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    Thread: Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey Discussion Thread

    1. #1
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey Discussion Thread

      I'm putting this here so that we can discuss the science presented in the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. The first episode premiered tonight.

      We can also discuss the history presented, which is what I want to comment on first.

      In the first episode, the story of Giordano Bruno is used to illustrate the wider adoption of the heliocentric model of the solar system as well as how it was suppressed by the Catholic church. They present Bruno as a martyr of science, implying that the main reason he was persecuted and eventually burned at the stake was due to his cosmological views. The show really played him up to be a rebel, giving him [sometimes great] lines like "Your god is too small!"

      From my rudimentary understanding of Bruno, it seems like the show played fast and loose with history. His cosmological heresy was a contributing factor in his persecution, but not as much as his theological heresy.

      I understand this is a show meant for a wide audience with a huge gradient in science understanding, but I think Bruno's story was an inappropriate oversimplification of history.

      Otherwise I thought this first episode was awesome. There were so many lines from the original series sprinkled throughout it. Fans of the original will love it.
      Last edited by BLUELINE976; 03-10-2014 at 04:27 AM.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
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    2. #2
      D.V. Editor-in-Chief Original Poster's Avatar
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      Television rarely fails to over-simplify anything. Could you elaborate on his "theological heresy" though? I haven't seen the episode yet, I intend to watch it after I'm done with Walking Dead and True Detective in order to decompress.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    3. #3
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      Television rarely fails to over-simplify anything. Could you elaborate on his "theological heresy" though? I haven't seen the episode yet, I intend to watch it after I'm done with Walking Dead and True Detective in order to decompress.
      What I mean by theological heresy is that he held ideas about theology that differed from Catholic doctrine.

      Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were the following: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skillful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc.

      Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 3

      The above source says he wasn't condemned for defending the Copernican system or for thinking there were a multitude of inhabited worlds, but other sources seem to list them as at least contributing factors. Either way, they weren't as important as Cosmos portrayed them to be. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says the Catholic Church didn't even have an official position on the Copernican system in 1600, and that it wasn't heresy. It didn't become heresy until 16 years later, and even then it was a sort of wishy-washy heresy. Heliocentrism could be used to do calculations, but not as a description of how the the solar system/universe actually is. Bruno was burned at the stake when it wasn't heresy, Galileo was given house arrest when it was.
      StephL likes this.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    4. #4
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      I'll still have to watch it for myself to see how deeply they skew his persecution as a result of heliocentric views, but I can understand why they skewed it that way, from an executive's standpoint ever pandering to the lowest common denominator. While it's now casually accepted that earth revolves around the sun, it's still heretical to claim Jesus was a magician or the devil will be saved.
      Last edited by Original Poster; 03-10-2014 at 05:01 AM.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    5. #5
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Tonight's episode was great. It was on life and evolution. Very little to nitpick from what I could see. The depiction of what an organism sees with primitive eyes, just photosensitive cells, was brilliant. It was part of a measured rebuttal to the irreducible complexity argument.

      This series is much less poetic than the original. There are awesome moments, though.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

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      I can't wait until it turns into a massive climate change shame fest.

    7. #7
      Xei
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      The general societal trend is of education to steadily overcome ignorance, but some rather bizarre things recently started to come out of America's science and history broadcasting, which was worrying. It's good to hear there's still a place for high quality popular science in the USA, which doesn't pander to "differing opinions" as if they're equally valid.

      In other news an American team just observed gravitational waves, giving direct evidence for inflation and yet more evidence for the Big Bang. Probably the most important piece of experimental cosmology in two decades.
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    8. #8
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      The general societal trend is of education to steadily overcome ignorance, but some rather bizarre things recently started to come out of America's science and history broadcasting, which was worrying. It's good to hear there's still a place for high quality popular science in the USA, which doesn't pander to "differing opinions" as if they're equally valid.
      True. Channels like the History Channel and the Discovery Channel used to be pretty good. Now they're obsessed with ancient aliens, UFOs, and other supernatural hocus pocus. Only the Science Channel (which isn't on basic cable) is worth anything, though there have been some strange programs broadcast on it.

      Quote Originally Posted by Xei
      In other news an American team just observed gravitational waves, giving direct evidence for inflation and yet more evidence for the Big Bang. Probably the most important piece of experimental cosmology in two decades.
      I took a break from my organic chem HW and noticed Phil Plait mentioned that on his blog. Definitely going to read into it.
      StephL likes this.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

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      Ah - seems I will have something to enjoy myself with here - the old and the new Cosmos stuff - I feel enticed!
      Can't be up to date, obviously - but I look forward to looking backwards here.

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      I didn't have the chance to watch the new series yet because of my nationality, but I'm kind of worried about it.I read on some imageboards that the show was heavily "dumbed down" in comparison to the old series, one of the reasons being that it's airing on Fox.

      In any case, I can't help but feel that this series won't live up to the old one's glory.It's great that we now get updated scientific facts and cool CGI, but it will never have the emotional weight of the original series.Sagan's love for knowledge and the planet, warnings about nuclear warfare and human ignorance, the dandelion seed.It was too cozy and organic, it felt like Mr Sagan was telling me a bedtime story.

      CosmosSagan5.jpg

    11. #11
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      The original aired on PBS. It had nothing to directly compete with, and from what I know there was no serious worry about science being tucked away in favor of superstition. Today, it's airing on Fox because it should be seen by as many people as possible. It is not quite a science documentary like the original. It's competing with the original's legacy and with a handful of other major popular-science shows. And there's New Age superstition and intelligent design to combat.

      Time will tell whether this reboot will live up to the original's legacy. Maybe in 20 years when people are clamoring for another reboot with whoever America's leading science popularizer will be, we'll know.
      StephL and Epic Altruist like this.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    12. #12
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      Uuups - I checked to be sure - seems it's really on Fox.
      Isn't Fox very much up in arms against atheism and pro Christianity?
      And they - even falsely - refer to Giordano Bruno?

      First correction - it is planned to switch between public tv channels - just started ominously on Fox.

      Second correction - it is genial to go on Fox first - so you reach people, who would - after taking in the outrage that was bound to happen - and did happen - wouldn't have tuned in to episode 2! But by now they might be hooked!
      Ha!!

      Look here for that tidbit with changing channels - and for a good bit of awe and wonder, as to what goes through creationist's minds:



      If you can't know about the past ("observational evidence"/"historical science") - well - the bible was written in the past!
      That was nice and I didn't hear it before.

      Looking forward to taking a look myself at the new Cosmos - once I'll get at it.
      I meanwhile found other Neil deGrasse Tyson things - very nice!!

    13. #13
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      It's on Fox, not Fox News.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    14. #14
      Member StephL's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by BLUELINE976 View Post
      It's on Fox, not Fox News.
      Does that mean, the News are some sort of autonomous and peculiar field, where ideology is free to roam, and the rest of the station is actually impartial?
      That I didn't expect.

    15. #15
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by StephL View Post
      Does that mean, the News are some sort of autonomous and peculiar field, where ideology is free to roam, and the rest of the station is actually impartial?
      That I didn't expect.
      They're two separate channels. One plays syndicated television shows as well as prime time programs, the other is a 24-hour news station similar to CNN or MSNBC.
      StephL likes this.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

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