I fucking hate it when you’re in such a fantastically giddy mood and then you see one simple little thing that makes you think, “oh” and then you just get this empty feeling in your chest and you get nauseous and the world just crumbles and you want to just lay under a blanket and close your eyes and fall asleep and never wake up.
shoutout to all the other ex-gifted & talented/honor student/straight a/senior editor/star student/99th percentile/once-creative burn-outs who have, since high school, realized they are truly miniscule fish in a giant, endless ocean, criticized themselves to the point of creative paralysis, and participated in so much self-sabotage they no longer see the point of doing anything at all because they’re just going to ruin it for themselves anyway
I was just a 17-year old kid from the Bronx with dreams of becoming a scientist, and somehow the world’s most famous astronomer found time to invite me to Ithaca in upstate NY and spend a Saturday with him.
I remember that snowy day like it was yesterday. He met me at the bus stop. He showed me his laboratory at Cornell University. Carl reached behind his desk, and inscribed this book (Cosmic Connection) for me:
For Neil Tyson,
With all good wisdom to a future astronomer.
- Carl Sagan
At the end of the day, he drove me back to the bus station. The snow was falling harder. He wrote his phone number, his home phone number, on a scrap of paper. And he said, “If the bus can’t get through, call me. Spend the night at my home, with my family.”
I already knew I wanted to become a scientist, but that afternoon I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become. He reached out to me and to countless others. Inspiring so many of us to study, teach, and do science. Science is a co-operative enterprise, spanning the generations. It’s the passing of a torch from teacher to student to teacher. A community of minds reaching back from antiquity and forward to the stars.
the thing that a lot of the people who say “yeah they’re wrong, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion” do not really understand is that there are different levels of wrongness of opinion.
like, tier one of “wrong opinion” would be someone saying “calvin and hobbes is a bad comic.” i disagree with you, and i have reasons for disagreeing, but ultimately, neither of us has proof or even any objective evidence that our opinion is the right one. i still think you are wrong, but you are not wrong in any kind of serious or real way.
tier two would be “chicago economics works.” you are wrong, but you are wrong because you do not have the right information. once given the right information, you will probably change your wrong opinion into a right one. if you are a layperson when it comes to economics, it is unlikely that you will not trust a more knowledgeable person who disagrees with you simply because they disagree with you.
tier three is where we get to the “no you are not entitled to your opinion” stuff, like “women are inherently incapable of understanding math because their brains are different.” you are wrong, and there is plenty of evidence that you are wrong. however, you are unlikely to heed that evidence, because everything suggests that you hold your wrong opinion because you are sexist and cissexist. you do not want to let it go because letting go of that wrong opinion will challenge your chauvinism. you do not hold that wrong opinion simply because of faulty information but because you are a piece of shit.