When I was a kid — way back in prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the earth and most people didn’t even have black and white television yet, there was a show on radio called “Just Plain Bill.” I’ve used that appellation for myself many times since.
I was born in the year my people call 1939, in the plain little town of Sunset in North Texas, in the United States of America, on the third planet of a plain yellow star we call the Sun. It was, and still is, about 30,000 light years from the center of a plain spiral galaxy called the Milky Way. Plain, that is, as spiral galaxies go. Even the plainest spiral galaxy is pretty spectacular!
I’ve been in the Lone Star State ever since birth, except for a couple of short periods in California as a kid and one in Oklahoma as a young man.
I’d like to tell you that I’m a tenured Professor of Microbiology at a large, highly respected university, and that I have Ph.D.’s in astrophysics, history, chemistry, and linguistics, as well as lesser degrees in anthropology, math, philosophy, computer science, daydreaming, girl watching, and a dozen or so other fields of endeavor.
I’d also like you to know that I’ve written over 300 books on more than 60 different subjects and that I publish the results of my research in at least two refereed scientific journals every month. Sometimes more.
Our Milky Way galaxy, showing the approximate position of the Sun. We can’t get a real photograph of the entire Milky Way, because we are inside it. Any direction we point our cameras, we get only part of it. This simulation was made by using software to adjust several pieces and “knit” them together.
But nothing in those last two paragraphs would be true — except maybe the day-dreaming and girl watching parts. I’m NOT Dr. Dearmore. I’m just plain Bill.
I actually do have a couple of years of college, and I wish I had a lot more; but I’m mostly self-educated. (I’m an autodidact. Look it up. I did.) I have time to study — especially now that I’m retired — and a compulsion to learn as much as I can about nearly everything.
I also seem to have a talent for simplifying difficult concepts to make them both interesting and understandable for other people. I made a pretty good living doing it for a few years before I retired, but you’ll have to judge for yourself. Not everybody agrees, of course. Oh, well!
Even when I was spending 40 to 60 hours a week writing software documentation, intranet web pages, employee manuals, and various other materials for my last employer, I spent most of my own time reading and studying a wide range of subjects to satisfy my hunger for knowledge. As a result, I consider myself an informed non-professional in a variety of subjects, especially evolution. And I enjoy writing for other non-professionals who may not have the time or desire to read the many books, magazines, and blogs I read.
The late Isaac Asimov, author of almost five hundred books and many thousands of short stories, articles, and essays, referred to himself as a “professional explainer.” I’m not a professional anything, and I have neither Asimov’s talent nor his education. On a smaller scale, though, an explainer is exactly what I want to be.
I want this site to rapidly become both interesting and thought-provoking, as well as informative. I usually write in a very informal style. I can write formally, but I’d rather not unless I have to. And you may have already noticed that a few sentences here don’t even have a subject and predicate, in spite of what your grammar teachers told you. Like this one, for example.
My main purposes for this blog are:
To use skeptical rational thinking to understand a variety of difficult and sometimes controversial concepts and (when possible) to reach appropriate conclusions about them.
To share some fun and interesting or thought provoking things with my readers. After all, skeptics need fun, too.
- To bring forward a few of the best or most important articles from my previous websites, usually after extensive rewriting or re-editing.
I want to show you wonderful stories of science and reality, expressed in simple and interesting ways so you’ll catch the same fever of discovery that I have. I hope to infect you with an enthusiasm for learning and rational thinking that you’ll spread like the flu to other people.
When I discuss scientific subjects here, I am not likely to ever argue against established scientific principles. I am NOT a scientist; so I am not qualified to do that, even if I were so inclined. I may occasionally try to explain both sides of a genuine disagreement among scientists, but my purpose will nearly always be to simplify them and make them more understandable. Not to argue against them.
You’ll find few footnotes on this site; but I’ll provide links to related information online when it seems helpful. I may also provide ads for related books or other materials when it seems appropriate. Since I’m just possibly crazy, but not stupid, you should realize that I’ll probably earn a small commission if you buy anything through any link on this site. Be sure to do your own due diligence and decide for yourself if it is an appropriate purchase for you. (Yeah! This paragraph takes care of some of my legal obligations. But it’s good advice anyway. On any blog or website, or anywhere else.)
For anybody who’s read this far, here’s a little more personal information:
I’ve been referred to from time to time as a “space nut” (or more often, simply as “spacey” or “nutty”). Actually, I am very enthusiastic about science and technology generally, and about space exploration and utilization in particular. It will not be possible for our descendents to live on earth forever. They might be able to live here a very long time (but only if they do a better job of preserving it than we have done before), or we could all be wiped out next month by an asteroid, as the dinosaurs and many other species were about 65 million years ago. We need to find other worlds on which we can live so such a catastrophe would not destroy the entire human race. (This, of course, assumes that we want our descendents to survive indefinitely, and not to go extinct. I do.)
I enjoy reading good science fiction when I have time. It stirs the imagination and explores possible futures, so we can think about them before we get there. Isaac Asimov (the “professional explainer”) was one of my heroes, along with Carl Sagan, Ben Bova, Stanley Schmidt, Robert Heinlin, and other great speculative writers.
I was raised a very strict and devout Independent Baptist Fundamentalist, but I eventually got over it. I am now an atheist and secular humanist. (Read the page entitled Saved in the Nick of Time if you would like to know about about my “de-conversion.”)
Politically, I usually tend to be on the liberal side. I am pro-choice, pro-freedom, pro-humanity, pro-science, and very pro-skepticism. I used to favor the death penalty for some crimes, until we began learning from DNA evidence that we were convicting so very many innocent people. Under present circumstances, I can no longer support a death penalty for any crime.
I have an assortment of offspring, some of which I helped produce through natural biological processes, and some of which I acquired the easy way. By getting married again.
Though I’ve been divorced from my second wife since August of 2000, I still tend to forget which offspring are mine by biology and which are by choice. Well, I don’t really forget; but I love them all and consider them my own.
I’ll be adding to this blog from time to time. If it stimulates anybody to genuinely think about something he or she might not have considered otherwise, it will have served a worthy cause. Regardless whether or not that person ever actually agrees with anything I have to say.
Originally published in my now defunct website, www.NoBull.ws.