Earthsky has great coverage today of the New Horizon’s Long Range Imager. It has taken almost a decade to arrive at its destination. That is about what you might expect, but it is a sobering thought about space travel and the limits on human life spans. We now have a good closeup view of Charon, one of Pluto’s five moons.
I recall a few years ago, when I still had satellite dish television, Neil deGrasse Tyson appeared on a science show claiming that Pluto was not a planet and that people “should get over it.” He does it again in Business Insider. Telling someone to just “get over it” is perhaps a barely polite way of telling someone to shut up. And indeed, he turned down a debate challenge from Alan Stern, who was in charge of the New Horizon trip to Pluto.
He is also a well established advocate for what was called global warming and now is called climate change. He is among those who call climate change skeptics “deniers.” He criticizes politicians who have banned the term climate change from government documents referring to it as censorship. I would be more in sympathy with Tyson; I am for free and open discussion on all pubic issues. But, respect for free speech is a two way street, one not often respected by the advocates of climate change.
Someone who is skeptical about some claims about future events occurring is not necessarily a “denier.” That’s just name calling. Second, predicting the future is not science. It is probability and probability is gambling and odds making. Finally, when a scientist engages in political advocacy in an open democracy with free speech, he has no right to expect immunity from criticism. If he makes an argument to authority, he should not be surprised if people challenge that authority. Maybe it is Tyson who should “get over it” but I would not be so rude or presumptuous to tell him to, in effect, shut up. In fact, when I was in politics, I often found it best to let our opponents speak freely and let the audience draw their own conclusions.
Photo of Pluto Courtesy New Horizons Project-NASA