May 18, 2017 8:28 pm

Friday, Neil Tyson, Chuck Nice, and David Helfand Guide Us Towards Scientific Literacy in the Age of Misinformation

Do you feel like there’s too much information coming your way? Overwhelmed by the constant streams of biased opinions, ramblings, and discussions? Well, StarTalk Radio is here to help. This week Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice sit down with astronomer and author David Helfand to discuss how to stay scientifically literate in the age of misinformation in the next installment of our Let’s Make America Smart Again series.

You’ll hear discussion on David’s book, A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age: Scientific Habits of Mind, and some of the tools that can help you stay scientifically literate. You’ll also hear why search engines have created next-level problems for society, as well as how to filter information and combat a misinformed public.

The cover of David J. Helfand's book, A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age.

My favorite part of this episode was when the talk turned towards the big picture. In order to combat misinformation, it starts in the classroom. But, as David says, the normal methods of education consist of constantly feeding students information, which they memorize, then recycle on tests, and then move on. Very little actual learning is taking place, and student curiosity about learning is low. Being in public schools from early education through high school, I had first-hand experience of this, and I became aware that the focus of the core classwork was geared towards passing the standardized tests.

I wish my classmates had been more curious towards learning and I wish that standardized testing didn’t have such a stronghold on the education system. So, hearing David discuss his time at Quest University Canada where students were on a new path “constructing knowledge” organically and also maintaining the curiosity to learn was very refreshing. It’s a bold idea, but one which I am definitely behind.

I also really enjoyed the conversation on the “reproducibility crisis” in the science community. It’s interesting to think that even scientists can be persuaded by outside factors to alter research or cherry pick data. It makes me realize that knowing how to pick credible sources and unbiased information is vital to being a well-informed member of society.

Lastly, Neil, Chuck, and David answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries throughout the episode on a variety of topics like dark matter, creating a global space agency, combating alternative facts, and much more!

Please join us tomorrow night for Science Literacy in the Misinformation Age – #LMASA at 7pm EDT right here on our website, as well as on iTunes Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. And if you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Ian Mullen

  • ” It makes me realize that knowing how to pick credible sources and unbiased information is vital to being a well-informed member of society.”

    This is an ability that Tyson’s fans obviously lack. For eight years they accepted the false account of Bush’s response to 9-11. They accepted it without question. It wasn’t until 2014 that Sean Davis blew the whistle on Tyson. Which demonstrates that self proclaimed skeptics are also happy to swallow B.S. if it re-affirms their prejudices.