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Zubrin Jumps The Shark

Or perhaps he jumped it a long time ago and I just wasn’t paying attention.

One of the reasons I’m no longer involved with the Mars Society (aside from attending their nearby convention last year) is things like this. Sadly, like John Kerry’s “joke” earlier this week, the fact of Zubrin’s over-the-top ravings hardly comes as a surprise anymore…the only surprise is now the increasingly strident language employed. Like a junkie pursuing a fix, Zubrin seems to have a need to make ever more extreme pronouncements to top what’s come before, in order to get attention for himself (oh, and his organization, too).

As others have said, he once showed promise as a great front man for space advocacy. He came to public attention by passionately promoting the cause of exploring and settling Mars in the near term, explaining how it could be done without waiting for wizard technologies to be invented and without breaking the bank. He could have been a new Gerard K. O’Neill, in fact — with the initial popularity of the Mars Society and the contacts this afforded him with celebrities and space professionals, he could have become a leader and popularizer of space settlement for a new generation.

But instead of another O’Neill, he turned out to be another Nixon…paranoid about his enemies and prone to cheap vendettas against those who don’t see things exactly his way.

Zubrin brought space exploration and settlement back into popular culture after two decades, and he succeeded in founding a new space advocacy organization to promote those ideas — he should be given credit for that. But where he failed is in not recognizing that his moment had passed as soon as the Mars Society was born. As Hoffer said, few leaders of mass movements have the temperament to make the transition when their movement becomes institutionalized. Issuing vitriolic missives of this sort certainly indicate he lacks the communications skills and good judgement to be a leader that I would look to.

But what’s especially pathetic about the announcement Keith links to is not really the juvenile name-calling or any specific example of nastiness, but the fact that finally getting what he wanted was not enough for Zubrin. Had the announcement consisted solely of its first and last sentences, it would have been a pleasant and gracious acknowledgement of NASA’s having changed its mind on Hubble to Zubrin’s liking. Instead, he wastes four paragraphs exploring yet again his personal animosity towards a NASA Administrator who has been out of that post for more than a year and a half, and rehashing his earlier over-the-top statements against the man and the earlier Hubble decision.

So much for showing appreciation…not to mention class.

1 comment to Zubrin Jumps The Shark

  • Aaron_J

    I agree with your assessment of the cited MS statement. However, while the name calling in the cited piece is certainly a new low, allowing personal animosity to creep into statements is something he and Keith have in common.