There’s an incredible hubris associated with the idea that “rational” people will agree on what constitutes good policy or even the good, that this is a thing that can be rationally derived. Like a lot of Americans (Americans are especially guilty of this) it took me a long time to understand how wrong this is, what a strong (colonial, orientalist) bias this is. When we say “deep down, we’re all the same” what we mean is “Deep down we’re all white.” It is incredibly insulting to think that someone who has the same facts and has come to a different conclusion “just doesn’t understand” or “needs more education” or “must be taught to think rationally.”

I was driving in Iraq a few years ago with a black special operations officer, my chief in this instance. We passed a pickup truck full of Iraqi Police. And I said, “Reminds me of home. It’s nice to know that, deep down, we’re all crackers.” And he turned to me and made eye contact because he was about to say something important: “No. We’re not.”

It took me a long time to accept and understand that my Muslim and Christian friends weren’t well-meaning but irrational, holding similar but _defective_ versions of my own worldview. My values, my beliefs about what constitutes the good life, what constitutes justice are (and, as a New Atheist, were) based on the same (shaky) philosophical ground as my Christian, Muslim or Humanist friends. Humanism is awesome, but there’s real danger any time someone erroneously imprints their particular (entirely subjective) values with the weight of science. That’s exactly what happened in the West at the start of the 20th century with such terrible results and it’s this exact philosophical sloppiness that Tyson is engaging in here. We’ve been down this road before. Many times. It ends poorly.

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