You don't have to assume that he's gone completely "barmy" to think that
he's made a very serious mistake in the case of the "banyan trees".  He's
old -- 83, for God's sake -- and he suffers from post-polio syndrome which
now limits him to a wheelchair and forces him to sleep 16 hours per day!
These physical problems by themselves naturally make it very hard for him to
keep up with the literature, especially given his continued insistence with
trying to keep up with everything simultaneously.  It may very well be that
he simply hasn't seen any scientific papers yet on the dark defrosting spots
on Martian dunes.  Combine that with the fact that he's always had a
powerful longing to find evidence of life in the Solar System -- and the
fact that your judgment often does begin to deteriorate as you get old --
and you can easily see how he could fall for Martian banyan trees,
artificial roadways on Europa, and for that matter cold fusion (of which he
is now an enthusiastic proponent) without being anywhere near flat-out

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