Cosmos - With Neil deGrasse Tyson

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

  1. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    Indeed it is. I had initially pre-ordered, then had to cancel when I didn't have enough to get it, so now I'm waiting a few months for the price to drop, which it most certainly will. Once it does, I'll grab it up and have it for my own personal collection.

    One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is that they make the science accessible to the layperson, without being condescending about it. Plus, it also helps that the science behind the series is solid, peer reviewed information, rather than the trumped up, candied folderol we often get on so called "science" and "history" channels.

    For me, I'll be happy if one new scientist emerges from watching the series. I do hope that children watching were inspired, and that adults watching were able to absorb the science into what they thought they knew about life and the universe.
     
  2. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If it's any indication, my (7 year-old) daughter really enjoyed it. And for her to watch a documentary about anything other than animals is quite an accomplishment. :lol:

    But yeah, this really stretched her mind a bit, and we had some good discussions about the lives of stars, the environment, and so forth. Afterward, I also showed her a few of the original episodes, too. Needless to say, she's hooked. ;)
     
  3. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    I think you must have me confused with the show.

    Well, since you have read my posts, you can reread the claims yourself by simply hitting the buttons on your browser. :)

    And of course I have to provide the timestamps and transcript because I'm the only person who can still access any of the show's video. Sadly, I'm tied up this weekend and won't be able to review the 13 episodes, so you'll all have to patiently wait, wondering what NGT could have possibly said. If only one of you had a device like TiVo, or had thought to somehow record the program when it aired. :(

    But I do recall episode 13, where NGT said

    "So in the 4th century AD, when the mob came to destroy the library and the genius of classical civilization, there were not enough people to defend it. What will happen the next time the mob comes?"

    According to Plutarch, the Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed accidentally by Caesar during the city's siege. Anything that may have remained was destroyed during a later siege, long prior to the 4th century, but even by then any surviving scrolls were likely long gone. What was destroyed in 391 AD were pagan temples, and neither the pagans nor the Christians involved in the destruction ever said anything about any books, scrolls, or writings being there.

    Layers of fact checking...
     
  4. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    That is awesome. My niece isn't totally into it at the moment, but she does love the science posters on my wall, and she likes reading my copy of "The Greatest Show on Earth" by Richard Dawkins. She's only 7, but she's so smart, and I am so proud. Much like you must be with your daughter. :D
     
  5. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ... based on their track record in this thread alone, I don't trust anything your posts say without proper, accurate substantiation.

    For example, you originally posted:
    Cosmos never said anything about Hypatia being the reason for the destruction of the library (her name was mentioned, just once, when NDT touched a scroll, identifying her as an author), nor anything about the mob itself (that mob was made up of Christians, and that was left out of the episode, demonstrates the show's sensitivity toward religion):
    Considering that, when it comes to fact checking, we have to start with your posts to begin with, I'd say that speaks volumes to the content they contain.

    To repeat an oft-used phrase: Exactly so. It's amazing to watch the connections being made. My daughter was doing homework last week on three dimensional shapes and, out of the blue, asked about 4 dimensions. So I did the only reasonable thing and showed her the episode from the original Cosmos in which Sagan talked about Flatworld and the Tesseract. She was mesmerized and proceeded to watch the rest of the episode. She wants to watch the others, too. :techman:
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually he may have been talking about the original Cosmos here, since Sagan did go into more depth about Hypatia. But it doesn't say she was killed because she was a pagan scientist, but that she was killed because she represented science and learning, which the early Christian church of that particular time and place associated with the paganism they were trying to eradicate -- and because she was an advisor of Alexandria's governor Orestes, who was in a bitter political feud with Bishop Cyril, the man driving the persecution of non-Christians. (According to the book Cosmos, pp. 335-6 of the 1980 Random House harcover edition.)

    Although it should be noted that Cyril's policies were seen as extreme and unethical by many rank-and-file Christians.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatia#Events_leading_to_her_murder
     
  7. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Considering he only offered a quote from the new Cosmos as support for his assertions, I disagree. But even allowing for that possibility, as you note, the post in question still misrepresents what was said, in either the show: "In the year 415 A.D., on her way to work, she was set upon by a fanatical mob of Cyril's followers" (again, yes, they were the follower of a Bishop, but the show doesn't explicitly identify the mob itself as Christians - but rather as fanatics).
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Except it's a matter of historical record that they were Christians -- although of course they were fundamentalist Christians fired up by a particularly zealous individual, Bishop Cyril, and there were many other Christians who condemned the atrocity they committed. So yes, the point is that they were fanatics, but that they were Christians (or at least were self-identified as such) is not a matter of dispute.
     
  9. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No one is disputing that they were Christians, Christopher. The dispute is what Cosmos actually said about the mob itself (as well as Hypatia). In neither version of the series was the mob explicitly labeled "Christians." In one, it was "the mob" and in the other it was "the fanatical mob of Cyril's followers." It's akin to making the distinction between Muslims and Islamic Extremists. The post in question ignored the fact that such a distinction was made within the show.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^No, you're taking things out of context. The portion of the book that I cited earlier, pp. 335-6 does explicitly mention that "the growing Christian Church was consolidating its power," that Cyril was the Archbishop of Alexandria (a Christian title), that "the early Church" identified Alexandrian science and scholarship with its pagan tradition, that she was set upon by "a fanatical mob of Cyril's parishioners" (emphasis added), and that Cyril was made a saint afterward. So yes, of course Cosmos acknowledged that they were Christians, because that is a fact and what we're standing for here is the importance of accepting facts whether they suit our agendas or not. By trying to weasel out of something so inarguable, you're sinking to the same dishonest tactics the opposition is using, and that undermines what we're standing for. Yes, the series did make plenty of distinctions between religious people as a whole and those extremists who abuse religion, but the original did, in fact, acknowledge that Hypatia's murderers were acting on behalf of a Christian archbishop.
     
  11. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You're misunderstanding the point entirely, Christopher. I have not once ignored the context (that fact that the mob itself was made up of Christian followers). Even when the only provided context was the new episode, which did not mention Christianity at all, I acknowledged that the mob itself was Christian ("that mob was made up of Christians, and that was left out of the episode"). As for the original series, even though the (original) show specifically pointed out that Cyril was a Bishop of the Church (another point I acknowledged: "again, yes, they were followers of a Bishop"), when describing the mob itself, the show did not call it a "Christian mob" - but rather a "fanatical mob".

    The point is, the show makes the distinction between labeling the mob in terms as general as "a Christian mob" because, as you yourself pointed out, "it should be noted that Cyril's policies were seen as extreme and unethical by many rank-and-file Christians." Therefore the mob was not representative of all Christians and it would have been irresponsible for the show to describe it as such - as was asserted by the post in question: "Hypatia, who Cosmos claimed was killed by Christians".

    It's an important distinction because I could say: "The Twin Towers were destroyed by Muslims." But that's a fundamental misrepresentation of Muslims and the Muslim faith. It's far more appropriate to say, "The Twin Towers were destroyed by a fanatical mob of Bin Laden's followers." With respect to Hypatia's murder, the original series was very careful to make such a distinction. The post in question ignored that distinction and sought to paint the series in a very different light. That is the point of contention.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The problem is, it is a simple fact that it was a mob of Christians. That does not smear all Christians, of course, because obviously the followers of any religion are diverse. So there's no rational reason to shy away from that simple turn of phrase. If the person you're debating with is trying to twist it into an attack on all Christians, that's their willful misreading of the evidence, and by allowing them to define the terms their way, you're giving too much ground.

    The people who bombed the World Trade Center were, in fact, Muslims. They were bad Muslims, corrupting and betraying the tenets of their professed faith, but they were still Muslims. Anyone who twists that into an attack on all Muslims is an awful, lying scumbag, but the objective fact is still there. We mustn't let other people's distortion and abuse of the facts frighten us out of acknowledging simple, neutral facts. What we need to do is not avoid those facts, but contextualize them. Bin Laden's followers were Muslims and Hypatia's murderers were Christians, but we need to place their particular extremist interpretations of their respective faiths in the context of what other members of their faiths believe.
     
  13. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    I think my heart just melted. :lol:

    Great parenting: You're doing it right! :bolian:
     
  14. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Thanks J.! :techman:

    That is, precisely, the point of contention. Cosmos made that distinction - that contextualization - for the mob that killed Hypatia. The post in question asserted that it did not, that the series used a turn of phrase that would have been contextually inappropriate. It's just another example of similar posts that freely misrepresent the facts.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And that post's assertion was wrong, which is my point. Just mentioning that they were Christians does not damn all Christians, and claiming that it does is a lie. We mustn't give into the mindset that every bit of data is ideologically loaded, because that can make us afraid to acknowledge basic data. Some things are just objective information. It's the context that gives them meaning.
     
  16. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Overall, I agree with you. However, given the source of the information (which has repeatedly misrepresented otherwise objective information) as well as the erroneous context (the new show which did not mention Hypatia's death at all) provided by that source, this particular bit of information was not objectively, or accurately, presented.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't deny that, but if our side resorts to weaselly phrases like "Well, the show didn't say they were Christian" when it's a historical fact that they were, then we're the ones failing to be objective. We have to be critical of our own tactics, not just those of the opposition. That's part of having integrity, and it's part of thinking scientifically.
     
  18. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, well, I'm not sure what you're objecting to with my posts, then. Because I never said that the original show didn't acknowledge that the mob was Christian in origin (to be clear, though, the new show - which was the only contextualization provided for the post in question - made no mention of Christianity, and I still made sure to acknowledge the origin of the mob). I was very clear that my point was that the original show didn't explicitly label the mob that killed Hypatia as a "Christian mob" - rather, it made a point of distinguishing and contextualizing that it was a "fanatical mob." The key point for the show was that this was a murder by fanatics, rather than Christians - which is an all-too-general term to use to describe the specific fanatical subset of its followers that carried out a heinous crime - because that episode was, explicitly, an activist message to protect against fanatical (nationalistic, anti-environmental) beliefs.
     
  19. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Well, first off we don't know that she wasn't doing her darndest to get Orestes to crush Cyril and his followers, as the city roiled in a nasty series of massacres (apparently first of Christians lured into an ambush by Jews, and then the Christians expelling all the Jews and taking all their stuff). This upset other Christians like Orestes, whose city just lost a big hunk of its population. Hypatia taught Christians, Jews, and Pagans, included Orestes, and Orestes often sought her counsel.

    The threats were flying thick and fast, people were being killed, and even Orestes had been bloodied by a rock hurled by a monk, who Orestes then put to death. If Hypatia was in the middle of it (and given her philosophy and position, how could she not be?), then the people involved in the violent dispute would view her as a threat and a valid target, and perhaps a convenient way to sent a brutal message to Orestes.

    How anyone gets a clear-cut anti-science message out of that is beyond me, because the details are so sketchy that you could make up almost any message about it, and indeed people have. Some of those would have been the basis of Sagan's retelling, perhaps this one from 1720, titled "Hypatia: or, The history of a most beautiful, most vertuous, most learned, and every way accomplish'd lady; who was torn to pieces by the clergy of Alexandria, to gratify the pride, emulation, and cruelty of their archbishop, commonly but undeservedly styled St. Cyril." That book used her in an attack the Catholic Church, and the Catholics responded the following year with "The History of Hypatia, a most Impudent School-Mistress of Alexandria: Murder'd and torn to Pieces by the Populace, in Defence of Saint Cyril and the Alexandrian Clergy from the Aspersions of Mr. Toland"

    Some books even say Hypatia was a Christian.

    And then we have the confusion over the Great Library of Alexandria being burned by a mob in 391 AD versus Julius Caesar accidentally burning it in 48 BC. Perhaps it seems like a nitpick, but that's like thinking the Inca empire was conquered by the Spanish in 1971 instead of 1523, and it's longer than the span of time that's elapsed since the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock.
     
  20. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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