AUFORA News Update
Sunday, December 1st, 1996


Dan Goldin, NASA Administrator at The Freedom Foundation The Freedom Forum
New York City Conference Center Science, Space and Technology Panel (November 19, 1996)

Goldin: I'd like to go at this just a little bit and say I want to argue a little bit with you Leon. There are people that have a different set of understandings and beliefs, and let me pick on one subject. There are some people who believe that there is a Face on Mars. There were pictures taken from some Viking spacecraft, and if you look at the right kind of shadows you could imagine that there is a Face on Mars. Now there's two ways that NASA could approach this: one, we could say: "You don't know what you're talking about; we know that there couldn't be a civilization on Mars, and therefore we'll never take a picture of that spot."

But, there are taxpayers who believe this. So one of the things we are going to do on our next mission is when the spacecraft goes over that spot, if we have the right pointing, we'll try and take a picture, and scientifically show what we have found. And I think we have to be somewhat sensitive, especially when we're dealing with government money, to recognize some of the issues that the public has. Now in the past, NASA has been severely criticized every time people would come with ideas; immediately we had a tendency to say no. And sometimes we have to be a little bit more open with it. Now, I'm not going into wild and crazy things; but it's very easy for scientists to dismiss out of hand things that the general public believes in, and to say: "This is wild. This is crazy. We're not going to talk to you." Or you could also say: "Let me consider what you're saying, and let me give you some data so you could draw your own conclusions, and not tell you the answer."

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