|Image Source: Link below|
Although this post mentions Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Hayden Planetarium Director in New York City, this is not an African American/Black History Month post about him per se. It is apparently, the 25th time I've posted his name on this blog.
It is about something he advocates for - science literacy - and where he said it, Greensboro, North Carolina. (Probably more times than I've posted about him, I've mentioned my "old stomping grounds.")
The inaugural post for this month concerned the latest Orwellian phrase forced into the Zeitgeist: "alternative facts," which permeates history, mathematics under extreme duress (see link at "inaugural post") and sadly, science - both physical and social.
Pretty much the photo above is a summation of his comments to a sold-out crowd. In North Carolina...
- Home of the HB2 Bill the previous governor rode down to his eventual electoral defeat and lost revenue for the state (and it's apparently still in effect);
- Home of the "pizza parlor" shooter, motivated by an erroneous story he believed to be true, enough to take a gun to Washington, D.C.;
- Home to the "Greensboro Massacre," which happened my senior year in high school before I matriculated to A&T.
Each bullet (ironic phrasing in the last two examples) are stances and actions birthed from ignorance.
A continuation of Dr. Tyson's remarks:
"Americans overall are bad at science. Scared of math. Poor at physics and engineering. Resistant to evolution. This science illiteracy is a threat to the nation.
"The consequence of that is that you breed a generation of people who do not know what science is nor how and why it works. You have mortgaged the future financial security of your nation. Innovations in science and technology are the (basis) of tomorrow’s economy."
He goes on to point out that Algebra originated in a more enlightened time in the Near East, specifically Muhammad al-Khwarizmi, al-jabr translating to "the act of completion." That was pooh-poohed as unimportant by a cleric ten centuries ago with no appreciation of the future, or the impact of prolonged myopia. Science has missed the mark quite often (which is why peer review is relentless), the most recent reference to the Doomsday Clock is due to an artifact that physics in particular created with the Manhattan Project, occupying silos, kept at bay hopefully by diplomacy and sanity. Tyson could be the "voice of one calling in the [willfully ignorant] wilderness," or like Cassandra - Paris' sister in Helen of Troy - foretelling the doom of civilization for the folly of selective, "alternative facts," and neglected real ones.
It could happen so easily. It could happen so quickly. Like a mudslide, we could be under the weight of an avalanche; buried under a warm mound smothering us.
It's not just Dr. Tyson or African American cultural history: it's a fealty or phobia with reality; the inherent ability to discern fact from fiction.
One can be evidence-based, course-correcting, resource conserving; limiting only unplanned births and progressing knowledge within the species. Or, one can be self-blindfolded, deaf to new information; deluded, soothed, comfortable: and deadly.
Soothing and deadly: That is the consistency and characteristics of hog slop.
“Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path.”
― Carl Sagan