You can't explain Bill O'Reilly

By Phil Plait | February 11, 2011 1:33 pm

Because Bill O’Reilly’s arrogance, willful ignorance, and egregious lack of rational thinking is such a juicy target for satire, I present to you a whole bunch of things Bill O’Reilly can’t explain. Here’s one:

That link has quite a few more, almost all of which made me laugh. Never a miscommunication.

[UPDATE: I am most amused by the comments below telling me to stay away from politics -- perhaps they missed that this whole thing started because of Bill O'Reilly's gross misunderstanding of scientific facts and how science works, a point I even link to right away at the top of this post -- and, even better, that if I continue this way my "days are numbered". After doing this for five years now I can count my days in the thousands, and there are many thousands more ahead of me. Before commenting on my discussing politics and/or religion, read this page I wrote just for you. If you still feel you must speak up, then by all means do so! But don't expect me to ever stop writing about topics just because you disagree with me.]

Tip o’ the loufa to CupcakeKarate.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Humor
MORE ABOUT: Bill O'Reilly

Comments (135)

  1. One of my favourites seen in the last day (not included in the link) is this one:

    http://i.imgur.com/6zmwD.png

  2. Doug

    I dunno … the Lady Gaga one might actually prove his point. I honestly can’t explain that.

  3. uudale

    I honestly don’t think Bill O’reilly is that dumb or ignorant. He makes a lot of money, though, by pandering to those who are.

  4. dang Phil, that’s the last thing i wanted to see on a Friday afternoon… be stuck in my peabrain all weekend !

  5. artbot

    In the early 80s, there was a local televangelist/right-wing nutjob named Wally George who had a local tv show. He was a loud-mouth, proto-Rush Limbaugh. We were fans (not because we agreed with him, but because he was a cartoon) and went to see the taping of his show. When we got there, he was meeting and greeting the audience and seemed funny, humble, smart, kind, and sincere. The show was an act. We were crushed.

    Now, I don’t think o’Really is _all_ an act, but it’s almost certainly a scam to get his face out there as much as possible. Having a planet-sized ego and little comprehension of the internet and good vs bad publicity just leads to a big win in his mind. He’s probably thrilled this stuff is getting re-posted from every corner of the internet.

  6. Gabriel JM

    Thank you for this, it’s great! I’ve been reading your blog for several weeks, and watched this new chapter in Papa Bear’s Quest for Insanity, and I must say I really enjoy both of them!

    One caption I just made… I must say that I’m a little proud of it:

    http://images2.memegenerator.net/ImageMacro/5712555/Reason-You-Kant-explain-that.jpg?imageSize=Medium&generatorName=Bill-Oreilly-Proves-God

    Ciao!

  7. Rory Kent

    Love the last one.
    That man is the God of ad hominem.

  8. Derek

    This is just awesome…

  9. Scott Davis

    “Your using science to explain that? You coming off as desperate!”
    I lol’d.

  10. sorcererninja

    I have to say, the toast one reminds me of the Calvin and Hobbes where Calvin doesn’t understand how a toaster works, so I guess O’Reilly isn’t totally alone.

  11. I’m Italian, and we have a lot of other problems, but people like these anti-scientists are not so important around here, luckily. I truly LOLled a lot on these one! ;)


    Saluti, Kap

  12. @ Artbot:

    And Wally George’s daughter was Rebecca De Mornay.

    Woof.

  13. Chief

    #9 sorcererninja

    You beat me to that one on C/H.

  14. itzac

    When Bill’O says that he’s not really proclaiming his ignorance. He’s speaking metaphorically and making an argument from awe and wonder; which isn’t really much better than an argument from ignorance. But it’s disingenuous and a little facile to jump on him about this thing. There are so many other ways in which he’s wrong. We don’t really need to mischaracterize him like this just for an easy punchline.

    /pedantic wet blanket

  15. Josie

    @itzac

    Perhaps you don’t understand how internet memes work. This is precisely the sort of fodder one needs to get traction. It’s simple,outrageous and iconic of o’reilly’s worthiness for ridicule.

    I doesn’t matter that this particular thing he said was metaphorical or not –it’s a handle on which to pile well deserved scorn and ridicule for everything else he says.

  16. Quaoar

    Phil,

    I believe that you are doing yourself an extreme disservice by entering into criticism of national media/politics with other than scientific criticism. You have done great work with your focus on the misunderstanders of science. When you enter into political/media criticism and comment, you are debasing your focus on misapplied or misunderstood or misspoken science.

    If you enter into the political/media combine, your days are numbered. Stay with what has made you respected: criticism of science and its applications in public policy. There are thousands of pundits doing the political/media shtick. There are very few that are doing the science/media shtick.

    Stick to what you do best, lest you debase your previous, extremely valuable, efforts; and become just another political pundit that has no effect.

  17. HvP

    itzac,

    He’s asserting that his argument from incredulity is a valid proof of the existence of the supernatural.

    He’s wrong and should be slapped and told he’s a naughty boy.

  18. Someone needs to collect these and set them to The Who’s “Can’t Explain.”

  19. Carey

    Ignorant blowhard is ignorant.

  20. itzac

    Josie, This feels to me very reminiscent of “death panels.” If that’s just how internet memes work, then bully for you. But I found that crap infuriating, and don’t see why we ought to jump on that bandwagon. It also feeds into the “elitist liberal” meme.

    HvP, I worded my first comment poorly. I should have said that we should address his argument from incredulity, not take it out of context to mock his supposed ignorance. He says plenty of truly ignorant things; we don’t need to make any up.

  21. Number 6

    In Al Franken’s satirical book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, he tells various stories about O’Reilly….His run-ins w/ him…How O’Reilly maintained when he was a child his family was very poor…I think Al talked to his mother or found quotes from O’Reilly’s mother where she says she doesn’t know what her son was talking about because the family was middle-class and comfortable. Anyway, it’s a great resource if you want to read more about the man and his perceived persona.

  22. Bad Wolf

    I agree with Doug: The one about Lady Gaga defies explanation. Even in a country that has embraced streaking, pet rocks, “where’s the beef?” Dennis Rodman, and GWB (twice) Lady Gaga is beyond belief.

  23. Gary

    @itzac

    No, I’m pretty sure that whenever someone says “you can’t explain that” regarding something that can be easily explained by a 45-second trip through Wikipedia (or Google, or whatever your preferred instant firehose of knowledge is), they’re arguing from ignorance and proudly announcing that they just don’t care enough to pay attention to the world around them to find the explanation. There’s no awe and wonder in saying “you can’t explain [the tides/the Moon]“. It’s a straightforward defiance of reality. Bill’s not saying it to inspire, he’s saying it to shut down the discussion, because he thinks it’ll work. He’s wrong.

  24. Mount

    “Lady Gaga: you can’t explain that”

    Sounds rational enough to me!

  25. Jason

    Are you kidding me. This is part of Discover magazine’s website? I’m not going to buying Discover anymore. This useless, personal attack has nothing to do with a great magazine I have been enjoying for years. I seriously hope you people rethink your web content and discontinue this type of thing.

  26. AG

    Idiocracy at work.

  27. itzac

    @Gary

    “they’re arguing from ignorance and proudly announcing that they just don’t care enough to pay attention to the world around them to find the explanation.”

    You need to watch the clip for an extra few seconds, or find any of the other many instances where he’s said this to realize that’s not what he’s doing. He’s not deliberately ignorant (at least not in this case), he’s just a bad poet.

  28. itzac

    Number 6, excellent book recommendation. “The Truth, With Jokes” is also worth the read.

  29. RwFlynn

    I think I just died laughing. Thank you, BA.

  30. Brian Too

    Bill doesn’t want an explanation and he doesn’t want a debate. He wants to hear himself talk and he wants to win. On TV, the internet, radio, or whoever will pay him to bloviate to the masses.

    The only way to take him down a notch is to use a smarter version of his own tactics against him. Bravo!

  31. Technogeek
  32. amphiox

    But what exactly does the inexplicability of Lady Gaga actually say about the nature of the universe?

    I’m getting Lovecraftian vibes here…..

  33. Nick

    @29 amphiox

    That someone managed to find out what the universe was for so it disappeared and was replaced by something more bizarrely inexplicable.

  34. JIm

    Gawd, I’ve the Gaks

  35. Bill O’Reilly is a secret Juggalo.

  36. Ron1

    Phil Plait said, ” You can’t explain Bill o’Reilly.”

    ………………………………………………………………….

    Oh come on, Phil. It’s obvious. Bill o’Reilly is channeling Archie Bunker. This stuff is very close to Archie’s way of thinking.

    Remember, Archie’s stuff was made up too.

    ……………………………………………………………

    @17. Quaoar Said: “Phil, … I believe that you are doing yourself an extreme disservice by entering into criticism of national media/politics with other than scientific criticism.”

    Boy, are you missing the intent of science.

    It’s not just about rocks, stars and (oh all right) biology. It’s a process, a way of thinking that is as applicable to human behaviour (ie. politics) and thought as it is to particle physics.

  37. Digital Atheist

    Phil, you need to find a book that is several years old called the “Oh Really Factor”. ;-)

  38. Keith Bowden

    The first time I heard O’Reilly say “tide goes in, tide goes out” I thought of Homer Simpson’s “bed goes up, bed goes down” scene. :)

  39. gia

    While I agree with all your criticism on creationists and people like Bill O’Reilly, there’s something that you should understand too. Yes, it is true that people who don’t like your blog could go elsewhere, but it is also true that if YOU do not like criticism and people posting comments that disagree with you (why does disagreement offend you?) you can turn off your commenting function from your settings. This argument goes both ways, Mr. Plait, and in the light of this fact your “If you don’t like me, GTFO!” comment is more than a little hypocritical. And second, there was a grand total of one person who criticized you here and that was Quaoar. That you didn’t respond personally to that her/him but decided to act like a drama queen and edit your original post where you are being both passive-aggressive to the original commenter and lashing out against everyone else is immature and rude to those of us who actually have nothing to do with his/her comments.

  40. Mark

    I think a lot of people that complain about Phil delving into politics seem to forget that a lot of science funding comes from government money and a lot of science is done by the government (NASA anyone?). And people like O’Reilly have a big effect on a large portion of voters and who they vote for.

    It’s a good thing Phil gets into politics. Phil is helping to destroy the credibility of people like O’Reilly that try to eliminate science and educational funding because of their religious agendas. And hopefully Phil’s writing will change the minds of people who would vote in someone who is for slashing budgets of organizations that look out for the little guy (like the EPA), promoting anti-science, forcing schools to teach unprovable religious nonsense,or someone who denies climate change is happening, and so on.

    What’s the point of having this blog if Phil can’t contribute to the greater-good with it? Isn’t that why Phil started his Badastronomy website to begin with? He wanted to help people to wise up and think critically.

    Finally, it’s not like Phil is straying from the format of his BadAstronomy blog. He’s using facts to debunk liars and facts to point out when people spread bad information. He hasn’t delved into personal opinion and ad hominem attacks.

    I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: if these people complaining can’t make the link between debunking O’Reilly (and others like him, including politicians) and how it pertains to science, then they probably aren’t a regular reader of this site. If they are, I’m betting most of what they read on here is wasted on them anyway.

  41. ellie

    @ 43 – “(why does disagreement offend you?)”
    I don’t see Phil stating anywhere that he was offended…? Why are you making up opinions for him? I believe the word he actually used was “amused”. It seems likely the feeling of “offense” is all in your head, something you inferred rather than the reality of Phil’s response. And if you have been reading this blog for a little while, you will see ample evidence that disagreeable comments and critique are de rigueur here.

    As to the original post – awesome!

  42. When Colbert covered this and Neil deGrasse Tyson came out to explain the tides, I fell in the floor! Laughing that is.

    O’Reilly saying something stupid about science- Normal
    Rebutted by NDT- Priceless!

  43. Messier Tidy Upper

    @^ Dan : “I fell in the floor!”

    Yikes! What’s your floor made of – liquid? Jelly? Mud? ;-)

    Also “Chewbacca lives on Endor!?” I don’t think so. Chewie visited the forest moon & Ewok village but I don’t think he stayed there. Chewbacca was a traveller whose home world was the Wookie one of Kashyyyk. ;-)

  44. @gia
    I don’t think Phil has a problem with criticism or argument I think the sum of the criticisers complaints are “how dare you criticise”. They don’t actually have a point except “shut up you don’t know what you’re talking about”. And that gets tiresome.

  45. Astrofiend

    28. Jason Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    “Are you kidding me. This is part of Discover magazine’s website? I’m not going to buying Discover anymore. This useless, personal attack has nothing to do with a great magazine I have been enjoying for years. I seriously hope you people rethink your web content and discontinue this type of thing.”

    Aww boohoo Jason – why don’t you have a little cry and stomp your feet a bit? You’re not going to buy a magazine that you’ve been enjoying for years because Phil has the temerity to point out that Bill OReilly is a blubbering moron? And not just a magazine that you’ve been enjoying for years, but one which by your own admission has ‘nothing to do’ with Phil’s post? Way to cut off your nose to spite your face.

    You and Bill are made for each other.

  46. Mary

    There is a good episode on’ The Young Turk’s from quite awhile ago regarding Bill O’Reilly after his interview with Richard Dawkins. Cenk Uygur does a great job disecting Bill O’Reilly’s debating skills and how he controls conversations. As he says, Richard Dawkins specialty is Science, Bill O’Reilly’s is “flipping arguments on its head, ignoring logic, using emotion, and using debating tactics to make it seem as if he’s right and you’re wrong”. I found it quite interesting. Here is the link—don’t let the title put you off.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcPF57wymxg
    What Cenk Uygur says makes sense. It’s sort of a more elaberate way of expressing the old saying that ‘bulls–t baffles brains’.
    In this recent case, Bill O’Reilly surely stepped off the deep end, though. I saw the conversation with Dave Silverman. I loved the look of disbelief on Dave Silverman’s face when the comment was made about the tides. It was like WHAT? Bill O’Reilly’s job seems to be to stir things up and get people aggitated–and he does that very well. But this time, he really made himself look foolish. Then he made it worse when he tried to explain himself.
    BUT, the topper is his comment on Stephen Hawking in a response to a question—–that consolidated my opinion of Bill O’Reilly. Imagine his saying that if “Mr. Hawking wants to come on and tell us how the earth got here; why the sun goes up and goes down, without interuption; why the tide goes in and goes out, no miscommunications EVER; you know if he wants to explain how all that happened, we’re ready to receive him, but, of course, he can’t”.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt5Xn9X6xtU&feature=relmfu
    WOW just WOW. It boggles the brain tha tthere are people who think this guy actually has any credibility. That is scary.

  47. Gary Ansorge

    Big Daddy O’Reilly has one thing going for him,,,he knows his audience and he will, like other hypocrites before him, say exactly what they want to hear. The man is actually quite intelligent but I believe his ethics allow him to act the role of an idiot for one reason, to make money. At that he is quite good.

    In my opinion, God must laugh his metaphorical butt off when Bill goes so over the top of thoughtlessness.

    I know I do,,,

    Gary 7

  48. Thomas Siefert

    Egg comes out, bird comes out, egg comes out, bird comes out…..

  49. Russell

    Yes ,Bill OReilly is dumb as a door knob, thats why I don’t listen to him or care what he says. I also get it that his kind of thinking is what this website is all about.

    I think what has some of us bored is that this particular post is so centered on political/personal/comedy commentary. It would be a better piece if it was about specific OReilly attacks on science or a program. I have grown to really enjoy the write ups about the anti-vaxers because the information is so much about how they twist science and their tactics. How we need to be aware of how they operate and the dangers. I think “Bad Astronomy” encompasses all bad science. This post was just about comedy really, at least for me.

    I really didn’t learn anything here today (but I did get a little laugh). I’ll come back Monday and see what the heavens are doing and what nifty science project is active now.

    I most like Phil’s posts where he shows us something beautiful and says “Behold”!

  50. Mary

    @ 46 Dan Satterfield Do you haveb the link to the NDT rebuttal?

  51. DLC

    Note: It’s Phil’s blog. He can write about anything, within legal limits and his contractual obligations with the publishers.
    That said, I would like to go on to point out that O’Reilly lets himself in for these criticisms by making such ignorant comments. The entire point of scientific inquiry is to discover such things as why the tides work and how the sun got there. Not in some dithering, god-did-it hand-waving manner but in terms any reasonably intelligent person can come to understand, given time to study the matter. I for one am sick of putting up with the willfully ignorant blatherskites.

  52. Sir Craig

    The moment Bill O’Reilly said what he did regarding the tides, he basically ended whatever credibility he might have hoped to score with the undecideds (I was not one of them – I’ve known for years what O’Reilly is like). I mean, if he was truly ignorant about how tides work, then he’s painted himself as an utter moron.

    But he’s not a moron – as much as I loath the man, you cannot say he’s stupid about facts. So the only other alternative is he’s playing his legion of followers as morons, which makes him manipulative and duplicitous. So far he’s batting .000 in terms of trust.

    Kind of reminds me of Epicurus’ take on God…

  53. reidh

    Hes a political commentator. Not a science rocketist. I wouldn’t give a wooden nickel for your political views. so Shur the Front door!

  54. reidh

    I mean, Shut the F* up!

  55. Alex

    Oh, don’t waste your’s and our precious time being baited by the political punditry of news entertainment. You’d think people would understand the Bill O’Reillys of this world by now. They exist to polarize us.

  56. Daniel J. Andrews

    I’m sure if Bill and numerous politicians stopped their attacks on science then Phil wouldn’t need to post a whole lot on politics. So if you don’t like Phil posting on politics, then start a campaign to keep politicians and talking heads quiet when it comes to something they don’t understand–which seems to be pretty much any science nowadays.

  57. @reidh
    Even Bill doesn’t deserve to be spoken to that way.

    @Alex
    The problem is if a lie is repeated often enough people who are of a more credulous nature start to believe it. Then we’re back to square one and we get the monkey trial (for example) all over again.

  58. kevin

    not mine: “I graduated from Harvard. Can’t explain that”

  59. Its amazing to be accused for taking a political stance while you are just demonstrating of how stupid is Reillys opinions. Its their problem that he belongs to them, not yours that you are commenting his crap!

  60. frankenstein monster

    Its amazing to be accused for taking a political stance while you are just demonstrating of how stupid is Reillys opinions.

    But that is taking a political stance. Opposing a political demagogue is by definition a political act. Anything political ideologues touch becomes politics. For example,if the reillypundit said that two times two ain’t four, defending the validity of the multiplication table would also be taking a political stance.
    There is no way around it. The politics is all-engulfing, just like the religion is. Soon, there won’t be any politically neutral facts left, just as there are no facts that would not be in conflict with at least one religion around the globe.

  61. Scottynuke

    I’m just rephrasing what others have said , but anyway — Using his appearances on “The Daily Show” as a data point, O’Reilly is an entertainer, not a journalist, and he knows it all too well. As with any successful entertainer, he knows his audience well, and therefore knows he doesn’t have any real critical thinkers among his viewers. Therefore he’ll spout the least intelligent lines he can think of to show he’s “one with his audience.” *shrug*

  62. Just keep doing what you’re doing, Phil. Everything has been hunky dory with me so far.

  63. Steve

    BA you are most interesting discussing topics on astronomy, other science news, and skepticism. O’Reilly is an easy target and not worthy of your blog. I really don’t think anyone reading this much cares what he thinks anyway. It’s your show, but I much prefer you stick to the subjects above where you’ve done an excellent job over the years.

  64. Alan D

    I laugh too hard at breakfast.
    Milk comes out my nose.
    Never a miscommunication.

  65. Phil, stop making these readers uncomfortable. Better for you to stay in the kitchen, barefoot, and pregnant then to challenge their world view. ;)

  66. Alan D

    I find it hard to believe that anyone, even big fans of O’Reilly, would excuse such willful ignorance, or find it annoying that folks are taking him to task for his comments about the tides and Moon. Reasonable people like to know how the world around them works, find it embarrassing to be caught in a misunderstanding, and use mistakes to expand their knowledge. Not Bill. He just moves on to more ignorant comments.

  67. dmbeaster

    Only a right wing blowhard would think that making fun of O’Reilly’s obvious science ignorance is a political statement. No, making fun of the science ignorance of a right wing mouthpiece is not political.

    Use your brain when analyzing the content here – not your tribal identity. The fact that making fun of the the anti-science posturing of someone like O’Reilly is now allegedly political says it all about the denigration of science by right wingers in our culture.

  68. Paddy

    I somehow suspect that all those people objecting would be pretty quiet if the political character being corrected here was on the other side.

    Miscommunication about our understanding of the tides is quite literally bad astronomy, and needs to be corrected.

  69. Vyapada

    I would be disappointed if BadAstronomy stopped discussing politics, religion, or something that is not 100% straight-up science.

  70. Winston

    dmbeaster said “… right wing blowhard … right wing mouthpiece … right wingers …

    But, yeah, *you’re* not political or tribal even a little bit!

  71. QuietDesperation

    I somehow suspect that all those people objecting would be pretty quiet if the political character being corrected here was on the other side.

    Yes, the the “other side” would be doing the complaining. Wow. Astonishing insight there, Paddy. (eyeroll)

    You keep painting the world as Us versus Them, though. That’s worked out **so** well for the past three millennia or so. Hey, if the myth that we actually have two parties gets you through the day…

  72. VJBinCT

    Days are numbered for everybody, cf. Crash Test Dummies ‘At my funeral:’

    I’m still young, but I know my days are numbered
    1234567 and so on
    But a time will come when these numbers have all ended
    And all I’ve ever seen will be forgotten

    But never all the wonderful astronomical images you’ve shared with us!

  73. endicot

    Keep making my day, Phil. Thumbs up!

  74. frankenstein monster

    I would be disappointed if BadAstronomy stopped discussing politics, religion, or something that is not 100% straight-up science.

    You surely would be disappointed. Because all science has been politicized long ago.
    To be apolitical, means to shut up about science. Even to be only 100 % about science, you will end up making a political statement. A quite radical one to boot.

  75. Mike

    @19. DKB

    “Teaching Creationism as an alternative to the Theory of Evolution in schools would be like teaching Lord of the Rings as an alternative to ancient history.”

    Thank you for that link. I laughed myself to tears.

  76. dmbeaster

    Winston: I can tell the difference between a criticism based on science and one based in politics. The mockery of Billo here is based in science. The anger about that mockery is based in a political world view that values right-wing tribalism more than science. My observation of this skewed worldview is a political observation, and a wish that people would respect science rather than politicizing something as basic as what causes tides.

    So, yes, my observation is obviously political. So what? Do you agree or not agree with this basic question? Does it matter more to you that Billo is being made fun of for obvious buffoonery, or that such obvious anti-science behavior dominates a certain political worldview? Me, I find the anti-science worldview the more troubling issue. Funny how that basic value judgment is also allegedly political.

  77. RAF

    How does one go about “politicizing” the tides???

    Sorry, Frank…your post makes no sense.

  78. frankenstein monster

    How does one go about “politicizing” the tides???

    Just like the reillypundit did. A demagogue says something blatantly false about tides, scientists criticize him, and POOF! there is a political controversy about tides, and anyone who says something about tides, is taking sides in a political controversy…

  79. amphiox

    How does one go about “politicizing” the tides???

    He wasn’t the first, either. Remember King Canute (Cnut)?

    Politics is the art and science of organizing, managing, and leading people. Any reference to human beings in any subject will automatically politicize that subject.

  80. frankenstein monster

    Any reference to human beings in any subject will automatically politicize that subject.

    And science is about empirical facts. And any empirical fact about the universe humans live in has influence, whether direct, or indirect, on human beings.
    Thus all science is political, or can be made political.

  81. “Moon changes shape. Moon unchanges shape. You can’t explain that.”

    “Sun goes to sleep on cloudy days, stars on cloudy nights. You can’t explain that.”

    “Lightning is bright but quiet. Thunder is loud but invisible. You can’t explain that.”

    “Airplane is heavier than air, but it defies gravity. You can’t explain that.”

    “Scientists insist Universe is older than 7000 years old, although Bible clearly states it isn’t. You can’t explain that.”

    “Rich liberals and poor conservatives. You can’t explain that.”

    “People pay money to see movies starring Michael Cera. You can’t explain that.”

    “Phil Plait hasn’t seen ‘Avatar.’ You can’t explain that.”

  82. Rift

    I thought of this a couple days ago, wish I would have posted it sooner.

    Papa Bear’s (cough) porriage is too hot, Mama Bear’s is too cold. Always the same, never a miscommunication, never a mistake. You can’t explain that.

    Baby Bear’s porriage is always just right. Never a mistake, you can’t explain it, you can’t. How did it get there? You can’t explain it, explain it to me.

    Mars isn’t like that, Venus isn’t like… er, nevermind.

  83. Topher

    I’m sure other people feel this way too and may have even said it already but…

    I have been reading Bad Astronomy for nearly 4 yrs. now and it’s not in spite of but BECAUSE OF its not being limited to Astronomy.

    I’ve come to respect and appreciate, if not always 100% agree with, Phil Plait’s reasoning, conclusions and humor. For me it’s cool to see what he and other intelligent (and I’ll admit sometimes not so intelligent) people who frequent these posts think about a diverse field of subjects WHILE keeping me up to date with what’s going on in the field of Astronomy.

    Just my two cents…

  84. ailaG

    I just wanted to say that it’s not even the battle of Atheism vs. religion.
    His claims, if we clean off the stupidness off of them and stay with the 1% relevant point he has there, say that science could have been created and/or “controlled” by a sentient being called God. If you find the reason behind one thing, there’s still a reason behind the reason behind it and you can continue that to infinity or assume that somewhere along the way, there is God.

    It does not mean that God said anything to us, does not mean that the Bible tells a true story or means one thing or the other, it does not mean that we have to live in a different way and it does not mean that we shouldn’t study the – well – the creation of God if you will. Maybe the entire world is a riddle God made for us to solve? Huh, Bill?

    My point is that the concept he represents shouldn’t be dissed just because he represents it so badly.

    I don’t know what exactly he decides on in the US but I feel sorry for you guys that people with such poor education represent the masses.

  85. Neil

    #77 Winston:
    “dmbeaster said “… right wing blowhard … right wing mouthpiece … right wingers …

    But, yeah, *you’re* not political or tribal even a little bit!”

    Oh whatever, joker. If the shoe fits, wear it…and if you don’t like the colors, change them. Right wing America is plain disgusting. Proud of ignorance, proud of hate, proud of mass murder, filled with nothing but lies and irrational dogma, and still trying to claim moral authority as a path to power. Anyone who is proud of being a republican or a conservative these days is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of science, the wrong side of morality, the wrong side of liberty, and pretty much everything else as well. If this bothers you, grow up and do something about it instead of whining about the minor rhetorical faults of others.

    I love these threads…Phil posts a tiny, harmless joke about a completely dishonest, lie-promoting scam artist, and every butthurt, pathetic little crybaby has to come out of the woodwork and stamp their little feet. Pathetic, spoiled, and dishonest losers, the bunch of you. American conservatism, a religion all it’s own-the Cult of Self-Righteous Ignorance.

  86. John

    Please consider this as a counter to #28 above. My opinions are just about exactly the opposite of Jason’s. There — that’s better.

  87. John

    Please consider this as a counter-argument to #28 above. My opinions are just about exactly the opposite of Jason’s. There — that’s better.

  88. mike burkhart

    Look out Phil !!!I think Bill Orelly is going to put you on pinheads and patroits.Also he blew his top on his Inside Edtion show .#19 Historians have writen books about how history might have gone diferently,I’ve read many my favorite are:What if the south won the civil war,Procutor If Rome never fell,The last president If Nixon got away with Watergate

  89. Joseph G

    It’s not that Phil writes about Bill O’Reilly that perplexes me – it’s that he does so to the exclusion of so many others. It makes me think he’s getting info from a person or persons who have a grudge against B.O. specifically.
    To be clear, I’m not telling anyone what NOT to say or write, here. I’m definitely not one to complain when Phil talks politics. But it does make me wonder why the fascination with this guy in particular? Anyone who thinks that Bill O’Reilly displays an exceptional and unusual lack of scientific acumen has never listened to talk radio or watched cable news for more then five minutes.
    If that’s the case, I envy you ;) But there’s a lot of ignorance to squash out there. It’s a target-rich environment, to be sure.

    PS: And as far as pundits disseminating scientific ignorance on crucial subject matter like AGW, he’s actually pretty far down the list. I’d be inclined to pick out the folks who are actively working to obfuscate this important issue, as opposed to just sharing religious opinions. Even some fairly reasonable people seem to be able to partition their minds when religion is involved.
    Personally, I’d like to see Rush Limbaugh and his ilk called out more – the ones who work to convince people that the whole AGW issue is a massive hoax.

  90. Joseph G

    @30 Itzhac: You need to watch the clip for an extra few seconds, or find any of the other many instances where he’s said this to realize that’s not what he’s doing. He’s not deliberately ignorant (at least not in this case), he’s just a bad poet.

    This. I don’t believe for a second that he doesn’t understand tides and whatever else, instead he’s making an emotional appeal to the apparent order of the universe.
    And certainly, we’ve lucked out in many, many ways as far as conditions on this planet go (if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here).
    That said, he’s uncharacteristically ineloquent here.

    @42 Keith Bowden: The first time I heard O’Reilly say “tide goes in, tide goes out” I thought of Homer Simpson’s “bed goes up, bed goes down” scene.
    Bahahahaha :D

  91. Joseph G

    @92 Neil: Proud of hate? Proud of mass murder? O rly?

    C’mon, I’m no conservative and I even I find that characterization way over the top.

  92. Joseph G

    @ 78 Quiet Desperation: Yes, the the “other side” would be doing the complaining. Wow. Astonishing insight there, Paddy. (eyeroll)
    You keep painting the world as Us versus Them, though. That’s worked out **so** well for the past three millennia or so. Hey, if the myth that we actually have two parties gets you through the day…

    These comments need some way to mark certain commentators as “favorites” :)

  93. samantha

    Horse @ 71

    Well said. :)

  94. I'm Bill O’Reilly and so is my cat.

    Isn’t explaining the tides reverse engineering of Boeing’s intellectual property as it owns the patent on moving things with the moons gravity? (no, it really does)
    Perhaps he does know about how tides work but was just worried about being prosecuted under the DMCA.

  95. meirelle

    Thanks for this. I lol’d so hard.

  96. Messier Tidy Upper

    @50.Astrofiend : P.S Jason – I’ve got a website for ya:

    So, … you’re an O’Reilly fan then? ;-)

  97. Jeffersonian

    I’m an old white guy and hence can not understand the appeal of pop music to today’s youth.

    [rolls eyes]
    (:|

  98. technochill

    “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

    Albert Einstein

  99. Patrick

    @105: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

    The first, obviously.

  100. Impulse

    If Bill wanted to make an argument for the hand of god being represented by the beauty of the universe, he should have said that instead of “you can’t explain that”. His follow up with why didn’t mars have a moon (they have two) didn’t seem to clarify his supposedly poetic argument.

  101. owlbear1

    Without a doubt, “His lips are moving”, explains it all quite well.

  102. Astrofiend

    103. Messier Tidy Upper Says:

    Yep! Big time…

  103. Stargazer

    This is not about politics, it’s about antiscience and science illiteracy. And sure, that’s a problem that politicians should try to do something about, but I don’t think anyone interested in reading a science blog would have anything against talking about this problem.

  104. gia

    @45.ellie

    People don’t go into full blown rants unless they are offended/pissed off. His tone was passive aggressive and sarcastic – and given the negative nature of sarcasm I’d say that “amusement” was the last thing in his mind. And even if he wasn’t offended, it doesn’t change the point of the rest of my words (which you conveniently chose to ignore) that he should’ve responded personally to the person whose opinion annoyed him in some way instead of pointedly ignoring them personally and ranting at the rest of us. No, really, why didn’t you respond to that part?

    As for the “disagreeable comments” they are part of every internet blog/forum. Trolls are everywhere and the only way to avoid them entirely is to either refuse them the opportunity to comment (by turning off the comments option) or leaving Internet altogether. Complaining that people bash you because you’ve given them the opportunity is quite unproductive.

  105. “Frogs live in water. Toads live on land. You can’t explain that.”

    “Electrons move in one direction, current flows in the other. You can’t explain that.”

    “Stars look like same-size points and move in unison. Astrophysicists say they’re different sizes and move in different directions. You can’t explain that.”

    “Mars lacks marginally profitable publishing industry like Earth, but people want to go to Mars regardless. You can’t explain that.”

    “Harrison Schmitt only Scientist to walk on Moon. Denies Anthropomorphic Climate Change. You can’t explain that.”

    “Jimmy Wales threatens he’ll charge $$$ for Wikipedia use unless you send him money. Yahoos buy that and send him 13 million dollars. You can’t explain that.”

    “Failures in life succeed in Politics. Failures in Politics succeed in Punditry. You can’t explain that.”

    “Chelsea Handler and Tucker Max. You can’t explain them.”

    “Liberals vote for Democrats. Conservatives vote for Republicans. Ultra-Conservatives vote for Tea Party. Tea Party splits conservative vote and Obama wins Re-election in 2012. There’s no miscommunication. You can’t explain that. ”

    “Phil Plait has ‘Caturday’ bit. Shows photo of dog not cat. You can’t explain that.”

  106. eltuerto

    Here’s how the meme is going at know your meme.com

    @112
    “Phil Plait has ‘Caturday’ bit. Shows photo of dog not cat. You can’t explain that.” – Exactly what I was thinking! LULZ!

  107. QuietDesperation

    Remember King Canute (Cnut)?

    Actually, he was making the point that the tides are *not* political. He knew he would fail to stop the tide, that a mere king can do no such thing. That’s the lesson he was trying to teach.

  108. Jess Tauber

    The presentation and graphics of Phil’s TV show look suspiciously like those of the Meteorite Men. You can’t explain that.

  109. Rift

    #96 Joseph G-

    As far as I know this is the first time (i may be wrong) that Phil has ever written about O’Reilly, and I’ve been following Phil way before he started blogging for Discover.

    He wrote about O’Reilly because of the tide BS. Tides are right up his alley, and there is a lot of badastronomy about tides. Tides are a astronomical phenomenon, caused by a celestial body. Phil would have made a fuss about this no matter who had said it.

    The Navy keeps an observatory for a reason, people…

    #111 Gia-

    Wow complaining about what somebody posts on their own blog for complaining about what people post on the comments of said blog. Don’t like it, get, as you said in your own words, off the internet. As has been said many times, this IS Phil’s blog, he can put anything he wants in it. And he will gleefully tell you if you don’t like it then please don’t read his blog…

  110. TheBlackCat

    Rather than guessing, I actually used the handy search function to see how much Phil has actually talked about O’Reilly. Besides this one episodes, there are 4 or 5 posts that mention O’Reilly, all just as one of several references to problems he sees with pundits in general, and all in the context of them giving air time to wackos. There aren’t any other posts dealing specifically with O’Reilly, or that do more than mention him in passing.

  111. Ron1

    Shawna Forde goes to trial, US cable news doesn’t report – you can’t explain that

  112. noen

    Remember that Bill O’Reilly’s audience is the 70+ demographic. That’s right, the people that BillO pitches his show towards are seventy year old conservative catholic women sitting at home clucking their tongues at what a horrible state the world is in. If you don’t belong to Bill’s target audience then you simply don’t matter to him because you don’t buy his advertiser’s products and so don’t pay his salary.

  113. noen

    Concern trolls are concerned.

  114. Gunnar

    I enjoyed this thread as much as anybody, and saw nothing wrong with Phil pointing out O’Reilly’s apparent bigotry and willful ignorance. I’m sure that Phil would agree, though, that one can easily go overboard in criticiszing and denigrating believers.

    While diehard, religious fundamentalists who willfully reject out of hand any scientific evidence that tends to cast doubt on what they already are determined to believe, and condemn to hell even fellow religionists whose beliefs are not 100% in accord with their own deserve all the scorn that can be heaped on them, not all Christians (or other religionists) are undeserving of respect or even admiration. There are many Christians who are genuinely compassionate and considerate towards even others who do not share their beliefs, and who sincerely try to and succeed in doing a great deal of good. A few of them are even highly accomplished and respected scientists.

  115. Nigel Depledge

    Gia (43) said:

    While I agree with all your criticism on creationists and people like Bill O’Reilly, there’s something that you should understand too. Yes, it is true that people who don’t like your blog could go elsewhere, but it is also true that if YOU do not like criticism and people posting comments that disagree with you (why does disagreement offend you?) you can turn off your commenting function from your settings. This argument goes both ways, Mr. Plait, and in the light of this fact your “If you don’t like me, GTFO!” comment is more than a little hypocritical. And second, there was a grand total of one person who criticized you here and that was Quaoar. That you didn’t respond personally to that her/him but decided to act like a drama queen and edit your original post where you are being both passive-aggressive to the original commenter and lashing out against everyone else is immature and rude to those of us who actually have nothing to do with his/her comments.

    Heh. It looks to me like you have not read much of Phil’s blog.

    First, the trivial issue – actually there are 2 or 3 posts above your own that criticise Phil’s choice to comment on O’Reilly.

    Second, Phil has no objection to disagreement – what he objects to is people telling him what he should write about in his blog. Where someone has an actual point in which they disagree about something factual, Phil often responds in the comments. Where someone is simply whining about Phil’s choice to make a political comment, this he does not tolerate. Most of these comments don’t even bother to make any kind of argument as to why Phil should not comment on political issues.

    And, if you think about it a little more deeply, there are plenty of areas of science that unavoidably touch on political issues. For example, we might all be dead impressed with the LHC, but there will be plenty of people asking “how can we spend so much money on just one science project?” So should Phil avoid comments about the LHC because of that political dimension? No, of course not.

    So, in your opinion, where should the line be drawn? O’Reilly has recently claimed that we cannot explain the tides (which is quite clearly wrong). Phil highlights a comical way of highlighting the weakness of O’Reilly’s comments, and people are saying he should stay out of politics.

    Tell us – would you be as critical of Phil if O’Reilly were just some unknown bumpkin instead of a nationally-known political figure? (And I use “political” in one of its broadest senses here.)

  116. Bobbar

    He deserves every bit of it.

  117. mike burkhart

    #121 This is the point I’ve tried to make ,I am a compassiate and considerate Christan I do’nt try to force my belefs on others And I respect others belefs or non belefs and most important I am not anti-science I accept Evolution and Big Bang.And there are more Christans like me,the fundamentists are a small minorty.They just yell louder

  118. Zolt Levay

    Unfortunately, I think it’s worse than ignorance on the part of Mr. O’Reilly. I think he is simply exploiting this as a wedge issue, and making gross assumptions about the ignorance of his audience. He may or may not know whether tides can be explained, much less care what that explanation is. He has found an effective way to rouse the rabble and he’s taking full advantage of it. Is that bettor or worse than simply putting your faith in the supernatural to explain the explainable? I think Mr. O’Reilly and his ilk are evil to use such calculated cynicism to portray their adversaries as enemies.

  119. Nigel Depledge

    Steve (69) said:

    BA you are most interesting discussing topics on astronomy, other science news, and skepticism. O’Reilly is an easy target and not worthy of your blog. I really don’t think anyone reading this much cares what he thinks anyway. It’s your show, but I much prefer you stick to the subjects above where you’ve done an excellent job over the years.

    So, tell us: do you have a sense of humour?

  120. TheBlackCat

    @ mike burkhart: Atheists are the most distrusted demographic in the U.S.. A majority of parents in the U.S. would not let their daughter marry and atheist. About half the U.S. population does not believe in evolution (about 40%-55% depending on the poll). I would say fundamentalists are far from a “small minority” at least in the U.S.

  121. Joseph G

    @117 Blackcat:
    Perhaps it’s a cluster, then. I’ve seen all of those BillO posts, and I guess I assumed that it’s something that comes up when I’m not following this blog, too.
    Which, come to think of it, is precisely never :D
    I still think there are even more egregious abuses of science out there by popular commentators. Back when I drove a lot of deliveries at my other job, I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh (I know, but before Obama got elected, he seemed a bit less unstable. Most of the time). I heard some of the most ridiculous anti-science bullpucky you could ever imagine, stuff that sounds like a parody, stuff that makes “****ing magnets, how do they work?” sound like a thoughtful philosophical inquiry.

  122. Nigel Depledge

    @ TBC (127) -

    And vilified. Don’t forget that atheists are the most vilified demographic in the US.
    ;-)

  123. Nigel Depledge

    @ Topher (90) -
    Yeah, me too.

  124. Nigel Depledge

    Joseph G (96) said:

    It’s not that Phil writes about Bill O’Reilly that perplexes me – it’s that he does so to the exclusion of so many others. It makes me think he’s getting info from a person or persons who have a grudge against B.O. specifically.

    Yeah, Phil never calls out anyone else for spreading nonsense. Like, say, Jenny McCarthy for instance.

    IMO it’s the Internet Problem all over – so much stupid, so little time.

  125. Nigel Depledge

    Quiet Desperation (114) said:

    Remember King Canute (Cnut)?

    Actually, he was making the point that the tides are *not* political. He knew he would fail to stop the tide, that a mere king can do no such thing. That’s the lesson he was trying to teach.

    True, but he was making the point to his sycophantic courtiers to show them that he saw through their flattery. And therefore it was political. So there!

  126. Nigel Depledge

    @ TBC (117) -
    Heh. Trust you to go straight for the facts!

    Now people can’t comment about Phil’s one-man crusade against Bill O.

  127. Sarah

    I’m finding it amusing that people think that there was ever a political connection with this. The only ways that it could be are that Bill O’Reilly is a politician, which he is not, or that it came out of a spokesman for a political party’s mouth. I guess that BO’R/Fox can be considered mouthpieces for the GOP now since the fans have kind of admitted it.

  128. Joseph G

    @ 131 Nigel Dipledge: Haha, good points.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

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

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »