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Neil deGrasse Tyson has long been a notable figure in the science fact and pop culture field for some time now, often throwing out commentary on movies and television and what they have done correctly or incorrectly in regards to science. Now, amidst the Covid-19 crisis, the StarTalk and Cosmos star is sharing his viewpoints on viruses and society.
While Neil DeGrasse Tyson is generally known for pithy takes on pop culture, his thoughts on the crisis humanity is currently going through are deadly serious. He painstakingly talks out how a virus like the coronavirus is an even greater threat than others that humanity will face, noting,
To me, this is a great experiment going on in real time. Can the world say to itself, ‘We have a common enemy. That enemy is not each other. The enemy is this invader to our species. It’s a virus.’ All the other reasons we would find to kill each other, because of skin color or who we worship or what line in the sand you happen to live on, across whatever line you live on, all these differences really look petty compared with confronting a common viral enemy.
In a lengthy interview with The Gazette, Neil deGrasse Tyson detailed further why viral spread happens quickly and why it will take cooperation between communities and even countries to eradicate the virus meaningfully.
The cooperation is necessary because we all travel. That’s one of the great features of modern civilization. There are no pockets of people living unto themselves anymore. We all communicate, practically to every corner of the planet.
The world is definitely more interconnected than it has ever been. People are currently at home with a wide breadth of information at their fingertips thanks to the world wide web, but one of the criticisms of this crisis has been that communities and people in varying fields cannot get on the same page about how to respond to Covid-19. From Neil deGrasse Tyson’s point of view, he’s asking people to listen to scientists and “the advice of science” in general.
To me, this was an experiment in whether people understand the importance of listening to scientists. In this case, medical professions. There comes a time when you don’t have the luxury to pick and choose what you want to believe and reject what you don’t want to believe. If we come through this on the other side, it’s because people listen to the advice of science professionals. That’s how I view this.
Obviously, this is just the outlook of one professional in the scientific community and Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t a virologist by any means, but his passion for science can clearly be seen in these coronavirus-oriented comments.