I am a huge fan of Neil DeGrasse Tyson going way back. And I appreciate his “tell it like it is” approach to science. But I was totally thrown by his tweet on Sunday where he appeared to compare mass shooting deaths to any other number of ways someone could die. As though we shouldn’t put any importance on it. Here, look.
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
Now he’s apologizing, but the damage has been done.
“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.”