Astophysicist and Actor Neil Tyson Decrees Flat Earth Thinking By Influential People "Harmful to the security of our citizenry."
On January 28th, 2016 Astrophysicist and Actor Neil DeGrasse Tyson Decrees Flat Earth Thinking by Influential People "Harmful to the security of our citizenry" on Comedy Central, citing Isaac Newton and the heaviness of microphones...
In a Comedy Central "Emergency Science Alert" Neil Tyson gets a cameo to tell B.O.B. why the earth isn't flat. He mentions the smallness of people in relation to the largeness of objects, non-euclidian geometry, and "his man Isaac Newton" but presents no numbers or data, while calling humans "little creatures who crawl" upon the earth. Tyson concludes by dropping a mic proving definitively that microphones are heavier than air.
Perhaps more importantly, as the subtitle mentions, Neil DeGrasse Tyson decalares influential Flat Earthers such as "successful rappers" (like B.O.B.), to be "harmful to our citizenry."
Does one's influence obviate their right to share their view of the shape of the earth? Should influential people not be able to discuss their views with others whom willingly pay attention to them?
Epistemology is the investigation into what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. Is censoring epistemological exploration a facet of intolerance? Consider this...
Was it harmful when Jeffrey Weeks, a MacArthur Fellow, said the Universe was finite and shaped like a soccer ball?
Was it harmul when philosopher J.J.C. Smart equated our experience of reality with "brain stuff"?
Was it harmful when linguistic researcher Terence McKenna said, "the syntactical nature of reality, the real secret of magic, is that the world is made of words"?
Or even more on the nose, was it harmful when artist Nataraj Sharma made an exhibit in India entitled, 'Alternate Shapes for our Earth', in which he cast several non-spherical objects with rotating parts that people could adjust for themselves?
If not, then why is it harmful if a Rapper from Atlanta makes a mix-tape in which he thinks the earth is flat?
Moreover, at face value, isn't the notion that a person's view of the shape of the earth can be harmful absurd? If someone says to me, "Hey, the world is an avocado." I'm not gonna be like, "That hurts man, really." I'm gonna continue with my day. But if I think the world is an avocado I might be like, "Really? How ripe is it? Is it really edible?" That would be exercising my epistemological freedom to explore my experience in full, whether dubious or not. Plus if someone was like, "I know it's an avocado, taste it." And I could experience an avocado? Then I might tell others, "Yo, I had a bite and uh... I'm starting to think this world is an avocado."
In a world based on the freedom of ideation, shouldn't we be wary of any person, organization, institution, or establishment that presumes to lay claim upon our thinking domains, in particular when in relation to our influence?
Alternative worldviews drawing influence is a function of human development, from the guy who bought all those billboards inaccurately predicting the date of the apocalypse several summers ago, to the Mayans contention that we float on the back of a turtle! By proposing alternative ideas, whether wrong or right as the case may be, we further define what things are and aren't, or could be and can't be.
Plus, if Flat Earth thinking is a bad influence, then who is to decide what "bad" means? If we begin to muzzel influential Flat Earthers like B.O.B. or Kyrie Irving with labels like "harmful" or "threat", (which are not a huge step from, "dangerous" or "terrorist",) then what else might be muzzled?
Maybe not wanting to go to Space will become a "threat" to our citizenry? Maybe not wanting to go to War will become a "threat" to our citizenry? My point, I think you gather, is Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards?
If Tyson equates Flat Earth thinking to, "a growing anti-intellectual strain that may be the beginning of the end of our informed democracy" then it is fairly safe to say he believes his worldview has lost some ground amidst the modern milieu of ideation. This is a potent observation of influence for a guy attempting to deflate the efficacy of Flat Earth belief.
Perhaps Mr. Tyson, and what he represents, prefers citizens to be more interested in entertainment than information. Pardon me Mr. Tyson, but is that why you keep taking roles as an actor, such as your "scientific" cameos in Zoolander 2, The Big Bang Theory, and Family Guy... Is Popular Scientism melding into bite-sized Entertainment?
Might Tyson find it better to have Citizens distracted by what Aldous Huxley termed "the feelies" in his dystopic novel Brave New World, than pondering epistemological matters? Considering that, Flat Earthers may be "harmful" to the security of our citizenry, in the sense that the word citizen has been seen to connote slave, and woke people aren't slaves, are they? Do you suppose the illustrious Plato would consider a man out of the cave still a slave?
Do you think it would be a threat to the security of our democracy if citizens redirected their attention from TV, Movies and Advertisements, towards Knowledge, Truth, and Power?
Perhaps in this last sense, Flat Earth, and influential people whom pursue a study of it, or propound their belief in it, only impinge upon the structural integrity of our "informed democracy" in so far as they may lift a citizen out of mental slavery. In such a way, Flat Earth thinking is bad for our citizenry, because to rise from slumber, and investigate the pastures of Zetetic inquiry, can be an empowering transition, especially if it feels like one's shedding one's shackles of imprisonment...
With all due respect Mr. Tyson Flat Earthers do not presume to guard you! To echo your own words: You wanna believe in Gravity? Go right ahead! But as far as our experience here on earth is concerned, to reduce others rights to espouse alternate viewpoints of the shape of the earth is to mitigate all of our capacity to expand and further uncover potential truths previously unknown. And is this not the driving telos of Science? Aren't we never certain but merely guardedly saying nothing has thus far disproved such and such theory, or so and so's worldview? Can we not maintain such an attitude, moving forward?
Although, perhaps now-a-days, the ideological weigh-station is more about who is willing to pay attention to what, rather than why. Would you not agree that our why should be truth? A truth which stands against any onslaught of alleged disproof? Which does not require censorship of any kind? In throttling down dissent do you not in fact ossify the neuro-plasticity of our very intellectual mechanism and generate the cumulative effect of dumbing down our socio-cultural ethos?
If it ain't an avocado. People aren't gonna spend all day trying to eat it. So, I guess my last question, is why are you so concerned? Can't we just do a test and then repeat it?
(Below is a transcription of Tyson's "proof" the earth is round.)
NT: "I'm trying to eat my dinner. I got your distress call is everything okay?
LW: No Niiel everything is not okay. This BOB BS about the earth being flat is getting out of control can you please help us?
NT: Here hold this. [a sandwich]
NT: Listen BOB once and for all... The earth looks flat because one you're not far enough away at your size and two, you're size isn't large enough relative to earth (makes curving motion) to notice any curvature at all. It's a fundamental fact of Calculus and Non-Euclidian Geometry, small sections of large curved surfaces will always look flat to "little creatures" that crawl upon it. But this whole thing is just a symptom of a larger problem. There is a growing anti-intellectual strain in this country that may be the beginning of the end of our informed democracy…Of course in a free society you can and should think whatever you want. If you wanna think the world is flat, go right ahead.
But if you think the world is flat and you have influence over others… as would successful rappers or even presidential candidates THEN being wrong becomes being harmful to the health, the wealth, and the security of our citizenry. Discovery and exploration got us out of the cave and each generation benefits from what previous generations have learned. Isaac Newton, MY MAN, said, "If I have seen farther than others, it's by standing on the shoulders of giants. Can I get an AMEN? So that's right BOB. When you stand on the shoulders of those who came before you might just see far enough to realize the earth isn't FUCKING FLAT. AND BY THE WAY, THIS, is called gravity." [drops mic]..