8th of May

Between a Carl Sagan and a Neil DeGrasse Tyson there is a big pit of scientism


“There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question”.

– Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World.

“That [i.e. philosophy] can really mess you up.
I agree [that there is too much question asking in philosophy].
My concern there is that the philosopher believes they are really asking deep questions about nature. To the scientist it’s ‘what are you doing? Why are you wasting your time?’. Why do you concern yourself with the meaning of meaning?
If you are distracted by your questions you cannot move forward. You are not being a productive contributor to our understanding of the natural world. So the scientist knows when the question […] is a pointless delay in your progress.
It devolves into a discussion about the definitions of words and I’d rather keep the conversation about ideas. When you do that you don’t derail yourself on questions that you think are important because philosophy class tells you this but the scientist says ‘look, I’ve got this world of unknown out there I’m moving on and I’m leaving you behind and you can’t even cross the street because you`re distracted by what you are sure are deep questions you have asked of yourself and I don’t have time for that.’
You need people to laugh at your ridiculous questions.” 

– Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Source, from 20:19 – http://www.nerdist.com/pepisode/nerdist-podcast-neil-degrasse-tyson-returns-again/ )
This is what happens when you don’t care about philosophy: your description of what being a scientist is sounds a lot like the description of what is to be a 21st century American man uncritically indoctrinated into concepts like being “productive” (I’d start with Bertrand Russell’s opinion piece “In praise of idleness” here), “progress” (yes we can believe in progress but denying philosophy does it too or is responsible for it is a naïve, uncritical way of believing in progress), and, of course, the idea that there is such thing as a ‘ridiculous’ question and questions like ‘what is identity?’ and ‘what is being good or bad?’ are ridiculous questions invented by the philosophy department to distract people away from doing whatever 21st century American people think it’s best to do.
The net result is that behind a gifted science populariser lies an anti-intellectual of the American brand, described at length in Carl Sagan’s “Demon-Haunted World”.
P.S.: If anyone knows how to discuss ideas properly without having working and clear definitions of the words involved, please let me know.