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Nerdist Podcast: Neil deGrasse Tyson Returns Again
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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  1. CrusaderX39 says:

    NGT is a boss! Never get enough of listening to this man speak. 

  2. I learned more from the podcast than I have in 2 years of high school science. Learning facts over and over doesn’t matter. We should be learning how to ask questions about life (not philosophy, but questions about what is around us.)
    Thank you Neil Degrasse Tyson!

  3. Leila says:

    Good philosophers don’t get caught up in pointless questions. They have long left behind questions like “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” and “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” and “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Good philosophers are productive rather than ruminative thinkers. Remember, what we call science today was once called “natural philosophy.” Science and philosophy inextricably intertwine. 

  4. J.A. Harpp says:

    this article really exaggerates NDT’s comments…He doesn’t say that all philosophers are wrong, he just makes the point that a self-deemed intelligent race shouldn’t waste too much time thinking about why a chair is a chair, when it is ourselves who categorized it as a chair.  Bruce Lee said: “Don’t think…feel…it is like a finger pointing a way to the moon, don’t concntrade on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.

  5. Dan says:

    This episode is a bigger load of shit than anything I’ve ever seen on Fox news. If any of these people had actually studied philosophy at a decent school, they wouldn’t be so terribly ignorant about the relationship between philosophy and science. As it stands, though, you have a bunch of Phil 101 rejects desperately trying to fellate a pop scientist. The results are pure comedy. Have any of these morons even heard of Bertrand Russell?

    • Hey hey, Professor Awesome! Thanks for laying down the schooling on us dolts! And so many great references! Clearly, you’re smarter than everyone. Also, I found your faculty pic. YOU’RE RAD!
      Stay mad! The world and its insect-brained inhabitants just don’t get you, man.

      • Dan says:

        I think it’s telling you decided to respond to my stupid comment rather than the thoughtful one left by MCP. 

        • I think it’s telling that you came back to see how your stupid comment did.

        • Dan says:

          Ahhh, this troll has been sated. But seriously, you guys should have a philosopher on the show for some balance. Don’t just take Neil’s word for it. Nullius in verba!

      • Jesus Christ says:

        What references do you need?  Surely you paid attention in the pursuit of your illustrious bachelor’s degree, making the logical connections between philosophy, science, ethics, art, humanities, fuckedy blah blah.  But don’t let that stop you from letting a pop-scientist confirm that you shouldn’t think too hard!

    • Roger says:

      Philosophy does not get any funding for a reason, it is little more than mental masturbation.  Scientists are porn stars.  Deal with it.

  6. Kevin says:

    The discussion about philosophy is incredibly short-sighted and disappointing discussed by people who don’t even understand the basics of it.

    • Roger says:

      No, philosophy is a poor substitute for math, and math alone without experiments is just monkey brains making noise.  The universe does not care about monkey brains making noise.  Do you care about the universe or only the monkey noises in your brain?

      • Jesus Christ says:

        Spoken by someone who doesn’t understand the relationship between math and physicians.  Sometimes, physicists like Newton discover or invent new mathematics like Calculus in the furtherance of their study of the cosmos.  On other occasions, they use existing mathematics conceived by “monkey brains making noise” to arrive at their conclusions, or support them, or even as a basis for hypothesis.  You’re a poor substitute for a knowledgeable person :)

  7. GodsOfRuin says:

    Tyson is so smug and illogical. This is really difficult to listen to.

  8. MCP says:

    One question I might have for Tyson relates to his ethical views – for example, about the moral acceptability of certain forms of scientific experimentation on living beings.  I’m guessing that (a) he would consider this a legitimate, important question, and (b) that he would acknowledge that the methods of empirical science aren’t well suited to answering this question.  If in fact he accepts (a) and (b), and agrees that philosophy is the proper discipline to handle normative questions like this, then we have an argument for the relevance of philosophy that he might accept.  The bottom line is that philosophy isn’t exhausted by theoretical inquiries into the meanings of terms (much less by caricatures of the questions philosophy asks).  In general I found Tyson’s understanding of philosophy lacking and his judgments uncharitable.

    I prefer to view philosophy and science as comrades in arms.  Empirical science tackles objects of inquiry that are well suited to its methods.  Yet there is also a wide variety of important questions about the nature of the world and how we ought to live within it that scientific methodology doesn’t seem well able to handle, usually owing to the abstractness of the objects of inquiry (e.g. metaphysics, pure logic, etc.), or the fact that the objects of inquiry are normative or ethical in nature. 

    Ideally, philosophy and science should be seen as in the same basic business (gaining insight via reason), but differentiated by their methods and objects of inquiry. 

  9. Joe, I agree that Leibniz is undervalued out there. I’ll try to mention him more often.

    Thanks, Martin Rebensteiger, for that note on the questioned authenticity of that Assyrian Tablet Quote. I’ll investigate further.

    And to Charles – what is not conveyed in this interview (my bad to omit it) is that my critique applies solely to those trained in Philosophy from the 20th century onward – the era of Modern Physics: Quantum & Relativity. By my read of history, the formidable brain power of Philosophers (people with PhDs from departments of Philosophy) has made vanishingly little contribution to the advance of the physical sciences in this era. And any any important advances that one might claim to be philosophical in nature were made my physicists.

    Thanks, in any case, for all your interest.
    NDTyson, New York City

    • NdGT, What do you make of 20th century mathematician, physicist, and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead’s contributions to post-quantum, post-relativity scientific cosmology? 

    • Josh Simon says:

      You are still one of my heroes, I am just shocked to hear you advise people to avoid philosophy. Our ability to advance modernly in science is due to a sound philosophical foundation. The scientific method was developed and refined by philosophers. The null hypothesis is a ’20th century and onward’ philosophical concept that has helped us be even more pragmatic with the empirical evidence science finds. The very basis of philosophy is understanding how to think critically. Without that science could find the pieces of the puzzle, but would only be guessing if they were assembling them correctly.

  10. Charles says:

    He is a very gifted scientist, but in all honesty, he’s getting a little too big for his britches. If it weren’t for philosophy, modern science could have never evolved. Frankly, scientists should stick to science, philosophers to philosophy and so forth. This man is not an expert in all fields.

  11. You should listen to the podcast that was referenced. Tyson wasn’t saying all philosophy was bad or a waste of time, but just certain stupid philosophical questions that don’t go anywhere. He was be very pragmatic.

    • Jesus Christ says:

      He was very pragmatic in selecting total cliche straw-men hyperbolic examples in pursuit of his ridicule.   Mofo need’ta reckanize

  12. Paulo Ugolini says:

    I would like to know the name of the philosophy professor who asked Niel DeGrasse Tyson “what is the sound of one hand clapping”, or “what’s the meaning of meaning”. That’s not what academic practice of philosophy is. In fact, that question is a paradox of zen budhism and is not part of philosophy, particularly not part of philosophy of science. I call bullshit on that. I don’t believe that teach that crap in Harvard. He’s making that up.

    As a professor that is often responsible for the introduction of philosophy to undergraduate students, this makes me VERY concerned. I know my students – many of them pursuing engineering and technology degrees – are not necessarily interested in philosophy, and I also know many of them are going to be achievers in life anyway, like Tyson himself. But what makes somebody have such a distorted view of what philosophy means, to the point of rejecting the relevance of its very existence?

    Tyson is an influential person. He should feel responsible for not making broad and uninformed affirmations like that. As the kind of person that in public conversation tends to take the position of pointing righteously to other people’s errors – making comments like “the beauty of science is that it is true, doesn’t matter if you believe in it or not” – and condemning them for not having correct understanding of his field of study, he should shut his mouth about things he doesn’t understand.

    • tarc says:

      I think he understands perfectly, and you are suggesting things were said in his comments that were not.

      • Jesus Christ says:

        Nope, if you read the comment you’ll see that NDT was suggesting straw-men hyperbolic examples of philosophical subjects in order to be minimize it. 

  13. D.A. Howard says:

    Whaaat?! Science is based on Philosophy! Asking too many questions messes you up? Huh? So Scientific investigation is dangerous? Neil, you lost all Scientific respect from me. Afte twelve years of University education (in Science, Social Science and Philosophy), I can say your comments are full of manure.

  14. Josh says:

    Don’t ask questions. Got it. Thanks, Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’ll throw philosophy out the window. Fantastic!

  15. butbutts says:

    everyone not NDT: shut up and let NDT talk!

  16. Martin Rebensteiger says:

    Love the interview. Neil also used that Assyrian tablet quote in Space Chronicles, his collection of essays and columns on space travel. The only problem is that the quote is most likely an early 20th century newspaper fabrication. Too bad, really. I used to love that quote.