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Thread: Where should I go if I want to learn the astronomical consensus on something?

  1. #1
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    Where should I go if I want to learn the astronomical consensus on something?

    If I wanted to say something like "Most astronomers think that..." what would be the best type of source to use?
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

    Stephen Colbert.

  2. #2
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    There's not some system that keeps track of what each astronomer thinks, and keeps public statistics, and has a solid, no gray area, definition of who is and is not an astronomer. Your easiest approach is to look the topic up on Wikipedia.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  3. #3
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    I think avoiding the phrase "Most astronomers think ..." would be a good idea.
    I'd suggesting looking at a few standard textbooks and then saying "The textbooks say ..."

    Wikipedia may be useful, but may not - and to tell if it's useful you'll need to do your own research anyway. For example, the Wiki entry for Apsis has for the last ten years contained a list of specific terms for the apsidal points of orbits around the planets, many of which have never appeared in the scientific literature recorded by the Astrophysics Data System, or in any of the books searched by Google Ngram, and it omits some terms that are standard. That's a huge mismatch between Wikipedia and what real astronomers and physicists are doing.

    Grant Hutchison

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    If I wanted to say something like "Most astronomers think that..." what would be the best type of source to use?
    Discerning readers will recognize that "most" is a "weasel word". It's an great tactic for someone make who is trying to manipulate their readers:

    - without naming sources, how is one to verify or falsify?
    - it is very easy to manipulate who is - and is not - considered in the representative group
    - it can easily mean 51%
    - compelling assertions are not usually put to a community vote


    I'm not suggesting you are manipulating , I'm simply suggesting avoiding using what is known to be a questionable tactic.

    You would actually be better to go with one or two reputable sources who explicitly purport the idea you're presenting.

  5. #5
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    Ask an astronomer here on CQ. There are several who are pretty well read.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by StupendousMan View Post
    Ask an astronomer here on CQ. There are several who are pretty well read.
    Isn't that ... kinda what he just did?

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