Where’s the ‘Cosmos’ of ideas? We turned to Michael Bérubé for an answer

By Tony Ortega
Monday, April 7, 2014 9:58 EDT
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The new ‘Cosmos’ has some of the best celestial animation ever broadcast — that scene last week with the ‘ship of the imagination’ struggling as it fell into the ‘event horizon’ of a black hole was on a par with the best stuff you see at the movie theater.

But even with the slick graphics and animated sequences, what makes ‘Cosmos’ work is the same thing that made it work the last time: charismatic scientists talking to us as if our interest in the universe mattered.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, just like Carl Sagan before him, really seems to care that we get interested in the history of the cosmos. He wants us to understand how we know what we know, and why it matters. That’s why this show works so damn well.

And last week, after it was obvious that deGrasse Tyson has become the new science superstar with a mission to infect us with curiosity about the world, we couldn’t help wondering why the same thing couldn’t happen in the world of ideas.

It turned out an old friend, Adam Weinstein at Gawker, had the same thought, and he asked it after last week’s show: Where’s the Neil deGrasse Tyson of the humanities? We thought it was such a good question, we asked Penn State professor Michael Bérubé to wrestle with it. He’s a favorite of ours here at Raw Story, and after you read what he came up with, we think you’ll see why.

Tony Ortega
Tony Ortega
Tony Ortega is Raw Story's executive editor. From 2007 to 2012 , he was editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. He also worked at Voice Media Group's other newspapers in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Kansas City, and Fort Lauderdale. He lives in New York City and is originally from Los Angeles.
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