Monday, August 05, 2019

Neil deGrasse Tyson's Stupid Tweet

Distressingly, 266,000 people have liked this tweet so far.

It's hard to understand how Tyson couldn't see his tweet's lack of empathy and its smart aleck-iness. Or his poor reasoning -- all of those problems are amenable to preventative actions except walking down an aisle at Walmart.

Tyson should apologize. Instead of his qualified apology (which are never real apologies).


David in Cal said...

I respect Tyson's effort, because media attention is so uneven. Mass killings receive disproportionate attention. OTOH when black murder victims skyrocketed by 1,800 per year between 2014 to 2016, there was hardly any coverage. Also, Wikipedia links to various studies, which put the annual number of defensive gun uses as between 55,000 and 4,700,000. Almost no source covers this. There are a great many individual instances in which a gun prevents a disaster. These generally receive only local coverage.


Victor Venema said...

It is an enormous lack of empathy, but what is more preventable about medical errors and car accidents for the victims than about going to the supermarket?

America should talk much more about suicides. A major reason so many more Americans die due to suicides is the easy access Americans have to guns. After a suicide attempt many people pick up their life again, but guns are made to kill and there is not often a life after a gun suicide attempt. Here you cannot start with the stupidity of a good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy, which hardly ever happens, here the good guy is doing the killing.

Just like one should talk more about the fact that people with guns much more often shoot their loved ones than intruders.

These American mass shootings should be solved, it is impossible that there are still no universal background checks, that people who are not allowed to fly can by weapons of mass destruction and that Trump has closed down the department fighting far right violence, while Nazis are marauding the country, but these shootings should not define the debate around guns.

David Appell said...

Victor, you can reduce medical errors by more training, cross checks and technology. Flu vaccinations. Wear seat belts. More mental health counseling for those deeply depressed. Anti-depressants.

I agree with all the rest of what you write about guns. But addressing their causes and restricting guns is not going to happen in America, as long as Republicans control legislation. This past weekend hasn't changed a thing.

David Appell said...

DiC, mass shootings get disproportionate attention because they're disproportionally terrifying. Because all of us walk down the aisles of big box stores, go to movie theatres, go to restaurants and bars. So we can all imagine being in such a place where any second someone with a machine gun can enter and decimate the place.

The Wikipedia article on defensive gun use has a paragraph you didn't mention:

"Both Kleck and Gertz' and Lott's research are highly controversial within the academic community...."

David Appell said...

Here's such a study:

"Risks and Benefits of a Gun in the Home,"
David Hemenway, Ph.D, AMERICAN JOURNAL OF LIFESTYLE MEDICINE November/December 2011 vol. 5 no. 6 502-511

"This article summarizes the scientific literature on the health risks and benefits of having a gun in the home for the gun owner and his/her family. For most contemporary Americans, scientific studies indicate that the health risk of a gun in the home is greater than the benefit. The evidence is overwhelming for the fact that a gun in the home is a risk factor for completed suicide and that gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns. There is compelling evidence that a gun in the home is a risk factor for intimidation and for killing women in their homes. On the benefit side, there are fewer studies, and there is no credible evidence of a deterrent effect of firearms or that a gun in the home reduces the likelihood or severity of injury during an altercation or break-in. Thus, groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics urge parents not to have guns in the home."

Victor Venema said...

"Victor, you can reduce medical errors by more training, cross checks and technology. Flu vaccinations. Wear seat belts."

As a victim I cannot provide more medical training any more than I can make David in Cal accept science or a corrupt Congress pass universal background checks.

At least were I come from the deaths due to car accidents are mostly people killed by cars, not the (drunk) driver.

David Appell said...

I think you can reduce the medical errors you might suffer by paying attention, if you can, and asking questions. Is this the same pill I took last time? -- why is it a different color? What are you plugging into my IV feed? Make sure the MRI tech knows what pictures they're to take. Ask if the titanium rods in your neck might cause a problem. Keep an updated list of your medications. Ask the pharmacist if a pill shape or size changes. If you're having ankle surgery, write "NOT THIS ONE!" on your other ankle in magic marker before you go to the surgical center. Etc.

20 Tips To Help Prevent Medical Errors: Patient Fact Sheet

David in Cal said...

David -- As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger when they were surrounded by hostile Indians, "What do you mean we Kemo Sabe?" We upper middle class whites living in nice neighborhoods can imagine themselves in a big box store. Blacks living in bad inner city neighborhoods don't have to imagine people being shot. It's happening all around them all too frequently. The murder rate in Baltimore is so high that residents would qualify as refugees, if Baltimore were a foreign country.

Regarding the value of a gun in the home: Seventy million American adults think they're better off with a gun in their home.* I trust the gun-owners' opinions more than a single academic study. Particularly, when there are other studies pointing in the opposite direction.

*Pew says "Three-in-ten American adults (30%) say they personally own a gun, and an additional 11% say they live with someone who does."


David Appell said...

DiC: I don't get what point your first paragraph is trying to make.

Gun owners are biased and often not rational. They think guns in their homes protect them, but studies show the opposite.

About the 2nd paragraph: there are many more studies, if you would just bother to look around.

“Where there are more guns there is more homicide,” Harvard Injury Control Research Center

Kellermann AL, Rivara FP, Rushforth NB. et al. Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home. N Engl J Med. 1993;329(15):1084–1091.

Bailey JE, Kellermann AL, Somes G, Banton JG, Rivara F, Rushforth NB. Risk factors for violent death of women in the home. Arch Intern Med. 1997;157(7):777–782.

Cummings P, Koepsell TD, Grossman DC, Savarino J, Thompson RS. The association between the purchase of a handgun and homicide or suicide. Am J Public Health. 1997;87(6):974–978.

Siegel M1, Negussie Y, Vanture S, Pleskunas J, Ross CS, King C 3rd. The relationship between gun ownership and stranger and nonstranger firearm homicide rates in the United States, 1981-2010. Am J Public Health. 2014 Oct;104(10):1912-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302042. Epub 2014 Aug 14.

"Living in a house with a gun increases your odds of death,"
Vox, 11/14/18.

For more see PUBMED or Google Scholar or ResearchNet.

David in Cal said...

David - the opening joke was meant to reference your post at 2:30 about how "us" and "we" react.

William M. Connolley said...

DeGT seems sensible to me. Empathy is over rated.

David Appell said...

Then how about "tone deaf?"

Thomas said...

How is it less terrifying to know you can at any time be run over by a car on the sidewalk than that you can be shot?

If a major newspaper had put the same text on their frontpage it would have offensive, but as a twitter, I just don't see the big deal. Everyone doesn't have to say the same "thoughts and prayers", some different perspectives are useful.

William M. Connolley said...

Caring about tone is to miss the substance, so that's bad too.

David Appell said...

Dismissing tone is to miss the essence, so that's too bad.

David Appell said...


Gee why do you think people inherently fear a random mass shooting much more than being run over on a sidewalk?

Really, this isn't a difficult question. In one case we assume the risk. In another we are shocked by it.

Victor Venema said...

So we should not express medical deaths which happened one by one with airliners dropping out of the sky, like this wonderful John Oliver piece?

If I recall correctly this is even part of Dutch risk law. One event where 100 people die is seen as less acceptable (should have a lower risk) than 100 events where 1 person dies.

Hop David said...

Tyson's hasn't done research or cracked a textbook in nearly 30 years. His thing has been shallow pop science, mostly stuff people should have learned in high school. And he even gets that wrong.

His biggest talent seems to be trolling hot button topics to get his name exposure.