5 November 2014
Ignorant, alone and dominant
A Universe from Nothing." He does a wonderful job of providing an exciting view of modern cosmology that's accessible to the layman, peppered with occasional witty cracks about religion or right-wing politics. Looking at people's comments on the talk, I was shocked at the inanity of the discussion. There's a terrible hubris among the U.S. population--people simply can't except the fact that they may know less about a topic that a leading PhD who has spent his life working on problems, using sophisticated tools and methodologies developed through millions of hours of other people's work in the field. This hubris would merely be good fodder for jokes if it weren't for the fact that we live in a very complicated world with complex problems that truly require the light of science combined with careful reflection. One of Kraus's humorous asides sums up our dilemma. Talking of the far future when galaxies will speed away from each other so that each galaxy will find itself isolated without the data to come up with an accurate picture of the universe, Kraus mentions that any civilization in that galaxy would be ignorant, alone, and (seemingly) dominant. He then says with a chuckle, "And those of us who live in the United States are used to it." Sadly, the comments verify that this is true.