WHY SCIENCE (AND SCIENTISTS) MATTER

Right-Wing Radio Host Neal Larson Falls For Clickhole Story About Neil deGrasse Tyson


HUFFINTON POST
August 2106
Ed Mazza

A conservative radio host fell for a story about world-famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson that recently appeared on a parody website. 
Neal Larson of KID News Radio in Idaho Falls, Idaho, called Tyson a “horse’s astrophysicist” for supposedly mocking a 12-year-old girl who said she wanted to live on Jupiter. 
“He ridiculed her in the midst of a crowd, then later, several times, on Twitter,” Larson wrote in a column for the Times-News. “That told me everything I needed to know about Neil deGrasse Tyson.”
Just one problem: It never happened. 
The story Larson was referring to came from Clickhole, a satirical “clickbait” website run by The Onion, which itself operates on parody. 
Oops. 
Larson’s column ripping Tyson appeared on the Times-News website. The paper also published Tyson’s response setting the record straight on all of the factual errors Larson made. 
And here's Neil DeGrasse Tyson's reply:
Famed astrophysicist calls out Idaho columnist
Hello, Neal.
First, I’ll forgive you for not spelling your name correctly.
Second, and more importantly, I don’t mind being labeled a horse’s astrophysicist (I see what you did there), provided it’s based on factual information. So what we must do is subtract the false information from your article, and then re-assess what name you choose to call me. If it still justifies “horse’s astrophysicist,” then so be it.
1) FYI: The cosmic perspective is all about having a second look at what, on the surface appears to be important, special, ego-boosting, etc. The Olympic medal count is not immune from this analysis. In fact an even better measure is medals per GDP per capita. This will tell you how efficiently and effectively a country is spending its wealth on athletic excellence. The tweet, though based only on population, was a playful plea that we could be winning even more medals than we are.
2) I am agnostic, and actively disavow the atheist label:
3) People who deny human-induced climate change are badly misinformed. This position is neither politically liberal nor conservative. It’s factual. Although one could argue that all those who want to preserve the environment are the real conservatives in this discussion.
4) You use “liberal” as a tag to characterize my politics. Since I have no active public political position, that’s a hard task to accomplish. Climate change deniers are misinformed. But so are people who think vaccines give you autism. And so are people who think genetically modified foods are bad for you. These science-denying postures cross political boundaries, as I clumsily attempted to convey recently on Bill Maher.
5) The “incident” with a 9-year-old girl never happened. It looks to be a hoax. No such tweets ever existed on Nov. 29, 2015, or on any other day. My only tweet on Nov. 29, 2015, as my followers can attest, and as anyone can see from scrolling my Twitter page was: “Starship Enterprise versus Millennium Falcon. Oh yeah, I went there https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMH1vDDd1xc

6) I am three-times appointed by President George W. Bush, serving on commissions to advise him on the future of the American aerospace industry, on NASA, and on the annual Presidential Medal of Science winners. So your disapproval of my views is not shared by others on the conservative spectrum.
7) Lastly: My research output as a scientist is not hidden. You can find it here, if you are interested:http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/curriculum-vitae
So you abrogated your journalistic integrity by not verifying what you read in somebody else’s article, before using it as a foundational pillar in yours.
So when you factor in (or simply subtract) all these elements from your write-up, if what remains still justifies labeling me a horse’s astrophysicist, then, as I said, I’m OK with that.
Respectfully Submitted,
Neil deGrasse Tyson
New York City
P.S. FYI: I have relatives who live in Idaho. And I’ve loved every visit. Last they visited me, prompted this tweet:
“Nephew from Idaho, puzzled by locks on my NYC apt door. I asked, Don’t you have locks at home? He replied, No, just Shotguns.”
PS: Here's the latest on the Larson/Tyson spat.  And it didn't go well for the conservative online columnist. 

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