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