Science Needs This Brand of Messaging

Human beings have made such magnificent, grandiose leaps in our lifetime because of science; it astounds me that there is such stubbornness about the merits of the scientific process and its conclusions. Americans enjoy the benefits of our scientifically-based technology and information, to the point of blind obedience and forced conformity, yet scientists continue to be ostracized in the court of public opinion.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey broadcast near the beginning of this month, and it is a refreshing appeal, in 2014, to reconsider the validity of the scientific process by enjoying its message. A reinvigoration of Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos series (A Personal Journey), the show succeeds with its simplicity of exposition, its vividly-graphic imagery, its historic review, and its detailing of the grandiose sense of scale with both space and time. The intellectual narration of Neil deGrasse Tyson gives such credibility to the series.

In the first episode, titled “Standing Up in the Milky Way,” I was struck by the inclusion of the story of Giordano Bruno. It is frightening to understand that free thought and ideas might be stifled and suppressed in an individual, by sixteenth-century institutional religion and government; it is most disturbing to comprehend that such suppression of scientific thought still occurs in twenty-first-century American society.

How can we still have individuals that insist the Earth is only 6,000 years old in present-day America? How do talking heads get away with denying scientific validity in favor of financial gain and acquisition, not for the benefit of the many, but the few? How can Christians insist that God allows for man’s vanity, when it is God’s creation, the planet Earth, which is being abused, as science continues to inform us? How can science and religion have such opposition, when scientific thought originated from attempting to understand God? How can politicians insist that scientific process has little validity when it comes to policy creation, social construction, or our country’s future? How do journalists get away with opposing scientific research under the auspices of intellectual authority?

Bruno’s history has inspired many ponderings, most of which I assume can only be answered by understanding humanity’s long-standing historic stubbornness of opposition to the scientific process…and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is well-written, well-planned, and thought-provoking; if science needs propaganda, then it’d be a challenge to find a better vehicle. In a time of intellectually stagnant television, where Jersey Shore, Duck Dynasty, and Honey Boo-Boo have enjoyed incredible ratings, I might assume that the general viewership of television has become incapable of greater intellectualism. Once upon a time, it was understood that television was an important educational tool for the American consumer. I’d advocate more programming like Cosmos, if we are to regain some intellectual capacity, collectively.

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Scott C. Guffey
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