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Neil deGrasse Tyson Tries to Put Mass Shootings in Perspective

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the celebrity astrophysicist, and media personality tried to offer some statistics on Twitter to put the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton in perspective. He tweeted:

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.

To say that Tyson’s statistics were not received well would be an understatement. Indeed, it could be safely said that more people became angry with him than at any time since he declared Pluto, not a planet.

One person calling himself or herself “#Berinie2020” summed up the feeling of the overwhelming number of people who responded to Tyson. “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. F— YOU soulless asshole. This is the most heartless tweet in the history of social media.”

Sometime later, Tyson offered a mea culpa of sorts on his Facebook page. It read, in part:

“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.”

Much of the reaction to the Facebook apology could be summoned up as “apology not accepted!”

As most people who have been following the news, Saturday a deranged man opened up on the parking lot of a Walmart and then entered the store to kill more people. He managed to murder 20 people and injure 26 before being apprehended. The shooter was described in the media as a white nationalist who had a particular beef against Hispanics. However, the so-called manifesto that was attributed to him also contained a rant about harm to the environment.

The Dayton shooter, who killed nine people, including his sister, near a local bar was described as a Satanist, an Antifa sympathizer, and a supporter of both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren/ He fired using a high capacity magazine for just 30 seconds before being killed by local police.

The Dayton shooter was expelled from his high school for drawing up a list of boys he would like to murder and girls he would like to rape. However, he was readmitted when he agreed to write letters to each of the people on his lists to apologize, a measure that many commentators found to be excessively mild in retrospect.

Reaction to the two mass murders that took place within the space of 12 hours was predictable and was divided along party lines. Democrats, including the presidential candidates, demanded that Congress immediately pass “common-sense gun laws.” They also blamed President Trump for the shootings, the theory is that his rhetoric, which many of his enemies have deemed to be “racist,” must have inspired these two deranged young men to shoot as many people as they could. Some Republicans blamed the shootings on violent video games, the idea being that the shooters must have been desensitized by killing virtual people on a video screen and therefore graduated to killing actual people with ease.

Tyson’s take on the incidents was unique, to say the least. Many of the people reacting to it found it to be excessively cold-blooded. Some were moved to point out the fact that Dr. Tyson had been accused of multiple cases of sexual harassment. He was “cleared” of the accusations and has been allowed to return to his position as the curator of the Haydon Planetarium and his jobs hosting Star Talk and the new version of Cosmos.

Tyson has been something of an intellectual troll on Twitter. Once he offered a tweet celebrating the birth of a famous person on December 25, that person being Sir Isaac Newton. He recently noted that the mission patch for the voyage of Apollo 11 did not contain an American flag, thus, in his view, an acknowledgment that the first moon landing was not solely an American accomplishment. Many pointed out that the patch does contain the American eagle.

However, considering the number and the vehemence to the shootings tweet, it can be safely said, as Tyson himself acknowledged, that he went too far this time.

Comments (30)

  1. He was right, and he shouldn’t have apologized. Look at Chicago under Democrat rule. It’s a horror show every single week, and nothing is done there.

  2. He stated it correctly “DERANGED” altho I must say mental illness is also a part of this. It’s not racist but mental. Just because you, I or any other person doesn’t care about someone does NOT make them racist. The shooter in El Paso wasn’t old enough to buy guns but somehow managed to get one. The shooter in Dayton had an illness that was proven when it was stated he had a list of people he wanted to kill and one of girls he wanted to rape., along with being kicked out of school for his actions. The fact here is people KNEW about this but did NOTHING in getting him the help he needed. It’s a shame that this is all being blamed on the President and Republicans but was stated that the ElPaso shooter WAS a DemoRAT until he did this and then somehow it got changed it to him being Republican. The Dayton shooter well he believed in hate and the groups that went with hate. Yes I am sorry this has happened and shouldn’t have. DemoRATS are full of hate, you can see that in the candidates running for office, the ones newly in office, “the Squad” and those in office for years. Needless to say there was another shooting that weekend in Chicago killing like 52 but you don’t hear about that because IT’S A DemoRATIC city. And of course Chicago is known for their killings. So where does it end? When EVERYONE in AMERICA can get along.

  3. Timing was bad, but message important: We do little to stop large numbers of very preventable deaths (ie. medical accidents) while we panic, demonstrate, write letters, hate each other, etc. etc. over relatively small non-preventable deaths (insane people with desire to kill).

  4. For all those idiots who jumped on Tyson, a message. He’s right! And he probably knows not why. If you are a Christian, you KNOW that your life may be taken at any time. But you KNOW also that your physical existence on Earth is just a long journey, and that your real “home” is Heaven, with your FATHER and Creator. I guess the “Pinkers” would have REALLY hemorrhaged had he mentioned the 3000 or so innocent BABIES who were MURDERED while those shootings were taking place? Yeah, you know what I’m saying. So…..will all you campaigning pinkers hug your husband a little longer? Kiss your kids before bed and then in the morning? Pray for their safety and, if “it” happens, their souls? And, while you’re being enraged at “guns”, would you initiate a murderous campaign against the instrument of death for 217 Americans a day who die from BEE and WASP Stings? How about those whose lives end because they were grounded when they plugged in that appliance and the short went through their bodies? Are the bees at fault? How about the toasters? Point is: Your rage against the “GUN” makes no sense. Sh!t happens in life! But I suppose it’s not a big deal until it’s sensationalized, and you have an agenda. Well, “Big Government” HAS an agenda, and you know it. It is GLOBALISM! And to take away the only REAL protection for your and My God-Given Rights will leave us wide open to be Englanded, or Swedened, or ISISed! So….what’s your choice? And BTW, what have YOU done to make Eric Holder PAY for “Fast and Furious”? How bout HIS complicity in MANY hundreds of murders because of it.

  5. Neil was trying to point out national statistics……………he was not downplaying the terrible tragedies of El Paso and Dayton.

  6. Being an intelligent, pragmatic individual, factual information plays a tremendous role in my life decisions. This is WHY I AM NOT, again, NOT A DEMOCRAT. I don’t watch cnn or msnbc, (America’s “Pravda”), lyin’ sacks of fecal matter.

  7. I agree with the perspective shown in Neil’s comment. It’s all true.

  8. Snotty little Democrats are so-o-o sophisticated and erudite.

  9. I suspect these people with 1/4 of an operating brain could be compared to someone bragging they read a book but only read the first and last pages. Our education system is about the same. The Education Dept. puts more emphasis on the number of days the school is opened that the number of students with scholastic achievements. Would it be too improper to notice the great lack of common sense is the culprit?

  10. Dr. Neil needs to mind his own business and clean out his own CLOSET at 1st. It was reported sometime ago that he is being paid also extras for other man to come to take care of him on the job/sexually. After the report it all QUIET DOWN conveniently. He is also a part of Globalist Agenda, Climate change and extermination of humanity. He is absolutely NO scientist to me if they can NOW or UNDERSTAND how CO2 is extremely important to our lives – humans, animals and so on. People like him will do anything for money to satisfy their own needs. And I am disgusted.

  11. As I have pointed out in other comments some one shoots 2or3 people and the out cry is ballistic in nature to have more laws regarding guns, but meanwhile someone with an automobile plows head on into another vehicle and kills 8 people, I hear no screaming for more control of Auto’s and drivers: I ask you where is the logic in this? A life is a life. W. Wibert

  12. Mr. Tyson:

    Given that you stated FACTS, facts being offensive to some people, NO APOLOGIES NECESSARY.

  13. Our Founding Fathers included the Second Amendment in the US Constitution to assure that US citizens would have the means (i.e. weapons at hand) to defend this country against tyranny, and not just to grant Americans the ability to defend themselves and their families. That cause and that primary purpose trumps any and all excuses the Leftists and misguided Conservatives are offering for limiting gun rights in the wake of the most recent mass shootings. The cries by the Left for gun control should be totally ignored by every patriotic American because their goal is to replace our Constitutional Republic with a Socialist Tyranny, and they cannot accomplish that “Marxist Transformation” if US citizens are armed!

  14. What are “common sense” gun laws? That description is meaningless! Anyone who repeats that is dishonest and about to commit a fraud on the people. We have a common sense gun law already. It is also called the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. What legislation would prevent this crime? What societal action would prevent similar incidents in the future? Have you heard anyone talk in these terms? All I hear in the news media can be summed up as very unpleasant flatulence.

  15. Regarding “Neil deGrasse Tyson Tries to Put Mass Shootings in Perspective”.

    Best for him to stay in science.

  16. It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness. It is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch
    of incredulity. It is the season of light, it is the season of darkness, it is the spring of hope, it is the winter of despair…. with apologies
    to Charles Dickens unforgettable ” A Tale of Two Cities!”

    So here we are again. Modern times but same old stuff. Stupid ill prepared individuals in a freedom based society growing up without “something” — you name it… I say God and a healthy understanding of what they are here to do. Certainly love not hate.

    I grew up in the 40’s and 50’s — pretty tough times with plenty of things to go wrong but still even watching the movies and the TV
    violence I never thought about what people are doing today. Still, I say we spend way to much time doing and training our youth to becoming the extreme opposite of what the scriptures show and tell us. So, we take the Scriptures and prayers out of our schools and follow instead what the Socialists-Communists preach. So, what do we expect. Yes, I know…. “The End Times!”
    Think about it…

  17. I appreciate the balanced views stated in this article. And that not just observations were made, but actual reasonable, right minded/cogent thinking was employed with the views.

    We need to keep our American minds and hearts intact. An intact mind has origins in a Plumb Line. Would like to see an article about that subject. Please consider…?

    Thank you

  18. He simply put the event into perspective. He said in his opening statement that the shootings were deplorable. Anyone with the brain of a pea and the common sense of a fool knows that Tyson did not belittle the tragic event! He simply compared it to other events that we pay no attention too thus making us “the public” out the to be the one that are missing his point. My father died in the Korean war but I do not hate Korean’s. I hate war. The shooter was sick and all killers are sick except in self defense. By the way
    the gun did not shoot for itself the sick person pulled the trigger.

    Rev John W. Lee Sr.

  19. There was no need to apologize for telling the truth. 40 to 50 people are shot or killed in a single weekend in Chicago . No one in power care because it is black on black killings. Let one white citizen get killed in a crowd of black people getting killed, suddenly everyone is up in arms about gun crimes,.Ban all guns. People kill with knives bombs poisonous gas en mass . Media needs to stop glorifying these sick mass murders. Giving out numbers so copycats can try to outdo the previous killer’s kill count, trying to get famous.

  20. Are you sure that tweet was originally to Dr Tyson? I seen that tweet several times by several Tweeters. Just saying…

  21. I think the anti-American neocon followers of there murderous activist king George Soros and Son are causing and paying for this knee jerk reaction by there PR companies to help them create the fascist state they love and want.

  22. Dr. Tyson is statistically correct. More people are killed in Chicago by deliberate killers than in mass shootings so where is the outrage? It should be much easier to drastically reduce the carnage in Chicago than to identify potential mass killers. This is not to say mass killers should not be addressed but let’s address the more productive areas first. It seems to me that politics is a big factor.

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