Just a few days into the Olympics, the steadily updated medal count proved it was clear Rio was going to turn out to be a good year for the United States. My short moment of American pride was swiftly interrupted, though, by the conditioned realization that liberals would start finding ways to either dismiss or apologize to everyone for it. Because in any progressive’s world besides politics, winning is shameful. The victorious side of any disparity represents some kind of “privilege” for which the victor is obligated to adopt an apologetic stance.
Almost on cue, celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson shared this gem on that intellectual storehouse, Twitter:
“The USA has 3x as many Olympic golds as Hungary, but 30x the population. Adjusting for this, Hungary is kicking our ass.”
Surely he must be a hit at parties. I don’t know how he does it, but Tyson manages to simultaneously be both an astrophysicist ... and a jackass. What, precisely, is he attempting to do other than spew out a drive-by pot shot at America, with a fourth-grade math observation mixed in? If this is the arithmetic of an astrophysicist, I’ll tell my 10-year-old to just be snarky and anti-American as well, and she too could be the next overpaid, unscrutinized, and overestimated academic fawned over by the media and the left.
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Before articulating my next observation, let me concede honestly that Neil deGrasse Tyson is no doubt smarter than I am. And he certainly has more letters behind his name than I have. He’s often clever and he clearly knows his science. But having said that, is it possible that his intellect is exaggerated by those who adore him for other reasons? Maybe that he’s an atheist. That he rips on conservatives regularly. That he mocks “deniers” of anthropogenic climate change. That he feels the need — like any good progressive — to smack America down to size?
Is NDT’s reputation as a heavyweight astrophysicist and academic just the outcome of a logical fallacy? He mocks conservatives, so therefore he’s a fantastic astrophysicist! He thinks people who believe in God are idiots, so therefore he’s a fantastic astrophysicist! He’s on PBS, so therefore he’s a fantastic astrophysicist! I wouldn’t exactly say this emperor has no clothes, but I would say this emperor might have only a speedo and a wristband. Maybe some sunglasses. Snarky science is not better science.
I could be wrong. Seriously. He might be the bee’s knees of cosmology. I’m just suggesting that Tyson — and other similar science celebs like Bill Nye and Richard Dawkins — may be a bit overestimated because the zeitgeist likes their conclusions. They are scientists on the leading edge of culture, but are they actually on the leading edge of science, too? It would be interesting to discover from the true and quiet humble giants of scientific thought — those not seeking television shows, book deals, and societal approbation — where these celebrity-scientist hybrids rank.
I’ve listened to Neil deGrasse Tyson before. And what I observe is a smart guy who consistently enjoys asserting his intellectual supremacy over others more than he actually likes educating. In one of his worse moments, Tyson mocked a 12-year-old girl who suggested she’d like to live on Jupiter. He ridiculed her in the midst of a crowd, then later, several times, on Twitter. That told me everything I needed to know about Neil deGrasse Tyson.
For that moment he was just a horse’s astrophysicist.
Associated Press award-winning columnist Neal Larson of Idaho Falls is also the author of “Living in Spin.” He is a conservative talk show host on KID Newsradio 590 AM, 106.3 and 92.1 FM, and also at www.kidnewsradio.com. “The Neal Larson Show” can be heard weekday mornings from 8 to 10. His email address is email@example.com.