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Old April 16 2014, 07:53 PM   #526
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Dennis wrote: View Post

I'm mildly underwhelmed by this series so far - most of the episodes are rambling and disjointed, skipping from topic to topic and making very little clear for the naive viewer. I doubt that "A Spacetime Odyssey" is going to have nearly the impact or be well-remembered to the extent that "A Personal Journey" was.
This. I've got two episodes on the DVR and I just can't get interested enough to start it.

I love science, I adore documentary. I'm just finding this series... underwhelming.
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Old April 16 2014, 08:08 PM   #527
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Well, I tuned out from the last episode after the chlorophyll factory tour, because it was getting a bit silly, and was followed by Tyson talking about the revolutionary changes in energy production if we manage to unlock the secrets of plant photosynthesis so we can make use of sunlight as efficiently as they do.

That's bonkers. Solar cells are already far more efficient than photosynthesis, which has a maximum theoretical efficiency of about 8% (which is never realized) and a practical efficiency of less than 3%.
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Old April 16 2014, 08:50 PM   #528
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tyson speaks well, but he blinks and squints WAY too much.
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Old April 17 2014, 02:17 PM   #529
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Yeah, there's a little something political in the "harnessing photosynthesis" boosterism, not to mention the silliness of the repetitious "trade secrets" thing - maybe the writer thinks that's a metaphor or something, but in fact it's just nonsensical use of the phrase.
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Old April 17 2014, 07:37 PM   #530
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Well, some of the series will be more than a bit nuts. The writer could go into a disturbing psychological profile of Adam and Eve, and how they lived in a maximum security prison with 24 hour surveillance and knew nothing but fear, and carried deep mental scars because they never had a childhood, etc. Or we might get the bits about how we should all go to planetariums as places of divine worship. We've already been treated to the nonsense about Bruno, who wasn't executed for refusing to recant his belief in other solar systems, it was his desire to lead a world-wide religious war against Christianity that got him in trouble. But at least she no longer believes in von Daniken's ancient aliens or Velikovsky's worlds in collision. So we're going to get some weird stuff, perhaps even a bit about how we should all smoke weed to get in touch with the heart of the cosmos, but at least we're not going to get the really weird stuff.

But I suspect the quips about trademarks came from Dyson, who is convinced (he's obviously an astrophysicist and not a historian), that no private entity has ever explored anything significant in the history of mankind, despite the examples of Columbus (who raised half the funds from private backers and was looking to make lots and lots of money), Magellan (who was partially funded by his religious order and partly by grants to profit rights on trade with any land he found, including various monopoly concerns), etc. Tyson seems to think the world was discovered by government sponsored missions, without noting that they just went around to all the places privately founded and settled tens of thousands of years earlier, before big governments existed.
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Old April 21 2014, 04:03 AM   #531
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tonight's episode was an excellent example of the scientific method winning out over corporate interests, and also shows that not all corruption comes from the church. In this case, there are people with science degrees who can be bought, and it takes someone with a genuine interest in getting the facts and the data to everyone in order for such corruption to be exposed.

It's also a good example for people to see that one shouldn't just trust authority, even a scientific authority, without examining the data. Critical thinking, and the use of the Scientific Method, will bear out success, though it might be an uphill climb against prevailing "wisdom."
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Old April 21 2014, 04:11 AM   #532
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Thank goodness, my cable system finally resolved the HD broadcast problems it was having with Cosmos on FOX.

While there was still the usual jab at Creationists here, this episode took on another target, using Clair Patterson's battle with the oil industry as an allegory for the current political struggle over climate change. I found myself thinking how much more political this show is than the original -- but then I remembered that Sagan's Cosmos was intensely political in its way, addressing the perils of nuclear war and thus implicitly challenging the hawkish policies of the Reagan era. Maybe it's just that back then, there was one overriding issue to focus on, whereas now the issues are more diverse.

Anyway, I wasn't pleased when I recognized Seth MacFarlane as Patterson's voice actor; I've really grown to dislike hearing his voice, partly because I hate his shows and partly because I find him such a tiresomely one-note actor, able to do various voices but using the exact same delivery and cadence for all of them. But as the episode went on, I must admit he did show more subtlety and range in his characterization than he normally did -- perhaps because he was playing a more diffident character than his various roles on his animated shows. I wouldn't call it an excellent performance, but it was reasonably okay.
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Old April 21 2014, 04:15 AM   #533
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

I don't really see a jab at Creationists, other than that these are facts about the Earth's origins, and they don't like them. It's like people who insist the Earth is flat, and get disgruntled every time a spherical/ovoid Earth is shown onscreen. They're going to dislike it no matter what.

Quite frankly, if I didn't think it would waste precious time, I'd like to see jabs at Creationists. Right now, they're trying to fuck around with science, especially science education, and I want their fantasy neverland bullshit out of it.
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Old April 21 2014, 04:38 AM   #534
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Christopher wrote: View Post
Anyway, I wasn't pleased when I recognized Seth MacFarlane as Patterson's voice actor; I've really grown to dislike hearing his voice, partly because I hate his shows and partly because I find him such a tiresomely one-note actor, able to do various voices but using the exact same delivery and cadence for all of them.
FYI Patterson's voice wasn't provided by Seth MacFarlane. It was provided by Richard Gere.
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Old April 21 2014, 05:17 AM   #535
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

..and he sounded NOTHING at all like MacFarlane.
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Old April 21 2014, 07:07 AM   #536
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

The reveal about lead poisoning made me wonder why they did such a dumb introduction, implying Patterson was seeing some kind of germs everywhere, and later finding out he was imagining splotches of lead...

The rest of the episode was interesting, though.


BTW, original Cosmos' political agenda wasn't only about nuclear war/nuclear winter. There was a fair bit of environmentalism in that as well, in the episode about the whales and pollution. Our species certainly hasn't learned a damn thing in 30 years.
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Old April 21 2014, 07:15 AM   #537
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

We're the kind of species that can see we're destroying, can see the history of our destruction, and will still go on doing it anyway, because somehow things will work out and we'll be fine. In short, our species is filled with morons running blindly towards the edge of a cliff, and they're taking the rest of us with them.
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Old April 21 2014, 12:17 PM   #538
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

J. Allen wrote: View Post
Tonight's episode was an excellent example of the scientific method winning out over corporate interests, and also shows that not all corruption comes from the church. In this case, there are people with science degrees who can be bought, and it takes someone with a genuine interest in getting the facts and the data to everyone in order for such corruption to be exposed.
I typed out a Tweet last night during a commercial break, but then didn't post it because some people wouldn't have realized I was being saracastic. It ran something like:

"Remember, consumers and employees, the right of corporations to profit trumps your right to life and health #COSMOS"

Timewalker wrote: View Post
The reveal about lead poisoning made me wonder why they did such a dumb introduction, implying Patterson was seeing some kind of germs everywhere, and later finding out he was imagining splotches of lead...
I thought Clare Patterson was experiencing some sort of phildickian reality collapse. Then, the commercial break where he's being tailed by shadowy people, I went, "Yep, he's in a phildickian nightmare! PKD was right!"
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Old April 21 2014, 01:18 PM   #539
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

I dunno, I thought the second half was a big waste of time. Learning how they determined the age of the earth was interesting and to the point of the show. Spending 1/2 hour on the politics of leaded gasoline was not what I want from this show. It was worth a mention, sure, before moving on. But all that time? Dull.
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Old April 21 2014, 02:33 PM   #540
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

J. Allen wrote: View Post
I don't really see a jab at Creationists, other than that these are facts about the Earth's origins, and they don't like them.
Tyson began his discussion by talking about James Ussher's 17th-century calculation of the age of the Earth by finding a dateable event in the Bible (the death of Nebuchadnezzar) and extrapolating back from the number of generations since Adam, concluding that the Earth had been created on a certain precise day and time in 4004 BC. That calculation, and others based on similar assumptions and methods, are at the very heart of Young-Earth Creationist dogma, and the very reason they refuse to accept modern scientific evidence about Earth's prehistory. (Ever see Inherit the Wind?) So Tyson's entire discussion about the age of the Earth was a direct challenge to the very foundations of Creationism.


Forbin wrote: View Post
I dunno, I thought the second half was a big waste of time. Learning how they determined the age of the earth was interesting and to the point of the show. Spending 1/2 hour on the politics of leaded gasoline was not what I want from this show. It was worth a mention, sure, before moving on. But all that time? Dull.
The point of Cosmos has never been purely about abstract science. It's always been about what science means to our lives, including what it reveals about important political and social issues. What Carl Sagan did for the debate over nuclear arms, Tyson is doing for the debate over climate change, by using the Romans' and the oil companies' reckless disregard for the hazards of lead as an allegory for modern society's reckless disregard for the hazards of greenhouse gases.

And, as J. Allen said, it was about science as a process and as a social phenomenon, the ways it can be used and abused, the ways it impacts our lives. Surely teaching children that scientific thinking is directly relevant to our everyday lives, our health and safety, is even more important than teaching them how we calculated the age of the Earth. Knowing the facts and methods of science is meaningless if we don't teach children (and adults) why it matters.
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