Famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson knows the Earth is, in fact, round. Tyson also knows some people who share his level of celebrity don’t agree with him on that.
After vainly explaining to these celebs time and time again that the Earth is round, Tyson is trying a different approach. This time, he’s showing how science deniers can be detrimental in government.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Tyson highlighted a larger problem that high-profile flat-Earthers (and other types of science deniers) create: They are bad influences on their fans and supporters.
Tyson began by explaining that flat-Earthers who live in the U.S. are allowed to say whatever they want, truth or not. Constitutional rights don’t make beliefs true, however.
Tyson then turned his attention to the concept of what it means to be a pop star and, consequently, a role model.
“If kids who are fans of pop-stars think Earth is flat because they do, then it exposes a flaw in the concept of Role Models,” the astrophysicist tweeted.
Unlike his past Earth-is-round Twitter rants, Tyson’s recent tweets didn’t appear to be in response to a freshly outed denialist celebrity. However, his comments do reflect another type of denialism that exists in a very influential place in America: the White House.
Scott Pruitt, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, doesn’t believe humans are the primary cause of climate change ― a view that contradicts an estimated 97 percent of climate scientists. President Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax and has proposed deep cuts to NASA’s budget for climate-change research in favor of space exploration.
Perhaps, in honor of upcoming Earth Day and the coinciding March for Science protests, Tyson was pointing to flat-Earthers to make a case against policymakers who are also science deniers, and argue for science to have a larger role in government.
In fact, Tyson’s flat-Earther tweets were posted after he published an essay titled, “Science in America,” arguing for just that.
“Scientific truths emerge by consensus — not of opinion, but of observations and measurements — rendering the research that falls outside of consensus the shakiest possible grounds on which to base policy,” Tyson wrote in his essay.
“Politics is not a foundation on which you base your science,” he added. “Science is a foundation on which you base your politics, lest you undermine a functioning, informed democracy.”
A Tyson tweet drove the point home: