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Neil deGrasse Tyson makes a bad philosopher

Friday, April 27th, 2012
Dr. at the November 29, 2005 meeting of the NA...

Dr. at the November 29, 2005 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council, in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of days ago there was a minor kerfuffle between Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, and Neil daGrasse Tyson, the equally friendly astrophysicist, over the correct usage of the term ‘atheist.’ It wasn’t very interesting to me. Neil can call or refrain from calling himself whatever he wants. To me anyone who lacks a belief in gods is an atheist, but that’s how I choose to use the word. Some people use it differently. That’s fine. If they object to be called an atheist, I will respect their wishes even if I personally happen to think they are one. I share Neil’s disdain for arguing semantics. If both parties have (more…)

O’Reilly deserves no charity

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

…but maybe we should give him some. Now, Bill O’Reilly gives us no reason to be charitable toward his claims. He is loud-mouthed, arrogant, frequently bigoted, annoyingly interruptive, and never charitable toward his interviewees himself.  Such behaviour hardly engenders good will in people to treat him differently. This, I suspect, is the reason for the massive amounts of ridicule heaped onto him after his tide-argument for God in his interview with David Silverman:

Most notable of such ridicule is Colbert describing his position as ‘there must be a God because I don’t know how things work’ and then bringing physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in to explain the tides.

As amusing and justified the ridicule of O’Reilly admittedly is, I doubt the man is truly so ignorant of basic scientific explanations as he’s made out. I just think he’s really bad at getting across whatever his argument happens to be. So when O’Reilly says:

Sun comes up, sun goes down. Tide comes in, tide goes out; never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that.

A more charitable interpretation, than a profession of ignorance of the motions of celestial bodies, is (more…)