When the Thirty Meter Telescope issue began I would have described myself as quite sympathetic to the cause of Native Hawaiians due to my normal political leanings and my own personal heritage. Over the years I have often become quite bitter about the continued use of lies, smears, and insults used against the telescopes by opponents.
Can we have an honest dialog here?
Apparently not. The issues has become something akin to a religious crusade among people who have devoted their lives to the cause. When this happens little things like truth seem to lose.
I am going to be blunt here, we know much of the anti-TMT argument is either false or gross exaggeration. Project supporters have patiently corrected these arguments time and time again, documented the issues during the hearings, and yet we continue to hear these false arguments repeated. They are repeated online in social media, in newspaper editorials, even under oath in official proceedings.
Certainly some people repeat this misinformation in an honest belief that it is true, maybe they hear it from a source they trust, perhaps from a leader in the protest movement. We are now well over a decade into the controversy and we have been over and over the issues so many times, those more involved with the controversy should know the difference.
At some point these arguments move beyond mere misunderstandings or misinformation. When you make no effort to check or correct the information you are repeating you bear responsibility for that information. You then arrive in the territory of lies, and this is what I tend call them personally when particularly annoyed.
Repeating the myths because you did not check, want them to be true, or do not care about the truth, that is the issue here. This is the part I simply cannot allow to go without commenting.
It is true that there are real issues at stake here, the balance of modern and traditional culture being top of that list. But if you base your opposition to TMT on the myths below I suggest you do a little more reading outside of your media bubble before making judgments.
Thus this post is a collection of the more common lies used to discredit the telescopes and astronomy on Mauna Kea in general. This post will be the index, with separate posts to follow on each of the false claims. I have a starting list of the most common and will add as I have time to write. There is plenty of material here, so I suspect I will not run out anytime soon.
- The motivation for TMT is greed and profit?
- There are other places where TMT could be built?
- You cannot build TMT on conservation land?
- TMT will be obsolete before completion?
- Space telescopes are better?
- TMT will be the largest building on the island?
- Is TMT a military installation?
- Remove the abandoned telescopes?
- TMT will contaminate the water table?
- Will access to the mauna be closed permanently?
- Hawaiians oppose the TMT project?
- There will be no TMT jobs for locals?
- The State of Hawaii and Hawaii taxpayers are paying for TMT?
- The observatories pay no rent?
- Will TMT use nuclear power?
- Was the real summit of Mauna Kea destroyed to make way for a telescope?
- Were cultural sites destroyed when building observatories?
- Were the telescopes built without permits?
There are also any number of web pages around that contain these myths, amplifying them and commonly sited by protesters. A good example is the page 10 Questions About Mauna Kea that Might Surprise You.