This Week’s Selected Media, June 2, 2024: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, History of the Constitution

June 2, 2024 by Joshua
in Tips

This week I finished:

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson: I didn’t know how popular this book was when I read it. Now I see it was on the New York Times bestseller list over a year and has over 30,000 reviews on Amazon.

I think of science as something you do involving nature. You can experiment, work with equations, or other active things, but I don’t think of reading about it as science. Reading about music, for example, may help you appreciate it,, but isn’t playing, listening to, or creating music. I’m not saying appreciating science is good or bad.

As I see it, people in indigenous cultures do science all the time—many of them more than people who call themselves scientists in our culture. Again, not good or bad, just different.

I think of myself doing science as much today as I did when working at Fermilab or building an observational satellite since I’m learning about nature through experiment.

I sort of get people reading about science without doing it, but it comes alive more when doing it. When this book talks about science I know, I think of it as review, sometimes recalling details and nuance I forgot. Since my greatest motivation around science is to find ever more beauty in nature, it creates and restores aesthetic appreciation.

When deGrasse Tyson talks about things I didn’t learn, like multiverses and theories beyond the math and reading of experiments or discoveries, I’m not doing science. I’m just passively listening. What I remember is from memorization or factual recall, not from doing.

I don’t understand why people like just reading this stuff without doing it. I guess they’re valuing at as entertainment more than science education. Imagine people reading about Beethoven or Billie Holiday but not listening to their music, singing, dancing, or playing instruments. Wouldn’t it seem like the only-readers were missing something?

History of the Constitution, by the Leadership Institute: I finished another course from this group designed to help elect conservatives, but since it is a 501c3, they don’t support candidates or parties. The information is interesting to all, much of it useful for anyone involved in politics.

This course was long, though didn’t have quizzes like Conservatism 101. I’m glad to learn about a different subculture that isn’t as popular in Greenwich Village, but is huge in the United States. I wish I’d learned these views long ago. When people around here talk about motivations and goals of conservatives, they misrepresent them, implying they misunderstand them. I think they rarely try. I didn’t. Likewise, conservatives misrepresent liberal views, implying they misunderstand them too.

Now I consider learning about others’ views and goals on their terms, even and especially when we disagree, essential to lower our culture’s polarization.

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1 response to “This Week’s Selected Media, June 2, 2024: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, History of the Constitution

  1. Pingback: First sail of 2024 » Joshua Spodek

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