Neil DeGrasse Tyson Ripped For Tweet On Mass Shooting Deaths, So He Apologizes. Then This Happens.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a big-picture guy.

He is, after all, an astrophysicist and, for the last two decades, he’s been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City.

But he opened up a galaxy-sized can of worms this weekend when he weighed in on the two mass shootings that occurred, one in El Paso, Texas, the other in Dayton, Ohio.

“In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings,” Tyson posted on Twitter. “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.”

Sure, it all might have been “too soon,” but Tyson was making a point: A lot of people die every 48 hours, many of them for senseless reasons and in senseless ways. (For example, sporadic shootings in Baltimore and St. Louis and Chicago over the weekend took twice as many lives as the mass attacks in Texas and Ohio.)

Twitter, of course, went nuts.

One guy captured the mood in a single profane tweet.

“Wow, just wow. That makes the shootings, OK then. Their innocent dead bodies arriving at the morgues are just statistics. Everything explained then. You’re so smart. FUCK YOU soulless asshole. This is the most heartless tweet in history of social media. Congratulations….”

So Tyson did what they all do: He apologized.

“My intent was to offer objectively true information that might help shape conversations and reactions to preventable ways we die,” Tyson wrote in his apology Monday morning on Facebook.

“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.

“So if you are one of those people, I apologize for not knowing in advance what effect my Tweet could have on you,” Tyson wrote.

But that didn’t suffice, either.

A Facebook user, Kellie Gerardi, wrote in the comments on his post: “The depth of your reflection in this note is offensively shallow. You used data to draw a false equivalence with unfathomably hurtful timing, and your arrogance has you doubling down with ‘true but unhelpful’. Why even bother with a note?”

“I find it incredulous that an intellectual such as Neil deGrasse Tyson would be so unwittingly tone deaf at a time like this,” wrote another Facebook user named Andrew Smith. “Which makes his attempt at an apology rather disingenuous.”

A couple celebrities came out, too, including actor Josh Gad.

Tyson can’t win for losing.



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