Sep 25, 2016

An Asteroid as Entered the Blogosphere… Should I Be Worried?

A commentary by Steven M. Tilley

The Asteroid to Earth "Say out my Way!!!!"
Earth to the Asteroid "Watch where you're going ... fool!!!"
 Image edited by Steven M. Tilley
(Disclaimer --  Earth and
asteroids CAN NOT talk)
 see the original (public domain) image
Planetoid crashing into primordial Earth  at
 Donald Davis' official site
About every few month or so an asteroid makes waves online.  This lead some people to panic. Before anyone panics and does something dumb. One should remember one of the secrets to life, breathe, in and out. Then remember anyone can post anything online. Some sources are better than others when it comes to asteroid information. Sources range from very useful to worse than useless.

First check for reliable information from some of the reliable sources such as the Minor Planet Center, NASA NEO Program Office at JPL, ESA's NEODyS (Near Earth Objects Dynamic Site), or The Tracking News.  The writer of this blog post is aware that are many people in the blogosphere who distrusts one or more of the name reliable sources.  The author suggests that they reexamine their stand. A significant number of individuals and organizations from around the world observe asteroids; these observations serve as a cross check. If someone or a group makes an error, the error would soon come to light with more observations. If there is nothing about the asteroid  from the name from reliable sources most likely, the story probably is wrong. 

Another thing to remember as a story moves through the blogosphere it changes like the "telephone game." The original story is misread, poorly translated, misunderstood, etc. then rewritten by other writers with the wrong information.  Then other writers then use the revised story as a source for new stories adding to the madness. One should seek out the original story(and see if it is reliable).

When reading up ( and writing) about asteroids one should know the limits of one's knowledge base.  Some of bloggers and youtbers out there go way outside of their knowledge base; they think they "know" when they don't  "know."  The problem is many people mistakenly repost "wrong" blog posts(and videos) adding to the madness. Just because something has been shared, many times does not make it true.

It should be stated that no post is complete without a "good" headline and an image to hook readers. Many times the picture is wrong, and the headline is highly misleading.  It takes lots of time to find a picture of the asteroid or use a telescope to image the asteroid in question.  This requirement of time will lead many writers to find any old image of any old asteroid. Many times if the author used a real picture of the asteroid internet users would not click.

Finally one should keep studying about asteroid there so much to know. One should not be afraid seeking good answers to questions. Just look for good sources of information. 

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