Book #5: Bad Astronomy, by Phil Plait

Begun: pre-2011
Finished: 1/18/2011
Format: Kindle
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

So I’m a skeptic.  I listen to the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast.  I know who James Randi is.  I love me some Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and all them dudes.

Phil Plait is another one of those dudes.  He runs the Bad Astronomy page and its associated blog at Discovery magazine, and this book is just a more convenient accumulation of the annals of bad astronomy.  Things people believe that aren’t true, misconceptions (turns out the moon doesn’t have a Dark Side) and out and out lies.

Phil’s style is very readable, lay-person-friendly, and just snarky enough to entertain.  It’s a little drier than some other science books for the layperson that I’ve read, and the subject matter really runs the gamut, from correcting common misconceptions to debunking things like astrology.  Plait dissects some of the most common moon-landing-hoax arguments and counts down the worst of bad astronomy in the movies.

It’s an entertaining enough book.  Not my favorite in this genre.  Nobody who reads it is going to actually need a lot of these things debunked for them.


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