Pluto : the IAU should be very afraid… apparently

Just about every day somebody finds my old blog posts on Pluto through a Google search. One describes being at the IAU vote; one was about the bizarre attempts at legislation in New Mexico and California; and another, a link to the beautiful image of solar system bodies made by Alan Taylor. I got into a rather intense debate with Laurel Kornfeld. So I just went to check on how the “Please Save Pluto” petition is going.

The petition entries keep growing but their standard is getting even lower, and indeed are becoming even more unpleasant. Here are a few samples

  • 2056. URL | July 20th, 2007 at 5:50 am

    WE SHALL GIVE IAU A WAR THEY DESERVE ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  • 2048. OPAL | July 19th, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    I cant believe the IAU would do such a nasty thing ! I will not let this happen , its time to take them down ! down to hell !

  • 2025. JADA | July 18th, 2007 at 4:23 am

    IAU likes to suck dicks !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 2007. ULA | July 17th, 2007 at 12:44 am
    I love you pluto. The IAU are just being cock suckers!
  • 2000. XANTHUS | July 17th, 2007 at 12:23 am

    FOR WHAT THEY HAVE DONE TO POOR PLUTO ! ! ! ! ! DOWN WITH IAU FOREVER ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  • 1999. QUINNA | July 17th, 2007 at 12:19 am

    GIVE US BACK PLUTO YOU SHIT FACES ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  • 1976. SONYA | July 16th, 2007 at 11:16 pm
    THE IAU MUST PAY ! ! ! ! !
  • 1957. XENIYA | July 16th, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    THE ASSHOLES WHO WORK AT IAU ETTER GIVE BACK PLUTO OR ELSE ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  • 1956. Big Brother | July 16th, 2007 at 10:07 am
    To all of you Pluto Kooks
    WE are watching YOU!
    You have been warned

Well, I’m convinced, aren’t you ?

7 Responses to Pluto : the IAU should be very afraid… apparently

  1. Andy,

    I agree that the tenor and wording of these comments seriously detracts from the posters’ credibility, but why is it that you seem determined to highlight the worst of a total of almost 2100 signatures? Could it be you’re seeking to discredit the effort to reinstate Pluto’s planethood by highlighting the absolute lowest standard of comments while ignoring the others? There are plenty of articulate and sensible posts, but you’ve never quoted a single one of those. This looks to me like “straw man” tactics where someone portrays the opposing side in the worst possible light, often by ascribing the words of the most extreme holders of that view to the entire movement. What these comments do show, in spite of their crudeness, is that people continue to have strong sentiments in favor of Pluto’s planethood, and that there is a genuine disconnect between those at the IAU who voted against Pluto and many people among the general public.

    How about for once quoting a well written, cogent argument by a Pluto supporter? Or does that not fit your agenda?

  2. andyxl says:

    Hi Laurel, I have been missing you.

    Well.. of course I picked some of the worst; but there are lots more like that; the great majority are just innocuous and unhelpful, e.g. No 2082 “Pluto is an awesome planet”. There is a quite tiny number of people who make any argument at all. My favourite is No 2058, who says “It is almost August and Pluto still is not a planet! I believe that it may be time for a more action to be taken. As of now I am renaming my oldest daugher “plu” and my youngest daughter “toe”. Of course this makes no sense and will not help at all.”

    Given that you often say that it is scandalous that the IAU took a decision using the votes of a mere 5% of the world’s astronomers or whatever, presumably we can take this petition seriously when it contains votes by 5% of the population of the planet. Of course that would be silly and we should simply note that this petition demonstrates extremely clearly the strength of feeling of the kind of people that want to express their opinion on an internet petition called “please save pluto”.

    As to cogent arguments by Pluto supporters – well, there were two weeks of those in Prague, but they lost the vote.

  3. Andy,

    In another one of your entries, you talked about meeting famous people. I guess I should thank you because at this rate, you’ll make me famous by invoking my name in every discussion about Pluto!

    As I have already stated, I am not the organizer of this petition and therefore cannot impose any controls on the comments people make. I did email the organizer alerting him to some of the posts using vulgar language and recommended he install software to control this. I’m starting to regret not organizing my own Internet petition, but as I don’t know web design, that did not occur to me at the time.

    I take issue with your statement “As to cogent arguments by Pluto supporters–well, there were two weeks of those in Prague, and they lost the vote.”

    First of all, I want to distinguish between professional astronomers and members of the public. As is well known, a large number of professional astronomers, including some of the leading experts on Pluto in the world, did not attend the convention or weren’t in the room on the day of the vote and so had no say in the matter. The vote of August 24, 2006 is therefore NOT representative of the world community of professional astronomers, only of a small minority.

    Second, the purpose of this and other similar petitions is to express the views of lay people, not those of professional astronomers. There are many writings all over the Internet by lay people containing cogent arguments in favor of Pluto retaining its planet status. You choose to quote none of those or even acknowledge their existence while at the same time are overly eager to cite the lowest standard of comments by Pluto supporters. I encourage you to visit sites such as which is run by Pluto advocate Michael Burstein, a Harvard graduate and articulate writer, who though not a professional astronomer, as a lay person makes strong arguments that reflect positively on those of us who oppose the IAU decision. It is unfair to use the lowest standard of statements with a broad brush to characterize the public movement in favor of Pluto.

    The statement that Pluto supporters “lost the vote” to me is sheer nonsense. I don’t believe that a serious scientific issue such as this can be a matter of winning or losing. If that were true, any ridiculous notion could be approved by an organization such as the IAU, no matter what their motives or the illogic of the reasoning behind them. I stand by my statement, with which Dr. Alan Stern agrees, that the August 24, 2006 decision was arrived at by a seriously flawed process and should therefore be thrown out. I hope that in its 2009 General Assembly, the IAU changes its rules to allow Internet voting so planetary scientists who cannot attend for whatever reason can still weigh in with their opinions and have a voice in the matter.

    A friend of mine here in New Jersey is an amateur astronomer, and he has been collecting hundreds of signatures(or possibly thousands by now) by both adults and children on a hard copy petition that simply states: “I agree that Pluto is a planet, and a better definition is needed.” He is in touch with Dr. Alan Stern, who supports this effort, and the completed petitions, which simply contain the names and hometowns of the signatories, will be sent to the IAU. I believe this is a better way to mobilize members of the public who support Pluto to express their sentiment. In fact, at my recent birthday party, I had a “Pluto table” featuring the hard copy petition and came away with a lot more signatures.

    This debate is far from over.

  4. andyxl says:

    Yes, that website is a lot more sensible. By the way, can anybody tell me what is wrong with sucking dicks anyway ? Some of my best friends etc etc.

  5. So is that what went on at the IAU General Assembly? No wonder most of the participants didn’t stick around, and the ones who did voted for that ridiculous demotion. 🙂

  6. […] A few weeks back I noted that the “Please Save Pluto” petition web page was full of rather unpleasant entries. Laurel Kornfeld stressed that there is a somewhat saner “save Pluto” website and has […]

  7. […] great unwashed were certainly kinda rude about the whole Pluto thing, as I noted in this post from July last year. And many of you will recall that there was a rather sticky episode on this blog when some posts […]

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