Friday, March 14, 2014

Five Things the New Cosmos Gets Wrong

Hank Campbell, writing at the Federalist, notes 5 things wrong with the Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson's new Cosmos--and he is only referring to the premier episode!

(1)  He falsely contends that Venus is the way it is due to the greenhouse effect.

(2)  He presents the concept of a "multiverse" (an attempt to dodge the implications of the anthropic principle) as fact. Campbell writes: "The multiverse is not science. It is more like an anthropic secular alternative to a divine origin. It’s not science because it can’t be proved or disproved — it’s just postmodernism with some math."

(3)  His spaceship makes noise as it travels through space.

(4)  He spends an inordinate time (over 10 minutes) on Giordano Bruno (who I had never heard of previous to watching the program)--a mystic and paganist. To add insult to injury, the program grossly misrepresented Bruno's history, according to Campbell, and falsely represented his influence on the theory of the structure of the solar system. All to unnecessarily present a strong anti-religious note to the program.

(5)  He acts in the same manner as he criticizes religionists for doing:
Finally, at number five, we have something that might be a style issue, but it is relevant because of MacFarlane’s avowed atheism and Tyson’s unspoken yet obvious sympathy for it.

5. The Universe Was Also Not Created In One Year
On January 1st, we had the Big Bang and on December 31st, I am alive, less than a tiny fraction of a millisecond before midnight. That can’t be right — it took me a whole day just to write this article.

Oh, Cosmos is not being literal? Oddly, a number of religious critics, Tyson included, insist that too many religious people believe the Book of Genesis is taken literally by people who read the Bible. Unless we accept that figurative comparisons help make large ideas manageable, a year is no more accurate than six days — it is instead a completely arbitrary metric invented to show some context for how things evolved.

It seems odd to be critical when religion does it and then invent a new timescale for how the universe came to be. It’s almost like we are to believe that short timescales are opiates for the masses.

While I have never met any, I know there are people who truly believe the universe was created in just six days, just like there are people who believe in the multiverse or that Bruno was a champion of science and free thought. But extrapolating the behaviors of individuals out to an entire culture is a mistake Sagan said we should be immune from making.

Rather than seeking to take jabs at religion, science should be embracing it. From a science perspective, religious people are involved in the largest ongoing experiment of all time. The major religions all disagree with each other in ways large and small and yet people are turning knobs in their lives and making adjustments to try and solve a grand mystery. What, if anything, comes next?
 So, in short, Cosmos fails at science, but excels at liberal propaganda.

Oh, and I would add a sixth failure--Pluto is a planet.

(H/t Instapundit)

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