Why is this worthy of mention?
Because Tarnas is a proponent of astrology. Astrology! His position as professor of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco is supposed to lend credence to this.
In the hours immediately after the broadcast, Cosmos and Psyche leapt to #1 on the Amazon Canada bestseller ranking.
When confronted by this sort of thing, it helps to remember why we value free speech. The reasons are enumerated by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Keegstra, a hate-speech case. But they miss out on a big one: it’s a good idea to know which people are prone to dangerous failures of judgement – especially if they have any authority.
Even so, the CBC has done a disservice to the Canadian public. There was no attempt to challenge this man. A gushing Mary Hynes seems to lose all critical faculties in this interview, and presents Tarnas as a respected scholar with “mind blowing” evidence on his side.
She might be helped to recall this statement by Simon Blackburn, which captures nicely why we shouldn’t take mysticism seriously:
There may be rhetoric about the socially constructed nature of Western science, but whenever it matters, there is no alternative. There are no specifically Hindu or Taoist designs for mobile phones, faxes or television. There are no satellites based on feminist alternatives to quantum theory. Even the great public sceptic about the value of science, Prince Charles, never flies a helicopter burning homeopathically diluted petrol, that is, water with only a memory of benzine molecules, maintained by a schedule derived from reading tea leaves, and navigated by a crystal ball.
You can find the audio of the interview archived here.
Can neuro-philosophers out there tell me why people are so susceptible to this sort of nonsense?