NASA Astrobiologists Draw Comics on the Job
A federally-funded NASA website about astrobiology has just launched an evolutionary comic strip. Is this an appropriate use of taxpayer funds?
“The Abominable Snow Aliens of Europa” was announced by NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine on November 4. This was not the first attempt at the comic-book genre (see category “Astrobio Comics” on the site), but promises to be an ongoing series. The intent is to add some colorful adventure to topics like alien life and global warming.
Our new comic strip, “The Abominable Snow Aliens of Europa,” imagines what aliens from Europa might look like, and also shows what might happen if such creatures developed a space program and other advanced technology. Will “Europe-ans” visit Earth as part of a Cold War space race of their own, similar to our Apollo missions to the Moon? Would they, perhaps, quest to better understand [sic] their solar system, like with our many missions to Mars? Or do they have other motivations that are entirely alien to our own?
Since their nondiscovery precludes any knowledge of what they think, this is purely an exercise in imagination at best, and indoctrination at worst. The writers and illustrators will slip in their own beliefs on these topics and channel them through imaginary beings to young people. Some JPL scientists will enter the world of the comic strip to confront the aliens in this imagination-fest.
Astrobiologists are keen to peek beneath Europa’s crazy-quilt patchwork ice, but missions to penetrate the ice and send a probe are decades away. In the meantime, we can only dream about what, if any, strange creatures might be swimming in that alien sea.
One unanswered issue is what dreams might be acceptable. What if the aliens are creationists? What if (most likely), no aliens show up? What if the JPL scientists reach Europa, dig through the ice and nobody’s home? It’s highly doubtful the comic strip will broach those possibilities.
Visitors can read the first episode of the Sunday series on the Astrobio Comics page of the site. The introductory page explains the purpose, and adds some fright to grip the reader:
Coming Soon… Astrobiology Magazine is proud to launch a new comic strip, “The Abominable Snow Aliens of Europa.” … this new series will tell the story of an alien invasion of Earth. We plan for this series to be a fun way to visit science topics like terraforming, climate change, icy moons, alien communication, and “life as we know it,” and to imagine, if life did evolve on Europa, what might it be like and what goals would its civilization develop? This series will feature a new strip each Sunday, so visit us each week as the story unfolds — and follow how the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance!
The writers apparently chose Europa because of its centrality in Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey, that portrayed beings much further ahead in evolution than humans.
The comic strip page bears the NASA+Home link and the FirstGov emblem, but Creation-Evolution Headlines has so far been unable to determine funding for the comic strip. The “About Us” page of Astrobiology Magazine only states that the site is “a NASA-sponsored online popular science magazine.”
Of course NASA is proud to launch a comic strip. That’s the only place where their evolutionary dreams come true.
We can’t fault the outreach and education folks at NASA for using the comic-strip medium per se. We use comics to liven up our site. Humor and visualization can be effective teaching tools. But they can also be tools of propaganda or sidestepping. The difference between NASA’s site and ours is that you get all sides here: we give the microphone to the best and brightest of evolutionists to spew their view before we critique it and, when called for, have fun with it. With NASA’s new comic strip, by contrast, children will never hear the views of Darwin skeptics. All problems with evolution will be glossed over when not completely ignored. The producers of the comic strip will subvert the natural inclination of children to let their imaginations run wild to lead them down the primrose path to Charlie’s shrine, where some of them will offer sacrifice. Since the criticisms of creationists and Darwin skeptics are blocked from view, the impossible will look possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain – all with the imprimatur of the federal government. That’s not education. It’s brainwashing. It’s your tax dollars at work.
Why don’t they write comics about the real abominable snow aliens of Europe? Ahhh…
Answer: because global cooling is not politically correct. (The warm ones are still abominable.)