Politics, science, me and thee

By Phil Plait | July 15, 2007 11:33 am

Whenever I write about politics, religion, or something that is not 100% straight-up science, I get a handful of protests in the comments, usually along the lines of "I came here because this is supposed to be an astronomy blog…"*.

Well, for the nth time, I’ll let y’all know: this is primarily a science blog, but not exclusively so. I think people like what I write about astronomy because I add a dimension of humanity to it, since I’m personally involved with some of it, and I know some of the fun back story. But that same humanity means I’m human, and I have other things on my mind too.

This may sound crass, but it’s true: it’s my blog, and I’ll write what I want to. If you don’t like it, there are lots of other sites about astronomy on the web. Spare me the lectures, the drama, and the grandstanding in the comments. If you don’t want to read my blog, that’s fine. I can’t please everyone, and by its very nature a scientific and skeptical blog will make some people upset. But I am not going to change my style, my topics, or my behavior (unless there is some evidence-based reason, of course). So if you’re gonna go, just go. Being dramatic about it in the comments won’t change anything.

But before you leave, take a good look at whatever it was that I wrote that ticked you off. Why? Because in a recent post, I was accused of bashing Christians, bashing religion, saying that all global warming deniers are also young-Earth creationists, and I’m sure if I look more carefully there’s something in the comments about me eating kittens, too. I never said any of that. People are reading their own issues into what I wrote, and and not reading what I actually wrote.

How ironic is that?

So here is my stance, for those of you who still don’t get it: I am a scientist, a skeptic, a science fiction fan, a father, a pet owner, and a human being. I have opinions, and I have a blog, and therefore I will write about my opinions. I try very hard to base my opinions on well-grounded, evidence-based reasoning, and I try very hard not to extrapolate beyond what is reasonable.

But I will not tolerate the attacks on science, whether they come from politicians, religious zealots, New Age gurus, or regular old folks. And I will speak out.

Update: Coincidentally, PZ Myers at Pharyngula just wrote a similar post (his is about religion), as did Chris Pirillo (about politics). Make of this what you will.

* And why don’t these same people complain when I post about cartoons I like, or some funny website I found? After all, those are "off-topic" too. Could it be that I simply don’t have the same political or religious affiliation that they do, and they don’t like it? I know some people just don’t want to hear more about those topics, but still, I don’t think that applies to most of the folks who leave in a huff. I strongly suspect that many (but not all) of those who do leave in a flash of drama need to very carefully examine their own beliefs; they are guilty of precisely the crimes they accuse me of.


Comments (196)

  1. Christian Burnham

    Regular readers know this since it’s been covered several times before.

    I don’t understand the supposedly long-time readers who act so surprised whenever the BA tackles a political/religious subject.

  2. escargot

    I was just thinking the other day that I should stop reading this blog. Less than 1/3 of the posts are about astronomy. Skepticism is fine, but there really isn’t much new to be said about it (I’m the choir, and you don’t have to preach to me). And I don’t care about your personal life. I don’t complain in the comments and agree completely that this is your blog and you can post anything you like. But I’m not going to read it anymore.

  3. Christian Burnham

    Escargot: OK, but why are you telling us this? What do these ‘goodbye’ posters hope to achieve exactly? If you don’t care about BA’s personal asides, what makes you think anyone cares about your valedictory comments?

    As for me- I find it pretty easy to see which are the astronomy related blog entries in my RSS feed. If a particular blog entry doesn’t look interesting- I skip over it.

    Conceivably the BA could have two blogs: one for astro. and one for everything else. Personally, I like the mix of the two. Maybe some people just don’t understand the concept of blogging.

  4. I really like your blog, I would miss something if you’d stop writing about those things.

  5. tacitus

    While I agree with everything you say — it’s your blog to do with what you will — I also believe that there is a place in the blogosphere for offended opinion and comments (even those that are misguided and misplaced).

    They can spark some of the more interesting debates amongst the commenters and you can tell from the comment counts on those threads that they are being widely read. You will get more traffic to the blog for those busy threads than if you limited your postings to bad astronomy.

    And very few of these offended comments rise to the level of trolling, certainly compared with other skeptic blogs. Those comments are usually from people who are genuine readers of your blog and so while it might be frustrating to read them, it could be a lot worse :)

    Finally, I think the readers who get upset tend to forget that there is a big difference in style between the formal web site “Bad Astronomy” and a “Bad Astronomy Blog”. Blogging is a very different beast to what you have done before and, by its very nature is going to lead to more controversy and upset. I am sure that even readers of the “Kittens:Fluffy Little Bundles of Fun” blog sometimes go at it with daggers drawn…

  6. Dennis

    “I’m sure if I look more carefully there’s something in the comments about me eating kittens, too”

    What’s wrong with eating kittens?

  7. Are you KIDDING ME?!

    You’re a *PET OWNER?!* And you have the guts to admit it?!


  8. Way to go!

    I like variety. I like humanity. I like Phil Plait’s blog.

  9. Laura

    Dennis: mmmmm, Kittens!

    Phil: Love the blog, don’t always agree with you, but don’t change a thing.

  10. # Dennis Says:
    July 15th, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    “I’m sure if I look more carefully there’s something in the comments about me eating kittens, too”

    What’s wrong with eating kittens?


    mmmm…. kitten mcnuggets.

  11. TheJerrylander

    Ummm… I have to agree with everybody else, it is primarily Phil’s blog. Plus, I was under the impression that BAD Astronomy was always about skepticism, and that was something Phil has never even vaguely tried to disguise. It’s about Phil’s attitude and interests, and if people don’t like what he has to say or what he thinks, well too bad. I probably don’t universally agree with him on EVERYTHING either—that’s just human.

    I pretty much enjoy all of his entries… which might be because I am a thoroughly secular geek. Keep it up, Phil!

  12. Daffy

    Phil, I would like to complain that you never post anything anti-religious. I mean, why don’t you? Those people are NUTS and they want to take us all with them!


    (Joking. Your site is the best…carry on!)

  13. Heather S

    I read bunches and bunches of “on topic” blogs to get some variety in my life. Happily Phil is well-suited to put some of that variety in one place to save me all of that troublesome clicking and scrolling. Keep it up, Phil!

  14. Kitten Fricassee’s ?

    Kitten A la Orange?

    Beats hot dogs 😉

  15. Rolf

    Oh brother. Nobody is forcing you guys to read this blog. If you don’t like it, move on.

    I’m sorry if someone REALLY are forcing you to read this with gun to your head.

  16. Drew


    Personally I’ve got no problem with you posting whatever you like here – as you say, it’s your blog. And I do enjoy what you post, whether it’s a cool space picture, a rant, or whatever else you have to share.

    That said, there was a time when a young student could come into my planetarium to tell me that he’d heard the Moon landings were faked, and after a brief debunking I’d send him to badastronomy.com for the full story. Sure, that info is still posted, but now it’s a little bit hidden amongst all the other stuff. These days I don’t feel so comfortable recommending your site as a reference for those who need their ignorance fought. Kids need critical thinking skills. Political rants or news of the latest SkepChick calendar aren’t going to help that – and their teachers probably won’t appreciate it either. :)

    Your site is what it is. Clearly it’s none of my business to tell you what you post. But it seems to me you have two potential audiences: those who want to read your blog, and those who want to find out what time of year they can balance an egg. Don’t forget that second group!

  17. Jewel

    Personally, I love the variety I see in this blog. I’m glad you’re not going to change the things you post about.

  18. Pierre

    I perfectly agree with everything Phil. I originally came here for stuff about astronomy, but I do enjoy everything else too, and as you said it’s your blog, so keep at it. Injecting a little it of the ‘human dimension’ makes your blog less arid than if it was only about astronomy. That, I think, is good.

  19. Christian Burnham

    “Political rants”?

    The BA performs a civic duty by alerting us when the politicians get the science wrong, or when they knowingly distort it.

    It’s the government who are politicizing science. Scientists aren’t trying to become politicians.

  20. If I run through the list of science popularizers whose work I have admired — Isaac Asimov, Richard Feynman, Larry Gonick, Stephen Jay Gould, Carl Sagan and others — I find that they have all spoken out against pseudoscience. To a man (yes, unfortunately, women are still under-represented in this genre) they have said that skepticism and evidence-based thinking should not be confined to the laboratory. What’s more, they talked and wrote about topics which weren’t “100% science” — Gilbert and Sullivan, say, or playing the bongo drums.

    I guess I’m a little puzzled about why any present-day popularizer of science should be any different.

  21. Bob C

    “I am a scientist, a skeptic, a science fiction fan, a father, a pet owner, and a human being.” You left out the part about the seething liberal political bent.

    Most skeptics don’t lean as hard to the left as Phil. I think that a majority are Libritarian. Astronomers tend to take on the socialist views of the Universities. Either way, you are going to get some flack about a political view here.

    If you aren’t getting complaints, then you aren’t evoking thought.
    Good work Phil.

  22. Morgan

    On the subject of people saying “this blog is too off-topic, I’m not going to read it any more” – well, I just don’t get that. It’s a blog. It comes neatly sectioned off into articles on different topics. If you’re only interested in astronomy-specific story, don’t read the ones that don’t have the Astronomy tag. There’s no need to treat the site as a single entity to take or leave. I read Good Math, Bad Math but skip the “random music playlist” posts. I read Dispatches from the Culture Wars but skip the posts full of YouTube music videos. Each blog presents a selection of topics and I read the ones that catch my fancy. That’s how it works.

    To Drew, above: any specific topic you might want to point people to will have its own page or blog post that you can show them. The non-blog part of the site even has a handy intro, here. This information isn’t hard to find or direct people to, so what’s your objection? Should Phil censor the site of anything a teacher wouldn’t want a kid to see?

  23. MikeG

    Phil, I think you need to appologize for posting about Galaxy Zoo. You owe me a weekend! I want it back!

    Ah… Who am I kidding, I’d just waste it.

    Anyway, I love the blog and Iive been reading BA since way before the blog existed, and I shall continue to do so.

    If I ever make it back to Colorado, I owe you a pint or two for years of entertainment and education.


  24. Phil, it’s funny that no one has touched on what i have found about the internet, forums, and blogs over the years: People think they have a “right” to complain about things out of their influence.

    A forum I frequent went through a huge, bitter time of arguing and resentment because the owner of the site wouldn’t allow politics (among other things) to be discussed. His rules were spelled out quite clearly, but a bunch of ne’er-do-wells had to push it, claiming he was infringing in their First Amendment rights. And some of these people didn’t even live in the USA! People were constantly being reminded that it was not a public, free for all forum – it was owned by someone.

    Phil, this is your blog. no one else’s. in a sense, this is your internet house and we, as readers, are guests. If we were at your physical house and you started talking about something we didn’t agree with, we could leave. Same here. In fact, you graciously allow us to comment on your postings, when you don’t have to.

    In a way, I’m jealous of how you can do this. One my the blogs I do is for my local astronomy club, and I have to be extremely careful of what I say, as I am trying to impart knowledge and not cause distress and conflict. In my personal blog, I’ll tee of on anything or anyone. But not for a non-profit charitable organization.

    People have to realize that they have no “rights” when it comes to this site of yours. They can take it, or leave it. It’s your site, you write what you want to, and it’s up to the individual reader to decide whether to be mad or glad or sad or whatever emotion they would like to be.

    Personally, I’m a religious person. I am not, however, a wacko zealot. I don’t believe in “young earth” and “creationism” and that dreck. I was fortunate to grow up with open-minded people who showed be that science was the way to go – to think critically. I can easily balance my beliefs with science. It’s only close-minded individuals who cannot. And they are dangerous. They must be stopped.

    Close-mindedness is why we have terrorism, fundamentalism, and a whole bunch of other “isms.” These people don’t have the capability or the inclination to be open-minded and take a chance that their beliefs are wrong.

    Keep up the good work Phil. Those of us who have “faith” in your quests will remain. The rest? They really don’t count.

  25. Kai

    BA has a premium position in my RSS-Reader, Phil. I enjoy the science posts as well as your opinon about politics and religion, and I often forward links to your blog to friends. *back to lurking* :)

  26. We need MORE cultural analysis and criticism of shoddy thinking, not less. There’s a lot of bad astronomy going about, but even more bad thinking.

    If people don’t want their personal holy cows turned into hamburger, they can go elsewhere. I’m just grateful that there are places where we can get our sacred-hamburgers well done.

  27. Drew


    I agree it’s important to call out politicians when they are wrong. And boy, is Alberto Gonzalez ever wrong about many many things. And so is the Discovery Institute. They richly deserve to be called “pandering lackey” and “slimy group of liars”, respectively, as Phil did recently. But if I were to recommend a dispassionate examination of exactly why creationism is wrong, this wouldn’t be the place.

    And that’s fine, if that’s the way it is.

    (And if I was misconstrued: yes, thank you, Phil, for alerting us to incidents of the politicization of science. It is a huge issue.)

  28. Just don’t start posting about your pets…

    Honestly, though, just yesterday I thought, “BAB’s tending less towards the ‘BA’ and more towards the second ‘B’ these days.”

  29. dantes

    That was hilariously pretentious! Many thanks for a needed laugh.

  30. MikeG

    Drew may have a point. BA.com comes directly to the blog. What about directing it to the intro page? The rest of us who are familiar with the blog can add the /bablog or click into it from the intro page.

  31. Christian Burnham

    Drew: We kind-of agree. I think you’re asking too much though if you expect this site to be the premier resource on the internets for debunking creationism. It’s just one of many good sites out there. A balanced diet is what’s needed.

  32. Drew

    Christian: True. Creationism was just the first example I came across sifting through my RSS reader.

  33. Hey, the fact that my post does bash religion isn’t ironic at all — it’s more like expected and predictable.

    Have you absorbed Alanis Morissette’s definition of irony? She isn’t in the hive mind too, is she?

  34. Christian Burnham

    I just wish that the BA and that squid-obsessed PZ Myers guy would do some cute kitten pics. All that science stuff is sooo confusing.

  35. Just to clarify — I am not trying to discourage criticism, refutations, or even spirited discussion here. I’m telling the drama queens that when they leave, they can simply do so without The Grand Speech… and also that there is a significant chance they are leaving for precisely the wrong reason.

    And I’m certainly not apologizing for my content or style. In fact, I’m telling folks that this is the way it is.

    “Left leaning”… heh. Lessee, after researching the topic I think that global warming is at least in part if not in majority caused by humans; I think religion should stay out of politics; I think everyone has rights to free speech, dignity, and privacy; I think science is our best tool to investigate and describe reality and that scientists should be allowed to pursue the no matter where it leads them.

    Yup. I must be a pinko hippy. (insert rolleyes here).

    It bugs me that this Administration is now so far right that a moderate like myself is now considered a lefty. That is moving the baseline, which is grossly unfair as well as untrue. I refuse to let the Fox “news” channel define what is centrist.

    Also, as I said at the last Amazing Meeting, I subscribe to no single “ism”. I try to make my decisions based on the information available.

  36. Oh, PZ– it is ironic. Sure, it’s predictable that you would rant against religion! But it’s ironic that your post, which does have some strong statements about religion in general, gets so much flak while mine gets flak when I don’t talk about religion in general.

    What’s even more ironic is what a strong backbone you show. Face it: you’re a closet vertebrate :-)

  37. I rarely post, but am very glad u stick it to the critics phil! It’s been said too many times: Keep up the good fight.

  38. Brown

    Religious folks make all sorts of claims, some of them nutty, some not so nutty. What they need to recognize, however, is this:

    When they venture into a description as to the nature of the cosmos or a part thereof, and their description can be tested in a scientific and rational faction, then they MUST be held to respect the rules of science. And one of the rules of science is vigorous inquiry: rational criticism and rational response, point and counterpoint, evidence and counter-evidence.

    To use a childish metaphor: If the religious folks want to play in our scientific back yard, they have to play by our rules. It is exceedingly immature (not to mention exceptionally poor manners) to come onto our turf, challenge us to a contest, complain that the rules of the game shouldn’t apply to themselves, and bawl like babies when held to the same standards that all scientists have to live by.

  39. Brown, I agree completely. That’s why I am adamant that prayer has no outside effect; it’s been proven not to work. It is the religions that claim prayer works, yet when called on it, there is an inevitable response: you can’t test prayer!

    And yes, in this case I will make a statement about religion in general here, unless someone can point out a specific religion which doesn’t make this claims about prayer (not counting religions which don’t use prayer, if any exist, because perforce they are not party to the claim).

  40. KLA2

    Don’t change. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. For every person who replys to your blog or posts on BAUT, I am sure there are many, many like myself who merely read and lurk, and appreciate you as a flagbearer for science, skepticism and … reality.
    As for kittens … the premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty was accused in the last election (by supporters of the opposing party, natch) of being a “reptillian kitten eater from another planet”. So, you are in (if not good) famous company. (And note the on-topic astronomical reference …)

  41. Arnosium Upinarum

    I find it exceptionally strange how some folks seem to regard the BAB as some kind of scientific/institutional/authoritative dispenser of information, as if it should have been sanctioned by some administrative Seal of Approval.

    Come on! Its a B-L-O-G. On it, Phil is just a guy who writes about his own personal opinions. That’s okay, isn’t it???

    Those opinions happen to be grounded in a rational way of thinking that many other scientists share. This isn’t some peer-reviewed research journal where one reads about everything EXCEPT the dirty details of how the human authors arrived at their conclusions. This is a blog that features the PERSONAL OPINIONS of a fellow who is a scientist. Phil speaks for himself AS a scientist. He doesn’t need to justify those opinions on any criterion of political correctness. His justifications come from the method, and from the horse’s mouth of nature herself.

    The science-oriented blogosphere has opened a fabulous window on the personal thinking processes of scientists. It shows we’re fallible, stumbling, struggling, oft-confused, and as often inspired, HUMAN BEINGS…just like everyone else. But we don’t need to hide behind any magic. We get there by sheer sweat and toil, via wrong turns and tedious trial and error. Its nice to have the various popular myths associated with scientists challenged and the actuality openly exposed for everyone to see.

    All of us trust only one thing: that nature remains constant enough for other scientists to confirm what it is we think we have discovered. That refutability which is so intrinsic to the scientific process as a means of achieving some consensual resolution is a concept that is utterly foreign to the majority of religious-minded folks who have been conditioned to expect the immediate gratification of authoritative certainty. And therein lies the biggest problem of all. I think the GENERAL skepticism that Phil injects regularly into BA casts a brilliant light on this dark problem. (Drew: I would have no qualms whatsoever in suggesting BA to planetarium goers or students: this blog is nothing but a shining inspiration to curious and young people on the merits of thinking rationally, skeptically, and scientifically).

    Phil: don’t change a thing. You’re the bee’s knees, man!

  42. KLA2

    Actually, I meant to say critical thinking rather than skepticism. Hope no offense is taken – the two are “kissing cousins.”

  43. You eat kittens? As a cat lover I have only one thing to say; they taste best if marinated in a teriyaki sauce before fried in a red hot wok and served with some kimchi on a bed of basmati rice.

    I realise that I mix up the kitchens of Vietnam, Japan, China, Korea and India in just that one dish, but I will do everything for science and food.

  44. metamorphium

    Hi Phil,

    as I am a long time reader of your blog, I’m really happy you include also the more personal issues. It shows us, that you are also a human, which sometimes tends to be obfuscated by the science terminology barrier. So not only bringing he astronomy in the understandable ways but reminding us how much humans scientists are is IMO very important.

    But YES I have a complain about your site. :) I really loved your Q&BA feature and now, when it’s not here anymore, you showed us what we’re missing. And trust me, we’d be more happy in our lives not knowing what we’re missing now. This is actually very evil act and I think you did it on purpose commanded by [insert your typical stock evil deity here].

  45. Phil, this is your blog. You can say what you want, no matter what anyone says about it. I support everything you post, whether I personally agree or not: it is your right.

    Keep fightin’ the good fight.

  46. Christian Burnham

    Someone once asked Feynman for a photo showing him playing the bongos because it shows the ‘human side’ of this great scientist. He responded

    “The fact that I beat a drum has nothing to do with the fact that I do theoretical physics. Theoretical physics is a human endeavor, one of the higher developments of human beings—and this perpetual desire to prove that people who do it are human by showing that they do other things that a few other humans do (like playing bongo drums) [original brackets] is insulting to me. I am human enough to tell you to go to hell” (4 January 1967).

    So- yes, this Blog shows the ‘human side’ of the BA, but astronomy is also a ‘human endeavor’.

  47. Daffy

    The BA: “And yes, in this case I will make a statement about religion in general here, unless someone can point out a specific religion which doesn’t make this claims about prayer (not counting religions which don’t use prayer, if any exist, because perforce they are not party to the claim).”

    Philosophical Taoism…but then it’s not really a religion in the strictest sense.

  48. J. D. Mack

    I think Drew makes an interesting point in his comment. Might it be worth considering going back to your old website layout, where the main page is a site index, and your blog is a clickable link?

    Of course, if you answer that question “no,” that’s fine by me, because I agree completely with the premise that it’s your website and your blog and you can do what you want with it.

    J. D.

  49. MikeJ

    Responding to Christian Burnham: Feynman didn’t stop playing bongos. Feynman didn’t even stop playing bongos in public. He simply didn’t let others tell him when and where he should display which aspect of his personality.

  50. JC

    Thomas Siefert, typical lefty kitten eater. Everyone knows the kimchee is just over kill….

    Hmphh…hippie kitten eater….

  51. Gary Ansorge

    Just an aside: here is some research that deals with 10 Politically Incorrect Truths About Humans. The one point to note is that humans are biologically driven organisms, evolved to survive and REPRODUCE. Were that not so, we wouldn’t be here. I especially like the reference to terrorists being socially low ranking males(mostly) with nothing to lose and the chance to gain enough notoriety to get laid,,,at least in Muslim Paradise, with 72 virgins,,,


    Gary 7

  52. John

    Great post Phil. What I think people don’t understand is that this isn’t the main site for Bad Astronomy, even if typing “badastronomy.com” links here. This is just the Bad Astronomer’s BLOG, where he write things that may pertain to Astronomy, or they may not. Its the blog writers choice.

    Also, if this blog were strictly an Astronomy blog, do you think we’d be getting 1-3 updates per day? News doesn’t come around THAT often. In that “Astronomy Down-Time”, it is very entertaining to read what Phil has to, and has every right to say.

  53. Ian B Gibson

    J. D. Mack Says:

    Might it be worth considering going back to your old website layout, where the main page is a site index, and your blog is a clickable link?

  54. slang

    Even though I sometimes disagree severely with what you write, it’s usually about details, or (in my opinion) logical mistakes. And I’m glad I have the possibility here to speak my mind, call you on what I consider wrong, and have a decent chance of getting a response. But I do try to make sure that I’m responding to what you write, not to what I *think* you intend with your writing.

    It’s the same basic rule that I apply to pretty much all of my online postings. When I’m done composing a reply, I sit back, check the spelling, scroll back up to the post I’m replying to, and try to make sure that what I post has some added value to the conversation. Or I try to be funny, but usually fail :)

    The point is, if you (as a commenter) sit back, analyze what you just wrote in response, make sure it actually responds to something said instead of possibly implied, AND have the the guts to NOT press that ‘submit’ button, if you start to doubt the usefulness of your reply. I’m starting to doubt right now!… Nah.. just kidding. 😀

  55. bkallee

    give’m hell ba. thanks for letting me be a part all these years.

  56. Jay

    Copernicus and many others were bad mouthed about what they believed and what they proved to be correct. Some people can’t handle other peoples thoughts.
    Here is proof. One of the old testament books in the bible says the Sun stopped moving. I think its in the book of Joshua. We know today that the Sun doesn’t orbit the earth but the Earth orbits the Sun. I got into an argument with someone at work.
    He knew that that passage in the Bible was wrong but didn’t want to admit it. Why? Cause it was written in the bible. I explained to him that that was the way people thought back then and yes they were wrong.
    People believe what they want to believe. I like your Blog. Keep up the good work.

  57. Jarno

    Well, I originally found BadAstronomy years ago through it’s sceptical content, and movie critique – and have become a regular reader of the blog. And I’ve got this message for Phill:

    Don’t change a thing! :)

    I enjoy the “off-topic” comments as much as the astronomy related ones, and I think BA strikes a good balance.

    Good entry, and well said indeed. I for one will keep reading for sure.

  58. If you want to know the truth, I think posting “this is my blog and I’ll say what I want to” is about the same as, “why isn’t your blog what I think it should be?”

    It should be self-evident that this is a personal blog and trying to explain that to people is inviting them to do exactly what they’re doing that you don’t want them to do – that is post comments about what your blog should be. :)

    Frankly, I like it all, so post anything and everything. Ok, that’s not true. I couldn’t care less about rednecks who see elvis in the grease on their engine head, but whatever. I check in pretty much every day during my de-stress period after work just to see if there are any cool astronomy photos, information or dumbasses out there who need to be mocked for their stupid beliefs. It’s all good.

  59. Dave

    Regular reader here….

    Loved your recent posts about black holes, about glass plates, hell – about the young birds you found in your new home.

    But for some reason? This post is WAY over-the-top. You aren’t just sermonizing… something you really aren’t good at… you are simply too defensive about… ???

    I have no clue.

    Unsubscribed. Wishing you the best – and regards….

  60. Sermonizing? Maybe. Defensive? I would say “defending”. I’m simply tired of having to point out the same thing over and over again. Now I can just link to this post and be done with it.

  61. I think you need more cephalopods. Is there no constellation named Loligo? Dogs get a star, why not squids?

    Seriously though, the drama queens can go slap themselves with a washed-up tentacle. It is your blog, you can write what you want, and the great thing about the internet is that no person who doesn’t want to read it has to read it.

  62. # The Bad Astronomer Says:
    July 15th, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Sermonizing? Maybe. Defensive? I would say “defending”. I’m simply tired of having to point out the same thing over and over again. Now I can just link to this post and be done with it.


    You just need to hire some generic minions to take care of people who don’t agree with you. :)

  63. Oh… and you need an ominous logo too. And a cryptic name for your nefarious organization. I’m thinking B.A.D.A.S.S. You’ll have to come up with what it stands for in case anyone asks – especially the extra S at the end.

  64. fritz

    The difference between your non-science posts and PZ Myers’s are that yours are (a) rarer and (b) not strident. (I don’t count the denialism stuff as OT) Your blog is a science blog that has the occasional non-science post; his is a lefty athiest blog that has a weekly picture of a cephalopod (and maybe a science post every now and then).

  65. Jokermage

    Honestly, I like this post. I may have to plagiarize and modify it someday.

    In completely off topic news, I hope I don’t annoy you by asking this but when are you planning on returning to the New Hampshireish area so you can write your name and a pithy message in a copy of a book you wrote which I purchased using money?

    (If you thought Phil was over the top, surely my fan-boy begging places me at least past Polaris.)

  66. Gary Ansorge:

    That “10 Politically Incorrect Truths” article is rather dubious, as are so many things these days which wear their “political incorrectness” like a badge of honor. For starters, I liked this critique:


    (It’s in four parts.)

  67. Crux Australis

    Phil displays a thinking style, depth of thinking and clarity of writing that I admire. He has helped me to clarify my thoughts on the nature of religion especially. I thank you, Phil, for your wonderful work and your hought-provoking posts. I will not be leaving.

  68. Brian Hunt

    I enjoy the BA site and blog as it currently is. We have similar interest and that’s what attracted me to the blog. I’m a skeptic, I like science fiction, have an opinion on politics, and love astronomy and cosmology. Write about whatever is on your mind and it will be read.

  69. Justodude

    Fair enough, We’re not bound to a chair being forced to read every article, so we as viewers can choose which posts we are interested in or not, whether they have to do with your political views or astronomy. I think it would be silly for a reader to stop reading just because you choose to write about whatever you want because you still provide relevant and well analyzed astronomy articles. I guess some people just have to realize that the content isn’t frantically designed to appeal to them, if they want that then they can turn the tv back on.

  70. Eric Gunnerson


    The whole point of a blog is to write about things that you are passionate about. And I know that you might sometimes lose readers if you write about non-astronomy things, but if you start editing yourself, you are likely to lose passion and not write anything at all.

    And that would be a loss for all of us.

    So, just write what you want, and tell the people that don’t like it that they are welcome to read any of the other 900 million blogs out there instead.

  71. Gentle readers: If you want to read about nothing but astronomy, google “Astronomy tutorial” or “Astronomy research” or look up a univeristy Web site or NASA. Here, you’re getting an enthusiast of astronomy in three dimensions with extra interests and hints of a life.

    And speaking of kittens, I just acquired two half-wild ones, cute as hell. If you’re in the Toronto area and have a kitten-shaped hole in your life, Uh – leave a comment on my blog post about the kittens.

  72. Impium Orexis

    I only have one problem with the way you do things, Phil.

    “The Bad Astronomer

    July 15th, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    And I’m certainly not apologizing for my content or style. In fact, I’m telling folks that this is the way it is.

    I recall an incident where you rightly said the claims of a miracle were rubbish in the case of a female who experienced internal decapitation. Yet you crumpled like a paper doll when met with a bit of stiff opposition from a friend of that female. You apologized and even set up a fund for her to assuage her injured faith. Before you say it (yet again), NO, you were not in the wrong with your original posting about that subject. That struck me entirely as a PR damage control maneuver. Seems a little hypocritical to fold like that and then say what I quoted above. I hope you maintain the courage of your convictions in the future, but I have my doubts.

  73. Mark UK

    Some posts I find more interesting than others. I alway check around here and if the subject doesn’t interest me I get on with my day… I find that system works really well.

    Keep it going BA.

  74. gp

    Nice bro. Be cool, these buggers will go witch hunting regardless, but it’s good to know that you stood your ground (for the Nth time) :D…

    For coming from a place with no decent science or astronomy blog in the radius of a few thousand miles, I cherish your blog and I would certainly recommend it to everyone whose coming into knowing science and want to study science.

    The problem starts when people dont have something nice to say, or when they want their 5 minutes of fame. Ignore them, we will.

    We are behind you 101% in everything you do to enlighten the world of what real science is and what human science is. It’s a big service to humanity that you’re doing and hope it will be like that forever. (Thanks to UniverseToday too.)


  75. gazza666

    As someone who’s actually MET Phil, I honestly cannot understand why ANYONE would think he’s the kind of pond scum he’s occasionally been accused of being. He’s just about the nicest guy you could possibly imagine, and I think that comes across very well in his blog.

    Unfortunately some people will read into things whatever their own prejudices require them to.

  76. Actually, pond scum is kind of important in the food chain and the overall environment. If you think about it, being compared to pond scum probably isn’t such a bad thing. 😀

  77. Pete

    Here I am sitting in my office in Rugby, England. I can choose to read your blog and make my own mind up about it. Frankly, I would like you to continue with all the stuff you do. If I don’t ‘get’ an article, I’ll skip it. A lot of the American Politics content is like that. I don’t feel the need to comment when I skip an article. Simple. Keep it up Phil.


  78. David Vanderschel

    John wonders, “Also, if this blog were strictly an Astronomy blog, do you think we’d be getting 1-3 updates per day? News doesn’t come around THAT often.” Actually it does! Another news feed I subscribe to is for MSNBCTech. Surprisingly, it features more astronomy news than does the BA’s blog. I know the BA is aware of this resource, as he has linked to MSNBC articles. But I’d say that the BA fails to mention at least half of the _interesting_ astronomical discoveries I have learned about via MSNBC. In a number of the instances in which the BA was silent, I would have appreciated the his insight, as I was often left wondering about some aspect of the story as reported by MSNBC.

  79. Anentity

    Hey Phil, keep on doing as you want; it’s your blog and a very interesting and entertaining one it is as well. The articles and entries about astronomy are excellent and I would encourage anyone with an interest in science to read them.
    Of course, I might not agree with everything you write (actually, there’s only one thing that comes to mind, I think you were too harsh on Patrick Moore who has proven to be an inspiration for many in the astronomical community); and in any case, the BBC is practically unwatchable these days, apart from a very few programmes; not too mention that they have just been forced to apologise for misrepresenting the facts and doctoring filmed footage of the queen. But, you don’t live in the UK so probably have no idea of the low standards to which that previously esteemed organisation has sunk.
    However, if you expose the stupidity of the loons, the cant and hypocrisy of religious zealots, the predation of con-artists and the idiocy of politicians then so be it; it all adds to the educational and informative value of your blog as well as the entertainment value. Keep it up.
    If any disgruntled people stop reading you’re blog, then they’ll be missing an enjoyable and informative read. In all likely-hood, many, if not most of them have closed their minds to reasonable discourse, therefore, I have no hesitation in calling them silly idiots. As you may gather, I’m not that enamoured of the prevalence of modern political-correctness.

  80. Martin Moran

    i appologise to anyone who I may have found my recent comments offensive. and do admit not entirely logical. I also have absolutely no intention of NOT reading this site any more as I believe the reason these sort of sites gather lots of different views is because we are all just interested in the truth. and the best way for me is to gather as much info as I can and then make up my mind on things.

  81. Nigel Depledge

    Phil, I agree. Post what you want to post. I enjoy it all – some of it makes me laugh, some of it makes me go “oooh, pretty nebulae!”, and some of it makes me frustrated at the unthinking stupidity of humanity. I love the way you write, so keep it coming, please.

  82. This shouldn’t even be necessary to post! If you don’t like the reading, go somewhere else! Don’t bug Phil or the rest of us about it. Just leave in silence.

    Phil, FWIW I like your writings whether they’re about astronomy (love those because I learn something new every time) or about your personal views (like those because you write in a clear and concise way).

    Keep it coming and don’t mind the naysayers.. We’ll beat them into submission for you. Wait…. Did that come out loud..? 😉

  83. Phil

    there is too much astronomy in your blog. The web and the blargosphere are crawling with astronomy, most of it secondary, and much of it tertiary. There’s too much stuff and I can’t keep up. Its all the same anyway. Once a month somebody claims a z=10 galaxy and then we all forget about it. Give us more kitten-eating and nut-bashing.

  84. Tom Neff

    I’ve been reading B A B for a while but this is my first post. A few random thoughts.

    * Anyone with a blog or a public site collects a steady drizzle of annoying comments/mail. You have to let off steam now and then or you’ll go mad. Telling people “This is my blog! If you want to leave, leave, don’t whine about it!” is a fine example. Mind you, it’s not going to change anything, but it feels great.

    * The risk in protecting yourself from idiotic rants is that you might also stop listening to constructive criticism from your true supporters. Of course B A B could be improved – like every other blog in the world. A commitment to improving it would not be a bad thing. Knowing what your mission is and re-evaluating how well you’re meeting that mission are the keys to a healthy project. I have no specific suggestions, but others generally do.

    * The posts saying “Keep on doing exactly what you’re doing – don’t change a thing!” are in a way almost as “controlling” as the posts calling the blog rubbish and urging various bits of tinfoil hattery. If Phil does want to change what he’s doing for some reason, he can and should.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  85. Chris

    # CafeenMan Says:
    July 15th, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Oh… and you need an ominous logo too. And a cryptic name for your nefarious organization. I’m thinking B.A.D.A.S.S. You’ll have to come up with what it stands for in case anyone asks – especially the extra S at the end.

    Bad Astronomers Defending Against Stupidity and pSeudoscience, perhaps?

    BTW, Phil- I love your blog and the rest of your site.

  86. dr.filbert

    kittens are tastee:)

  87. The Dread Polack

    Yes, this is Phil’s blog, and he should blog what he wants to blog.

    Also, this is the comments section, and people should feel free to comment.

    I think we should all take care to be as respectful as Phil in the tone of our comments, remaining as constructive in our criticism as possible. If we wanted to, for instance, suggest that we would like to see more astronomy, and aren’t as interested in religion and politics, we should feel free to say so, but Phil has made it clear that he’s not going to avoid these topics, so just don’t expect him to.

    Having said all that, I came here for the astronomy stuff and stayed to hear what Phil has to say. I read Pharyngula too, and even if Phil stopped talking about astronomy, I’d find that unfortunate, but just might stick around.

  88. Jan

    Keep this blog as it is. I like it when you write about astronomy, I like it when you bash young earth morons and I like it when you post about sites comparing the size of the Death Star to the size of the Saturn V.

  89. raf

    Impium Orexis Says: I recall an incident where you rightly said the claims of a miracle were rubbish in the case of a female who experienced internal decapitation. Yet you crumpled like a paper doll when met with a bit of stiff opposition from a friend of that female. You apologized and even set up a fund for her to assuage her injured faith. Before you say it (yet again), NO, you were not in the wrong with your original posting about that subject. That struck me entirely as a PR damage control maneuver. Seems a little hypocritical to fold like that and then say what I quoted above.

    I am very surprised that there seem to be only a few people who have mentioned this as it seems VERY obvious to me.

    IMO, that whole episode damaged the BAs integrity “almost” beyond repair.

  90. Phil: I love this blog and I read it multiple times a day. Who cares if someone else doesn’t like it? Skepticism should be present in all avenues of life; science in and of itself should dictate a skeptical view and should aim to educate those people who don’t think critically. If this blog were primarily about physics, I would expect the same level of skepticism.

  91. I’m shocked to have read in today’s Intersection (by Sherii, not by Chris) to be lumped in with Fundamentalists because I’m an atheist!

    I make decisions based on facts and reason, and I’m lumped in with people who make decisions based on myths???

  92. Steve

    While it was the astronomy which attracted me to this blog, it was the personality of the author that kept me coming back. I’ve learned as much from the controversial, non-science posts as I have from the astronomy posts.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, BA.

  93. Jason

    I don’t care for all yours posts, so I don’t read all of them…It really is simple. You can actually pick and choose what you want to read. Imagine that.

  94. Phil, your blog has made me more aware of “bad astronomy” in everyday life – usually because when I notice such a thing, my first thought is “Wow, Phil’s gonna have something to say about THAT.” But I think the NBC science editor’s statement about the speed of light being “186,000 miles per hour” in relation to the Gliese 581c story passed without mention except in the comments, as did the fairly quiet revision of the “Earthlike planet at Gliese 581” from 581c to 581d a few weeks later.

    Last night I was watching a program on, I think, the Travel Channel about the Aurora Borealis, and they made a statement about how incoming solar radiation is handled by the Earth’s magnetosphere. But when solar output increases due to a flare or a storm, they noted, “the rules of Physics change.” Ummm, no they don’t. My first thought was “Phil Plait would have something to say about this.”

    It’s your blog, your rules. You can talk about whatever you choose, unless your web hosting company decides to pull the plug on you rather than face liability for something you’ve said (as has happened to others), or unless someone else decides to lobby to have your site shut down. So I guess my point is, whether or not you choose to make “bad astronomy” the focal point of Bad Astronomy, you have raised our awareness of it. I enjoy the Bad Astronomy stuff most of all, but I’m happy to see what else you have to say.

  95. Darth Robo

    Statement: Kittens are just useless fur-covered organic meatbags. All meatbags dissatisfied with this blog are more than welcome to go and meet their maker. I would be more than happy to arrange the meeting.


  96. Nauthiz

    Dear BA,

    I love you.


  97. Will. M

    Good grief! We regurgitate this “it’s his blog” mantra every couple of weeks, it seems, paying homage indirectly to the louts who whine the crapola about “what should be in” the blog. I propose we all give it rest, sit back and enjoy the site and NOT respond to the yo-yos who still haven’t figured it out (or choose not to). And let BA remove from further posting any yahoo who posits the “it’s not astronomy anymore” whine more than twice.

  98. This is one of my favorite blogs. As an armchair scientist, I’m Feedblitzed to it. Delicious.

    Science, by its very nature, lends itself to politics and religion (especially when politics and religion feel like messing with science), whether readers like it or not.

    But you already knew that. Good show. Cheers!

  99. Paracelsus

    I agree with Will. M. If there is anything I’d change about this blog, it would be the comment system. I wrote a wonderful, detailed, thoughtful, supportive post earlier to refute what raf said, but the comment system ate it.

    Oh well.

  100. Jeff (UK)

    It’ all been said so well above but it’s YOUR blog and a great one too! Thanks.

  101. Billy Oldham

    Don’t go changing man. you write just the way you speak and I can hear you when I read the blog. I love the blog just the way it is. See you on the “boat ride” September.

  102. Irishman

    Bob C said:
    > “I am a scientist, a skeptic, a science fiction fan, a father, a pet owner, and a human being.” You left out the part about the seething liberal political bent.

    I think he left it out because he doesn’t see himself that way. This seems like a perfect example of

    People are reading their own issues into what I wrote,…

    gp said:
    > For coming from a place with no decent science or astronomy…
    > We are behind you 101%

    Ironic demonstration of the need! 😉

    Impium Orexis said:

    And I’m certainly not apologizing for my content or style. In fact, I’m telling folks that this is the way it is.

    > I recall an incident where you rightly said the claims of a miracle were rubbish in the case of a female who experienced internal decapitation. Yet you crumpled like a paper doll when met with a bit of stiff opposition from a friend of that female. You apologized and even set up a fund for her to assuage her injured faith. Before you say it (yet again), NO, you were not in the wrong with your original posting about that subject. That struck me entirely as a PR damage control maneuver. Seems a little hypocritical to fold like that and then say what I quoted above. I hope you maintain the courage of your convictions in the future, but I have my doubts.
    (bolding added)

    You seem to recall that situation very differently than I. I recall a terse blog post rightly stating the claims of a miracle were rubbish. I don’t recall Phil ever backing off on the position. I don’t recall Phil saying maybe it was a miracle after all. I do recall Phil apologizing if the tone of his remarks brushed over the seriousness of the injuries to the woman or gave the appearance of making light of her situation. I recall Phil setting up a contribution fund as a show of generosity and compassion. I suppose you are entitled to interpret Phil’s motives as you see fit, but my interpretation does not fit yours.

  103. Ivan

    BA, dude, don’t be such a drama queen yourself, just let people say whatever they want whenever they want. This is the internet for dog’s sake! What else do you expect?

  104. Impium Orexis: You’re wrong.

    You said “You apologized and even set up a fund for her to assuage her injured faith.”

    That is absolutely false. I set up the fund in an attempt to atone for the way I acted, and to turn a negative into a positive. I have little desire to assuage anyone’s faith.

    “Folded like a paper doll”. Heh. I think I acted like a compassionate human being after acting like a jerk.

    And “A PR move”? Bzzzzt. Wrong again. I did it for the reasons I stated above. I don’t care if it helped or hurt my rep. In some cases it helped, and obviously to others it hurt. But I did it because (gasp) it was the right thing to do.

    Irishman, you’re right, kindof, in that people are free to interpret things as they wish, since that includes a bad interpretation after I clearly stated why I was doing it. My interpretation doesn’t fit his either, and I happen to have privileged info on my motives. Happily, some people do indeed get it.

    People: I don’t mind a good argument, and I don’t mind people pointing out my mistakes. What I mind is being accused of things I haven’t done, especially by people who are unclear on what I wrote.

  105. Wait a minute….BA, human? Ha! HAHA! HA! Haha! Ahem, ha. And a hippy liberal? Ha! He wares his hair so short you can tickle his diencephalon. His main fault is falling up hill, East coast to the West coast then rolling up to the Rockies…silly astronomer you’re supposed to roll downhill (not that the Rockies aren’t paradise, don’t get me wrong…viva Laramie!). And drama queen? Well, giggaty giggaty don’t we all wish. In truth, we all know, BA’s just a puppet of the all mighty Cthulhu, spreading misinformation about “science” and “skepticism” and “rational thought.” He pretends to be one of the vertebrates when in reality he’s working for the boneless Deep Ones and as such he has no more choice as to what he writes about than a baby choosing when to fart. But he does fry up a mighty fine pickle-kitten sandwich, I must say.

    “The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” Call of Cthulhu. H.P.L.

  106. CR

    Cthulu minion? I thought Phil was a shape-shifting Reptilian Overlord. There was a blog entry about that a long time ago, with photographic proof. 😉

  107. Like anyone will listen to someone who calls himself “Fizzygoo”.

    And I know your real name… Yog Soggoth!

  108. Martin Moran

    I have trouble understanding how any scientist could damage anyones faith. In the bible is says it is everywhere part of everything but they will not believe it. dark matter could be the holy spirit and if there was a big bang or even a bouncy big bang what caused it (the first time i mean) and what was there before. I am not sure even how relevant time may be as god created time and the universe at exactly the same time out of nothing. I had a dream last night, could it be possible that time was somehow distorted by the big bang?

  109. mmmmmm

    “I’m sure if I look more carefully there’s something in the comments about me eating kittens, too”

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. They are so tasy when BBQ’d. 😉

  110. Irishman

    Phil, you are correct that you have a privileged position on your motivations, but I certainly don’t. So I can’t claim any greater authority than Impium Orexis. Also note that Impium can claim you’re lying, so observers must take in your actions and words and evaluate them for themselves. For me, I trust your honesty about your intentions and feelings. I trust that your actions were not motivated by a “face-saving” or “public relations”, but rather by a sincere desire to help and feeling the need to atone for the tone of your original post. Note I said tone, not sentiments.

  111. jmd

    Bravo, Bad Astronomer! Keep on writing what you want to write. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m sure I’m not the only one here who’s interested in what you have to say, be it about astronomy, religion, politics, or cute little birdies. You’re that rare being in the blogoverse: a thoughtful multidimensional human being.

    -astro groupie

  112. “Kittens:Fluffy Little Bundles of Fun”

    I am now very, very sad that this was something somebody made up, and not an actual website… I thought I’d found a new blog to read!

    On-topic, for some reason people feel vindicated when they feel someone is hearing why they are upset. Rather than just go away and let whatever metrics dictate these things take the hit because a reader has disappeared, and trust that such things over time will steer the column (or at least inform the readership of what they can and cannot expect from the blog)… they want to make it known how upset they are and just why they are upset, not because they can be convinced to stay but because they feel important if for even a second it seems someone is taking their farcical and over-acted ‘harrumph!’ seriously.

    Do not feed the drama-llamas. Maybe a policy of deleting such comments would be appropriate…


  113. Commenting on the original post….

    I LIKE the fact that you don’t just write about astronomy. I actually find your skepticism stuff more interesting in many cases.

    Thanks and don’t let a handful of readers bully you!

  114. khazar

    Good stance. Maybe this will filter out those who believe that somehow you owe them something. This is one of the reasons why I approach this blog with respect.

  115. MKR

    My solution was a little less drastic than completely unsubscribing. I simply unsubscribed from the main feed and added the feed for the science category (http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/category/science/feed/ ). The occasional segueways in to YEC and such from the main point can be unnerving, but it’s easy enough to stop reading at that point.

  116. FrEakaHoLiC

    my first post. always lurking. =). love the site, love the works, and love astronomy.

    great job.

    *religion = MASS brain washing. LOL

  117. Keep up the good work, Phil. You have one of the finest blogs on the net, and I love every post.

  118. Kenzie Casey

    To whom it may concern;
    My name is Kenzie and I am a South Carolinian, born and raised, and I must say that “Time to saw South Carolina off from the US and set it free” was a title that sort of hurt my feelings. When I read the blog, It was kind of sickening to read about the 2.5 million given to BJU. I honestly had no idea. I have recently taken an interest in South Carolina public education, I am writing a paper on the achievement gap between South Carolina public education and the US National average for public schools. Being a South Carolina native, it kind of sucks knowing that the state you reside in is the 48th-49th “smartest” state. I was especially disgusted when Miss Teen South Carolina showed off her brilliance on national tv. I must address that not all South Carolinians are stupid, nor do they all fly the confederate flag from their homes. Not all SC residents are “bible beaters”, especially not me.

  119. Chip

    I always look forward to your ideas and insights, as well as the viewpoints of some of the bright lights who post here and on the forum. Thanks!

  120. thehoaxbuster

    I am an ameutur astronomer and a Christian. I have some strong opinions. But I think that Phil has the right to express his opinions too. If your offended, suck it up and go on with your day. It’s the Internet people, not a place to get into verbal “lightsaber duels” with your enemies! :)

  121. I really think extremist reactionary views whether creationism or Libertarism should not be above criticism.To act like the government should not provide a safety net or certain services or protection of the enviroment workers or the consumer is ridiculos .
    To be honest to hail Reaganomics as the gretest thing is a sick delusion .Elitism whether corporate government or religion does not bode well for a civilized society . Reagan was a rectionary extremist who did all he could to turn this nation into Dicken’s novel .

  122. HELLO…So you believe in Nothing..Ok..that’s not a problem also a lot of Russians were believing in nothing before the falling of the Berlin Wall, and also a lot of Yugoeslavians were believing in Nothing while the Virgin Mary was appearing at Medgougorye during 7 or 8 years before saying that “You will be suffering a lot soon – Pray my children” and then what happened? Well…. an internal and Horrible War between Croatians and Serbs make more devastation than the Second World War and divided Yugoeslavia. May be that is Nothing also, but now we have a lot a terrible catastrophes- strange new sickness al over the World – Earthquakes , Tsunamis and the like + a full Conspiranscy in USA conducted and orchestrated by GWBush ..is nothing may be..but there is SOMETHING that you dont know that all of that was and is Predicted in the Bible Code and even more about USA and the awful President Bush…just look what it was found in..
    and just see what it is saying about the actual Pope Ratzinger – Arafat asassination – Bush – 9/11 and the Pentagon and a Future cataclism for USA in 2010 – YELLOWSTONE Explosion …! that will left nothing standing there… if it explodes..! Now, take notice that these Bible Codes found are only THOUGHTS of Whoever wrote The Old Testament or THORAH and been thoughts of GOD or whoever is the creator of that magnificent piece of Paper..sometimes he or It repents and dont make it happens his thoughts as a Reality..in any case I was just reading these Codes on the 15 December 2004 that were telling me that a Tsunami would be crushing Indonesia and when the 26 Dec 2004 this really happened …..I just begun to count the Dead people..that were at the end 350.000 more or less…Well if that is just a mathematical coincidence I challenge you to create a book with some many Words or Phrases that could be constructed jumping or skipping 1345 or 1560 letters or more for each letter to form a Word and even more yet PHRASES….! That is really a challenge that only SOMEONE VERY SUPERIOR TO US COULD DO…So now you have it,,and you can begin to Play God yourself..! Nice to meet you,,as the Devil says in the Rolling Stones song.
    Adolfo Araya – Sydney – Australia – Sweet Dreams after you Read the Bible Codes found by 5 british men very clever men.
    Sunday 18 November 2007
    Note: I dont need your answer just the reading of the Bible Codes that are added 1 or 3 more every week in that place – Bye. If you dont read them, well that is your choice..the advertisements are there for all to know..! bye and Good Luck

  123. In the Philippines, it is popularly known, that Siopao, a Chinese pastry product with meat filling, is actually filled with… cat meat.

    Now I’m not sure if this is just a myth. Or whether they use mature cats or kittens.

    But it tastes good.


  124. Just wanted to point out that one of the ads below the blog post is for Kitten Calendars.

    As the young-uns say, LOL. (I believe it was picking up your mention of not eating kittens.)

  125. Slide2112

    Oh so you “…refuse to let the Fox “news” channel define what is centrist.”

    And your telling us you are un-biased how? Get your real news from NPR do ya?

    I am a sceptic. Science has not proved or disproved the existence of God. Science cannot disprove or prove the effectiveness of prayer until the existence of God is settled. And if God is proven to exist, only if the mind and full capabilities of God are known can the effectiveness of pray be proven. And then there is the whole idea of collective thought…

    My personal experience has shown me that Spirit exists and that there is something more after death. But that is not science.

  126. Roadgopher

    Discover magazine had a great description of this blog in the latest issue (December 2007, page 69) and I am delighted to find and read it. We need a lot more science and skepticsm. My current challenge is working towards a simple defense against the creationist/ID pressure to get their message into schools. Despite their defeat in the courts, they are just ignoring that and continuing the pressure. As an amateur astronomer I really grate at the aging nonsense. I am looking for an argument against this guy: http://www.setterfield.org/astronomy.html
    He claims the speed of light is slowing down, thus the universe is much younger than we would calculate at present. Lots of math, I don’t know if he is making it up or knows what he is saying, and corrupting. This next guy really gives me pause: http://www.creationbible.ca/index.html
    Larry Dye the creation guy, where do these guys get the money? He claims to be an amateur astronomer. He even spoke at a star party I attended ( his web site has a picture ) and everybody there was too polite, or stunned at the nonesense, to tear him apart. The fact that 45% of Americans believe the earth is 10,000 year old and Noah’s flood was real gives me nightmares. We need a lot more web sites like this. Hope you can give me some ammo for the school board meeting.

  127. I face a similar challenge with my own blog, which I just started the other day (http://pensiveastronomer.blogspot.com). My first post following my introduction was on the Winter Solstice and how it’s apparently being propped up to support the “War on Christmas.” Percentagewise, my discussion there is more about religion than it is about astronomy. I think posts dealing with religion are fair game, though, since conservative elements of Christianity (and related faiths) are undeniably targeting legitimate science for attack. We can’t just sit on our need to talk about these issues out of fear that we’ll offend religious sensibilities. That could eventually lead to the same kind of disaster that’s been happening in Sudan with British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons.

    So let’s go ahead and talk about those issues of religion, while doing our best to “stay on topic” by showing how conservative religion complicates our work in science. I refuse to tolerate these ridiculous attacks also. Without a doubt, I’m with you.

  128. Bob Kirk

    Slide2112 shows that the work your Blog does is well and truly needed. Yes, you can prove the effectiveness of prayer without proving the existence of a God, and understanding why this is so is necessary for any rational view of reality. Keep up the good work, Phil.

  129. Surgei

    Thanks for what you do. These “side bars” do religionists much good I think.

  130. Slide2112

    Holy crap this is just like talking to a bunch of Christians.

    Consciousness is not understood. The role of consciousness in creating our reality is not understood. There is very good experimental evidence that consciousness does influence physical ‘reality’. EPR anyone? Sorry, lets keep it simple, Two Slit Experiment anyone?

    Careful here kids, your professor will not want you to think like this or as Feynman joked when speaking of such things “shh shh close the door someone might hear you…Science shows the very real possibility that mind influences’ physical reality.

    The problem is consciousness and this ‘observer problem’ are not understood. There are many experiments on the quantum level with results that suggest, if not demonstrate, that a conscious observer effects the physical world. At a minimum there is no proof to say otherwise.

    Dare I leave it to the reader to make the connection to prayer?

    Understand what is being said here. The comments of Mr. Kirk show blindness not reason, to my original argument.

  131. Bob Kirk

    Slide2112, what have the questions of reality and consciousness got to do with testing the power of prayer ? Science tests things by observation and experiment. It’s perfectly possible to run tests to see if prayer improves the probability of an outcome (at least a reasonably well defined outcome). Do a search on this site using ‘prayer’, and you’ll get more info.

  132. Slide2112

    Bob Kirk: Slide2112, what have the questions of reality and consciousness got to do with testing the power of prayer ?

    Well, everything. We are talking about mental activity altering physical reality after all, and these results are obtained using good science. But more to the point at hand I want to state that there is more to my argument then ‘you can’t prove a negative’.

    BK: Science tests things by observation and experiment. It’s perfectly possible to run tests to see if prayer improves the probability of an outcome (at least a reasonably well defined outcome).

    Agreed. No problem here. There are studies that gave positive results, but lets not wade in the weeds about this my real point is…

    BK: Do a search on this site using ‘prayer’, and you’ll get more info.

    …and the Bad Astronomer makes the statement:
    “That’s why I am adamant that prayer has no outside effect; it’s been proven not to work.”

    Now reading this anywhere else I wouldn’t give it a second thought. But this site is about defending science against those who would bend it to push their agenda. The standard for making such a statement as “proven not to work” is very high if we are still talking science.

    Who is to say it wasn’t Johnny’s familiar spirit who got him laid Saturday night after performing the ritual on the Solstice? Not science.

    Unless, as I originally stated you could prove the non-existence of Spirit, and if Spirit is proven to exist, know the capabilities and mind of that thing. That is, can it interfere and would it?

    I am promoting a very high standard here. That is science

    NOTE to the rabid: I am not saying anyone has proven prayer to work. I have my personal opinions, but that is not science.

  133. Bob Kirk

    I leave it to the reader to decide if they understand Click2112 (“There are studies that gave positive results” and “I am not saying anyone has proven prayer to work” ?).

  134. ken

    So don’t write about politics, or do. It doesn’t matter, but spare us the whine. Besides, it’s not like you have a unique opinion or point of view. Just another standard issue leftwinger regurgitating the standard issue opinions he learned in college

    Or you could do what I do and have a separate political blog (Laser Guided Loogie)

    But I suppose it would have to stand on its own then, and not piggy back on your science blog. ce la vie.


  135. Guido

    Yeah I agree with most everyone else here, I appreciate your “stance” but you dont really use science too much, your not truly objective and yeah, you do lean way to the left – you dont care…great! But I dont suppose this blog is really worthwhile anymore anyway.
    P.S. I also am a dad, a science fiction fan and work in the science field, but your science often comes from a position that ALREADY supports you’re opinion..anyone can do that.
    A few readers have commented that you want to be objectionable, but plainly my man, you are not. If, for instance, you are anti-religious (and obviously you lean that way) you can use science to disprove “religion” (a word I hate) but if you do maintain this is a created universe, there is AMPLE evidence to support that as well.
    Discussion changes NOTHING…i suppose I will head on back to space.com…

  136. Elrond.Hubbard

    I just watched your video about tu24, and I have to say, I loved the “Don’t Panic!” thing haha.


  137. I have, sort of, been reading your blogs for a couple years now (off and on) and I have to say that I find it rather entertaining. I think people miss the point that even though you are scientific, you still have a human opinion on certain subject matter. If I were a religious “nut” I wouldn’t be coming to a website that involved science, sort of ironic don’t you think? I have disagreed and agreed with certain things you have said but I still hold a respect for to still come to your website. I also feel that your opinions are, in a sense, warranted and not simply just to state the opposite of what everybody else is going to say (i’ve been to too many websites whose main focus is to piss everybody off instead of show their TRUE opinion). I will continue to visit your website and blog as long as you continue to do what you are doing, being human.

  138. roberta1066

    I don’t really see the dichotomy between science and religion and understand all the hostility toward religion by scientific types. Some of the greatest men of science through the ages have been men, and women, of great faith. Hell, the scientific method itself traces its origins to the medieval university’s theology and philosophy faculties. We’ve all heard of Copernicus, Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, George Lemaitre, Marie Curie, et al. The list is endless. There are contemporaries like Robert Jastrow (RIP). My father worked for NASA on Project Apollo; just about everyone concerned with that endeavor–scientists, engineers, flight controllers, the guys in the firing room, mission control in Houston, the astronauts themselves–were all what are now derisively called “believers,” as if it’s a cancer. I just don’t get it.

  139. rag

    All the people above i have only one suggestion for you


    regarding your comments for phil or his work.

    if you want to do something better than he does or do there is another option for you

    “DO OR DIE”

    phil keep up your good work

  140. Anonymous

    Hey, rag, roberta1066 posed a good question in so many words, Why such hostlity toward “believers”? I frankly do not understand it myself. It’s an assumption that you cannot be a serious scientist and also be a believer, a totally false assumption belied by the simple fact that some of the greatest men of science have been people of faith. Your dismissive, flippant remark reeks of narrowmindedness and intolerance.

  141. Otter

    The scientific method is the most amazing and effective tool ever devised. Practically though, It is implemented by mere mortals. Guns don’t kill people. What ever happened to regular old novas? They were pretty impressive back in the day. They even named a car and a T.V. show after them. Now there are only various types of Super Novas. Global warming is happening on Mars. I’m not quite sure how I melted mars’ polar ice cap. Maybe I breathed to much. Tell me how pure science is.

  142. Anonymous

    Global warmimg is simply a hoax perpetrated for political purposes to justify increased regulation of our lives, it’s the nanny state bulked up on steroids and HGH. The most recent data from NASA and some other organisation I cannot recall reveals that the last 100 years of “global warming,” i.e., a 1-degree Celsius increase, was all wiped out in 2007. That’s right, 100 years of so-called global warming was reversed in 1 year. Astronomers, better than anyone, know the effect of the solar sunspot cycle on the earth’s climate. Of course, mankind has an effect, but it’s negligible and not worth turning the world’s economy upside down to combat a phantom problem. Unlike Phil, I am old enough to have been at the first Earth Day rallies when the “coming ice age” was being trumpeted as the greatest threat to mankind. Ooops, no more ice age. Sorry, never mind.

  143. i really dont understand why religious people get so hot under the collar about science and scientists the holy scriptures from nearly all religions are just full of all sorts of science from geophysical events like the parting of the red sea through organic chemistry water into wine astronomy of course with following the path of the star gee they even have high energy physics at sodom shame about the containment field though and of course global warming with a really serious rise in sea level many thanks to noha for the boat or should that be the weather satelite and i think the big boss has just about got genetic engineering off pat mind you his cloaning technique needs some attention a hole rib worth of Dna bit extravegant hey guys just accept it God is the greatest multi disciplined scientist of all time

  144. Anon.

    Hey, timetraveller, ever heard of punctuation, capitalization? Use a few commas and periods for Christ’s sake!

  145. Edward


  146. Hi Phil
    Love the site, Cap’t Beefhart used to get pissed at the audience and say “I’m going to do what I want to do” We need more of that! But from skeptical human beings do their own Passionate thing. You extraterrestrialy&Terrestrialy Rock.

    Allthebest Winslow

  147. man.. lighten up…. you act like this is YOUR blog or something. doesn’t it belong to the interwebs? aren’t you just stealing god’s copyright by writing all this stuff about sciences. I have a master’s degree in apologetic forensics and fear the almighty and the GRB he produces to burn us all into ash piles. so keep writing your stuffs while i keep photographing god’s beautiful naked girlies.

    Damn i wish i had a telescope so i could see some stuffs too!

    😉 love your blog man.. keep it up.. don’t let the whackos screw with you too much!!!

  148. I do not agree with what you are saying, but I do agree in your right of saying it. I have learned to tolerate thoughts that are not my own.

  149. good site…..

    “But I will not tolerate the attacks on science, whether they come from politicians, religious zealots, New Age gurus, or regular old folks. And I will speak out.”

    of course no need to explain more….i stand by u..

  150. Kamats

    there is no need for us to base science to religion
    this creationism stuff is contagious and destructive
    well done Phil, we’ll stand by you (hope you can help America see PZ is a jjjjjerk)
    as for me, i hope it wont reach my country because i think that is the kind of thinking developed countries do in their free time

    why cant they say: Be good to everyone, There is God, He made us all. Its not what we believe in but in what good do we give.

    and for us “unintelligent” readers (that what PZ likes to tag us), its war, attack him and his lackeys

  151. Bob

    Dear Sir,

    I’ve got a rather unusual request, not a comment.
    I am interested in starting a non-profit school on astronomy in northern New Zealand. I am a novice at best ~ I have an idea, not neceassarily the resources and all that is required to go head to head with the big guys!
    Could somebody put me in contact with someone that could point me in the proper direction, to get me started. Realizing everything starts at the beginning – I got the idea, and I think more will come as I get information on whom to speak with and the feasibility of even doing something like this.

    Respectively Yours,

  152. Don Snow

    @ Phil –

    I’m a regular old folk. Thank you, for explaining your stance. I finally read it, this nth time around. I wasn’t here, the other (-) nth times.

    About global warming. it was at least three, and maybe four, years ago that I read an article in “Astronomy” magazine. As I remember it, the article reported storms on Mars, and warming on the gas giants, all the way out to Neptune. The culprit was the sun, burning warmer than usual.

    So, I go along with solar warming, but the global warming bunch don’t excite nor scare me.

  153. DanlBoone

    science defers to religion when it presupposes no possibility of a creator…

    then ‘science’ becomes a materialistic religion

  154. Robert

    Why are you apologizing for publishing your own political views? Regardless of who agrees with them, you have every right to express your political views.
    Just because you blog mostly about astronomy topics, does not mean you forfiet your right to express your political leanings. If you disagree with the administration’s science policies you have every right to do so and to express those disagreements.
    It’s called the first amendment.
    Say what you want and don’t apologize for it.You have the right to express your views on your blog. If there are people who don’t like it, let them do their own blogs. It’s just too bad that some people don’t understand what the first amendment is all about.

  155. Daffy

    CHRISTIAN: “Evolution is only a theory.”
    SCIENTIST: “A theory is not a wild guess. It is a model based on certain observed facts.”
    CHRISTIAN: “Evolution is only a theory.”

    Religious zealots will NEVER see reason. How can they? If they did, they would start questioning ALL the ravings in the Bible…and that certainly isn’t going to happen, is it?

  156. DLC

    No, I will continue to read BA Blog every couple of days, even if Phil does give away the secret charbroiled kitten recipe. I mean to keep coming back now and again and you can’t stop me!
    So there!

  157. mike

    Let me say that I am a Catholic and an amerture astoromer I beleve in Evolution , the big bang , the Earth is 4.5 billon years old and ther are many Christans who are like me I think that science and religion can exsit in peace and don’t contradict each other I love phils book and I dont think this site is anti-religious if it was I would not visit I don’t allways agree with Phill but Im sure he dosen’t agree with me thats fine besides I come her for astrormy information not a Bible study or a theolgy discusion and to express my viewpoints witch I know many may not agree with .P.S. I think some might be more concerned that like Phill Im a scifi addict and I am also a video game addict than over my faith

  158. Charles J. Slavis,Jr.

    Do to my lack of scientific expertize , I decided to post on Philosophy talk. They had articles on torture, faith, existence, all fun to express opinions on. They removed my posts. I guess I shouldn’t have suggested that Dick Chaney was water boarding in Hawaii, or that evolution is change, or choices may move us on a multi-dimensional pathway to God. I will continue to visit here until you delete me as well.

  159. Charles J. Slavis,Jr.

    Hubble has the best pics of the Universe. I have the book. I also have an autographed pic of the crew that repaired Hubble the first time. I painted the SRB separation on a Hubble deep field rendition of my own and sent them the pic. They sent me their pic in return. It is in my portfolio. Imaginary nebulas can’t compare with the real pics from Hubble. When I look at the moon, I still see them walking and riding up there. “One small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.” Insert chills here.

  160. mike burkhart

    Let me say two more things 1 You said in your book (bad astronomy) that it not your job to interpit ancent scriptures I am glad you said that because that is the Church job 2 Prayer is an act of worship and is best left to religon I thank you for the posts on the antivac movement this makes me mad that they want children to sufer form desies that may even kill and none of the perpoinets are doctors as for the alleged moon landing hoax I am not mad Im laughing at it Im sorry but I think its funny just like the tablod storys I read at the supermarket

  161. MKR

    All this is why I’ve been following BA for over a decade. 😛

    Without opinions, it’s just a news column. I can get news anywhere.

  162. MKR

    *news column and reference site

    (feel free to merge these and edit this note out without complaint in your magical moderation interface)

  163. Bubalus

    I volunteer to go off in a huff if you stop giving your opinions, I came here for the astronomy and stay for the entertainment.

  164. Tom Woolf

    Ummm, Stick (#14)…. Don’t let the name fool you. What do you think hot”dogs” are made from?

  165. Alec

    I LOVE this blog! Don’t change anything!

  166. Paco

    I will never read you again!! I thought this was a politics blog…


  167. David

    (sent here by link in #101 Beck and Limbaugh)

    Duly noted, and I do go elsewhere as well, but I enjoy reading you. Respectfully, you’re not center.

  168. mike burkhart

    Let me say one mor thing I getting tired or this Athest – religous war I am calling for peace and understanding on both sides lets have some tolerance and find some common ground the fact that some Athests want to celabrate Christmas is a good start lets stop trying to destorying each other and come toghter let have a ceace fire and a truce

  169. mike burkhart

    as for politics I apolitical and a centrest science should not be a political issure

  170. Charles J. Slavis,Jr.

    I don’t eat kittens…..I only eat Chinese food.

  171. Christopher Robert

    No one is forcing people to read this blog. If Bible majors such as myself have issues with the fact that Phil Plait believes in evolution, then they do have the option of not reading this blog.

  172. Jules

    Why would anyone interested in science narrowly consider any specialty to be an island? A true scientist must use several areas of science to further our knowledge and understanding. Critical thinking (with a good dose of skepticism) is the fulcrum of scientific decision making. Why look at astronomy without looking at microbiology, math, physics, and chemistry? I applaud you, Phil, for sharing your broad understanding of science…it makes your astronomy that much stronger!

  173. OrionsSword

    In an “us versus them” mindset, having one side leave the premises in a huff is only significant to demonstrate who’s mindset it actually was. The group that stays doesn’t play “us versus them”; instead, it remains open to all ideas and thoughts.

  174. reidh

    When you say RELIGION I think POLITICS, and in the case of the Roman Catholic Religion, child molesters, which is then SEX-like.

  175. Kim

    This is your blog and the definition of blog is — you rant and rave. In fact a very close friend of mine using blog as another form of stress relief. It’s your opinion and if other people don’t like it, they can find another blog to read. It’s my 2cents.

  176. Astro Ash!!

    I believe in God, but I still respect people who don’t. I think human beings have the freedom to make there own choices about religion.

  177. Keith Bowden

    Hear, hear! Keep it all coming, Phil. I don’t have to like all the things you like, no one has to like all the things that I like. I read your blog for the pretty pictures, the science (even when it gets WAY above my head). I like the way you write, your patter. I like your information even in science fields you don’t specialize in because you are still knowledgable and I appreciate your opinion. I also appreciate your opinion on other topics, the way I would any friend (though I don’t actually know you). People who hang out with those who only have the same views and interest they do must live terribly limited lives…

  178. Just finished watching a great set of lectures on Science & Religion from the Teaching Company. The current Science vs religion conflict is actually quite recent it seems. Really began after WW1. Mainly a product of a “naive literal reading” of religious texts.

    I was stunned to know that the last papal statement on evolution actually made sense in a scientific context. For those interested in the subject, the lectures are recc. I certainly did not agree with everything in them, but it was eye opening. The professor gave the best definition of a scientific theory I’ve come across.

    It’s good to know that only a minority of religious faiths are strictly anti science these days, but unfortunately the USA has a majority of them. The Middle East has their set except it’s extreme Islam.

    Just two cents from a guy who blogs in the Bible belt and refuses to make any science subject off limits. Risky for a guy who works on air in TV.

  179. April B. White

    I have only been reading your blog for a couple of months. In the rare event you post one that is uninteresting to me at the time, I just skip it. I think you do a good job and I don’t think you should change anything. Thank you for BA!

  180. John EB Good

    You may have seen such a post from me, ressembling this, and I want to set things straight:

    It’s sad, in this XXIst century, you have to, …but you have to.

    Personally, I fear more a return to the Dark Age of the XIIth century than climate warming. T’would not be the first time in our history and history has the bad habit of repeating itself. Not to say climate warming is not a scary issue though. But as we put more and more of our knowledge on computer bits instead of paper, if it’s ever lost or willingly destroyed, the climb back up the mountain will only get harder and longer. Roddenderry should have used the 34th Century instead of the 24th. He could have passed for as good a visionary as Jules Verne instead of a happy and innocent dreamer.

  181. Dr. Cuddles

    when he calls himself the bad astronomer he’s referencing his skeptical book call bad astronomy. If he were only interesting in a blog about astronomy he would have found a name that instilled a little more confidence than “Bad Astronomer”

  182. Tim C

    Phil Plait for president! Oh wait…. you are not enough of a dick to get elected.

  183. Travis

    Preach on Phil, your site will always be in my bookmark menu.

  184. Tim

    Back to kittens: How many kittens would need to be in the same part of space in order to trigger a fusion reaction, Phil? And would the product be cats, dogs, or new elements?

  185. Anne Ominous

    Interesting that you would complain of being accused of stating things you didn’t actually write… that has been one of my own most common complaints about people in your comments as well.

    Well… at least you know how it feels.

  186. Say brotha, do your thing man, don’t let anyone tell anything else. You are your own person and at the same time do have certainties towards delegating truth to the public. Your an awesome writer, even if you publish something to piss someone off, its all good lol. I know this might sound a bit crude but its fun to think that you would share true and positive information and have an individual become upset. Its not your fault but theirs for trusting only what ever source they have searched. Writing should be about making people glad and not everyone is the same. Cool how you have the gift to please more than just one class of people. Stick to your discernment and don’t let your fans push ya around lol ;.)

  187. patrick

    Funny that people leave the goodbye posts even in a blog that just said i don’t want to hear it. I don’t think Phil minds the i disagree posts just the things is off topic and i am taking many ball and going home. Don’t announce your leaving phil and the rest of us don’t care. If you disagree let’s discuss it.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar