“Cosmos” Host Neil deGrasse Tyson Speaks Out about the News Media, Flat Earthers, Science Deniers, Climate Change Skeptics, Religion, and Dogma

NeildeGrasseTyson - CopySubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and director of the Natural History Museum’s Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He is also the host of Fox Networks’ new science series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Last Sunday, Tyson appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources program and spoke with Brian Stelter. During the program, Tyson talked about “the hypocrisy of people dismissing scientific theory while simultaneously embracing the fruits of scientific discovery ‘that we so take for granted today.’”

Tyson said that our civilization “is built on the innovation of scientists and technologists and engineers who have shaped everything that we so take for granted today. So some of the science deniers or science haters, these are people who are telling that to you while they are on their mobile phone. They are saying, ‘I don’t like science. Oh, GPS just told us to go left. So it’s time for people to sit back and reassess what role science has actually played in our lives. And learn how to embrace that going forward, because without it, we will just regress back into the caves.”

Stelter asked Tyson if he felt that the news media should feel a responsibility to portray science correctly—especially with regard to controversial issues such as climate change. Tyson said he thought the news media was wrong to give equal time to the “flat-earthers.” He thinks the media “should stop trying to ‘balance’ the debate on scientific issues by hosting people who deny science.”

Tyson said, “The media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but it doesn’t really apply in science. The principle was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view. And then you can be viewed as balanced.” He continued, “You don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say let’s give equal time to the flat Earthers. Plus, science is not there for you to cherry pick.”

Tyson added, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it. Alright? I guess you can decide whether or not to believe in it, but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.”

The great American science divide (CNN)

Recently, Tyson spoke about the new version of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Tyson said that science and religion should not be painted as being “diametrically opposed to each other.” He said there were many scientists who believe in God. He added, “The issue there is not religion versus non-religion or religion versus science, the issue there is ideas that are different versus dogma.”

Tyson explained, “If you start using your scripture, your religious text as a source of your science, that’s where you run into problems, and there is no example of someone reading their scripture and saying ‘I have a prediction about the world that no one knows yet because this gave me insight.’” He continued, “Enlightened religious people know this, and don’t try to use the Bible as a textbook.”

Chris Mooney of Mother Jones said that Tyson has emphasized that the stance of the science series Cosmos is anti-dogma—not anti-religion. Tyson was quoted as saying, “Any time you have a doctrine where that is the truth that you assert, and that what you call the truth is unassailable, you’ve got doctrine, you’ve got dogma on your hands. And so Cosmos is…an offering of science, and a reminder that dogma does not advance science; it actually regresses it.”

Katie Valentine of ThinkProgress noted that Tyson had spoken previously “about the need for the public to accept scientific facts rather than the talking points of politicians.” According to Valentine, the astrophysicist said in 2011 that climate change deniers should “be mature enough to recognize something can be true even if you don’t like the consequences of it. That’s what it means to be a mature adult.” Valentine also reported that while appearing on CNN in February, Tyson said that “he hopes America doesn’t wait until climate change has drastically changed the Earth’s landscape to realize that our policies haven’t done enough to prepare us.”

Tyson said that he doesn’t know what to say “when politicians start analyzing the science. “Are we going to wait until the coastlines get redrawn as the glaciers melt off of Antarctica and Greenland?”

Good question, Mr. Tyson, good question.


Neil deGrasse Tyson tells CNN: Stop giving ‘equal time to the flat Earthers’ (Raw Story)

Neil DeGrasse Tyson To Science Deniers: ‘Science Is Not There For You To Cherry Pick’ (ThinkProgress)

Neil deGrasse Tyson Chastises Media For Giving ‘Flat Earthers’ Equal Time in the Climate Change Debate (AlterNet)

Neil DeGrasse Tyson: ‘Enlightened Religious People Don’t Use The Bible As A Textbook’ (Huffington Post)

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Cosmos, How Science Got Cool, and Why He Doesn’t Debate Denier: The host of the stunning new Fox series wants you to understand how science works. (Mother Jones)

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