What Scientific Arrogance Really Looks Like — Starts With A Bang! — Medium

Ethan Siegel weighs in on the Tyson / philosophy controversy.  Siegel is a theoretical physicist, notably a cosmologist which I believe is Tyson’s own specialty.  But Siegel’s views on philosophy appear to be much more informed.

Now, philosophy doesn’t have the answers, but it does teach ways to consider the limits of our knowledge. And if you’re talking about the philosophy of science, so long as those doing the philosophizing are honestly and accurately representing the science (which is something they can only do if they actually understand it adequately themselves, which many — but not all — of them do), it can certainly give you a number of interesting possibilities to think about. Which is why I was incredibly disappointed to learn that Neil de Grasse Tyson went on the Nerdist Podcast, and absolutely ripped the entire field of philosophy as useless:

via What Scientific Arrogance Really Looks Like — Starts With A Bang! — Medium.

9 thoughts on “What Scientific Arrogance Really Looks Like — Starts With A Bang! — Medium

  1. I agree with Neil 100% – and philosophers of science should admit that they don’t contribute to science in the way that scientists do. That doesn’t mean that they’re completely useless – they’re simply not scientists. Neither are mathematicians and logicians …


      1. Not that you made it too easy to follow up on what he said … I just did again, to make sure I’m not mistaken. I still agree with all he said. This was an interview, not a carefully worded article, so naturally what I mean by that is that I agree with his sentiment. Focusing on that difference reveals your preference of philosophy over pragmatism – which is fine, but it is the bias which causes this knee jerk reaction in some people.

        So: if the shoe fits … 😉


        1. Sorry, just realized my previous reply could have been clearer and came off more combative than I’d intended. Tyson’s statements categorically dismissed philosophy, claiming that studying it would “mess you up” and urging students not to enter it. My only point was that I didn’t detect nearly that level of absolutism from you.

          On science and philosophy, I think you have a mistaken impression of my views which I spelled out last week in this short blog post.

          On “preference of philosophy over pragmatism”, you might find it interesting to know that pragmatism actually is a philosophy.


  2. Wow, I get distracted for a few days(or a week or more) and start missing some good stuff – brains in space! And so that no doubt whatsoever remains as to the level of my ignorance on the subject I submit the following meager attempts at humor:

    I’ll have to get started on building my Boltzmann brain detector/vaporizer … uhh … tomorrow.

    Or … when the zombie apocalypse happens we just herd them into holding pens and feed them Boltzmann brains – how easy is that? We’d better get out there soon, though, and start collecting those brains.

    OK, I’ll stop before I really embarrass myself 🙂


  3. i’m a little disappointed… in the face of such indifference that showed the titans of the mind such as: Steve, Michelle, DM, sap! (but text “Tyson is wrong to dismiss” is very wise!). Ethan is perhaps not so brilliant as Neil Tyson! his texts are not too thrilling! but that is really great! Unfortunately, almost without any response!

    Liked by 1 person

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