Saturday, September 02, 2006

Best. Editorial. Ever.

Doesn't the IDS have anything better to do than write editorials about Pluto?

If ever there was an IDS classic...

WE SAY: That rock is no planet

Great - and you are ... who, exactly? Does the IDS have, oh, maybe, a mountaintop observatory they haven't been telling us about? Is there a secret library over at the Ernie Pyle school that stocks the entire back catalogue of Astronomy and Astrophysics? Just how, pray tell, is a university student newspaper staff qualified to determine whether or not something is a "planet?"

We all owe Mr. Brown one huge "thank you" for his slaying of the tiny beast.

Wha...??? What Mr. Brown did, children, was find another (and probably slightly larger) Pluto-like rock nearby. Please explain to me how this discovery qualifies for a "huge 'thank you.'" Don't get me wrong - it's news. But is it good news? It is throw-a-party-and-have-an-orgy good news? Is your life better in any way, even a little bit, because Mr. Brown found the rock near Pluto that has been there whether anyone saw it or not for as long as there's even been an Earth, much less people and telescopes?

But seriously, scientific research since its discovery has been debated about the former planet.

I can't even parse this one. I guess what they wanted to say was that Pluto's planetary status has been debated since its discovery - but with their wording it sounds more like scientific research itself has been a hot topic since people found out what it was, plus a random prepositional phrase about something unrelated. To get the reading they want I think we have to be capable of cross-serial dependencies even Chomsky doesn't believe in.

Here's another:

Given the limited information that scientists can gather because Pluto has not yet been visited by spacecraft and that it fails the new requirements, scientists are correct in demoting it.

It looks like English. It uses English words. There is some punctuation here and there that tells me it's a sentence. But what does it mean?

If I go with what I think it means, it sounds like scientists are right to say Pluto is not a planet because the fact that it isn't a planet anymore means they can't get information about it (in fact, a spacecraft is on its way there now).
File under "reasoning: circular."

A major reason that scientists and others have argued against renaming Pluto a dwarf planet, despite scientific evidence, is a strong social pull to let be what so many generations learned in grade school. However, this is a poor reason to allow scientific progress to be thwarted.

Unbelievable. It "thwarts scientific progress" to call Pluto a planet? I mean... Wow. I myself would have thought that it didn't much matter what the Astronomical Society defined as a planet - orbital physics and all that - that all comes out the same, right? Equations still work, do they?

But here's the best part: there's a dissent. Yup, that's right, there are people even on the IDS' enlightened editorial staff that want to "thwart scientific progress" and keep "the beast" alive. Can you imagine? Barbarians at the gate.


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