Robert Tracinski At The Federalist: ‘Neil DeGrasse Tyson & The Metaphysical Dilemma Of The Left’

Full piece here.

Explainers and popularizers often run into the problem of hubris; what they know of their limited fields is limited (even and especially if it is physics). They can often be pressed to become public figures and end-up cogitating on everything under the sun.  If left out in public too long, bad things can happen.

Not all Neil DeGrasse Tyson followers are Leftist ideologues I imagine; people constantly on the lookout to advance their ideological preferences and failed theory of history under the veneer of (S)cience.  Many people, however, are clearly trying to put something into, and take something out-of, DeGrasse Tyson that has little to do with physics.

Human ignorance and metaphysical scorn towards the sciences aren’t merely the provinces of religion either, as the need for meaning, purpose, belonging, identity etc. are ever-present.  The radical, nihilist, and anarchic types more often found under the banner of liberalism are clear proof of that. The group-think and proclamations of evil coming from the Left serves another fine example.

Many artists, writers, musicians etc. are consistently in the meaning-making business through their arts.  Their contributions will live or not live on through following generations and through their art.

I remain highly skeptical of people in the ‘narrative’ business (as I engage in the very same), people who might see their tasks as cultural gatekeepers; perhaps to protect and advance the arts, but who often bring a lot of unexamined ideological and political assumptions along.

This isn’t really science, either.

We should be clear on that part.

Tracinski on the Leftist part:

‘Now put these two together: the left’s imperative to think of itself as a tradition of free-thinkers opposed to religious dogma, and their need for a scientific theory that validates their prejudice against capitalism—and you get the impetus for the whole mentality of what the blogger Ace of Spades calls the “I Love Science Sexually” crowd (a play on the name of a popular Facebook page). And you can also understand their adulation of popularizers like Neil deGrasse Tyson who repeat this conventional wisdom back to them and give it the official imprimatur of science.’

On that note, one of the key questions in political philosophy is:  Who has the moral legitimacy to be in charge?

A general who’s fought honorably in a decisive victory? A religious leader? A scientist with/without practical knowledge of politics and just how local it is?

A Statesman who maintains your favored principles and isn’t too personally or politically compromised to get things done?

What do you think ought to be the duty of a scientist in relation to all of that?

2 thoughts on “Robert Tracinski At The Federalist: ‘Neil DeGrasse Tyson & The Metaphysical Dilemma Of The Left’

  1. Ron,

    Apologies for the lack of clarity…

    Tyson’s become something of an icon, a physicist and popularizer, some of whose popularity i’m guessing relies on current sentiment (the smart, wise black guy it’s ok for white people to like).

    He made a statement advocating a rather popular liberal worldview that tries to claim Enlightenment ideals for itself as a constant march towards progress and often assumes a specious moral superiority. This has more to do with popular sentiment than necessarily with science, religion, epistemology etc.

    I might understand Tyson’s affinity for and pride in the Civil Rights movement, and the necessity he might feel to tie his sympathies with a larger liberal worldview, but that ain’t exactly science.

    A similar worldview can be found in many parts of academia and the culture of places like the New Yorker Magazine and many a liberal arts department.

    There’s a whole culture grown up around ‘loving science’ but really which has more to do with the kinds of people who put Darwin bumper stickers on their cars.

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