Truly impressive science education videos

If you were to ask people to name some science popularizers, they might name Stephen Hawking or Neil deGrasse Tyson. Veritasium impresses me a lot more.

The thing about the types of questions that Hawking or Tyson raise is that they are not the types of questions that people think of themselves as being able to answer. Yes I am made of stardust, sure, but knowing that fact doesn’t change anything I do in real life, and wasn’t something I thought I could answer in the first place.

The Veritasium videos, on the other hand, are full of simple surprises:

I’ve tried to amuse other people with these videos and been disappointed to find them un-amused. I suspect this is largely because to appreciate these things you need to have had expectations to begin with.

Children are easy to amuse because they are actively learning about the world, and have a constant cycle of assumption formation and surprise and learning going on; as people grow older, they come to accept that they can’t know about everything.

There are many different ways of not knowing, however. The attitude imbued by scientific training is a very constructive one, where ignorance is recognized as being transient and resources can be invested if a piece of knowledge is deemed valuable enough.

The most unfortunate attitude I’ve come across is cynical resignation and almost total lack of curiosity — such people are often also beset by what they see as injustices big and small as they are buffeted by the world in directions which, through their ignorance, they see as random and unchangeable. Many of them turn dualist / spiritual, and in an effort to avoid being wrong resort to beliefs that are not even wrong.

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