More Neil deGrasse Tyson goodness:
Links to some of the subjects mentioned:
The exhibit on the brain at the American Museum of Natural History
More of Tyson’s thoughts on “the god of the gaps”
Tyson’s essay “The Beginning of Science”
The scientists’ panel on whether science can determine moral values
His closing remarks on the state of science communication are very heartening — surprising, actually, given that he’s decried America’s science priorities elsewhere. But as a counterbalance to Carl Sagan’s worry that we’re becoming increasingly ignorant of the science that makes our lives possible, I’m willing to go with Tyson’s informed optimism:
Every next day that I’m alive I see more and more people valuing what science means to the world and to them. I see more and more people rising up, no longer simply accepting fuzzy thinking in the world. There might have been a day, for example, where Bill O’Reilly would have said ‘tide goes in and out, and you can’t explain that,’ and it would have gone uncontested. So the change is not that people aren’t still saying underinformed things. The change is that, if you’re in power and you say something underinformed, there are people out there with a voice who will take you to task for having done so. And at the end of the day that can only make a stronger society. A society that is the kind of democracy you want to live in, where people vote from an informed platform and knowing the difference between something that is their opinion and something that is a fact. […] I’m optimistic that clearer heads will prevail as we go forward.
May it be so.
Tyson’s favorite Isaac Newton quote, on the endless frontier of discovery, is now one of my favorites as well; I believe I’ll close with that.
I do not know what I appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on a seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me.
Update:Another excellent (audio) interview here. I found his comments clarifying his stance on atheism, agnosticism, and the whole science-vs-religion debate particularly interesting.