The celebrity astrophysicist angered many on Sunday when he compared the death toll in both massacres to the average number of lives lost to the flu, medical errors and car accidents in a 48-hour period.
“Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data,” he wrote.
Tyson’s tweet quickly drew a plethora of responses, many of them negative.
Tyson responded to the backlash early Monday, saying he “got this one wrong” in a lengthy note posted to his official Facebook page and other social media accounts.
“My intent [with the tweet] was to offer objectively true information that might help shape conversations and reactions to preventable ways we die,” he said. “Where I miscalculated was that I genuinely believed the tweet would be helpful to anyone trying to save lives in America.”
“What I learned from the range of reactions is that for many people, some information — my tweet in particular ― can be true but unhelpful, especially at a time when many people are either still in shock, or trying to heal – or both,” he wrote. “So if you are one of those people, I apologize for not knowing in advance what effect my Tweet could have on you.”
Still, not everyone accepted Tyson’s apology. Many accused him of continuing to downplay the role gun violence played in both massacres.
“The depth of your reflection in this note is offensively shallow,” one person wrote in a Facebook comment. “You used data to draw a false equivalence with unfathomably hurtful timing, and your arrogance has you doubling down with ‘true but unhelpful.’ Why even bother with a note?”
Another person commented: “I think the point you miss, is there are laws, regulations and programs trying to [minimize] those preventable deaths. There is little being done to [minimize] mass shootings.”
Tyson’s remarks followed the announcement that he’d keep his job as head of the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s American Museum of Natural History after the conclusion of an investigation into sexual misconduct claims against him.
Fox Broadcasting and National Geographic announced that Tyson’s television series “StarTalk” and “Cosmos” would return to the air following the completion of that probe.
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