Susan's Blog

Monday, August 28, 2006

A New Spin on Pluto’s Ignominy

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars.
Hair, “Age of Aquarius,” 1967

Talk about Oops, Wrong Planet syndrome. Those of us who have been living with autism for a while can really feel Pluto’s pain. We may be anthropologists on Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mercury, Neptune, and of course, Earth. But not Pluto. Oh, no, not Pluto. He/she/it is no longer even a planet.

We must all grieve, and grapple with the fact that just as sh** happens, so does stuff change. Scientific categorizations are as ephemeral as anything else in this life of ours. If science were static, it might as well be religion! And we know it is not that. Just ask Galileo. Remember him? Well, you can’t, unless you are an Indigo Girl, but still, unless you have been living under a rock (or on Pluto, I guess, which is pretty much the same thing) you must know that Galileo was excommunicated from the Church because he believed that the earth, etc. (including Pluto), revolved around the sun rather than all revolving around the earth. (I bet we have Galileo’s mother to thank for that, actually, because she probably said, as most mothers do, “Hey Galilei, the world doesn’t revolve around you!” And he just never had enough therapy to get that out of his head. But thank goodness for the rest of us!)

But I digress. My point is, things change. Science redefines itself. Just ask Woody Allen. Red wine good, white wine bad. Chocolate is good for you. Sugar’s out, Splenda’s in. Or is it Stevia? Cholestrol should be low/well, not all cholestrol numbers should be low.

Or how about these? Autistics are angels. Autism is caused by funky vaccines. Autism is caused by cold mothers (no way! I have never told Nat that the world doesn’t revolve around him; he believes it does and so do I). Autistics are all geniuses. Autistics don’t like to be touched.

We need science to keep examining itself, for that is how we expand our knowledge of the world. And, to paraphrase another mother, (mine), “to constantly contemplate its navel,” using scientific method and bonafide research, of course. Anecdotal evidence, no matter how warm and intuitively right it may feel, cannot be the basis of science. We feel like mercury in vaccines caused autism and that therefore chelation would suck all the bad chemicals out and leave the child “cured.” But is that scientifically proven yet? We used to feel that leeches would draw out disease (come to think of it, arent’ they using leeches again for some things?) We feel that a needle full of nasty germs will fill our newborns with poison, but it actually is not true; denying a child that needle opens him up to far worse plagues.

We feel like Pluto should be the end of the sentence, “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles.” But it cannot be. So let’s try a new one, “Many Vapid Emptyheaded Morons Junk Science Uselessly, Needlessly.”

Eh, not so much.

But — I still have to ask: If we are going to oust a planet, could we at least get rid of — or rename — Uranus?

10 comments

Hey, white wine very good indeed!

I told Pluto to take the Groucho Marx route and not want to be a part of any club that would have it as a member.

Good stuff Susan.

— added by Someone Said on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 9:46 am

*applauds*

— added by Jen on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 9:50 am

this is a *very good* post. and i like the indigo girl reference. smart! 🙂

— added by Melissa on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 11:11 am

What’s everyone got against Uranus? That’s my favorite planet.

— added by ballastexistenz on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 12:07 pm

Why is Uranus your favorite? What’s it got that all others do not? I, third grade humorist that I am, find the name embarrassing.

— added by Susan Senator on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 12:21 pm

Thinking of recent headlines..I find it easier to accept Pluto not being a planet than to imagine what went on at the Holocaust Fair in Tehran. Some people are wishing that their Pluto in Libra really made that much of a difference in their birth charts. Others are wondering how the evidence and survivors of the Holocaust is not proof enough for those that don’t believe it happened. Talk about relativity.

— added by mrs. gilb on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 3:24 pm

It rotates on its side.

— added by ballastexistenz on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 8:55 pm

I am still reeling from the whole Brontosaurus fiasco. It was my favorite dinosaur and now I find out that it was all just junk science.

Pluto and Bronto. Obliterated from the history books but linked together in ironic recollection that we can’t suppress just because science tells us to.

— added by Mom on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 9:06 pm

I am not apparently alone in thinking this is an outstanding post, I wonder if you knew its greatness when you wrote it. It all truth, I love the damn indigo girls as well, and I am always trying to convinve others that things are changing and should not be looked at with the same narrow beliefs of the past

— added by Kristen on Monday, August 28, 2006 at 10:01 pm

We do not need to grieve or say that “it cannot be” regarding Pluto being the ninth planet. The decision made last summer was political, not scientific. It was made by five percent of the membership of the International Astronomical Union and generated a backlash from planetary scientists almost immediately. This debate is far from over. Instead of blindly accepting this decision, people should look into the dynamics of how it was made, the complete lack of sense of the new “planet definition,” and efforts by both scientists and lay people to overturn this decision. Nine planets–not only can it be, but I am confident it will again be.

— added by Laurel Kornfeld on Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 1:46 pm

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