deGrasse Tyson, tweet, shootings
Neil deGrasse Tyson visited with Goddard's Space Flight Center Director Chris Scolese and the James Webb Space Telescope team in 2014. He has gained popularity as a public figure and scientist, but his recent tweet, along with allegations against him for sexual harassment and assault, are causing people to criticize him. (Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr)

TV Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson Faces Backlash for Tweets About Mass Shootings

Famous television astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is under fire for a tweet he made about this past weekend’s mass shootings that many are condemning for being insensitive in the wake of these tragedies.

On Aug. 4, he tweeted statistics of other major, preventable causes of death in the U.S., comparing the numbers to the 34 who were murdered in the weekend’s mass shootings.

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“Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data,” he said.

People immediately commented, criticizing deGrasse Tyson for implying the problem of gun violence in the U.S. is not as severe as other causes of death.

Actor Josh Gad retweeted, adding, “I genuinely love you Neil, but I have to ask how someone so smart can say something this dumb,” to which another user commented, “A complete lack of empathy and an enormous ego. Knowing about stars doesn’t make you a decent human.”

Other users highlighted the false equivalence between mass shootings — intended to spark terror — and events like car accidents and the flu.

“No one person caused 500 medical errors. No one person caused 200 vehicle deaths,” one user said. “No one person committed 200 suicides. No one person killed 40 people with a handgun. One asshole with a high powered rifle killed 20 people in El Paso. See the f—— difference.”

The following day, deGrasse Tyson posted an apology to his tweet on Facebook, but commenters called it out as being half-baked.

“My intent was to offer objectively true information that might help shape conversations and reactions to preventable ways we die,” he said. “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.”

DeGrasse Tyson, who is popular for following in astrophysicist Carl Sagan’s footsteps in bringing the universe to a mainstream audience through entertainment, recently returned to television after allegations against him of sexual harassment and assault surfaced.

Last year, four women came forwards with accounts of deGrasse Tyson making unwanted advances toward them. One of the four alleged her raped her in the ’80s. DeGrasse Tyson denied these claims, and both the Fox and National Geographic networks said they launched independent investigations into the claims.

In March, the networks announced deGrasse Tyson would be returning to TV with new episodes of his shows “StarTalk” and “Cosmos.”  However, they did not release details about the investigations.

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