Tags: George W. Bush | Neil deGrasse Tyson | George W. Bush | Islam | statements

Editor Slams Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson Over Bush Statements

Image: Editor Slams Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson Over Bush Statements
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Landov)

By    |   Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 01:46 PM

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson may be a famous scientist, but his "just so" stories aren't infallible, especially when he relies on "fuzzy material" to try to prove his positions of superiority, National Journal Editor Rich Lowry charges in an Politico Magazine opinion piece.

"In fairness to Tyson, it's always easy to fall for quotes that are too good to check and to rely on fuzzy material in speeches, especially when you are playing for laughs," Lowry writes. "But when you are assuming a position of intellectual superiority based on your rigor, it’s especially important to resist these tendencies [which should be resisted, regardless]."

Referring to a column by Sean Davis of the new conservative website, The Federalist, Lowry points out that Tyson's stories are made to make himself and his audience "feel superior to the dolts who aren't nearly as scientific as he is."

Davis slammed Tyson for using an erroneous quote about former President George W. Bush during a talk at an event, The Amazing Meeting, which bills itself as "the leading conference in the world focused on scientific skepticism."

During the conference, Tyson claims that after Sept. 11, Bush asserted superiority over Muslims by saying, "Our God is the God who named the stars."

He then says the God of all religions are the same, and then claims that most stars actually have Arabic names.

Tyson took to Facebook to explain his stance, but Lowry writes that Tyson used erroneous quotes and facts to place the blame on Bush.

Tyson did allow that Bush did not know him yet, so he couldn't call him to get the final word on how wrong his statement of Islam was.

"This is an entertaining story, especially if you’re really tickled by how much smarter Tyson is than lesser mortals who don’t host TV shows popularizing science," said Lowry.

"Evidently, no one yucking it up over this story knew enough to wonder how it possibly could be true. It’s only remotely believable if you are completely ignorant of Bush’s posture in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11."

Bush, points out Lowry, vouched for Islam and called for tolerance, saying that "the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war."

There were no taunts about the Muslim God not naming stars, said Lowry. However, the dubious quote actually came from a tribute to the astronauts who were killed in the 2003 Columbia disaster.

At that time, Bush quoted from Isaiah, adding "the same creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today," writes Lowry.

But Tyson's "evasive, condescending point-by-point" Facebook reply did not solve any issues.

"One of our mantras in science is that the absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence," Tyson replied.

Tyson's followers have been working to keep the controversy from his Wikipedia page, as they are "less skeptics than worshippers," said Lowry.

But Tyson's science isn't the point, said Lowry, but instead, it's that "anyone who believes in physics must adhere to a progressive secularism; that anyone not on board is — to borrow from the accusations of Tyson's defenders — guilty of anti-intellectualism, climate 'denial' and racism."

The controversy on the Bush quote, says Lowry, "reminds us that the self-styled champions of science are, like anyone else, prone to sloppiness, pomposity and error. Just don’t tell the adherents of the Tyson cult. It’s not polite to scandalize the faithful."

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Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson's "just so" stories aren't infallible, especially when he relies on "fuzzy material" to try to prove his positions of superiority, National Journal Editor Rich Lowry charges in an Politico Magazine opinion piece.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, George W. Bush, Islam, statements
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Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 01:46 PM
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