Spectator: Why has Tyson lost it on sex and gender?

September 27, 2023 • 10:45 am

Given his history of popularizing physics and astronomy, which of course I see as a good and useful endeavor, I don’t want to bash Neil deGrasse Tyson too hard. Instead, I’ll let the Spectator do it. (Only kidding—sort of. . .)

The other day I posted a video in which Tyson, determined to promulgate his ideas about sex and gender despite the reasoned opposition of his moderators, lost his cool, becoming rude and arrogant while claiming that problems like transwomen competing athletically against biological women could be rather easily solved (he didn’t say how).  He also evinced an ignorance about the seriousness of issues about “women’s spaces”, as well as a superficial view of how people conceive of their gender.

He’s been doing this for some time, and what bothers me is his hauteur: his apparent conviction that he alone knows what is right, and his refusal to listen to those who oppose his views, especially women.  But he’s a physicist, not a gender expert, so he might be excused.  Still, I can’t fully excuse him because he is using his cachet as a famous physics popularizer to buttress his views on sex and gender. They don’t translate—not unless Tyson has done some research on stuff like the effect of puberty on the athletic abilities of trans women. And he apparently hasn’t done that research

All I’ll say is that I hope Tyson listens to this kind of criticism and cools it, perhaps retreating to his well-fenced bailiwick of popularizing physics and cosmology. And he needs to restrain his demeanor, at least pretending to listen to his opponents instead of talking over them.

The article below, which appeared yesterday in The Spectator, isn’t as polite as I’ve been. But it will be useful if Tyson realizes that there are more than a few people out there who don’t agree with his views. It also discusses why Tyson has suddenly taken it upon himself to become a Culture Warrior, something I have no answer to.

Click below to read the piece.

I’ll give a few quotes. The article (the Spectator is conservative) isn’t perfect, as it has one big flaw, but it’s on the money calling out Tyson’s behavior, as it does below:

Over the years, deGrasse Tyson has become increasingly condescending, rude and arrogant. He has veered from the area of astrophysics into other avenues, including, most recently, the trans debate. More specifically, trans women competing in actual women’s sports.

During a recent podcast appearance, deGrasse Tyson altered between moments of rage and maniacal laughter. In short, he failed to cover himself in glory. For example, when asked by the hosts, Konstanin Kisin and Francis Foster, for his thoughts on trans women competing in women’s sports, and whether or not their inclusion created an “unfair playing field, both literally and metaphorically,” the astrophysicist provided a truly nonsensical answer. Instead of barring trans women from competing in sports, deGrasse Tyson, who enjoys harping on about the importance of rationality, said that we should “fix the playing field, damn it.

“You know something? The day you fix the playing field,” he added, “this conversation will look completely ridiculous.” When asked how, exactly, one would go about fixing the playing field, deGrasse Tyson started cackling like a lunatic before admitting that he couldn’t answer the question.

. . .Neil deGrasse Tyson sells himself as an expert communicator, but effective communication involves speaking and listening. He is very good at the former, but utterly hopeless at the latter. In truth, deGrasse Tyson is a lecturer. He speaks at people, even through them, but rarely, if ever, with them. His unwillingness to listen to others, to continuously cut them off mid-sentence, to disrespect hosts like Joe Rogan in their own studios, is as legendary as his mustache and titillating ties. deGrasse Tyson, the kind of guy who starts every sentence with “well, actually,” lacks intellectual humility. He’s intelligent. He has many fans. But no one is a bigger fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson than Neil deGrasse Tyson. This lack of humility undermines his willingness to negotiate, to compromise and to consider another individual’s point of view. The great irony here is that Tyson’s hero, Carl Sagan, spoke passionately about the importance of humility. Sagan emphasized the importance of nurturing scientific curiosity, not shouting down people who question your beliefs.

The demise of America’s most notable astrophysicist is a sad spectacle indeed. A man who once excelled at opening our minds to all of the cosmic possibilities has morphed into something truly appalling. In short, Neil dGrasse Tyson has become Neil deGrasse Tiresome.

Nice last sentence, and perhaps Tyson will see it (I’m sure he will!), and perhaps, though probably not, take it to heart. Author Ghlionn also tries to analyze Tyson’s turn to Wokeness, and he might be right:

Where does his obsession with social constructivism come from? More importantly, I wonder, is it sincere, or is there something else at play?

DeGrasse Tyson spends an inordinate amount of time on TikTok, desperately trying to appeal to a younger audience. This investment appears to be paying off. After all, he now boasts more than 5 million followers. The average TikTok user’s age is twenty-one. Unless you happen to live under a rock on a distant planet, you’re no doubt aware that younger individuals tend to be incredibly woke. They tend to live more “fluid” existences. This, I suggest, is the main reason for deGrasse Tyson’s rather odd takes on biological reality. Like Howard Stern, Stephen Colbert and numerous other big name individuals who used to be fun, Tyson is playing to an audience. Not only is he insufferable; he’s also insincere.

Well Tysonb’s certainly playing to an audience, but in a way that’s much less civil than, say, Carl Sagan, but I can’t say if his recent change of behavior comes from trying to appeal to the kids, and that requires a woke attitude. It’s an interesting thought, but not as important as Tyson’s conveying misinformation and underestimating the serious issue of “women-only” spaces.

But there are two other issues in the piece that bear discussion. Here’s one:

This wasn’t his first time at the trans-friendly rodeo, and chances are it won’t be his last. That’s because, over the past year or so, the sixty-four-year-old has made it his life’s mission to advance the idea that gender is little more than a social construct, something that was perhaps dreamt up by a few men in a basement many moons ago. “Apparently the XX/XY chromosomes are insufficient, because when we wake up in the morning we exaggerate whatever feature we want to portray the gender of our choice,” he recently blabbered. Gender exists on a spectrum, he insists — but so do things like sanity and patience, Dr. deGrasse Tyson.

I see this dismissal as somewhat misleading.  Gender can indeed be a social construct, as with those people who consider themselves bi-gender (or fluidly bi-gender) and take on sex roles, dress, and behaviors that have evolved in a social milieu.  Thus a mixture of gender roles is not completely bogus, or “dreamt up by a few men in a basement.”

But what is NOT a “social construct of gender” is Tyson’s misleading statement that when a woman dons pants instead of a skirt, or puts on makeup, she is feeling more male than she would have otherwise. First of all, even if you take that seriously, it’s doesn’t show a spectrum of gender but a spectrum of sex.  But if Tyson means gender here, as he surely does, he’s still wrong. If you ask a woman who puts on pants if she’s “feeling more male today,” she’d get angry.  What would anger her is that a simple day-to-day choice of clothing somehow proves the existence of a spectrum of gender roles. The woman would, in all likelihood, say, “No, I don’t feel more male; I just thought that pants would be more comfortable today.”   This conflation between changing your clothes and adornment and sliding along a “gender scale” is something Tyson needs to ponder, as he’s got it wrong.

The other problem with the Spectator article is this bit:

When the astrophysicist is not defending dangerous gender ideologies, he can be found passionately defending Covid-related measures, including mandatory vaccines and masks. During a fiery debate with Patrick Bet-David, when the host asked if mandatory vaccinations were a problem, deGrasse Tyson spoke about a “public health contract” that American citizens had signed “implicitly.” Many readers will say that they never remember signing such a contract. That’s because you never signed it. When PBD said that many Americans were basically forced to take vaccines to keep their jobs, even though many of them didn’t want to, the science-loving author responded with a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders. My point here is not to demonize vaccines. It’s that people should have a right to choose what they put in their bodies. Dr. deGrasse Tyson appears to think otherwise.

I’m not going to get into the masks issue, as it’s complicated and the efficacy of a mask depends on the kind of mask you’re using. But what I will maintain is that the authorities have a right to require one to get vaccinated (or removed from society) if there’s a deadly disease afoot that the vaccination or sequestration can prevent. And that was the case in the first days of covid.  No, there’s no contract here, no “democratic resolution”.  In such cases the authorities have to act unilaterally if there’s enough evidence—as there was for covid—that a public-health crisis is imminent.

What the Spectator is evincing here is straight-out conservative anti-vaxism, and in this case Tyson is right and they’re wrong.  People can indeed decide what to put in their bodies, but if what they do or don’t do affects the welfare of others, the authorities have the right to keep their choices from endangering others. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, you can’t go to work. Tellingly, it’s the law in most states that before a kid goes to public school, he or she must have several different accinations. That only makes sense. If the kid or kid’s parents decide they “have the right to decide what to put in their body,” and opt out of kids’ vaccinations, then fine: the kid doesn’t get to go to public school and cause an epidemic.  This anti-vaxer attitude devalues the Spectator piece, and Tyson’s shrug of the shoulders is appropriate.

But Tyson should still chill out on matters of sex and gender.

36 thoughts on “Spectator: Why has Tyson lost it on sex and gender?

  1. Tyson is both naive (about sex and gender issues) and arrogant. That is a potent recipe for veering out of his lane and pontificating on matters for which he is unqualified. Lots of people are like this—they are present at most dinner parties—but Tyson is a public figure. That’s the rub. As a public figure he has a responsibility not to shoot from the hip and bloviate in ways that mislead the public. He is being irresponsible as a scientist and as a public figure. I do think that he is redeemable, however, and hope that the Spectator article and your coverage here will convince him to mend his ways—and quickly!

  2. The article still leaves unexplored why Tyson is cultivating a vast tiktok audience. Is his tiktok monetized? Does the Hayden Planetarium cross-post to his tiktok audience to draw in members? Are twentysomethings on tiktok clamouring to know more about cosmology and astrophysics?

    I’m left speculating why else Tyson would make this weird foray into what Jon Kay calls genderwang, and I suspect he has a trans relative for whom he’s stanning in this weird anonymous way. This is often the case in institutions that become captured by genderwang. But I admit it’s speculation.

    1. I suspect he’s just seeking popularity. (And questioning gender ideology is highly unpopular with young people; cf reaction to JK Rowling.) For a TV personality, everything is about popularity and ratings; it’s their over-riding preoccupation, and over time that affects all their thinking.

      Recall also his chiding of Dawkins for being a blunt atheist, rather than Tyson’s approach of trying to offend no-one.

  3. I disagree. Tyson suggested using hormone levels (8:38 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXWUtIjHrtE&t=410s) to classify athletes. In my opinion, this is unworkable for a number of reasons. Of course, hormone levels vary over time. However, the actual problem is much worse. If elite athletes were classified by hormone levels, trans women (and others) would (in some cases) end up competing with men. That is exactly what they don’t want to do. Beyond that, the physiological advantages of male puberty don’t go away, even if hormone levels are suppressed. To use a highly relevant example, Caster Semenya has/had normal male Testosterone levels. Tyson’s proposal would force her/him to compete with other men.

  4. If you ask a woman who puts on pants if she’s “feeling more male today,” she’d get angry.

    Indeed, I saw a number of replies to Tyson’s tweet from women who were angry at his assertion. It was a stupid thing to say.

  5. “When the astrophysicist [deGrasse Tyson] is not defending dangerous gender ideologies, he can be found passionately defending Covid-related measures, including mandatory vaccines and masks.”

    FYI: Konstantin Kisin (the man who interviewed deGrasse Tyson on Triggernometry) has denounced these health-protecting measures as “COVID authoritarianism”, which is almost as silly as deGrasse Tyson’s opinion on transgender issues.
    Well, as we have known for a long time, sense and nonsense can happily coexist in people’s minds.

    1. The case for mandatory vaccination (which I supported at the beginning) evaporated when it became clear that the infection could spread in highly vaccinated populations, as we saw first with the Delta outbreak in crowded party town Provincetown, Massachusetts ….and then later in Ontario when our ICUs nearly melted down despite having a highly (voluntarily) vaccinated general public. Ontario did abandon vaccine mandates once it became clear that vaccination provided only temporary and partial protection from infection. There was never any evidence that vaccination reduced transmission of infection. (Some reflection will show why this is nearly impossible to study. You would have to determine if vaccinated subjects (who had consented to be in the study) were less able to transmit infection by coughing on anonymous strangers who had not consented to be in any study, compared with the unvaccinated.)

      The vaccines prevented severe illness (shown in the first two mRNA vaccine trials even though they weren’t powered to find this — they got lucky because the efficacy for preventing any infection was 95%, not 50% as the power calculations predicted.) A publicly funded health system organized as an arm of the coercive state could justifiably require everyone to be vaccinated in order to prevent intolerable surge demands on the hospitals. But the authorities never did demand universal vaccination to flatten the curve. They mandated closure of schools and businesses instead. They demanded vaccination only in certain people as a means of preventing transmission to others, which the vaccines were never shown capable of doing. Indeed it could be predicted that as quarantine measures relaxed, increasing the number of one’s daily contacts, the increased exposure to infection swamped the vaccines’ limited efficacy in preventing infection so that total infections increased. This is exactly what happened when Omicron arrived.

      In the early months after the vaccines appeared, it appeared they were going to be the only ticket out of lockdowns and getting back to normal, albeit with having to show vaccine passports to go to gatherings. However as time went on — the virus mutated and herd immunity against severe disease built up — vaccines were clearly not going to reduce cases to zero, and so the mandates were abandoned as not delivering the goods. I think where you can stand rationally and ethically on vaccine mandates depends a lot on when, exactly, in the pandemic you are talking about. Very few people argue for mandatory Covid vaccination of anyone today, even as we still agree that you need traditional childhood vaccinations to attend school. So something changed between Jan. 2021 and Sept. 2023.

  6. I first heard Tyson spout his gender drivel when he was the keynote speaker at CSICON a year ago. Generously, he handed out a copy of his newest book “Starry Messenger” to all attendees, which gave me the opportunity to read, in the chapter on Gender and Identity, what is possibly the most laughingly intellectually arrogant (laughable because it is so palpably stupid) argument I’ve ever read from an ostensibly legitimate science communicator. In this chapter he claims that astrophysicists (like him) have a special capacity for understanding that gender (and sex? — he often is confused about which he is talking about) is a continuum because astrophysicists, unlike the rest of us, know that “colors from red through violet fall on a continuum”.

    Yeah right. The rest of us are unaware of the continuum of colors. But Tyson knows! Now that I understand that, I’m starting to think that maybe temperature is a continuum — that it’s not just “hot” and “cold”. So if color is a continuum and temperature is one too, I guess — gender and sex MUST be also. Because … uh … I guess because NDT says so.

    1. Did he do any ‘off the cuff’ talking at CSICON? I assume he’s ok with a script, but I’ve noticed that he seems less eloquent when he speaks generally on gender issues. In an interview about sport about 6 months ago he could barely string a coherent sentence together. It makes me think he doesn’t believe what he’s saying, but, if not, then why do these interviews?

    2. Some things are continuums. Some are not. For example, height, weight, race, climate, clouds, hurricanes, gravity, numbers, IQ, color (wavelength of light), air pressure, etc. are all classic continuums. By contrast, sub-atomic particles, elements, gametes (at least in mammals), integers, proteins, nucleic acids, hydrocarbons, chromosomes, etc. are not. The notion that everything is a continuums is just as crazy as the reverse.

  7. I grew up with Sagan’s Cosmos (both the book and the TV series), and appreciated deGrasse Tyson’s recent attempt to update that body of work. But, yeah, one gets the sense that, with respect to sex/gender topics, he is doing little more than pandering to his (TikTok) base. Maybe keeping 5M TikTok followers happy is more lucrative than we realize….

  8. I suspect Tyson craves attention, maybe not in the same way as Trump but still a dangerous level. He apparently does not get his needed dose of attention within his chosen field so he branches out. This takes place only because of the modern environment called social media. Just ask yourself, would this be a subject of conversation without social media? If Tyson could just highjack a television network he would be off to the races. If he has chosen TikTok for his broadcast arena this may be due to the younger audience. Not because of the Woke issue but because they are easier. The kids are always the audience of the older and that is the reason. However you splice it, it’s not a good look. In the effort to expand his attention he is harming his reputation.

    It makes me return to the theoretical Physicist Robert Oppenheimer. He was a difficult person for many to get along with in his younger period but changed a great deal during the time of his involvement with the Manhattan Project. His personal change was almost magical and he became a great leader of other scientist. What Tyson needs is a transition.

  9. “Why has Tyson lost it on sex and gender?”

    Blackmail is what could do this. I noted this before.

    I am on the whole deeply saddened to witness Tyson explicate as he does, and only on this topic, in this way. I find it inconsistent (which can be ok), but there is evidence we all know about with the misconduct – a sort of investigation that turned up a simple conclusion of no wrong doing.

    But that does not mean there is no blackmail. This would be doubly sad, because it is evil to psychologically manipulate anyone like that.

    1. It’s upsetting how many high profile skeptics have fallen for genderwoo. People who once stood for logic and science have abandoned all rationality. There are some notable exceptions like you, Dawkins and Shermer, but past heroes like David Gorski and Tyson have made me question everything they previously wrote.

      I’m almost glad James Randi died when he did. He was a hero and I just couldn’t have handled it if he abandoned the scientific method. I don’t think he would have caved in, but I thought that about Gorski too. I haven’t looked at his Science Based Medicine blog since he pulled Harriet’s review of Abigail Schrier’s book and replaced it with bull.

      It is good to be skeptic and we should all support the equal rights trans people already have. But it’s not possible to be skeptic and think mammals literally change sex.

      Keep up the great work.

  10. Tyson should conduct a thought experiment: he should imagine he has a 13 year old daughter, and at the local swimming pool adult males are being allowed to use the changing room with her. Is he comfortable with that? Would she be?
    Though I do hear he may have a trans child, in which case he has probably consumed a lethal dose of KoolAid already.

  11. ” If you don’t get vaccinated, you can’t go to work.”
    “If you don’t get vaccinated, you can’t go to a public school.”

    I don’t see how these are parallel. Parallel to “If you don’t get vaccinated, you can’t go to work” would be“ If you don’t get vaccinated you can’t go to school, period,” which I’m hoping you wouldn’t approve of. I can see how the gov’t has a right to say “If you’re not vaccinated, you can’t go to work in the public sector,” and a private company has a right to say, “If you’re not vaccinated, you can’t work here.” But I don’t see that anyone has the right to say, “If you’re not vaccinated, you can’t work, period.” I think the Spectator article is right on this one: the gov’t overstepped its bounds.

  12. What I meant was that any company has the right to require its workers to be vaccinated, not that you have no right to work in general without vaccination. And the Spectator said this:

    When PBD said that many Americans were basically forced to take vaccines to keep their jobs, even though many of them didn’t want to, the science-loving author responded with a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders.

    If by PBD you’re referring to the podcaster, not to any American authority, his description is inaccurate. Did you read the piece?

  13. The thing about playing to an audience is that even insincerity can become sincerity over time. It’s a predictable function of cognitive dissonance reduction and social reinforcement. Suppose you assert something you don’t believe in order to appease or appeal to your audience. Because you don’t believe it, you put yourself into a state of cognitive dissonance, which your mind will try to resolve without regard to veridicality. If your assertion gets positive feedback from your audience, that feedback acts as positive reinforcement, making you more likely to repeat (or intensify) the assertion. Given sufficient time and repetition, your beliefs change to incorporate the assertion. This phenomenon is known as audience capture.

    The same mechanisms are at work in the spread and normalization of religious belief in general, of course, but Genderism basically relies on them. Its first move is almost always to extract some apparently minor concession to pretense, such as the use of wrong-sex pronouns. In reality, this concession isn’t minor, because it sets in motion the process of thought reform through cognitive dissonance and operant conditioning.

    1. Thank you for these comments which I found illuminating and this was amplified in reading the article on audience capture, which includes good examples. It contains this paragraph “When influencers are analyzing audience feedback, they often find that their more outlandish behavior receives the most attention and approval, which leads them to recalibrate their personalities according to far more extreme social cues than those they’d receive in real life. In doing this they exaggerate the more idiosyncratic facets of their personalities, becoming crude caricatures of themselves.” which brought to mind some of Tyson’s recent nutty performances.

  14. DeGrasse Tyson spends an inordinate amount of time on TikTok, desperately trying to appeal to a younger audience.…

    Oh, just had a realization. One of the things that puzzled/annoyed me about Tyson’s explanations of sex and gender was the strange style he seemed to have suddenly adopted. I’ve watched him on cosmology and heard him speak at conferences a few times and don’t recall quite the same type of exaggerated mannerisms and pacing I notice with this topic. But here’s some illumination.

    On the social media formerly known as Twitter the Gender Critical occasionally pass around some cringeworthy clips taken from the pro-trans section of the social media known as TikTok. These are “instructional” videos usually made by young people who may or not identify as trans explaining something nonsensical such as how to refer to those who identify as cloud gender or deal with those whose gender changes several times a day. These posts stand out not just because of the vacuity of the Important Information, but because of the creepy head-tilting sing-song elaborated elongated eloquated kiddie-show-host-dealing-with-children-who-have-trouble-paying attention style they all seem to share. Who are they addressing? we’d wonder. Are they supposed to be a whimsical kind of clown? Do they think the people they’re talking to are stupid — or ought to feel stupid not knowing about “cloud-self?”

    If Tyson is picking these mannerisms up from this genre of TikTok, he needs to drop it. Seriously.

  15. When this claim is made:

    “I see this dismissal as somewhat misleading. Gender can indeed be a social construct, as with those people who consider themselves bi-gender (or fluidly bi-gender) and take on sex roles, dress, and behaviors that have evolved in a social milieu. Thus a mixture of gender roles is not completely bogus, or “dreamt up by a few men in a basement.””

    Strikes me as offering a rather empty olive branch to the trans activists. What are the characteristics of a bi-gender person? A fluidly bigender person? Given that you primarily seem to be defining gender as the sex roles, dress and behaviour that a person conforms to if we speak plainly and call these what they are, sex stereotypes, the problems with the very idea of gender becomes immediately apparent.

    I’ve always thought the idea of tying particular societal roles/behaviours/clothing choices to sex seems rather regressive and would worry that supporting them would mean moving in a more restrictive direction.

    If there is another, less harmful, definition of gender I am open to hearing it but this one doesn’t seem to offer much.

  16. A comment that was brought up online a while back is good advice for everyone.
    “When in conversation, are you listening to the other person, or are you only waiting for your turn to speak?”

  17. Going to stray a little into dangerous territory here, as even sounding vaccine-hesitant adjacent will get you lumped in with flat-earthers and moon-landing deniers, so I’ll caveat with I’m a doctor, I’m first in line for pretty much every vaccine, am a huge fan of them and was stunned by how quickly “we” (humans) made the covid vaccine and have had it and several boosters.

    But, as I listen to Sam Harris’ latest “housekeeping” episode, I find myself in agreement with many of his points.

    In the young, fit, and healthy the incredibly small risks of vaccine injury do begin to outweigh the incredibly small risks of covid. This was fairly obvious at the time. Whilst vaccines were still thought to reduce spread, it was maybe (a big maybe) acceptable to insist the young got the vaccine for the greater good. However, as soon as a reduction in spread didn’t appear to occur it was absolutely acceptable to question mandates, at least in certain groups. And what about those who had had covid? Natural immunity just didn’t figure at all.

    Children are an even murkier area. I’m not sure the vaccine should ever have been mandated here.

    Masks remain contentious. In theatres, pre-covid, masks were not worn except by surgeons and then mostly to protect themselves. The evidence, limited as it was, showed masks had no effect on infection rates. Post-covid masks are again non-compulsory.

    Interestingly (and anecdotally) those orange duck-billed masks have silently disappeared where I work. My mask fit tests failed in them every time and the same was true of many of my colleagues. These had always been the default masks we’d been given prior to covid around actual nasties like TB. I remember wearing them for swine flu, something the young were at risk of, back in the Noughties.

    Anyway, what’s my point? Probably don’t have one as I’ve not listed to Neil deGrasse Tiresome’s views on covid measures, but if he’s absolutely unwilling to reappraise his views on vaccine mandates and masks, even if only to say (like Harris) they were probably the right thing to do at the time, but evidence since suggests some of the policies might not have been correct then he’s right to be called on it.

    1. Interesting comment thanks. In NZ we did a border shutdown and waited for a vaccine to be available. In the meantime we did masks, social distancing, isolation, sanitizing, type precautions. It seemed to work, flu and colds took a holiday as infection rates went down over the period when this was most intense.
      We managed to contain covid with a few mistakes with a go early, go hard strategy.
      After all that my personal opinion is sanitizing and isolation which barely get a mention was two of the best things you could do.

  18. In truth, deGrasse Tyson is a lecturer. He speaks at people, even through them, but rarely, if ever, with them. His unwillingness to listen to others, to continuously cut them off mid-sentence, to disrespect hosts like Joe Rogan in their own studios, is as legendary as his mustache and titillating ties.

    Yeah, that is definitely something I’ve noticed which irks me when he’s on anyone’s podcast.

    I don’t mean to be fully dumping on Tyson, because I think he’s great in other areas. But he’s definitely more about “talking at,” vs listening.

  19. Shamefully and needlessly unfair to Tyson on the Spectator’s part. Yes, the overall tone of the excerpt was excited and both sides stepped in when they thought they had enough information about the other to respond rather than awaiting the end of a full-stopped paragraph, but there was plenty of speaking and listening happening both ways.

    The Spectator makes Tyson out to have been incoherent and answerless about sports classifications, whereas the entire segment from 8:30 to 11:00 was Tyson elaborating on his thoughts amid challenge from the hosts.

    Last post about this, I thought to warn generally about ad hominem-esque thinking amid all the focus on Tyson’s tone. The Spectator doesn’t explicitly say “he’s maniacal, therefore he’s wrong,” but something closer to “he was maniacal and couldn’t answer the question” when he did. Isn’t that even more contemptible than an ad hominem?

    1. I guess it wasn’t your last post on this. I disagree about the Spectator; Tyson was nearly out of control, completely ignorant about the stuff he was talking about, and, given that he’s a communicator in astrophysics, it is worth pointing out that he’s now pronouncing, and saying dumb stuff, in an area outside of his expertise. That bears on his credibility in general, and it’s worth pointing out.

      No, Tyson didn’t answer the questions; he said “there MUST be answers.”

      That’s the end of this discussion.

  20. There are so many posts that I can’t keep up so I’m late to the party. My interests lie more strongly with virology and related issues that gender/sex folderol — where I’m in agreement with you. But I particularly appreciate your comments on vaccination. Anti-vaccine/anti-science based medicine is a deadly peril, and is becoming part of the Republican Party ideology anti science in general, unless it delivers weapons or toys).

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