The podcast where Neil deGrasse Tyson calls me an idiot

Tyson sweepingly dismisses the entire history of philosophy. Actually, he doesn't just dismiss it. He goes much further — to argue that undergraduates should actively avoid studying philosophy at all. Because, apparently, asking too many questions "can really mess you up."

Yes, he really did say that. Go ahead, listen for yourself, beginning at 20:19 — and behold the spectacle of an otherwise intelligent man and gifted teacher sounding every bit as anti-intellectual as a corporate middle manager or used-car salesman. He proudly proclaims his irritation with "asking deep questions" that lead to a "pointless delay in your progress" in tackling "this whole big world of unknowns out there." When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, "I'm moving on, I'm leaving you behind, and you can't even cross the street because you're distracted by deep questions you've asked of yourself. I don't have time for that."
"I don't have time for that."

OK, he doesn't single me out by name, but since I think Zen is intriguing and may point to the fallacies of conventional thought, AND the mere idea that you should “examine yourself” like philosophy, makes it something worthing of study...NDT tosses aside like a rancid piece of meat.

From this podcast we now know NDT is insistent there is only ONE correct (and Rigid) way to look at the world. Why is it so hard for people to say...”well I don’t get it, but if you want study philosophy, Zen, poetry, pottery or whatever..knock yourself out”

No, he as to tells how stupid we are all for not thinking exactly like him.

Personally I think it is Backward looking not Forward looking. He cannot just revel in the coolness of Science, his view of science is only important because it is not..well, something else. So, he has to dump on people who think there are other things of interest, especially bad is Philosophy. But why stop at philosophy, remove poetry, fiction, and drama since it delays your progress. Screw it, why not just burn the books you don't like.

Strangely he is actually a fundamentalist in regard the religion of progress. Anything that interferes with this goal is detrimental. And it is really an unquestioning acceptance of own world view

The thing is he is taking techniques from science and applying them to the different area of an interior life.

Plus he has only disdain for Philosophy and Zen, but they are not like fundamentalism trying to declare what science is.

NDT feels self reflection and any examination is pointless and in fact dangerous


bloftin2 said...

I am generally willing to give NDT some slack, based on his other extremely good work, but yeah, that's just stupid. Philosophy is a lot more than investigation into nature - it is Ethics, it is the home of Logic, etc, etc.

I found this article pretty good:

bloftin2 said...

This one was good too: http://blog.talkingphilosophy.com/?p=7936

ZeppoManx said...

Well, I am may have exaggerated the stridency of his views. But in general I think my take is accurate.

the thing that really bugs me is “asking deep questions” can cause a “pointless delay in your progress”.

Those few questions are loaded with unstated assumptions or premises.

What progress is he talking about? What are deep questions?

To answer both of those requires, well.."thinking" and that in itself detracts from "progress", so you can't do it (according to him)

That said, I actually agree that what passes for high level philosophy is probably pointless, but I don't know for sure, and I am kind of glad there people out in the world doing that kind of stuff.

ZeppoManx said...

By the way, those links were really good.

bloftin2 said...

I made a post on my blog about your post.

Really, if he is concerned with smart people wasting their time, he should look into the number of the "best and brightest" going into finance, becoming rich economic leaches who produce nothing, contribute nothing, and in fact damage everything.