Archive for the ‘Bad Astronomy’ Category

Bad Astronomy: The supernatural does not exist

September 29, 2007

Great comments by the Centipede indeed.

And plenty to think about.

I do go myself a bit further than that, because I do believe that “rational atheism” can be considered as a religion.

Since we are here there has to be something that caused us to be. Either we accept the agnosticist’s point, and that “something” is not knowable, or we have to accept the existence of some sort of Deity (or deity). If you believe there is no “God” then it must be Luck or Chance or Whatchamacallit that got you here: so Luck, Chance, or whatever _is_ your “God”…

All in all Dawkins et al.’s worst mistake in going on the attack against any form of belief may just be that what they are inadvertently attacking is the very idea of being human. Because to be a person means to believe in something.

Perhaps you really really want to define all your life but sticking to strictly scientific means (repeatable, testable, falsifiable, etc etc): then you have to _believe_ that’s the way to do it.

How can it be otherwise? Who is going here to reason that there is one belief-independent Truth in how to conduct oneself?

That said, of course, as the BA says, everything that happens in the Universe has to be testable. Hence religious people trying to find “evidence” for God are fallacious indeed

Bad Astronomy: Happy Breakaway Day!

September 13, 2007

Space:1999 had a truly great first season.

The best episode by far was “Black Sun”, the one where Koenig and Bergman get to talk to a star.

Bad Astronomy’s “Is it hot in here, or is it just me?”

August 18, 2007

# Maurizio Morabito on 11 Aug 2007 at 12:55 am

To the BA: what is your opinion about the difficulty with which raw data is given to the public? And to Hansen’s refusal of providing McIntyre with the algorithms used?

More details at

Correct me if I am wrong but usually in astronomical circles all raw data including photographs are published, obviously after the paper is published. Shouldn’t we ask as much in all sectors of science, climatology included?

# Maurizio Morabito on 11 Aug 2007 at 5:30 pm

Phil: To clarify: even if I am experiencing problems with the spam filter, it WASN’T me accusing you of removing comments. It was Magnus Andersson.

As for the reasons to have the correction algorithms removed from the public eye, if there is any we should be told about it.

You correctly point out the Hubble data isn’t available for a year. That’s rightfully so, but that’s also completely different from having them never available at all.

If Hansen wants to keep his stuff secret for N years, can’t we just be told how big the number N is?

Finally one thing you may have missed. McIntyre had to a heck of a job all by himself. Frankly, it bordered on the insane. And still he was able to find something. That should not be considered minor achievement, nor dismissed because it was “only” about US data, or “just” a few tenths of a degree of a change.

On the contrary, it clearly indicates there could be lots of mistakes in the published results.

Imagine taking Tiger Woods, blindfolded, with one hand tied behind his back and the shoes laced up together. Then he tries to hit the golf ball, but almost misses it, and moves it by a few inches. Would that be evidence that Tiger Woods is not really good at golf? Of course not.

It would be a loud statement regarding the fact that nobody should be forced to pursue a quest with unfair, almost unbearable restrictions.

And so if McIntyre or anybody else wants to check if Hansen’s data are correct, they should be given full access.

We would all gain from that, and if the world is indeed warming, it would show from the data, as clear as it gets.

# Maurizio Morabito on 12 Aug 2007 at 4:55 pm

To conclude my contribution about the public (un-)availability of the full data, algorithms and code used by Jim Hansen and the climatologists at NASA (and at Hadley’s), for that matter), let me point out that there would be much less brouhaha, and much less interest, were this discussion about the sex life of snails or the behavior of neutrinos.

One important issue instead is that, based on their results, those climatologists and other people are campaigning to get our lifestyles changed. Otherwise, as Hansen says, in 10 years’ time or so the whole world can be a much harsher place.

Well, all more the reason to get their methodologies fully in the open, lest futile discussions about bugs in the code retard any work to save humankind.

So if you think the world is going pear-shaped (bad astronomical pun, I know…), you should campaign for this absurd reticence to stop: let’s publish everything and anything, before it’s too late

Bad Astronomy’s “The Wonderful”

August 17, 2007

# Maurizio Morabito on 16 Aug 2007 at 5:18 am

As the stuff to the left of the image has been ejected 30,000 years ago, what is making it glow “now” in the ultraviolet? (just asking)

And I suspect there will be traces of it at other wavelengths too so this must be just the beginning of the story

Bad Astronomy’s “Chris Mooney nails it”

August 15, 2007

# Maurizio Morabito on 14 Aug 2007 at 10:27 am

The Bush administration has provided the definitive proof that Humankind cannot live of Faith alone…

Anybody believing in God should have a clearer understanding now of why we’ve been provided with a brain too.

Anyway, since “the first explanation that comes to mind might not be the right one”, “things can be nuanced” and “reality is complicated” can we expect fewer cries against “climate change denialists” from the people visiting the BA blog, if one dares to doubt the contemporary consensus?

Some hope!


# Maurizio Morabito on 14 Aug 2007 at 2:57 pm

Why are we still discussing if Science is perfect and impartial? I thought Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man” would have settled the question once and for all.

Science is made by scientists, and scientists are people too. Therefore there will always be biases, and there will always be seismic changes every 20 or 30 years, when the old professors enjoy their pensions and their dogmas are finally challenged.

Peer review is a flawed process, as demonstrate by the very long list of IgNobel prizes. But as with democracy, we do not know of anything better. The best weapon is to keep the minds ready to accept new ideas, and the mouths ready to question every idea.


# Maurizio Morabitoon 15 Aug 2007 at 5:10 am


I know of many young scientists that have had difficulties in getting their ideas considered seriously, because University “Barons” thought otherwise.

For an example of the dogmatic attitude that sadly appears to come natural with power and age to many people, check the travails of S Chandrasekhar.