StarTalk Live! Evolution with Richard Dawkins (Part 1)

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About This Episode

Science and rationality take the stage when Neil deGrasse Tyson welcomes Richard Dawkins and Bill Nye to NYC’s Beacon Theatre to discuss evolution, with help from co-host Eugene Mirman and comics Jim Gaffigan and Maeve Higgins. In Part 1, you’ll discover why evolution and natural selection are hardly random processes. Find out how genes are like computer programs, and why transmission errors are so important. Explore epigenetics, mutations, convergent evolution, speciation, neotony and more. Learn how a characteristic can evolve independently: eyes evolved about 40 times, stingers about 12 times, while echolocation has only evolved 4 times. The group also speculates about alien evolution and life in the universe, and discusses how amino acids, the building blocks of life, have been discovered on asteroids. You’ll even hear how a new species of mosquitoes is evolving before our eyes in the London Underground… and that’s just in Part 1.

In This Episode

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  • John Constantine

    World needs more of this stuff, love these guys.

  • “A process which led from the amoeba to man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a progress though whether the amoeba would agree with this opinion is not known.”
    ~ Bertrand Russell

  • Lalla wasn’t just a Doctor Who companion. She portrayed Romana (Romanadvoratrelundar) – the only companion who was a Time Lady. Tell Neil that, he’ll be even more impressed.

  • Jordan

    Per chance is there a video of this? I couldn’t find it on YouTube…

    • startalkradio

      There’s no video of this yet, Jordan, although we did shoot one. When the video is available, we’ll let everyone know on social media and here on the website. It’s not in production yet, so it could be a little while.

  • IEGUY

    Dawkins is an international treasure. I could explain how this man and Asimov taught me more about science and evolution than any but one instructor, but the reality is he’s a teacher to the world. And a brilliant one who makes complex ideas accessible to everyone.

  • Ken Rupert

    Incredible Episode, Thanks Neil & Friends !!

  • LisaO

    My Great Uncle Clyde Fisher was the original curator of the Hayden Planetarium.

  • vincenzo

    the Intro is the cheesiest thing I have ever heard. Dumb and cheap.

    • Alonzo Whitehall

      Beastie Boys. Maybe before your time. Or after your time. Hard for me to say.

  • Nick m

    loving this

  • Rene Belloq 12 inch Figure

    So happy this is going to be a tv show.

  • Taxil Necrobane

    Is it just me, or was this way more randy than a normal pod cast from this crew?

    Also, I disagree with Mr. Dawkins. I do not think that the ‘Blind Watch maker’ is blind at all, but that is just me. Seeing that the whole debate over the idea of the ‘Creator’ is being thoughtless in what he’s making is rather pointless. I say he was just showing off when he made humanity. Humans are a VERY complex being that even WE don’t fully how we completely work. I say when ‘The creator’ made the platypus, I say he was just having a giggle. (Side note: I do not think you can find one watch maker in the world who is blind and still do that profession.) In the end, there is no way to prove or disprove one way or another.

    • David

      You don’t understand Dawkins’ point, and I suspect you’ve never read the book. Dawkins doesn’t suggest the metaphor of the blind watchmaker to mean a god or gods are creating things without regard for design or consequence. Why would he do that? Dawkins doesn’t believe gods exist. The Watchmaker is a bit of artistic license in personifying nature. Maybe he shouldn’t have done that — apparently it confuses some by pointing the truth of what nature is (thermodynamically predictable chemistry) toward what many believe nature to be (supernatural creation or, in some religions, the creator itself). But he’s the author. It was his book. I personally don’t mind some art in science. It can make things more fun, even provocative.

      Also, you misunderstand the complexity of humans. We are not unique in any way at all — even our brains, which even you and I will agree is our most important and interesting feature — is exactly like any other mammalian brain, even though the architecture is a little different from that of a mouse or a lemur. Our intelligence is the result of *emergent* complexity, but the basis of it is nothing special. Same neurons, same neuronal clusters, same organization of those clusters and the innervation of sensory bundles, etc.

      There are far more interesting creatures in the world than humans, from a biological complexity standpoint. The Pits of Lorenzini in sharks are a sensory masterpiece, as are the divergent but equally effective echolocation systems used by bats and whales. Some frogs can survive below freezing temperatures by pumping a natural antifreeze into their tissues. Some fish can change sex after reaching adulthood. Humans can’t do any of this. We’re pretty boring and simple, from a narrow, strictly biological point of view.

      You may take some solace that others have shared your human-centric point of view for centuries, probably millennia. It’s not right, and has led to all sorts of wrong thinking — for example, that the Earth is the center of the universe — but you are not alone. See if you can disabuse yourself of the notion that humans are objectively important to the universe; all notions of importance come from us. Of course we’d think we are important. But subjectivity is never to be trusted.

      • Taxil Necrobane

        I admit it has been years since I read Dawkins books and I have likely forgotten much of those pages, But that is not the point here. I first said the ‘Watchmaker’ is in quotations to cover the entire possibly of God, gods, nature, complete chaos and anything else that would exert force over the way things turn out. I have gotten an ear full from a grammar Nazi that over heard the pod cast on a poor choice of description Dawkins chose when he meant to imply something else. I do side with him on that topic slightly but I don’t want to have to hear his ranting again. I have to work with him and I can’t toss him out the window either. I will repeat my stance on any view on the ‘blindness’ is a pointless exercise of debate. For it does not change our lives and situation in the present by any meaningful way. We all have better things to do.

        I will just simply have to agree to disagree with you on the complexity of the human body and amazement of what we can do. What ever nature created we now can duplicate it with our technology if not exceed it.We have the most aware and powerful brains anywhere on earth. No other life form on this planet can match it. That is how we now are the dominate life form on earth.

        I would want human-centric view of the world to be the universal view. It is the most rational one. You and I are humans are we not? (I will make exceptions for you Mr. David if you happen to be a gorilla who knows English and can type on the computer) I should also remind you that being a human isn’t a free ticket to use and abuse our world. We have the responsibly of using what we have here not only for our goals, but also to be wise in managing our resources and life forms.

        I will only ‘disabuse’ myself once I can confirm and make a fair judgement of humanity in compared to any or all other advanced Alien life forms and their civilizations. If we can not do that, then it is fair to say we, as humans, are the undisputed king of the hill so to speak.

        • Mike P. in NJ

          Um, Why would an intelligent creator have made things SO complicated, to ‘show off’?? So you’re assigning a human imperfection (pride) to a ‘perfect’ Creator? That is another human imperfection – the desire to assign human characteristics to non-human beings.

          And there are limitless, quite simple ways which the human creature can be improved.

          Your ‘logic’ is seriously flawed.

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Why would he/she/it NOT make things highly complicated? Likely hood is that complexity has it’s usefulness. Or I can paraphrase it with “It is better to have (complex DNA patterns) and not need it, than need it and not have it”. As to the intelligent creator topic, let me say this. Who are you to say the creator doesn’t have any pride? I look at the world we live in, the stars and the universe and see that it’s a incredible amount of impressive work. Mr. Mike P. in NJ, Pride only becomes a sin when it gets out of control and takes over your thoughts and actions. Remember, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.” Besides, he/she/it helped to bring our beloved Neil D. Tyson into the world and into our lives so he deserves a pat on the back.

            Also, I never said humanity is perfect. I can see our flaws in myself and all around me every day. I just said we have just dominated earth. With our improving Biotech and DNA manipulations we have more or less rendered natural evolution obsolete and lifted the cap to what we may yet become.

            ‘Your ‘logic’ is seriously flawed’– Well, I have learned I can’t run on that alone. Many things in this world can be explained with logic, the rest can’t be explained. We can’t explain where the universe started from. We don’t know what is at the end of a black hole, and now THIS is uncovered.
            http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/03/150302-black-hole-blast-biggest-science-galaxies-space/
            It’s nearly enough to make a person just walk away from it all and call it a day.

            I just hope that NDT will cover the next pod cast about the recent discovers in the skies. there has been some interesting events happening lately.

          • Mike P. in NJ.

            Ok, one. Pride is a human flaw. It says so in the Bible. (in fact, I’m going with the Bible here, because it’s the one I was brought up on… which begs the question, why is THAT one the right holy book? Because invariably, all the other holy books and holy teachings of every other faith include 2 features – one, that their faith is the right and ONLY right one, and two, that to subscribe to any other faith will be punishable by [usually death, but certainly being outcast.]) If the Creator has Pride, and he made the universe and the human body complex and flawed to ‘show off’, that is actually the definition of, as you say, letting it get ‘out of control and [taking] over [His] thoughts and actions.’

            But back to the point… your post is full of the kinds of assumptions about a divine Creator that is just self-destructive to your argument. Neil explains one flaw with their design of the human body that is clear – why, would a divine creator with infinite power and wisdom, create a human body that had the reproductive organs so close to the excretory organs? Isn’t that just asking for trouble? Assuming he created us in ‘his own image’ (because that’s what the perfectly true book says, right?), how would that make any sense?

            ‘God’ ostensibly gave us a brain. He gave us the faculty of reason. Are you to say He then explained all the details of His creation to some dudes (only men, because hey, even though women do the ‘heavy lifting’ when it comes to continuing the species, they can’t be trusted to take dictation…hey waitaminute…) in the Middle East (because the Mayans, and the Asian cultures, with their civilizations and writing etc. also cannot be trusted to write stuff down), and left out some PREEEEETY important stuff (dinosaurs, cosmology, a heliocentric solar system [would have made planting and farming a bit easier], simple hand washing hygiene [would have saved literally BILLIONS]), while including such gems as ‘stone those who wear two different textile materials’ and ‘how much to sell your daughter into slavery for.’

            If there is a God, he would either be wicked and heartless [witness the story of Job – why, after all those trials, and proving his ‘faith’ time and time again without fail, didn’t God give Job back all he had taken? What lesson did THAT teach him???] or blissfully unaware of all that He ‘hath wrought’. I have no desire to subject myself to the whims of such a ‘Superior Being’. I think He would agree with my logic – the logic with which He endowed me.

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Mr. Mike P. in NJ, I think we have two different views on Pride. The Koran states there is a good kind of Pride and a bad kind of Pride. If you are happy about a job you have done approvingly, it a good Pride. If you’re a Egomaniac who thinks the world revolves around you, it’s a bad Pride.

            As to your question (even though you seem to be going off track with all of this) is why the reproductive organ is close to the excretory system for a simple and good reason. One, to help spread and diversify the critical digestive flora in our gut tracks. We need them to help digest our food. More so for women. When a baby is born by normal means, the baby’s GI track is sterile. When the baby is delivered, the baby will be exposed to the mother’s GI culture and get his or her’s GI flora kick started much more faster than other wise. It maybe nasty to you and me, but it works.

            From all my life experience in this world has taught me that logic AND faith is needed to make it though this world.

            The rest of your post I have no idea where you are going with your seemingly anger filled anti-religion rant. I can not speak with you in that state for your emotions are too explosive and likely start a problem I will be wise to avoid. It is a shame. I just wished I could have a calm and logical or at least civil dialogue with you. But it seems I can not have that with you. A pity. Well then, have a good day Mr. Mike P. in NJ.

          • Mike P. in NJ

            To your ‘it works, so it’s aok,’ argument… since when is that a valid criterion for design? How would an omniscient omnipotent omnipresent being feel ‘proud’ of something that was designed to be barely viable – wouldn’t such a being be able to figure out even a marginally better way to design the human body?

            And ‘exposed to flora’ – that sounds like nonsense to me. I could be wrong, since I’m not a doctor or a biologist, but it seems that there would certainly be a much better way to perform this process that you describe of mingling flora than putting these systems so close together.

            Nope, as Dawkins and millions of others say, the human body came about through natural selection – take an imperfect thing (a fortunate accident of a self replicating molecule) and through natural selection, make it incrementally better over billions of years, until you get the imperfect human body – with many of the vestiges of imperfection that came in the original protein and the other forbears. that came before.

            Now, every ‘Holy Book’ leaves out key ‘secrets’ for us tiny humans without the benefit of an omniscient omnipotence to know without figuring it out for ourselves. Along with tons of irrelevant, outdated, and destructive ideas that have hamstrung the human race for millennia.

            re: ‘good Pride’ – Why would anything ‘God’ does make him unhappy? He’s omnipotent: would he not have known to avoid doing that thing that made him ‘unhappy’? (Of course, once again, we are ascribing human emotions, values, and ideas to a being so far beyond Humanity as to be unrecognizable, right? That seems like a problem.)

            To say that a “God” would be ‘proud’ of the current state of humanity, much less the state we have been in in the past, is to be ignorant of the calamitous suffering present in countless places in the world.

            To say that an omniscient omnipotent omnipresent being who is not wicked would countenance that suffering is nonsensical.

            I think if you read one of Dawkins’ books, it might make more sense – he is a better communicator.

            Good day.

          • Taxil Necrobane

            I find it surprising to come back once more and see you are bit more calmer. That is good, maybe we can continue.

            Perhaps I can answer some of your points why would God make us so flawed in a much more concise way. Have you ever used a potters wheel? I have, it’s kinda fun. I recommend everyone to try it out at least once. Anyway, Think of life as a lump of clay spinning on the wheel. God is slowly shaping it and the ‘spin’ of the wheel is the passage of time. Humanity seems flawed to you and I, but perhaps it’s due to the possibly that he/she/it isn’t done yet.

            As to why God would allow suffering in the world. I think there is a simple yet profound reason for it. Just how would you or I know what is good or evil if there was no suffering in the world? Are you sure you want to live in a world of nothing but ponies (or MLPs if you prefer) rainbows and lollipops? I wouldn’t. This world has truly horrible things in it. Many of them we do to each other or bring upon our selves by out own actions. But it also allows us to over come them and become better for it. We can have better things in this world as well. This world gives us free will. I think that is the best gift we ever got from our creator. Oh yes, I also would like to think our creator thinks of us high enough that we can take care of most of the calamitous events in this world for the most part. He just gives us a hand when needed. You could say it might be a form of ‘tough love’ in a since.

            One more thing, I will summarize this situation between you and I. We just see things differently and will have different thoughts on something that no one will ever find the answer to in this mortal world. It is a pointless waste of time. But please know that I hold no ill will to you for what you believe in.

            One last thing, do take the time to look into the sharing of the GI flora. You might be impressed by it.

          • adam t

            You are stupid.

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Juvenile insults now? I am not impressed.

          • Mike P. in NJ

            To your ‘it works, so it’s aok,’ argument… since when is that a valid criterion for design? How would an omniscient omnipotent omnipresent being feel ‘proud’ of something that was designed to be barely viable – wouldn’t such a being be able to figure out even a marginally better way to design the human body?

            And ‘exposed to flora’ – that sounds like nonsense to me. I could be wrong, since I’m not a doctor or a biologist, but it seems that there would certainly be a much better way to perform this process that you describe of mingling flora than putting these systems so close together.

            Nope, as Dawkins and millions of others say, the human body came about through natural selection – take an imperfect thing (a fortunate accident of a self replicating molecule) and through natural selection, make it incrementally better over billions of years, until you get the imperfect human body – with many of the vestiges of imperfection that came in the original protein and the other forbears. that came before.

            Now, every ‘Holy Book’ leaves out key ‘secrets’ for us tiny humans without the benefit of an omniscient omnipotence to know without figuring it out for ourselves. Along with tons of irrelevant, outdated, and destructive ideas that have hamstrung the human race for millennia.

            re: ‘good Pride’ – Why would anything ‘God’ does make him unhappy? He’s omnipotent: would he not have known to avoid doing that thing that made him ‘unhappy’? (Of course, once again, we are ascribing human emotions, values, and ideas to a being so far beyond Humanity as to be unrecognizable, right? That seems like a problem.)

            To say that a “God” would be ‘proud’ of the current state of humanity, much less the state we have been in in the past, is to be ignorant of the calamitous suffering present in countless places in the world.

            To say that an omniscient omnipotent omnipresent being who is not wicked would countenance that suffering is nonsensical.

            I think if you read one of Dawkins’ books, it might make more sense – he is a better communicator.

            Good day.

        • KD

          I too disagree with the notion that humans are inherently exceptional. We are all made of the same stuff, from a cat to a shark to ourselves. Even if based on intelligence alone, our mental traits are simply amplifications of the traits that other mammals and even reptiles share. It’s true that there’s still a lot left to learn about brains, but every new thing that we learn has gone to show that we share a lot more in common with other species than previously thought. And every day that a discovery is made concerning the intelligence of a non-human animal it shows that whatever species is being studied is smarter/more advanced than previously assumed. Many traits that were once considered unique to human intelligence have been found in a variety of other lifeforms. In essence, our brains are set up the same way as most other animals, we simply rely on them more in general. As for deities, there’s not much of a point in debating something like that until there’s hard evidence for it’s/their existence. Dominance is something that can’t be proven however, if you mean by population and range than insects, ants especially have us beat, if you mean by influence on the “infrastructure” of the planet (geology, atmosphere, etc) then probably, though plants are hard to beat in terms of atmosphere and influence on the proliferation of life. I also take issue with the claim that we can currently exceed nature, there’s a lot left we have to learn. When we can photosynthesize more efficiently than leaves and use that for clean energy then I’ll be impressed. In short, you’re heavily romanticizing our species to the point of ignoring a lot of neurological and biological study. However, we’re still really neat, especially concerning our penchant for space travel

          • Taxil Necrobane

            My good KD, I do give animals their due respect. I love my dog. But I simply can not accept animal lives are as equal to or greater than a human’s life. If I was in a situation where I could only save the life of a human or an animal but not both, I will always choose the Human’s life. I accept that other animals do show human like traits, but humanity is still above the rest because of many reasons. But for now, I will say we have been blessed to be greater than the rest due to the fact that Mr. Tyson is a human and not a dolphin.

            We already have exceeded nature. We have created in our labs Chimeras from completely different creatures (fire flies and chimps for example). We are eating GMO foods. We are about to create a human baby from three parents. Nature can not do that and we are just starting at this.

            I accept that humans have many flaws and we still do not know full how we tick (just look at the news). I just accept the fact we are the best life form on earth so far.

    • David

      You don’t understand Dawkins’ point, and I suspect you’ve never read the book. Dawkins doesn’t suggest the metaphor of the blind watchmaker to mean a god or gods are creating things without regard for design or consequence. Why would he do that? Dawkins doesn’t believe gods exist. The Watchmaker is a bit of artistic license in personifying nature. Maybe he shouldn’t have done that — apparently it confuses some by pointing the truth of what nature is (thermodynamically predictable chemistry) toward what many believe nature to be (supernatural creation or, in some religions, the creator itself). But he’s the author. It was his book. I personally don’t mind some art in science. It can make things more fun, even provocative.

      Also, you misunderstand the complexity of humans. We are not unique in any way at all — even our brains, which even you and I will agree is our most important and interesting feature — is exactly like any other mammalian brain, even though the architecture is a little different from that of a mouse or a lemur. Our intelligence is the result of *emergent* complexity, but the basis of it is nothing special. Same neurons, same neuronal clusters, same organization of those clusters and the innervation of sensory bundles, etc.

      There are far more interesting creatures in the world than humans, from a biological complexity standpoint. The Pits of Lorenzini in sharks are a sensory masterpiece, as are the divergent but equally effective echolocation systems used by bats and whales. Some frogs can survive below freezing temperatures by pumping a natural antifreeze into their tissues. Some fish can change sex after reaching adulthood. Humans can’t do any of this. We’re pretty boring and simple, from a narrow, strictly biological point of view.

      You may take some solace that others have shared your human-centric point of view for centuries, probably millennia. It’s not right, and has led to all sorts of wrong thinking — for example, that the Earth is the center of the universe — but you are not alone. See if you can disabuse yourself of the notion that humans are objectively important to the universe; all notions of importance come from us. Of course we’d think we are important. But subjectivity is never to be trusted.

  • S Curran

    The comedians are a distraction.

  • Steve

    I just wish StarTalk woud end it’s association with the National Geographic Channel. It’s a FOX subsidiary and, as anybody who has watched it recently could attest to, is just another right-wing propaganda machine; StarTalk only gives that nonsense credibility by accepting their sponsorship.

    • Brian Gottfried

      You know, I think a week ago I would have agreed with you. However, I recently saw Neil deGrasse Tyson at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. and he went a bit into how Cosmos ended up on FOX (as he did in the Cosmos episode of StarTalk). And while as conservative as Fox is, the cosmos was able to air prime time in many different countries, giving science education a reach that it normally wouldn’t be afforded. You have to work with the system and I doubt the guys behind StarTalk are going to let FOX’s agenda dictate anything they do.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      And you think that the Left-wing propaganda machine would promote StarTalk? After seeing what the left had done to devastate the NASA program, no thanks. Love them or hate them, the FOX networks gets ratings.

    • Matt Muirhead

      hopefully it will have a positive effect on some of the FOX network’s more religiously conservative viewers!

    • Stephen Chu

      Your just sterotypeing Fox. I watch Fox all the time. Its good for economics, politics discussion. Thats it. It is not a science show and doest have to be. Try to get Fox to be more science oriented is like tryinging to get StarTalk to talk more about politics economics and the Constitution. Both shows have their own purposes. Let them each just be what they are good at.

  • Jack Irven

    Skyharbor at the start. <3

  • Moo

    When is part two?

    • startalkradio

      The podcast will be posted next Sunday at 7 pm EST.

  • Kyle Hyland

    I would much rather hear Dawkins, Tyson, and Nye have a discussion
    without the comedic commentary. I love the comedians, and i do find it
    funny, but I would prefer a much more serious discussion with these
    three in the same room. The conversation is derailed too many times by
    the comedic interruption. That being said, I really enjoyed this. It is
    also nice for people to see that Dawkins has a sense of humor. Many
    people find him cold, and in many ways he can be if you support the idea
    of a ‘creator’. Dawkins is also extremely funny in a series of videos
    on YouTube in which he reads hate mail.

    • wayne

      couldn’t agree more

      • Juan collazo

        Dido

    • kara

      I’m going to respectfully disagree. There are so many serious talks by deGrasse Tyson, Dawkins and Nye available online. Which, while always fascinating, are sometimes, well, ponderous and dense. In a world of media options, there’s a place for both and I enjoyed having someone interjecting some levity into the discussion. (As an aside, I think it’s probably really good for Dawkins to be challenged irreverently anyway.)

      • Tipsy

        Yeah Kara, but not enough videos with them all in one room interacting like this, I’d be fine with the comedians if they didn’t cause some questions to not get answered, like Neils question about epigenetics and gene propagation, I’ve wanted to hear Dawkins answer that one for ages for gods sake. He always reacts badly to epigenetics and I wanted to hear him do it.

    • Arthur

      Totally agree. I don’t see Dawkins very comfortable in this environment.

      • Bella Yousif

        You don’t think he was comfortable in that environment? He sounded cool, calm and collected to me. I on the other hand felt embarrassed for the comedians. It’s probably not his most familiar environment, but I thought he was very patient.

    • Ray Bowers

      I agree, I assume they are trying to make science fun and enjoyable to learn about but I would prefer it without the comedy. Those guys do a great job making the topics understandable without the jokes. I was listening to Star talk live Sunday on Sirrus radio and the host was so goofy he really ruined it for me. I could listen to Neill D-T talk all day. He wrote a book called the Inexplicable Universe. Check out the audio version. He did the voice not a hired speaker

    • Andy Van

      Eugene is great. I think he could have an electric keyboard with him on these stage shows because sound effects are great.

  • Kyle Hyland

    I would much rather hear Dawkins, Tyson, and Nye have a discussion
    without the comedic commentary. I love the comedians, and i do find it
    funny, but I would prefer a much more serious discussion with these
    three in the same room. The conversation is derailed too many times by
    the comedic interruption. That being said, I really enjoyed this. It is
    also nice for people to see that Dawkins has a sense of humor. Many
    people find him cold, and in many ways he can be if you support the idea
    of a ‘creator’. Dawkins is also extremely funny in a series of videos
    on YouTube in which he reads hate mail.

  • Jason Sieckman

    I’m absolutely excited this will soon be a television show on National Geographic. I hope Bill Nye and Eugene Mirman have regular places on the show. I have read that the show will not have a “human sidekick.” But I think Eugene provides an excellent foil for Neil. Bill is such an obvious and natural friend/sidekick I can’t imagine the show without him. I know Star Talk is not trying to compete with mainstream talk shows, but the chemistry between these three reminds me of the Johnny Carson, Ed Mcmahon, Doc Severenson dynamic on the old “Tonight Show.” I really think that trio would provide the entertainment needed to keep the show engaging without sacrificing the scientific content that has to be the true heart of the series.

  • ecpotter

    With discussions that have more than three voices, it would be much preferable to view video of this event. Youtube please?

    • startalkradio

      Eventually. But yes, we will have a video of this event.

  • Alex Smith

    Anybody complaining about the comedy needs to lighten the fuck up. This type of comedic discussion with this type of content NEVER happens. However, a quick youtube search and you can find hours upon hours of serious scientific lectures. Sooo chill out.
    The comedy is an amazing touch and is what allows me to be able to listen to it over and over again without being bored. Haven’t you guys ever heard of comic relief?

    Keep it up Startalk! I love you guys! KEEP THE LIVE! EPISODES ROLLING!!

    • startalkradio

      Thank you, Alex. That was the intention from the start. And we’ll be having more live episodes, including on video!

    • wayne

      Crazy comes to mind over and over again

    • PatWR

      Thanks Alex! All it took was your f-bomb to make me completely change my stance! Science!

    • dspearma

      I don’t mind the comedy, it just came across as annoying for me because it was so ill-timed. There were times when I was interested in what Richard Dawkins was saying, and somebody would interject with something silly that would take him off track. It was almost like watching a heckler at a comedy show that keeps interrupting the show. Finish the point you’re making, and then interject with all the silliness you want.

      • Alejandro Zavala

        Cheer up, they were funny.

        • dspearma

          Would have been funnier if they knew when to talk and when to shut up.

          • Alejandro Zavala

            Yes, sometimes they talk over each other…but it happens on most of their live shows.

          • Dude…It’s not the fact that they talk over each other that’s annoying. It’s that they derail the conversation!

      • wayne

        couldn’t agree more x 2

      • PatWR

        This. This exact thing. Let the really smart people finish their sentences, for Christ’s sake!

    • wayne

      couldn’t disagree more x googleplex

    • Jarvis

      Ahhh the ever ending debate of Comedy-Science vs Science. I dare half these people here to sit through a dozen SETI talks if they want straight science. Put me in the comedy camp because I love this format and would not of attended a live show for just science talk.

  • Where’s the video? o.O

    • startalkradio

      The video won’t be ready for a while yet. We’ll let you know, here on the website, and on our social media channels and newsletter, when we post the videos to YouTube.

  • Sir Loyne

    This was such a great show. I tried to not listen to it until I could hear both parts back to back, but I couldn’t help myself. Great cow joke by Maeve Higgins. I can’t wait for part 2, but it would be better if this was the 2nd 3 parter.

  • PatWR

    I love the concept behind this show, but they need to dial back the comic humor a *little* bit. I’m glad that Eugene and Mr. Gaffigan are able to lend their star power to this show (no pun intended) but I feel like an ever-diminishing amount of time is dedicated to actual expository science in each episode. At some point we’ll look up and realize the show has become 80% non sequitur humor and only 20% actual science for the masses.

    • wayne

      couldn’t agree more x10

    • Jim Jeffries

      I disagree. It’s a perfect blend as it is. If people want more exposition and less comedy, they should watch something else. If there were any LESS comedy in this show there wouldn’t be a point to having any at all. There’s already a pretty low amount to make room for the actual questions.

      It’s a fun discussion, not a lecture.

    • Tipsy

      Yeah Eugene interrupted Dawkins when he was about to answer Neil’s question about epigenetics and he didn’t get to it. WHAT WOULD HE HAVE SAID?

    • comlink

      Agree so much. Startalk radio is great because it has some heavyweight science communicators behind it. Science communication and comedy go VERY well together, but only with comedians who are themselves scientifically literate. Stephen Colbert — perfect. These guys? Not so much. It’s possible to find humour without deviating from the subject.

    • Left 4 Shred

      To my knowledge, there has never been an episode where there wasn’t a lot to be picked up from. The comedians help spark rays of curiosity into those who would otherwise have no interest in the discussion. There’s already so many venues where things are discussed in more detail without as many, or at least the same kind of, deviations from the main points. This was never meant to be that. Or more so, it does so through a pop cultural filter. And it does it incredibly. The jump to National Geographic has put limits on on the free nature of star talk, so you might like the newer ones better. They’ve all been great so far.

  • sepiae

    This one’s pure bliss. Prof. Dawkins was long due on the show. I just wonder what kind of dough is in the way in the brains of the likes Bill Nye
    debated, as mentioned, when they listen to a group of intelligent people such as this, hear pure reason, witness calm argumentation and
    delightful wit, and still have faces as if chewing on something rather disgusting (and trying to throw Basilisk-looks; yes, I mean Bill Nye’s
    former debating opposite) while maintaining this world to be 6000 yrs old and everything in it put there by a rather incompetent deity. But
    with good arguments it is pretty much as with humour: both aren’t precisely abundant at the creationist-camp.
    The truth, of course, doesn’t care what we make of it. The 1st thing a truly inquisitive mind understands. Communicators like Dawkins, Tyson,
    Nye et al manage to bring the scientific mind out in legions of non-scientists. There’s no service in the theological realm that can match or even approach this one.

  • sepiae

    … same here, Dr Tyson, same here…

    http://oi59.tinypic.com/5k0z0y.jpg

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  • Dana Nourie

    This was fabulous! Can’t wait for part 2. I love the comedy, and I have no doubt that people learn more when they are having fun listening. I agree with others here that Neil is right on in having comedians join him. Neil has a great sense of humor, as do Bill Nye, and Richard Dawkins. The idea that scientists and science are boring gets bombed with these episodes.

    I also watch at three of these scientists in other shows, where they are being more serious. This is the style of this show and I look forward to each episode. Eugene is so funny, and I love Gaffigan. In fact, I think Gaffigan is my favorite comedian.

    As for National Geographic being owned by FOX . . . that is the audience that needs science most! Delivering science with humor will go over better than straight science. Neil Tyson is improving the viewing by being on it. I think that is a great place for him to interview science types. And if more and more people tune into Neil’s science shows, maybe Fox will realize their current bullshit can go away. That’s a dream of mine, but I’m glad Neil is going to be viewed by many.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      Fox got to be as popular and as wide spread due to it’s current line up and the way it presents itself. I just do not see it changing what works so well any time soon. However, this should be a way for it to present a different view point if viewers want more view points presented with out changing the core principals of FOX.

    • Stephen Chu

      I watch Fox all the time. I dont ever remember seeing any show covering evolution.

  • Noah Ledford

    Great talk but I can’t help thinking i would have gotten more out of it without the comedians. No offence guys it is just not what I am looking for with a talk between three of the best minds of bringing science to the public.

  • Hisham

    How can I share this on Facebook, the icon goes to StartTalk page, not to share on facebook?

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  • Guest

    I should have gone.. it was just up at the Beacon Theatre except I didn’t hear about this until after the fact…

  • wayne

    you know if we’re honest there is enough humour without the comedians. the idiotic comments just annoy me
    it will be much appreciated if startalk could respond to these kind of comments rather than just supporting the people who support the comedians it all just seems a bit one sided to me

    Also this seems to be a continuing issue with people maybe a change is in order

    • startalkradio

      Hi Wayne. This is Jeff, the StarTalk Radio Social Media Director. Because you’ve directly asked for a response to this issue, I’ll respond to “these kinds of comments.”
      First of all, we don’t just “support the people who support the comedians”… if we did that, we wouldn’t approve all the negative comments about them. But we recognize that our audience has a plethora of opinions, and we want everyone to be heard (short of hate speech).
      Second of all, on behalf of the show, we most definitely disagree with your opinion, and those of a very few other people, that the comedians get in the way. The balance of science and comedy is “in our DNA.” It was the original definition of the show and it’s what sets us apart from nearly all other science shows. (The Infinite Monkey Cage has a scientist host and comic co host, too.)
      As for its being a continuing issue, you are absolutely right. From the very start, a very small set of people have disliked the comedians in general, and some particular comedians specifically. And because it is sometimes the case that people who have something negative to say comment online, but satisfied fans sometimes do so less frequently, it can appear that there are more negative comments than there really are. I can assure you this is not an accurate reflection of the overwhelmingly positive response we get to the show on all of our social media channels and via email.
      With a constantly growing, satisfied audience that offers up an overwhelmingly positive response to the show, we would be foolish and misguided to tear apart our entire concept for a very small percentage of people who don’t like a little interruptive comedy and laughter along with their science.
      Thank you for voicing your opinion, which is important to us to hear, especially when we don’t agree.

      • PatWR

        Thanks for replying to Wayne.

        I don’t dislike the comedians at all! I have enjoyed these people in person and on TV many times.

        I just get a little miffed when they cut off someone like Richard Dawkins to make a dick joke. Just let the man finish his point, then interject the humor. It’s a science show first!

        Again, I love the concept, love the show. This minor criticism is coming from a place of gratitude.

        • wayne

          well brought forward

      • wayne

        hello jeffrey. first thing’s first i do have a problem with any of the comedians on the show. however where the problem lies is with their input to the show. i personally find it stupid and senseless the sheer stupidity of the comments are before me.
        it’s obvious that the show are going to support their shows comedians. i wouldn’t expect nothing less.
        besides neil provides enough humour without the comedians. real humour witty intelligent humour give us more of this please tenfold so you see it’s not the comedians i have a problem with its the type of humour they provide.however i fear that the comedians that are provided are not capable of this type of humour maybe some new blood possibly. take care jeffrey

      • Ray Bowers

        I don’t agree but am really glad this show is out there and doing well.

      • Papaya Guy

        Aloha Jeff, I think what the issue might be is that we need comedians who are more well versed in science. Neil and Bill are great and I really like the way Chuck handles the knowledge. This is a science show and we want comedy but we don’t need “dick jokes” or whatever ridiculousness to take us off course from learning. That’s why we listen, right? Once again, props to Chuck, we need the non-scientist point of view to address the everyday person but I think we all accept a minimum amount of knowledge just to listen to the show. let these guys handle the BIG topics and let’s not dumb down the conversation with “wing jokes”. Sorry, it’s late but I have had a gripe with the idiocracy style jokes. Love the humor tied into the show but can we try to make sure that the humor doesn’t sidetrack where the show is trying to go. I like how they turned the wing thing around and gave a scientific reason for it but why waste time discussing silly things. Mahalo for your time and aloha.

        • startalkradio

          Aloha, Papaya Guy. Thanks for your comment. Every year we give ask our fans to vote for their favorite episodes, guests, and co-hosts, and every year, Eugene wins hands down. For our part, we appreciate all of our co-hosts, but clearly, some of our fans are more partial to one comic approach than another. And comedy can be dangerous. Our episodes with Janeane Garafolo and our tribute to Joan Rivers garnered some of the most vitriolic responses we’ve ever gotten.

          • Tipsy

            Hey Startalk, maybe you could have someone with a iPad or something recording the questions that get unanswered because of comedic interruptions, then at the end of the show have them read out to the panel and ask if they want to say anything to those questions.

            That would solve the whole issue in my mind.

      • Tipsy

        Yeah, it wouldn’t be in the spirit of Star Talk to attempt to ban dissenting opinion.

    • zp

      I have no idea who any of those “comedians” are (I live above the arctic circle in Norway), but I have to admit I think I would have enjoyed this podcast much more without their participation. Regardless, my thanks to all for an enjoyable listen.

  • startalkradio

    Hisham, if you’d like share the podcast on Facebook, there is a share button in the upper right corner of the SoundCloud player on this page. Each show has its own SoundCloud player on the episode page on our website, so you can share any specific episode that way.
    You are correct, however, that the icons at the top of every page on our website take you to our accounts on the various social media channels, and are not “share” buttons.

  • Scooter

    This is the best web page design ever.

  • Michael Tamits

    This podcast is really hard to listen to with the comedy one liners. It hinders from the disscussion and context at hand. If i wanted to see a comedy show of this comedians stand up, i would go to it, will props love it and have a beer with him, but this is a science podcast where people talk about the meaning of life, space and mathematics, where at the end of a thought provoking speech, is ruined by a one liner. I respectfully disagree with the comedy connection with this podcast

    • wayne

      i couldn’t have said it better myself thank you

    • Alonzo Whitehall

      Maybe you should have had the beer first.

  • Philippa

    Does anybody else find the adverts really awkward? haha. Great podcast though.

  • Philippa

    I just stumbled upon this podcast today and found it enjoyable, i like the comedic touch, it allows the content to stay fresh, and keeps the listener from zoning out.

  • Trevor

    You guys REALLY need to get Dara o’Brien on this show!

  • Terry

    Gosh I wish the silly comedian would just shut up. Trying to hard to be funny

  • Jensen

    I enjoy the comedic element that is blended with this show. I can appreciate the science on its own, but I respect that this helps bring science to new audiences that may need a spoon of sugar to let it sink in. Seems like a cool way of getting teenagers interested.

  • Pipo S. Urdaneta

    Moon shoes? On Professor Dawkins?? :O

  • Pottery

    In this show Bill Nye is skeptical of trans-species gene manipulation. I just read that he visited the great folks at monsanto this week, and is now not opposed to genetic manipulation of foods, of any kind. BTW, when was this originally recorded?

    • startalkradio

      The show at The Beacon Theatre was November 18, 2014.

  • Tipsy

    Can’t wait to see a cloned Neanderthal! That will be super interesting.

  • Tipsy

    Hey Startalk, maybe you could have someone with a iPad or something recording the questions that get unanswered because of comedic interruptions, then at the end of the show have them read out to the panel and ask if they want to say anything to those questions.

    That would solve the whole issue in my mind.

    Reposting this comment for all to see.

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  • Drew

    I agree with many. The comedians detract from this conversation. I’m sure they’re super funny people and really good at what they do, but they did not enhance the dialogue in any meaningful way. They actually hold the conversation back and prevent it from progressing. At times, their comments are painful to hear. The dialogue would have produced plenty of laughter without them.

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  • Jesus Christ

    There has been a debate about the bible and evolution for many years. I believe that this story should set the record straight.
    http://thesop.org/story/letters/2009/07/30/the-real-story-about-the-bible-and-evolution.php

  • Richard Mcintire

    This show, and those like it is my only “breath of fresh air” regarding mankind in general. These are the only people on the planet who are looking forward to more than the next election or the next financial quarterly report! When did the future of mankind take a “back burner?” (oh yeah, right after the moon landing!)

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