Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Follies: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Badass

Really, really smart people - and I'm talking about more than high SATs here, more like your Einsteins or Hawkings - are worth a listen.  It's possible that there are more really, really smart people who exist, than the few who become famous.  But of the group of people who become famous for being really, really smart (and therefore are not only really, really smart, but also manage to be both functional and communicate those smarts well), Neil deGrasse Tyson is one who is fun to listen to.  And sometimes he talks about things that touch on the political.

So since there were no fun memes to explore this evening, I decided to indulge myself in listening to some of what Neil deGrasse Tyson had to say, and sharing some of the most interesting of those things with you.  Fair warning: he sometimes comes off as arrogant.  But that's because he's often smarter than everyone he's talking to, and I imagine that builds the ego a bit.  He's still interesting and thinks slightly differently than conventional wisdom (i.e. what more regular smart people think).

1. Neil deGrasse Tyson on Politics

  • Are Republicans or Democrats Better for Science? He may surprise you, and it's worth listening to the end:


  • On Hillary and Obama and the Stimulus (Spoiler Alert: He Is a Hillary Guy):


  • Tyson Insulting My Profession (Law), and Its Role as the Ruling Profession in Politics - Okay, he's making a valid point about persuasion versus fact.  Tyson doesn't, however, recognize the important truth that fact is worth nothing if nobody hears or believes it:


2. Outside the Box Thinking on Policy

  • We should be thinking differently about "natural disasters":


  • We Should Prioritize Space Exploration, for Policy Reasons - The argument goes like this: thinking big - dreaming, expanding our imaginations - comes from our societal mindset, and that mindset is critical to breeding the kind of breadth and depth of thought necessary for great innovation, which in turn would help our economy.:

3. Potential American Barriers to Scientific Achievement

  • On Religious Fundamentalism Historically Impeding Scientific Progress - and what that could mean for today and the impact of the anti-science movement on the right in America.  This is an interesting story, about Islamic Fundamentalism and how it killed scientific progress in its own community.  His last statement in this clip is a bit incendiary, and swallows up the point he is making, by making an assumption that religion and science are always at odds (I think that's a fallacy - and one which he actually argues against, here, and he claims to be agnostic - not atheist, here):


  • The American Fear of Numbers - a bit funny, a bit sad, mostly true:

4. Personal Stories

  • On "My Man, Sir Isaac Newton" - hey, it's cute, everybody has heroes:


  • On Whether a Really, Really, Smart Black Man Should Be an Astrophysicist - this is sort of a bit of a riff on noblesse oblige, but also about the pressures of race and society layered on top of individual passion, talent, and choice:


  • On What It Means to Be NdGT:


5. There Is a Reason We Pursue Reason and Science

  • Humans Are Naturally Scientists (As a Mom of Young Children, I Wholeheartedly Agree with this One):


6. And Finally, for a Fun Start for Your Weekend - Hey Martian Friends, Watch Out for the Cylons (A.K.A. Boom Goes the Dynamite):