MetroFocus: October 24, 2022

DR. NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON’S “COSMIC PERSPECTIVES ON CIVILIZATION”

In his new book, “Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization” famed astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson examines the biggest debates in human civilization through the prism of science.  The book tackles some of the topics and issues that we argue with each other about all the time, whether through the media, online, or in real life.  Dr. Tyson’s book is designed to make readers think twice about what they believe to be true, as he takes on a multitude of subjects including race, gender, religion, politics and the law.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON'S WAKEUP CALL TO PLANET EARTH.

HIS KOZZIC PERSPECTIVE ON THINKING RATIONALLY, UNDERSTANDING TRUTH, AND THE INTERSECTION BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

THOUGH IT MAY FEEL LIKE OUR WORLD IS MORE POLARIZED THAN EVER BEFORE, NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON ARGUES THAT WITH A SLIGHT CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE WE CAN BEGIN TO REALIZE THAT HUMANS MAY NOT BE AS DIVIDED AS WE INITIALLY SEEM.

THE BOOK TITLED 'STARRY MANAGER, COSMIC PERSPECTIVES ON CIVILIZATION' ENCOURAGING THE WORLD TO LOOK -- AND GET A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE AND OF EACH OTHER.

JOINING ME NOW TO DISCUSS HIS THOUGHTS ON LIFE, ON EARTH, AND BEYOND, AS WELL AS HIS NEW BOOK 'STARRY MESSENGER COSMIC PERSPECTIVES ON CIVILIZATION' IS NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON.

IN ADDITION TO BEING A FRIEND OF THE SHOW HE IS OF COURSE ANAS ASTRO PHYSICIST AND DIRECTOR OF THE HAYDEN PLANETARIUM HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT IS A JOY TO HAVE YOU ON THE SHOW AGAIN SIR.

WELCOME, DR. TYSON.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME BACK, AND PLEASE CALL ME NEIL.

BY THE WAY, THAT INTRODUCTION, THE OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK LEAVES ME NOTHING LEFT TO SAY.

OH, WELL, THEN WE'RE DONE HERE.

IT WAS GREAT TO HAVE YOU ON.

WE'RE DONE.

BUT GETTING INTO THE BOOK.

SO, JUST THE INITIAL -- I THINK AT THE FOREFRONT OF EVERYBODY'S MIND, COSMIC PERSPECTIVES ON CIVILIZATION.

OKAY, THE MOST DIPLOMATIC WAY I COULD PUT IT IS IT FEELS AS IF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT IS BEING PUT THROUGH A STRESS TEST.

I LIKE THAT PHRASE.

VERY APT, YES.

VERY GOOD.

WHAT IS THE UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE THAT YOU'RE SUGGESTING THAT MAYBE IF WE LOOKED AT IT FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE IT WOULDN'T BE QUITE SO ANXIETY INDUCING?

YEAH, SO I HATE TO PUT SO MUCH BLAME ON THE INTERNET, BECAUSE THE INTERNET IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL GIFT TO CIVILIZATION FROM THE METHODS AND TOOLS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, BUT THE FACT THAT YOU CAN NOW HAVE SOME IDEA, HOWEVER CRAZY, TYPE IT INTO A SEARCH ENGINE, AND IT WILL BRING YOU BACK EVERYBODY ELSE WHO HAS THAT CRAZY IDEA, GIVING YOU THE FALSE IMPRESSION, THE DELUSIONAL IMPRESSION, THAT YOU'RE REALLY ON TO SOMETHING, YOU'VE REALLY GOT SOME NEW THING FIGURED OUT.

THIS FEEDS YOUR OPINIONS AND YOU HOLD YOUR OPINION WITH A GREATER STRENGTH THAN YOU MIGHT OTHERWISE HAVE SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE RESEARCH THAT YOU'VE DONE TO SUPPORT IT.

AND SO I REALIZE -- BY THE WAY, THAT'S RECENT TIMES.

BUT THIS BOOK HAS BEEN GESTATING WITHIN ME EVER SINCE I WAS A SCIENTIFICALLY LITERAL KID, BASICALLY SINCE EARLY MIDDLE SCHOOL.

I STARTED LOOKING AROUND AND I'D SEE GROWNUPS DOING THINGS LIKE, WHAT?

HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THIS?

WHAT ARE YOU -- DID YOU REALLY -- DO YOU UNDERSTAND?

SO, MANY MY HEAD, MY OBSERVATIONS OF WHAT THE WORLD IS DOING AND WHAT THEY'RE ARGUING ABOUT AND WHAT THEY THINK IS WORTH KILLING EACH OTHER OVER, IT'S JUST -- I COULDN'T -- IT WAS RETAINED IN ME AND WAS GESTATING AND IT FINALLY BIRTHED INTO THIS BOOK.

ALL RIGHT.

SO JUST TO GIVE PEOPLE AN UNDERSTANDING, BECAUSE -- AND WE'RE GOING TO GET INTO THE REJECTION OF SCIENTIFIC FACT, BUT SOME PEOPLE MIGHT SAY, WAIT A SECOND.

SO MUCH OF SCIENCE IS BASED ON HYPOTHESIS, ET CETERA, THAT THERE'S AN EDUCATED GUESS.

WHY IS YOUR EDUCATED GUESS BETTER THAN MY GOOGLED OPINION?

OKAY.

[ LAUGHTER ] OKAY.

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, SCIENCE ON THE CONTESTED FRONTIER IS A VERY ACTIVE PLACE, WHERE IDEAS COME AND GO.

WHAT HAPPENS IS AT A CONFERENCE, I'LL PRESENT -- BY THE WAY, PEOPLE WHO THINK SCIENTISTS JUST LIKE TO AGREE WITH EACH OTHER, THEY'VE NEVER BEEN TO A SCIENCE CONFERENCE.

I GO TO A CONFERENCE, PRESENT AN IDEA THAT HAS SOME MERIT.

SOMEONE SAYS WAIT A MINUTE, HAVE YOU TESTED THIS?

HAVE YOU TESTED IT THIS WAY RATHER THAN THAT WAY?

I HAVE A DIFFERENT IDEA.

THIS TWOS ON AND ON IN CONFERENCES.

IT IS TYPICALLY RESOLVED WHEN BETTER OR MORE OBSERVATIONS AND DATA AND EXPERIMENTS ARE CONDUCTED.

AND ONCE AN EMERGENT TRUTH IS ESTABLISHED BY THESE METHODS AND TOOLS AND REPEATED EXPERIMENTS, IT'S DONE, IT GOES INTO THE BOOKS AND WE MOVE ON.

AND SO YES, ON THE FRONTIER SCIENCE IS A BLOODY PLACE, BUT ONCE WE HAVE EXPERIMENTAL AGREEMENT, IT IS IN YOUR INTEREST TO HEED THE ADVICE THAT DERIVES FROM IT.

I DO WANT TO CIRCLE BACK TO OUR SOCIETAL UNDERSTANDING OF SCIENCE CIRCA RIGHT NOW, BUT WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOUR BOOK IS YOU SORT OF GIVE US AN ARC OF HUMANITY TO LOOK AT, AND ONE OF THE PEOPLE THAT YOU GO BACK TO IS GALILEO, WHICH I DON'T THINK WHEN PEOPLE ARE THINKING OF COSMIC SOCIETY NOW WE WOULD CONSIDER ONE OF THE ANCIENTS.

ONE OF HIS EARLIEST PUBLISHED BOOKS, IN THAT BOOK HE REPORTED HIS FIRST TELESCOPIC OBSERVATIONS OF THE UNIVERSE, WHERE HE REVEALED THE MOON IS NOT SOME SMOOTH SURFACE.

IT HAS MOUNDS AND VALLEYS AND HILLS.

THE SUN IS NOT PERFECT.

IT HAS BLEMISHING.

WHAT WE CALL SUN SPOTS.

VENUS GOES THROUGH PHASES JUST LIKE THE MOON DOES.

HE NOTICED JUPITER HAS LITTLE JUPITER STARS ORBITING AROUND IT.

TODAY WE KNOW THEM TO BE MOONS.

OH, MY GOSH, IF JUPITER HAS THINGS MOVING AROUND IT, THEN EARTH CAN'T BE THE CENTER OF ALL MOTION.

AND HE PRESENTED ENOUGH DATA TO SHOW EARTH GOES AROUND THE SUN AND NOT VICE VERSA.

THIS GOT HIM IN TROUBLE.

HE WAS ALSO A LITTLE BIT OF A JERK TO THE POPE.

THAT MIGHT HAVE HELPED.

NOBODY LIKES A JERK.

HE WAS A LITTLE BIT OF A SHOWBOAT WITH REGARD TO THOSE IDEAS RELATIVE TO THOSE HELD BY OTHERS.

POINT IS, IN THIS BOOK, MESSAGES FROM THE STARS, CHANGING HOW WE THINK ABOUT THE WORLD HERE ON EARTH, IN THAT TRANSLATES TO STARRY MESSENGER.

ALL I DID WAS FORWARD MOVE CIVILIZATION FROM WHEN HE IS SHOWING AUTHENTIC SCIENCE AND WATCHING HOW IT CONFLICTS WITH WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING, BUT AUTHENTIC SCIENCE IS TRUE FOR EVERYONE, WHERE AS YOUR PERSONAL TRUTHS, IS JESUS YOUR SAVIOR, MUHAMMUD YOUR PROPHET, ABRAHAM -- WHATEVER.

YOUR PERSONAL TRUTHS, WHICH ARE WELCOME IN A FREE SOCIETY, IF YOU'RE GOING TO PASS LAWS, IF YOU'RE GOING TO TRY TO WIN AN ARGUMENT, THERE'S VALUE TO GOING TO THE OBJECTIVE TRUTHS ESTABLISHED BY THE METHODS AND TOOLS OF SCIENCE.

BECAUSE YOU CAN MEET IN A COMMON PLACE THERE, AND SO OFTEN WHEN AN OBJECTIVE TRUTH IS PRESENTED, YOUR ARGUMENT JUST SEEMS -- YOU NEVER REALLY HAD AN ARGUMENT.

SO THERE ARE MANY PLACES, VISTAS PEOPLE WHO ARE ARGUING CAN TRAVEL TO, AND IT'S NOT FAR AWAY FROM WHERE YOU'RE STANDING AND SAY, WOW, I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT THAT WAY.

THIS IS WHAT SCIENCE SAYS.

THISs WHAT KOZZIC PERSPECTIVE BRINGS.

THEN YOU SHAKE HANDS AND HAVE A BEER.

I DON'T SEE HOW I COULD WIN AN ARGUMENT WITH THAT PERSPECTIVE.

YOU DON'T WIN AN ARGUMENT --

WHICH IS THE PERSPECTIVE A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO BRING.

I'M LOOKING TO WIN.

GOOD POINT.

SO, YES, WHEN PEOPLE ARGUE THEIR OPINIONS, THEY WILL ARGUE MORE AND MORE STRENUOUSLY BECAUSE THEY WANT TO WIN THE ARGUMENT, WHERE AS MANY SUCH CONFLAGRATIONS WOULD NOT EXIST AT ALL IF YOU BOTH PAUSE, STEP TO A NEW PLACE, COSMIC PERSPECTIVE PLACE, AND TAKE A LOOK BACK AT THE ARGUMENT AND SAY, WE WEREN'T REALLY ARGUING ABOUT ANYTHING AT ALL.

SO YES, IT DEFUSES THE -- THE -- THE ENERGY THAT YOU'RE INVESTING IN THAT ARGUMENT.

SO I'M THINKING, PEOPLE SHOULD -- YOU KNOW, I DON'T LIKE TELLING PEOPLE WHAT TO DO, BUT IN THIS MOMENT I'M GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO.

GET THE BOOK BEFORE YOUR THANKSGIVING DINNER, OKAY?

OOH.

IT WILL COMPLETELY CHANGE THE TONE, THE OUTCOMES, THE WISDOM THAT GOES ACROSS THE TABLE.

THAT'S ALL I'M SAYING.

NO, NO, THAT'S ACTUALLY -- AND I THINK THAT COULD DEFINITELY BE VERY USEFUL TO A LOT OF PEOPLE.

CAN I GIVE AN EXAMPLE?

I KNOW WE GOT MORE TIME HERE, BUT CAN I START OUT WITH AN EXAMPLE?

EACH CHAPTER NAME HAS TWO WARRING FACTIONS AS THE TITLE.

SO ONE OF THE -- I START MORE PEACEFULLY.

THERE'S A CHAPTER CALLED TRUTH AND BEAUTY, OKAY?

ANOTHER ONE, LIFE AND DEATH.

I END WITH LIFE AND DEATH.

BUT THERE ARE OTHER CHAPTERS, MEAT EATERS AND VEG TERRAPINS.

THEY'RE ALWAYS GOING AT IT.

I THOUGHT I'D JUMP IN, ADD SOME SCIENCE TO IT.

THERE'S ALSO GENDER AND IDENTITY.

ALSO HAVING COLOR AND RACE.

YEAH, I WENT THERE.

YEAH.

LAW AND ORDER.

THERE'S ANOTHER ONE, RISK AND REWARD.

AND THERE'S ONE -- WE HAVE VERY -- AS A SPECIES, AS HUMANS, WE HAVE VERY PORE COLLECTIVE UNDERSTANDING OF PROBABILITY AND STATISTICS.

IT'S NOT TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS.

IT MIGHT BE AN ELECTIVE YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE TO TAKE IN HIGH SCHOOL.

CERTAINLY AVAILABLE IN COLLEGE, BUT IT'S NOT IN THE BASE CURRICULUM ANYWHERE IN KINDERGARTEN THROUGH 12.

MEANWHILE, LOOK AT HOW OUR IGNORANCE IN THIS WORLD IS EXPLOITED.

THERE'S AN ENTIRE INDUSTRY THAT HAS ARISEN TO EXPLOIT THE FACT THAT WE DO NOT KNOW HOW TO THINK PROBABLISTICALLY AND STATISTICALLY, THE CASINOS.

THE FACT THAT YOU CAN HAVE AN ROULETTE TABLE, WHY ARE YOU BETTING 7?

WE'RE DUE FOR A 7.

YOU'RE NOT DUE FOR A 7.

THE PROBABILITY IS EXACTLY THE SAME EVERY TIME THEY ROLL THE WHEEL.

BUT OUR WEAKNESSES IN THIS REGARD ARE KNOWN BY OTHERS AND EXPLOITED AND THEY'RE TAKING YOUR MONEY BECAUSE OF IT.

AND THAT'S -- IT'S TRAGIC.

I'M NOT BLAMING THE INDIVIDUAL.

I THINK THERE'S SOME PROBLEM WITH HOW OUR BRAIN IS WIRED THAT WE DON'T THINK THAT WAY.

YOU'LL MEET SOME FRIEND, LONG LOST FRIEND IN A FOREIGN CITY AND YOU SAY, OH, WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

THIS CAN'T BE JUST COINCIDENCE.

YES, IT IS!

[ LAUGHTER ]

HOLD ON.

YOU'RE TAKING THE MAGIC OUT OF LIFE RIGHT NOW.

EXCUSE ME, THERE'S PLENTY OTHER MAGIC OUT THERE.

WE DON'T KNOW WHAT DARK MATTER IS, DARK ENERGY, WHAT WAS AROUND BEFORE THE UNIVERSE.

HOW WILL THE UNIVERSE END?

IS IT A BIG RIP?

A BIG CRUNCH?

THERE'S A LOT OF MYSTERY IN THE UNIVERSE.

WE STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND CONSCIOUSNESS.

YOU KNOW THE EVIDENCE OF THAT?

PEOPLE STILL PUBLISH BOOKS ON CONSCIOUSNESS.

THE MORE PEOPLE PUBLISH BOOKS ON A SUBJECT, THE LESS WE KNOW OF IT.

YOU GO TO THE PHYSICS AISLE AND LOOK FOR ALL THE PHYSICS BOOKS ON GRAVITY.

THERE'S LIKE THREE BOOKS.

WE GOT THAT, OKAY?

ALL RIGHT.

SO EVIDENCE THAT WE ARE STILL ON THE FRONTIER OF THINGS IS PEOPLE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT AND IT JOCKEYING FOR POSITION.

SO, THERE'S STILL PLENTY OF MYSTERY IN THE WORLD BUCK LET IT BE AUTHENTIC MYSTERIES AND NOT ONE YOU MANUFACTURE THAT WE HAVE ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF.

BUT DOESN'T THAT GO AGAINST --

GIVE YOUR BRAIN MORE RESPECT THAN THAT.

DOESN'T THAT GO AGAINST THE WAY PEOPLE HISTORICALLY EXPERIENCED AT LEAST THIS EARTHLY REALM, IF YOU WILL?

THERE'S A CERTAIN LEVEL AT WHICH THINGS -- WHERE YOU'RE TALK ABOUT PROBABILITY, AND I'D LOVE FOR TO YOU EXPLAIN WHY IT IS WE'RE MISUNDERSTANDING THAT OR NOT UNDERSTANDING IT AT ALL, CAN SEEM -- KISMET OR SOMETHING.

THERE'S BEEN WORDS A LOT OF WORDS TO DESCRIBE WHAT THE PERHAPS NOT FULLY EDUCATED HUMAN MIND CAN INTERPRET AS RANDOM MAGIC.

IF YOU LOOK AT THE HISTORY, JUST GO BACK.

LET'S TAKE A VERY SERIOUS VERSION OF THAT EXAMPLE.

GO BACK 300 YEARS.

SOMEONE WOULD BE SITTING THERE, AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN BEGIN CONVULSING, POSSIBLY EVEN FROTHING AT THE MOUTH, AND THEY'D BE LAID OUT ON THE GROUND.

IF YOU WERE DEEPLY RELIGIOUS AND YOU BELIEVE -- ESPECIALLY CHRISTIAN -- AND YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A HELL AND THAT THERE IS A DEVIL OCCUPYING THAT HELL, ALL OF THESE SYMPTOMS ARE COMPLETELY CONSISTENT WITH THE PERSON JUST GOT OCCUPIED BY SOME DEVIL SPIRIT.

AND YOU NEED TO RID THEM OF THIS.

SO YOU QUICKLY -- I WAS GOING TO SAY CALL.

YOU QUICKLY FIND THE PRIEST, YOU KNOW, TOWNS ARE SMALL.

PRIEST IS NOT FAR AWAY.

AND THEY COME.

TAKE THEM A FEW MINUTES TO GET THE HOLY WATER, THE ROBE, RUN OTHER TO YOUR RESIDENCE, OKAY?

SO MINUTES GO BY NOW, 5, 10 MINUTES.

AND THEY COME, THEY UTTER SOME WORDS IN LATIN, AND THEN THE SYMPTOMS GO AWAY.

THEY SAY, THANK YOU, FATHER, FOR RIDDING OUR SON OR FATHER OF THIS AILMENT.

WE CAN KEEP BELIEVING YOU'RE OCCUPIED BY THE DEVIL, OR YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF PHENOMENON IN THE WORLD BY LEARNING SCIENCE.

AND THAT OF COURSE I DESCRIBED AS BEST AS I COULD AN EPILEPTIC SEIZURE, WHICH TYPICALLY RUN THEIR COURSE OVER THE TIME IT TOOK THE PRIEST TO WALK TO YOUR HOME TO ADD MINUTER THE THE HOLY WATER, SO.

SO HERE'S THE CASE, GOD INTERVENING.

BUT IT'S THE SAME PRINCIPLE IN, IT'S BEYOND WHAT SCIENCE KNOWS AT THE TIME.

AND SO HOW MUCH OF THAT ARE YOU GOING TO -- TO ADHERE TO IN A WORLD OF MODERN SCIENCE, WHERE WE'VE ASKED THOSE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERED MOST OF THEM?

AND SO I THINK YOU SHOULD -- YOU KNOW, THERE IS A SAYING, WHAT GALILEO SAID IS, WHY WOULD GOD PRESUME -- BECAUSE HE WAS A RELIGIOUS MAN.

WHY WOULD GOD GIVE YOU THE BRAIN WITH THE POWER TO FIGURE THINGS OUT AND NOT EXPECT TO YOU USE IT?

I THOUGHT THAT WAS A PRETTY GOOD -- [ LAUGHTER ]

THAT'S AN EXCELLENT ANALOGY, ALTHOUGH ONE MIGHT QUESTION, BUT IF EVERYONE'S USING THEIR BRAIN, THEN IT'S HARDER TO SET UP AN EMPIRE.

BUT THAT'S ANOTHER CONVERSATION.

I DO ALSO WANT TO ASK -- I DO SERIOUSLY WANT TO ASK --

THAT IS A SERIOUS CONVERSATION.

YOU HAVE TO BE MANIPULATABLE IN ORDER TO BELIEVE LEADERS AND THINGS.

THAT HAS BEEN A CRUCIAL CORNERSTONE OF MANY CIVILIZATIONS.

BUT I ALSO WANT TO ASK, BECAUSE YOU ARE OF COURSE BEFORE THE STARRY INFINITENESS OF THE UNIVERSE.

BUT YOU'VE ALSO MENTIONED RELIGION SEVERAL TIMES.

AND I'M WONDERING, FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, FROM YOUR COSMIC PERSPECTIVE, THERE SORT OF SEEMS TO BE A SHIFT, PARTICULARLY WITH YOUNGER PEOPLE WHERE THEY'RE TURNING AWAY FROM OR PERHAPS NOT EMBRACING RELIGION IN THE WAY THAT PREVIOUS GENERATIONS HAVE.

BUT INSTEAD ARE LOOKING TO THE HEAVENS.

THEY'RE EXPLORING THE STARS AND LUNAR PATTERNS AND HOW THAT MIGHT OR MAY NOT IMPACT OUR LIVES HERE ON EARTH.

AND I'D LOVE TO GET YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THE GROWING POPULARITY OF THAT PRACTICE.

YOU MIXED A FEW THING TOGETHER THERE I'M GOING UNPACK.

YES, IT'S GROWING -- IN FACT, LAST I CHECKED IN A PEW POLL, THE FASTEST GROWING SECTOR, RELIGIOUS SECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES, ARE THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT FORMALLY AFFILIATED WITH ANY RELIGION, THEREFORE THEY'VE SEPARATED FROM JUDE YICHL, CHRISTIANITY.

THAT POPULATION IS GROWING.

SO THE POPULATION THAT'S REJECTING ALL SPIRITUALITY ENTIRELY.

THAT'S GROWING IN THE UNITED STATES.

IT'S ALREADY BEEN VERY HIGH IN EUROPE.

EUROPE HAS SOME OF THE HIGHEST FREQUENCY OF ATHEISM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, INCLUDING ITALY, WHICH IS THE HOME OF ROME AND THE VATICAN, OF COURSE.

SO, THESE ARE TREND LINES THAT HAVE BEEN GOING FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF HUNDRED YEARS.

THAT BEING SAID, THE UNITED STATES IS STILL PRIMARILY A RELIGIOUSLY FOLLOWING COUNTRY.

NOT IN OUR LAWS NECESSARILY, BUT IN PEOPLE'S CONDUCT.

SO, WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN UP AROUND 90% A COUPLE DECADES AGO DROPPED TO AROUND 80% TO 70% OF PEOPLE WHO PRAY TO A GOD TO INTERCEDE IN THE ACTIVITIES OF THEIR LIVES.

THAT'S HOW YOU ASK, ARE YOU RELIGIOUS?

MANY PEOPLE GO TO CHURCH FOR THE SOCIAL LIFE OR CUPCAKE SALE.

YOU WANT TO ASK A MORE POINTED QUESTION.

IF YOU PRAY TO A PERSONAL GOD, YOU'RE RELIGIOUS.

BY THE WAY, THERE'S A NONZERO FRACTION OF WESTERN SCIENTISTS WHO ARE RELIGIOUS AND PRAY TO A PERSONAL GOD.

I WOULD SAY IT'S UP AROUND -- DEPENDING ON WHICH BRANCH OF SCIENCE, BETWEEN VERY LOW SINGLE DIGITS UP TO AS MUCH AS 40%. ENGINEERS ARE ABOUT 40%, 50% RELIGIOUS, AND THEY'RE SCIENTIFICALLY TRAINED SOME BEING A SCIENTIST IS NOT SYNONYMOUS -- NOT THAT YOU ASK, BUT I ADD THIS -- BEING A SCIENTIST IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH BEING AN ATHEIST.

AND IN A COUNTRY WHERE LAWS PROTECT FREEDOM OF RELIGION, THE PLURALISM OF THAT IS A BEAUTIFUL THING.

YOU KNOW, IT MAKES FOR A FASCINATING DIVERSITY OF CULTURE AND TRADITIONS AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES LIFE KIND OF INTERESTING.

OKAY.

IT BECOMES AN ISSUE WHEN, IF YOU HAVE A RELIGIOUS PERSONAL TRUTH THAT YOU WANT TO IMPOSE ON OTHERS WHO DON'T SHARE THAT PERSONAL TRUTH, AND THEN YOU RISE TO POWER OVER LEGISLATION OR LAWS.

THEN YOU PASS LAWS BASED ON YOUR RELIGION THAT YOU MAKE OTHER PEOPLE FOLLOW.

THAT'S THE CEASED OF THE UNRAVELING OF AN INFORMED POPULARISTIC DEMOCRACY.

AT THE SAME TIME I'M ALSO CURIOUS ABOUT -- WELL, YEAH, I JUST HAVE TO FLAT-OUT SAY IT.

A LOT MORE PEOPLE ARE TURNING TO THINGS LIKE ASTROLOGY IN AN ATTEMPT TO GAIN PERSPECTIVE ON WORLD NOW.

FOR ME, I DON'T KNOW THAT THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING DEEPLY RELIGIOUS AND FOLLOWING RELIGIOUS TENETS ABOUT YOUR LIFE, WHAT YOU SHOULD DO, WHO'S GOING TO BE THERE WALKING NEXT TO YOU WHEN YOU'RE TROUBLED.

YOU KNOW, THERE'S THE FAMOUS PARABLE ABOUT FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND, RIGHT?

IS JESUS THERE NEXT TO YOU OR NOT WHEN YOU'RE IN TIME OF TROUBLE?

BECAUSE RIGHT AT YOUR TIME -- AT YOUR WORST THERE WAS ONLY ONE SET OF FOOTPRINTFOOTPRINTS.

JESUS, WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I NEEDED YOU.

THE RETORT IS, I WAS CARRYING YOU.

THAT'S WHY THERE WAS ONLY ONE SET OF FOOTPRINTS.

THESE ARE WAYS PEOPLE -- HELP PEOPLE COPE WITH THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE.

AND CHALLENGES OF LIFE TODAY ARE VERY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT THEY WERE 500 YEARS AGO, A THOUSAND YEARS AGO, BUT WE ALL HAVE CHALLENGES.

FINANCIAL CHALLENGES, PERSONAL CHALLENGES, SOCIAL CHALLENGES, FAMILY CHALLENGES.

CULTURAL CHALLENGES.

SO IF YOU WERE ONCE RELIGIOUS AND NOW YOU'RE GOING REJECT RELIGION, BUT YOU STILL HAVE THIS NEED, THEN YEAH, ASTROLOGY IS WAITING IN THE WINGS.

THERE IT IS.

HAVING A BAD DAY?

MERCURY IS IN RETROGRADE.

IT EXPLAINS THINGS WITHOUT EVEN MENTION OF JESUS.

I HAVE HARD FINANCES THIS MONTH.

LET ME CHECK MY HOROSCOPE.

OH, YOU MAY COME INTO MORE LUCK THIS MONTH.

OR WHATEVER.

WHATEVER IT IS, IT BECOMES A PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR YOU.

AND I DON'T KNOW THAT SCIENCE CAN PROVIDE THAT, OKAY?

I'M GOING TO TELL YOU,S THE A COLD UNFEELING WORLD.

AND YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR OWN FATE.

RATHER THAN CREDIT OR BLAME THINGS THAT SCIENCE CAN DEMONSTRATE HAS POSITIVELY NO EFFECT ON YOU, BUT THAT'S NOT GOING TO MATTER, BECAUSE YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IT, AND YOU PROCEED.

FOR ME, IS IT TAKING AWAY WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD?

OR IS IT FREEING YOU?

I WOULD POSE THAT QUESTION BACK.

THE FREEDOM IS, OH, MY GOSH, I'M IN CONTROL, NOT SOMETHING ELSE.

I WORRY IF SOMETHING DOESN'T GO WELL IN YOUR LIFE AND YOU START BLAMING OTHER THINGS YOU WILL NOT TAKE THE NECESSARY ACTION TO CORRECT WHAT IS THAT'S GOING WRONG IN YOUR LIFE.

AND I'VE MANY MANY A RELIGIOUS PEOPLE WHO ARE DESTITUTE, EITHER EMOTIONALLY, FINANCIALLY, PHYSICALLY, BUT SAYING GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF ME.

I'M NOT WORRIED ABOUT IT.

IF NOT IN THIS LIFE, THE AFTERLIFE.

OKAY, SO THEY'RE LIVING DECADES IN DESTITUTE.

BECAUSE OF FORCES THEY'VE PLACED OUTSIDE OF THEM.

I LIKE TO THINK SCIENCE FREEING YOU OF THAT.

IT'S KIND OF A DECISION PRISON, IF YOU WILL.

WOW.

BY THE WAY, THERE ARE OTHER THINGS YOU CAN TAKE SOLACE IN IN THE UNIVERSE.

I'LL GIVE YOU ONE.

READY?

THIS IS THE GREATEST COSMIC PERSPECTIVE OF THEM ALL.

A GIFT TO 20th CENTURY CIVILIZATION BY ASTROPHYSICISTS.

IN THE YEAR 1957, THERE WAS A RESEARCH PAPER PUBLISHED WITH FOUR AUTHORS.

ONE OF THEM, A BRILLIANT WOMAN, BY THE WAY, WHO'S KIND OF LOST IN THE ANNALS OF GREAT SCIENTISTS.

BY THE WAY, WE HAVE A MINUTE LEFT, SO --

ON THIS PAPER, THEY SHOWED THAT THE ORIGIN OF THE ELEMENTS IN YOUR BODY IS TRACEABLE TO STARS THAT MANUFACTURED THEM IN THEIR CORES, THEN EXPLODED, SCATTERING THAT ENRICHMENT ACROSS THE GALAXY, GOING INTO GAS CLOUDS, MAKING THE NEXT GENERATION OF STARS AND PLANETS.

SO WE ARE NOT POETICALLY, WE ARE LITERALLY STARDUST.

AND WHEN YOU LOOK UP AT NIGHT AND SAY, WELL, I'M ALIVE IN THIS UNIVERSE, THERE'S ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT IT.

THE UNIVERSE IS ALIVE WITHIN YOU.

THAT IS A SCIENTIFIC FACT, OBJECTIVE TRUTH, THAT BORDERS ON THE SPIRITUAL.

THERE'S A LOT OF THAT THROUGHOUT SCIENCE AND THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSE, THAT WE'RE ALL CONNECTED GENETICALLY.

YOU SAY I'M SPECIAL BECAUSE I'M DIFFERENT.

MAYBE YOU'RE SPECIAL BECAUSE WE'RE ALL THE SAME, AND WE'RE MADE OF STARDUST.

THAT I THINK IS THE --

IT'S REMARKABLE.

WE'RE CONNECTED TO OTHER LIFE ON EARTH.

IT CAN TAKE YOU THERE.

YOU DON'T NEED MAGIC AND WIZARDS.

YOU DON'T NEED THAT.

THE TRUTH IS ENOUGH.

THAT IS A WONDERFUL THOUGHT FOR ALL OF US TO TAKE AWAY FROM NOT JUST THIS BOOK, BUT OF COURSE YOUR ONGOING LIFE'S WORK, THE CONNECTEDNESS WE ALL HAVE, AND THAT IS TO THE GREATER UNIVERSE.

THAT WAS KIND OF RELIGIOUS.

[ LAUGHTER ]

SPIRITUAL I WOULD SAY.

DR. NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN.

WE ALWAYS ENJOY HAVING YOU ON AND LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR NEXT VISIT.

EXCELLENT.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

ABSOLUTELY.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

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