The Storytelling of Science

The video below features Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Brian Greene, Ira Flatow, Neal Stephenson, Tracy Day, and Lawrence Krauss — all on the same stage! (Do I need to say any more than that to get you to watch it?!)

If any parts stand out to you, please leave them in the comments!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Rain

    Neil deGrasse Tyson had a tough time in that one. He had to hold the microphone, so only one of his hands could talk at a time. One hand had to make up for the other hand. The other hand probably got jealous.

  • TeamRed_vs_TeamBlue

    Amazing. If only there were some way restrict political candidates for the next few decades to all the people in that room, audience included,, what a different world we would see.

  • Little Magpie

    Loved the contrast between deGrasse Tyson – exuberant, showy, etc. … immediately followed by Dawkins, restrained, measured, academic.

  • 3lemenope

    Expertise in one field is not transitive to another. I mean, I get your point, *at least* we wouldn’t have politicians who are science-idiots. I also, though, want politicians who know the business of politics. The number of times I’ve heard just fall-down-stupid political “opinions” (i.e. disconnected from any understanding of political science whatsoever) from professional scientists…well, I’m just glad they’re in the field or in a lab and far, far away from any deliberative assembly.

  • TheG

    “I don’t know how much time you’ve spent with newborn babes, but they’re not that useful. They’re loud and they leak and other times it seems like they don’t understand a word that you say to them.” – Bill Nye (The Pediatrician Guy)

    I laughed so hard, I woke up my son (that was napping in my lap).

  • TheG

    Considering what politicians do with politics, I like scientists often precisely because they don’t know how to do anything with politics.

  • TheG

    “This passion, this drive to know our place in the universe is what makes us special, what makes our species worthy. And this “PB&J”, this “Passion, Beauty, and Joy”, we can, dare I say it, CHANGE THE WORLD.” – Bill Nye (approx 1:13:30)

    I’m going to start using this PB&J idea when I hear theocrats bemoan the lack of meaning in the lives of the faithless. These are people that spend their lives spreading the meaning and purpose that is outside of the nonsense of ecclesiastical studies.

  • Reginald Selkirk
  • Reginald Selkirk
  • 3lemenope

    As a political scientist, I can’t begin to describe how terrifying that sentiment is.

  • TeamRed_vs_TeamBlue

    I’m disregarding any domain expertise, and basing my comment on a general impression of common sense and sympathy, indeed enthusiasm, for science.

    A scientific dummy can be an effective politician, but unfortunately we seem to have way too many dummies for our own good right now. We need more people who live and breathe the scientific method making our policies, IMHO

  • 3lemenope

    I think we need more people in politics who have an understanding of what science is and what it can (and can’t) do–and, as you say, are enthusiastic and optimistic about those capacities–just as society would benefit if there were science-literate people in all walks of life. One definitely doesn’t have to be a scientist to be science-literate, and I think where I get off the train with you is on the “live and breathe” part. I want scientists doing what they do best, which is science. They and their talent would be *wasted* in policy.

  • Feminerd

    Agreed. Politics is a specialized field, just like any other. Many professional politicians are bad at it, but many scientists have no clue that it’s even a separate area of expertise. There’s a reason lawyers tend to make pretty good politicians, and it’s not (just) the one all the jokes would suggest.

  • Paljor

    Does anyone know where I can find the second part of this (the Q and A between these guys and the audience?

  • sk3ptik
  • Cameron

    I had the pleasure of seeing this event in person. Definitely an unforgettable experience, and certainly worth watching again!

  • TheG

    Not knowing about healthcare doesn’t stop politicians from making decisions on our medical lives.

    Not knowing about video games, movies, technology, or media doesn’t stop politicians from making decisions on our inter-tubes or Saturday nights.

    Not knowing about climate change… you get the point.

  • 3lemenope

    No, actually, I don’t get the point, mainly because you’re confusing politicians having (and acting) on values you disagree with with politicians “not knowing” about issues. You would be shocked exactly how much the average legislator knows about the issues that cross their desk, especially high-profile and heavily debated issues. And for everything they don’t know about (since they are generalists, not specialists), they have staff whose job it is to keep them up to speed.

    I know it is fashionable and chic to assume that politics is easy enough for a monkey to do, and consequently the people who do politics must be ignorant morons, but that doesn’t actually track reality in any way. A more sensible accusation might be that many politicians serve values other than their constituents’, or perhaps that they place getting re-elected over policy concerns. But accusations of ignorance are generally not only cheap and lazy, but also simply incorrect. The one area where this tends to be not *as* true (and it is still oversold) are the intersections between social policy and science, and here still it is more that politicians do not flaunt their science knowledge (or intentionally say stupid things) in order to signal to a breathlessly ignorant constituency that he or she is “just like them”.