Recently, a right-wing talk show host named Neal Larson wrote a scathing article attempting to paint celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as nothing more than a demented bully who likes to pick on little girls.
The radio host criticized deGrasse Tyson for a number of things, such as tweeting this:
The USA has 3x as many Olympic golds as Hungary, but 30x the population. Adjusting for this, Hungary is kicking our ass.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 12, 2016
Larson then let his haterade flow freely as he accused deGrasse Tyson of being “anti-American.”
“Surely he must be a hit at parties. I don’t know how he does it, but Tyson manages to simultaneously be both an astrophysicist … and a jackass. What, precisely, is he attempting to do other than spew out a drive-by pot shot at America, with a fourth-grade math observation mixed in? If this is the arithmetic of an astrophysicist, I’ll tell my 10-year-old to just be snarky and anti-American as well, and she too could be the next overpaid, unscrutinized, and overestimated academic fawned over by the media and the left,” wrote Larson.
He accused the popular astrophysicist of being a left-wing atheist whose scientific intellect is overrated.
Larson accused deGrasse Tyson of mocking a little girl for saying “she’d like to live on Jupiter.” Larson wrote:
I’ve listened to Neil deGrasse Tyson before. And what I observe is a smart guy who consistently enjoys asserting his intellectual supremacy over others more than he actually likes educating. In one of his worse moments, Tyson mocked a 12-year-old girl who suggested she’d like to live on Jupiter. He ridiculed her in the midst of a crowd, then later, several times, on Twitter. That told me everything I needed to know about Neil deGrasse Tyson.
For that moment he was just a horse’s astrophysicist.
The host was probably expecting an interesting debate in his article’s comments section, however, he probably didn’t expect Dr. deGrasse Tyson himself to be the first person to comment. Pay special attention to number five.
“First, I’ll forgive you for not spelling your name correctly.
Second, and more importantly, I don’t mind being labeled a horse’s astrophysicist (I see what you did there), provided it’s based on factual information. So what we must do is subtract the false information from your article, and then re-assess what name you choose to call me. If it still justifies “horse’s astrophysicist”, then so be it.
1) FYI: The cosmic perspective is all about having a second look at what, on the surface appears to be important, special, ego-boosting, etc. The Olympic medal count is not immune from this analysis. In fact an even better measure is medals per GDP per capita. This will tell you how efficiently and effectively a country is spending its wealth on athletic excellence. The Tweet, though based only on population, was a playful plea that we could be winning even more medals than we are.
2) I am agnostic, and actively disavow the atheist label:
3) People who deny human-induced climate change are badly misinformed. This position is neither politically Liberal nor Conservative. It’s factual. Although one could argue that all those who want to preserve the environment are the real conservatives in this discussion.
4) You use “Liberal” as a tag to characterize my politics. Since I have no active public political position, that’s a hard task to accomplish. Climate change deniers are misinformed. But so are people who think vaccines gives you autism. And so are people who think genetically modified foods are bad for you. These science-denying postures cross political boundaries, as I clumsily attempted to convey recently on Bill Maher.
5) The “incident” with a 9yr old girl never happened. It looks to be a hoax. No such tweets ever existed on November 29th, 2015, or on any other day. My only tweet on November 29, 2015 (as my followers can attest, and as anyone can see from scrolling my Twitter page was:
So you abrogated your journalistic integrity by not verifying what you read in somebody else’s article, before using it as a foundational pillar in yours.
6) I am 3x appointed by President George W. Bush, serving on commissions to advise him on the future of the American aerospace Industry, on NASA, and on the annual Presidential Medial of science winners. So your disapproval of my views is not shared by others on the conservative spectrum.
7) Lastly: my research output as a scientist is not hidden. You can find it here, if you are interested: http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/curriculum-vitae
So when you factor in (or simply subtract) all these elements from your writeup, If what remains still justifies labeling me a horses astrophysicist, then, as I said, I’m okay with that.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, New York City
It gets even better. Larson’s allegation was derived from a satirical website called Clickhole. Which included fake tweets attributed to deGrasse Tyson.
In his article, Larson said, “let me concede honestly that Neil deGrasse Tyson is no doubt smarter than I am.”
At that point, it would have been a great idea to stop writing, because what he brought upon himself was an epic intellectual beatdown that made him look like a drooling idiot.
And the moral of this story is if you’re going to go after Neil deGrasse Tyson, make sure you do your homework first or prepare for the razor-tongued astrophysicist to bring the pain.
Featured image via YouTube.