PRODUCT REVIEW

Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass Review (2021): Is it Worth it?

Kevin Kessler
November 3, 2021

Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass review synopsis

What you’ll learn: You’ll learn Through 13 video lessons, world-renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson walks you through scientific thinking. You’ll learn how to identify objective truth and how to communicate those truths effectively.

How long does the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass take?: If you watch all 13 video lessons, the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass should take you 2 hours and 14 minutes to complete.

Similar courses: If you enjoy the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass, you might also appreciate the following courses: Chris Hadfield, Matthew Walker, N.K. Jemisin, Dr. Jane Goodall

Recommendation: I absolutely recommend the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass. I found it to be very effective, showing me ways of thinking about the world that I had never considered before. More importantly, it teaches you how to communicate effectively with people who might be biased against your point.

Check out the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass for yourself and think like a scientist

Have you ever started something thinking that it would be one thing, but it turned out to be something else entirely? If so, how many times have you found yourself truly enjoying that thing which you didn’t even know you were signing up for?

This was my experience with the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass.

I signed up for this course believing that I would learn all about the mysteries of the universe from one of the premier voices in the scientific community. I clicked on this MasterClass, expecting to learn about black holes, the demotion of Pluto, and the potential for alien life somewhere out there in the cosmos.

What I got was a thoughtful, fascinating, and above all else, useful class that taught me to identify and communicate objective truths.

Spoiler alert: I loved this class, and honestly, I think you will too.

In this review, we’ll break down exactly what the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass offers, how much it costs, and if it’s worth two hours of your life.

Disclosure: In the interest of full transparency, Codeless uses affiliate links in our MasterClass reviews to cover our site’s costs.

Our Verdict

While this MasterClass was rather short and not about space, Neil deGrasse Tyson gives you a lot of practical information that you can use to appreciate objective truths (or scientific truths) in the world and communicate them with others.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Masterclass Learn Scientific Thinking & Communication

$15 /month
  • Neil doesn’t teach you what he knows; he teaches you how to think like him.
  • Through personal stories, you get to know him better as a person.
  • If you want to start a career in science, it gives you the building blocks, takeaway positions and practice problems
  • Effective for anyone who ever has to communicate with others (AKA everyone).
  • Doesn’t feel overly scripted.
  • Can really have a profound effect on how you view the world.
  • Makes great use of the time, packing a lot of information into a short period.
  • It’s not about space. If that’s what you want, you won’t find it here.
  • Static setting. He never moves from his chair or changes the scenery. While there are some cinematic visuals, there aren’t many.
  • Neil speaks slow enough where 1x speed can make this course drag. However, he also speaks fast enough where 2x speed sounds absolutely crazy.
  • Super short compared to other MasterClasses, clocking in at just over two hours.

A few frequently-asked questions…

Let’s start by answering some frequently asked questions about this course:

Do I need a subscription to access the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass?

Yes, as with all MasterClass courses, you will need to purchase a subscription through MasterClass.com to access Tyson’s MasterClass.

How long is the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass?

This MasterClass is composed of 13 videos, which altogether total 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Does MasterClass have a cancellation policy?

There is a 30-day money-back guarantee offered on all MasterClass subscriptions.

Is the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass worth it?

I firmly believe that the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass is worth the price of a MasterClass subscription. You’ll learn how to be more open-minded and think like a scientist, but the real value lies in his lessons on communication skills.

Learn how to communicate effectively in the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass

About Neil deGrasse Tyson

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson wears many hats (metaphorically). He is an influential astrophysicist, an author of bestselling books, director of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium, a planetary scientist, and a science communicator.

Dr. Tyson is perhaps the most well-known scientist in the world. He’s made multiple appearances on popular television talk shows where he promotes scientific literacy by breaking down huge achievements in space exploration in a way that most non-scientists can understand.

Neil deGrasse Tyson being interviewed by late-night host Stephen Colbert
Neil deGrasse Tyson is being interviewed by Stephen Colbert.

Through his role as a science communicator, Tyson has kind of become the face of American astrophysics, appearing in numerous documentaries and even hosting his own television show, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. He was also one of the driving forces behind demoting Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet.

He even appeared on more than one episode of the CBS hit comedy The Big Bang Theory, wherein the fictional scientist Dr. Sheldon Cooper states, “I liked Pluto, ergo I do not like you.”  

Dr. Tyson was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2004, the Klopsteg Memorial Award in 2007, and the Public Welfare Medal in 2015.

How much does the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass cost?

You don’t have to pay directly for the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass. Instead, it’s included in a MasterClass membership subscription. That means you can access the Neil deGrasse Tyson class along with every other course in the MasterClass catalog.

The cheapest MasterClass membership is the Standard Plan, which clocks in at $15 per month billed annually.

When using this plan, you can take any of the classes in the MasterClass catalog and watch them on one device at a time using a computer, TV, phone, or tablet.

All classes on this level include a workbook and bonus content. You’re also granted access to a members-only community forum.

The next subscription is the Plus Plan, which is a slight increase at $20 per month billed annually.

When you join this level, you’re going to get everything offered on the Standard Plan, along with the ability to take classes on two devices simultaneously. This is especially useful if you’re going to be sharing a membership with a friend or family member.

Plus Plan subscribers can also download videos for offline viewing on an iOS device.

The Premium Plan is MasterClass’s most expensive option, coming in at $23 per month billed annually.

When accessing the Premium Plan, you’re getting everything from the Plus Plan, along with the ability to watch classes on up to six simultaneous devices.

Choose the MasterClass subscription for you today

What is included in the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass?

Runtime: Two hours and 14 minutes

Course Value: 5/5

Lessons: 13

Supplementary materials: Downloadable course workbook

Supplementary workbook

The supplementary workbook for Neil deGrasse Tyson’s MasterClass is a worthy addition to the curriculum. It serves as a companion piece to all of Neil’s lessons, but there are a few extra tidbits sprinkled throughout, like this bit about Neil’s role in the demotion of Pluto.

A page from the MasterClass workbook detailing Neil deGrasse Tyson's role in the demotion of Pluto
An excerpt from Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book on his role in the demotion of Pluto.

There are sections included for every lesson, and it can be great for those who don’t want to take notes while listening to Neil’s lecture.

If I were to criticize the workbook, it would be to point out that there are no visual aids throughout. That means no images, charts, or anything of the like. Occasionally you get a pulled quote or a bulleted list to break up the monotony, but that’s about it.

An example page from the workbook for the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass
An example page from Neil deGrasse Tyson’s MasterClass.

It’s literally just a 24-page long wall of text, which can be intimidating for some students.

However, this bare-bones approach seems to match the feel of the class itself, as Neil is stationary in one location for the entire two hours.

The MasterClass Hub

When you take the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass, you also get access to the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass Hub. The hub is a community forum where students can come together to discuss the courses and form a community around the class.

Breaking down the hub for the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass
Breaking down the hub for the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass.

In this shared space, students can share ideas, react to the class, and spitball a bit on the concepts discussed within.  

A complete breakdown of the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass curriculum

Neil deGrasse Tyson breaks his MasterClass down into 13 chapters or lessons. Here they are, in order, for your review.

Curriculum

  • What You Know is Not as Important as How You Think
  • The Frontier of Science
  • The Scientific Method
  • Be a Skeptic: Ask Questions
  • Cognitive Bias
  • Beware of Cultural Bias
  • Our Systems of Belief
  • Scientific Measurement: Calculating the Incalculable
  • Communication: It’s Not Enough to be Right
  • Preparing for Your Audience
  • Communication Tactics
  • Inspire Curiosity in Your Audience
  • The Future of Our World

Course summary:

The Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass is not long, clocking in at about a third of the length of larger odysseys like the Neil Gaiman MasterClass.

But Tyson does a lot with a little time.

The curriculum is broken down into 13 chapters, but I think it’s more accurate to say that the entire course is broken down into two parts.

First, Neil talks about how a person thinks. In other words, he teaches you how to communicate with yourself effectively. The first eight chapters focus on this, and it’s definitely time well spent.

Then, once you’ve learned all there is to know about internal communication, Tyson walks you through how to communicate externally with other people.

Let’s break these sections down.

A screenshot of Neil deGrasse Tyson lecturing in his MasterClass
A screenshot of Neil deGrasse Tyson lecturing in his MasterClass.

Internal communication

I found the sections dealing with internal communication fascinating because Tyson breaks down our thought processes in ways I had never considered before.

First, he talks about the concept of knowing something as it pertains to how you think. He encourages you to be skeptical, ask questions, and apply the scientific method to problem-solving.

Tyson also harps on letting go of your biases, which is essential for accepting objective truth.

This includes our societal biases — our belief that our country, our religion, or our moral code are somehow 100% correct and impervious to skepticism. Your personal truth isn’t necessarily the truth, and the negative bias that comes with such thinking can halt your growth.

He also talks about the nature of scientific experiments, noting how experiments are performed over and over again not to eliminate uncertainty completely, but to determine whether uncertainty grows or shrinks.

A screenshot of Neil deGrasse Tyson writing in a journal with a quill pen in his MasterClass
A screenshot of Neil deGrasse Tyson writing in a journal with a quill pen in his MasterClass.

External communication

When engaging with someone else, Neil teaches you how to apply scientific communication to effective communication.

This has a lot to do with knowing your audience. He says that you need to understand how your audience’s collective mind works if you want to communicate with them effectively. Just tearing down someone’s ideas is not productive, and that approach won’t win you many arguments.

Instead, Neil tailors his lectures and conversations to the person he’s speaking with, asking probing questions and offering nuggets of knowledge to help the person he’s communicating with coming to their own conclusions, free of bias.

A prompt to find more information in the workbook for the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass
A prompt to find more information in the workbook for the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass.

What I learned

As I mentioned before, I clicked on this class thinking I was about to learn the secrets of the universe.

Instead, it opened my mind and helped me appreciate good communication, which is the backbone of all connections, both personally and professionally.

When I realized that this wasn’t about space, I folded my arms, rolled my eyes, and set the video speed to double time.

Then I found myself nodding.

Then I leaned forward.

Then I slowed the speed down to normal.

I got more out of this class pertaining to scientific thought and communication than I would have gotten from a class about dark matter and black holes.

I’m never going to space. I’m never going to unravel the secrets that bind the universe together. I’m interested in that stuff, but it’s a lot of math that I’m not prepared to do.

However, I’m going to communicate with people who think differently from me every single day for the rest of my life. In that regard, this class was extraordinary and transformative.  

7 takeaways from this MasterClass

Here are my top 7 takeaways from this course:

1. The beauty of science is that one result is not the answer

Tyson explains this one with an interesting story. Scientists noticed that Uranus wasn’t obeying Newton’s law of planetary movement.

They then wondered, does Newton’s law apply to planets that far from the sun? The more likely scenario was that there might be another planet pulling on Uranus, causing it to behave in this way.

They pointed their telescopes to the right corner of the sky and discovered Neptune.

In another example, Mercury wasn’t behaving according to Newton’s law, so we assumed there was another planet closer to the sun pulling Mercury along. Scientists were so sure that they were right again, that this planet was even named (it was actually called Vulcan!).

Then along came Einstein’s theory of relativity, which showed us that the closer something gets to the sun’s extreme gravity, the more Newton’s law would be warped.

This was our new explanation as to why Mercury behaves the way it does. And we only got there because we accepted that there was more than one answer.  

2. You must be a skeptic and ask questions

Being a skeptic is not a bad thing. Skepticism eliminates bias, which blinds us to objective truths.

It’s important to note that skepticism isn’t an outright rejection of what you don’t want to be true. It’s questioning what you’re unsure of while being open to receiving valid proof.

3. The cosmic perspective

Tyson talks a lot about using the cosmic perspective to show that your ego is unjustified.

It actually resets what you think is important by looking at a grander scale. This can humble you in a good way while undoing cognitive bias — when we see patterns where there is nothing.

For example, we believe aliens would look human, but most life on Earth doesn’t even look human, so why would alien life?

We see what is familiar, but the universe doesn’t know about you or care about you.

4. Every measurement ever made and that ever will be made has uncertainties built into it

Measurements boil down to an approximation that you’re comfortable with.

For instance, when trying to define the length of one second, it was discovered that the Earth’s rotation is slowing down, which changed how we looked at the time. But we would have never known this had we just assumed all measurements were 100% accurate.

When our precision of measurement isn’t refined, things could be happening that we would never actually know.

5. If you’re right, but you can’t properly communicate your point, then you won’t get anywhere

This point really depends on your audience. You might be right when you flat-out tell someone that they’re wrong, but it’s not effective. Instead, you fit your information into their brain by understanding how their mind works and their biases.

Tyson says that your goal should not be to embarrass them or prove them wrong, but to make them say, “Wow, I never thought about it that way. Thank you.”

Your message is still your message, but the way in which you deliver that message is influenced by who you’re speaking to.

6. If you stimulate the curiosity of your audience, they will learn more on their own

When you just tell someone all the information about a topic, they will forget it quickly. But if you pique their curiosity, you can encourage them to do their own research and become an expert on their own.

7. What seems useless today can be important tomorrow

Work on quantum physics started in the 1920s, and people were critical of it, believing it was a waste because there was no practical application of it at that time.

However, quantum physics is why we have the internet today. It led to the creation, storage, and retrieval of digital information.

To dive into more detail on these takeaways, plus much more, subscribe to MasterClass today

Memorable quotes from this MasterClass

“We are a participant in a great unfolding of cosmic events” 

– Lesson 1: What You Know is Not as Important as How You Think

“Science is…You have such a deep understanding of what’s going on you can make a prediction of something that has never happened before. That’s badass.”

  -Lesson 2: The Frontier of Science

“Understanding what is true does not or should not flow from authority.”

 – Lesson 4 – Be a Skeptic

“The power of a single person’s testimony has way more influence than it deserves on our thoughts and on our behaviors.” 

– Lesson 5 – Cognitive Bias

“The less connected you are to what is objectively true, the less likely you will be able to make decisions.” 

Lesson 7 – Our Systems of Beliefs

“It’s not enough to be right. You also have to be effective.” 

Lesson 8 – Communication

“The most important thing you can be in life is curious.”

–  Lesson 12 – Inspire Curiosity in Your Audience

Neil deGrasse Tyson Masterclass pros and cons

As with any class, the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass has its pros and cons.

Pros

There’s a lot to love about this course and, if you’re patient and listen, it can have a real impact on your life.

The pros of this MasterClass include:

  • Neil doesn’t teach you what he knows; he teaches you how to think like him.
  • Through personal stories, you get to know him better as a person.
  • If you want to start a career in science, it gives you the building blocks.
  • Effective for anyone who ever has to communicate with others (AKA everyone).
  • Doesn’t feel overly scripted.
  • Can really have a profound effect on how you view the world.
  • Makes great use of the time, packing a lot of information into a short period.

Cons

There are a few drawbacks to this class. Nothing in life is perfect.

Here are a few areas where this class might fall a little short:

  • It’s not about space. If that’s what you want, you won’t find it here.
  • Static setting. He never moves from his chair or changes the scenery. While there are some cinematic visuals, there aren’t many.
  • Neil speaks slow enough where 1x speed can make this course drag. However, he also speaks fast enough where 2x speed sounds absolutely crazy.
  • Super short compared to other MasterClasses, clocking in at just over two hours.

Do I recommend this MasterClass?

I absolutely recommend the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass. While short and not about space, it gives you a lot of practical information that you can use to appreciate objective truths (or scientific truths) in the world and communicate them with others.

Honestly, I feel as though this class alone and the opportunity to learn from Tyson’s brilliant mind is worth the price of a MasterClass subscription. Plus, you get every other quality class in the catalog.

To learn directly from Neil deGrasse Tyson, get a MasterClass subscription now