Television: “Closer to Truth”

PBS has a well-deserved reputation for interesting but often intellectual TV. For me, that’s not a bad thing at all, indeed, I love a lot of it’s programming and I want to call attention to one the programs there, Closer to Truth.

Image of spiral galaxy from the Hubble space telescopeCreated, produced, and hosted by Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn, this is a fascinating series following one man’s journey through the topics of Cosmos, Consciousness, God.  Take any of those any you’ve literally got a big topic to deal with–all three might seem to be ludicrously large. Somehow, however, Dr. Kuhn manages it just fine. Dr. Kuhn is a world-class author, expert on China, life-long man of faith (Jewish), well known in the world of music and investment banking and creator of the Kuhn Foundation. A more eclectic background would be hard to imagine.

The program has been running for the last two years and continues to run on PBS. A new season is reportedly going to start this year and I’m looking forward to that.  Prior episodes are available for viewing on the site linked above and there’s a complete program guide there. More background information can be found on the Wikipedia page.

These are highly personal programs where Kuhn explores the big ideas that fascinate him–yeah, me too. He asks questions like “Does evil in the world disprove God exists?”, “What is consciousness?”, “Why is there Something instead of Nothing”, and “Why is the universe so big?”  Naturally, questions like these aren’t really going to get definitively answered in the program.  But that’s not his goal; his goal is simply to get “Closer to Truth”.

Along the way he talks to an enormous variety of impressive thinkers around the world. Indeed the program is, essentially, a  set of interviews on a theme with Kuhn’s commentary to link them.  If you’re like me, you’ve heard of some but not the majority. Yet I found all of them interesting, exceptionally qualified and they clearly share Kuhn’s passion and intense curiosity. Some of them hold very different views from mine (or Kuhn’s) but that’s fine because I don’t mind having mine challenged, enlarged or even modified by someone who has thought about all this stuff and come to different conclusions.

As television this is also a good show, but not great. What appears in any one episode are clips taken from much larger interviews and I often wish he’d spend more time with one particularly good person. The show is also shot with a dark “feel” to it. Many of the interior shots are dark enough to obscure some of the details–not sure if he’s trying to create a mysterious feel to it or what but I often wish someone would turn on a light.

Still, those are nits. This is high-octane fuel for the brain and highly recommended.

If these sorts of questions and discussion appeal to you in the slightest, I urge you to try it. Your brain will thank you!


About Dick Knisely

Science-guy, engineer, father, grandfather, husband -- yeah, I'm all of those things. I author this blog to share things I care about and you might care about, too. I hope you do and that you'll join in to share things you care about.
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3 Responses to Television: “Closer to Truth”

  1. Eddie says:

    Dick – I have a dim notion that you described this to me a while back. This is WAY up my alley – I will set up the DVR, and thanks!

  2. Pingback: Are we alone in the universe? « Thinking about thinking

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