Let’s Make America Smart Again, with Fareed Zakaria

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chuck Nice, and Fareed Zakaria in the StarTalk Radio studio. Credit: Ben Ratner.

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About This Episode

In the first episode of our special edition Cosmic Queries series, “Let’s Make America Smart Again,” Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice welcome CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria to break down the impact of immigration on science and technological innovation in the America. Join us for an intellectual exploration into the reasons that the United States became the world’s leading scientific and educational powerhouse after World War II, and why our current practices may threaten our leadership. You’ll learn how the Manhattan Project and the V2 rocket fed into the US space program, which was built on the backs of foreign scientists. You’ll hear about some of our highest achieving immigrants, along with why foreign nations who are creating national ecosystems where talent can flourish are beginning to reshape the academic and scientific hierarchy around the world. Neil, Fareed and Chuck debate whether it’s appropriate to require certain levels of achievement from immigrants, and the difficulty in trying to predict where you can find talent, drive, and creativity. Find out why no science has ever been done that has not had geopolitical consequences or been embedded in a political system. Investigate the concept of alternate facts, and the current assault on expertise, knowledge, and science. You’ll also hear how improving relations with Russia can be done through science, similar to the Cold War period, when scientists from opposing sides were still able to work together on the Apollo-Soyuz Mission. All this, plus, Neil reminds us how the US missed the opportunity to discover the Higgs boson in Texas had we built our own Superconducting Super Collider here at home, and why even if scientific breakthroughs don’t happen in America, we must be at least thankful that they are happening at all.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Let’s Make America Smart Again, with Fareed Zakaria 

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  • Raoul Borans

    There’s no question that Neil’s contribution to advancing science is indisputable but he is just so awkward as a speaker. He tries way too hard to be witty and clever and almost always goes over the top.

    • I think you mistake awkward for enthusiastic, and that’s exactly what I like about Niel. The fact that he’s so passionate.

      • Jeremiah.

        I agree with Martin. He is a giddy, ecstatic child when it comes to the presentation of his emotions about the topics he talks about.

    • Nick

      I agree with Martin too. To say about Neil that it is an awkward speaker is, well awkward. He’s oratorical talent is one of he’s strengths.

      • Raoul Borans

        I get that he is enthusiastic but I’m not confusing that at all. He simply sounds forced. I get that it’s probably an overcompensation but it often makes his conversations sound uncomfortable. You can tell that so many times, his guests are having a difficult time in knowing how to deal with that atmosphere.

    • He doesn’t have the poetic flourish that Carl Sagan had, but I’ve always thought Tyson was a great speaker. His passion and enthusiasm always comes through in a manner that’s down-to-earth and relatable. Sometimes his attempts at wit fall a little bit flat, especially in unscripted discussions like those on StarTalk, but for whom is that not true?

      For impromptu discussions, I’ve always admired Tyson’s ability to speak intelligently and clearly off-the-cuff on so many topics, and when I’ve gone to his talks, and seen his prepared presentations I’ve been equally impressed with how well he relates to audiences in that setting.

      • Kathleen Dunne Eggli

        I always disliked Sagan’s style and really like Tyson’s. So some of this is personal preference.

  • Nick

    May I asked why was my comment removed?

    • Nick, which comment was that?

      • Nick

        Sorry. It shows again. I couldn’t see it at one point.

  • Smeezor

    Just knowing that Niel deGrasse Tyson and Fareed Zakaria are friends makes me feel better about the world.

    Very entertaining guys! Keep up the good work!

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