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Neil DeGrasse Tyson Faces Sharp Backlash For His Insensitive Response To Mass Shootings

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Faces Sharp Backlash For His Insensitive Response To Mass Shootings
Santiago Felipe/Getty Images, @CassavaKid/Twitter

The nation is reeling after mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, left at least 31 dead, and dozens more injured in just a matter of hours.

In response to the attacks, noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson opted to point out various statistics about death tolls from other more common killers like car accidents and medical errors.

He shared the data with the message:

"Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data."

Tyson's response was quickly met with criticism, as many pointed out that spouting out data points doesn't translate well with a tragedy of this magnitude.

Many pointed out that certain causes of death are bound to cause a greater emotional response.

Needless to say, Tyson lost a lot of respect with his tweet.


Following the backlash, Tyson took to Facebook to issue an apology, saying, in part:

"My intent was to offer objectively true information that might help shape conversations and reactions to preventable ways we die. Where I miscalculated was that I genuinely believed the Tweet would be helpful to anyone trying to save lives in America."
"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."

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. I am therefore thankful for the candor and depth of critical reactions shared in my Twitter feed."
"As an educator, 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."

Not everyone was impressed with the apology, though.


Whether or not he was technically correct regarding his facts, Tyson will undoubtedly think twice before responding to tragedies of this nature in the future.

Because, as we all know, the internet never forgets.

Need to work on your empathy? The book The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life's Most Essential Skill is available here.