The 2014 reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic 13-part series Cosmos struck a chord with viewers, garnered 12 Emmy Award nominations, and is headed straight into schools as a science teacher’s instructional aid. It’s also an agenda-driven vehicle for scientific materialism, casting religion as arch foe of the search for truth about nature and pressing its message that human beings occupy no special place in the universe.
An important new book from Discovery Institute Press, The Unofficial Guide to Cosmos: Fact and Fiction in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Landmark Science Series offers an urgently needed critique and response to Dr. Tyson’s propagandizing and distortions.
Students encountering this series in the classroom need to be prepared. Neil Tyson seems to be blind, dangerously so, to how his own biases twist what he imparts to viewers. Tyson’s passionate defenders try to spin each invention by Dr. Tyson as an isolated goof. Don’t we all make mistakes?
Certainly, but in Tyson’s case it seems that a particular narrative about the cosmos and our place in it persistently guides how he understands science and history, resulting in a mélange of fact and fiction that he passes along to impressionable young people. Amazingly, science historians have considered giving Tyson a pass for circulating "taradiddles" — untruths — because it was all for a good cause!
Contributors Casey Luskin, Jay W. Richards, Douglas Ell, and David Klinghoffer dissect each episode of the new Cosmos, explaining where Tyson turns from objective science to science-flavored, fact-challenged preaching for a tendentious, corrosive worldview. Students, parents, and teachers will find a useful counterpoint in this lively viewers’ guide.
A prominent attorney and former atheist, Douglas Ell is author of Counting to God: A Personal Journey through Science to Belief. Ell has lectured on the relationship between science and faith at MIT, where he double-majored in math and physics. He earned a master’s degree in theoretical mathematics from the University of Maryland and a law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law, from which he graduated magna cum laude. Ell drafted the first 401(k) plan in professional sports and has represented a number of nationally recognized corporations, unions, and pension plans. He has litigated nationally with great success and persuaded Congress to make important changes in employee benefits laws.
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Views. With Senator Joseph Lieberman, he is the co-author most recently of The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath. His other books include Why the Jews Rejected Jesus, The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism and the spiritual memoir The Lord Will Gather Me In. He is a former literary editor of National Review magazine and a graduate of Brown University.
Casey Luskin was trained as a scientist and an attorney, having earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in earth sciences at the University of California at San Diego and a law degree from the University of San Diego. He has conducted scientific research at the Scripps Institution for Oceanography and studied evolution extensively at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He is Research Coordinator at the Discovery Institute and co-author of the popular curriculum Discovering Intelligent Design: A Journey into the Scientific Evidence. He is a co-author, with Douglas Axe and Ann Gauger, of Science and Human Origins (Discovery Institute Press).
Jay W. Richards
Jay W. Richards, PhD, is author of many books including the New York Times bestsellers Infiltrated (2013) and Indivisible (2012). He is also the author of Money, Greed, and God, winner of a 2010 Templeton Enterprise Award; and co-author of The Privileged Planet with astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez. Richards is an Assistant Research Professor in the School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America and a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute. In recent years he has been Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Contributing Editor of The American at the American Enterprise Institute, a Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute.