03 December 2011

A match-up for the ages: Stephen Colbert and Neil deGrasse Tyson

So I was watching some talks on YouTube from the recent Skepticon convention when I saw this video as a related item. It had me at the title; it didn't matter what they were talking about, I knew it would be great (and it was). If you've got an hour and a half to spare, it's well-worth a listen. The visuals aren't essential, so just put it on in the background while you go about some other task if need be.

I especially enjoyed Tyson's passionate remarks on science education toward the end. All I can do is reiterate the truth of his arguments: our culture is separating curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking from learning and pretending that fact-memorization is enough. Being able to recall the presidents and the different types of biomes is great and the facts have their uses, but our citizens need more than that to stay competitive in international economics and politics or to solve the problems that face us as a global society.

Another thing that struck me is his comment that our country may have reached the end of its greatness when we congratulate ourselves for depicting destroying an asteroid on a screen instead of starting preparations now for the very plausible time when the danger presents itself to us in the real world.

But don't let my cynical comments dissuade you; I'm just a grumpy person, and on the whole the talk is very positive and light-hearted, not to mention funny. And aside from it being enjoyable listening experience on its own, I'd say it's a great opportunity to make yourself a stepping stone toward learning something new. Do yourself a favor and look up at least one of the topics they touch on that you don't understand that well and see where it takes you. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment