Saturday, March 4, 2023

Book Review - Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization by Neil deGrasse Tyson




Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspective on Civilization by Neil deGrasse Tyson is an examination of different topics based on facts and observations along with personal commentary. Tyson examines hot button topics that could unite and divide us as a country. He states each side of a topic and then dismantles both sides by stating empirical scientific evidence to provide why that stance is incorrect based on evidence. Tyson tackles a variety of topics including race, space exploration, political parties and many more. Tyson states that there is a difference between believing in something because it’s what you think is correct and what is actually true based on irrefutable scientific evidence.

While Tyson investigates the different topics he provides witty commentary and facts. I found this enjoyable to read and chuckle every so often. I found some of Tyson’s points to be profound and thought provoking and caused me to reevaluate a few of my own thought patterns. While Tyson does have his own biases and at times and also pokes fun at his own mistakes, he points out the logical reasoning behind different ideas. For example, he examines a few of his tweets that he based on facts when he wrote it.  The tweets emotionally caused a big commotion because of how someone felt about the topic regardless of whether the facts prove that they are wrong.

There were some topics that I felt didn’t need a whole entire chapter dedicated to. More specifically, the chapters dedicated to race, being a vegetarian, and what constitutes a disability. I felt like while they were important topics to be discussed, it seemed like Tyson was missing the point or the grander scheme of things. For example, while the merits of being a vegetarian/vegans are praiseworthy, Tyson pointed out that vegans are still killing plants and that plants are living things. While I understand what he is trying to say, no matter what type of eater you are, you are still killing something to survive. However, I feel like Tyson glossed over the fact that a lot of people become vegetarians/vegans to help combat global warming because of the toll animal husbandry has taken on our planet. I feel like some of the topics Tyson provided one or two main thoughts but failed to go into greater detail as to why it’s important.

I did enjoy the book but I wasn’t entirely sure what the purpose of the book was. Is it a call to action to help fight climate change? Was it a plea to spend more money on space exploration? Or is it a thought piece to unite people? Perhaps it was an appeal to remind readers that you can still base your decision on emotion even after you analyzed all the facts and statistics and that’s okay too.


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