The Sciences

Followup: More on the LA contrail/missile

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitNov 18, 2010 3:02 PM


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Just a quick note about that whole silly missile/contrail non-troversy that popped up last week: the website Contrail Science has a pretty good and quite lengthy writeup of the affair, complete with pretty convincing diagrams showing this was just an airplane. Interestingly, the author of that site concludes it was a different airline flight than the one I mentioned in my post the other day, but the bottom line is that this was certainly an airplane and not anything sinister. I've talked about this before, both on the blog and at public lectures: the Internet is a two-edged sword when it comes to nonsense. It allows the spread of misinformation to be so rapid that there's hardly a chance of getting corrections noticed before millions are infected... but it does make the inoculating knowledge easier to get out there as well. We've seen this sort of thing before -- remember the Texas fireball people thought was debris from two satellites that collided? -- and we'll see it again. We in the reality-based community must be vigilant to make sure the correct information gets out there. We can't prevent misinformation from getting out, and we can't even really stop it once it hits the street. But we can minimize it, and make sure there are repositories of knowledge to which we can refer others.

Tip o' the tin foil beanie to Dan Durda.

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