One of the things that I despise the most in this world is when someone twists your words. Glenn Reynolds recently said in a column that Sir Martin Rees, by saying:
“If they were governmental or international (expeditions), Antarctic-style restraint might be feasible. On the other hand, if the explorers were privately funded adventurers of free-enterprise, even anarchic disposition, the Wild West model would be more likely to prevail.”
he is implying that the Wild West model is a bad thing. Reynolds then goes on to talk about the commercial utilisation of space and throws in a few cheap shots at Europeans (no surprise there) and Sir Martin Rees himself. Reynolds, of course, is a fan of the Wild West model. I’m personally model-agnostic.
I was at the presentation when Sir Martin said those words. Even taken out of context, the quote to me does not imply that he doesn’t like the Wild West model – he’s merely making a statement of fact. From what he said elsewhere in the talk, it didn’t seem to me like he was at all bothered about which model prevailed; he spent most of his time talking about posthumans roaming the galaxy and the speciation of humans.
Part of the problem is that the media decided to quote only a single paragraph of Sir Martin’s presentation (the one above) and left everything else out. That however does not excuse the twisting of his words and frankly the insults thrown at him.