Neil deGrasse Tyson slammed on social media for response to America's mass shootings
Neil deGrasse Tyson has become a household name of sorts as the TV personality behind the show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. He's effectively our modern day Carl Sagan.
But one of his most recent tweets has caused a furore on social media. Soon after the El Paso shooting, the astrophysicist compared the number of those who die from medical error to those who die from mass shootings. His tweet read:
"In the past 48 hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings. On average, across any 48 hrs, 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."
People were quick to jump at him, pointing out that there's a single shooter in mass shootings. Another mentioned the incredible difference between shooting as an act of terrorism, and a car crash or medical error - which are both accidents.
Hours later, Neil deGrasse Tyson posted an apology to Facebook. Though, this post also garnered its fair share of criticism. It reads:
"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."
"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."
One person commented on the 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?"