Heavenly Errors: Misconceptions About the Real Nature of the Universe

Kobo ebook | September 5, 2001

byNeil F. Comins

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One of the great paradoxes of modern times is that the more scientists understand the natural world, the more we discover that our everyday beliefs about it are wrong. Astronomy, in particular, is one of the most misunderstood scientific disciplines.

With the participation of thousands of undergraduate students, Neil F. Comins has identified and classified, by origin and topic, over 1,700 commonly held misconceptions. Heavenly Errors provides access to all of them and explores many, including:

Black holes suck in everything around them.

The Sun shines by burning gas.

Comets have tails trailing behind them.

The Moon alone causes tides.

Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, is the hottest planet.

In the course of correcting these errors, he explains that some occur through the prevalence of pseudosciences such as astrology and UFO-logy and some enter the public conscience through the "bad astronomy" of Star Trek, Star Wars, and other science-fiction movies.. Perhaps most important, Professor Comins presents the reader with the methods for identifying and replacing incorrect ideas -- tools with which to probe erroneous notions so that we can begin to question for ourselves... and to think more like scientists.

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One of the great paradoxes of modern times is that the more scientists understand the natural world, the more we discover that our everyday beliefs about it are wrong. Astronomy, in particular, is one of the most misunderstood scientific disciplines.With the participation of thousands of undergraduate students, Neil F. Comins has ident...

Neil F. Comins is the author of What if the Moon Didn't Exist? He has contributed numerous articles to Astronomy magazine and has appeared on radio and television. He is professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Maine.

other books by Neil F. Comins

What If The Moon Didn't Exist?: Voyages To Earths That Might Have Been
What If The Moon Didn't Exist?: Voyages To Earths That ...

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Discovering The Universe
Discovering The Universe

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see all books by Neil F. Comins
Format:Kobo ebookPublished:September 5, 2001Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231502524

ISBN - 13:9780231502528

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Fun in the Sun: Some Misconceptions Close to Home
3. Creating Your Own Private Cosmos: Internal and Mixed Origins of Incorrect Beliefs
2. Blame It on Someone Else: External Origins of Incorrect Beliefs
4. Survival in a Misperceived World: How Well Did Our Ancestors Do Without Understanding Nature?
6. The Sage on the Stage or the Guide by Your Side: A Peek Behind the Effort to Help You Unlearn Misconceptions
5. Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Misconceptions are Hard to Replace
7. Let the Buyer Beware: How to Avoid Future Misconceptions
8. Conflicts and Dangers: The Problems That Misconceptions Create
Epilogue: False Personal Cosmologies
Selected Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

An interesting new look at how humans perceive nature....A good primer on critical thinking and how science really works.



Although ostensibly about astronomy, Comins's Heavenly Errors effectively uses common (mis)conceptions about the subject to present an elegant tutorial on scientific thought--as much about embarrassing holes in arguments as about black holes in space.