On this date in 1964, astronomer, blogger, and skeptic Phil Plait was born in Washington D.C. Plait received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and then his PhD in astronomy from the University of Virginia in 1994. He worked with the Hubble Space Telescope for ten years, then got involved with astronomy education. Plait frequently gives talks that focus on astronomy, debunking myths and skepticism. The last slide of his presentation at TAM6, a skeptic conference in Las Vegas, said, "The Universe is cool enough without making up crap about it." His blog, called Bad Astronomy, focuses on similar issues and is currently hosted on Slate Magazine. Bad Astronomy has won many awards, and was named one of the 25 best blogs of 2009 by Time Magazine. Plait became the president of the James Randi Educational Foundation in 2008, but left after a short stint to pursue television projects. He has been a part of many science documentaries, and the Discovery Channel featured Plait in his own documentary, "Bad Universe."
He has written two books, "Death from the Skies!: The Science Behind the End of the World" (2009), and "Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax" (2002). Along with his blog, he writes magazine articles, many of which are featured on Slate. Phil Plait is married to Marcella Setter, with whom he runs Science Getaways, a vacation service for people who want to learn about science. Setter and Plait have one daughter.
“How do you convince someone they're not thinking clearly, when they're not thinking clearly? What we're actually saying is no magic, no afterlife, no higher moral authoritative father-figure, no security, and no happy ever after. This is a tough sell.”
—--Phil Plait in a talk called, “Don't be a dick” at The Amazing Meeting 8, also known as TAM8, a conference put on by the James Randi Educational Foundation, held in Las Vegas in July, 2012.
Compiled by Sarah Eucalano
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