Thursday, July 20, 2017

Smashing a Warming Monger

Tom Woods makes some excellent points about  Neil deGrasse Tyson in his latest letter:
Neil deGrasse Tyson is everyone's favorite science commentator.

I find him doltish.

He knows more astrophysics than I do. I get it. But push him three-tenths of an inch out of his area of speciality, and his IQ appears to drop by 50%.

He'll say things like, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."

Then lots of left-liberals retweet it, amazed at its profundity.

That remark is actually quite ridiculous. What is he contrasting science with there? In what area of life are things true only if we believe in them, and become untrue when we don't?

Is the fact that Voltaire wrote Candide threatened by someone's refusal to believe it?

Does the name of the restaurant near my house suddenly change if I believe it to be something else?

Every true thing in the world is true independent of whether people believe it. This is hardly just a "good thing about science."

His statement -- no doubt intended to make fun of people who don't believe climate change is the end of the world -- is vacuous and inane. But his fans think it's really, like, deep.
It should also be kept in mind what the Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman said about a lot of current "science" and intimidation.


  1. My favorite quote from the "I believe in science crowd" is "you can have your own opinions, but you can't have your own facts." But real scientists know there are very, very few things that are qualified as "facts". Sometimes the "I believe in science crowd" confuses "facts" with "data". However, data -- even if it is precise -- has to be interpreted, and that interpretation is often complex, and subject to error and the unknown (I don't know what I don't know). The accuracy of the data can also be suspect as the data collection itself is subject to numerous potential errors -- even if it is precise (reproducible).

    All-in-all, the "I believe in science crowd" -- without a fundamental understanding of what science really is -- have just replaced one religion with another. Modern scientists are just their clerics, and pseudo intellectualism is their pseudo confidence.

    1. You're science is the new religion observation is also something I have noticed. In religion there is usually an omniscient being that created the universe. Many people in this crowd use science as their omniscient being which is markedly unscientific. I have also noticed that a single study that is poorly interpreted is often proposed as an incontrovertible fact, which shows poor reasoning and a poor understanding of how science works.

      As far as Neil Tyson, not only does he mispronounce his own name, but I have seen him confuse the Heisenberg uncertainty principle with the observer bias, which is a common mistake, but shows how he is not as infallible as people make him out to be. (although I believe he's an astrophysicist, not a particle physicist)

    2. I have a bachelor's degree in astrophysics. We studied quantum mechanics, so presumably a PhD would have as well. ;)

      I've never been impressed with Tyson. He has a personality that makes him well suited to public presentations, but that doesn't make him a great astrophysicist.

  2. I don’t care for celebrity scientists; they’re rather a contradiction. But the statement: "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.", is true if by science one means experimentally reproducible claims, or forces of nature like gravity or Newton’s laws of motion.

  3. What refreshing humility. His stories about his time in Los Alamos, lock-picking, observing himself fall asleep, etc, etc, are great.

  4. I can get over deGrasse Tyson compacting his statement in the attempt to make a nice quote but not his superiority complex when he knows that most of what he works with as true is based on unproven theories. The most fundamental of these (especially for an Astrophysicists) is General Relativity.

  5. SR and GR have been too broadly held up as science in the US for over 50 years. He's not to blame for that.

    1. For the most part I agree, deGrasse Tyson is not to blame. I used GR as an example because of the theories effect on his main field of work.

      On the other hand he must know there are significant holes in the theories that are the foundations of his field of expertise. Knowing this he has a good idea that there are similar issues in all scientific fields. So when he makes statements with the purpose to denigrate those with differing opinions about Climate Change, he does so with full knowledge that the current mainstream science "concluding" that Climate Change is anthropogenic is on less than firm ground.

      Obviously the deGrasse Tyson statement that Woods quoted is a political statement not a scientific statement. The problem is that most will take it as a scientific statement.

      As one of the most known scientists deGrasse Tyson has a responsibility to try to be accurate about an issue like Climate Change that has the potential to change human existence. Maybe he is. My impression is that he is going with the mainstream based less on knowledge than protecting his position and celebrity. I say protect because of his popularity, he is in a unique position to influence both the public and scientific community. If he were to challenge the status quo he would put his career in jeopardy.

      No more cameos on The Big Bang Theory.

    2. No disagreement. I just fished up a 2014 appearance of his on Colbert where he used that statement; hard to listen to. But Wood’s response isn’t a criticizing of him for misusing the term science. To the contrary, they show Woods doesn’t understand what science is.

  6. Ever met a Democrat who could/would follow a simple explanation of praxeology or economic calculation?

    Ever met a Democrat who was aware that the IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - says that the impact of Global Warming will mostly positive until 2060?

    I love debating "science" with Democrats.

  7. Epistemological authoritarianism is just epistemological subjectivism wearing cap and gown.