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I'm no dummy

Astrophysicist and superstar (see what I did there) Neil deGrasse Tyson has a new book called. "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry". The purpose of the book is to explain the known (and theorized) complexities that went into making the universe and life as we know it. The book launches with the opening line, "in the beginning", proceeding to review the hypothesized initial singularity that started it all, how an expanding universe gave birth to laws of physics, why carbon-based lifeforms are the most complex structures we can create and how the odds of other life out there are statistically beyond a doubt, despite not having discovered it yet.

I know all this from a short interview with deGrasse Tyson on the book, not because I've read it yet. But I didn't start this post to write about the book as much to write about the book's positioning. We are all familiar with the never-ending onslaught of Dummy and Idiot guides that permeate the literary landscape. But while there is designed to be something playful about these books, I'm always left wondering, "what credible person wants to put their name on a book with the word 'dummy' or 'idiot' written on the front?" Was the right person landed to tell this story?"

We're not dumb but there are many topics which we do not understand or need more information on. There is a time and a place for jest but I believe, having encountered this book, it makes more sense to not trivialize a topic like astrophysics but rather affirm, "not everyone is going to make this complex topic their career or regular pastime. What should they know to have a working knowledge of the topic?"

This gives rise to the "in a hurry" part of the title rather than picking up a "dummy's guide". Empower the reader. Don't demean them.

Go Forth Boldly


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