“Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.” -Neil deGrasse Tyson
Last week, millions of people across the United States got to experience the awe and wonder of a total solar eclipse, many for the very first time. But in a puzzling event, astrophysicist and one of the world’s most famous science communicators, Neil deGrasse Tyson, decided to use his fame to put down a great many people who were excited about this rare cosmic event. And sadly, when someone explained to him why they would (correctly) say that eclipses are rare, Tyson doubled-down with condescension.
Coming from anyone, this would be a damnable act of gatekeeping: using your own position as an expert within your field to make it less accessible for others. But from America’s most famous living astrophysicist, it’s inexcusable. If science is about anything, it’s about the joy and pleasure of finding things out; of learning about the Universe; of increasing your knowledge; of experiencing the wonder of existence itself.