I can't put my finger on it, but I can't stand watching Tyson present science. It's like fingers on a chalkboard. Can't explain it. Can't stand Kaku most of the time, either. Maybe I'm getting too crotchety in my early middle ages.
Based on just watching Cosmos? Have you ever watched a recording of one of his lectures?
I have seen him in plenty of other science shows. Don't get me wrong, he is a very smart and likeable chap, and deserves a lot of kudos for getting science out to the public. I am just commenting on his voice, more than anything. It's nasal, and has this condescending undertone that I can't exactly put my finger on.
Of course, if it isn't David Attenborough, I probably won't like it.
Condescension is sometimes an appropriate tone and I've seen NDT in situations where he expresses his lack of patience with nonsense.
On the other hand, Cosmos would be an inappropriate place for such an attitude, and I personally did not detect anything like that in his voice. I think that means that I have no idea what Taq is talking about.
In the interest of explaining myself, when I listen to Tyson I always feel like I am being treated like a 5 year old. I am glad to hear that others feel very differently, and enjoy the way he presents the material. This is probably a personal foible that I need to get over.
Don't look at this through your eyes. Look at it through the eyes of your 12 year old granddaughter.
The errors in the show are even worse when viewed from this perspective. Children of that age may not be able to tell the difference between artistic license and scientific accuracy. This may be their only exposure to this area of science their entire lives. Do you really want them to come away with the impression that the Big Bang was just like an explosion, or that the Moon formed exactly like they showed it?
Also, being treated like a 12 year old is why I find it hard to enjoy the show . . . but I still have my DVR set to record all the episodes, and I will watch them.
Add some LSD and see if you get the same effect that Wizard of Oz supposedly has. I am sure some Feynman lectures work this way.
PCR, dude . . .
"Would I have invented PCR if I hadn’t taken LSD? I seriously doubt it. I could sit on a DNA molecule and watch the polymers go by. I learnt that partly on psychedelic drugs."--Dr. Kary Mullis, won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
I would give the 2nd episode an 8/10. There are a few tiny details that are wrong, and choices of words that are regrettable. For example, Tyson conflates fact and theory. It would have been a perfect opportunity to describe how theories differ from facts, but instead he gave the impression that theories become facts. Unfortunate. Overall, I thought this was probably Tyson's best job as a presenter out of all his work I have seen. I have been critical of Tyson in the past, so I am glad to eat a bit of crow on this one.
I also dislike the constant need to mystify science, but this is my own personal foible. Many scientists, and even atheist scientists, have expressed a mythical awe of nature. However, if nature is that great, then you shouldn't have to dress it up and point it out all of the time. Let it sell itself. Just my humble opinion on the overall production so far.
I am beginning to think this show is aimed at converting the anti-science crowd because of just how much pandering to religion he has done so far. Mystifying science, as you mentioned, also serves this purpose.
Perhaps it is bad writing, or society has been dumbed down to the point that we have to be told which emotions we should be feeling at any point in time or space. It almost takes on a "Lord Privy Seal" feeling at times.
Show, don't tell. That is Storytelling 101, Salesmanship 101, etc. They should have the confidence that the science will stand on its own without needing to be constantly propped up by plucking on the heart strings.
Whether or not you think he crossed the line when he talked about biological evolution as fact depends quite a bit on how you define theory and fact, and exactly what things about evolution you are talking about.
You quoted Gould, so here is another quote from Gould that I particularly like.
"Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered."--Stephen Jay Gould, "Evolution as Fact and Theory"
That is the relationship between fact and theory that Tyson should have stressed, IMHO. Tyson seemed to insist that evolution had stopped being a theory and had become a fact, when in reality evolution is both just as gravity is both fact and theory. I think it was an opportunity missed, a chance to help the public understand how scientists view theory and fact.
I did not see those arguments in time to respond, but looking back on it, I don't think the comments need a response because they are no defense at all. Burning someone alive because they are a dirtbag? Placing someone under house arrest for the rest of their lives after you force them to recant science under threat of death is cool? That's your effing defense?
When your best defense is, "At least we didn't light him on fire," you have already lost the argument.
The specifics and fine details can be argued back and forth, but that ignores the basic problem that we are trying to get at. In the church, you had a dogmatic authoritarian power structure that did not allow their proclamations to be challenged. On the other side, you have a new worldview that asks questions and challenges everything. That is the real clash. Galileo was put under house arrest because he dared to challenge the Pope's position on the position of the orbs in the Heavens.
In the third episode they continued on that theme, using the motto "Nullius in verba" from the Royal Society to once again stress that science challenges blind dogma.
Well, the show had plenty of Newton (in cartoon form) and Kepler got his mention. We even got to see some of Newton's irrational and vindictive side along with his genius. But Halley was the real hero of the piece, which ultimately was about demystifying the origin of comets.
I was hoping for more science and less history. All we hear about Newton's scientific discoveries is that gravity decreases with the square of distance, and he figured that out after coming up with a new type of math. That's it. The show then goes on to discuss how others used Newton's discoveries, the discoveries that the show never really describe in any detail.
It is certainly the producers' and director's decision to focus more on the history of science than the actual science, but I was hoping for a more science-centric focus.
Edited by Taq, : Fixed my horrible use of grammar.
There was a brief mention of YEC where they drew a circle with a 6,000 light year radius around our Sun, and they showed all of the universe that existed outside of that circle. It is something that creationists have been hearing for years, so not really something that is going to stun any of the posters here.
Like the previous episodes, they only touched the surface of the actual science and instead focused more on the scientists themselves. It's interesting history and all, but would love to see more science. They even mentioned that Einstein had these wonderful thought experiments, but they never really dug down into them. Missed opportunity, IMHO.
Production continues to be top notch, Tyson continues to be a competent (if nasal) host, and I can see how it would inspire awe in many. Just wish it conveyed knowledge as adeptly as it conveys wonder.