Thursday, March 20, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Cosmos" vs. History and Academic Integrity

I love science television, especially anything to do with space, astronomy, etc. My son and I watch "Nova" religiously and I was delighted at how quickly he's taken to it at an early age. It's one of our favorite shows to watch together and talk about.

But when a show purportedly about "science" indulges in sheer propaganda and lays it on thick in the most cartoonish, crass, childish form imaginable, ignoring the nuances and complexities of history -- well, you can't help but sense that something's missing:

[Neil deGrasse Tyson, narrator]: His name was Bruno, and he was a natural born rebel. He longed to bust out of that cramped little universe. Even as a young Dominican monk in Naples, he was a misfit. This was a time when there was no freedom of thought in Italy. But Bruno hungered to know everything about God's creation. He dared to read the books banned by the Church. And that was his undoing!

Seriously? -- Alas, yes. Seriously. And that's just the beginning.

Q: Does this elevate Tyson as a scientist, or Cosmos as a show possessing any sense of academic credibility? -- Frankly I found it all rather embarrassing.

Not that I've written it off entirely, I'll likely check out the next several episodes in hopes of improvement. But wow, what a genuine disappointment.

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Cartoons and Fables - How Cosmos Got the Story of Bruno Wrong (Armarium Magnum) This magnificent post really nails it as to why the first episode of "Cosmos" turned me off. And by a "wry, dry, rather sarcastic, eccentric, occasionally arrogant Irish-Australian atheist bastard" no less. (Or as we might say, one who is "on the side of the angels").

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