Cronkite, Cranks, and the Moon

Tonight the History Channel is airing (at 8:30 PM EDT) the historic CBS broadcast of the Moon landings with the recently late, great Walter Cronkite since today marks the 40th anniversary of the historic event.  What is CBS airing?  Big Brother.  Way to go CBS.  Not only did they miss an historic moment, they also missed an opportunity to honor one of the greatest newsmen in history.

Of course, CBS’ missed opportunity (or their pandering to Americans’ baser instincts, depending on how you look at it) pales in comparison to what those yo-yos at Fox did eight years ago when they aired “a straight-faced program” they called “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?

This made me think about how people… well, think.  Generally they’re of one extreme or the other – either they don’t question a thing and take as rote anything anyone tells them or they continue to question everything even in the face of insurmountable evidence and/or simple deductive logic (aside: I once had a student who claimed deductive logic would lead one to fundamentalist Christianity and then, via the latter, to democracy).

I teach my students to question everything, but they also have to reach a conclusion that is logically and empirically sound even if it disagrees with conventional thinking.  This is how discoveries are made.  However, it still must be logically and empirically sound.  Cranks are never either.  Unfortunately it also means they usually can’t be argued with.  The problem is that the cranks seem to be converting more and more people, all of whom are becoming cranks.  If we’re not careful we’ll become a planet of idiots and go back to drawing on cave walls because one thing cranks miss is that everything is connected.  The science that explains the Big Bang and the age of the Universe, i.e. relativity, quantum mechanics, and the basic conservation laws, also happens to be the basis of things like, oh, GPS, cell phones, computers, DNA, etc., i.e. everything the cranks rely on on a daily basis.

So I say, if you don’t believe in the science, then give the stuff back.  But that means not just no GPS but no cars.  Hell, while you’re at it, no using the crapper anymore either.  Or soap (actually, you probably don’t use it anyway).  Good luck and have a nice day!

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4 Responses to “Cronkite, Cranks, and the Moon”

  1. To your point about good scientific explanations respecting the “connectedness” of things, David Deutsch’s latest TED talk speaks to this. I don’t think the video is available yet bit here is an overview post http://blog.ted.com/2009/07/david_deutsch_a.php.

  2. quantummoxie Says:

    Thanks Geordie. Looks like they took the link is dead, though. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  3. Mythbusters recently had an awesome episode where they busted a bunch of the crackpot conspiracy theories quite thoroughly. I was so pleased that they finally did such an episode that I ended up watching it three times. 😀

  4. quantummoxie Says:

    OO, very cool. I don’t watch that show as often as I should. Once in awhile I have a problem with their methods (they change too many variables simultaneously), but overall it’s a pretty cool show.

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