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What You Know Is Not as Important as How You Think

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Lesson time 06:02 min

Meet your new instructor: world-renowned astrophysicist, Emmy-nominated host, author, and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson. Neil welcomes you and discusses the importance of scientific thinking and communication.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Teaches Scientific Thinking and Communication
Renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches you how to find objective truths and shares his tools for communicating what you discover.


[MUSIC PLAYING] NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: There's hardly anything I say or do that isn't in some way influenced by a cosmic perspective. When I go up to people, if someone happens to be a little depressed or their life isn't going as they want it, I remind them that atoms of your body are traceable to stars that have exploded across the galaxy. And out of that scattered enrichment forms next generations of star systems that have the ingredients that will make planets. And in at least one planet, make human life. Here we are on Earth. You wake up. You have breakfast. Go to work, go to school, take care of the home. We are a participant in an ecosystem. And so when you put all this together, you realize it's not that we are here and the universe is there. It's not that we are humans and everything else isn't. It's that we are a participant in the great unfolding of cosmic events. And for me, that gives a sense of belonging. That's a cosmic perspective that allows you to sort of sit up straight and look around and say, I belong to something bigger than my daily routine. That's a gift of 20th century astrophysics to civilization. That awareness. That sense of participation. You're not separate and distinct from the universe. You are part of the universe. You are in the universe The universe is in you. [MUSIC PLAYING] I can guarantee you that the most important moments of your life are decided not by what you know, but by how you think. What do you do when you confront a problem you've never seen before? Do you say, I'm not trained for this, and walk away? You say, wow, that's a problem I've never seen before. Let me try to solve it. Science literacy is not so much about what you know, but about how your brain is wired for thought, how your brain is wired to ask questions, empowering you to probe knowledge and information that's out there in the quest for what is objectively true in this world. Personally, I'd rather live in the reality of what is true, because when I make decisions based on it, they have a chance of arriving at a solution. Challenges, problems that face you, your family, society, the world. As you probably know, there's, like, a gazillion hours of me on the internet on YouTube, on Vevo, wherever. In almost every case, I'm talking about the universe. There's a interested reporter who's asking about black holes, Pluto, the big bang, time travel, god. What I have reserved for this MasterClass is to show you what's going on inside of me as I communicate with the public. So what I'm going to share with you is the methods and tools of science that enable us to go from ignorance of what is going on to an understanding of what is going on, and ultimately leading to an established objective truth. To not only find objective truths, but then communicate to others how to get there. Communication is half the work. Knowing how to do it, that's the first half. Doing it, that's the second half. And you'll see a side of me tha...

About the Instructor

With a hit talk show and bestselling books, Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most popular figures in modern science. Now the influential astrophysicist teaches you how his mind works and how he connects with audiences. Learn to think like a skeptic, open your own mind through scientific literacy, distill data, and navigate bias to discover objective truths—and deliver your ideas in ways that engage, excite, and inspire.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Important reminders of how to think critically and become aware of your own biases. Being aware of opinion vs. data is more important than ever.

Amazing teacher and communicator. Explained and taught the scientific method creatively and engaging.

Love listening to N dG Tyson speak. He's emphatic, creative and so interesting and his delivery is spontaneous and natural. Thank you!

The craft of conveying something I've learned, questioning what I am learning, but most importantly that of the cosmic perspective, thank you Neil.


C.N. S.

I mean, I was already on board with the Enlightenment before this video, but hey, cool.


Wow! I am so excited about this perspective. I was educated to memorize and spew back facts. But I have always asked questions. So many people seem to" know" and they argue that side. Even though I disagree, I didn't feel confident in arguing or presenting the other side. I tended to remain quiet. I am looking forward to the awakening.

Darina P.

Neil has been an influential person in my life & I am SO excited to continue learning from him!

Banhid B.

Promising words to rewire the thinking approach......excited to explore what’s lying ahead in this course...

siera S.

I just signed up today for this class and im really excited to learn more about the way we think

Derya A.

I have to overcome the fear that I cannot learn something new anymore. I hope to get some motivation and help in this class. Looking forward.

A fellow student

This lesson is supposed to engage the learner and has accomplished that with me. Mind you, as a study of Philosophy and a retired high school physics teacher, I already come to this series of lessons well primed.

Yordan M.

i learned couple of things, but apart from putting on screen famous people, kindly, make sure it is useful. They need to say smart things :)

A fellow student

As a science teacher, researcher and innovator, I strive to instill inquiry in the minds of others, to convey how and why it is important to communicate knowledge to other scientists, engineers, politicians and the wider public. I often get asked, "This is science class, not English class. Why do I have to write in complete sentences. Why do I have to explain everything? Why are we doing math?" I wish people wanted to know more and I want to foster a sense of wonder in my students. I'm hoping this class can help me with that.

A fellow student

Can I just say his voice and communication style just relaxes my heart 😊(literally like the vibe resonates with me)...btw, writing with the ostrich feather pen seemed so comical to😄