Most people are content to remain almost completely ignorant about history, geography, and science.
And even though I find history and geography super interesting, I can’t argue that they are important to learn.
Is my life richer and fuller because I know more about the 30 Years War than you? No. Are you a better person because you can find Indonesia on a globe and the average person on the street can’t? No.
But science really is valuable. Because if you don’t possess a basic knowledge about how the world works, you can easily get duped.
There are dozens of companies selling weight loss pills, supplements, and cleanses. They are banking on the fact that many people don’t understand even the most basic concept of caloric intake vs. output. These poor people will harbor hope that a cleanse will make them skinny even if they continue to eat the same amount.
There are millions who have been duped into believing that evolution isn’t happening. And that’s simply because they never learned how natural selection works so they are willing to believe that species do not change over time.
But don’t get too smug, liberals. There are plenty of left-wing groups that prey on our lack of scientific knowledge, too.
There are alarmists who urge you to save endangered species because, supposedly, their fragile ecosystems will be irrevocably destroyed if species disappear. They are banking on the fact that you don’t know that the vast majority of species that existed in world history have already gone extinct. And then their niche was simply taken over by new species. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
There are alarmists who urge you to combat global warming at the cost of capitalism and human progress. They are banking on the fact that you don’t know that the earth has, at times, been much warmer in the past. And much cooler. If global warming raises the earth’s temperature by five degrees, it won’t be unprecedented. And it might not even be bad.
I hope I can convince you that science is important. I can’t convince you that it is interesting. But Neil deGrasse Tyson can. He’s the charismatic host of the 13 episode mini-series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.”
It’s an incredibly ambitious show. Tyson is trying nothing less than to tell the entire history of the universe: from the big bang, to the creation of the first galaxies, to the formation of our solar system from the remnants of stars that died billions of years ago.
“Cosmos” is also a history of science itself. Tyson is proud and passionate about his profession. He spends a lot of time telling the stories of history’s greatest scientific pioneers (Isaac Newton, Giordano Bruno, Edmund Halley) and how they toiled and sacrificed so that we could all understand our world a little bit better.
The goal of the program isn’t just to entertain and educate older viewers like us; it is to inspire young people to join Tyson and become scientists themselves.
Since science is so important, it is fortunate that there is a TV show that makes learning about it so fun. I hope you check it out.
“Cosmos” is on Fox, Sunday nights at 9pm.