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article imageOp-Ed: More asteroid hysteria as close fly-by happens on Friday

By Paul Wallis     Dec 3, 2019 in Science
Sydney - It’s like a bad psych movie. Doom! Rocks from the sky! Squeaky little articles! The asteroid bug seems to have turned some writers into zombies, and asteroids are the pet subject. A fly by due on December 6 is the cause of the latest babble.
The current subject is an asteroid inspiringly called 2019 WR3, Its approach is about 3.38 million miles from Earth. It’s about 560 feet wide. So, it’s a clean miss, it’s not really all that big, and it’s the basis for utter babble from people who are supposed to be able to read and write, and interpret data.
The Chickenbrain approach to science reporting, reluctantly explained
Encouraging, isn’t it? What would happen, and what would people say, if there was something definitely going to hit Earth?
I can see the headlines now:
We’s a-all gonna get a-squished!
That big awful horrible mean rock’s gonna hit us!
Make Asteroids Great Again!
Why, you ask, do otherwise totally unreliable, totally unfocused people who couldn’t write a Post It note make such idiots out of themselves?
Consider this:
• Everyone knows that there are billions of big rocks flying around.
• It’s a fact of life anyway.
• Very few of these rocks are extinction-makers.
• The odds of any specific rock hitting in any given century are really well under and no more than about 3% (very rough figure, but ballpark)
• The people reading this infantile vomit are quite unable to do anything about it themselves.
• It doesn’t help anyone to hype an asteroid strike.
The last point, however, is debatable. It does help get clicks. It does theoretically help publishers attract people who might click on an ad.
So the end of the world equates to a few more clicks for someone. That makes sense. A few extra cents, perhaps, for the proud bearers of the standards of science journalism, even more of a maybe.
The coverage of this flying rock 2019 WR3 in particular has brought out the ultra-hype. “It’s a monster”. “It’s bigger than the Statue of Liberty/ Pyramids”, etc., etc. Compared to some things out there, it’s barely a pebble.
It’s about as scientific as a kindergarten gossip session, just much less intelligent.
A few points
• Those who can accurately read the actual information won’t read this turgid crap.
• Those who don’t understand the basics almost certainly don’t have the necessary 1.5 brain cells required to click on ads.
• The reportage is totally inflated, anyway.
• Those 560 feet would be a lot less if 2019 WR3 did hit Earth’s atmosphere.
• Nobody needs more stress, which seems to be the sole object of publishing such utter drivel.
Go back to the classifieds where you belong, guys, and stay away from anything related to real science. You’ll feel much better.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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