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Episode 489: Nerdist Podcast
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Nerdist PodcastNerdist Podcast

Nerdist Podcast: Neil deGrasse Tyson Returns Again

It’s a three peat with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson! They start off their conversation about how the universe works, then talk about science of bottomless pits, the importance of asking questions, and the new Cosmos!

Watch Cosmos this Sunday March 9th on Fox and Monday March 10th on NatGeo!

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Hear a-ha's Gorgeous Acoustic Version of "Take On Me"

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The Best Reaction to THE LAST JEDI Trailer Came from Kylo Ren

The Best Reaction to THE LAST JEDI Trailer Came from Kylo Ren



  1. Seaatl says:

    Just a reminder that there are people of faith who don’t take the Bible literally. We believe in science & gay marriage and yet find that we don’t fit in in many faith communities & find condescension from those who don’t believe like we do. It would be nice if people were treated as individuals instead of trying to argue us out of our beliefs – whether science or faith. Because both sides try to do it and don’t see how much alike they are.

  2. some dude says:

    ‘sup Ross. I have to admit that i wrote my few last comments when i was extremely drunk, or I probably wouldn’t have bothered blathering my useless objections to a past conversation that i was not even personally involved in. And I’m actually only reading your comment because I came back to this post to re-discover what the hell I actually typed.

    My comment about Newton’s other-worldly, or supernatural, beliefs was related, however wobbilily (to coin a term), to the way that Neil deGrasse Tyson seemed to imply that the context of a question (be it psychological or social) has an impact on its scientific utility, and that navel-gazing has a negative impact on scientific progress. While that can be true, I’m not sure that it is always, or even often, true. To quote the inestimable Tyson, “Give me a way to prove it…”

    And, and I hate to go on with this (that double “and” gives me great pleasure for some reason), your identification of Newton as living in a time when religion and science were just giving up holding hands isn’t particularly, or historically, compelling. After all, Copernicus died 199 years before him. And I can assure you that atheism preceded Newton by a couple of thousand years, and his failure to stand up for it wasn’t a product of a lack of conviction. Science by religious types was a big thing, in the day; science has only come under the gun in the wake of the international fundamentalism, may its adherents never burn…

    The fact of the matter is, when NdGT spoke about philosophy, he was setting up a straw man. That whole “one hand clapping” thing doesn’t just just misrepresent the philosophy of science, it misrepresents philosophy, in general. “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” isn’t a question that any facet of western or eastern philosophy would ask. It is a Zen koan…

    In contrast, the philosophy of science isn’t interested in arguing about the results of the experimental method. It seeks to 1) defend the results of the scientific method from erroneous debate. 2) chart scientific development so as to better understand our physical and intellectual history. 3) evaluate the relevant ethical implications of both scientific research and implementation. 4) describe the concepts and ideas underlying scientific activity so as to facilitate the efficacy of the method.;

    PS: I’m also pretty drunk tonight. If that weren’t the case, I probably wouldn’t have written this answering post.

    Have a good night, Ross, and take care

  3. Ross says:

    Pop myths? How about the idea that the cliche was a creation of Pauling/Bass(the songwriters of “Dedicated to the One I Love”)? That old chestnut, which became part of common usage probably because looking to the west it seems darkest right before dawn in the east(esp in contrast to the growing light), has been around for generations.

    And they ask the ridiculous “world peace” questions in an attempt to prove that these “pageants” are not, in fact, nothing but beauty contests(as with the “talent” portions). The only people who buy that are involved in those pageants themselves.

    Some Guy: And Keppler only worked out his equations in what he viewed as a failed attempt to proved the Platonic ideal. So what. NdGT was speaking of Newton’s contributions to science, not his motives. Newton lived in a time that was just beginning to see a rigid demarcation between science and religion.

  4. Todd E. says:

    The twitter assertion at the end that “it’s not bias if it’s true” is in fact not only not original, but incredibly problematic…it’s one of the foundational statements of the Evangelical Church.

    In their case, their Truth (Capital T Truth!!) comes from the bible, which is the word of God (actually, no, that’s Jesus, but good luck with that argument) and so how can it be bias if it’s the literal word of God?

    Statements like “it’s not bias if it’s true” leave us all behind our own defensive walls knowing that we’re right and not having to listen to anybody. In fact, it’s an entirely philosophical statement, no matter how much NDT spent his time dismissing philosophy. In fact, when science was coming into it’s own, there was no difference between science and philosophy.

    Of course, the worst thing about not forgetting history is getting to watch other people forget it and repeat the mistakes of the past.

  5. Some dude says:

    PS: as fervent an acolyte of Newton that Neil would like to pretend to be, he fails to mention that Isaac Newton was both a theist and a believer in alchemy. I’m not either of those things, but i am disappointed that in his description of his “ideal” scientist, NDT didn’t record historical details that complicated his his depiction of “SCIENCE”.

  6. Some dude says:

    I’m a big fan of NDT, and I’m really looking forward to watching “Cosmos”, but it is a little difficult to listen to him denigrate “pseudo-science” by calling it “philosophy” [my paraphrase] and then hear him quote a Moody Blues song as a guide to scientific thought.

    Not to insult the Moody Blues, they’re fine…

    NDT usually walks the, often necessarily, thin line between educator and polemicist, but, in this instance, he just straddled it.

    Philosophy has certainly and often produced a lot of nonsense, but it also represents homo sapiens’ nearly 3,000 years pursuit to record truths and improve ethical behavior. The “scientific method” is a philosophical pursuit. “Humanism” is a philosophical endeavor. And Isaac Newton was not a “scientist”, he considered himself a natural philosopher.

    I know that “philosophy” was just a punchline in this episode, and my comment seems humor-free, but philosophy is more than “the quest for the meaning of ‘meaning “.

  7. Matt says:

    Wanted to point out that during the great portion of the podcast when NDT is debunking popular sayings that spread scientific myths, a historical myth of pop music is repeated. Mama Cass didn’t die from choking on a sandwich.

    A great hour of mindfood, though. Thanks. #PornStache

  8. Keith says:

    Great ep, as usual. My dad loved the old Cosmos series (one of my earliest memories is of watching an episode with him; I was about 3, so was quickly bored, but rediscovered it & loved it later in life), and were he still around I would’ve loved to talk about the new one with him. I wish Neil had recited the entire “Late Lament” from the Moody Blues at the end there; my dad loved that poem.

  9. Jeff says:

    Could Chris sound more like a moron in this podcast?

  10. JetpackBlues says:

    It’s always darkest right before it goes pitch black.

  11. Jessica says:

    I call BS on the notion that MRIs are harmless.

    Whenever I get one I have to detail how I know I’m not pregnant.

    (Which puts it up there with thalidomide, accutane, probably rogaine… These I speak of secondhand.)

  12. -Di. says:

    I didn’t see the original troll post. I can only guess that it was a work of art that only Shakespeare himself could equal.

    BTW I want to be Pinky Pie but I’m really Fluttershy. 🙂

    I love Neil deGrasse Tyson. Listening to him wakes up my brain.

    If you don’t have the app Pocket Universe for the iPhone, you should get it. CH recommended it on an old Kevin Pollak podcast. It’s so much fun. Go to pocketuniverse dot info for more info!

  13. Mork says:

    loling my balls off when Jonah rushes into an explanation and then then remembers who he’s talking to and just slams it into reverse without touching the brakes at 36:52. I’d have done the same damn thing… Now how did NDT never see Jurassic Park?

  14. Zach says:

    NDT is always the best guest on every show!

  15. Adam M from Boston says:

    I didn’t see the troll in its original form, but the only response is… “Watch out, we got a badass over here.”

    What other podcast out there can offer Crispin Glover AND Neil de Grasse Tyson back to back? Epic.

  16. scifiguy says:

    Maybe he could have you on his podcast sometime to talk about humor in physics?

  17. JetpackBlues says:

    Nice job to whoever ‘adjusted’ Jack’s comment. 😉

  18. Matt says:

    Old Porn Stash made a mistake. The universe is very predictable at the microscopic level. It’s just not predictable at the NANOscopic level. Boom, weights and measures callback.

  19. RyB says:

    All this talk of “questions” reminded me of my favorite Asimov short story, The Final Question:

    It’s a quick read and very very worth it.

  20. Trevor says:

    Neil deGrasse “Porn Stash” Tyson, just a wrestling name i thought of

  21. Alec says:

    NIST is also the agency that let the NSA sneak in Dual_EC_DRBG, a number generator with backdoor, into their computer security standard.

  22. chris says:

    love it

  23. Wildride says:

    “Life always finds a way: Mostly, though it just involves lifeforms dying and species going extinct. But that’s just its way.”

  24. norusdog says:

    Despite the dick-comment by Jack……he has a good idea.

    I so listen to a Chloe podcast. She rocks.

  25. Ethan says:

    Hey, I actually know his niece! She goes to my college!

  26. The Internet says:

    LOL! Looks like Jack has had a change of heart. Friendship is magic, motherfucker!

  27. Mark Eaton says:

    The internet needs to come to some kind of understanding about trolls. We need “The Troll Whisperer”. Trolls are broken humans in search validation. When a troll says something shitty you do not acknowledge said shit. Acknowledgement or “feeding trolls” only encourages such behavior. You simply read and disregard as invalid.

  28. Mark says:

    Who doesn’t love this guy? It’s a scientific fact that he is the best.

  29. Three Toes of Fury says:

    havent heard it yet..but if Jack’s ridiculously rude comment is directed at Chloe then im affraid i will have to start placing large quantities of needles in the groin area of a voodoo doll that i just named “@Jack”.
    Uncool, Uncalled for, Unnnecessary comments. Constructive critiques are always welcome at Nerdist. Douche-bag trolling isnt.
    Oh, and @NateE, your joke = Best. Spoiler. Ever. alllright alllright allright!

    Peace .n. Team Matt?…Team Jonah?…pfffrrt Team Chloe!

    3ToF amongst the billlllliiions and billllllionnnns of stars.

  30. Brian says:

    Jack you seem like a bitter douche bag. Chloe is awesome.

  31. Jessica Duffy says:

    I love Chloe, wish there was more of her on Nerdist.

  32. I think I’ll give NdT another try and listen to this. But my first response to his name now a days is he is the scientist version of the Comic Book Guy on The Simpson.

    “No your entertainment is wrong and let me explain in detail why its wrong. The Stars aren’t in the correct location again!….. (cont. rant)”

  33. Alison says:

    Can’t wait to see him live at Monroe Community College in April! Dr. Tyson rules the cosmos.

  34. Jack Creed says:

    Hey other Jack. Why the hell do you even listen to this podcast?

  35. RapMasterX says:

    I heard a couple of comments about changing or engineering DNA and was waiting for the Crispr conversation to come up.

  36. Nate E. says:

    Cosmos or True Detective??? Wait a minute… Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Yellow King!

  37. NotMF says:

    Dr. Tyson has been one of my role models for years. I hope to one day meet him and talk about anything over a nice glass of wine.

  38. Brian says:

    Yes! I knew this was happening when Matt posted a photo of him last week.

  39. Three toes of Fury says:

    You had me at the “selfie” (sweet jezus i hate that word) with Obama and Bill Nye.

    Well played NdGT….well played indeed.

    Peace & The Universe Song by Monty Python.


  40. norusdog says:

    Yah I love this dude. A nice contrast to the last guest too. Polar opposites.

    Love the episodes he’s been on. Can’t wait to give this one a listen.

  41. Jacob Pratt says:


  42. Eddy says:

    favorite line of the episode: “Philosophy was a good major for comedy” = joke major.

  43. MetalDevil says:


  44. Leah says:

    YEAH! Such a great episode. Super fun and interesting podcast. I’m wicked stoked for Cosmos. Also good to know the new Hayden Planetarium show is up and running – it was under construction last time I was at the museum.

    @Jack You should keep Wheaton’s law in mind: Don’t be a dick.

  45. Jack says:

    But my FAVORITE pony is Fluttershy. I mean, DUH, right?!

  46. Jeffery says:

    I love this man.