Live-Blogging Curiosity

I just learned that Sean M. Carroll is live-Blogging Curiosity, the new television program that asks whether gods exist. Hawking comes out strongly with a confident “NO”. But now they have this horrible, awful post-show panel where they bring in weasely theologians to sow confusion. Carroll is also on the panel, and seems to be the sole rational, godless voice.

If you aren’t watching it on TV, you’re in luck — you’ve escaped the blithering nonsense pouring out of John Haught’s mouth. Read Cosmic Variance instead.


  1. Alverant says

    I saw Curiosity. Didn’t see much of the post-show since Falling Skies was on. I don’t know how many other religions were mentioned, but I did hear about a scientist who was christian. I would like to see it to be fair, but it’s wrong that a science show has to go out of its way not to offended people of faith, but religious shows don’t go out of their way not to offend people of reason.

  2. required says

    I declare myself a studier of the question, “Why is the sky blue?” That question is outside of the realm of science, because it falls within the realm of we skyologians. Your sciencey “theories” about different wavelengths of light is crap. We skyologians know it’s because tiny magical pixies continually paint on the canvas of the sky. It’s cute that you guys are trying, but seriously, please stop — you’re just embarrassing yourselves.

  3. says

    Gaah! You should read some of the comments there! No, you shouldn’t. It will just frustrate and annoy you.

    Dr. Carroll did the best he could. I think Discovery was just pandering to the religious so they wouldn’t get so much hate mail. David Gregory was terrible!

    The roundtable wasn’t as bad, though, as some of Discovery’s other “science” shows, like Swamp Brothers and Hogs Gone Wild.

  4. cuttlefish says

    I rather wish they had had a psychologist on (as well as Sean), to speak to the quality of evidence the theologians relied on. How do we believe? (it’s complicated) Is it possible to believe, utterly and with all your heart, something that is not true? (yes) Do our human perceptual, memory, and cognitive systems have the capacity to reliably know that a god exists? (no)

    If god is “transcendent”, then how is this god perceived? What effects does a god have on our retinas, our basilar membranes? This is not a question beyond science–we know an awful lot about sensation, perception, cognition, and belief. We know how we know.

    Millions of people “experience god”; they do so quite predictably, in accordance with their cultural and familial upbringing. The reasons for their belief are not transcendent; they are mundane. Their belief has nothing to do with a celestial first mover, but with family tradition and early childhood (and later) experience.

    The followup show’s theologian said he “welcome[s] scientific evidence”. As long as the evidence is from physics, his god is an untestable hypothesis. Will he welcome evidence from experimental psychology?

  5. neil says

    Curiously the Canadian Discovery network did not show the follow-up panel. Mythbusters was broadcast immediately afterwards. It doesn’t sound like we missed much.

  6. Brad says

    couldn’t have said it better myself. but that goes without saying. I witnessed live “the blithering nonsense pouring out of John Haught’s mouth.” It was mindless and mind-numbing simultaneously.

  7. Lauren says

    is indeed that the Canadian Discovery network did not show the follow up. Glad it didn’t, Mythbusters was pretty good.

  8. Helena Constantine says

    In terms of the history of Science, Curiosity was pretty much as bad as Cosmos.

    The Babylonians knew that Solar Eclipses were regular natural events caused by planetary motion (in antiquity the sun and moon ere classed as planets) early in the first millennium BC.

    Aristarchus created a heretical version of Pythagorean theology in which he identified the Sun with he central hearth. Archimedes’ brief summary of his system (which is all we have) may or may not make it look look more like scientific heliocentrism than it was. He also worked out correctly that it was possible to use observational astronomy to estimate the size of the moon and and sun, though his actual figures were widely off because of the poor observational data he had at his disposal (there are also serious problems with the mathematical figures in the mss. of his book on this subject. Elsewhere he knows the apparent size of the moon and sun are 1/2 degree, but in this book the figure of 3 degrees is used–probably the result of several generation of copying errors).

    Hipparchus was the first astronomer able to accurately predict solar eclipses.

    Gallileo’s life was never in serious jeopardy. His main problem was his abrasive personality which had personally rubbed various churchmen the wrong way. The only thing he had to recant was atomism. Although he was kept under house arrest, he was allowed to publish so long as he used presses in Protestant countries.

    At least we didn’t have to hear about Hypatia, martyr for science, or the Christians burning down the library of Alexandria 400 years after Julius Caesar had burned it down.

  9. Brad says

    I think its so cool Helena Constantine was there, recording for posterity, the true events of history. Not saying I dispute said correctios, I’m just sayin’

  10. Neil Rickert says

    If you aren’t watching it on TV, you’re in luck — you’ve escaped the blithering nonsense pouring out of John Haught’s mouth.

    No, that’s not luck. That’s due to a decision made long ago, that TV has too high a nonsense content to be worth watching.

  11. says

    ow ow ow I read the comments shit ow

    • Just because you don’t understand something, that doesn’t make it wrong.

    • Just because you like something else better, that doesn’t make it right.

    • And for chrissakes people, it’s HAWKING!

    Amphiox, you are braver than I. Despite the raging call of SIWOTI, I fear to enter.

    If I am orbiting a pulsar 14 billion light years out. I would be on the edge. Could I not look toward the center of the universe and see blue shift as the galaxies travel towards mine?


    *phew* Joshua Zelinski jumped in with the balloon analogy. You took a bullet there for me, buddy!

    must… look… away!

  12. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    Thank the people at Discovery Canada that we got Jaimie and Adam rather than a parade of idiots after the show.

    Anyway, I was rather disappointed with it. It was so basic that I’d guess the level of explanation was about equivalent to a grade 7 or 8 science class, if that. I don’t think I learned anything more than what I already knew. I wish he’d explained more in depth about sub-atomic particles and what the implications of a no-time state are. And he explained that the total energy of the universe is zero, but didn’t actually say what negative energy does etc.

    And how many times did he have to say that he doesn’t want to tell anyone else what to believe but *for him* there doesn’t seem to be any need for a first cause or creator? Seems a bit wishy washy to me.

  13. andyo says

    Yep, the comments on the CV threads (there’s more than one on this subject) are kinda like Pharyngula threads from 5 years ago.

  14. andyo says

    …by which I mean it’s like most people are stumbling on a science post on religion for the first time.

  15. H-Bomb says

    The red shift guy was a blithering idiot. He really wants a flat universe do that he can stand on the edge. I almost asked him if he still thought the Earth was flat, too.

    As for the panel… That was just painful. Props to Sean for braving it.

  16. Torcuato Gemini says

    Did anyone notice the disclaimer they run right before the start of the show? I couldn’t believe my eyes! “This program examines the creation of the universe through the commentary and opinion of Professor Stephen Hawking.” I found it pathetic that they felt the need to appease the religious nuts.

  17. Purbrookiam says

    What complete meaningless twaddle served up by Haught. As soon as you hear the word ‘transcendent’, you might as well switch off.

  18. Stardrake says

    I kept waiting for Haught to declare: “We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”

    But then, Majikthize and Vroomfondel had a better writer…Haught’s too used to that nasty cobbled-up collection of unbelievable goat-herder tales.

  19. says

    I thought the theologian was pretty much what one would have expected. But I was very disappointed in the scientists on the panel who as always went out of their way not to “offend” the beliefs of the faithful. I wish just once someone on one of these panels would really throw it down. “People make up religion and faith out of thin air to explain things they don’t have the education, tools or more importantly patience, intellectual rigor and willingness to try to understand from facts and reality.”

  20. Helena Constantine says


    I thank you for your kind comments, and the entire professions of classics, ancient history, and the history of science thanks you. How wonderful it is for you point out that we can stop researching history (since the idea that we can know even approximately what happened is worthy of mockery, you assure us) and just make it up out of whole cloth. We would never have known it but for you. The well known axiom in the atheist community that whatever Sagan said was gospel true, evidence be damned seems to be gaining a Hawkins corollary. Thanks again, Brad.

  21. Sastra says

    required #2 wrote:

    I declare myself a studier of the question, “Why is the sky blue?” That question is outside of the realm of science, because it falls within the realm of we skyologians.

    Theologians would insist that “why is the sky blue?” becomes their territory if the question is being posed as a sort of psychological question dealing with relationships. Science can’t tell us that the sky is blue because it’s prettier that way. Science can’t tell us that the sky is blue because somebody wanted it that way for a reason — to impress us or reward us or punish us or tell us something. For that, you need that worship of category error called ‘theology.’

    Basically, the sky is blue either to make us grateful to God — or because we’ve all been very bad and need to say we’re sorry: the all-purpose Christian response.

  22. says

    God(s) exist insomuch as they are required for commerce. My ability to rape the unlettered and innumerate proletariat depends on these same pedestrians at least ‘believing in’ believing in god(s), if not believing in god(s) full-stop.