View Full Version : Bad Astronomer Road Show

Brian K
2002-Mar-22, 11:18 PM
Out of all the people out here that need to read the book and hear the message, maybe the most important are all the amateur astronomers. So...the BA needs to take to the road and visit all the amateur astronomy clubs and star parties this spring and summer.

Some (a minority) of the people I meet at these meetings figure that nothing is true unless it was mentioned and approved by Art Bell. And these are the same people sharing astronomy at public star parties.

2002-Mar-28, 10:12 PM
Sadly, I think I met just one of those folks when I was recently in Arizona on vacation. She was a very nice lady and quite lively. But she was also very very untrusting (kind of hostile, actually) of science and it's methods. And she was the staff star guide!

She admitted she wasn't a scientist and wasn't all that familiar with a lot of science, but she certainly did not hesitate to criticize what she did not understand. She says she loves to tell people (while professional astronomers are answering questions about our current theories as to how the universe works)that scientists don't really 'know anything' and that everything is 'just a theory'. It was obvious by talking to her she did not have even a basic understanding of science. It's sad, really.

I realize science isn't perfect, but it is the best vehicle we have when it comes to discovering how we work and how the universe works, et al.

I was in such shock at some of the things she spouted I couldn't say a word. If I would have had my copy of "Bad Astronomy" I think I would have given it to her to read. In fact, I might just have to send her a copy.

Luckily, a couple nights earlier our star guide was a real live professional astronomer. A very intelligent, rational fellow.

The Bad Astronomer
2002-Mar-28, 11:14 PM
Well, I'll be spending Astronomy Day in Nashville, talking to people about the Moon hoax and other Bad topics. I've been to a few local astronomy clubs. The problem is time and money. It can cost me a lot in both time (I usually wind up taking vacation time) and money to go and give talks, so I have to ask for an honorarium, which few clubs can afford. I love giving talks, but it can be difficult.

But check out my calendar (http://www.badastronomy.com/info/calendar.html). I do get around a little. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

2002-Mar-29, 01:40 AM
I'll be at astronomy day at Peck Farm Park in the Fox Valley giving a talk at 1pm on the science of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Anyone in the western burbs of Chicago can check it out.

It bugs me when someone says, "It's just a theory". A theory has substantial evidence backing it up from repeated experiments. I think it comes from bad murder mysteries where the detective says, "I have a theory..." which invariably turns out to be wrong.

So, you might point out that when someone says, "It's just a theory" they are really saying "It's just an idea that has a lot of evidence from reproducable experiments backing it up."

Instead of the Big Bang Theory, I prefer to use the term model. I think it is actually a more accurate term and less likely to be misunderstood. Granted, people might not know what we mean by a model, but that's okay. That's a teachable moment as we say in the ed biz /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif


2002-Mar-29, 07:28 PM
I (tentatively) agree with Hale_Bopp. Maybe "Model" is a better term than "Theory", but it is not likely to take hold. The Evolutionists have the same problem. By calling it the "Theory of Evolution", many nay-sayers do indeed remark, "but, its only a Theory!". Let me quote from Carl Zimmer's "Evolution - The Triumph of an Idea" in his Introduction.

"The task of Science is two-fold: to determine, as best we can, the empirical character of the natural world (ED: Universe?); and to ascertain why our world operates as it does, rather than in some other conceivable, but unrealized way....."

"Science,.... , cannot establish absolute truth; thus our conclusions must always remain tentative"

But, by using the term "Theory" does, again, not necessarily IMPLY tentativity, in any immediate sense. In fact, one can deal with the FACT of evolution.

At least in the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, we have not overthrown the "theory" of relativity. There is much evidence that it is FACT. However, we can't be too smug or impatient. The combination of relativity with quantum theory (sic) may be imminent .

2002-Mar-29, 08:07 PM
My astronomy group has a great many members who are well educated in real astronomy. We have some great lecturers who speak to the group at our monthly meetings (many from graduate studies at the university and some who are professors and instructors there). I feel right at home there and spend a lot of time with them in various astronomy pursuits. I have been an officer of the club and am on their board (for life) because of my taking on jobs which nobody else wants to do but which I believe are necessary.

If you are lucky enough to find such a club, rest assured that they do exist. They are often located around universities where astronomy is taught at least at the undergraduate level.

A lot of first-class astronomers have attended and received astronomy degrees from that university. I received my degrees from another good *State* university.

I just love being a member of that astronomy club.


2002-Mar-29, 08:21 PM
I see you are in Michigan...by any chance did we both go to the other *State* University /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif


Go Spartans!

2002-Mar-30, 12:42 AM
No, MSU was far too far away at the time for me to commute. I would have loved attending MSU.

WSU is where I received my degrees and its nearness made it possible for me to commute from Grosse Pointe Farms where I lived at that time. I wanted to get my degrees from a university and my parents did not want me living in one (you know, the dangers for their daughter in a big naughty-bad place)... Very silly. However, I always took my education to be my own responsibility and worked very, very hard. I took 25 semester hours every semester (requiring advisers' signatures for permission) in order to graduate earlier and begin working on my M.A. which I also received at WSU.

I have read about astronomy and physics on my own. Avidly. I think it is important to be constantly learning. It is great for the maintenance of the mind.

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