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Neil deGrasse Tyson Ripped Apart Over Shooting Tweet

He shared the 'data'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2019 12:01 AM CDT
FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2017 file photo, Neil deGrasse Tyson attends a fan event celebrating the release Kelly Clarkson's album "Meaning of Life" at YouTube Space New York in New York. A museum spokesman...   (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Like so many other Americans, Neil deGrasse Tyson took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to tweet about the El Paso and Dayton shootings. His words weren't well received. The astrophysicist wrote:

  • "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."
The Twitter backlash was swift. A roundup of responses, including some spotted by USA Today and Mediaite:

  • Science writer Yvette d'Entremont: "Just never thought I’d live to see Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining why deaths from white supremacists weren’t a big deal using math."
  • Science writer Shaena Montanari: "Imagine tweeting this and thinking it adds anything to intelligent discourse"
  • Sports journalist Rich Eisen: "Imagine going to the store or a bar and getting shot at or killed or having a loved one shot at or killed and a supposed genius tells 13 million people it’s all just a spectacle because, really, statistically, it’s not all that bad compared to other ways you could suddenly die."
  • Washington Post opinion writer Elizabeth Bruenig: "i think motive, avoidability and culpability are all forms of data that have perfectly logical emotional ramifications. you'd be angrier if somebody shot your kid than if your kid died of typhus, this is obvious and rational"
  • Sports reporter Kerith Burke: "Is the flu murder?"
  • Los Angeles Times editor Hector Becerra: "Was your brain abducted by aliens? You really have to scour the 'Cosmos' to find a take this tone deaf, dumb and weird."
  • Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts: "Cold take, Neil. 200+ Americans died from gun violence in the past 48 hours. And you list causes of death that are researched, regulated and also happen in other high income countries. Our gun violence crisis is preventable and senseless and driven by a special interest."
  • Author John Pavlovitz: "18 years ago we had a single shoe bomber who didn't kill anyone—and we completely altered airport screening for the country. Maybe we should respond to handgun deaths with that kind of urgency—and maybe you posting this is a slap in the face to 34 families planning funerals."
(Read more Neil deGrasse Tyson stories.)

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