Monday, August 28, 2006

...and speaking of hype....

You know, I like Neil deGrasse Tyson - he does a huge amount for public outreach about science, and has even appeared on the Colbert Report (which I would love to do, since I think Colbert's observations about truthiness and wikiality have a lot to do with science today). However, this article is exactly the sort of hype-ridden malarky that really hurts science in the long run. Our risk of being swallowed by a black hole is negligibly small, and the science in the article is appallingly dumbed down (black holes were long thought to be roughly stationary? With respect to what, exactly?). While it may get people's attention, implying that it's likely that roving black holes in our neighborhood are going to kill us all is not the best way to get science in the public eye.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

do you think it hurts science? although i now despise the likes of m.k. and his shameless self-promotion machine, his flamboyant claims in his popular science books did pique my interests when i was still a layperson. these days, my blood pressure doesn't even let me page through a "scientific american."

Anonymous said...

To be fair, the editors at ABC News may have omitted qualifications Tyson and Kaku lay in their interviews (in a similar manner Colbert edits his interviews to make his interviewee look ridiculous). However, Tyson and Kaku should know better.

Doug Natelson said...

Actually, this article seems to be one in a series of awfully hyped up "doomsday" articles, as a tie-in to an upcoming 20/20 special about how the world might end. Seriously. While it can be fun to use doomsaying to teach science (e.g. how much energy would need to be in the Death Star's main weapon to actually overcome the gravitational binding energy of Alderaan?), this kind of stuff can make scientists sound pretty darn silly.

Panerai Watches said...

While it may get people's attention, implying that it's likely that roving black holes in our neighborhood are going to kill us all is not the best way to get science in the public eye.