Inspired by his popular web site, www. badastronomy.com, this firstbook by Plait (astronomy, Sonoma State Univ.) debunks popular mythsand misconceptions relating to astronomy and promotes science as ameans of explaining our mysterious heavens. The work describes 24common astronomical fallacies, including the beliefs that theCoriolis effect determines the direction that water drains in abathtub and that planetary alignments can cause disaster on Earth.The author sharply and convincingly dismisses astrology,creationism, and UFO sightings and explains the principles behindbasic general concepts (the Big Bang, why the sky is blue, etc.).Though some may find him strident, Plait succeeds brilliantlybecause his clear and understandable explanations are convincingand honest. This first volume in Wiley's "Bad Science" series isrecommended for all libraries, especially astronomy and folklorecollections. 'Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado Lib., Denver(Library Journal, March 15, 2002)
"...everything's beautifully explained. He gives the neatestexplanation of tides I've ever seen...for that alone, this bookshould be in every school library on the planet." (New Scientist, 4May 2002)
"...the book might be a better student introduction than manymore sober tomes..." (Times Higher Education Supplement, 7June 2002)
"Bad Astronomy is a book which is both timely andwelcome. I would recommend it without hesitation, and I have nodoubt that it will be widely read..." (The Observatory,October 2002)
For skeptics, always fans of science: The first two books in aseries devoted to "bad science," Bad Astronomy by PhilipPlait and Bad Medicine (Wiley, $15.95) by ChristopherWanjek, may warm even a Scrooge's heart. In short chapters, Plaittackles misperceptions about why the moon looks larger on thehorizon and why stars twinkle before moving on, dismantlingconspiracy kooks who doubt the moon landing and offering a top 10list of bad science moments in movie history. Wanjek, a sciencewriter who has also written jokes for The Tonight Show andSaturday Night Live, takes an edgy and funny tack indebunking myths such as humans using only 10% of their brains, theutility of "anti-bacterial" toys and the safety of "natural" herbalremedies, ones often loaded with powerful chemicals. (USATODAY, December 3, 2002)
"...a good read...Plait's book is readable, entertaining, notexclusively for astronomers, and often very funny..." (Astronomy& Space, June 2003)
"...a great book to dip into..." (Popular Astronomy,January 2004)
Plait, a science writer who works in the physics and astronomy department at Sonoma State University, is appalled that millions of Americans don't believe the moon landing really took place and do believe that Galileo went blind from looking at the sun, or that they can make an egg stand on end only on the vernal equinox. To set the record straight, he debunks these and many other astronomy-related urban legends in this knowledgeable, lighthearted volume. The early chapter "Idiom's Delight" sets the stage by clearing up the scientific inaccuracies in everyday expressions as in the phrase "light years ahead," for example, which is used to indicate timeliness or prescience when light years are actually a unit of distance. In later chapters, Plait explains meteors, eclipses, UFOs, and the big bang theory, revealing much about the basic principles of astronomy while clearing up fallacies. With avuncular humor, he points out the ways advertising and media reinforce bad science and pleads for more accuracy in Hollywood story lines and special effects. This book is the first in Wiley's Bad Science series on scientific misconceptions (future titles will focus on biology, weather and the earth). (Mar.) Forecast: If every entry in the series is as entertaining as Plait's, good science may have a fighting chance with the American public. Expect respectable sales, for the paperback format is nicely suited for armchair debunkers. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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 Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Plait (physics and astronomy, Sonoma State U.) also clears up less obvious misconceptions, with engaging essays on topics such as why the moon appears larger near the horizon, why you can stand an egg up any day of the year, and the true density of asteroid fields (not at all like the one in Star Wars). He is also the author of the popular Bad Astronomy website. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)