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Old April 26 2014, 07:18 PM   #601
davejames
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

tighr wrote: View Post
Recent poll that people who A) are home during normal working hours and B) answer the phone from unknown callers and take polls.

For all I know, Associated Press called me for this poll, and I let it go to voicemail.
It's hardly the first poll to show something like this. It's been known for awhile that the US ranks near the bottom of the list of western countries that believe in evolution and the Big Bang.

We're like #32 of 34 or something like that.
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Old April 26 2014, 08:36 PM   #602
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

davejames wrote: View Post
gturner wrote: View Post
Actually the writer of Cosmos, Carl Sagan's wife, has written quite eloquently that science should become just that, replacing the function of religion by becoming something that inspires humanity's religious sensibilities, sense of awe, and all that.
I don't think she's trying to argue that the purpose of science should be to inspire and provoke wonder, only that those are things that can be derived from science if one is interested in looking for them.

And I don't see any conflict or contradiction at all with having feelings of wonder and spirituality that are grounded in a solid, physical world that can be measured and objectively analyzed. That's far different from religion, which asks us to ground them on nothing but... ancient texts, primal beliefs, and wishful thinking.
I minored in physical & cultural geography in college (major was anthropology). I never appreciated a trip through the Rocky Mountains from Red Deer to Vernon, B.C. so much as during/after taking those classes. Before, during many trips taken throughout my childhood, it was just "pretty scenery." After... when I actually knew what I was looking at and how it came to be that way (including the trip from Red Deer to Calgary, where debris from the glaciers' last retreat is still plainly visible if you know what to look for), I was in AWE. And no, Oprah Winfrey, you may NOT insist that means I believe in god.

That said, the rainforest on Vancouver Island is one of the most spiritual places I've ever been, and the last time I was ever in the Rockies was a quick jaunt to Banff & Canmore in April some years ago, with a friend. We ended up taking a drive to Lake Minnewanka, which was still 99.9% frozen over. It was chilly and the air was crisp... and it was so incredibly beautiful and relaxing there. There's no reason spiritualism and science can't co-exist, as long as it's kept in mind that one is a state of mind and mental well-being and the other is science that explains what it is that gives a person that feeling of well-being.

tighr wrote: View Post
Recent poll that people who A) are home during normal working hours and B) answer the phone from unknown callers and take polls.

For all I know, Associated Press called me for this poll, and I let it go to voicemail.
I never get asked interesting stuff like this, but maybe I'm just not on the right calling list. The last research poll I got called for was whether or not I'm worried that the new polymer Canadian money that replaced the paper bills are more or less likely to be counterfeited.

gturner wrote: View Post
davejames wrote: View Post
Well judging from this recent poll showing only 49% of Americans believing in evolution and the Big Bang, I'd say there is definitely still a need.

Unfortunately at this stage it's going to take a lot more than shows like Cosmos to fix the problem.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/american...ution-ap-poll/
One of the poll questions was whether the universe started 13.8 billion years ago with the big bang.

Given that the best 2013 estimates for the oldest stars in the universe was 14.6 billion years, I'd have answered the poll question with "probably not."
These polls are "recorded for quality assurance and staff training purposes", are they not? That's the standard phrasing in the sessions I've had on the phone with these people. So there's a possibility that some supervisor or other person could actually hear you say, "Y'know, this is a really badly-worded question that won't give you good information." And while the one asking the questions has a script to follow and can't deviate from that, at least your objections would be on record there.

That said, it's the Big Bang that's the more pertinent part of the question, not the exact number of billions of years. I'd have held my nose and stuck up for the Big Bang.
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Old April 27 2014, 12:28 AM   #603
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Christopher wrote: View Post
davejames wrote: View Post
Well judging from this recent poll showing only 49% of Americans believing in evolution and the Big Bang, I'd say there is definitely still a need.
That poll result has been grossly misrepresented by the media. The actual result is that 51% of respondents said they were either "not too confident" or "not at all confident" about the statement "The universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang." Lack of confidence not at all the same as actual disbelief. And the statement is poorly phrased because it's offering two distinct ideas at once and not differentiating between them: Are the respondents not confident that the universe began with a big bang, or are they not confident that it was 13.8 billion years ago? It's really a badly written poll and the way its results have been reported is completely inept.

Also, you're conflating two separate results. The 49% was for the Big Bang question. The evolution question got a total of 55% either "Extremely/very confident" or "somewhat confident." And, again, "not confident" doesn't necessarily equal disbelief.
Pedantry aside, these numbers are still an embarrassment for the US.
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Old April 27 2014, 05:06 AM   #604
davejames
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Christopher wrote: View Post
That poll result has been grossly misrepresented by the media. The actual result is that 51% of respondents said they were either "not too confident" or "not at all confident" about the statement "The universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang." Lack of confidence not at all the same as actual disbelief. And the statement is poorly phrased because it's offering two distinct ideas at once and not differentiating between them: Are the respondents not confident that the universe began with a big bang, or are they not confident that it was 13.8 billion years ago? It's really a badly written poll and the way its results have been reported is completely inept.

Also, you're conflating two separate results. The 49% was for the Big Bang question. The evolution question got a total of 55% either "Extremely/very confident" or "somewhat confident." And, again, "not confident" doesn't necessarily equal disbelief.
I think you're probably giving the respondents a little too much credit here. Maybe the poll could have been worded better, but it's still a safe bet that what most were not "confident" in was the theory itself. Not the fact that they simply did not know the exact date it happened.

If it just came down to not knowing the date, it's likely the question regarding the Earth's age would have gotten the exact same response, since I don't think 4.5 billion is a number everyone just automatically knows (the confidence level sadly still wasn't great, but at least people seem a bit more willing to accept that one).
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Old April 27 2014, 01:58 PM   #605
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

davejames wrote: View Post
I think you're probably giving the respondents a little too much credit here.
I'm not drawing any conclusions about the respondents. My point is that the poll is too badly constructed to permit drawing any reasonable conclusions from it. Just because someone publishes a poll, that doesn't mean we should embrace it as gospel. We should always take a look at the methodology and figure out what it is the poll actually says or doesn't say before we start citing it as truth. And this is too vague a poll to cite as evidence of anything, even something that we have reason to believe is true. We would need better data to support that conclusion.

In general, it should always be presumed that anything the mass media report about science is probably wrong or distorted, because most reporters don't understand a damn thing about science. So skepticism toward science news is an essential defense mechanism. Whatever it is the headlines and articles say, we should reflexively question it. We should look past the headlines, track down the original data, and take a careful look at what it actually says, rather than just trusting a reporter's spin on it.
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Old April 28 2014, 03:22 AM   #606
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Interesting episode this week, though the discussion of the fates of larger stars was kind of rushed, I felt. I really liked the visualizations of Eta Carinae and its nebula, which have been of considerable interest to me for years as a possible subject for my fiction. What he said about the effects of the hypernova on surrounding systems agrees closely with my understanding, so that's reassuring.

Nice focus on the overlooked female scientists. I liked the reference to the fact that the word "computer" originally meant a person -- usually a woman -- whose job was to perform meticulous calculations. What we call computers today were originally called electronic computers, because they were a technological way of doing a job that had formerly been done by humans. Although I think the narration could've explained that better, since the "computers" reference might've sounded confusing to people who didn't know the original meaning.

A lot of Sagan quotes in this one. The standout was "A still more glorious dawn awaits," which I think Sagan said about the exact same idea in the original, the dawn of the galaxy as seen from a world around a globular cluster (though I don't the galaxy would be bright enough from that distance to be fully visible -- the core would, but the disk would probably be fainter). But there were also allusions to a couple of episode titles from the original Cosmos, "The Lives of the Stars" and "The Backbone of Night." (Although they avoided quoting Sagan's famous "We are starstuff," going with "stardust" instead.)
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Old April 28 2014, 06:33 AM   #607
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

That was a great episode. Our Sun is a good egg, I don't think we're grateful enough.
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Old April 28 2014, 07:29 AM   #608
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Christopher wrote: View Post
Nice focus on the overlooked female scientists.
I first read about Henrietta Levitt in a book about star names. It's fascinating to trace how the stars were named by the different cultures, what the names mean, and what their official designations tell us about them.

A lot of Sagan quotes in this one. The standout was "A still more glorious dawn awaits," which I think Sagan said about the exact same idea in the original, the dawn of the galaxy as seen from a world around a globular cluster (though I don't the galaxy would be bright enough from that distance to be fully visible -- the core would, but the disk would probably be fainter). But there were also allusions to a couple of episode titles from the original Cosmos, "The Lives of the Stars" and "The Backbone of Night." (Although they avoided quoting Sagan's famous "We are starstuff," going with "stardust" instead.)
I recognized those quotes, but dammit, the music in the original Cosmos - the original, before the "Cosmos Update" revised episodes - was spectacular. This time it was... much less so.

Awesome Possum wrote: View Post
That was a great episode. Our Sun is a good egg, I don't think we're grateful enough.
Agreed. And considering that some day we're all going to end up together in the same cloud of interstellar dust, it makes a lot of current stuff going on around the world seem awfully petty.
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Old April 28 2014, 08:19 AM   #609
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

I love our Sun.

I'm curious as to what our world will be like one billion years from now, when the Sun gains 10% more luminosity. I figure "hot" will be an understatement.
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Old April 28 2014, 08:26 AM   #610
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

I'd bet at that point there would STILL be idiots running around denying that global warming was occurring.
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Old April 28 2014, 08:30 AM   #611
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Timewalker wrote: View Post
I'd bet at that point there would STILL be idiots running around denying that global warming was occurring.
"The earth has ALWAYS been 95% land! This need to reduce carbon emissions is foolhardy!"
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Old April 28 2014, 01:57 PM   #612
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

J. Allen wrote: View Post
I love our Sun.

I'm curious as to what our world will be like one billion years from now, when the Sun gains 10% more luminosity. I figure "hot" will be an understatement.
It felt like something was cut out there for time, like he was going to say more on the subject but then it just jumped to the next bit. Because a billion years from now is when science estimates that the Earth will cease to be habitable altogether -- unless we engage in some kind of massive engineering like moving its orbit outward, or lifting enough hydrogen from the Sun to make it a cooler, longer-lived star.
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Old April 28 2014, 02:25 PM   #613
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Hober Mallow wrote: View Post
Dennis wrote: View Post
Yep, there are aggressively ignorant people in the world.
Many of them are running the world. Scientifically illiterate people vote for scientifically illiterate representatives who go on to, among other things, set environmental policy.
No.

In the U.S., at least, single-issue voters rarely swing elections except in the most extreme of districts - and climate change is not nearly as contentious an issue as, oh, gun regulation. It's not like there are scads of reps here who've won their seats because of their vociferous and dedicated declarations that they don't believe the evidence indicating man-made climate change.

If there are strong anti-environmental currents in electoral politics here it's because they tend to bundle with local economic anxiety - belief that this or that proposal will cause job problems. Fears about immediate consequences outweigh long-term concerns.

Anyway, last night's episode seemed to be one of the better-written ones. I fell asleep somewhere after the explanation that the Pleiades were all formed in one "stellar nursery," which I guess was past the half-hour mark.
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Old April 28 2014, 05:15 PM   #614
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Timewalker wrote: View Post
I'd bet at that point there would STILL be idiots running around denying that global warming was occurring.
No, they'll be pointing out the same things they do now.

"The planet isn't warming because of my charcoal grill, it's warming because the giant ball of fusion in the sky is having a solar grand maximum. Aside from the small increase in visible light output, the large increase in UV affects the Earth's upper atmosphere, while the expansion of the sun's magnetic field shields the Earth from more cosmic rays, reducing cloud formation and decreasing the Earth's albedo, while leaving more water as heat-trapping vapor instead of light-reflecting clouds."
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Old April 28 2014, 05:47 PM   #615
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Re: Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

This show, while I'm enjoying it and will not miss an episode, pales in comparison to Carl Sagan's show.

It's not the content or the visuals, it's the narration.

Carl's narration was what made the show...

They would have done much better not choosing Tyson.

The "Dirty jobs" guy would have been much much better.

Neil is so hard to listen too...

The music is very well done. I hear some "trek" in there...
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