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Michelson-Morley experiments weren't the failure MIT made them out to be, just as Cold Fusion wasn't the failure MIT made it out to be

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

It means "represented them as":

MichelsonMorley experiments weren't the failure MIT [represented them as] ...

To "make something out to be" something else is to portray it in a certain light. If my comments make you out to be a great guy that means I am saying good things about you. If they make you out to be a jerk that means I'm not being so complimentary.

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