Neil deGrasse Tyson, Call Your Office

Over at the Federalist, Sean Davis has been slowly but credibly destroying Neil deGrasse Tyson's reputation as a honest broker, the sort of truth-telling straight-shooter that we need in these dark days of ignorance. Today's entry is the fourth in an apparently ongoing series of posts in which it is revealed that NDT, as his sciencebro fans call him, is just making stuff up, willy nilly. Here's Sean:

According to Tyson, in the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bush uttered the phrase, "Our God is the God that 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!

You should read the whole thing; Sean picks Tyson apart with disarming ease.

I've never quite gotten the NDT appeal; he seems like a less-interesting Carl Sagan and, like Maddox, I've long thought the "I f—ing love science!" shtick that he has cultivated borders on the cultish at worst and is at best a kind of silly exercise in group signaling. But hey, whatever, to each their own. As far as Objective Truth Tellers go, he's more or less unobjectionable, I guess.

This is why Sean's work is important, though. Tyson is frequently cited as a brave and brilliant man standing up to the evils of ignorance, frequently referred to as a reasonable person. But he's just a man, like any other. Like any relatively powerful man, he has a political agenda. And, like any man with a political agenda, he's willing to bend (when he's not willing to break) the facts of the world in order to fit that agenda.

So keep loving science and keep passing around his bon mots and keep genuflecting before him. Just remember: Neil Degrasse Tyson appears to make things up when it suits his purpose.