Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tyson used a bogus quote to bash Bush

I am a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I thought that he avoided that mindless Republican bashing that is common among academic liberals. But apparently he has fabricates quotes for stupid political points:
According to Tyson, in the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bush uttered the phrase, “Our God is the God who named the stars.” According to Tyson, the president made that claim as a way of segregating radical Islam from religions like Christianity or Judaism.
Of course Bush never said it, and Tyson's story is completely false.

Lots of others claim that Bush lied about WMD or had God tell him to fight a war. What they don't do is supply an accurate quote to back up they claim.

Update: Tyson responds to a one of his misquotes:
Thanks for your interest in my work. Just some background: When I am invited to give a talk, especially to an audience that is not the general public, but to a specific gathering of people within a trade, I tune the contents for that audience, for that time, and for that place. So tone and flavor and context and intent are all key elements to any message I convey — all missing to anyone who was not present at the time.
These misquotes are not allowed on Wikipedia.

I don't know what is going on here. Maybe success is going to Tyson's head.

Update: A left-wing web site is rushing to Tyson's defense, and blaming conservatives:
The Right’s War on Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Cosmos host is widely despised by conservatives. Do they have a point, or are their complaints just anti-intellectualism run amok?

Celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has long been a despised figure among conservatives—and now the right is accusing him of being a “fabulist” and making up quotes.

The conservative website The Federalist ran a story last week saying Tyson had used a nonexistent newspaper headline and a fake quote from a member of Congress in a presentation. Tyson had been trying to argue that journalists and politicians don’t understand data.

In another post, the website’s Sean Davis pointed out inconsistencies in a story that Tyson has told at varying points about jury duty. A third post by Davis then took apart an anecdote Tyson told about George W. Bush, showing it to be false.

“The more I dug into it, the more I found a history of fabrication—to make points that he didn’t need fabrication to make,” Davis told The Daily Beast. “As someone who writes and publishes for a living, I take exception to people who go out and make money based on fabrication.” ...

Perhaps the philosophical difference between left and right on the nature of knowledge is key to understanding the disdain for Tyson.
Update: As of Sept. 27, Tyson is still refusing to admit that he made up the Bush quote, that Bush's actual statements were more nearly the opposite, that Tyson was trying to score cheap political points, that those points are entirely false, and that Tyson made up the other quotes as well. I was not looking for an apology. But now I know that he has a disregard for the facts when he tells personal anecdotes.

1 comment:

  1. Roger,

    If Neil deGrasse Tyson is comfortable distorting or fabricating historical fact for his short term political convenience, and this has actually been shown to be the case on numerous occasions, then he is not a very good scientist. Neil appears to be a true believer in his 'causes'. It has been my observation that when a true believer has a political 'advocacy' at odds with a facts, the facts almost always lose.