September 9, 2009

Dr. Phil Plait, Superhero of Science

I'm not one to believe in superpowers, but Phil Plait, astronomer, educator and author of the Bad Astronomy blog almost makes me believe. He has one of the more popular blogs ever, he publishes great books like Bad Astronomy and Death From the Skies! He has a family, and he's president of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Not only that, but I would swear if I didn't know better that he was present at every single science or skeptical panel discussion at Dragon*Com and did a solo dramatic reading from his most recent book.

The guy is amazing. I learned so much from him. I share his infectious enthusiasm, but I watched him carefully because he handles even the doofiest questions with style and panache. He seems to totally not mind explaining the same things over and over and over again because he knows that while he's repeated it at three other talks, maybe this is your first time hearing it and he wants you to get it.

He doesn't say "You're wrong" or even "You're mistaken." He says, "That turns out not to be the case." I love that.

He's passionate, but not dogmatic (which is something he just posted about--the guy can't be stopped!) and his passion shines through. But he tempers the passion with a striving for polite discourse. When he sees a passionate, but angry and dogmatic argument, even if the person is right, he asks, "Who is this helping?" He's firm, but nice about it. He loves the subtitle Wil Wheaton uses on his own blog.

As he said at one panel, "We don't need more warriors, we need more diplomats."