Last week I took my teenagers to an amazing talk by Neil deGrasse Tyson, famed astrophysicist and climate science (and all science) proponent. We didn’t actually know the topic for the talk, but when someone like him comes to your home town theater and you can get tickets, you just go.
He was engaging from the start, teasing the audience that we had all chosen to come to an astrophysicist’s talk willingly. Throughout he made numerous jokes that the geek in me and many others enjoyed. The part of his talk that sticks with me and that I am going to share was about TRUTH.
Neil deGrasse Tyson explained that there were three kinds of truths:
- Objective truths are established by evidence.
- Personal truths by faith.
- Political truths by incessant repetition.
He was very clear that personal and political truths are real and that everyone is entitled to them, but he did have a big point about them. Legislation and policy should NEVER be made based on personal or political truths, they should only be based on objective truths. Unfortunately, the current administration is anti-objective truth and only seems to operate from personal and political truths. He called for us to speak up and challenge untruths and require objective truths from our elected officials.
While climate change was brought up several times during the talk, it wasn’t the focus. He also very briefly pitched his newest book, Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military, as well as his best selling and much easier and shorter read, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. He wrapped up the talk with a bit of hope, by looking at the number of twitter followers of top pundits from the conservative and progressive perspectives, and surprisingly to me, the progressives dwarf the conservatives in this respect.
Neil deGrasse Tyson ended the talk with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. that is as important now, if not more important than when he first said it:
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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