Matthew Waterman
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Matthew Waterman in Brand Power,

Dr. Tyson Embarrasses Conservative Writer So Much That He Quits

Neil deGrasse Tyson is starting to become my favorite force in the universe for cutting through nonsense in journalism these days. Neal Larson, of Idaho Falls was a newspaper columnist who published a negative piece about the Doctor of astrophysics titled "Neil deGrasse Tyson is a horse’s astrophysicist" and was quickly put in his place by a point by point rebuttal from Dr. Tyson himself, posted in the comments section of the same article. 

The rebuttal is apparently legit, and it affected Larson so much that he quit his writing job.

This story is meaningful to me because it is one of an increasing number of rebuttals that well known scientists are making about arguments from ignorance. While this particular one was really just Dr. Tyson stating things in defense of his own character, he made references to the non-truths that have affect GMO's like the ones made by Monsanto (MON), and vaccines made by Wyeth, now a part of Pfizer (PFE), and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), among others. 

These arguments have come about because of the proliferation of "parody" news sites, arguably the most famous of which is The Onion. It was funny when it was just them, and their headlines and content were purposefully constructed to be humorous satire. What has happened as a result of other websites taking up the cause is that millions of people now believe falsehoods because those other parody sites didn't write as if they were joking.

While there would be disclaimers on the sites stating that they were parody, you had to search for them, and when people would share the links on Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR), they wouldn't place any such disclaimers. 

I don't know if I expect a reduction in the numbers of these parody sites, but I do think that as a result people will start fact checking more often. 

As far as Mr. Larson, I don't think that quitting was the right thing to do. You respectfully admitted where you made your mistakes, you apologized, and I think that you learned something valuable as a result. It would be better to continue on as someone who knows better about how to find truth in the world, and share that.

Author is long Monsanto, and glad to be a part of what they are making for our future planet.