People have been rolling their eyes ever since basketball great Shaquille O’Neal announced that the world is flat, something that has been known not to be true since the time of the ancient Greeks. Now, according to For the Win, Shaq’s friend and colleague Charles Barkley mentioned that he has even more bizarre views on astronomy. It seems that the former basketball player believes that the moon is closer to Los Angeles than Atlanta, the theory being that Shaq can see the moon from his house but not Atlanta.

He believes that the moon is about ten hours away by plane. It actually took the Apollo astronauts three days.

Where are Neil deGrasse Tyson and his snarky tweets when we really need them?

Celebrities have been known to advance strange positions, but usually, they involve politics. From time to time people like Jenny McCarthy give dangerous medical advice such as vaccinations cause autism and therefore should be avoided. But no one else, so far as can be determined, has expressed such ignorance about the basic facts of astronomy.

We know that O’Neal went to college because he played basketball at Louisiana State University. In fact, he continued his education after he turned pro and got a degree, apparently without learning even the basic facts of astronomy which one would have thought would have been taught in grade school.

To be sure, Shaq doesn’t really need to know the actual shape of the Earth or how far away the moon is, no more than did Sherlock Holmes.

Before he retired, all O’Neal had to do was to dribble a basketball across a court and dunk it into the basket, a skill that does require at least an instinctive knowledge of physics. Now all he has to do is to talk about basketball on TV and do his product endorsements.

However, as a sports star, he is a role model with some influence. Who knows how many young people are insisting that the Earth is flat and that the moon is ten hours away because Shaq says it’s so?

That means that someone needs to stage an intervention with O’Neal and set him straight about saying things before he learns what he is talking about.

Over to you, Dr. Tyson.

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