By Phil Plait | February 2, 2011 5:53 pm

The Onion, if you’ve spent the last twenty years floating in deep space somewhere and don’t know, is a brilliant satirical newspaper. They sometimes tackle issues near and dear to me, so how could I not link to the article "Republicans Vote to Repeal Obama-Backed Bill That Would Destroy Asteroid Headed to Earth"?

The thing is, I suspect a lot of folks will think this is serious (Poe’s law, anyone?). Which, come to think of it, will say a lot about the state of partisan politics today.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, DeathfromtheSkies!, Humor

Comments (49)

  1. “This law is a job killer,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who argued the tax increases required to save the human species from annihilation would impose unbearably high costs on businesses. “If we sit back and do nothing, Obamastroid will result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs, which we simply can’t afford in this economy.”

    Exactly. this is exactly what you expect to hear from them on any idea that looks beyond next week (healthcare, climate change, energy, etc)

  2. Chief

    I’ve followed the Onion for years and It’s pretty funny and sad with the number of times that news sources pickup info from them and treat it as fact.

    As for the story above, too bad we are not even at the point in which discussions to change or kill an existing bill.

  3. I think the thing that makes The Onion such brilliant satire is that it’s so close to reality! Which is also what makes it somewhat depressing…

  4. I love the digs at the media too. One of the latest headlines…
    “Reporter For High School Newspaper Most Professional Journalist In Nation”

  5. Idlewilde

    When did this become a politics blog? Just because the word asteroid is in it doesn’t make it astronomy!

  6. So, is Idlewilde Poe-ing us?

  7. Ron1

    Aw, Geez, Phil. Things were just quietening down. :)

    I can already hear the whiny ‘anti-this, anti-that, anti-Phil, anti-Liberals charging for their keyboards. They’re coming …

    But yeah, the Onion IS great.

    Oops, I see that Idlewilde Says is already here … Bummer

  8. J23

    I don’t think Phil Plait is treating the imminent loss of jobs ObamaAsteroidCare will cause in the next few years with the response it deserves! Typical liberal, asteroid-fearing rhetoric! If we let down our defenses, the extraterrestrial objects win.

  9. Ron1

    Phil, if you’re still trolling around … All round great day on your blog.
    Lots of fun with the other COPs and the announcements were outstanding.
    Thanks and good night.


    PS. Nigel … Be nice with those who don’t, … aw heck, have fun. The day shift has left you lots to clean up. :)

  10. Daniel J. Andrews

    Just think of all the minerals they could mine if that asteroid landed in the middle of the U.S. Sure, there’d be some downsides, but think of the future economic growth once survivors crawl out of bunkers.

  11. Where be science?

    Kinda disappointing to come back to one of my favorite blogs (and authors) only to have to surrender to yet another political reference.

    I don’t care about what you think about religion or politics.

    I do care what you think about science. Why not stick to that?

    A number of months ago there was some big palaver about how you thought everyone, including your readers, were at fault for not believing in Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    It is this kind of nonsense, the equivalent of news anchors appearing in fictional films as themselves, that causes people like me to distrust what you actually have to say about science and how it impacts people, or just simply the cool factor of itself in and of itself. In other words, it is the scientific community’s fault that people don’t believe because the water is so cloudy with personal belief and not just the facts.

    Please, let me be entertain my brain without the infotainment about your personal philosophies. Your “near and dear to your heart” is matter of perspective. It’s a religion, not science.

    Can I recommend starting another personal blog so you can keep your business and personal life apart?

  12. Where be science? (#11): Here’s an idea: read this.

    And if you still want to entertain your brain without all my personal philosophies, there’s a whole internet just loaded with electrons waiting for you.

  13. Robin Byron

    If we could deflect the asteroid just enough to land right on Yellowstone, we could plug that plume of magma and avoid the pending super volcano.

  14. mfumbesi

    The article was so full of win…..I LOLed.

  15. Chip

    The weird thing is: the Republicans really would do that. They’re against anything Obama does, even if its something they supported in the past. The Onion is just brilliant as is often Jon Stewart.

  16. Bobby

    I love the onion. And I’ve thought about such a possibility – if something like this happens, it might well be politics or religion that screw it up for us the most. But the article is still funny, even with my feeble grasp or American politics. Thanks for sharing:)

    the impact “could completely reshape the American political landscape for many centuries to come” – that cracked me up, so to speak :)

  17. Michel

    I allways found The Onion very fair and extremely balancend.

  18. Radwaste

    There was a writer once who had David Clennon speak one of the most telling lines in television: “And to that public, ‘history’ is last week’s ‘People’ magazine.”

    So many who pride themselves on professional detachment and an ability to reason throw that all away when it comes to a political topic. They prefer Rush or CNN reports to and the actual text of bills before Congress; they nurture pet ideas rather than challenge them because the attendent emotions are so satisfying.

    They vote for a Presidential candidate who promises things he did not act upon when a Senator and who will be Constitutionally prohibited from acting upon as President; they excuse the man they voted for as he does the exact same things they excoriated the previous fellow for — even as he was manifestly not responsible for those actions, those being the express duty of Congress.

    It is just too hard to think about Congress as they sit there fondling the pages and interns. As we demand action (I wanna see the Manager, dammit, my FRIES are cold!) from the only person we’ve ever seen, the people holding the money get away with everything. (That would be Congress, again.)

    Beeblebrox is NOT the ruler of the Galaxy. He’s just the President. Say that out loud!

  19. HA!! I was just about to send you the link!

  20. Nigel Depledge

    Ron1 (9) said:

    PS. Nigel … Be nice with those who don’t, … aw heck, have fun. The day shift has left you lots to clean up.


  21. Dan I.

    To all those throwing around the “not astronomy related” line.

    Who is anyone but Phil to say what he considers an “astronomy related” issue?

    Let’s see, this post is about a satirical article concerning an asteroid. Hmmm, that seems astronomy related to me. It talks about an asteroid, sure it’s satire, but whatever it still touches on an astronomy subject.

    Here’s an idea for all you would be arbiters of content…START YOUR OWN BLOGS.

  22. Charlie Foxtrot

    Ha! Oh, that sadly rings true … not only would the Republicans kill that bill, but Palin’s bunch would be standing out at ground-zero with welcome banners. (!??!)

    Oh – and ‘WhereBeScience (#11)’… this is Phil’s blog – not Sky & Telescope. Just skip the bits you don’t like and suck it up, buttercup.

  23. Ethyachk

    Wow, I’m so irritated that this blog that I don’t write (and apparently don’t read much) isn’t always 110% about astronomy! I mean learning about asteroids, galaxies, stars, exo-planets, red-shifts, black holes, space travel, moon-quakes, and more 99% of the time is great, but I clearly can’t refrain from complaining when a single post I didn’t write that is “off topic”. Your personal blog should obviously cater to my every whim.

    Hey Concern Trolls! STFU, GTFO, and don’t come back.

  24. Kevin Brennan

    That article is great, and anyone who thinks The Onion has a political agenda has either serious confirmation bias or not read enough of it, IMO.

  25. Old Muley

    Some of the truthiest news comes from the Onion:

    “Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With new ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory”
    “Iranian Science Teacher May Be Enriching Students”
    “Developmentally Disabled Burger King Employee Only Competent Worker”

    Who can argue with headlines like those?

  26. Grand Lunar

    Might it be a sad thing that I can see this playing out in real life?

  27. Ashley Moore

    The fact that the Onion article has the word ‘asteroid’ in it doesn’t make it astronomy.
    It is the fact that it is about:

    * an asteroid hitting Earth, the effects of an impact and how to stop it (which Phil wrote a whole chapter about in a book),
    * goverment funding of Big Science/Engineering

    That’s what makes it astronomy.
    If a satire of a topic that Phil wrote a book about doesn’t qualify for ‘on-topic’, I can’t imagine what does.

  28. Arthur Reader

    This is rather rich coming from Phil Plait, who spent an entire chapter in one book denying the coming Apocalypse of Planet X hitting the Earth.

    The real problem is that the prognostications of climate models are exactly as credible as the one predicting the destruction of the Earth by Planet X – only the true believers can see and understand the evidence – the rest are too corrupt to comprehend…like Republicans for example.

  29. DrFlimmer

    It would be really hilarious, if it wouldn’t be so sad!

    Maybe I am too “Old-European-ish” (being German…), but c’mon America: WTF?
    I don’t get why a government IMPROVING the situation of (almost) all is such a bad thing (speaking of health care, etc.)?
    Do you know, where a weak government leads to? Well, take a look around, already forgot the last crisis, right?
    As I said: I don’t get it. And btw: Obama is not even close of being a Socialist or something like that. I guess, most Americans have absolutely no idea what that means at all. They just heard “it could be bad — hate it, for God’s sake!”. Awesome.

    Sorry for the rumbling. But I had to speak my mind. Politics in Europe tends to be no better than in America, of course.

    This is why the article of TheOnion is so sad….

  30. Michel

    @Dan I.
    ” To all those throwing around the ‚Äúnot astronomy related‚ÄĚ line.

    Who is anyone but Phil to say what he considers an ‚Äúastronomy related‚ÄĚ issue?”

    Anything goes. Like boxing.
    If punchend hard enough I can see a topic in that.
    So, what¬īs your stand on boxing Dr.Phil?

  31. Joseph G

    “We believe that the decisions of how to deal with the massive asteroid are best left to the individual,” King added.

    LOLZ :)

    @29 Dr. Flimmer:
    I’m an American and I’m just as perplexed as you. I think that Onion article really hit the nail on the head in some ways – “Freedom” is the magic word in the American mind. If you’re a lobbyist and you can attach your interests to “freedom” or “liberty” in some way, you’re always going to have support. People will line up to vote against their own best interest if you can convince them that they’ll be more free… somehow.

    The big WTF talking point for me is the argument against government involvement in healthcare. You hear stuff like “Do you want some bureaucrat in some cube farm somewhere deciding what treatment you can or can’t have?!?”
    What they somehow fail to answer is how this is any different then the situation we have now. Or how exactly insurance company bureaucrats are any better then government bureaucrats ūüėõ

  32. Joseph G

    And to the folks snarking about Phil making political posts, let me share something interesting with you. The other day, as I was perusing this fascinating blog, I came across a blog post that wasn’t terribly interesting to me. Something about trading cards and famous geeks. I instantly became furious and posted a lengthy and heated screed, detailing- er… no, wait, that’s not what happened.
    Oh yeah, I just scrolled down and read something else.
    If I can do it, so can you! Yes, you can! You have the power!!!

  33. Daffy

    These people don’t care about political posts—they are upset about non-Republican political posts. The ironic thing is, is they ever get the culture they want—one where all non-Republican views are silenced— it will very closely resemble Communist China.

    Or, as Harry Nilsson once observed: “Everything is the opposite of what it is.”

  34. Pooka

    The weird thing is: the Republicans really would do that.

    [citation needed]

    The weird thing is how people commented that some folks take an Onion story as reality, and there you go- taking it as a reality. Yes, Republicans really really would let the Earth be destroyed. (eyeroll) (facepalm) (another facepalm)

  35. Quiet Desperation

    one where all non-Republican views are silenced‚ÄĒ it will very closely resemble Communist China.

    Well, at least you didn’t compare them to Nazi Germany.

    Do we need an extension to Godwin’s Law that covers China?

  36. Mount

    This is near and dear to your heart because it’s about asteroids, or because it’s about health care?

  37. Daffy


    Nice try, but you know I’m right.

  38. Dan I.

    @ 34. Quiet Desperation

    We can all it “The Mao Corollary”

  39. Daffy

    I like that! But I’m still right.

  40. DrFlimmer

    You know, what bugs me most about the capitalistic system as it is about to become is this narrow-minded selfishness. It’s all about “me” and I don’t care about others. This might be more right for some than for others, but this becomes more and more the rule. Next to just thinking of today — who cares about to tomorrow?

    To make this perfectly clear: I do not favor communism. That is to say, I like the idea of communism (which never actually was at work in the world), but I know that it can’t work. Germany used to have a great system that we called “social capitalism” (no, NOT socialism!!) and workers benefited a lot from this system (like 30 days off, or parity of representatives of management and works council in the board of directors).

    Sadly, we are unleashing capitalism as well. And this kind of system placed the world on the brink of disaster (again). And then the funny situation occurred again: Companies normally favor “weak” governments, but suddenly everyone was crying for help: “Governments save us!”. Thank you very much! Sadly, nobody learned. And everything is again running into chaos as it did before the crisis.

    Sometimes I wonder if the best worker for a (capitalistic) company is, indeed, a slave.

    To stress this once more: This is not written in favor of communism. This is written in favor of capitalism kept on a (tight) leash.

  41. Neil

    One mild political poke is all it takes to see who the spoiled, humorless, entitlement-minded crybabies are. Our entire culture is absolutely soaked silly with anti-liberal and anti-intellectual bias, yet we put up with it like adults. We get it from the mainstream media(endlessly), from the internet, from pulpuits across the nation, from a mouthy, dishonest republican congressman yelling “liar!” at the president just to look cool in front of his howling monkey constituency, from pundits paid millions to lie and slander with a straight face…and still we put up with it like adults. So grow up, you pathetic little whiners.

    It’s hilarious to me how sensitive true believers are. Make one little joke about their irrational, faith-based political philosophies, or their tribalistic demonization of anything that doesn’t tow their party line or comes from an opponent, and out come the complaints and tantrums. I guess the truth does hurt, if you’re a crybaby.

    Republican voters and other conservatives: You and your leaders have earned this treatment a million times over. It’s funny, and it’s funny because it’s true. Either grow up and get over it, or even better, REALLY grow up, and change.

  42. Crudely Wrott

    . . . the Asteroid Destruction and American Preservation Act . . .

    The ADAPA.
    A-da-pa . . .
    Ah-dah-pah . . .

  43. @ Neil #42:

    Well stated, sir. Hear hear.

  44. Theramansi

    Though I have no doubt that you have any intentions of changing the blog style Phil, I’m still gonna say….

    I’d find it rather neglectful if you DIDN’T post your thoughts about current politics. What would be the point of knowledge and understanding if it becomes ignored because of the whims of politicians?

  45. Digital Atheist

    No need to worry. All of the extremists militia types are well armed and will gather at the impact site and shoot that sucker down out of the sky.

  46. Number 6

    Breaking News!….This just in….House Republicans today introduced a bill to “de-fund” the Onion. One Congressman remarked, “We’ll peel back so many of its layers, there’ll be nothin’ left of it when we’re through.”

  47. @ Neil #42 — Well said!

    I subscribe to The Onion’s Twitter feed and when I saw this one pop up, I LOL’d. And then sighed.

  48. Amy

    Speaking of the Onion, did you see their response to the 13th sign business that came out in the news in January? Brilliant! (And the only horoscopes I read),18855/

    My favorite might be Capricorn: Faith is the evidence of things not seen, which any well-rounded human being must admit is better than only trusting good hard provable evidence.


Discover's Newsletter

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


See More

Collapse bottom bar