Washington, D.C. — In news reminiscent of 1999’s Y2K panic and 2012’s doomsday craze, yet another charlatan is making headlines for “predicting” the end times. This time, our own Sun — which is 93 million miles away, mind you — will be the culprit.
“Data suggest our Sun will become a red giant toward the end of its life, expanding to many times its current size and incinerating the Earth in the process,” claims Anthony Webb, professor of astrophysics at UC Berkeley. “No need to worry though. You and I will be long gone in five billion years!” Too far into the future to disprove. How convenient.
To read into Webb’s divinations is to go down a rabbit hole of manic delusions, false premises, and outright absurdities. One passage from his notes refers to our Sun as a “yellow dwarf” — one of billions of other dwarves, living in space! “Oh no, these aren’t my notes. This is just the established information we have at NASA.” Right, okay buddy.
Like every grifter before him, Dr. Webb deflects and pivots when the slightest scrutiny is applied to his outlandish claims. When asked to present evidence, he offers anecdotes: “We’ve seen it many times with other stars of similar size in our galaxy. Stellar nebula to average star, to red giant, to planetary nebula, to white dwarf…” he babbles, with such conviction as to trick the untrained ear into thinking he buys into his own nonsense. “It’s reasonable to conclude ours will follow the same course. And if you actually don’t believe me, this data is available online to the public.”
“tHiS dAtA iS aVaiLaBlE tO tHe pUbLiC.” — Anthony Webb
Despite his best efforts to promote fear and hysteria, the only thing scary about Dr. Webb’s quackery is the fact that he has amassed a base of loyal followers, who take everything he says as gospel. “I don’t personally know Dr. Webb, but this is all pretty standard as far as star life cycles go,” says Grace Liljegren, a “scientist.”
Others find themselves even more spellbound by Webb’s soothsaying, like Neil Tyson, an aspiring nature documentary host: “It’s actually quite beautiful. All of the ingredients essential to life on Earth are scattered across the universe as byproducts of dead and dying stars. We literally cannot have life without death!” Someone’s been drinking the Kool-aid.
At the end of the day, Webb’s followers don’t care who they needlessly frighten by spreading his doomsday theories. These people need to maintain the illusion of understanding, even where there is nothing to understand. This unfortunately makes them easy targets for exploitation.
There is nothing wrong with the Sun. It will continue keeping us warm forever. Anyone who portends to know otherwise is doing so only to profit off of ignorance. Stay comfy.