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Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax" [Kindle Edition]

Philip C. Plait
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Inspired by his popular web site, www. badastronomy.com, this first book by Plait (astronomy, Sonoma State Univ.) debunks popular myths and misconceptions relating to astronomy and promotes science as a means of explaining our mysterious heavens. The work describes 24 common astronomical fallacies, including the beliefs that the Coriolis effect determines the direction that water drains in a bathtub and that planetary alignments can cause disaster on Earth. The author sharply and convincingly dismisses astrology, creationism, and UFO sightings and explains the principles behind basic general concepts (the Big Bang, why the sky is blue, etc.). Though some may find him strident, Plait succeeds brilliantly because his clear and understandable explanations are convincing and honest. This first volume in Wiley's "Bad Science" series is recommended for all libraries, especially astronomy and folklore collections. --Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado Lib., Denver (Library Journal, March 15, 2002)
 
"...everything's beautifully explained. He gives the neatest explanation of tides I've ever seen...for that alone, this book should be in every school library on the planet." (New Scientist, 4 May 2002)
 
"...the book might be a better student introduction than many more sober tomes..." (Times Higher Education Supplement, 7 June 2002)
 
"Bad Astronomy is a book which is both timely and welcome. I would recommend it without hesitation, and I have no doubt that it will be widely read..." (The Observatory, October 2002)
 
For skeptics, always fans of science: The first two books in a series devoted to "bad science," Bad Astronomy by Philip Plait and Bad Medicine (Wiley, $15.95) by Christopher Wanjek, may warm even a Scrooge's heart. In short chapters, Plait tackles misperceptions about why the moon looks larger on the horizon and why stars twinkle before moving on, dismantling conspiracy kooks who doubt the moon landing and offering a top 10 list of bad science moments in movie history. Wanjek, a science writer who has also written jokes for The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live, takes an edgy and funny tack in debunking myths such as humans using only 10% of their brains, the utility of "anti-bacterial" toys and the safety of "natural" herbal remedies, ones often loaded with powerful chemicals. (USA TODAY, December 3, 2002)
 
"...a good read...Plait's book is readable, entertaining, not exclusively for astronomers, and often very funny..." (Astronomy & Space, June 2003)
 
"...a great book to dip into..." (Popular Astronomy, January 2004)

"Der Autor grenzt sich eindeutig und unmissverständlich von Astrologie, Kreationismus und UFOlogie ab. "Der außerordentliche Erfolg des Autors gründet sich auf klare und nachvollziehbare, dabei ehrlich und überzeugend wirkende Erklärungen." Library Journal
"Alles wird wunderbar erklärt - der Erklärung der Gezeiten ist in der Tat die hübscheste, die ich jemals gesehen habe. "Schon aus diesem Grund sollte das Werk in keiner Schulbücherei auf unserem Planeten fehlen." New Scientist
"Dieses Buch könnte die Studenten besser in das Thema einführen als viele andere, ernsthafter angelegte Wälzer." Times Higher Education Supplement
"Bad Astronomy ist ein modernes und sehr willkommenes Buch. Ich empfehle es ohne zu zögern und ich zweifle nicht, dass es einen breiten Leserkreis finden wird." The Observatory

"The author sharply and convincingly dismisses astrology, creationism, and UFO sightings.... Plait succeeds brilliantly because his clear and understandable explanations are convincing and honest." (Library Journal, March 15, 2002)
 
"...everything's beautifully explained. He gives the neatest explanation of tides I've ever seen...for that alone, this book should be in every school library on the planet." (New Scientist, 4 May 2002)
 
"...the book might be a better student introduction than many more sober tomes..." (Times Higher Education Supplement, 7 June 2002)
 
"Bad Astronomy is a book which is both timely and welcome. I would recommend it without hesitation, and I have no doubt that it will be widely read..." (The Observatory, October 2002)
 
"...a good read...Plait's book is readable, entertaining, not exclusively for astronomers, and often very funny..." (Astronomy & Space, June 2003)
 
"...a great book to dip into..." (Popular Astronomy, January 2004)

Kurzbeschreibung

Advance praise for Philip Plait s Bad Astronomy

"Bad Astronomy is just plain good! Philip Plait clears up every misconception on astronomy and space you never knew you suffered from." --Stephen Maran, Author of Astronomy for Dummies and editor of The Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia

"Thank the cosmos for the bundle of star stuff named Philip Plait, who is the world s leading consumer advocate for quality science in space and on Earth. This important contribution to science will rest firmly on my reference library shelf, ready for easy access the next time an astrologer calls." --Dr. Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of The Borderlands of Science

"Philip Plait has given us a readable, erudite, informative, useful, and entertaining book. Bad Astronomy is Good Science. Very good science..." --James "The Amazing" Randi, President, James Randi Educational Foundation, and author of An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

"Bad Astronomy is a fun read. Plait is wonderfully witty and educational as he debunks the myths, legends, and 'conspiracies that abound in our society. 'The Truth Is Out There' and it's in this book. I loved it!" --Mike Mullane, Space Shuttle astronaut and author of Do Your Ears Pop in Space?

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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
In dem Buch behandelt der Autor eine Reihe von Themen aus dem Fachgebiet der Astronomie. Anstatt dabei den Stand der Forschung darzustellen, geht er dabei den umgekehrten Weg, und behandelt Thesen, die zwar teils weit verbreitet, aber trotzdem falsch sind, und erklärt, wieso diese falsch sind und was die korrekte Erklärung ist. Dabei bekommen die Personen, die die falschen Thesen verbreiten, schon mal ihr Fett weg, wenn sie dies nach Erachten des Autors aus verwerflichen Motiven tun; aber das Buch erschöpft sich nicht darin, auf die Cranks und Verschwörungstheoretiker einzuprügeln, sondern behandelt auch weniger offensichtliche Fehlschlüsse, und diese verständnisvoller. So gesteht der Autor sympathischer weise ein, selber fast geglaubt zu haben, dass er UFO's beobachtet hat, bis sich die Beobachtung dann banaler weise als ein Entenschwarm entpuppte.

Die Grundkonstruktion des Buchs birgt eine gewisse erzählerische Schwäche, weil bei jedem Thema schon von vornherein klar ist, dass die in dem Kapitel vorgestellte These erwartungsgemäß falsch ist, und mehr oder weniger das Gegenteil richtig. Dafür wird aber in der Regel ausführlich und verständlich dargelegt, wieso das eine falsch und das andere korrekt ist. Außerdem fehlt dem Buch aufgrund der Vielzahl von behandelten Themen der rote Faden - ein typisches Phänomen bei Blog-autoren, wenn diese ein Buch schreiben -, was es andererseits zu einer geeigneten Bettlektüre macht, da man nach jedem Kapitel getrost das Buch beiseite lege und am nächsten Abend weiter lesen kann.

Regelmäßige Leser seines Blogs werden dem Buch wenig neues entnehmen, aber wer Phil Plait noch nicht kennt, wird sicher viele neue Informationen und interessante Perspektiven zu dem Thema finden.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 von 5 Sternen  98 Rezensionen
84 von 87 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Bad Astronomy made fun 13. Januar 2003
Von Joseph S. - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
As an amateur astronomer, I took great pleasure reading Philip Plait's "Bad Astronomy". The book handles the debunking of common myths with hysterical humor. I could not put the book down. Each chapter was entertaining.
Finally we have a text that not only puts the Coriolis Effect where it belongs but explains basic astronomy principles in lay terms. It is better than reading an astronomy textbook. Where else could you read about why skies are blue and why the earth has seasons than in this humorous tome.
Plait gets a little more serious as he talks about the more delicate subjects of the Apollo "hoax", Velikovsky, UFOs, and Astrology. This was appropriate since many people believe in these unscientific hypotheses. He approaches these subjects in a nonoffensive, objective and scientific manner.
Being a movie fan, I particularly enjoyed the chapter entitled: "Bad Astronomy Goes Hollywood." Here Plait unveils all of the Bad Astronomy we see every day in science fiction movies. In his list of Top 10 offenses, the Star Wars series is guilty of no less than 8 of them. That does not make Star Wars any less enjoyable, but it is fun to know the difference between science and Hollywood.
I give this book 5 stars. I think it would be entertaining for anyone with any interest in astronomy regardless of how much or how little they know about the subject matter.
51 von 53 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A welcome addition to any science lover's library 22. Juni 2002
Von John Rummel - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Misconceptions creep into the science of astronomy perhaps more than any other science. Surveys have found that even college graduates carry persistent misconceptions or even wildly incorrect ideas about the phases of the moon or the cause of the seasons.
For the past several years, astronomer Phil Plait has been battling these misconceptions, as well as the flood of just plain bad astronomy (hence the name). Plait's web site has built a loyal following, and I have been a frequent visitor there almost since its inception. For people like me, the book "Bad Astronomy" is a logical extension of the web site. For newcomers, it will be a welcome addition to your libraries.
In addition to chapters on lunar phases and the cause of the seasons, Plait adds a detailed (and fairly technical) account of tides, the coriolis effect (as applied to toilet bowl water rotation), why the sky is blue, the moon size illusion, and many, many others.
Digging a little deeper into the "current issues" genre, Plait also tackles Velikovsky, UFOs, creationism and astrology. His writing is very clear and should be accessible to anybody interested in science and the battle against pseudoscientific nonsense.
Regular visitors to the web site will be familiar with Plait's crusade against those who persist in believing that the Apollo moon landings were faked. Plait's site led the charge against this nonsense, and he includes a treatment of the topic in his book as well.
Bad Astronomy is lightly illustrated with a mix of schematic drawings (to illustrate for example, tides or the moon size illusion) and black and white photographs. Some of the chapters could certainly have benefitted from more lavish illustrations, and perhaps even some color plates (the chapter on the Apollo "hoax," for example, needed some additional photos to help dispel the most common objections). However, the format of the book (paperback) and the expense (between $11 and $14) dictated the conservative approach, I'm sure.
The chapters are well balanced in size. With a topic per chapter, and 24 chapters totalling 257 pages, you won't find an indepth treatment of any of these topics, but enough to surely whet your appetite. He also provides recommendations for additional reading, both book and WWW, in an appendix.
In the larger context of "defense of science" writings, Plait joins other such notables as Carl Sagan, Martin Gardner, Robert Park, Stephen Jay Gould, and Michael Shermer. Plait's contribution is a welcome one, and he is poised to take his place as a defender against bad science.
51 von 56 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Bad Science Encounters Good Science 14. Februar 2004
Von Stephen Pletko - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
+++++

Answer true or false to these ten statements:

1) The sky is blue because it reflects the blue color of the oceans.
2) The seasons are caused by the Earth's tilt.
3) The Moon's phases are due to the shadow of the Earth falling on the Moon.
4) The bright glow of a meteor is not caused by friction as it passes through the Earth's atmosphere.
5) There are no stars seen in Apollo Moon-landing pictures thus proving that these landings were staged.
6) The Hubble Space Telescope is bigger than all Earth-based telescopes.
7) Stars in the night sky do have color.
8) The Moon is bigger near the horizon than when it's overhead.
9) In the southern hemisphere, winters are much warmer than those in the northern hemisphere.
10) X-rays are emitted from the eclipsed sun but these X-rays do not damage your eyes if you look at the eclipsed sun.

If you answered true to any one of statements 1,3,5,6,8,9 or false to any one of statements 2,4,7,10, then you can use the help of this book to clear up your misconceptions!

This book, by Dr. Phillip Plait (creator of the bad astronomy internet site), corrects 24 common misconceptions of astronomical science. This book divides these misconceptions into five parts. All science is fully explained so the reader does not have to have extensive scientific knowledge. As well, there are diagrams and black-and-white photographs to aid the scientific discussions. Finally, there are recommended books and recommended internet sites for those who want to know more.

Part one explains three misconceptions that occur in the home. The second part deals with five misconceptions about the Earth and Moon. Part three unravels eight misconceptions regarding things in the night sky (such as stars, planets, and meteors). The fourth part is concerned with five bad explanations of various events (such as the Moon-landings and UFOs). Lastly, part five is a special section covering three astronomy topics (such as bad astronomy in the movies).

For those who have a science background (such as myself), don't feel tempted to skip a section because you feel you know the correct answer to a misconception. This is because each chapter contains much important detail. For me, I found that for those sections where I felt I knew the correct scientific answer, I still learned a lot because other interesting information was presented to enhance the discussion.

Finally, I did find an error in the UFO section. This section implies that no amateur astronomers have seen UFOs. Actually, the majority of amateur astronomers have not seen them but a small minority have seen them.

In conclusion, we are bombarded by bad science every day. In order to turn bad science into good science, you have to start reading good science books. This book is a good place to start!!

+++++
17 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen If we knew what we were doing... 16. April 2003
Von "lark1964" - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Albert Einstein is quoted as having said, "If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be research."
Of course, Albert Einstein is also purported to have won the Nobel Prize for his Theory of Relativity.
This is just one myth dispelled by "Bad Astronomy", by Phil Plait, a highly entertaining, thought-provoking, extraordinarily readable anthology of misconceptions about the oldest world's oldest science, Astronomy.
From reasons an egg will stand on end (if patiently balanced) even if it's not the Vernal Equinox to the phases of the moon, all is explained in the simplest of terms. One of the best is an explanation of how, during a wedding reception, Plait was able to relate the revolution of the moon around the earth to his daughter, as she stood on his feet while he danced with her (he was the earth, she was the moon) - after reading this, I demonstrated to my daughter, and (though she kept falling off from laughing) she understood as well as I. Further discussions of the moon and tides include diagrams which are simple and sensible - and eminently useful for teaching anyone who wants to learn.
Another misconception is the idea of seeing stars during the day, using as an example a child's prank of using "the tube" - down which another child (no doubt a prior victim) will pour water, dousing the unsuspecting child. Yet it is true that stars are sometimes visible as the sun sets, and that the moon and Venus are both visible in the blue sky. But can you sit at the bottom of a well at noon and see stars? Nope! Simple discussions of real experiments are presented, as well as the "findings" of a good friend of Plait's who insists it is possible. Plait is chagrined this man stands by this theory, yet as he is willing to accept, with the advent of research, perhaps someone will prove this concept true at some later date. It's doubtful, though!
The confusion Aristotle created with his theories of the geo-centric universe is also discussed; Aristotle's teachings are referenced without specifics, mentioned more because he refused to accept the facts of retrograde motion, disbelieving his own eyes. In truth, it is something of an anomaly to me: I cannot actually see it because my eyes work independently (results of bad surgery when I was pre-pubescent); I cannot focus nor can I judge distance. I have learned what retrograde motion is in scientific terms, and I accept it, but - and this is a failing many people have - I cannot actually see it, therefore, it is difficult for me to believe it strictly "on faith". Plait as usual employs simple examples to explain the concept, and while I still can't "see" the results, his explanation became the eye of the storm in my mind.
It's the type of book that stimulates my curiosity, something rare to me these days, as the world tumbles by, and I feel bombarded by more information than I could possibly use: information which, as proven in this text, is often incomplete - or completely wrong. Yet here I find myself alternately amused and fascinated by Plait's use of laymen's terms to discuss photons of light, gravity, seasons, and time. And yet, as I am inspired to learn more about the ever-changing science of astronomy, I recall the tales my mother told me, the same stories I pass on to my child, and I see the beauty of the errors taught to me. Romantic, yes, fun, and sometimes lessons are to be learned in the ancient (and erroneous) legends passed on through the ages; just as we learn and grow, even having the facts as they are presented by Plait, it's still nice to hear the version that sparks the imagination in so many fantastic ways.
By the way, in 1921, Einstein *did* win the Nobel Prize for his research on quantum theory - a mathematical form not Einstein's own, but first adapted by Max Planck.
Einstein was a wiseguy, though, well before his time. I'd be willing to bet the quote is accurate!
14 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Highly recommended. 22. Dezember 2003
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Finally, I found out why stars appear to twinkle while planets do not. As with most things in our universe, the reason was simple, logical, and yes...scientific. That also describes the tone of Phil Plait's book. It is a must read for anyone interested in learning how our world works and in defending oneself against disinformation.
I once saw a Harvard-produced video titled "Our Private Universe", which documented how tenaciously we cling to our incorrect beliefs. As one of the people in the documentary stated in defending his absurd understanding of how vision works, "My ideas make sense to me!" Dr. Plait's book will help nearly everyone move from their private universe of misconceptions learned by rote to the actual universe of scientific discovery and scrutiny.
In a time when clear thinking may save us all from real catastrophe, Bad Astronomy paves the way for anyone interested enough to invest a little time.
The book is a fun read, filled with wit and humor. I promise you will enjoy it.
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