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OK, seriously now, since when is science or language (except in France) determined by voting?

A legitimate case can be made that Pluto is not properly called a planet, but despite what the many news reports I've seen have said, Pluto is not now "officially" not-a-planet. There's nothing "official" about it. The International Astronomical Union has no authority. The International Star Registry has as much authority as the IAU does, and dammit, if they decide, for a $1,000 fee, to call the third star to the left of Orion's belt "Pudgimus Prime," then that's just as bloody official as anything the IAU says.

The IAU is a bunch of nice people who do good and important work. But they have no actual authority to name anything, let alone to classify anything, any more than anyone else has. That's not to say we should ignore them; far from it. That we can look to this group of scientists for a common set of words -- like "planet" and "Pluto" -- is extremely useful. But it's not "official." It's not law. It's just one group of people. A really smart and influential group, but that doesn't make them "official."

We do not have to go in and change all the textbooks in all the schools, we don't have to change our dioramas and mnemonic devices, we don't have to change ... well, anything. If you want to keep calling it a planet, feel free to do so, as long as it's understood you're not using the same definition the IAU is using.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

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