December 4, 2016

Slice of PIE: Stephen Hawking & the Non-Elite (aka “The Rest of Us”)

This essay isn’t based on anything that happened at any WorldCon…it came from life events, something I read, or even just a thought I had. This time, it’s something that happened and that might be either irritating or relate to speculative fiction, writing, or Christianity…

I ran across the article linked below this morning. In it, world-famous, well-recognized, iconic, and legendary cosmologist Stephen Hawking seems to have realized the real problem with not only the climate doom movement but with scientists in general: is that they are (and he apparently includes himself) obnoxious snots.

He refers to himself and others like himself, as “the elite”.

According to, that equates to: exclusive, choicest, cool, crack, elect, noble, pick, super, top, aristocratic, gilt-edged, greatest, elected, upper-class, world-class.

The NOT-elite then, are characterized by these words: bad, inferior, poor, second-rate, common, low-class, lower, lower-class, ordinary.

Thank you, Stephen Hawking for clarifying how you – and by implication – and the rest of the scientific community view the ordinary people around you.

What he does NOT do is reference an American scientist who went out of his way to not only help people understand science, and enjoy science, but to be entertained by science. Isaac Asimov was “an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University…known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer, and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards…books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.”

He wrote a bit more than Hawking did, but the physical difficulty experienced by Hawking might account for that. Despite appearing as a character in THE SIMPSONS, BIG BANG THEORY, FUTURAMA, and appearing in an episode of STAR TREK: The Next Generation, Hawking has joined such celebrities as Conan O’Brien, The Discovery Channel, John Oliver, and a host of other places, including “starring” in a movie about his own life, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. (The movie garnered “a positive reception worldwide” and was nominated for an “Academy Award for Best Actor…won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor…and Best Original Score for Jóhannsson…Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance…British Academy Film Award for Outstanding British Film, Best Leading Actor…and Best Adapted Screenplay…”)

People LIKE Hawking despite his disdain for the ordinary people on Earth. The thing is that Asimov liked PEOPLE – the ordinary people on Earth. He not only wrote books for adults, but books for kids with his wife (!) and letters and postcards, but he worked hard to make science understandable and to lift people up – though I can’t find any reference to Asimov’s involvement in something called “Isaac Asimov’s Super Quiz”, he must have given tacit approval otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to use his name. The fact that one of Hawking’s “elite” lent his name to a daily newspaper quiz that not only challenged people, but rewarded them by granting a PhD status if they answered the series of questions correctly.

While no one really believed that they were “that smart”, the fact that someone who WAS that smart might be granting them temporary equality with himself was psychologically positive.

Even Hawking admits, “Should we…reject these votes [for Britain exiting the EU and for electing Trump as president] as outpourings of crude populism that fail to take account of the facts, and attempt to circumvent or circumscribe the choices that they represent? I would argue that this would be a terrible mistake.”

Maybe someone should ask Stephen Hawking to attach his name to Hearst/King Features Syndicate’s Super Quiz daily shot of “brainpower” rather than joining the strident calls by people who clearly categorize themselves as "today’s elite" and demanding vote recounts? Anyone with any Stephen Hawking connections? As insignificant as it sounds, it may go a long way to making us ordinary people feel a bit more elite; thereby making us a bit more receptive to  “do something” about the issues Stephen Hawking finds so pressing.

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