Neil deGrasse Tyson: Called by the Universe - Conversation

2009, Science  -   45 Comments

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Called by the Universe (Conversation)Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose Directorship of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.

His research interests include the structure of our Milky Way, star formation, exploding stars and dwarf galaxies. Tyson was appointed by President Bush twice.

First in 2001 to serve on a twelve member commission to study the future of the US Aerospace Industry and second in 2004 to serve on a nine member commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy.

Tyson was also appointed to serve on the Advisory Council by the head of NASA. Tyson hosts the PBS series NOVA ScienceNow and a Radio Show with the comedian Lynne Koplitz called Star Talk.

He has also written dozens of publications and nine books including his memoir The Sky Is Not The Limit : Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist and his most recent, The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet.

Ratings: 8.26/10from 31 users.

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45 Comments / User Reviews

  1. allie

    why is Neil so pissed?

  2. gwhosubex

    Rational, peaceful, sensible thought.

  3. Tuco Salamonca

    I don't quite get his disdain for Dawkins. Tyson is just as arrogant if not more so...

    1. gwhosubex

      It's not a disdain for Dawkins. And it's not arrogance.

      Expressing strong opinion as fact and true is not what makes someone arrogant. It's not arrogant to say two objects fall at the same speed. Something is only arrogant proportional to how much it fails logic and reason. Can't go by emotion alone.

      Neil in the video even expounded on the distinction of what is arrogant and what is not.

      to paraphrase, [Scientists saying public media should not have a say as to whether a theory is true or not isn't arrogance. Arrogance is scientists not bothering to even communicate.].

      Because whether something is true or not about emotion, it's only about logic.

  4. Guest


  5. Matthew Anthony Virasami

    if you like this - watch stephen colbert, and Neil sit down

  6. Matthew Anthony Virasami

    Neil is great, anytime intellectual honesty is provided and used is always good, also did anyone else notice that their feet were literally cuddling lol

  7. henrymart81

    I really, really, dislike this guy.

    1. Gordon Wilson

      That comment probably tells us more about you than Tyson.

  8. David Martin

    yes, yes he does.

  9. Anthony Pirtle

    Dawkins puts the facts out there, and his books are incredibly persuasive unless people want not to listen.

  10. alans

    Never mind, gets more interesting later.

  11. alans

    This is boring. Who cares about Pluto?

    1. gwhosubex

      I thought it was pretty fascinating, the degree to which subconscious associations affect such widespread, rank opinion.

      I think it speaks to the vulnerability, and lack of self-knowledge of many people. It points to how much of our society is gunpowder, easily set off by emotional, subconscious manipulation. And the degree to which we're oblivious of it.

      it's so remote and unconnected, so painfully stupidly obvious that that is such a non-sequitur connection to make. Yet if it is indeed so, then it speaks volumes to our degree of unaware susceptibility.

  12. Karenwasherefirst

    I love this guy, he is as bright as a 1OOO watt light bulb. His opinions align with how people thought about things when I was younger, good to see a thinker not another yes man. It's almost like he is an Albertan, putting it out there intelligently and he doesn't care if there's feedback because he knows he's right.

  13. bjkeefe

    A really interesting conversation. Too much to think about to say more now, but thanks to both Neil and Roger.

  14. nilo

    To you all:
    have you asked how big was the wall yet?

    I am sadden by the fact that all comments are about specifics of comments on sections of the interview or who's who and did what;

    My own first reaction has been:
    Thanks Man! Now I know way last week when a problem with the level of moisture reading was spotted where I work, instead of looking for a dehumidifier I started by asking what we where actually measuring!

    My second reaction was a bit sadder as I realised that I fall in the small category of men looking at this kind of programs!

    Finally that my favourite quote as been better explained by Tyson :- "My Quote" I am not racist by color! I am racist by intelligence!(This is my quote not Mr. Tyson, and by the way I am not interested in political correctness nor I want to be PC)

    Mr Tyson: Please carry on trying to make people asking questions rather than answering them.

  15. blackman

    wow a black scientist LOL that was racist

    1. Brendan Desmond

      yeah it was, good job mate

  16. sahotak

    @Mark Higson

    dont want to write same thing over again but I feel the same way...amazing...WOW....

  17. Mark Higson

    Wow!! 10/10

    Amazing, totally blew my mind. Don't be putt off by the astrophysics as a wide range of subject are discussed.

    I think at first the interviewer does not like this guy and his ideas but as the conversation goes on he is won over.... as was the case with me also.

    Highly recommended viewing by all. Now i am off to watch and read as much as I can from the genius Neil deGrasse Tyson.

    Thank you

  18. Squeezle

    @thom I don't think it's that they necessarily hate politics, it's just they are smart enough to see it is a bloated joke, and really not even needed by an intelligent self governing people.

    More knowledge needs to become common knowledge in my opinion.

  19. thom


    Problem is, they hate, HATE politics.

  20. Stephen

    Great Doc

    I liked his ideas on critical thinking above all. He rightly critisizes scientific journalism for jumping on each new study that gets published and presenting it as "The New Truth." He calls "skeptisism" a dirty word, I agree with this point as well. "Skeptics" tend to dismiss valid information out of hand on the basis of a pre-determined notion that they are "being lied to." Real thinkers do not do this.

  21. B

    the funny thing about him being appointed by Bush is that it should make you realise he's so good at conveying science in a way that pretty much anyone can learn to love it or understand it...that he can even convince BUSH

    more than enough said!

  22. V

    All I have to say is... Tyson met Sagan before he died. Both have been recognized as leading minds in the astrophysics field in their career and both agree that being arrogant in the science field is where scientists will meet there downfall; practically being progressively opened-minded and hold no bias contempt towards certain ideals and theories and the findings of science.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is a legitimate science man doing what he does from his own free will. Disregard haters no matter how witty or intelligent their commenting may have been constructed and presented; that's their ego's reacting in rejection, jealousy, and arrogance.

  23. just me

    @ L. Walker; Excellent point, I wouldn't have considered that perspective, had you not posted.

  24. L.Walker

    pluto matters because it shows that science changes and fixes its own theories and ideas. if science were dogmatic like religion it would stay static for the sake of tradition.

    NDT ILU T_T <3

  25. jack1952

    @ Waldo

    You've convinced me. He's back in my good books.

  26. Waldo

    @ Richie

    The outrage over pluto's demotion was world wide, not restricted to the US. Tyson talks about recieving hate mail from as far away as China and Europe in another interview I watched. Notice the "international" part of International Astronomical Union. Besides, peoples reaction to it was blown way out of proportion in the Times, it was suppose to be a some what comical piece. Like you said joe six pack didn't even know who had discovered the planet and the Times was reporting on the opinion of one segment of the population, not thier own. Many many people here in the US felt just like I did, that if the body no longer met the definition it should be recatagorized. But that doesn't make a good headline does it, Thousands agree with International Astronomical Union. A much much bigger segment of the US didn't care one way or the other nor even know that it had been demoted. If anything this is what reflects badly on our country.

    Plenty of major and ground breaking discoveries in the field of astronomy came from the US, infact the discovery that Pluto didn't fit the description of a planet happened right here in Ithaca, NewYork. Why would we need to defend the discovery of a planet in our solar system when we are currently discovering planets in alien solar systems and are home to many of the most respected centers for scientific education and research?


    he never said or discussed who he thought were the smartest people he ever met!!!I was looking forward to that answer! If I had teachers like Tyson , im pretty sure id be in a better place. He is highly intelligent. I like his point of view.I like the fact that he would rather pay immmediate attention to students asking and discussing things over anyone else. Thats Something educators should do but do not do nearly enough if at all of! He states the obvious among other things that the education system in place today is keeping people dumb so those very few in power can retain their stranglehold on the many. How are people supposed to move forward if they do not ask questions and investigate? The language of science can be applied to anything and everything. I also liked the fact that he distinguished a difference between the breakdown of communication and that of speaking with articulation!

  28. Richie

    He's wrong, the only reason yanks were up in arms about pluto is because it's the only planet they discovered.

    Yes, joe six pack didn't know that but the new york times did.

    Country full of grown children.

  29. Waldo

    Tyson did not start the debate about pluto, here is a write up about who did though. Brown even wrote a book about it called, "How I killed pluto and Why I had it Coming".

    "The credit - or, for the outraged nine-planet fans, the blame - goes to the International Astronomical Union. It also goes to Caltech astronomer Mike Brown, who just couldn't help finding other tantalizing objects at the edges of the solar system that challenged Pluto's planetary status."

    Tyson merely explained the reason Pluto was demoted and how it came about in one of his books, and therefore got the blame. He also gets a lot of flack because his response to the general public's outrage was, "I don't care, that's not how science works." (paraphrased of course) I personally could not agree with him more. If we start letting popular opinion decide how science catagorizes things the catagories lose all logical purpose and definition.

  30. lobot

    @ elbowbiter1 & jack1952

    oh very well then i'll give a shot

    have fun,


  31. K.Elvin

    A beautiful and intelligent conversation.
    Intelligent man, no doubt.
    I like his point of view.

  32. jack1952

    @ Waldo

    The predetermined process of filtering information is something that I have struggled with for years. When I draw a conclusion on a subject, I try to ask myself if that was a predictable response for me. I try to be honest but I find myself believing that I think in a logical manner. It's arrogant but I can't help it. If this process is a natural way of thinking for people it is no wonder the world is at each others throats all the time. To ask someone to examine his thinking process first then to have him try to understand an issue without prejudice is asking a lot of anyone.

  33. Waldo

    I like this guy, a little dry at times, but he definetly expresses himself as a knowledgable scientist that cares about the general public becomimg more scientifically literate. I wonder sometimes if that is possible though, by the time science becomes acessible to most of us we already have a predetermined way of processing information that we recieve from the environment or other people. I think all of us subject incoming information to some type of process that ultimately determines the validity or weight of what we just took in. The difference comes in when we consider what kind of process, do we filter it through a sort of scientific, logical, objective process or through a prejudiced, subjective, pre-installed belief system. And, of course the most important question, why? Why do we choose one of these two mechanism and then run with it for the rest of our lives?

    Is it because at some point in our early life we percieved one or the other of these systems of thinking as the most safe, the one least likely to lead us to pain or failure? Is it because one way of thinking gives life a more concrete feeling, less likely to be influenced by variables or chance occurence? Man seems to be obsessed with making everything a logical progression of cause and effect yielding x or y outcome.

    I was, and still am to some degree, one of those people that filter everything through intuitive past experiences and a pre-installed belief system. I have made the conscious effort to change this, but it is very difficult. I seem some how predisposed to think that way, and I would assert the vast majority of people in this world are just as well. Maybe that's just my short coming desiring company, but it seems this way when you see how people cling to illogical beliefs and counter productive prejudices. Its really somewhat discouraging when you consider that to get everyone to even see the problems that we face currently we must change the way the majority of people think, including ourselves many times.

  34. jack1952

    @ Courtney

    He started that debate about Pluto. I not sure I like him anymore. I have always felt so bad about how they treated Pluto.

  35. Courtney

    Hah! I only wish that people would judge you so harshly @ bobbert. j/k. deGrasse is a wonderful presenter and if i recall correctly I have held this belief for about 10 years now. Oh, and you can thank him for starting the debate on whether Pluto is a planet or not. When deGrasse speaks on science, the world apparently listens.

  36. Franklin

    Bush, I assume appreciates people who can explain things in lamen terms. great quotes and arguements in this interview.

  37. bobbert

    I've followed some of Dr Tyson's work a few years back yet I found him contrived. When he started to refer to himself as "The sexy scientist" I lost interest in his over wordy presentations.

  38. Mike

    Is it me or are they at each others throats?!

  39. jack1952

    @ Lobot

    I've seen this guy before. A very bright and articulate man. My disapproval of George Bush has nothing to do with this opinion. One should never allow prejudice to be the dominate factor in judging anyone. Tyson never once allows this to be a political doc nor does his political views ever find expression. He may not even approve of Bush. I have no way of knowing.

  40. Elbowbiter1

    Lobot, that sounded a little silly. Read about this guy's record, see him on other shows and realize this is no cigarette, petroleum industry scientist. And he is definitely not a creationist or intelligent design scientist. This guy is the real deal and he gives a damn about the proper increasing of human knowledge. There is no political way to be like that. Scientific facts are just that, scientific facts, not republican facts and not democrat facts. So who cares who appointed him, a high calibur scientist is speaking, get your ass on the couch, crack open your eyes, lean forward and listen!

  41. lobot

    hmmm, appointed by president bush you say...

    i think i'll give this one a miss