Non-apology watch: Neil deGrasse Tyson still pretends he ‘quoted’ George W. Bush

Non-apology watch: Neil deGrasse Tyson still pretends he ‘quoted’ George W. Bush

[Ed. – Tyson may say “my bad,” but he clearly means “your bad, you bunch of illiterate morons.”]

As can be said of his public talks, much of his Facebook note is comprised of unnecessary self-flattery (there’s a paragraph on his wardrobe, for example). However, he did set aside some space to talk about his repeated fabrication of a George W. Bush quote that was never uttered. Here’s that section, which is worth reading in full:

A Case Study: Quoting George W. Bush

For a talk I give on the rise and fall of science in human cultural history I occasionally paraphrase President George W. Bush from one of his speeches, remarking that our God is the God who named the stars, and immediately noting that 2/3 of all star-names in the night sky are Arabic. I use this fact to pivot from the present-day, back to a millennium ago, during the Golden Age of Islam, in which major advances in math, science, engineering, medicine, and navigation were achieved. The Bush reference is not written on my PowerPoint slides, which I keep sparse, but I remembered it from a speech he gave after September 11, 2001. And I presented it that way, as Bush’s attempt to distinguish “we” from ‘they.” When eager scrutinizers looked for the quote they could not find it, and promptly accused me of fabricating a Presidential sentence. Lawyers are good at this. They find something that you get wrong, and use it to cast doubt on everything else you say. Blogosphere headlines followed, with accusations of me being a compulsive liar and a fabricator.

What followed fascinated me greatly. As others had uncovered, the President indeed utter the following sentences:

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.

But I was wrong about when he said it. It appears in his speech after the Columbia Shuttle disaster, eighteen months after September 11th 2001. My bad. And I here publicly apologize to the President for casting his quote in the context of contrasting religions rather than as a poetic reference to the lost souls of Columbia. I have no excuse for this, other than both events– so close to one another — upset me greatly. In retrospect, I’m surprised I remembered any details from either of them. …

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