Physicist Neil de Grasse Tyson appears to be such a man. Ensconced on the Olympian heights of modern science, like a Nietzschean superman unconstrained by bourgeois moral values like truth-telling, he apparently feels free to just make stuff up whenever it'll make him look good to do so and make people he disdains look bad. Since his fabrications reinforce the prejudices of many in the media, and because he himself is a media darling, he's given a pass. Truth is not so big a deal for many journalists anyway, and besides, who are they to judge someone else, unless, of course, it's Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, or Ted Cruz?
Anyway, de Grasse Tyson's recent television series titled Cosmos was replete with historical errors, particularly on the topic of the relationship of the church and science, but that's not the only topic on which this prodigy of prevarication hones his yarn-spinning skills.
Sean Davis at The Federalist catalogues some of de Grasse Tyson's sundry dissimulations for us. He writes: Neil deGrasse Tyson may be a fabulous scientist, and a consummate showman, but he’s downright terrible at accurately quoting people. Or, if you’re a “glass half full” kind of person, you might say that Neil deGrasse Tyson is pretty amazing at needlessly fabricating quotes and scenarios to showcase his own brilliance.
After citing several examples of de Grasse Tyson's allegedly creative manipulation of facts Davis closes with this:
At this point, I’m legitimately curious if any quotes or anecdotes peddled by Neil deGrasse Tyson are true....These are normally the types of errors that would be uncovered by peer review. Blatant data fabrication, after all, is the cardinal sin of scientific publishing. In journalism, this would get you fired. In Tyson’s world, it got him his own television show. Where are Tyson’s peers, and why is no one reviewing his assertions?And while we're at it, maybe someone should check out his Ph.D dissertation. Who knows how much of that is just made up.
Somebody seriously needs to stage an intervention for Neil deGrasse Tyson. This type of behavior is not acceptable. It is indicative of sheer laziness, born of arrogance. Please, somebody, help him before he fabricates again.
In any event, this is yet another illustration of a recurring theme here on VP. Suppose it is indeed the case that de Grasse Tyson is deliberately fabricating quotes, stories, and historical "facts." Why shouldn't he do this if it will promote himself and his agenda, whatever it may be? Most of us would probably reply that it's morally wrong to lie to people and those who do it are despicable, but that response must confront a critical fact. If, as philosopher Michael Ruse claims, our moral values are simply "an illusion foisted on us by our genes," if there's no objective basis for those values as moderns like Ruse often claim, then the yarns of de Grasse Tyson, our politicians, and our friends, are not really "wrong" at all. They're just unfortunate behaviors that some people, maybe an increasing number of people, engage in that perhaps we wish they wouldn't. We don't like it when they lie, we find it irritating, just as we find the behavior of the guy in the next booth in a restaurant who insists on talking loudly into his cell phone irritating, but lies transgress no moral law. How can they if there is no moral law to be transgressed?
Modernity, by dispensing with God, has taken down all the speed limit signs, turned off the street lights, pulled the cops off the job, and left everyone on the road of life to fend for themselves. Little wonder it's so hard to find someone you can trust.