GETTING MORE TALE #464: “Would anybody tell me if I was gettin’…stupider?”
Can popular music make you dumber? That depends on who you listen to.
Youngsters growing up in the 60’s and 70’s would be forgiven for thinking that a “light year” was a unit of time.
“And here I sit, hand on the telephone, hearing a voice I’d known, a couple of light years ago.”
Joan Baez wrote those words, which certainly paint an image in your mind, but she misused the words “light years”. A light year isn’t a unit of time. It’s a unit of distance. A light year is how far light can travel in a vacuum in one year: It is 9,460,730,472,580,800 meters. Such mistakes were common; even George Lucas made the mistake in the first Star Wars. He wrote that the Millenium Falcon is the ship that made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs. A parsec is not a unit of time. It too is a measurement of distance – 3.26 light years!*
If you’re a Billy Joel fan, you’re probably familiar with “The Ballad of Billy the Kid”. There have been a lot of myths and half-truths about the Kid in cinema, but Joel wasn’t aiming for accuracy. Therefore it didn’t bother him to write that the Kid was hung, when he was actually shot by Pat Garrett.
These kinds of mistakes are not terrible sins. Most people would be forgiven for not knowing how Billy the Kid died. Nobody is getting their science lessons from Joan Baez. However, it is important to take note. Kids today are impressionable, and sometimes take the words of their pop heroes as gospel. Let us hope this is not the case with the rapper who calls himself B.o.B.
Now, B.o.B. is one of those folks who does not believe the Earth is a sphere. B.o.B. believes the Earth is a flat disc — he is what they call a “Flat Earther”. Forget everything you know about the universe, about how gravity works, or even that trip you took to Australia two summers ago. According to B.o.B., whose science credentials include dropping out of school in the ninth grade, “I didn’t wanna believe it either.” However, “there’s no way u [sic] can see all the evidence and not know.”
I wonder if the Flat Earthers and the Hollow Earthers ever get together for a good old-fashioned rumble to decide who is right?
Recently, B.o.B. has picked a fight with Neil deGrasse Tyson, world renowned astrophysicist and surely one of the smartest people alive. B.o.B. questioned the “international laws” that “prevent you” from exploring Antarctica and the north pole. “What’s there to hide?” asks B.o.B. I don’t know what international laws he’s talking about. The Top Gear guys drove their cars to the (magnetic) north pole without violating any laws. Nobody “disappeared” Jeremy Clarkson afterwards (though some would like to for other reasons).
Clearly frustrated with his attempts to talk sense and science into the rapper, Tyson tweeted “Flat Earth is a problem only when people in charge think that way. No law stops you from regressively basking in it.” In response, B.o.B. replied in the way he knows best: in song. His brand new song “Flatline” mocks Tyson for his stance. The cover art is an aerial shot of a city. The lyrics refer to science as a cult, and advise Neil to “loosen up your vest”. Tyson responded with class: “Duude — to be clear: Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn’t mean we all can’t still like your music.”
Don’t listen to B.o.B. for your science facts. How do we know the world is round? Because B.o.B. uploaded his track to Soundcloud. He did this via the internet, which people connect to every day using satellites. These satellites circle in geostationary orbits, something impossible if the Earth were a disc. In fact, we have been using satellites since 1957. Unfortunately in this age of “I only believe in what I can see,” it seems B.o.B. has taken the technology for granted. “Flat line, flat line, you fooled us for the last time,” he raps cluelessly.
Still confused? Here’s deGrasse Tyson. Take it away, Neil!
B.o.B. sampled this video (the part where Tyson trips over his words at 40 seconds in) in his song to mock the scientist.
* The Star Wars expanded universe retroactively explained this by saying that Han Solo did make the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, by achieving the shortest distance through a treacherous region of space.