Discussion: We need to talk about Cosmos...

Carsten Timmermann's picture

A recent post by Joseph Martin over on H-PhysicalSciences has triggered an interesting discussion on that network about Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos reboot and the response to it by historians of science, especially on Twitter.

Playing devil's advocate, Joe Martin suggests that "Cosmos is a fantastic artifact of scientific myth making and as such provides a superb teaching tool when paired with more responsible historical presentations and perhaps some anthropological treatments of similar issues like Sharon Traweeks Beamtimes and Lifetimes." Arguing that "right" may not be the same as "useful", he adds that as a community, perhaps, we haven't "adequately made the case that the scholarly view of history we advance is, in fact, more useful for current cultural and political discourse than the naïve view scientists advance."

I know that some members of this network participated in the debate on Twitter. Care to share your views on Cosmos with us here?

Just a quick follow-up to last night's post: it occurred to me that network members may not be aware of the resonances between the debate over the new Cosmos and one that unfolded in the UK in 2013 over a BBC documentary, Science Britannica, fronted by the omnipresent public face of British science, Brian Cox. Worth noting: Brian Cox has declared that Carl Sagan was his role model.

Worth reading: John Pickstone's piece on this published on Vanessa Heggie's and Rebecca Higgitt's history of science blog, The H Word (hosted by the Guardian newspaper): "Selling Science: Science Britannica, tribal tales or historical research?" (22 Oct 2013)