I’ve always had an interest in outer space, and last year I began subscribing to Astronomy magazine. It’s full of fascinating scientific articles and tidbits, but what caught my eye in the May 2018 issue (yes, it’s out already; you have to plan ahead to watch the sky) was the “Strange Universe” column by Bob Berman. Entitled “Apathy Now!”, it laments the seeming disinterest of scientific matters in the public at large, including skepticism of facts that should be taken for granted.
Like the Earth is really flat. I’m serious — I googled “The Earth is flat” and got 431,000 results, including the Flat Earth Society (this is their logo). Apparently there are varying levels of seriousness in this movement, but they do rate their own Wikipedia entry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_flat_Earth_societies).
In this column, Bob gives many other examples — “Climate change is not real. We never went to the Moon. White lines in the sky are from government programs. A planet named Nibiru is on a collision course with Earth. Armageddon is coming. Aliens are already here.” It makes me wonder if there are more skeptics than knowledgeable people.
Earlier I had written about dihydrogen monoxide, that dangerous chemical that kills thousands of people a year ( http://www.dhmo.org/truth/Dihydrogen-Monoxide.html). (Hint: it’s water.) This is clearly a hoax, designed to embarrass people about their ignorance of chemistry. But if most people get to the point where either they don’t believe anything or don’t care, what kind of decisions are going to be made about our future?
Bob Berman contributes to the Astounding Universe podcast (https://www.astoundinguniverse.com/ ), and his columns appear on the Astronomy magazine’s website (http://www.astronomy.com/magazine/bob-berman ), although this column isn’t available yet.