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In the Name of God بسم الله


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  1. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a popular speaker at skeptic conferences. He will argue that religion stifles innovation. I don't mind criticism if it's fact based. In fact accurate criticism is of great value. When our flaws are brought to our attention we can work to correct them. But Tyson's arguments are based on invented histories. The false account of Ghazali that professor Lumbard calls out is just one of many examples. Besides attacking the Muslim faith, Tyson also attacks Christianity. (Full disclosure: I am a Catholic and thus have my own preconceived notions and bias.) Tyson tells the story of President Bush delivering a speech in the wake of 9-11 where Bush tries to lift his Christian God above the God of the Muslims in an "attempt to distinguish we from they". This plays into a popular of stereotype of Christians as intolerant and stupid. To be sure, there are Christians who fit that description. But Bush's actual 9-11 speech called Islam the religion of peace. Bush's speech was a call for tolerance and inclusion, exactly the opposite of Tyson's fantasy. Tyson like to tell the story of how Isaac Newton was stopped dead in his tracks by his faith. According to Tyson, Newton couldn't explain the stability of the solar system but was content with the explanation that God intervened to keep the planets on track. Tyson argues Newton's belief in the "God of the Gaps" prevented him from developing n-body mechanics and perturbation theory. Laplace came up with satisfactory models more than a hundred years later. Tyson will tell his "skeptic" fans that Newton could have easily done perturbation theory in an afternoon. It would have been crumbs for Newton. After all, Newton invented calculus in two months, practically on a dare! However, Tyson *did* make substantial efforts at developing n-body models. He tried and failed to make models of a 3-body system, the earth, moon and sun. His models could not accurately predict the moon's motion. So Tyson's claim is demonstrably false from the get go. The great mathematician Euler also took a crack at n-body mechanics. As did Lagrange. Laplace built on the efforts of Newton, Euler, and Lagrange. Tyson is absolutely sure that Newton could have done in one afternoon what it took four great mathematicians more than century to do. And Newton did not invent calculus in two months. Building this branch of mathematics was the collaborative effort of many people over many years. Cavalieri, Fermat, Descartes, Barrow and others had laid the foundations of integral and differential calculus in the generation before Newton. Being a first time poster, I doubt I will be permitted to post links. But my list of Tyson errors can be found by Googling: Fact checking Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson needs to be called out for these falsehoods. And also his supposedly skeptic fans. People like Michael Shermer, Phil Plait, James Randi and others pay lip service to skepticism. They advise us to question all assumptions. But they can be seen at various skeptic conferences accepting Tyson's falsehoods without question! Just like most humans, they tend to accept falsehoods if they seem to support their personal prejudices. They are not truly skeptics.
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