Famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson went “full Buffoon” when he tweet that “Science” is true, “whether or not you believe in it.”
Here’s the buffoonish tweet in question:
Obviously, there were many responses to Tyson’s tweet. We’ll just highlight a few that tickled our fancy.
For those who don’t remember their elementary school science classes, the scientific method is an empirical step-by-step analysis of acquiring knowledge that has existed since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed (to discount any distortion of how one interprets the observation) formulating hypotheses based on both observations and experimental / measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses, and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. Whew!
Anyways, back to the tweets!
“Science” is not a belief system. It is also not objective truth.
There are very few objective truths in science, which is known as laws. A scientific law provides a description of a directly observable phenomenon. Then there are also scientific theories. A theory focuses on providing a logical explanation for things. There can be more than one theory about the same phenomenon.
While “science” can be best described as the search for objective truth, it is not, in and of itself, “truth”. That is because the scientific method relies on flawed human beings to put aside biases in favor of experimentation and measurement. That’s fine in theory, but can be difficult in application.
Look at the recent buffoonery espoused in the name of “Science” like prohibiting screaming or thrill rides or requiring “substantial” food for bars to open. All because “Science.” But not necessarily based in science.
Now none of us here at Buffoon of the Week are scientists, but we do know a thing or two about language. As George Carlin once said, “language always gives you away.”
Why did Tyson capital “Science” as he did? That seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? While it may just be a typographical error, we are left to wonder where Tyson is using this peculiar capitalization to impress his point: that he believes that Science = Truth.
If so, that’s full-on buffoonery. And no one should ever go full Buffoon.
History is fraught with examples of science getting things wrong, and scientists correcting the “truth”. Scientists once said the world was flat, and that one could fall of the edge of it. That was the “truth” of the time to some scientists. Yet, it was not “Truth”. Imagine what Tyson and his ilk will consider “Truth” that may be wrong hundreds of years from now.
By claiming that there is a system of belief in conflict with the truth of “Science”, Tyson may be expressing what many have thought for some time: that there is a religion of “Science” believers within that conflict.
Did he mean all of that? Let’s ask him:
We’re not holding our breath for any response, but one can always hope!