The Naughty Astronomer

Nu-skeptic Phil ‘Bad Astronomy’ Plait has been provoking plenty of comment this week on his insanely popular blog with a couple of ‘challenges’ on two separate topics: astrology and UFOs. The fun started with the post “Shakin’ Up Astrological Nonsense“:

You know that astrology is equal to the solid waste matter that is extruded from a male bovine mammal, right? Want proof? Watch this video… Yes, you got it. An astrologer is startled — nay, shocked — by an earthquake while filming a YouTube video with her daily horoscope predictions.

Yet somehow, while doing that voodoo hooey she do so badly — she missed the fact that she was about to experience an earthquake! I love irony.

Now, I’m no expert on astrology (so have no valid opinion either way), but I’m pretty sure that most astrologists don’t claim to predict earthquakes. I did find a quite delicious irony though in the fact that (a) the immediately preceding post was about the third attempt at launching a rocket, after a previous launch had exploded (I mean, come on – how can we trust these scientist guys and their voodoo hooey!) and (b) even ‘orthodox’ science can’t predict earthquakes.

Mr Bad Astronomy twisted the knife later in the week with a follow-up post on his entry about the Edgar Mitchell ‘revelations’, in which he requested evidence for the existence of UFOs:

OK then, show it to me. This is up to you to show me this, to verify it, and to show me why you have eliminated every single possible terrestrial mundane explanation, including hardware glitches, mistaken conclusions by the people involved, and advanced military craft — things we know exist and are common. Then and only then can you begin to postulate something more exotic.

I don’t think I can be more clear than this. I want good, solid, examinable evidence. What I get are insults, bad logic, and vaporware. That’s not helping your case, folks.

I certainly don’t have the time to sift through every single case, of course, and I’m pretty busy in general. But I’m always interested in what some might consider to be more solidly based cases.

Plait is pretty much dead-on in asking for evidence of alien visitation before believing it – the reason some people find it provocative is because it challenges their belief system, and because the challenge is one they have difficulty in meeting (in providing evidence). On this count, skeptics are right – Edgar Mitchell’s revelations, the Drones etc, all amount to nothing. They are not proof of anything. I would say that perhaps Phil Plait (and other ‘skeptics’) maybe need to just realise that there are a lot of ‘nutters’ and uninformed people out there, who tend to make the most noise – and just get over it.

On the other hand I do take issue with Phil Plait’s approach to arguing against ufology in general (in previous posts). Genuine ufology is investigation of strange cases which point at some anomaly. Furthermore, it is easy to dismiss ufology when concentrating on the ‘sightings from a distance’ – it becomes more difficult once you start involving the higher degrees of ‘Close Encounter’ experiences. These (and some of the better ‘standard’ UFO cases) point at some anomaly worth investigating – which may involve anything from geomagnetism to actual extraterrestrial visitation. True ufology is science of the best kind, as it’s trying to expand the boundaries of knowledge. So it would be good to see Bad Astronomy approaching the subject with a bit more intelligence, rather than provoking the uninformed.

  1. Shake it baby!
    I must admit that video (of the startled astrologer) was rather funny. It was reassuring though, to see this lady knew exactly what to do (i.e. position yourself in the doorway).

    It would also be interesting to survey the amount of her viewers that actually MIND what she’s horoscoping, against the amount who focus their entire attention towards the lower area of the screen 😉
    It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
    It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

    Red Pill Junkie

  2. Earthquake Prediction
    Logically, an astrologer with the right information would be able to predict an increased likelihood of a quake. Whether or not Phil wants to admit it, heavenly bodies affect tidal movement. Even small influences at the right time can set things off.

    I wrote heavenly bodies, didn’t I? Well, I guess we know how I would do on that survey.

    1. gravity
      I once calculated the gravitational influence of the planets on a baby being born.

      First is of course the earth. Second is the moon. Third is the midwife or doctor, someone standing about 1 meter away. Oh I left out the mother.

      I seriously doubt that any astrologers calculate gravitational forces. It would be logical, but that is not their business.

      The large print giveth,
      The small print taketh away.

  3. the masses die to believe in the “experts”
    It took all these years for NASA to tell us the next planet over, Mars, was once a water planet.

    We are still finding new species of animals on our own planet all the time.

    For anyone to say anything in such certain terms that something exists or does not exist shows a high level of arrogance, in my opinion.

    Think about it.

    When the US Military crashes technologically advanced planes they do everything they can to secure it or destroy it before the enemy can get their hands on it to study it.

    Does Phil Plait really think an advanced Alien race is just going to hand over psychical evidence that they exist?

    And for him to equate astrology with earthquake prediction is telling..

    Maybe he has just spent too much time in the trenches fighting the ‘nutters’, but something tells me he should get outside and do some sky watching.

    We are just monkeys making mouth noises.
    We know absolutely nothing about the Universe.

    1. UFOs, Phil Plait & other skeptics
      I have sent Phil an email offering him a review copy of our new film on the Meier UFO case.

      I’ve learned from posting on online blogs that skepticism is high and actual knowledge about the Meier case is low. However, every skeptical challenge to it (over the last eight years) from the top professionals – from CFI-West, IIG and James Randi – has been defeated.

      My self-appointed task is to inform about it, for those who may be interested in self-responsible research and evaluation. Getting involved in online debates with people who are under-educated in the matter is counterproductive.

      However, once Phil has actually reviewed the film, if he still wishes to deny that we present the most compelling evidence, I’ll be glad to publicly debate him about it, not with the intention to ridicule him but to correct his mis-perceptions.

      Oh yeah, Meier published information about us finding water on Mars – first back in 1976. And it’s also in a copyrighted book published in 1993.

      Plenty of free info at

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