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DeGrasse Tyson's Apology Gets Bashed, Too

Astrophysicist says data was 'true but unhelpful'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2019 8:27 AM CDT
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In this Sept. 9, 2017 file photo, Neil Degrasse Tyson arrives at night one of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Neil deGrasse Tyson has apologized for his "true but unhelpful" tweet following mass shootings that killed at least 31 people in 48 hours—though some feel the apology is just as lacking in empathy. DeGrasse Tyson's Sunday tweet listed the greater average number of preventable deaths from car accidents, flu, and suicide across a 48-hour period, noting, "Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data." "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," the astrophysicist wrote in a Monday Facebook post, per Fox News. He added, "So if you are one of those people, I apologize for not knowing in advance what effect my Tweet could have on you."

"Ooh. Not good," writes Justin Bariso at Inc, who translates that last sentence as, "I'm sorry I couldn't tell the future. And that I couldn't foresee that a few oversensitive people wouldn't be able to handle the truth." Zack Sharf at IndieWire similarly reads between the lines of this quote from deGrasse Tyson: "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." According to Sharf, deGrasse Tyson "appeared to be apologizing more for causing a controversial reaction than for what he actually wrote." DeGrasse Tyson did clarify his aim, however. "My intent was to offer objectively true information that might help shape conversations and reactions to preventable ways we die," he wrote. "I genuinely believed the Tweet would be helpful to anyone trying to save lives in America." (Read more Neil deGrasse Tyson stories.)

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