Is astronomy that important?

The 2009 movie, 2012, caused a resurgence in popular interest (and in some cases, fear) about global disaster brought about by astronomical events. This was heightened by ready access to less-than-reliable information on the Internet. One of the purposes of this class is to help give you knowledge to protect yourself from being taken in by this misinformation. Here is one web site that helps separate the “sense from the nonsense”: Information is Beautiful: 2012: The End of the World?

You have two options for your discussion assignment this week. Choose just one of the two options below.

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1) Find an example from popular culture in which real science (preferably astronomy-related, since this is an astronomy class) is misrepresented. This can be a movie, book, TV show, web site, etc. In your post, discuss the scientific inaccuracy in your example. Also, discuss how the inaccuracy is harmful (for example, does it cause people to be afraid for no reason? Or does it keep people from taking action that would be beneficial?)

2) Find and discuss an example of an Internet source for reliable science information (again, preferably astronomy-related, but it’s OK to branch out a bit if you find a really good one). What makes this source reliable, in your view? What methods can/should be used to verify the quality of a science-related web site?

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