Starts With A Bang

No, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Squashing Curiosity And Wonder Is Never Okay (Synopsis)

Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the greatest science communicators in the world today. But even he has his 'teachable moments.' Image credit: Big Think.

“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.

A selection of Tweets from Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter, along with responses to that Tweet and select responses from him. Image credit: lregaloni from Reddit / Twitter.

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.

The entire path of totality across Earth’s surface, for the August 21, 2017 eclipse. Only 0.26% of the surface experienced totality. Image credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

This can be a teachable moment for you, Neil. You may have had a poor moment where you behaved as the definition of pomposity, but it’s never too late to make it right.