Mr Pot? Mr Kettle is Holding on Line 2….

I haven’t had as much time lately to blog, so I ended up missing a couple of the recent bruhaha’s over COTS funding and VSE costs. But I did notice a rather amusing theme that I felt was worth pointing out.

So you get a news report released. Say one saying that VSE costs are starting to overrun. A couple of people whose personal analysis was already leaning in that direction run with it, and blog about the news, saying stuff about how unsustainable the approach is, and how this whole Apollo on Steroids approach is a waste of taxpayer money.

Then someone who claims to be a conservative Republican, but who doesn’t seem to have found a Republican sponsored piece of pork he doesn’t like, jumps on them about how we shouldn’t go off speculating about poorly sourced reports until more official verification comes out. Not being hasty with poorly sourced reports probably isn’t a bad idea, but….

The funny thing is that this same person who was suggesting that the others are being overhasty with poorly sourced articles is the same person who regularly posts long and dire warnings based on…wait for it…poorly sourced articles about China’s ambitions in space. All it takes is some peon in the Chinese space program saying something that gets mistranslated by some Western newspaper, and our friend is wetting his bed about how if we don’t fund the VSE, we’ll be having to fight them Chinese Commies on the moon….

I guess is just highlights that old song line about how a “man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” It seems like an such a universal occurance to almost be a truism that bloggers tend to trumpet reports that support their predetermined conclusions, no matter how preliminary, poorly sourced, etc, and only really apply sufficient skepticism when the report goes against their predetermined conclusions.

Just look at your average war-blog for tons of bed-wetting over even the thinnest of reports about how some Iraqi document taken badly out of context and without further analysis absolutely PROVES that George Bush was right, that Saddam had all sorts of WMDs that will be found Real Soon Now (TM) and that all those Liberals are a bunch of traitorous losers who can’t admit they were wrong. But if a report comes out about prison abuse or a possible massacre done by our troops, and its “probably just a few bad apples”, “we shouldn’t jump to conclusions on preliminary reports”, “thats still under investigation”, “it’s probably all just distortions by the ‘Evil MSM (TM)'”.

Then go to an antiwar site, and the opposite is true. Even the shakiest report that some soldier somewhere did something wrong must be obviously true. Any report that Saddam was actually a jerk, or that any of their preconceived notions might be wrong are treated with skepticism.

Go to Mark’s site, and even the slightest hint of a report that China might someday want to send men to the moon is read into them trying to take over the moon, claim it for the UN, base missles there to shoot down rockets flown by private companies, and generally try to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids…but if the report is critical of NASA pork, suggests that the usual suspects who’ve never delivered a contract under budget in their lives might be coming in over budget, and “this is poorly sourced”, “it is better to wait and see what the real facts are before jumping up and down and yelling, ‘See! See! I told you so!'”.

It’s all rather amusing actually.

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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
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3 Responses to Mr Pot? Mr Kettle is Holding on Line 2….

  1. Dan Schrimpsher says:

    John, not to get into a political debate, but how long have you been a human? Everyone “hears what [they] [want] to hear and disregards the rest.” Why pick on Mark (not that I agree with him on NASA all the time) when we all do it. Us New Spacers were quick to jump on the reports that COTS was being cut, until it proved false by the end of the day. Of course it is your blog, and you can pick on anybody you want to…

  2. Bill White says:

    A while back, retracted a story about how ESAS was coming in as a total failure from a technical perspective. Remember the “Wal-Mart” lander kerfluffle and EML-2 as the rendezvous point because the rockets weren’t up to the job?

    Poorly sourced and retacted.

    Next, money to develop the 5 segment SRB was accelerated from Ares V to Ares 1 CLV and the hoopla was “cost overrun” – – also later retracted.

    Paying to develop 5 segment now will be offset by not paying to develop 5 segment later.

    Next, Mike Griffin had the knife out for COTS. “Bad Griffin, bad Griffin!”

    Uh, wrong again.

    Now, hallway chatter says VSE has exploding costs.

    Being 0 for 3 skepticism on #4 makes some sense, no?

  3. Anonymous says:

    COTS is definitely being cut:

    “Originally COTS was to get $170 million in its first two years – $50 million in FY2006 and $120 million in FY2007.But FY2006 funding has been cut by $10 million and NASA’s requested budget for FY2007, which starts in October, reduces funding to around $91 million.”

    NASA COTS cuts cause bidder consternation

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