I really liked some of the points made in this article save for the Bill Maher’s comment, didn’t really need it. But the general point made about a scientifically literate public bringing a political fallout was spot on.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has been the recipient of a seemingly bizarre political backlash — after the conservative magazine National Review penned a takedown cover story on the “Cosmos” host last week depicting him as a smug, intellectual bully.
The story struck many as odd given Tyson’s gentle, geeky presentation style. Comedian Bill Maher had Tyson on his HBO show over the weekend, trying to make sense of the backlash.
“You’re a scientist, and a black one, who’s smarter than [conservatives] are,” Maher quipped.
The line got laughs, but it’s worth remembering that Tyson served the George W. Bush administration as a member of the Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond in 2004. Conservatives have no problem harnessing Tyson’s intellect.
No, the danger Tyson brings to the political structure, as he gains an increasingly large foothold in the popular culture, is the threat of an informed populace.
“When you’re scientifically literate, the world looks different to you,” Tyson wrote in 2011. “It’s a particular way of questioning what you see and hear. When empowered by this state of mind, objective realities matter. These are the truths of the world that exist outside of whatever your belief system tells you.”
That may not sound radical, but the promise of a large, nerdy, young voting block that subscribes to Tyson’s sentiment is a threat to the political status quo — certainly Republicans, but Democrats as well.
Imagine if millions of young Tyson fans stopped searching for facts to confirm their personal biases, or ceased prioritizing using their education to leverage personal wealth, and instead sought the most sound solutions to identifiable problems for the betterment of the species. If the rising generation of young voters actually starts demanding rational, evidence-guided leadership, few in our current crop of elected officials would survive the political fallout.
Consider this: In 1995, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment — a nonpartisan panel of scientists and researchers assembled to offer objective technical guidance to Congress on scientifically complex issues — was stripped of all funding, effectively shutting it down. (Officially, it still exists on paper.) It has remained unfunded ever since. (Thanks, Newt Gingrich.) An attempt in May to provide a paltry $2.5 million to the office was stymied by House Republicans.
In a world where advanced technology has infiltrated nearly every corner of our lives — raising a litany of technical, ethical and legal challenges — our government is willfully scientifically illiterate.
The reason this status quo has been allowed to persist is that the general population isn’t much better. Conservatives continue to fight any attempts to combat climate change, while many liberals are refusing to vaccinate their children over fears of a nonexistent link to autism. It wouldn’t be hard to predict a liberal backlash against Tyson, similar to the one we’re seeing from conservatives, if he were to speak more prominently about his endorsement of genetically modified foods — one of the more scientifically unfounded banner arguments of the left.
Tyson is a threat to this cone of ignorance and self-interest. He’s a champion of knowledge and the human potential. He brings the fundamental belief that our species is destined for something greater than the interminable squabble between self-interested individuals and rival nations and dwindling resources — that our collective efforts can be applied to the pursuit of knowledge, ultimately paving the way for our exploration of the galaxy.
That’s a vision people can get behind. It’s also one that could potentially upend everything we know.
Carl Sagan on astrology in newspapers. From his interview with Ted Turner.
Also, photosets are fun.
I will never stop reblogging this set.
The biggest building boom in the history of astronomy is upon us. In Chile and Hawaii and in space, astronomers are getting powerful telescopes that dwarf the current state-of-the-art instruments. When the mountain blasting and the mirror polishing are all done, we will have the clearest and most detailed views of outer space ever.
This boom has long been in the works for years, as billion-dollar telescopes don’t just fund and plan themselves.Now, these telescopes are starting to break ground. “If it all plays out as expected and budgeted,” writes Dennis Overbye in the New York Times, “astronomers of the 2020s will be swimming in petabytes of data streaming from space and the ground.” Let’s take a closer took at what these billion-dollar telescopes can do for astronomy in the decades to come.
I have the opposite problem omg I think I have such a rough voice I wish it was cute and girly
which is hilarious because your voice is so high on the phone
More than 600 people have died in a recent outbreak of the Ebola virus raging through Africa— that even includes doctors caring for patients with the disease.
Still, there is no known cure for Ebola, and no preventative vaccine that can protect people from contracting the virus. So what will it take to get rid of this devastating disease?
Three renowned doctors joined HuffPost Live on Monday to weigh in on all the facts about the Ebola outbreak, from how the disease spreads to how it might be stopped.
"We do have several vaccines that have been extremely successful in protecting laboratory animals, including non-human primates, against the Ebola virus," Dr. Thomas W. Geisbert, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas, told host Josh Zepps. But what about developing a vaccine for humans? "It’s a very long regulatory process. From the time to develop a vaccine for animals in a lab to protecting humans… it’s really just a lot of regulatory hurdles and red tape."
That’s not all. Dr. Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, opened up about how economic factors come into play too.
"The vaccine companies of course have to be driven by the economic considerations," he said. "It’s a terrible thing to say, but they have to be convinced that it’s economically… worthwhile to provide the vaccine."
It’s not about saving lives, it’s about making money.
welcome to pharmaceutical corporations
According to newly released documents, a staggering 662 Chicago Police officers had at least 10 misconduct complaints brought against them from 2001 to 2006.