Neil deGrasse Tyson on The Importance of Science Literacy

NeildeGrasseTyson - CopySubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Last week, I wrote a post titled “Cosmos” Host Neil deGrasse Tyson Speaks Out about the News Media, Flat Earthers, Science Deniers, Climate Change Skeptics, Religion, and Dogma. Tysonan astrophysicist, director of the Natural History Museum’s Hayden Planetarium in New York City, and the host of Fox Networks’ new science series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odysseyappeared on a multi-part series on Moyers and Company in January. Tyson and Bill Moyers explored a variety of topicsincluding the nature of an expanding, accelerating universe (and how it might end), the difference between “dark energy” and “dark matter,” the concept of God in cosmology and why science matters.

In the final episode of the series—which I’ve posted below the fold—the two men discuss science literacy and why it’s so critical to the future of our democracy, our economy, and our country’s standing in the world. Their discussion lasts about twenty minutes.


“Science is an enterprise that should be cherished as an activity of the free human mind. Because it transforms who we are, how we live, and it gives us an understanding of our place in the universe.”

~ Neil deGrasse Tyson


~ Submitted by Elaine Magliaro

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

215 thoughts on “Neil deGrasse Tyson on The Importance of Science Literacy”

  1. dm2,

    “For you to make such a statement shows how you have not even taken time to browse his website long enough to just look at titles much less open up the documents to read the research and rebuttals for yourself.”


    Testy, are we? You accuse me of essentially not agreeing.

    I have read what is on Gentry’s site. More specifically, I first read his book in the mid ’90s of the prior century. The wealth of information from his site has not offered new information in the many decades since his book’s publication in 1992.

    Gentry claims there was no evidence of uranium or thorium — the decaying precursors of polonium — in his biotite samples.

    This claim should be contrasted to the fact that many of his samples of biotite came from the Faraday uranium mine in Canada, and the fact that “granite” has one of the highest ppm of uranium (up to 20ppm) of any “rock.”

    Gentry’s claims should also be contrasted with other mechanisms of uranium migration, as discussed in links given above, in extreme temperature and pressure environments.

    Why do you assume, dm2, that your veneer of knowledge should not be questioned?

  2. Nick,

    “Science is NEVER, I repeat NEVER settled.”

    That’s what makes it science, Nick.

    Thanks for your lucid comment.

  3. dm2,

    “I gave you proof that it is science, showing an empirical study by a scientist who published his results in a peer reviewed scientific journal. Any moron can read the paper and see that it is clearly science.”

    I never argued that Gentry’s measurements of halos wasn’t science, just his conclusions — as Gentry expressed in his book.

    You don’t take criticism well, do you?

    You essentially call me a moron, and then take a distractionary tactic of, how did you put it: “[m]ost men these days are rather feminine. They have been emasculated by the feminist movement.”

    Yeah, that has a lot to do with your list of creationary science, doesn’t it?

    1. gbk wrote: “You don’t take criticism well, do you? You essentially call me a moron…”

      What? I never even implied that you were a moron. I was just pointing out that the scientific nature of Gentry’s work is rather obvious. His interpretations and stated implications of his work obviously are not according to mainstream science, just as the work of Copernicus was not, but Gentry’s work is solid science.

      Why do you try to make the discussion about who does or does not like criticism or rebuttals? Do you think I would be posting in a hostile forum like this if I did not invite rebuttals and criticism? The difficulty for you the critic is to keep your criticism focused upon the science rather than making it personal. When a person starts to question the character of me or Gentry, I realize that the logic of my arguments are too much for them to handle. That is when I start to back away from the discussion. There is not much use in giving a person more information than they can handle.

  4. dm2,

    “You seem to have a hard time communicating.”

    This is laughable, given the source.

    Don’t mistake your own verboseness for what you fault me for.

  5. Byron,

    I’m sorry that I missed your post of March 27 @ 9:59. I don’t subscribe to this blog so sometimes I miss follow-ups:


    I understand some of the concepts of the paper you linked to, like fissures, uranium decay, the various minerals which constitute granite and some others.

    I do not understand higher level geological concepts because I have never studied geology to an great depth.

    I am politely asking for your take or understanding of this paper in layman’s terms and your opinion as to the level of accuracy of the paper.

    Is it hard to understand that someone might not know enough to know if a scientific paper has merit?

    My perception is that you are a scientist having something to do with this type of thing and would be able to explain the basis of the problem and the reason for the conclusion the paper comes to.

    I am not asking a leading question nor do I have time to undertake a study of geology which would allow me to understand your position and DavidM’s position.

    I am personally a believer in evolution and a 5 billion year old earth but am certainly willing to look at other evidence which is presented.

    If Gentry’s science is wrong, please tell me why you think so in layman’s terms.


    First, I would think that my responses in this thread would give credence to what I think of Gentry’s conclusions.

    Second, geology is more complex than most people realize, and I am far from an expert.

    Third, just consider the size of granitic batholiths — the Idaho batholith has a surface area of over 15,000 square miles.

    Fourth, consider that if Gentry is right, that the Idaho batholith would have come into existence within milliseconds (214Po).

    Take some classes, read textbooks. You want an easy answer, I can’t offer it.
    Gentry’s rationale, though, reminds me of this classic cartoon:

  6. dm2,

    “I did not give a “list” of creation science.”

    You most certainly did @ March 25 — 12:07 pm:

    “Scientific theories of origins with tenets of Intelligent Design are nothing like how you characterize them. They are based upon empirical evidence, like a careful study of the fossil record, the analysis of empirical clocks like radiometric dating or the period of comets, analysis of the measurements of the speed of light, analysis of catastrophic events like Mount St. Helens to understand hydrogeologic sorting and the rate of formation of sedimentary deposits like the Grand Canyon, and the study of polonium halos in granites… to name just a few.”

  7. Elaine:

    there are women who think the same way as the man in your video above.

    Or do you think only men are capable of thinking those thoughts?

  8. dm2,

    “His [Gentry’s] novel theory is that granites were not formed through a remelting of sedimentary rocks, . . .”


    This is either a purposefully disingenuous or ill-informed statement, both from Gentry’s view and geological science for the following reasons.

    This statement of yours suggests that granite is only formed through the re-melting of sedimentary rock — which even Gentry doesn’t claim.

    Geologist use three broad classifications of granite, (after the chemical composition, size of phenocrysts, phaneritic texture, color, and other details), to classify granite:

    1) I-type — formed from the melting of pre-existing igneous rock.
    2) S-type– formed from the melting of pre-existing sedimentary rock.
    3) M-type– formed from intrusive magma flows.

    There is also A-type, a variation of partially melted I-type, but still intrusive.

    Gentry’s “novel theory” is his suggestion that the concept of uniformitarianism is invalid and that polonium halos prove, in Gentry’s words, “instantaneous creation” of granite.

    It is not that, according to you, “granites were not formed through a remelting of sedimentary rocks.”

    Gentry plainly states this on page nine, in the Overview of his book “Creation’s Tiny Mystery.”

    You should study your own references more, dm2.

    1. gbk wrote: “This is either a purposefully disingenuous or ill-informed statement, both from Gentry’s view and geological science for the following reasons. This statement of yours suggests that granite is only formed through the re-melting of sedimentary rock — which even Gentry doesn’t claim.”

      It is suggestive of no such thing. The context was about Gentry’s specific samples and his conclusion that all granites containing these 218Po halos are primordial rocks. If all granites are primordial, this clearly leads to the conclusion that none of them would be of secondary origin, such as from the remelting of fossil bearing sedimentary rocks.

      There is debate among creation scientists. Some think Gentry is wrong to conclude all granites primordial. Their creationist model classifies granites using Flood geology, which is very different from Gentry’s theory. Gentry thinks they are confusing interpretations with facts and challenges them for empirical evidence on the matter the same way he challenges the positivist scientists. The context in this scientific debate among creationists concerns granites of secondary origin, particularly those claimed to be the remelting of fossil bearing sedimentary rocks. It also is a criticism of positivist scientists concerning the source location of Gentry’s samples.

      Some quotes from Gentry:
      “In fact, the phase equilibria experiments being cited have nothing to do with the claim that granites are secondary rocks derived from fossil-containing sedimentary rocks. The common man cannot readily see that. But he can understand the fact that if this claim had merit, many others would long ago have employed these procedures to prove this contention by synthesizing granite in the lab, something which thousands of experiments have failed to accomplish.”


      “In other words, by closely assimilating experimental data with interpretations, and by omitting discussion of the critical, underlying assumptions used to transfer data into conclusions, they leave the impression — which is almost universally accepted as fact — that their interpretations follow logically from the experimental results. The truth is just the opposite. In truth the experimental results disprove their interpretations. It’s the same old game that began in the Garden of Eden, of merging truth with error so closely that few can distinguish between them. The result is a gigantic hoax that perpetuates the ruse of evolution and its vast deception that granites are secondary rocks derived from the melting of fossiliferous sedimentary rocks.”

      As for the “list” of creation science, if you consider that a list, whatever. There are much better lists out there, actual lists. I was just mentioning a few examples off the cuff and focused upon one specific study as an example.

      For what its worth, scientists often disagree about conclusions. One does not have to put forward a correct conclusion in order for it to be considered science. What qualifies as science is applying rational thought to empirical data and drawing conclusions from it. From Gentry’s perspective, his studies and his challenge to the scientific community to falsify his theory by producing a single hand sized piece of granite with a 218Po halo through naturalistic means more directly contradicts the theory of the naturalistic formation of granite than the Copernican disproof of the Ptolemaic system. That Copernican disproof stood for 100 years before Galileo took it up, and it took yet another hundred years before it slowly became embraced as a more accurate model of our solar system. Gentry’s work is only 25 years old. Nobody should be surprised if establishment science ignores it the same way they ignored Copernicus. Such does not make his work unscientific. If you accept the empirical basis of his work, then you should accept that his “creation science” is indeed science, contrary to what our modern court systems have declared. I certainly understand the difficulty of accepting his conclusion. It goes contrary to most of scientific thinking which is based solidly upon the uniformitarian paradigm. But such does not invalidate his research as being unscientific. It is, afterall, scientifically testable. Gentry has put forward a scientific test to falsify his theory. According to the philosopher of science, Karl Popper, and the majority of scientists, that makes Gentry’s work scientific.

  9. Devil of course. 👿 However, I still have a little of the Fundamentalist Evangelical in me from my first18 years in the Assemblies of God Church, you know Sarah Palin’s childhood church.

  10. Elaine and Annie, Annie and Elaine, I have a question. Faux Feminism, is it an evolutionary trait or is it of the devil? Choose wisely.

  11. Anon,

    I’ll probably get reported for saying something unkind to nick…. But then again…. If someone’s going to pick on others…. And they don’t like the heat… And it burn their fingers…..Maybe they should quit lighting up that crack bowl…..

  12. “They pull this horseshit on me also, and they sometimes bring in my wife, as was done w/ you in a weasel way.”

    Said by the bad-news-boy who first brought his wife to this blog and pumped her book.

    (The moral of the story? Don’t “bring” your wife to a blog. Some might call it common sense.)

  13. Nick,

    Whose pathology…. What are your credentials…. Are you a certified medical professional that is capable of making these type of calls…. Did you get a degree in forensic that you can post for all to laud at….

  14. david, I forgot, the vapid videos are part of the pathology. Can a Fiore be far behind? She must get a kickback on those.

Comments are closed.