by Max Barry

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by The Democratic Island Federation of Frieden-und Freudenland. . 39 reads.

The Hoax of ''the Kolaxa Aliens''


An admonitory notice to all citizens of Forest.

We, the marine biologists of the Thousand Isles University at Redriver, have considered it to be necessary to inform the general public about the recent ''bombardment'' of news regarding the ostensible pollution in the Kolaxa Sea and the cloud of mystery that respected scientists like Professor Jeremy Smith endeavour to create around it.

For months, we have been receiving dispatches issued by the Marine Studies Center of Worcestershire University, instilling great panic in the citizens of Forest by declaring the fish in the Kolaxa Sea to be unfit for consumption and thus depriving thousands of fishers of their primary source of income; fabricating a captivating story around a supposedly inexplicable abnormality in the phosphorus and nitrogen levels in the Kolaxa Sea and keeping all readers on tenterhooks by publishing dispatches of an apocalyptic content in a piecemeal fashion like a serialized thriller, and using an enigmatic discourse in all the dispatches that is intended to create feelings of fear and wonder, thus departing from the objectivity and rationality that are essential to any academic writing; and finally by adding cryptic details about a meteor allegedly crashing into the Kolaxa Sea, then about phosphorus-synthesizing ''alien algae'', enormous underwater pits caused by the meteor crash --- that, later, turn out to have been caused not a meteor, but --- as mystifyingly implied in Professor Smith's latest dispatch --- by a spaceship that landed on the bottom of the Kolaxa Sea and then disappeared as obscurely as it had appeared.

There is nothing scientific in any of the dispatches issued by the Marine Studies Center of Worcestershire University. None of the claims are supported by solid scientific evidence, or, what little evidence they have, is at best controversial, and is susceptible to various other interpretations in addition to the one that Professor Smith and his colleagues would want us to adopt. The ''evidence'' , too, is always presented in a speculative, tension-building language--which we believe has deliberately been chosen to awaken interest.

This is a hoax.

Right now, you may be asking why respectable scientists like Professor Smith and his colleagues would resort to such dishonest methods for popularity, at the expense of their credibility.

A quick look through the financial records of the Marine Studies Center of Worcestershire University would suffice to see the motives Professor Smith has had to stage this hoax.

Professor Smith has been appointed as the coordinator of the Marine Studies Center 8 years ago. He had a tenure-track position, a generous funding of 15,000,000 Pinkponks for documenting the species inhabiting the Kolaxa Sea, and lots of doctoral students who would help him in his odyssey.

Everything seemed perfect in his career.

But his personal life was a mess.

His wife --- whom he had been married with for 20 years --- has filed a divorce on grounds of infidelity, because Professor Smith was having an affair with a co-worker. At the court, the professor was sentenced to pay his wife 750,000 Pinkponks in compensation, as this newspaper article from Frieden-und Freudenland Post reports, among many other newspapers.

Being a professor, Mr. Smith could not be considered rich. But somehow he was able to pay the compensation.

Later, newspapers reported that Mr. Smith developed a gambling addiction and made frequent Black Jack trips to the notorious casinos of Wise Witches and lost several millions there. At the time, Civitas Pacis Journal reported this as well.

But again, Jeremy Smith, who did not even own a house and was barely able to pay for the rent of his 50 m2 apartment, could easily pay for his gambling debts.

In the meantime, it turned out that the budget of the Marine Studies Center of Worcestershire University had been spent up. But Professor Smith had scarcely been involved in any rigorous research effort due to the turbulent times he went through.

Worcestershire University has decided to examine the matter to see whether there was any misconduct. Their investigations revealed the bitter truth: Professor Smith had been embezzling money from the research budget of the Marine Studies Center. (Currently we do not want to divulge our source of information about this investigation. We are prepared to share all the information we have with the state authorities, of course.)

Instead of acknowledging their mistake in appointing an unstable person like Mr. Smith as the coordinator of the Marine Studies Center, Worcestershire University decided to cover up the matter and pushed Mr. Smith hard to come up with an ambitious research program and work insanely hard, so the benefactors of the university, who had donated 15,000,000 Pinkponks for the center to begin with, would be convinced that their hard-earned money was being put to good use.

Mr. Smith, however, being the lazy and dishonest person he is, contrived ''evidence'' of an alien algae invasion in the Kolaxa Sea and has been fooling billions of Forest residents, in an attempt to present himself as the leader of a great team making the most important discovery of our age: possible contact with extraterrestrials.

Needless to say, a surprising spike in the phosphorus and nitrogen levels in the Kolaxa Sea --- which we consider to be a purely coincidental, temporary fluctuation --- made the trick much easier for him.

Forest is witnessing one of the greatest scientific frauds of all history.

Public money is being spent on a hoax, not real research.

We thereby demand that the research program of Marine Studies Center be immediately suspended until further notice, and Professor Smith be removed from office and all the financial records of the Marine Studies Center be thoroughly examined.

Marine Biologists of the Thousand Isles University at Redriver