Archive for Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Paraphyletic Commune

Posted in Evolution, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2016 by Rob Wallace

564px-Barricade_Paris_1871_by_Pierre-Ambrose_RichebourgToday marks the 145th anniversary of the founding of the Paris Commune, the revolutionary socialist government that ruled France’s capital for seventy-two days in 1871.

Upon the collapse of the Second Empire in the face of a Prussian invasion, the Parisian proletariat, backed by radicalized National Guard from working class neighborhoods, rejected the bourgeois Third Republic that rose in its stead, electing a Commune council of Blanquists, Proudhinists, and other radicals in its place.

The Commune’s bottom-up legitimization represents a refutation of the kind of double bind liberals demand of their constituencies to this day: if you don’t want the troglodytic Donald Trump, you must support Hillary Clinton–the Kissinger of Honduras–and the neoliberal kleptocracy she represents, impoverishing millions at home and murdering millions more abroad.

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Stick to Physics

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2014 by Rob Wallace

xjrf95-neil-degrasse-tyson-cosmos-gif-gbfaThe stranger promises to return. They both know they’ll never see each other again. Alone now, and before he puts out the lamp, [Jorge Luis Borges’s] Paracelsus scoops up the ashes and utters a single word in a low voice. And in his hands the rose springs back to life.Roberto Bolaño (2004)

Neil deGrasse Tyson has parlayed his sudden Cosmos fame into succinct and biting critiques of anti-intellectualisms of a variety of stars and stripes.

On creationist notions of the age of the universe,

If the universe were only 6,500 years old, how could we see the light from anything more distant than the Crab Nebula? We couldn’t. There wouldn’t have been enough time for the light to get to Earth from anywhere farther away than 6,500 light years in any direction. That’s just enough time for light to travel a tiny portion of our Milky Way galaxy.

On climate denialism,

Abe Lincoln would turn in his grave if he knew that his descendants, his political descendants — if I remember correctly, Abe Lincoln was Republican — were cherry-picking scientific results. I don’t know what he would say. I’m pretty sure he’d be disappointed.

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Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , on April 10, 2014 by Rob Wallace

Big Data 2Data are good and why, as Neil deGrasse Tyson has been reminding us, logical empiricism is an acid that–eventually–eats through many a research question.

But I’m beginning to understand the extent to which Big Data, while capturing subtle correlations, suffers from a variety of overhead, not the least our era’s penchant for more information and less understanding.

There is, as Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis described earlier this week, the difference between pattern and process (and science and statistics) and whether said correlations are anything more than stochastic.

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