NEW MEXICO, UNITED STATES - JULY 04: Two people dressed as aliens at the Roswell UFO Encounter on the 50th anniversary of the crash of a UFO' in the nearby plains, Roswell, New Mexico. (Photo by Scott S. Warren/Aurora/Getty Images)
From the Department of Ironies of Ironies: the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, devoted to open inquiry and the pursuit of truth, is seeking to bar media coverage of a civil case in which it is defendant, according to the Star-News.
The case? A lawsuit brought by a JPL employee claiming he was let go because he's a believer in "intelligent design," the nonsensical, non-scientific explanation for those who have religious and other objections to the theory of evolution.
What better way to debunk hokum than with the scrutiny that the public can provide?
Well, JPL does not agree. Its lawyers, saying they want to protect employees who may testify in the case, are seeking to bar media coverage.
That's not only unconstiutional. It's dumb.
Space and scientific work has long spawned conspiracy theories. And thoughtless secrecy like this helps fuel conspiracy theories, because it fuels questions in the conspiracy-minded people, which is to say most people, especially bloggers.
What does JPL have to hide? Did they find life on Mars during the rover's missions, and are afraid that employees will have to testify? Is there something more dangerous than we know about the recent solar flares? Do they have President Obama wasn't born on this planet?
Just to be clear, I made all of these thoughts up, quickly, just now, out of whole cloth. See how easy it is?
An open trial is better for JPL. The good news? Opening arguments began Tuesday, and they were open to the press.