Asaf Karagila
I don't have much choice...

Why Carl Sagan was better than Neil deGrasse Tyson, and from the most of us too

There are 4 comments on this post.

I've recently watched the finale of Cosmos, the new version, presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It was a very nice series which seem to push forward the fact that science is based on not knowing, rather than knowing, and the will to know. No, not will, the need to know. We need to know, and this is why we go on searching the answers to questions that haunt us.

Neil deGrasse Tyson pushed a lot on the point that we really push the planet to its limits, and we might be close to the point of no return from which there is only a terrible Venus-like fate to this planet. And that is an important issue, no doubt.

But in the finale, a recording of Carl Sagan was given, narrating over "The Pale Blue Dot" after which deGrasse Tyson gave his final speech. DeGrasse Tyson gave a speech about the importance of science, about how it can better our lives and that science means not knowing all the answers but looking for them endlessly and beyond. Yes, this is an important note. But his speech was a pale blue dot compared to that of Sagan.

It touches me, especially in these troubled times in Israel. Where sirens are ablaze and an ongoing war goes on and on and on. Sagan, in his awe inspiring speech, reminds us how insignificant we are. How little all this matters, and how foolish we are to keep engaging these battles. Here, and everywhere else. But I can't win Sagan, so instead, I will give you, Carl Sagan and the "Pale Blue Dot".

You can also read his speech on the Wikipedia entry of the Pale Blue Dot.

I will point out in advance, that any attempt to bring political issues in the comments will be promptly deleted.

There are 4 comments on this post.

By Peter Krautzberger
(Jul 18 2014, 11:11)

Thanks for sharing this. I hope you're holding up ok.

So far so good. But the more I read news sites, the less I want to live on this planet...

By Samuel Coskey
(Aug 13 2014, 06:53)

Very much enjoyed this post. Neil is great, especially for our times. But Carl is unbeatable. My thought is this: Neil doesn't have to be Carl 2 because we can still watch Carl himself. From the few minutes I've watched, the original Cosmos holds up extremely well.

By Asaf Karagila
(Aug 13 2014, 07:22 In reply to Samuel Coskey)

I haven't watched the original Cosmos, but I would very much like to. It feels to me that Neil is doing a good job, but he's terrified of a decline in "scientific trust" which is correlated with the modern "need" to have absolute answers (which I suppose stems from the greater uncertainties we feel in our lives, even though I think a 14th century farmer had far greater uncertainties on his shoulders).

And so it felt to me, through watching Cosmos, that Neil deGrasse Tyson was haunted by this vision of a bleak future so badly, that he put his focus on the importance of science, rather than the importance of humanity which can only be preserved if we stop slaughtering each other, or acting out of short sighted gain, and start working together to better ourselves and this tiny revolving rock flying through space.

(These fears about a second dark age are not unique to Neil deGrasse Tyson. It seems quite clear that the world is starting to lean towards religion and away from science. Maybe it's not too late, maybe it is. It's so hard to tell right now, and only in a few centuries, or perhaps millennia we can tell if what was going on here was one thing or another.)

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