[meteorite-list] Sky detonation video

From: mark ford <markf_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 09:16:06 +0100
Message-ID: <6CE3EEEFE92F4B4085B0E086B2941B31391388_at_s-southern01.s-southern.com>

Hi Sterling,

As you say the questioners in those surveys are as dumb as some of the
respondents! - what sort of a question is 'The universe began with a
huge explosion? True or false? Obviously its actually false not true (as
stated) as the universe most likley started as an infinitely tiny event
and it wasn't an explosion anyway it was expansion/inflation. Plus its
technically still a theory (though fairly widely accepted) therefore
answering it ''correctly'' it would naturally be impossible!

Just goes to show - 101% of surveys are partially pointless! :)

Mark F.

-----Original Message-----
From: meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com
[mailto:meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com] On Behalf Of
Sterling K. Webb
Sent: 12 June 2007 22:49
To: meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com; Chris Peterson
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Sky detonation video

Hi, Chris, List,

    Wouldn't want to depress you further, Chris,
but the YouTube commentators you single out
are not the bottom of the barrel, in fact, they are
the relative cream of the populace at large.

    Their errors are scaling errors, nothing more.
They have never learned to think quantitatively.
This something they share with 98% or maybe
99% of the population.

    They appear to have a rough idea of what a
supernova, red giant, or galaxy is, instead of
just saying "Super What?" or thinking it's a
hopped-up old Chevy, or that the Red Giant
is a figure in a video game...

    All three items explode, and they appear to
be making scale-free identifications based on a
visual image from a video source, which would
mean they've watched PBS or lots of space
opera movies. That's the cream.

    In 1950, a Gallup poll showed that 86% of
Americans knew the Earth went around the Sun.
In 1994, it was down to 53%, and I imagine it
has dropped further since. Of those 53%, less
than half knew that it took the Earth one year
to do it. 65% did not know (or believe) that the
last dinosaur died before the first human was
born. 57% believed that electrons are bigger
than atoms. And on, and on, and on...

    If you ask Americans if they believe that
human beings came into being by developing
from less complicated forms of life by a natural
process without any intervention, 7% say Yes.
(In China, the figure is 70%.) That was in 1994.
Again, I'm willing to bet the US figure has
dropped since.

    Someone who teaches an undergraduate
astronomy class in a prestigious Ivy university
(no names, please) says he still runs into students
who do not know that stars rise and set (which
would imply they don't know of or connect to the
Earth's rotation) nor do they know that the Sun
is a star. This is the cream of the cream of the
cream, right?

    If Darren is right that these are most likely
12-year-olds, well, that's a good sign... isn't it?
Or maybe they just grow up to be dumb.

    Eppure si muove...

    Wonderful Google. We always do better when
we're given clear-cut choices. The latest data from the
General Social Survey (2006):

Question: Now, does the Earth go around the Sun,
or does the Sun go around the Earth?

Earth around sun 73.6%
Sun around earth 18.3%
Don't Know 8.0%
Refused 0.1%

Followup Question: How long does it take for the Earth
to go around the Sun: one day, one month, or one year?

One day 19.0%
One month 1.1%
One year 71.2%
Other time period 0.1%
Don't Know 8.5%
Refused 0.1%

    It is not known if anyone has attempted to measure
the rotational rate of Mr. Galileo in his grave...

    Before we leap to the conclusion that it's just dumb
Americans, we're actually doing better than Europe:

    These surveys are highly variable, and the questioning is
lousy! The followup question implies a correct answer to
the question that precedes it, so that the responder can
deduce an answer more likely to fit the implied correct
answer to the previous question. Neither does the GSS
correlate the "Earth go round the Sun" answers with the
"1 day" answers. Are they the same people? Different
people? No way to know. And the GSS is considered
the premiere survey...

    See, everybody is dumb, even the people doing the
surveys to find how dumb we are.

Sterling K. Webb
----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Peterson" <clp at alumni.caltech.edu>
To: <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 2:00 PM
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Sky detonation video

Gosh, I hope my comment didn't come across as criticism of the posts
made here on this list. It was the comments on the YouTube site- stuff

-this is a red giant
-this is a supernova (or not, because supernovas are a few thousand km
away and couldn't be seen, or not, because if it were a visible
supernova we would all be killed by the radiation)
-this is an exploding galaxy

and lots of other stuff that nobody with even a basic education should
be saying. Personally, I find it kind of depressing, considering how
important general scientific knowledge is in today's world.

I can't agree that all opinions on matters like this have equal weight.
Critical thinking requires the ability to distinguish between good and
bad opinions.


Chris L Peterson
Cloudbait Observatory

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Groetz" <mpg444 at yahoo.com>
To: "Chris Peterson" <clp at alumni.caltech.edu>;
<meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 12:41 PM
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Sky detonation video

   I think you may want to watch how you make this
statement. I have found the majority of people on this
list very knowledgeable of science- especially of
geology and space related. Most can definitely blow me
out of the water as I do not have specific education
in either- so I learn.
   Each can have their opinion, and until shown
otherwise, all opinions have equal weight and

Meteorite-list mailing list
Meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com
Meteorite-list mailing list
Meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com
Received on Wed 13 Jun 2007 04:16:06 AM PDT

Help support this free mailing list:

Yahoo MyWeb