365 Days of Astronomy

Thinking Outside the Box

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Date: June 6th, 2010

Podcaster: Bill Hudson

Organisation: 2012 Hoax
Music by Kevin McLeod; http://www.incompetech.com

Description: Bill Hudson with 2012hoax.org describes how his daughter taught him to think “outside the box” with regard to where we should be discussing the 2012 doomsday hoax, and how he discovered that he is not the only 2012 debunker in the family!

Bio: Bill Hudson is an amateur astronomer in California, and is not usually militaristic at all. He has spent the last decade looking up, and is involved in astronomy outreach programs in the California central coast area. He became involved in debunking the “2012 doomsday” hoax after being asked about it by school kids. He is the publisher of 2012hoax.org, a wiki that seeks to document and debunk all of the doomsday rumors surrounding the year 2012.

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Transcript:

Hello again, this is Bill Hudson from 2012hoax.org.

This is going to be a slightly different version of the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. If you missed my prior episodes, so far this year I have challenged amateur astronomers to fight the 2012 doomsday hoax, I have talked about resources for information, I have talked about the impact that this hoax has had on people, and I have given specific examples of people using this hoax to enrich themselves at the expense of others.

This time, however, I’m going to start out with an update.

I have been actively engaged in fighting against this hoax for a couple of years now, making me something of a newcomer to this issue. There are various people who have been speaking out against it longer than I have, and some of them have much more experience and education than I do. Specifically Dr. David Morrison at the NASA Astrobiology Institute has been answering questions about 2012, planet X, Nibiru, and various other aspects of this for several years.

As part of my personal commitment to fighting the spread of this vicious and dangerous hoax I founded, and along with several other people have developed the content for the website 2012hoax.org. We have made it our goal to make the website be a repository of information about the various hoaxes and scams surrounding the year 2012, and the supposed “Mayan Prophecy”. I have to say that the response has been gratifying, and this website has put me in touch with some extraordinary people who have been generous with their time, talents, and experience.

The website now has hundreds of pages of information compiled and edited by a group of dedicated people. There is much more to be done, so if you are looking for a way to help, we have many ways that you can contribute material to the website. However, as I said in my first podcast of this year, one website is not enough. As amateur astronomers we need to be the foot-soldiers in this fight. We need to get out in front of the public and talk about this issue with as many people as we can. If you are an amateur astronomer, I urge you to get into doing public outreach, not necessarily about 2012, but about astronomy in general. Schools and libraries are great places to volunteer your time to give a short talk and question-and-answer period. But… I guarantee that if you do a Question-and-Answer period, you will eventually be asked about the so-called 2012 doomsday. I was recently asked about it by a third grader, who wanted to know “Are we all going to die in 2012?”. This is the kind of thing that makes me angry about this whole hoax, and I was glad for the opportunity to tell a group of 90 third-grade students that 2012 is just a hoax, and was not something to worry about.

All of this is great, and I feel fortunate to be participating in this kind of public outreach, but it took my fourteen year old daughter to show me how narrowly I was thinking.

My oldest daughter Hannah has been participating in our monthly show on Astronomy.FM radio, called “Just Another Day: 2012 Debunked”. What I didn’t realize, however, was the fresh perspective she brought to public outreach, specifically outreach aimed at children her age and younger. Growing up in the age of the internet, she knows about sites I had never even heard of. One example of this is SparkNotes.com.

Sparknotes is kind of like an online version of the old yellow-and-black “Cliff’s Notes”, which are written on various pieces of literature. The sparknotes website is written by college students and graduate students who are experts in the literature that they write about. They give detailed analysis and summaries of the various books that they write notes on. The website is used by students from middle-school to college, and gets a lot of traffic from the age groups that appear to be most affected by the 2012 rumors.

Embedded within the sparknotes website is a blog called ‘SparkLife’. Readers of SparkNotes are encouraged to write articles which may be published on the blog.

So, one day my daughter comes to me, beaming and excited, and tells me that her article on 2012 is being published! This was all a great surprise to me, because I had no idea she was writing this article.

Of course I was excited, and happy and proud, but then I find out the details of the website, and the blog, and I realize that she has just performed a master stroke. Her little article on the sparklife blog immediately gathered comments, some of which were of the “Oh my god I’m so glad you wrote this” variety.

So, do you have kids? Where do they go online? What kinds of places can you inject a bit of “2012 debunking” into?

2012hoax.org has its own website, plus a facebook page, plus a twitter account. Where can you put some information about 2012 out for people to read? Have you already done some of this? Please let us know, and we will add you to our links page.

By the way, we’re looking for articles published online in other languages. The principal authors of 2012hoax.org are all english speakers, and we have obviously linked to a lot of english language resources, but if you know of 2012 debunking resources published in other languages, we would love to hear about those as well!

Until next time, this is Bill Hudson with 2012hoax.org.

Links:

http://www.2012hoax.org

http://community.sparknotes.com/2010/05/14/three-reasons-the-world-won’t-end-in-2012

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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