Neil deGrasse Tyson's Feud with Man Who Called Him a “Horse’s Astrophysicist”

Neil deGrasse Tyson reveals his political and religious views in an amusing fight with a conservative radio host.

Neil deGrasse Tyson found himself in a sudden and amusing feud with Neal Larson, a conservative radio host and columnist from Idaho. Larson had several bones to pick with the famous cosmologist and science communicator.

As he summarized it in his op-ed, provocatively titled “Neil deGrasse Tyson is a horse’s astrophysicist”, the first problem for Larson was how Tyson looked at the Olympic medial count. In a series of tweets, the notoriously Twitter-friendly Tyson made the point that USA has many more gold medals than Hungary, but if you adjust for the population size, the much smaller country is actually doing very well, even better than us. 

The USA has 3x as many Olympic golds as Hungary, but 30x the population. Adjusting for this, Hungary is kicking our ass.

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 12, 2016

This did not sit well with Larson, who saw the remark as anti-American, offering that:

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.”

Not stopping there, Larson goes on to attack Tyson as an atheist, who thinks believers are “idiots”. He also sees Tyson as an attention-seeking “celebrity-scientist hybrid”, but most of all is upset about how Tyson supposedly crushed the dreams of a 12-year-old girl who wanted to live on Jupiter. 

What Larson was referring to there was a Twitter beatdown that Tyson reportedly gave a young girl who was naively unaware how tough it would be to live on Jupiter. The only problem with this story is that it didn’t happen. The radio host was referring to an article from the satirical website ClickHole (owned by the fake news juggernaut The Onion).

Here are the fake tweets that made Larson decide to stand up for the little girl:

Needless to say, it didn’t take long for Tyson to respond to such an assault in his own op-ed. He humorously addresses the charges leveled against him by the Idaho media personality and reveals some noteworthy facts about himself.

Tyson doubles down on his Olympic medal analysis, saying he was being “playful” in his initial tweet, but suggesting that it would be even better analysis to see how much countries spend on athletics versus their Olympic successes. 

He also says he’s an “agnostic,” disavowing the "atheist label". As far as his politics, Tyson doesn’t accept the “liberal” designation, saying he doesn’t have “an active public political position”. He actually bolsters his conservative cred by mentioning that he was appointed by President George W. Bush three times to various space-related commissions. In fact, he believes there are people on both sides of the aisle with anti-science ideas, whether it be climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers or people fighting GMO foods. 

And, of course, he points out how the story of abusing a young girl on account of Jupiter was a hoax.

It remains to be seen if Larson will go on another round of attacks on the astrophysicist. 

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

Scientists find a horrible new way cocaine can damage your brain

Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.

Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
  • Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
  • Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Keep reading Show less