Neil deGrasse Tyson says that this video might just be the most important thing he has ever said.  That’s quite a statement considering his long, illustrious career as an American astrophysicist.

Often people aren’t comfortable with science and new ideas.  Some folks are still denying many components of evolution.  Parents are still attempting to dictate what is taught in science class across the nation.

Going back further, Galileo was spent his last years under house arrest  because he wouldn’t renounce his heliocentric theory of the solar system.  In many of these cases, church influence is the driving force.  “The Good Book says….” is the place many people begin their denial.

America is a great nation because it has vigorously advanced not only scientific discovery but also because it has but that science to practical use.  America doesn’t shelve or squelch science.  Our robust scientific studies in industry, college and universities, and yes, in public schools has been encouraged by the public and by government.  One only has to look at the everyday by-products of the space age to see the trickle down effect:  Tang, GPS, memory foam, the computer mouse, just to name a few.  NASA has documented nearly 1,800 “spinoff” technologies.

Science should not be put on the back burner for political  game or to cater to ignorant voters who fear basic information and new thoughts. The Science March weekend is one I can sure support.  It might be even more important than concepts I support daily and that are near and dear to my heart.  Our very existence as a planet may someday rely on it.

12 Thoughts to “Denial can be a savagely dangerous”

  1. Kelly_3406

    This video is very interesting because Neil Degrasse Tyson refers to the formation of hypotheses which are proven or disproven by experiments carried out by rival scientists. The essence of science is fierce debate and competition to disprove each other’s hypotheses. I agree with everything he said up to this point.

    But he fails to recognize the irony in his statement as it relates to climate. The fierce debate and competition that pushes science forward has been suppressed in the study of climate, because anyone who questions it is labeled as a denier and cannot get funding to try to disprove it. So the very experiments that Tyson states as necessary for rivals to carry out have really not been accomplished in climate science.

    There are clearly some great climate scientists who have done ground-breaking research. But there are also aspects of the theory which are surely incorrect. Until the climate community returns to basics in which rival scientists are allowed to do research that tries, but fails, at disproving the theory, then the results of their work will remain suspect.

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  2. Kelly_3406

    Here is a very recent example of accepted science being wrong.

    For 30 years, it was accepted by the science community that whole milk and eggs were bad for you because they supposedly increased cholesterol and led to heart disease. Now there are studies that contradict those earlier findings — in fact, the new results show that those who consumed more milk fat had a LOWER risk of heart disease.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/06/for-decades-the-government-steered-millions-away-from-whole-milk-was-that-wrong/?utm_term=.a919efa34f6d

    The science related to cholesterol and saturated fats was wrong for many years, but eventually corrected itself after some scientists challenged the initial hypothesis.

    The overall lesson is that science does indeed meander to truth eventually, but that does not mean that a currently accepted theory is the same as truth. Science marches forward due to skeptical scientists carrying out research that directly challenges accepted hypotheses and theories– so any science that suppresses skepticism should be viewed with healthy skepticism.

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    1. I have always thought about science as a process. For example, continental drift lead to theory of plate tectonics. I am sure plate tectonics will hone into to something more exact.

      Throwing out all talk of climate change is horribly wrong. Common sense tells us that carbon emissions from fossil fuels just can’t be good for you. I can’t argue the science but I can argue the common sense. I would start with scientific thinking just doesn’t need to become the domain of the flat earthers.

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    2. Robin Hood

      Kelly_3406,

      Yes, we learn from further research, and not just in science. For example:

      “Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive.” I thought that was from Shakespeare, but later I learned it was from Sir Walter Scott. My purpose for looking it up was inspired by a desire to respond to longwinded propaganda stretches from the current White House and its defenders.

      So while the so-called climate change debate and further research go on, what’s wrong with
      applying what we know to make the best decisions we can? (I say it’s a so-called debate because the climate change deniers don’t seem to be putting out much substance for their side. If the region where I grew up can have its industries saved I’d like to know!)

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      1. kelly_3406

        Robin Hood:
        Kelly_3406,
        So while the so-called climate change debate and further research go on, what’s wrong with
        applying what we know to make the best decisions we can? (I say it’s a so-called debate because the climate change deniers don’t seem to be putting out much substance for their side. If the region where I grew up can have its industries saved I’d like to know!)

        The problem is to decide exactly what is known unequivocally and how to act on that knowledge. Accepted hypothesis gets taken as synonymous with truth, but that has led society to act on fallacious beliefs –see the linked WAPO article above.

        As someone who works in the physical sciences, I find some of the arguments put forth by skeptical scientists that predict less future warming to be quite substantive. The feedbacks needed for large climate warming appear to be much smaller than initially feared–the hockey stick temperature trend seems very unlikely.

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      2. Much of science tells us certain indications. Are you willing to take that risk?

        I go back to that which layman can see with his or her own ears. I don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that dumping carbon crap and other chemicals in the air and in the water isn’t a smart thing to do. I know that strip mining is ugly and leaves horrible devastation in an area. I know that dumping chemicals from plants in rivers will eventually get to rivers, polluting everything along the way. I know that not cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay Will eventually alter the flora and fauna and that cleaning it up helped increase populations that were dying.

        We basically have a flat earther running the EPA now. The prognosis is very bad.

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      3. Steve Thomas

        MoonHowler,

        “carbon crap”

        Carbon, a vital component of…well everything. The Earth has this magnificent thing called the “Carbon Cycle”. All animals, from the largest and most complex multi-cell organism, down the the lowly yet noble Yeast, breaths in oxygen, and expels carbon-dioxide. CO2. Plants have this awesome ability to convert this into oxygen, and as a by-product, complex carbohydrates and sugars, upon which so many animals, ourselves included, depend on for food.

        Carbon is one of the most common elements in the universe, and forms the basis of all known life-forms.

        Particulate in the air, combined with ground-level ozone and sunlight what we commonly call “smog”, is a threat to health, in the areas that experience this. It is localized and can be dealt with locally. California and Mexico City, Buenos Aires, any major city in China and other locales have just the right population, industrialization, urbanization, and topographic features that promote “smog”. Pass local regs to deal with local problems.

        CO2 makes up a tiny fraction of our atmosphere. The climate crazies have sold the world a bill of goods. They have been caught time and time again, “fudging” their numbers to skew their “climate prediction models”, and rarely, if ever, have their predictions come-to-pass. Instead of admitting they were wrong, they come up with theories to explain their failures, like, the ocean absorbed all of the heat, and it’s really resting at the bottom of the sea, a ticking time-bomb. Al Gore predicted we’d be living in a perpetual Irwin Allen movie by now. Hasn’t come to pass.

        Then you have the anti-petroleum groups, who predicted we’d run out by now. What they didn’t count on was new extraction technology.

        And who can forget the 1968 Paul R. Erlich work of “science” The Population Bomb. Weren’t we supposed to be experiencing a real-life “Soylent Green” by now?

        People buy into these prophets of doom, and “climate change” is no different. Our destruction will be our fault, and its right around the corner.

        Me? I’m preparing for the real impending disaster: Zombies. When there is no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth.

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      4. I see an attempt at turning this issue into a binary situation. The good–fossil fuels are all good and BAD- fossil fuels will kill every last person on earth.

        Somewhere in between lies the right answer. In neither case does food for thought have to become a full course meal.

        The notion that all the climate folks are crazies and have fudged their numbers is simply not true. Has any centrist fudged numbers? Sure. Since the beginning of time. Most legitimate scientists do not.

        I think it pays not to make science political. It just never works out when we do.

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  3. Steve Thomas

    “Parents are still attempting to dictate what is taught in science class across the nation.”

    I assume you are referring to Public Schools. If you are, then parents have every right to dictate what is and isn’t taught in public schools. They are “Public Schools”. The parents are “The Public”. It is their tax money that fund the schools, their children who attend the schools. I’m not sure when the idea came to be that any function of government is not ultimately beholden to the public, but this is counter to our system of government at every level.

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    1. I absolutely don’t think parents should be dictating what is taught in schools. That is not to say that parents with concerns can’t voice an opinion or make suggestions. However, they aren’t the final say.

      If you had known as many nut jobs as I have known over the years, you would understand where this is coming from. Some clown came in a number of years ago demanding that I not teach about the space program because the moon landing was a hoax staged by NBC.
      Right…I am not going to teach that!!! If I thought about it, I could think of 50 more things parents wanted taught or didnt want taught. There has to be a standard curriculum that is based on sound educational practices. I am going out on a limb and say that professionals should suggest, get input from a body of parents and that should be it.

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      1. If parents want to be the sole deciders, then they should home school their kids. Even then, there are certain things that someone as a government bodies has decided all kids should know.

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  4. middleman

    Good article today in the WaPo on the results of science denial. It seems that the Somali community in Minnesota has latched on to the anti-science on vaccinations promoted by the discredited Andrew Wakefield, Joe Kennedy and Trump. Now they have an outbreak of measles that is resulting in hospital stays for the children. There’s some empirical evidence that the MMR vaccine causes autism- should we stop vaccinating until the science is “settled?”

    Science will never provide absolutes- only tested theories and probable outcomes. We have in the past based our policies on these probabilities. If you wait for someone to tell you that a scientific discovery is absolute and unchanging you will never act on the threat. There are still people who deny a smoking link to cancer, and they can produce data that looks pretty good to the untrained eye. Does that negate all the research pointing to a link to smoking?

    You either go with the preponderance of scientific evidence, or you ignore science and go with your gut, as humans did for centuries. I’d like to think we’ve done pretty well so far trusting science.

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