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What Neil deGrasse Tyson completely missed in Interstellar.

  1. Nov 22, 2014 #1
    Spoilers ahead:

    In “Interstellar” humanity or at least citizens of the United States have abandoned science and engineering and have seemingly settled down to a simple life of farming. However this “culture” which has given up on science and engineering is still somehow capable of great achievements in that area. But an even worse conceit is this:

    This culture is doomed unless it can use technology, innovation and engineering to overcome blight. The resolution to the problem doesn’t come from the applied sciences. Instead, the salvation comes from a supernatural element.

    Now if you know anything about Tyson, you know that he is adamantly opposes societies that abandon or reduce science in favor of religious dogma. But that’s the message at the heart of “Interstellar” and its “love conquers all”’, “don’t worry the gods will save us” dogma. Yet that conceit appears to have gone right over Tyson’s head
     
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  3. Nov 22, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Though, in the film, the gods are us.

    I agree that it is a deus ex machina ending.
    But I doubt Tyson had as much creative control over the filmmaking as you seem to think.
    He almost certainly noticed and may even have brought it up as part of his consult... but so what? That does not mean that anyone cared. The filmmakers didn't care about anything else in the movie.
     
  4. Nov 22, 2014 #3

    phinds

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    Where did you see a review or whatever by Tyson that supports your statement? When you make statements like this, you are supposed to say what your source is so that people can, if they wish, check it and see if they agree w/ your analysis.
     
  5. Nov 22, 2014 #4

    nsaspook

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    First I'll say it's just a movie but my main quibble with the movie is one of motivation. It's not a question about the main characters but what's the motivation of the far advanced possibly 'human' civilization to tinker the long past versions of humans.
     
  6. Nov 22, 2014 #5
    AFAIK, Tyson had nothing to do with the making of Interstellar. But he is very much a fan of it.
     
  7. Nov 22, 2014 #6
    Dr. Tyson has discussed on many occasions how Arab cultures suffered after replacing science and reasoning with religious dogma. If you want I can provide a couple of YouTube links, but it's not hard to find them.

    It's just that it is surprising that message went over his head.
     
  8. Nov 22, 2014 #7

    phinds

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    I ask again, WHY do you think it went over his head? What did you hear/read that makes you think so? I've asked you for a reference so far, all you've said is "AFAIK".
     
  9. Nov 22, 2014 #8
    Why do I think it went over his head? Please read posts #1 and #6 again.
     
  10. Nov 22, 2014 #9

    phinds

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    You continue to simply state that it went over his head. I see no evidence so far. What did he do or say that makes you think it went over his head? And please stop just saying "well, because I think it did".
     
  11. Nov 22, 2014 #10

    Simon Bridge

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    Here, let me help:
    Is it your contention that:
    Tyson's strongly stated views and written work on the inadvisability of reliance on religion or supernatural saviors over science and self-determination suggest that it is reasonable that he would comment on those aspects of Interstellar, had he noticed them. Since the many reviews he has published about interstellar fails to mention this aspect, it seems reasonable to conclude that he did not notice them.


    Something like that?

    The evidence, therefore, is a lack of evidence.

    Did you consider:
    Maybe he did notice but chooses, against expectations, not to make a big deal out of it in the reviews (i.e. he has publicly asserted that he restricts movie comments to the science)?
    Maybe he noticed the same clues we did but makes a different interpretation?
    Maybe the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence?

    Part of the mission of PF is to teach people how to communicate clearly in a scientific manner. Part of that communication is supporting opinions with verifiable facts. The statement that needs support is that "that message went over his head" ... an example of the sort of thing you need would be if you find something he wrote saying "Interstellar illustrates the triumph of science over dogma" or something. Find him saying the opposite and you have substantiated your opinion.
     
  12. Nov 22, 2014 #11

    Simon Bridge

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    Aside:
    Contrast Tyson's reviews of Gravity and Interstellar with those of Plait.
    Tyson
    Interstellar: http://adeaddrop.com/neil-degrasse-tyson-interstellar-comments-is-it-scientifically-accurate/ [Broken]
    Gravity: http://www.wired.com/2013/10/neil-degrasse-tyson-gravity/

    Plait
    Interstellar: http://www.slate.com/articles/healt...movie_s_black_holes_wormholes_relativity.html
    Gravity: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/10/04/ba_movie_review_gravity.html

    There are issues with Tysons comments about the science in the movie but it is much harder to pin down what did or did not get past him.
    Tyson fails to mention quite a bit that he certainly knows about and would certainly pick up on - it looks like he wants to emphasize the positive with this one.

    I'd do a list but the movie is pretty awful if you are more than 12 years old, so I'll leave the two links above instead.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  13. Nov 23, 2014 #12


    Yes! Exactly. As a point of reference here's a YouTube video of a presentation Tyson made a few years ago on intelligent design. You'll have to go to the 22:50 mark to hear Tyson's take on societies rejecting science in favor religious dogma.


    Yes I did consider all of the above. However Tyson has been so vocal in his concern about society and cultures rejecting science, that it is hard for me to believe he recognized it and either: choose not to mention it as a source of contention, or derive a different interpretation.

    I've followed Tyson quite a lot the past two years. And I've read, heard or watched, on numerous occasions, Tyson's disdain for dogma over science.
     
  14. Nov 23, 2014 #13

    Evo

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    It could be that he has merely chosen not to address the issue for whatever reason, which is most likely. All you are doing is guessing and that serves no purpose and you can't expect an answer to your guess, only Tyson could answer you and I don't expect he'll show up here to answer you.
     
  15. Nov 23, 2014 #14

    Simon Bridge

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    There are a lot of true things that are hard to believe ... in a scientific forum, it is best practice to substantiate a belief, or risk supporting faith over evidence.

    The reference you give only confirms that Tyson is outspoken about dogma vs science when that is the topic of the conversation.
    People compartmentalize to context in their interactions with others.
    What you need to show is that either he is outspoken on this subject in situations where he is talking about the scientific merit of a film; or some statement from him that Interstellar meets his approval on the subject of dogma vs science.
    You have yet to show either.

    Tyson has tweeted (see the links in post #11) that he only comments on the scientific merit of films. He does not, for example, comment on whether or not he thinks the film is "good" or not. OTOH: I have not found a formal review of the film written by Tyson - only collections of tweets republished someplace else.

    It seems unreasonable, therefore, to expect that he would comment on the moral merit of this film when he has not done so on any others, and has actually said that he will not do so.

    Considering that his comments on the scientific accuracy of films tend to be selective anyway - it is reasonable that he would be selective in other areas.

    The reasonable, scientific, conclusion to be drawn from the evidence shown so far is that we have insufficient data to draw a definite conclusion.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014
  16. Nov 26, 2014 #15
    This is an excerpt from an interview between Tyson and Alex Biese, a reporter with Ashbury Park Press (a Gannett Company).

    "I think that while that was a point of the film, (but) I think they could have made an even bigger point out of that," Tyson said. "But what I think would be a more realistic portrayal of that would be that in the United States, we're in denial of our science and our technology, and while we do that other countries rise up.

    "So other countries would have fixed the problems (on Earth) or other countries would have led the mission to find another planet, and it just wouldn't have been the United States.

    "I think that's a more realistic trajectory, which is more upsetting to an American who remembers the space program of the 20th century than what's portrayed there. Because what's portrayed there is that Americans still have the moxie to do this, even though the children are not being taught that we went to the moon at all.

    "I don't know how real that is. If the children are being taught that we never went to the moon, there's a whole generation of people who reject the science of what is real and the technology of what is real, you're not going to be the country that's going to have the lead spaceship that will save the world. That's just not how it normally unfolds."

    Again in his response, the notion that mankind itself is saved by seemingly supernatural means is not mentioned by Tyson.
     
  17. Nov 26, 2014 #16

    Evo

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    I can not believe that you are so upset abut something that *you* think he should have said. This is going nowhere as guessing why someone didn't say something that you think they should have said is completely pointless. Why don't you write to him and ask? Thread closed.
     
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