Why I Love Neil DeGrasse Tyson

watch-out-we-got-a-bad-ass-over-hereNeil DeGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, science advocate, author, and director of the Hayden Planetarium, is one of my favorite human beings currently walking the earth. I am not ashamed to say that I have signed copies of four of his books and am a giant NDT fangirl. No shame whatsoever. Let me just make a short list of reasons why he’s kind of an incredible BAMF:

1. He’s a strong, unapologetic advocate for science education and scientific literacy, making compelling and charismatic arguments for the place of science in society. These things make society not just better-informed, but better overall. To quote him:

What should happen, which we should all embrace and value, is that as a minimum people are scientifically literate. So that as an electorate you can make informed decisions about issues that rise up, where your knowledge of science impacts how you might vote on one issue or another, or on important decisions related to the future of society, its economy, the environment.  All of these, at their core, involve scientific fluency. So, everyone should be scientifically literate.

He also believes that scientific literacy serves to protect us from those that would pull the wool over our eyes, safeguards us from charlatanism in all its forms. Put another way: scientifically_literate_neil_degrasse_tyson_bullshit Continue reading

White House Calls for Research on Links Between Video Games and Violence

Yesterday, the White House unveiled “Now is the Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.” Super good! I don’t intend to attack the the President, his plan, or even the fact that he calls for more research into any possible relationships between video games and violence. With the trauma of gun violence being so severe in American culture, encouraging research into what many citizens believe to have a causative relationship with violence, i.e. that violent video games lead to violent crime, is the right call. While it is politically unfortunate that the President seemed unable to find a place for video games in his plan than under the section to “End the Freeze on Gun Violence Research,” (page 8), I don’t think that we have much to worry about regarding any lasting effects on public opinion. We know that all good research into the topic, assuming fair distribution and reporting of research results and data, is going to show that video games and their place in society are nothing to be afraid of.

Here is my point; how do we already know that we have nothing to fear? Hasn’t research already shown that violence in video games has a lasting effect on gamers, causing them to be desensitized to violence and therefore less likely to check impulses toward violent behavior? Since video games are more immersive than other forms of media, doesn’t it stand to reason that they affect a greater ability to impact and change the human psyche? Let’s look into why not. Continue reading