tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018
  • Home

Neil deGrasse Tyson, serial fabulist

Neil deGrasse Tyson might be a scientist, but he seems to have only a nodding acquaintance with the truth. Having previously analyzed Tyson’s routine pretzelizing of quotes and outright fabrication of events to suit his narrative of the moment, Sean Davis (The Federalist) returned mercilessly — because none was warranted — to the topic Tuesday.

Davis was righteously inspired by Tyson’s regurgitating of a favorite lie he tells about George W. Bush, most recently Sunday during a presentation at the Paramount Theater in deep-blue Seattle. The lie weaves in God, religion, bellicosity and prejudice, but most of all it involves stars.

As an astrophysicist, celebrity director of the Hayden Planetarium and host of National Geographic’s “Cosmos” TV series, you have to figure, when it comes to stars, Tyson is going to know what he’s talking about. Right? Turns out, he’s not even close.

As Davis takes it apart and pieces it back together, Tyson has, for the low purpose of striking a nasty political blow in front of a gullible audience, twisted a bit of heartfelt poetry spoken by a mournful president in the wake of the Columbia space shuttle disaster into Bush taking a bigoted jab at Earth’s 1.2 billion Muslims. Tyson’s achievement was, to say no more, a vicious, gratuitous slander.

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. ...

TYSON: “Here’s what happens. George Bush, within a week of [the 9/11 terrorist attacks] gave us a speech attempting to distinguish we from they. And who are they? These were sort of the Muslim fundamentalists. And he wants to distinguish we from they. And how does he do it?

“He says, ‘Our God’ — of course it’s actually the same God, but that’s a detail, let’s hold that minor fact aside for the moment. Allah of the Muslims is the same God as the God of the Old Testament. So, but let’s hold that aside. He says, ‘Our God is the God’ — he’s loosely quoting Genesis, biblical Genesis — ‘Our God is the God who named the stars.’ ”

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s story has three central claims: 1) Bush uttered that precise phrase, 2) in the days immediately after 9/11, 3) in order to distance American religion from that practiced by radical Muslims.

As you have probably already guessed, every single claim is false. Every one! Then there’s Tyson’s aside that Bush’s quote was a “loose quote” of the book of Genesis. Yep, that’s false, too. Add embarrassing biblical illiteracy to Tyson’s list of accomplishments on his CV.

First off, Bush never uttered the quote attributed to him by Tyson. He did, however, include a separate but similar phrase in a February 2003 speech immediately following the Columbia space shuttle disaster:

“In the skies today we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can see, there is comfort and hope. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of His great power, and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.’

“The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home.”

I don’t have a Ph.D. in physics, but I’m pretty sure February 2003 did not happen in the week after 9/11.

Tyson butchered the quote. He butchered the date. He butchered the context. He butchered the implication. And he butchered the biblical allusion, which was to the prophet Isaiah, not the book of Genesis (you can tell Bush was alluding to Isaiah because he explicitly said he was referencing Isaiah).

There’s more, and it’s worth the read, because Tyson’s seething need to invent ways to belittle others reveals him, instead, as a little, little man. Knowing this and, indeed, spreading the news, is important because, like so many darlings of the left, Tyson plays to large audiences and has a big, cheering, following, all of whom — presumably — revere his opinions and stupendous insights because they’re sure they rise from a bedrock of absolute fact.