Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose personal tagline should be “In space, nobody can hear you consent”, used his purportedly big brain to play Captain “Well, Actually” and #tooktotwitter to offer his perspective on the carnage that took place in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend. Neil’s tweet was callous, pedantic, and irrelevant in equal measures, and he then had the nerve to be surprised when Twitter collectively told him he could shove it up his ass. Neil’s tweet was the scientific equivalent of thoughts and prayers, only hollower and more meaningless.
While Neil is an astrophysicist, I guess he thinks that makes him qualified to opine on all of the sciences including psychology, statistics, and buffoonery. Here’s what Neil had to contribute to the national conversation on gun violence.
In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings.
On average, across any 48hrs, we also lose…
500 to Medical errors
300 to the Flu
250 to Suicide
200 to Car Accidents
40 to Homicide via Handgun
Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 4, 2019
As you can imagine, Neil’s All Deaths Matter take went over about as well as a lead balloon, which came a shock to Neil. Using the same Facebook platform he used to explain the sexual harassment and rape accusations against him that resurfaced last year, Neil posted a note explaining his ill-considered, moronic tweet. He also offered an “apology” which is as far from a real apology as Pluto is from the sun. Neil paraphrased his own tweet, then offered the following explanation (via Facebook):
My intent was to offer objectively true information that might help shape conversations and reactions to preventable ways we die. Where I miscalculated was that I genuinely believed the Tweet would be helpful to anyone trying to save lives in America. What I learned from the range of reactions is that for many people, some information –-my Tweet in particular — can be true but unhelpful, especially at a time when many people are either still in shock, or trying to heal – or both.
Ground control to Major Neil. Somebody hasn’t been eating their full ration of protein pills. And his subsequent apology makes me think he went on a space walk up his own ass.
So if you are one of those people, I apologize for not knowing in advance what effect my Tweet could have on you. I am therefore thankful for the candor and depth of critical reactions shared in my Twitter feed. As an educator, I personally value knowing with precision and accuracy what reaction anything that I say (or write) will instill in my audience, and I got this one wrong.
I’d try to summon up the energy for at least one more pithy insult if I wasn’t so tired. Sick, sad, and tired. So I’ll let Smash Mouth do the honors.
FUCK OFF!!!! There's your data!!!!
— Smash Mouth (@smashmouth) August 4, 2019