September 30 – Happy Birthday, Phil Plait

Posted on September 30, 2016

Is it a compliment to be called The Bad Astronomer?

One would think that Phil Plait, an astronomer who lives in Boulder, Colorado, would feel insulted when people call him The Bad Astronomer. But actually, it's a name he embraces and uses himself.

You see, in the late nineties, working astronomer Phil Plait noticed that there was a lot of public interest in astronomical topics – but also a lot of misconceptions, conspiracy theories, and muddled thinking. He saw astronomical goofs in movies, in the news, in articles, and especially on the Internet.

He decided to do something about it. In 1998 he launched a website he called Bad Astronomy. On that website, he provided correct information and good sources plus some all-important critical thinking about news items and conspiracy theories. Some of the topics he discussed on Bad Astronomy included the so-called Moon landing “hoax” (newsflash – not a hoax, people really have landed on the Moon) and the predictions of a Planet X cataclysm.

One would think that whoever made this claim had never seen his
own looooonnng, skinny shadow when the Sun is near the horizon.

Get out more, dude!

The silliness of claiming that the Apollo moon landings were faked
has been debunked, but of course more silliness keeps cropping up.

Remember when people were convinced the world was going
to end in 2008 (when we turned on the Large Hadron Collider)?
And then the world was going to end again, in December of 2012,
due to a so-called prediction from a Mayan calendar?

Plait's website got a lot of attention, especially after he criticized a Fox Network special. He started getting a lot of thanks from average citizens who weren't sure what to make of crazy-sounding claims and doomsday predictions, and he started getting thanks from others in the scientific community as well.

Soon Plait started a blog – also called Bad Astronomy – and to some extent he branched out from astronomy. Soon he was working with NASA and Discover Magazine, becoming a person of interest at skeptics' conferences, becoming a speaker... He has since appeared on TV and other media, given TED talks, hosted a TV series, written books, served as president of the James Randi Educational Foundation - well, he has since done LOTS of things! He's won several awards and honors and has even had an asteroid named after him (165347 Philplait)!

Enjoy some wisdom, Plait style:

Also on this date:
(last Friday in September)

Anniversary of the first tooth extraction with anesthesia

Chewing-gum mogul William Wrigley's birthday

Anniversary of the commissioning of the world's first nuclear submarine

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest boards for:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

No comments:

Post a Comment