No, Neil deGrasse Tyson, squashing curiosity and wonder is never okay
Ethan Siegel

Probably the only time I have ever been disappointed with Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of my heroes; he did a wonderful job with the reboot of Cosmos, and it is sad to see him do something that I am sure would have disappointed Sagan.

Also, as I understand it there are very few bodies on which you can stand (which excludes gas giants) and see a total solar eclipse, like Pluto and Charon-and from out there, it would look pretty much like a moon obliterating any number of stars one would think. In other words, total solar eclipses are rare viewing anywhere in our solar system, so I think that counts as rare in itself.

I think I get what Neil was trying to get at-that we get more excited about this sort of thing than we do about actual scientific discoveries (indeed, we are quite happy to doubt them) but he chose a poor way to get it out, and missed a chance to use the fascination with the eclipse to turn people onto science. Sagan would use anything-even his own error in relation to the ‘canals’ on Mars-to promote critical thinking and teach people science; I think Neil needs to re-familiarise himself with the works of his old mentor (I know I do it regularly-lost count of the number of times I have read The Demon-haunted World).

This is also an example of how damaging a thought-bubble can be when allied with Twitter, which puts me in mind of George Clooney’s alleged response to a question as to why he isn’t on Twitter: “Because I like to drink in the evenings.” I think there is something in that for all of us…

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