Here’s a cosmic question to ponder.  (Think of yourself as a modern-day Isaac Newton beneath the apple tree.)  Gravity!  You’d think it would slow the expansion of the universe, no?  Yet that expansion is speeding up.  Why?

And, by the way, who cares?  Folks like you and me surely won’t understand the answer even once it’s found.

What mainly interests me about this interview of Neil deGrasse Tyson by Bill Moyers is what it says about science and democracy.

Only 43% of Republicans “believe in” evolution.  Why?

American high school students aren’t in the top 20 in math, science, reading — or anything else.  When we’re behind so many other countries, what does that suggest about our future?  Are we doing the best we can?

Baghdad, Tyson reminds us, was once the center of the intellectual world.  The Arabs invented modern numbers, for crying out loud — and algebra.  There’s a reason we don’t see the price of tomatoes as CCXLIX cents a pound.  Can you imagine trying to send a rocket to the moon using Roman numeral telemetry?

But then the Arabs lost their intellectual lead and, well . . . watch what Tyson has to say.   And embrace science and Success and Democrats — because Democrats, whatever our flaws (we like gay people! we like black people! we might one day get a majority of women on the Supreme Court!), “believe in” science and making college affordable and investing in basic research.  And separating church and state.  And sensible compromise.

As, of course, do most thinking Republicans, of whom there are tens of millions.  But that’s not how their elected representatives have been voting.  So those Republicans should vote Democrat for a while, or at least stay home, until they get their party back.

Does anyone think slave-freeing Abe Lincoln or trust-busting Teddy Roosevelt or interstate-highway-funding Dwight Eisenhower or EPA-establishing Dick Nixon would be voting Republican these days?

What does it say — as Bill Moyers tells us in his monologue after the Tyson interview — that climate denial is at a 6-year all-time high in this country, even as the scientific consensus grows ever more nearly unanimous?  And wait til you see the clips of Paul Brown with which Moyers concludes.  Of course, he says, Brown is entitled to his own beliefs (that the earth is 9,000 years old and climate science is the biggest hoax in history).  “But remember, this man is chairman of investigations and oversight for the Science, Space, and Technology committee of the United States House of Representatives, passing judgment on public policy and science.  God help us.”




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