What’s the number one difference between Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Buzz Aldrin? They both dislike conspiracy theorists, but Neil DeGrasse Tyson chose to verbally destroy a conspiracy theorist instead of outright punching him, as Buzz Aldrin famously did to Bart Sibrel. Like the Sibrel case, Anthony Liversidge chose to use the cover of a media event to stage an ambush, in this case challenging Tyson on the matter of the Large Hadron Collider. Some believe that the Large Hadron Collider could create a black hole that could destroy Earth. Unlike the Sibrel case, however, Tyson chose a more eloquent response than a swift right hook.
The Eagle Has Landed
The Raw Story has it that Tyson answered an anti-science blogger named Anthony Liversidge at a recent press conference in support ofthe dedication of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City by saying, “The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you. … We are not making shit up.”
The full exchange between Neil DeGrasse Tyson and the conspiracy blogger Anthony Liversidge can be viewed on Gizmodo. Liversidge maintains that science has become too heavily influenced by “crowd prejudice, leadership resistance, monetary influence and internal professional politics.” He challenged Tyson on the existence of black holes and dark matter, repeating Brian Greene’s assertion that string theory could “all be wrong.”
Brian Greene is a string theorist at Columbia University and the author of The Elegant Universe.
Tyson did criticize the press and its haste to publish the results of scientific research while going back and forth with Liversidge:
“The press gets someone’s research result and they present it as a scientific finding. Because the press understandably will not wait around for six other people to verify the result. Then, another experiment comes in and gets a different result, the press all runs to her and says ‘what you thought was true is not, this is the new truth.'”
He mentioned that was often how the public might get a false perception about matters that impact important matters like health, such as the argument over the amount of cholesterol that should be included in a healthy diet. He also stressed the importance of using proper language when discussing scientific ideas: “It shouldn’t be called ‘string theory’, it should be called ‘string hypothesis’.” Tyson stresses that the concept of strings is not yet backed up by experimentation and is therefore a hypothesis, while methods of detecting things like black holes and exoplanets have been tested in the real universe and are thus considered theories.
This isn’t even the first time that Tyson has taken on the anti-science crowd. Just recently, he took the time to debunk the idea that climate change doesn’t exist. (Short version: Climate change happens.)
And then there’s that time he answered Ken Ham’s wish to call off the search for aliens (in which he provides the short version):
So he isn’t even shy about giving his opinions when it comes to conspiracy theorists and various fringe types. He did not even have to give Liversidge a swift right hook to make his point.