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Military Covering up Fireballs from Space

  1. Jun 11, 2009 #1
    This infuriates me beyond nearly anything I have ever read.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,525832,00.html"

    What happened to Obama's 'resurrection of science'? :mad:

    Tell me what you guys think of this.

    - And please do so quickly, before I go insane. :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2009 #2

    D H

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    The foxnews.com article is pretty much a regurgitation of the article at space.com, http://www.space.com/news/090610-military-fireballs.html.

    So, what do I think?

    I think that this is one incredibly lousy piece of journalism. It is extremely biased, it contains a lot highly emotional terms, and it was written to elicit an emotional rather than rational response. Did the author even bother to find out why the military acted the way it did? Suppose the author did attempt to contact some military spokesperson for an explanation but was rebuffed. Given the bias of the article, this event would have been front and center had it occurred. As such, I see two possibilities: The author was lazy/stupid and didn't even bother to try to find the rationale for this change of policy, or the author did find out why and decided that the explanation would not fit the bias the author was trying to project.

    I can immediately see two explanations for why the military acted the way they did. I am sure there are others.
    1. Some bright person in the military showed how to determine the orbits of the spy satellites using only the publicly available data. Someone with nefarious goals could do the same -- and could thereby determine when it is safe to launch an attack or test a missile without being detected.
    2. Some bright person showed how to reverse engineer the capabilities of the spy satellites using only publicly available data. Someone with nefarious goals could do the same -- and could thereby determine how to modify their missiles to avoid detection.
     
  4. Jun 11, 2009 #3
    That's an interesting take. That's why I asked for opinions. :smile:

    If one of your proposals is true, then this would make a lot more sense. I would like to definitively find out why the military did this before I say I understand it though. If you're right, I don't think that we would ever find out.

    Anyone else?
     
  5. Jun 11, 2009 #4

    russ_watters

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    It is also important to note that there is a difference between "covering up" and simply not releasing data. A coverup (to me anyway) implies an attempt to suppress information that is already in the public domain. The military owns this data. It was a courtesy to scientists that they released it previously. Halting the release is not a coverup.
     
  6. Jun 11, 2009 #5
    True. I just quoted the title of the article on Fox News.
     
  7. Jun 11, 2009 #6

    mgb_phys

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    The tax payers own the data, there is a federal requirement to release it unless there is a national security reason to withhold it.
    A lot of research and industry in the US owes itself to this liberal policy, from GPS to the FDA.
    Automatically classifying everythign out of a fear of terrorism can do a lot of damage.

    Anybody capable of launching a missile is capable of building radar to track satelites. i suspect this is more butt-covering, if there is any risk (to your career) it's much easier to say no on security grounds than think about it - look at the TSA !
     
  8. Jun 11, 2009 #7

    D H

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    That is the problem. You didn't think.

    An even bigger problem is that Fox News didn't think. It just paid space.com a non-exclusive fee to use their article -- and to resell it. Who else didn't think? All you have to do is a google search for the exact phrase "hush-hush government spacecraft". Only nine hits? WTF is D H talking about? Now go to the bottom of the page and click on "repeat the search with the omitted results included."

    MSNBC, democraticunderground.com, freerepublic.com, floridatoday.com, baltimoresun.com; by tomorrow the list of news organizations that didn't think will be immense. Who needs reporters or fact checkers in this modern information age? Who needs an editor when a juicy, biased story will sell better?

    I am not condoning what the military did. I am deploring the pathetic state to which the media has fallen. That the exact phrase "hush-hush government satellites" has 600+ hits, most of them word-for-word copies of this terribly written article is very telling. I am curious how wide-spread this article will be over the next few days.

    Regarding what the military did: I gave two plausible explanations in an earlier post. Here is a third: Some not-so-bright person in the military said "Gee. Someone might be able to infer where are satellites are and what they can do if we keep releasing these data to the public." Not-so-bright #2: "Ooooh. That sounds like this might brush up against ITAR restrictions. We better classify these data."
     
  9. Jun 11, 2009 #8
    You know, you're right. The media needs to do better.

    When you say I didn't think, I hope you understand what's going on here. I used the article's title as mine because, hey, this thread is about the article, and the topic the article was about. I opened the thread because I wanted input from others. I never read and accept something the first time around, I check with many sources, including in this case, very bright people who know more about the subject than I. And I'm getting very good input. I like it. :smile: This is helping me understand.

    Also, in the beginning, what infuriates me is the fact that no matter how biased the article is, the things mentioned in it aren't false. I don't condone what the government did. I say there should be better reasoning for something like this.
     
  10. Jun 12, 2009 #9

    D H

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    The exact phrase "hush-hush government satellites" results in only a couple of hits: This thread. The exact phrase is "hush-hush government spacecraft", and the hit count is now 1320. So far the only mainstream media to pick up the story are (somewhat amusingly) MSNBC and Fox News.
     
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