Philip Cary Plait (a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer) is an astronomer and skeptic who runs the website BadAstronomy.com. He formerly worked at the physics and astronomy department at Sonoma State University. In early 2007, he resigned from his job to write Death from the Skies. On August 4, 2008, he became President of the James Randi Educational Foundation.
Bad Astronomy blog
- Blog by Plait at Discover magazine
- I’m tired of ignorance held up as inspiration, where vicious anti-intellectualism is considered a positive trait, and where uninformed opinion is displayed as fact.
- It’s amazing to me that not only can we put a probe around Saturn and get images of its moons, but our math and physics are so freaking accurate we can say, "Hey, you know what? On this date at this time if we turn Cassini that way we’ll see a moon over 2 million kilometers away pass in front of another one nearly 3 million kilometers away."
Every morning, I have a 50/50 chance of finding my keys. That kinda puts things in perspective.
Bad Astronomy (2002)
- However, science isn't just about showing when you're right; it's also about showing when you're wrong.
- p. 19
- If a little kid ever asks you just why the sky is blue, you look him or her right in the eye and say, "It's because of quantum effects involving Rayleigh scattering combined with a lack of violet photon receptors in our retinae."
- p. 47
- Just like people, stars can be important without being terribly bright.
- p. 115
Death from the Skies! (2008)
- Other job markets may lay claim to the title, but astronomy is actually the world's oldest profession.
- p. 2
- They say that even the brightest star won't shine forever. But in fact, the brightest star would live the shortest amount of time. Feel free to extract whatever life lesson you want from that.
- p. 75-76
- What I have discovered in 20 years of studying the universe, from here to there to everywhere, is that the universe is complicated, and when things happen, it is almost never like ‘A happened and therefore B’. No, A happened and therefore B, C, D and E, but then there is this thing F, and that had a 10% effect, and that prompted G to go back and tip over A, and it is always like this – everything is interconnected. And so a lot of these far-right fundamentalist religion people, and a lot of these people who are anti-global warming, anti-evolution, anti-science, what they do is they take advantage of the fact that things are complicated, and their lives are based on things being simple – if we do this, then this will happen – if we invade Iraq, we will be treated as liberators, if we pray, then good things will happen, and this stuff is wrong. But we have a culture where people are brought up to believe in simplicity, and if A then B. And so when you point out that scientists say the earth is warming, but we had a really devastating winter this year, then these people will say “oh, obviously global warming is wrong”. No, global warming can cause worse winters locally. It’s complicated. But people don’t want to hear “it’s complicated”, and boy, the conspiracy theorists and anti-scientists take full advantage of that.