OT: Thoughts on Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Submitted by The Geek on March 10th, 2014 at 1:33 PM

I remember watching the original Cosmos starring Carl Sagan when I was a kid. My family watched the "new" Cosmos last night, with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Although there were a few cheesy moments (e.g., "look at that asteroid... No, not that one... The one on the left"), overall I thought it was very interesting.

I can say this, my 17 and 13 year-old boys, and my 10 year-old daughter were absolutely riveted. There aren't many shows on prime-time TV that we can watch together, and enjoy healthy dialogue.

Knowing the education level on this board is a bit higher than others, I was wondering if any MGoBloggers watched, and if they liked it, or disliked it. Thoughts?

P.S. Please bear in mind the "no religion" tenet of this board... Thoughtful, tasteful dialogue is the goal.



March 10th, 2014 at 1:37 PM ^

I absolutely LOVED it. I used to watch Carl Sagan as well, and have read many of his books. I'm glad that my children can watch something interesting and educational in prime time. Admittedly, I'm a huge Neil deGrasse Tyson fan.


March 10th, 2014 at 1:40 PM ^

I thought it was obvious that a major goal of this piece is to eventually be shown in schools on a regular basis.  So with that in mind, you could definitely tell the target audience was aimed at a younger crowd.  That said, I really enjoyed it nonetheless.  I look forward the future episodes.  Just like Sagan, it's easy to see how much Neil loves science, and that just permeates through the whole show and is quite contagious.


March 10th, 2014 at 1:40 PM ^

Maybe a little slow at times but that may be due to me already knowing or having a basic understanding of what they were talking about in that first episode. I'm sure the next episodes will get into some cooler and more interesting details/ideas/theories/etc. Happy to hear your little ones were excited about it, that's the real goal for this series I think.


March 10th, 2014 at 1:48 PM ^

Having watched several of the original series' episodes on Saturday during the re-broadcast (on SyFy, I think), I think Neil deGrasse Tyson stayed pretty faithful to the spirit of Carl Sagan's magnum opus. The new CG scenes were nothing we haven't seen in the past few years on TV and in the movies, which is to say, exceptional. 

My personal favorite was probably the end, where deGrasse Tyson talks about his introduction and personal history with Carl Sagan. I didn't know that deGrasse Tyson had been an adolescent when they met, or that Sagan had taken such a personal interest in sparking students' interests in science. My admiration for both men increased ten-fold. 

I thoroughly enjoyed it. 


March 10th, 2014 at 1:47 PM ^

I thought the first episode served as a nice prologue to build on and I am anxious to see where this series goes as well. I really did enjoy the presentation and the modernized Ship Of The Imagination, if you will. Like others, I grew up with the original Cosmos (it was on NatGeo yesterday) and have always been a fan of Sagan's works, but this seems like it could be a nice resurrection of the series. 


March 10th, 2014 at 2:13 PM ^

IMO. It was quite boring. But I love all things outer space related. So I watch the universe, and any show possible on the "Cosmos" that I can. I also watched the old Cosmos marathon they were showing on National Georaphic while I was hungover all day. 

So basically it was boring to me because I knew everything they went over. Which what else could you expect? The first episode, they have to go over the basics to get people not so well versed in the subject caught up. 

That being said, it seemed they did a nice job. I am excited to be glued to my TV every sunday night, being able to watch anything other than another American Idol retread, or Dating Game reality bull crap.

Come on America, keep on raising that bar!


March 10th, 2014 at 2:03 PM ^

My expectations were unfairly high, but I was disappointed by how much better Carl was at this than Neil. Tyson's prosody seems a few increments more awkward, less genuine and more forced than Sagan's. And the content of Tyson's speech is slightly condescending, whereas Carl *truly* may have been the best public speaker of in the history of scientific education.

To me, Sagan remains unparalleled in his ability to dissolve esotericism and make even the most distant, infinitesimal and convoluted thing immediately accessible. Most importantly, he did it without a mote of evidence against him of "dumbing it down." A sensationally uncommon gift, that one. Maybe I shouldn't be too hard on Tyson for falling short there. Yeah. I know that's true.

[Exception: I adored the personal anecdote of the elderly Sagan inviting the 17yo Tyson to Ithaca.]

So OK, despite my mild criticism, I liked the Cosmos reboot very much. A feast for the eyes. The storytelling was eminently worthwhile. And the prose was not bad--it just never had any hope to meet Sagan's.

I think shows like this serve the most noble and vital roles for humanity. Especially given the quality disintegration viewers have witnessed on the History, Discovery, and Science Channels in the last decade--where "lowering the bar" has welcomed Pawn Stars, Punkin' Chunkin', and so much other hollow dimness in place of the depth on which those channels built their reputations.

In sum: The show didn't reach my theoretical dreams, but it's in reach of my pragmatic ones.


March 10th, 2014 at 3:23 PM ^

I think shows like this serve the most noble and vital roles for humanity. Especially given the quality disintegration viewers have witnessed on the History, Discovery, and Science Channels in the last decade--where "lowering the bar" has welcomed Pawn Stars, Punkin' Chunkin', and so much other hollow dimness in place of the depth on which those channels built their reputations.

Hell, you can't even get quality progrmamming on H2, where that just features an endless parade of tripe along the lines of "Ancient Aliens" and "History Decoded"....


March 10th, 2014 at 1:57 PM ^

Even though I knew the entire 'mankind is only a few seconds in relation to the universe', I thought it was well done, especially the inclusion of the asteriod which caused the dinosaurs to go extinct.  I thought the cartoon was longer than it needed to be, though I appreciated learning of the individual between Capernicus and Galileo.  The scalability of the observable universe is always fun to see, especially the tease NDT did with multiverses.


Really enjoyed the sentiment at the end with NDT meeting Sagan in the 70s and Sagan inspiring him to be the person he is today.


March 10th, 2014 at 2:27 PM ^

No way! Though he is misguidedly lauded as one of the best science speakers of this generation, he's actually one of the worst. He dumbs his material down to incomprehensible levels. One time, I watched as he discussed subatomic particles by comparing them to various fat, skinny, purple, green, and polka-dotted monsters he had just made up.

That helps no one understand anything and is unforgivable. It was condescending at worst and an example of quitting because "making the esoteric accessible" was too hard at best.

Neil may not be Carl, but Michio is almost no one. Unlike the other guys, if kids aspire to be Kaku, they aren't shooting for the moon but for the top of the telephone pole.

clown question

March 10th, 2014 at 2:17 PM ^

Watched with a buncha Biology PhDs. Overall we thought it was pretty corny, but not bad. The "spaceship imagination" is essential just a magic schoolbus with moar lasers.


Without violating the no-religion talk, I thought it was pretty unprofessional to cast the Church (although not religion) as the villian in a segment in the very first episode. It just goes on to perpetuate a recently made up war between "science" and "the church". There are plenty of religous scientists and the public needs to hear this rather than the stereotypes.


March 10th, 2014 at 2:50 PM ^

Since you broke the seal, I'm jumping in.

The war ain't made up, pal. It might not involve the Catholic Church so much these days, but if you think that there isn't open conflict between a large number of certain churches in the U.S. and the real scientific community, you ain't paying attention.

Monocle Smile

March 10th, 2014 at 3:06 PM ^

What other reason could there be for rejecting evolution, geology, and cosmology? I seriously want to know; I have no clue what else could cause people to just throw on blinders when there are gigantic mountains of evidence. We're not talking about stubbornness in accepting human behavior, this is SCIENCE.


March 10th, 2014 at 3:47 PM ^

Uneducation in certain subjects should not, but often do, lead to people reject said subject matter. That's how I was answering your original question. Like the gentleman stated above, religion and uneducation (other factors) can cause some to dismiss it. 

I merely stated that I am neutral based on my education of the matter, because I am not comfortable in blindly following theories as letters of the law.

Monocle Smile

March 10th, 2014 at 4:26 PM ^

Science isn't this inaccessible authority that spouts decrees. The information is all (or almost all) in the public forum.

It's REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY easy to find and digest at least a 10,000-foot view of most scientific topics. And that's all you should really need. Acting as if blindness is the only option is laughable. The concerning thing is your apparent unwillingness to educate yourself as well as your ridicule of those of us who don't share your ignorance.


March 10th, 2014 at 4:35 PM ^

Where did I ridicule anyone who doesn't share my ignorance on the subject? I am not going to take time out of my life to learn about evolution, because honestly, I do not care about that stuff. But ignorance is just 1 reason people may blindly reject evolution when given a religous background.

Monocle Smile

March 10th, 2014 at 4:38 PM ^

The "theory" crack and your response below to Michigan Arrogance both ring bells. Those are both petulant and whiny.

ignorance is just 1 reason people may blindly reject evolution when given a religous background.

So once again, you didn't actually answer the question even though you said you did.


March 10th, 2014 at 4:48 PM ^

One guy said religion and other factors can lead to people dismissing science.

You asked what other reasons besides religion could people reject science.

I said ignorance. Although, while I am ingnorant on the matter, I do not dismiss it. 


And the "theory" thing wasn't a crack towards anyone. I am sorry if you took offense to it. But as I stated, I am not educated enough in the matter to say one way or the other that evolution is the only possibile way I can sit here and even have this conversation with you. So in lamens terms, I view it as a theory. And that is why I called it that. 


March 10th, 2014 at 4:36 PM ^

I suppose this comes down to trust and whether the sources are trusted. We blindly accept things every moment of our lives. E.g., I blindly accept that nobody is going to speed through a red light and kill me. E.g. I blindly accept that the steel I use in design has a minimum yield stress and meets certain criteria. Sometimes we get burned because a trusted source whether it be a green light or a specification doesnt hold true.

Now the sources, the sources can gain or lose trust. If you get hit alot in intersections you are going to to verify those sources by looking both ways. Bad steel, you are going to request testing before using it.

(I was going to put in a paragraph about scientific method vs the Bible but ommitted to stay on topic)

Now we cant always do this. The world would not function. Imagine stopping for each green light you see. Engineers on this board might imagine performing extensive testing on steel prior to its use.

I think there is a difference.  I would much rather go around blindly accepting things than blindly rejecting them because if I didnt, I wouldnt drive anywhere and no buildings would be built.

Michigan Arrogance

March 10th, 2014 at 4:40 PM ^

It's not blindly.

there is literally a moutain of observational and empirical evidence that not only supports evolution, but verifies the predicitions that evolution makes.

Science presupposes that statements are to be believed based on evidence, not revelation. Based on logic and objective observations, not authority.

The amazing thing to me is, people seem to think that no scientist EVAH has questioned theories before. Like, that's actually how science works. People questioned EVERYTHING about evolution for the last 150+ years. Not just people, PhD's in bio, anthro, astrophysics, entymology, etc etc etc. And you know what convinced all these scientists over the last 150+ years? Not a teacher or a textbook or a gubmint office. The evidence convinced them.


March 10th, 2014 at 5:44 PM ^

I'm 26 and haven't had a flu shot in years - like probably 15 years or so. I've gotten along pretty well. And if I do get the flu, I'm sure I'll be able to handle it.

For the recond, my response isn't a full declaration that vaccines are unnecessary or anything like that, they've obviously proven helpful, but I think we have a tendency to over-vaccinate. We have immune systems for a reason, and someone like me (a young, healthy person) can more easily get away with not getting some vaccines (like flu). I will probably start getting that once I get older and my immune system starts to break down.