I love Brian Cox’s pithy responses to creationists when he calls them “nutters” or if he isn’t cleaning it up for the kids, “twats”. However, one of his lengthier remarks is among his most important:
The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it. The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!
Examples of the behaviour Cox describes abound, especially in the large groups of people who rally behind non evidence based claims: anti-vaccination, climate change denial, creationism. Unfortunately, these people often do not have the ability or inclination to see these falsehoods for what they are.
That’s why it’s important to arm yourself with basic scientific knowledge. Indeed, if you lack basic knowledge in history, science, ethics, you may still be able to function in society but you can’t really call yourself culturally literate in a technologically complex world where now, more than ever it is crucial that we make evidence based decisions informed by facts.
Dennis Overbye of the New York Times agrees in his article about the upcoming reboot of Cosmos:
If we are going to decide big issues, like eating genetically modified food, fracking for natural gas, responding to the prospect of drastic climate change, exploring space or engaging in ambitious science research, we are going to have to start from some common experience.
What better place to get an introduction to science than through Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot to the highly successful astronomy series, Cosmos? Many an adult today, can attest to Carl Sagan’s original series as having inspired them to learn more about science. The rebooted series, Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, aims to do similar as Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow and along with Seth MacFarlane, the show’s producer told Wired UK:
I know it’s true in the US that there’s a very profound disconnect between all of us who are completely dependent on science and high technology every minute of the day and our ability to take what science, what the community of science, what the generations of science, are telling us about our true tininess in space and time. So we have this compartmentalised idea of science, which doesn’t seem to interact with our will and Cosmos is about tearing down that wall, so that what you know is rigorous, is fact checked, but it’s also — I hope — making you feel something of that soaring sensation of beginning to know the cosmos a little better, as we are as a civilisation right now.
I have high hopes for the new Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey! I hope it really does inspire watchers, especially young watchers, to become interested in science and scientific thinking. Be sure to tune in to Global/Fox Sunday, March 9: 9 PM ET/PT, 10 PM MT or Global 7 PM CT for the première! GlobalTV.com/cosmos will stream full episodes of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey online and episodes are typically posted the day after the initial on-air broadcast.