Twitter attacked astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson for a tweet about the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, and he’s apologizing after being hit with a barrage of criticism.
On Sunday, deGrasse Tyson wrote: “In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings,on average, across any 48hrs, we also lose… 500 to Medical errors 300 to the Flu 250 to Suicide 200 to Car Accidents 40 to Homicide via Handgun.”
He added, “Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data.”
Mass shootings in the United States over the weekend have already claimed the life of 29 people and another 52 injured.
“Making a didactic if factually accurate point does not always equate to intelligent or productive discourse,” journalist Andrew Baggarly clapped back. “And this was neither intelligent nor productive. Disappointed to read this from you.”
“Imagine tweeting this and thinking it adds anything to intelligent discourse,” added another person.
Another said, “I think motive, avoidability and culpability are all forms of data that have perfectly logical emotional ramifications. you’d be angrier if somebody shot your kid than if your kid died of typhus, this is obvious and rational.”
“Can you also please quantify how fear affects our societies ability to function? Or the impact these deaths have on the family, friends, and communities of the victims? Or how it can inspire more acts?” someone else wrote. “Seriously, f**k off with this hot garbage comparison.”
Read more responses below, including a succinct NSFW comment from “All Star” band Smashmouth:
Following the backlash, on Monday Tyson took to Facebook to apologize.
“My intent was to offer objectively true information that might help shape our conversations and reactions to preventable ways we die,” he explained.
“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 continued.
“So if you are one of those people, I apologize for not knowing in advance what effect my Tweet could have on you,” he added. “I got this one wrong.”