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'Mushrooms on Mars is a Hoax. Stop Believing Hacks'

Sunday May 9, 2021. 05:34 PM , from Slashdot
Several science web sites are strongly disputing a China-based journal's claim that time-lapse photos of Mars show growing mushrooms.

TNW Neural headlined their story 'Mushrooms on Mars is a hoax — stop believing hack 'scientists''

If you believe those images demonstrate fungus growing on Mars, I'm about to blow your frickin' mind. Check out this pic. You see that? To heck with fungus, that's an entire highway growing out of the sand in front of a moving bus. You can clearly see that the Earth's sandy crust is being broken apart as the expanding highway organism grows beneath it.

Or, if you're the 'Occam's Razor' type: the wind is just blowing sand around.
I've never been to Mars, but I'm led to believe there are rocks, dust, and wind. Do we really need to go any further in debunking this nonsense?

They also link to Retraction Watch's page about the story's lead author, Rhawn Gabriel Joseph. IFL Science picks up the story:

Nicknamed the Space Tiger King — due to the photographs posted on his frankly ridiculous personal website — Joseph has spent decades erroneously claiming that life has already been discovered on other planets. Back in the 1970s, he began alleging that NASA's Viking lander had found biological matter, despite the agency stating the exact opposite of this.

After setting up his own journal in an attempt to air his unscientific assertions, he later filed a lawsuit against NASA in order to force them to investigate a structure which he claimed resembled a 'putative biological organism', but which later turned out to be a rock.

CNET adds:
'Claiming that mushrooms are sprouting all over Mars is an extraordinary claim that requires better evidence than an analysis of photographic morphology by a known crank who has claimed, on the basis of the same kind of analysis, that he has seen fields of skulls on Mars,' says Paul Myers, a developmental biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who has followed Joseph's work in the past...

After being alerted to the new paper on Wednesday, I sent emails to the associate editors-in-chief of Advances in Microbiology, asking for clarification around the peer review process. They have not responded to requests for comment. I also emailed members of the editorial board listed on SCIRP's website, including Jian Li, a microbiologist at Monash University in Australia. He says he has not been on the journal's editorial board 'for at least five to six years' and has not handled any of the papers in the journal.

The 'mushrooms' theory was also dismissed by several actual scientists, reports Futurism:

'The conditions on Mars are so extreme that you're not going to see fungi or any kind of life growing at that sort of speed under conditions like coldness and low air pressure,' Jonathan Clarke, president of Mars Society Australia, told the South China Morning Post. 'Life can barely survive, let alone thrive.'

Clarke also took issue with the paper claiming that mushrooms were actually growing on Mars. 'It's just like if you go to a beach and there are shells,' he told the newspaper. 'If the wind blows, the sand moves and exposes more shells. But we won't say the shells are growing there, it's just that they become visible...'

'We have more than photos, records, instruments that tell us what these materials are made of,' David Flannery, lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology who is a member of NASA's Mars 2020 mission science team, told SCMP. 'And we have models for the features we see around us.... Robots are sending back huge amounts of data,' he added. 'We have plenty of information but it's just that no one is interpreting the features that we see as something like fungi. There's zero evidence for that.'

'This paper, which is really not credible, will be ignored by the scientific community,' Flannery said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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