Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Ancient Mariner, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. Awesome Possum

    Awesome Possum Look up here, I’m in heaven Moderator

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    It beats extinction and it's happening all the time.
     
  2. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Big Jake, from the side view, she was definitely sub-Saharan African. I assume Seth McFarlane or somebody told the cartoonist to make an ethnic looking character, and they just threw a dart at a wall, not realizing that Iraqis look less ethnic than most Mexicans, and could easily be mistaken for Albanians or Italians, if not Brits like Elizabeth Hurley.

    Timewalker, evolution of a massive interconnected species would require winnowing the gene pool. It's an interplay of both winners (who reproduce) and losers (who don't). Do you care to nominate some losers so we can make sure they quit breeding? Have any favored traits to select for? Any favorite races?

    Back in the 1930's a similar view to NGT's was common, holding that humans would evolve to lose all but one finger because the future was pushing big fat buttons on giant machines. Unasked was what would be killing off all the ten-fingered people.

    The gene pools shifts if a successful group out-reproduces less successful groups (Idiocracy?), often by having the less successful groups starve or die young. Are there any plans I don't know about to cause below average people to die from car crashes or easily cured infections or not hook up? If we travel to Mars, are we going to try and kill off the 90 percent of settlers whose genes just aren't cutting it, or are we going to engineer ways for all humans to stay alive and fertile after arrival?

    What Tyson and you are suggesting sounds like Lysenkoism, whereby the act of simply placing us in a new environment somehow changes our genes without the nasty bit about selecting the few who will make it to the next generation and culling the rest. Given that we live in a capitalist democracy where the people to cull buy things to keep themselves healthy and alive, and vote, I don't see a long-term prospect of getting them to volunteer to exit the gene pool.
     
  3. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    :cardie: Huh?

    Please tell me we're not discussing the size of her arse. Please.

    EDIT: No, SRSLY. PLEASE.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2014
  4. bryce

    bryce Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, hopefully it won't take another 34 years to get a 3rd miniseries...

    I wonder who will be the host for a Cosmos 3? Maybe some kid at home watching this right now...
     
  5. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    Isn't he wonderful? :adore:

    That's exactly what I'm hoping will happen (and yeah, sooner than 3 decades, please!). :)
     
  6. bryce

    bryce Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Unfortunately, or, for better or worse....this version isn't on PBS like versions 1 was, so we get commercials...and thus less content.

    I would love to find out that there's an hour-long episode extended version out there waiting for DVD...but I doubt there is.

    (I also miss the music of the original...I still have the soundtrack - on vinyl.)

    And I miss some of the WOW! stuff like when Sagan explained Flatland...or the idea that our universe could be just an atom in a much bigger...something...(well, I suppose the multiverse idea gets into that kinda...)
     
  7. bryce

    bryce Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I once asked an very smart anthropologist friend (who had worked for years with the Leakey's) if she thought that we would spectate as we (*if* we) spread out into space...and
    she said that she didn't thinks so, because in space (and ocean) travel, we take our environments with us. (So far in little tin cans. BUt then there is terraforming.)

    But what neither of us had considered is not only will we try to terraform planets to fit us - which is a process than can take centuries, even (more likely) millennia - but we may find it easier and meet things halfway and also planetform *people* to fit new environments. A process which, with genetic engineering may take just a generation or two - or with advanced nanotech, maybe in a single organisms life. Maybe in months o days or hours or minutes.

    Also who's to say that a colony of humans who live full-time in, say, microgravity wouldn't adapt...there's LOTS of pressure there to winnow out the weak, and not only select gene lines who's phenotype's wouldn't lose bone so easy...but who, say, have feet that are more like hands...
     
  8. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    It was specially made to air on FOX, so there's nothing missing. If you watch it on National Geographic, though, you get 3 extra minutes of behind the scenes stuff, since NatGeo has fewer commercials than FOX.
     
  9. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    :vulcan:

    Oh, please. You are NOT going to suggest I'm looking at this from a racist pov, are you? One of the important moments in how my worldview developed was when my physical anthropology instructor in college told us that there is only ONE race - the HUMAN race. We are all one species.

    You evidently have no idea what it takes for someone to "volunteer to exit the gene pool." I made that decision 30 years ago, when I found out what kind of genetic legacy was being passed along to the females on my mother's side of the family. For the past 4 generations that I know of, nearly every woman has had cancer, and not all survived. Of the women currently alive, only my youngest aunt and I have so far been spared. I made the decision many years ago that I was not going to subject any further generations to the worry and grief that we've had to live with. It won't do much in the long run to help the human species, but at least it won't do further harm.

    Since I'm an only child, it also means that my father's side of the family stops with me. That does sadden me, since that side of my family has been traced back over a thousand years and the North American branch has come to a halt because I decided not to have children.


    As for being changed physically when we move to a very different environment, I can easily see humans adapting to different kinds of gravity, or no gravity at all. Or maybe humans will turn out to not flourish in weightlessness; that's something only time can tell us. I'm not saying anything will happen quickly. I take the long view regarding such issues, and keep in mind that we can kick and scream all we want to about ideology and economics and other petty human concerns, but nature will have the last say. And as I've said before - nature simply doesn't care who survives, or if anyone does at all.

    I miss the wonderful international music, and it would have been cool if they'd done an homage to the "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe" quote.
     
  10. AgentCoop

    AgentCoop Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    gturner doesn't seem to understand that natural selection occurs regardless of whether WE try to influence it or not. It's not some sinister eugenics program. It's a natural process that is occurring right now. You may not like the idea, but nature ultimately doesn't care what we think.
     
  11. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Everybody's is ethnic, even Elizabeth Hurley.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Okay, I wasn't sure about that.


    I'm very well aware of that, thank you. I'm not talking about her complexion, I'm talking about the shape of her features, especially in profile. She looked a lot like Gina Torres, for instance. There's more to ethnic variation than skin tone, and she was drawn to look more sub-Saharan African than Middle Eastern/Semitic.

    Of course, it's certainly possible that there would've been enough cultural migration and intermingling that someone from outside the region could've moved there and had children, that maybe Sargon took a wife from another part of the world -- but that level of mobility that early in history seems unlikely. And more to the point, her design here didn't resemble the one known image we have of Enheduanna. Usually the cartoon images on this show are pretty exact renderings based on existing photos or paintings of the real people, but the cartoon Enheduanna looked a lot younger, thinner, and prettier than the one in the carving.
     
  13. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    The point wasn't that she was the earliest person whose name we know. The episode didn't say that at all. It said she's the first person whose writing we can put to a name. We know of other, earlier stories, but those stories originated in oral histories and their original authors are unknown. She's the first whose thoughts were put down into a permanent form that we can attribute to her, personally.

    No argument on the portrayal of her appearance, though. As far as I'm aware, ancient Sumerian complexions would've been somewhere in the tan/white area, not the darker brown shown. I'll take that as laziness in research rather than some deliberate agenda, though it is a bit disappointing.

    Although NDT's narration wasn't so in-your-face, the animation very clearly evoked the Noah story. I'm not sure that was really necessary except as a "fuck you" to religious literalists. The show should strive to be better than that. I don't much care for it when it veers into anti-religious polemic. I didn't mind the first few times but when it's a fixture of virtually every episode I find it tiresome and ax-grindy.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think it's important to be clear that being opposed to religious literalism is not, in any way, the same thing as being opposed to religion. On the contrary, the kind of literalism that creationists embrace is a gross misunderstanding of religion, because they assume that religious writings have no meaning beyond the surface text and the literal, physical description, which is profoundly missing the entire point of religion.
     
  15. AgentCoop

    AgentCoop Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Agreed 1000%. The show isn't anti-religion. The show is anti-ignorance. There's a difference. I'm an atheist, but I don't view religious people as ignorant. Nor, in my estimation, does Cosmos.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Indeed. Showing that the Noah myth had an antecedent in Utnapishtim wasn't a dismissal of that myth, because Tyson himself (and Druyan and Soter, the writers) used Noah's Ark as an analogy for the orbiting ejecta that kept bacteria alive in space until the Earth became habitable again after impact events. It was just an acknowledgment that the story is linked to other stories and can have meaning as a metaphor beyond just one telling. Myths are symbols, not news reports. That's what the literalists don't understand.
     
  17. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    The show only ever invokes religion in a derisive manner so I'm not sure how one could draw the conclusion that it's not anti-religion. It very obviously is.

    It's not enough to make me not watch it but they could assume the audience isn't made up of morons and that we got it after the first two (or three, or four) "here's a stupid thing religion did" stories.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's completely false. The show has repeatedly acknowledged that many of its scientist heroes were inspired by their religious faith. It has often used the language of religion to talk about its scientific principles, like the Noah's Ark analogy I mentioned above. So it's not at all opposed to religion. It's acknowledged many times that faith can inspire people to open their minds and seek out the wonders of the universe. What it's opposed to is narrow-mindedness and anti-intellectualism, to the people in past and present who have corrupted religion into an excuse to suppress free thought or learning, to people so petty that they imagine the mind of God is as narrow as their own.

    The problem is that we live in an age where people like that dominate the discourse and claim that to be against their narrow-minded fundamentalism is the same thing as being against religion in general. But I've known many devoutly religious people who would despise people like that, or at least recognize that they've missed the point of what religion is.
     
  19. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    That is a very, very charitable interpretation of how the show has portrayed religion.

    Your argument is basically that the show's repeated slams against religion don't matter because it very rarely threw a bone in the direction of individuals of faith accomplishing something positive (generally in the face of their religious establishment.) That's the textbook definition of damning with faint praise.

    Well, maybe the showrunners should have considered that every episode doesn't need an anti-religion sidebar. This past one had NDT talking about how all the gods of the ancient world were angry--or at least, that was each society's explanation for the massive drought. It's true, those peoples couldn't have known the true cause, but then there's this consistent trend with this show lamenting the ignorance of ancient (and not-so-ancient) people, almost always framed in a religious context. It constructs a very us-vs.-them narrative.
     
  20. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Such as?

    From what I've seen, the show hasn't slammed religion, but rather authoritarian, closed-minded people who chose to either ignore or suppress (or both) facts and knowledge. Rather, the message, to me anyway, is that scientific thought (and progress) and religious faith are are not mutually exclusive - a point which the show repeatedly drives home by mentioning that the vast majority of its scientific heroes were also people of faith.

    But it's possible that I've overlooked something, so if you could provide some examples of "repeated slams against religion," I'd be appreciative. From my perspective, though, the example of the droughts, in the most recent episode, isn't a "slam" against religion - rather, it's pointing out that our technology can progress beyond our understanding of the consequences. It's a lesson that's relevant today because, unlike they "ancients" who did not yet possess the tools to understand their world, we do. If anything, it's a "slam" against modern anti-intellectualism. At least the ancients had a valid excuse. We don't.
     

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