Dr. Philip C. Plait sets the record straight on many modern hoaxes and myths. Appalled that millions of Americans don't believe in the moon landing, or that an egg stands on its end only on the vernal equinox, Plait hilariously spills the truth and informs us of scientific inaccuracies in our everyday vernacular.
NOTE: Some editorial changes to the original text have been made with the author’s approval.
©2002 Philip Plait (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"Plait succeeds brilliantly because his clear and understandable explanations are convincing and honest." (Library Journal)
The first half of this book reads as a basic course in Astronomy, reviewing everything from the moon’s phases and the seasons to why the sky is blue. I considered myself educated in the subject before reading Bad Astronomy, but was surprised (embarrassed) by how much I either didn’t know or knew wrong. For the first half alone, I highly recommend this book.
The second half focuses on debunking rather strange claims about Astronomy and science in general. For a lesson in skepticism, I approve, but I can’t say exactly what I got out of it. I already understood that the moon landing was not a hoax and that biblical claims don’t jive with research. If you are on the fence on these subjects or want to debate the crackpot in your life, then all the more reason you should check out Bad Astronomy.
Family father, neuroscientist, and non-fiction addict.
Having taken a university course in astronomy and astrophysics I did not expect to learn much from this book. Instead I thought that this would be a good rehearsal of the things I had learned previously. I was therefore surprised, in a good way, that this book taught me many things that I did not know. Even though it only deal with relatively basic concepts in astronomy (the book can really be read by everyone), it goes into a lot of detail and Phil Plait really tries to help the reader grasp the basic concepts.
For instance while I know that there are tides and that they have something to do with the moon, I did not know that there are two tides per day, and why it is so. I also knew that seasons are linked to the angle with which sunlight hits a particular part of earth, but the full story is, as you will learn if you read this book, more complex than that.
As Phil Plait writes in this book, many people seem to know things that aren’t true, and astronomy is no exception to this. Journalists and movie directors should take some blame for this given that they promote astrology ahead of astronomy and given that movies all too frequently get the science all wrong. The reader of this book will enhance their bullshit detector when it comes to sci-fi movies, and who doesn’t love the person who points out all the errors in a movie :). Just to take one example, space ships cannot make sounds in space because there is no molecules that sound can propagate through...
This book is for people who know nothing about astronomy and for those who think they know everything about astronomy.
Phil Plait, the "Bad Astronomer" does a fantastic job of explaining some common misconceptions in the field of astronomy. A must read if you're interested at all in astronomy.
Without reservation. If you've always wanted to counter those Pseudo-scientific followers or espouse-rs, this is the ammo box of clear thinking and rational examples of why most of what "everybody knows" is wrong.
The articles on the Moon and common misconceptions is enough to be a small book worthy of cocktail party chatter alone. The rest is simply brilliant.
He presents this with a "Dicovery Channel" professionalism, delivery, and tone of voice that allows one to lose themselves in the narrative- the sign of a great voice actor. You believe he is the author, due to his immersion and conviction in the role.
Several laugh out loud moments- but many more "Ah-Ha!" moments. At least one "Eureka!" moment guaranteed per listener.
I cannot recommend the listen highly enough. It should be required at the elementary, high school, and college levels. And again 5 years after entering the marketplace. :)
I love science and physics concepts, but I can get lost with a lot of the ultra technical aspects of things like astronomy. (How someone can look at squiggles on a graph and determine the is Nitrogen frozen on Neptune is beyond me. But it's fascinating they can do it.) The author does a great job of explaining much of the technical nature of the astronomy to defend his positions without losing the listener in too much jargon. The narrator also has a very approachable voice and presentation style, instead of the professor type who is talking above you.
I especially enjoyed the explanations debunking of the moon-landing hoax conspiracies. For the sci-fi fan, the author shows you he is open to the idea of life "out there." But for the practical scientist he explains pretty well why it's not feesible to get ones hopes up for travel to the stars in the near future.
Overall a good listen
I've only had 1 Astronomy course in my lifetime, but even a modest knowledge of science and astronomy in general will leave you bored with the basic subject matter. I kept fast forwarding through the chapter to come up with something to actually learn. However, if you have no clue as to why the sky is blue, or think that eggs stand up only on the equinox - this book is for you.
I think Philip has done a diservice with the title. It's not just about astronomy! Debunking commonly held misconceptions is intelligently performed and delightfully achieved. It's a great listen on my audible ipod when the family want to make television noises and I can't escape. One by one my urban myth misunderstandings were corrected and replanted. Well done for a geat listen and an academic approach that challenges. Being a recent convert from a religion to scepticism this book happily satisfied my itches for information in th real world
Mother of three, grandmother of two, work full time as a labor and delivery nurse and love to listen to books while I am doing other things.
I was pleasantly surprised by how funny this book was. I enjoyed it and learned several things that I had believed heretofor were old wives tales and now I may not be smart but I am not as ill informed as I was.
The author's wry, funny writing style.
No other book I know has this combination of scientific accuracy and entertaining narration.
No, it's a book to be savored over a long period of time!
Phil Plait is one of the Alpha Nerds of our generation. Give him a listen!
Absolutely loved this book. So many simple, great space and science facts, fiction, and jokes.
As someone with a child, i will cherish the lessons learned. I have already begun giving lessons to my family, friends, and child.
Hopefully we get Mr. Plaits other book, "Death from the skies" soon.
"A fun and informative bit of mythbusting"
The egg story is a small and early tale. He also sheds light on asteroids, the moon illusions and stuff they get wrong in movies. I was a bit disappointed in the narration as it set something of a dull tone, but maybe because I know the author's voice.
After first chapter I almost returned the book as everything described was of so little value to me (I'm in science, but not astronomy). But later I realised that author was building a ground work for layman and that chapter played an important role in the book.
There was a lot of interesting chapters (and funny too), and there were a few I did not like. But overall very good information described and I picked up a few new facts for myself. I even re-listened to a couple of chapters - very nice!
"Enjoyable and educational."
The separate topics are divided into easily digestible portions. No high level Maths or Physics needed and the 'Big Moon illusion' was my favourite.
De-mystify Astronomy, debunk Astrology and still be home in time for cornflakes.
"Great book, shame about the narration"
Phil Plait has written some great books. His Bad Astronomy blog is always entertaining and educational and he is a prolific Tweeter. The academic levels vary from post to post, book to book and tweet to tweet, so one could be a little apprehensive about what level of astronomy understanding one would need to appreciate this book. This book is pitched at those who are not overly knowledgeable about astronomy related facts. Having said that, it still threw up facts I did not know. His writing style is very easy going and I would have loved to have listened to Phil narrate the book himself. Kevin does an OK job, but Phil's exuberance would have lifted it another notch. I still gave it 5 stars, as the content is excellent.
"Not at all engaging, lacking good content"
I've decided to buy the book after listening to few interviews with Phil where he appeared as an engaging and funny guy. I also read the 'Death from the skies' which was quite alright. This audiobook was all in all disappointing. Prepare to listen for two hours about how people can stand eggs on any day of the year etc. I admit I didn't check thoroughly what the book is about (and didn't listen to a sample). I must have assumed it would be about some cutting edge technology and latest astronomical misconceptions popularized in TV and other media. It's not. As far as I survived through the audio it was about folk stories, eggs and little to no scientific discourse.
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