April 20, 2017 8:50 pm

StarTalk Live! Is on a Mission – Let’s Make America Smart Again

If you’re a StarTalk Radio fan, and you haven’t made it to a StarTalk Live!, I think that’s a problem you need to fix.

I had the privilege of attending last Monday’s StarTalk Live! Let’s Make America Smart Again, recorded live at the historic Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, and seeing Neil and company do their thing live is an experience I’ll never forget.

On Stage at the Count Basie Theatre. LtoR: Jo Handelsman, Senator Cory Booker, Baratunde Thurston, co-host Eugene Mirman, host Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ophira Eisenberg and John Holdren. Credit: Elliot Severn.

On Stage at the Count Basie Theatre. LtoR: Jo Handelsman, Senator Cory Booker, Baratunde Thurston, co-host Eugene Mirman, host Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ophira Eisenberg and John Holdren. Credit: Elliot Severn.

The house was jam-packed, the atmosphere was electric, and the show was fantastic. Because the show is so timely, with the Science March happening this weekend on Earth Day, we’ve worked hard to get the podcast version ready to go quickly. Part 1 will air tomorrow night. But, if you don’t want to wait, or if you want to listen to the entire show at once, you can listen to a replay of the Live Stream here. Our live streams are included with your monthly subscription to All-Access, and we’re going to try to do more of them in the future.

Neil and comic co-host Eugene Mirman were joined by John Holdren, former head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Obama administration, Jo Handelsman, former Associate Director of Science at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, comedians Ophira Eisenberg, and Baratunde Thurston, and, New Jersey’s own, U.S. Senator Cory Booker.

With “Let’s Make America Smart Again” as the theme for the night, the conversation never dulled. You’ll hear why President Obama was one of the most science savvy Presidents. Explore the history of Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Senator Booker offers criticisms of President Trump’s proposed national budget, and comments on the dangers it poses to science and technology in America. He also explains why the best investments for your tax dollars are investing in science. Plus, you’ll hear why having data is critical to making smart protests.

I really enjoyed the conversation on precision medicine and microbiology, especially discussion on new gene-editing tools and the debate that followed on whether to create “heritable” changes.

However, one conversation thread stood out to me the most, in part because it was constant throughout the entire episode. In order to Make America Smart Again, activism has to come from the ground up. As Senator Booker said, “the power of people is greater than the people in power.”

The panel discussed why inaction by good people is the greatest threat to democracy, moral imagination within our culture, and what we can do as a nation to get back to being a leader in science and technology.

It was inspiring to hear, and made me want to get more involved. The best part is, this is only Part One and there’s a lot more to come!

Please join us tomorrow night for StarTalk Live! Let’s Make America Smart Again (Part 1) at 7pm EDT right here 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, or, as we mentioned earlier, listen to the unedited Live Stream replay here. (Although with the quick turnaround on this podcast, the video version may not be ready to go on Friday night!)

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