Friday, May 9, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a philistine

Damon Linker writes:
Why Neil deGrasse Tyson is a philistine
The popular television host says he has no time for deep, philosophical questions. That's a horrible message to send to young scientists.

Neil deGrasse Tyson may be a gifted popularizer of science, but when it comes to humanistic learning more generally, he is a philistine. Some of us suspected this on the basis of the historically and theologically inept portrayal of Giordano Bruno in the opening episode of Tyson's reboot of Carl Sagan's Cosmos.

But now it's been definitively demonstrated by a recent interview in which Tyson sweepingly dismisses the entire history of philosophy. Actually, he doesn't just dismiss it. He goes much further — to argue that undergraduates should actively avoid studying philosophy at all. Because, apparently, asking too many questions "can really mess you up."

Yes, he really did say that. Go ahead, listen for yourself, beginning at 20:19 — and behold the spectacle of an otherwise intelligent man and gifted teacher sounding every bit as anti-intellectual as a corporate middle manager or used-car salesman. He proudly proclaims his irritation with "asking deep questions" that lead to a "pointless delay in your progress" in tackling "this whole big world of unknowns out there." When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, "I'm moving on, I'm leaving you behind, and you can't even cross the street because you're distracted by deep questions you've asked of yourself. I don't have time for that."

"I don't have time for that."
The article goes on to say how some philosophers had some good ideas 2500 years ago.

I am inclined to agree with Tyson. If a student wants to be a scientist, he is better off not studying philosophy. The philosophy of today is taught by professors who seems to misunderstand 20th century physics. Much of it is wrong and confusing.

1 comment:

  1. Considering the irrational 'goo' and poorly worded concepts that often passes for contemporary thought within the physics community, they really do need to start asking themselves some deep questions, but first, they need to learn about the history of QUESTIONS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN ASKED.

    "Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child." (Cicero, 46 B.C.)