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Bill Nye jokingly owns Neil deGrasse Tyson in panel

  1. Aug 26, 2015 #1
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  3. Aug 26, 2015 #2


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    I had written up a pretty good response involving Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum" ("I think therefore I am"), the Turing Test, and The Chinese Room (including the arguments against Searle's conclusions of The Chinese Room) and how all that might have been related to the thoughts Neil deGrasse Tyson was attempting to present.

    But then I realized I crossed the border into philosophy, so I decided not to post it. :oops:
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
  4. Aug 27, 2015 #3


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    I like what NdGT said. Whenever there is a problem with finding an answer (and I mean questions that we put considerable amount of effort into solving), I wonder if the problem is not with the flawed question.

    At least we should never assume our questions are the right ones. Many times in the history of science answers turned to be completely different to what we expected.
  5. Aug 27, 2015 #4

    Kinda old, but I enjoy this one more. The length of the video is worth it.
  6. Aug 27, 2015 #5


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    I totally agree. I think blowing off Tyson like that was kind of a cheap shot, to get chuckles from the audience maybe.

    One of the reasons discussions about philosophy usually spiral into quagmires is that no one takes the effort to define terms rigorously. I think I understand why: because it's really difficult to do! But here, Bill Nye equates thinking about consciousness with being high. That approach to philosophy is exactly why we don't allow threads on it here.

    But that doesn't mean "meaning of consciousness" is not worthy of discussing - it just means untrained people don't know how to discuss it properly.
  7. Aug 27, 2015 #6


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    While he started funny I think he got what NdGT was saying perfectly well. His suggestion to work on a question "what is the nature of consciousness" is a nice attempt at defining a problem in a way that makes it easier to approach. We don't know what consciousness is, so let's try to find an operational definition and work from there.
  8. Aug 27, 2015 #7
    Nye never said meaning of consciousness is not worthy of discussing, he rebutted Tyson's butting in who said that we know nothing about consciousness and maybe there is no such thing as consciousness. Tyson's suggestion that we don't know anything about consciousness because there are books being written on it is like suggesting we didn't know anything about QM in the later half of the last century because Dirac and his ilk were still publishing then.

    BTW Tyson here's the untrained people you mention and I am going to give his dismissal of the concept of conciousness as much credit as I give Michio Kaku on his theories of consciousness, which is not much.
  9. Aug 27, 2015 #8


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    Heh, Nye likes to make fun of Tyson. When I saw the thread title, I thought it'd be the 2011 panel (pretty much the same people too). Tyson was getting all excited and animated there, while Nye kept making fun of him ('Do the thing Mr T.' and 'Dr T. - testitfy!' of the top of my head).

    I wouldn't read too much philosophy into it. They seem to have a thing going on there, that is more about the manner of expression than the content.
  10. Aug 27, 2015 #9
    I watched this discussion shortly after it came out and wondered why Tyson got so animated here. So much so that people were ducking to avoid his hand gestures.

    I agree with this too. What does the number of books published have to do with anything. In the early 90's I was living in Hawaii and was really interested in neuroscience. So I went up to UH and befriended the head of the physiology dept. Even though I wasn't enrolled at the time, he said I could audit his neurophysiology graduate class. There were about 15 of us in the class. There was an assignment we had one week to get up in front of the class and defend a position. I remembered getting grilled by this one guy and my only response at the time was that the reference I was using to defend my argument was a "thick" book of experimental evidence. I even remember positioning my finger and thumb to indicate how thick that book was.

    The guy just laughed and said, it doesn't matter how thick the book was, if it's BS it's BS. I felt pretty silly after that.

    In defense of Nye. though, I like his opportune gestures to diffuse the situation. I don't know if that was intentional or "conscious," but what I took from that transaction was a board of highly intelligent people working through a situation as they do...comfortable or uncomfortable as it is. Speaking of uncomfortable, check out Ira Flato trying to compose himself in the midst of this maelstrom. That is my favorite part of this clip.
  11. Aug 29, 2015 #10


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    The Great Debate Part 1 of 2 with Lawrence Krauss, Tracy Day, Brian Greene, Ira Flato, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye and Neal Town Stephenson

    Part 2

    Let's not overthink consciousness.

    Tracy Day is CEO of the World Science Festival
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2015
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