I don't usually post so often on this blog, but sometime circumstances make me want to speak out. Yesterday it was the rather sudden appearance of another annoying flat-Earth (and just about every other sort of ) conspiracist. Tomorrow I will publish an entry on the old saw from flat-Earthers about railroad tracks not taking curvature into account, a more normal kind of entry for me.
Today, astronaut and moonwalker Eugene Cernan died at the age of 82. He was the last man to walk on the moon, at least for now. There are not many of his kind left, and I was very sad to hear that he is gone.
But that's not why I'm writing tonight. I'm writing because soon after the announcement of his death, the flat-Earth and moon hoax crazies started right in. They said he'd been bumped off because he knew the truth. They said that his great achievement was all a lie. I will not dignify these charges with a response. These cretins dishonor the memory of a man who boots they could never hope to fill.
How did we come to this? How did we come to the point where people who would call others liars and frauds, with no evidence whatsoever, feel that they should have an equal voice to those who work hard at helping us understand our place in the Universe, sometimes, as in the case of Commander Cernan, at the risk of their own lives?
Is it because we've brought up our children to "respect" the opinions of others, without investigating to find out if those opinions are deserving of respect? Is it because, in the age of the Internet, anyone can publish nearly anything, with little financial or personal cost? Not even, it seems, any cost to their reputations?
Whatever got us here, it feels to me like a giant step backwards. It's bad enough that there are people in the world who espouse a belief that the Earth is flat, but must we tolerate such incredible hubris and bad manners from these people? Must we shrug off their unfounded accusations, even to the point of calling current astronauts "traitors to humanity," as just a matter of opinion?
Or should we demand, en masse, that anyone who makes such wild claims, and such heinous accusations, back them up with real, verifiable facts.
I, for one, think we owe it to the memory of Commander Cernan, and the other heroes we have lost, many in the line of duty in what I consider to be a very high purpose, to demand more of humanity.