I've been writing Doomsday Debunking articles for a couple of years now. The amount of fake news about the end of the world on the web is incredible. What makes it worse is that stories that say the world is about to end get widely shared, linked to, read over and over, and rise right to the top of Google and Apple news. If you are intrigued by a news story about the search for "planet X" by astronomers, say, and go to Google News, the top result is usually one or other article from the Daily Express who regularly publish fake news saying that an extra planet is about to hit Earth or fly past Earth in the next week or month.This is followed by pages and pages of search results consisting almost entirely of "news" in a similar vein. It takes a fair bit of searching to find the genuine astronomy news amongst all this nonsense.
Of course, prophecies of the end of the world are nothing new. But what is new is how easy it is for very young children and young adults to stumble across them. Also because they naively think of Google News as just "news" the stories seem to them to be respectable stories with a mark of authority.
Many people nowadays grow up reading Apple and Google news on their mobile devices. They walk around messaging each other, and reading stories shared on their mobile devices. Most of them rarely look at the sky, or at least, rarely give it much attention, either in the day or at night. Many of the children and young adults who contact me have
- Never seen the Moon in the daytime sky before - although it's been there at some point during the day nearly every cloudless day of their life except close to full moon (when it is only visible from sunset to sunrise) and new moon (when it is such a thin sliver of a crescent, so close to the Sun that it can't be seen).
- Never noticed that the Sun rises in a different place every day
- Don't know how to find the pole star in the night sky and don't know that the stars wheel around the pole star as the night progresses
- Have never noticed that the sun often lights up bright patches in the sky on cloudy days, far from the actual sun in the sky, and often even at the opposite side of the sky from the Sun.
- Have never tried to photograph the sun and don't know that if you try to photograph the sun with your mobile device, you are going to get lens flares from the bright glare of the sun, or offset double reflections if you photograph through tilted glass or a misaligned filter.
As a result, if they are young, or aren't particularly interested in astronomy or science - they become easy prey to the most outrageous hoaxes and urban myths. They then go to google news on their mobile device, and the top story tells them that we have two suns, say, or that we have an extra planet which is about to hit Earth or fly past Earth. They may get told that NASA is hiding this second sun or extra planet from us with giant mirrors in the sky - or that astronomers know about them but don't tell us to avoid scaring us - and they believe this nonsense!
This is a serious problem. It's not just the misinformation and people growing up with this totally fake astronomy education. These stories are also scary, especially for young children, or young parents with babies, because they usually also tell them that the world is about to end in the next week or month or some other short timescale. Children get very scared that they will never get a chance to grow up and young parents are similarly scared that their babies will never grow to maturity. People of any age can fall for this hoax and highly educated people at university too (with no background in astronomy of course). But from the PM's sent to me, the ones most vulnerable and who get most scared most often are young children, and young parents.
If you follow google news about the end of the world avidly, you'll have read many recent stories at the top of Google news search results telling you that the world will end, or dramatic and horrible things will happen like huge earthquakes, Earth splitting in two, etc on:
- September 23 (followed by a YouTube video claiming that it would really be Sept 24)
- October 5
- October 15
- October 21
- October 31
- November 17
That's more than once a week on average. Each of those dates scared young children and young adults. It's now become commonplace that they post relieved and joyful "we have survived" messages from around the world to our Facebook group as these dates roll over to the next day, wherever they live. The prophecies don't normally specify a time of day and of course the dates change at different places depending where they live, which often leads to a lot of discussion about when exactly the world is supposed to end.
I'm sure we'll have many more of these dates in November. Then December is the worst time of the year for this. Many people look forward to Christmas and they get especially scared by stories that say that the world is about to end before Christmas so this is one of the top times for these stories to be shared - and it's also the top time for the people who write these stories to make up new dates to scare people - for fame, notoriety, clicks and views, or ad revenue.
These stories really do scare people. Especially young children. Children as young as 13 - the youngest age for Facebook, contact me. And according to David Morrison in his presentation to the Astronomy Society of the Pacific in 2012, then younger children of 11 and 12 also often get scared by this. We just hear about them indirectly on Facebook, occasionally, through their parents.
And when we say scared, it's not just a bit scared. They get panic attacks, vomiting, sometimes in tears as they write their messages, can't sleep, can't eat, sometimes hospitalized because their bodies become so weak from the physical side effects of all this fear. They are often suicidal too. They want to kill themselves to avoid this awful anxiety about the world ending. It's a level of fear and anxiety that many of us have never experienced and can hardly imagine. There are at least two cases of children who have killed themselves as a result of such stories, and David Morrison says that he heard of many more (that he couldn't confirm).
It's awful. In the run up to Sept 23 - which most of you will have never heard of but avid followers of Google News will recognize as the top story on the end of the world for many weeks through to September - then I was contacted by so many scared children that I stopped all my other work just to answer their scared PM's and Facebook posts. Luckily I'm self employed and my business is able to run itself with only a few support questions - so I could do this. I would wake up every morning to scared PM's I'd missed during the night. During the day I was getting many PM's every hour. Dozens an hour sometimes. From scared and sometimes suicidal young children and young parents usually.
This went on for the entire week up to Sept 23. I didn't want to leave my computer because I would miss scared PM's from them when they might be in a fragile emotional state, it was that bad. Heart breaking.
I have still not got back to work on anything else, a month later, spending most of my time answering their PM's and comments on Facebook and writing Doomsday debunking posts.
Luckily I'm not the only one, and we now have quite a few in the Doomsday Debunked group who help field their questions. Also there are many other Facebook groups to help them, and there are several there who have been doing this for a long time, some for a very long time, like Dave Greg.
Sadly there are other Facebook groups that promote this fake astronomy. Our groups typically have hundreds of members. One of the fake astronomy Facebook groups set up to promote this idea that the world is about to end as a result of Nibiru hitting or flying past Earth has over seventeen thousand members. Try this Facebook search for groups with Nibiru in the title. Nibiru is Nuts and Nibiru Debunked 2017 are Nibiru debunking groups. The rest, some with thousands of members, mostly promote this idea that this fake planet exists and is a major danger to Earth. There are dozens of YouTube channels also, some with thousands of subscribers and millions of views, promoting the same message. Faced with this onslaught of fake astronomy from Google News, Facebook and YouTube, our work debunking this nonsense sometimes feels a bit like trying to hold back the incoming tide with a sand castle.
Still it is also heart warming to see the successes. Young children who were so scared just a few days or weeks early who post to the group or PM me saying they are now happy again and no longer scared of Nibiru or of the world ending :).
This is a major societal problem I think. I have yet to see any news stories about the effect of these fake astronomy doomsdays on young children or young adults, in any of the newspapers. Even when David Morrison, very distinguished NASA scientist, raised the issue in 2012, then none of the papers seemed to give it any attention at all. I don't know of any major news story (in the likes of NY Times, Washington Post, Fox News, the Times, Independent, Guardian, etc etc) that even mentions this issue.
Many of the children who came to my group were so distressed, that I think it is entirely possible that some who never found us in time may have committed suicide. Young teenagers, we are talking about here, who may have killed themselves for a totally fake story of the world ending.
These stories can have a long term effect on them continuing for months or even years after they realize that they are BS. They have experienced extremes of anxiety for weeks or months, and have had an education in fake astronomy - and it becomes very hard for them to learn real astronomy. They have also developed a fear and suspicion of real astronomy and they tend to think that any new astronomy story is a story about the possible end of the world. They have no idea of distance scales and can get scared even by stories about distant galaxies millions or even billions of light years away - often asking us "does this endanger Earth?". They have become primed to be scared of any story in astronomy.
David Morrison called this "Cosmophobia" but I don't think it is a real phobia like a fear of spiders. It's more like a learnt fear. A habit that's built up over reading numerous stories and watching numerous videos all saying the world is about to end and all based on fake astronomy. The reason I say this is because I keep in touch with them, hear back from them from time to time, and they say that their fear gradually fades away once they stop reading this fake news and watching the fake videos. For some they just see through it right away and are no longer scared. But for others it takes a long time.
Even a year later, after they realize intellectually that it is all nonsense, some of them are still often scared with panic attacks. It's one of the FAQ's in the group:
"How do you cope with your continuing fear of the world ending after you have seen through the stories and know that they are nonsense?"
So what are the causes and what can we do about it? Well Google and Apple News are responsible for a lot of these issues.
GOOGLE AND APPLE NEWS
Is there any way we can bring pressure on Google and Apple news to label fake astronomy and fake science stories? Also to prioritize articles written by astronomers?
Here is an example, searching for “Planet X” in google news. This is of course a genuine astronomical term for the search for a planet in the outermost reaches of the solar system, probably many times the distance to Pluto. "Planet X", a term coined by Percival Lovell for the search for Pluto, has become the term astronomers use for any hypothesis for a new planet in our solar system. These "planet X" candidates are always distant planets that orbit usually many times the distance to Neptune if they exist. An astronomer would never hypothesize a new planet that flies past Earth, as it is easy to prove, from basic physics that dates back to sir Isaac Newton and his theory of universal gravitation, that such a planet is totally impossible.
Here I'm simulating a search from the US (I'm in the UK) so it's not biased by my own search activity. It's using a tool developed by Google for use by Adwords advertisers.
No genuine astronomical news story there yet.It's all this BS about the world about to be destroyed yet again on November 17.
You have to scroll a fair way down the first page to find a genuine astronomy story in the independent. Most people will never scroll far enough to see it.
Out of 17 stories on the first page of results,- the only genuine astronomy story is this one by the Independent: Planet X: There might be a planet on the edge of our solar system, says Nasa, but it's not going to kill us all
The rest is all sensationalist fake astronomy. And even the Independent story has a commentary story on it by the Daily Star with its BS story equating the genuine search for a planet beyond Pluto with the nonsense idea of an extra planet about to hit or fly past Earth - Planet X BOMBSHELL: NASA finally admits alien world hiding on edge of Solar System
The Independent is a general UK newspaper, not specializing in science though it does have decent science reporters.
The first page of news on Google has nothing at all from news sites with astronomically trained news reporters like Sky and Telescope, Astronomy Magazine, Astronomy Now, Earth Sky, Universe Today etc etc.
How far do we have to go to find a story like that?
There are no stories like this until near the end of page 8, set to 10 results to a page. There at last we read a story written by astronomers on an astronomy news site: New clues emerge for the existence of planet 9
This is typical. Search for "planet X" on Google News at any time and this is the usual situation. You find pages of sensationalist fake news and nonsense, most about this mythical fake planet "Nibiru", with occasional stories by more sober papers, perhaps one to a page. Meanwhile the most accurate and detailed news written by astronomers is buried way down the search results and rarely gets to the front page. You can use this tool to simulate a search from any country without your own search history bias to confirm this for yourself.
I think this is a significant and serious issue. An entire new generation is growing up with this as their main astronomical education.
It's especially significant since astronomy is rarely taught in any depth at school - and hardly at all for those without an interest in science. This is how our less scientific youngsters are getting educated in astronomy!
Nowadays many of them don't bother with ordinary newspapers, and don't visit particular news sites, but just go to Google or Apple news for their news. And they don't have the background to see that these stories are nonsense. So Google and Apple news and other news aggregates have a huge responsibility for our youngsters. Not that they intend to indoctrinate them or anything, but by the simple process of trying to provide news aggregation, they have ended up in this situation where their computer algorithms which they use to present news aggregates to children have an enormous influence on their education.
There are many Youtube "Prophets for Profit" who churn out video after video saying the world will end.
Recently the Express ran a story saying the world is going to split in two like an egg on October 31. This went right to the top of Google Search results and right now, there are many young children still at home, still at school, who are scared that the world is going to split like an egg on Halloween. They have read this in Google News and so think it is true.
The 31st October date was based on a fake video uploaded to YouTube. The idea of the world splitting in two may have been a journalistic embellishment, or perhaps it was in the video as it has now been taken down.
There is an entire small industry based around these fake videos. The top earners can earn their uploaders often thousands of dollars a month, and the top earners may be earning as much as a quarter of a million dollars a year (upper end of the estimate for this channel from Social Blade).
It's an easy living for those with no social conscience, just from uploading videos saying the world is about to end, over and over, changing dates as the old videos become out of date. They also sell books, and doomsday supplies, and there is one entrepreneur who rents out space in bunkers in Eastern Germany to millionaires scared of Nibiru. It's surely at least a multi-million dollar industry.
This fake news also sometimes promotes books in Amazon . This was very striking with David Meade's book recently:
SEPTEMBER 24 RANKINGS OF DAVID MEADE'S BOOK ON AMAZON - #1 IN ASTRONOMY (KINDLE) AND #5 PAPERBACK
#1 and #3 in Astronomy, #2 in Eschatology.
#5 in Astronomy, #8 in Eschatology, #13 in Astrophysics and Space Science.
This book is just awful. No genuine astronomy there at all, just a scrapbook of nonsense. It's also not his own copyright either. Only a quarter is by him, and a third of it so far is confirmed to be material included from other authors without their permission. I've tried to get Amazon to take it down but with no success so far. See Review: David Meade’s “Planet X - 2017 Arrival” - A Plagiarized Scrap Book
FAKE ASTRONOMY BS TESTER
This is my most recent story in my Doomsday Debunked blog: Astronomy Bullshit Tester - how to deal with the flood of fake “astronomy news” on Apple and Google News. It gives advice to these young children and young adults on how to protect yourself from getting an education in fake astronomy from the news sites.
So if a story you click on from Google News or Apple News:
- Claims that it is possible to prophesy movements of planets using the Bible or other sacred books
- Says the world is about to end because of prophecies by the Three Sisters of Farima , Baba Vanga, Nostradamus or similar
- Talks about a “planet called Nibiru” as a real planet rather than an internet myth and hoax.
- Talks about a pole shift (not magnetic but physical pole shift)
- Says we have two suns.
- Says we are about to be hit by a large asteroid - when the Sentry table doesn’t show any red entries
- Says NASA is hiding a planet or even an entire second mini solar system from astronomers.
- Says that astronomers get murdered for talking about Nibiru, or says that NASA have been tracking Nibiru since 1983
- Says that we are having more earthquakes or more volcanic eruptions than usual and that this is a dire event meaning something ominous is about to happen (these are random things so you get clusters of them from time to time, means nothing).
just click away. It’s fake news. Also not just that. If you want to avoid getting an education in fake astronomy, cross that website or paper off your list of reliable sources on astronomy.
This is what anyone with a decent background in astronomy will do. They won’t even read these stories except for laughs. For why any astronomer worth their salt just LOL's at the “Nibiru planet” idea see Short summary, why Nibiru is impossible
For a longer list of things to look out for as a sure sign of nonsense and fake astronomy, see my
If you read any of these stories, you are giving yourself an education in fake astronomy. This makes real astronomy very confusing to you and it may take a long time to unlearn this nonsense. You may also get very scared of nonsense nonexistent extra planets or suns. You may also come to doubt your own commonsense - I think it is basic common sense for instance that we have only one sun. You must have watched a lot of fake astronomy stories and videos and rarely looked at the real sky to think that we have two suns. Yet many of those who contact me are scared about this mythological fake second sun, or fake extra planet.
SITES THAT FREQUENTLY RUN FAKE ASTRONOMY NEWS AND OFTEN GO RIGHT TO THE TOP OF GOOGLE NEWS
Here are some particularly notorious sites to avoid - these are all sites that have run fake news about the world ending, or about Nibiru or about an asteroid about to hit Earth, over the last couple of years:
- Daily Express. Daily Star, Daily Mirror, Sun - frequently publish fake astronomy news
- Metro magazine , Newsweek - often publish fake astronomy news
That will deal with 90% or more of the fake astronomy news that turns up in Google and Apple News, and many of the Facebook fake news sharing.
The way to avoid them is to look at the entry in Google or Apple News. You can’t avoid seeing the headlines, but you can look below at the source, and if you see any of these, it may be fake news and the simplest solution is: don’t click on it
Details of how to do this here: How to avoid the Daily Express (also the Sun, Daily Star, etc)
If you continue to read these sites, you are likely to get scared of a new date for the end of the world at least once a month, and probably more like once a week. It’s all fake prophets and bullshit.
SITES WITH FAKE NEWS SOMETIMES
- Daily Mail, Online Telegraph - Sometimes do.
It’s a shame to put them on this list, as they have some good science journalist articles. Especially, I find that the Daily Mail has some good science journalists. It will sometimes explain things more clearly, more accurately, and in more detail than almost anyone else outside of the specialist astronomy news - but now and again they will hit you with a surprise fake news story that has clearly never been run past any scientist or astronomer, written by a sensationalist journalist.
Steer well away unless you have a good understanding of astronomy and science and can see the difference between an “April fool” type fake story and a real one.
For these sources, it’s like every day is April Fool’s day - but only one or two stories will be these joke / hoax stories, so it’s up to you to figure out which it is. If you are young or don’t have a good education in astronomy or science, you may not have any way to do this.
NOTORIOUS SITES TO AVOID
- Before It’s News, notorious fake news site. Anyone can post there and many crackpots do. For instance, this is where you go to for fake news that the Earth is flat and pilots and astronauts have been hiding this from us for decades.
- Somebody’s Bones (this one is meant as a joke site but never says that it is a joke),
- Planet X News - publish false prophecies and fake news frequently
EXAGGERATIONS IN MAINSTREAM ARTICLES
All of the papers make mistakes sometimes. For instance the New York Times, usually reasonably accurate on science, recently did a story about Yellowstone that was based on a complete misunderstanding - and they didn’t check with the original scientists to see if it was accurate before publishing. It was so bad that Snopes did a debunking article and the author of the paper that the news story was based on tweeted a link to the Snopes article debunking their story. FACT CHECK: New Research Suggests Massive Yellowstone Eruption Could Occur Sooner Than Expected?
The BBC makes mistakes also, for instance with their story about risk of a tsunami from the Canary isles which they published and made a documentary about even though it hadn’t yet passed peer review: Debunked: At risk from megatsunami from the Canary Isles - and many otherwise respectable mainstream papers run stories like these.
If a newspaper has run any of these stories,
- Researchers say that Yellowstone could erupt as a supervolcano in the next few decades - see No, Yellowstone is not going to erupt as a supervolcano soon. No, it can’t destroy mankind!
- That we could get a megatsunami from the Canary Isles - see Debunked: At risk from megatsunami from the Canary Isles
- Says we are about to be hit by an asteroid when the Sentry table doesn’t show any red entries - this includes any paper that has ever run a story that we are about to be hit by a large asteroid to date, as we have never had a red or even orange entry in that list to date.
- That global warming could make the Earth too hot for humans to survive anywhere, or that we won’t have enough oxygen to breathe in the next few centuries - see Debunked: Climate change will make the world too hot for humans and Debunked: If we cut down all the forests we will run out of oxygen to breathe - they are not the “lungs of the planet” in any literal sense
- That the Large Hadron Collider experiments could destroy the Earth - see Debunked: the Large Hadron Collider will create mini black holes that will destroy the world
- That there is a real risk that the universe will suddenly vanish at any moment from false vacuum decay - see Debunking: Stephen Hawking Says Universe is on the brink of instability and could collapse - metastable, in a false vacuum state.
- That North Korea could start a global nuclear war, or would want to - North Korea Update
- That we could be made extinct at any moment from a nearby supernova or gamma ray burst - this is out of date and now false news - see Debunked: Earth is threatened by a supernova and Debunked: A gamma ray burst could make humans extinct
Sadly that rules out just about all the mainstream papers. It’s hard to find one that doesn’t occasionally run stories like that. The problem is that the journalists just don't spend enough time on their stories. They often don't contact the original authors of the articles to check their understanding. They are not specialists in the topic, and they often don't read the scientific journals on the topic either but just base their story on interviews with scientists, skim reading press releases, and the answers to questions asked during press conferences. It's easy to make mistakes.
EXAGGERATIONS EVEN IN TOP QUALITY SCIENCE JOURNALS LIKE SCIENTIFIC AMERCIAN
Then as well as that, even good science journalists will tend to write the stories in a way that attracts readers. They have no idea that this is actually scaring young children, I'm sure.
Even the likes of Scientific American runs stories with click bait headlines, see Debunked: A Nearby Neutron Star Collision Could Cause Calamity on Earth - that was the title of their article - but later in the same article they explain that there’s almost no chance of that happening. That's one of the stories I got several scared PM's about recently.
So, sadly, there aren’t any 100% reliable mainstream news sources on astronomy, especially if you mean ones that never have exaggerated click bait titles. If Scientific American do it, then any of them can, and indeed they often do.
BEST ARTICLES - WRITTEN FOR ASTRONOMY BY ASTRONOMERS
The best articles tend to be the ones written for astronomers to read, and by astronomers. They don't need to draw in their audience with click bait titles so tend to be less sensationalist. They can assume that the readers are already interested in astronomy news without having to claim that the world is about to end to get their attention. The articles are also written by journalists who specialize in astronomy and know the subject very well.
However, though these are by far the best sites to visit for astronomy news, they figure very low in the Google News search results. If you want to find news about astronomy written by astronomers, the only way to do it is to know the names of the Astronomy web sites and visit them, or to scroll and scroll and scroll in google News until you find one of them, several pages down from the first page of results.
The ones to look out for include
- Earth, Sky,
- Universe Today,
- Astrobiology Magazine (for astrobiology)
- Astronomy Now
or general science ScienceDaily and Phys.org are good. - and things like the news sites of universities, e.g. UCL. If it is a story by UCL researchers then go back to the press release at UCL and you’ll get the most sober version of the story probably and same for others.
For geology, then the likes of the USGS and similar are good. For climate, then check out the ICPCC etc.
I’d like to recommend New Scientist and Scientific American but they do have these articles with click bait titles that confuse people sometimes.
Also New Scientist especially often presents very speculative and cutting edge science. A lot of the stories in New Scientist will eventually be either disproved or interpreted in different ways from the way they are today and it’s written for scientists who know this, and are interested to read about the most recent research even though it’s not necessarily thoroughly proved yet.
For debunking, Snopes.com are good. There’s a news story that often gets shared or repeated on Facebook that Snopes is biased. This is a fake news story based on misrepresenting the facts.
IT'S AN OLD PROBLEM, BUT IN A NEW FORM
Of course we've had end of world prophecies for centuries. But what's new is the easy access of these stories even for young children independently checking the news on their mobile device - and many of them check it many times a day, especially once they get scared. Also another new thing is how easily these stories can appear in searches for topics nothing to do with the end of the world.
I think it would be hard to find out for sure, but these large numbers of scared and suicidal young children may well be something new, dating back only to the beginning of the era of widespread internet access. Though that hardly matters, it's so sad, whether it's new or has been going on for years.
Also, these are not people who have mental health issues or get scared easily. Most of them say they had happy normal childhoods until they read the stories in Google News. It's these stories, and these stories alone that scare them.
There are many things that could be done to help them. Our Facebook groups help some of them but it could be so much more effective if we could somehow do something about the issue at its source, which in this case is the news as presented to children searching on their mobile devices. There may be many ways to tackle this: changes in Google News, YouTube, or even editorial policies for sensationalist papers, or maybe something else none of us have thought of, it's well worth pursuing,
That's the main reason why I wrote this article - to publicize this issue.
OUR DOOMSDAY DEBUNKED FACEBOOK GROUP
This is like a pre-filter which will get rid of more than nine tenths of the fake doomsday news. Still, sadly, it’s just the nature of modern journalism, even science journalism, that you get stories that slip through the net because they are exaggerated, click bait, or the few mistakes made even by the mainstream news sites.
That’s where Doomsday Debunked comes in. Do join to ask for stories like this to be debunked, or to help debunking them. The aim is just to present the truth, soberly, without exaggeration. If there is truth in a story, then we find ways to present that truth without exaggeration and click bait titles.
TIPS THAT HELP SCARED PEOPLE
- Tips from CBT - might help some of you to deal with doomsday anxieties
- Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears
Also if you want to help make a difference, you can sign and share these two petitions- and do have a look at the comments to get an idea of the scale of the problem. Click “Join Conversation” to see more of them.
- To Youtube: Halt Ads on Doomsday Videos
- To Journalists: Debunk Rather than Dramatize "Doomsday" Stories - The Vulnerable Get Suicidal
And if you need help - well message me of course and comment on any of these posts - and do take a look at our facebook group Doomsday Debunked.
Any of you who are experts in astronomy, science etc may also be interested to join the group to help scared and sometimes suicidal people. It takes a fair bit of patience - please be ready to have to explain over and over why we have only one sun, for instance, to young people who are half out of their mind with fear after reading dozens of daft fake astronomy stories. There's no need to be a regular contributor. If you can just pop in from time to time and answer some of the scared people that "yes we do only have one sun, no that photo is not a photo of a second sun but is a lens flare / offset double reflection". Or to help debunk some of the exaggerated science stories too. It's a great help.
IF YOU ARE A JOURNALIST
If anyone reading this is a journalist, you can do a lot by writing stories yourself. We have not yet had any major news stories alerting us to these suicidal and scared children and the effects of doomsday stories on them. David Morrison raised this way back in 2012 but his warning doesn't seem to have been taken up by the media. . You can hear him talk about this in David dMorrison's presentation on the scale of the problem to the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.Transcript of the last part of David Morrison's presentation on the scale of the problem to the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
"My real reason for being here and to have a discussion with you, especially those of you who are teachers, is, how do we deal with this, especially from children. I have had numerous kids who at least self identify as being 11 or 12 or 13 years old who say they are contemplating or planning suicide before September 21st. I have a friend who is a teacher in Stockton California, who says that two of her students say they plan to kill their children themselves before September. I have had several reports of suicides that have already taken place from people who are depressed and worried. It's anecdotal, I don't know, but I know that almost every teacher I have ever talked to says that this is a real fear among their students. And even if only a tiny fraction of those who are thinking about suicide should actually do it, then we have a serious societal problem, and we ought to think about what is the best way to do it. Usually with pseudo science we just ignore it. I don't think we can ignore this one."
David Morrison is a senior NASA astrophysicist and astrobiologist, (now retired), who fronted NASA's "Ask an Astrobiologist" column responding to questions from the public
This is an international issue, even though most of the fake astronomy news in Google News is generated by sensationalist UK papers. In a recent poll in our Doomsday Debunked group of those scared by David Meade's prophecies, about half are from the US. Out of the 51 votes so far. from those who respondedr, 26 are from the US, 11 from the UK, 3 from Canada, and 11 from other countries. Many of our members from non English speaking countries can't read English and use google translate to post to the group and read the group posts.
The first step towards getting something done about it is surely to spread awareness. Do contact me if any of you want to run a story on this, and need more background on it. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
ANY QUESTIONS OR SUGGESTIONS?
I hope some of you reading this agree that this fake astronomy news is a major issue in our society. Do any of you have any suggestions about what we can do about this? If you have any questions also, or corrections for this article, be sure to say.
DO SHARE THIS POST.
If you agree that this is an important issue, do also share this post yourself to spread awareness of the issue. I wonder if we can get the attention of any journalists or decision makers. Or maybe we can get the attention of others who may have an idea of new ways to deal with this and do something to help protect these young people from these extremes of anxiety deriving from fake astronomy?