Neil deGrasse Tyson Just Schooled Bill Maher on His Anti-Science Bullsh*t

Neil deGrasse Tyson Just Schooled Bill Maher on His Anti-Science Bullsh*t
Source: AP
Source: AP

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has a bone to pick with Bill Maher.

On Maher's Friday night HBO show Real Time With Bill Maher, the political comedian claimed that conservatives deny science more than liberals.

"Let's not pretend that Democrats and Republicans equally deny science," Maher said to a panel that included Tyson, Reason magazine editor-in-chief Matt Welch, Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon and restaurateur Eddie Huang, writer of the memoir Fresh Off the Boat.

"Don't be too high and mighty there," Tyson responded. "Because there are certain aspects of science denials that are squarely in the liberal left."

Source: YouTube

These "certain aspects" include the myth that vaccines cause autism, which Maher happens to believe. Also that alternative medicines like ancient herbs can cure whatever ails you, and that genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are dangerous.

Maher's response is that climate change denial — on the part of anti-science conservatives — is a much more destructive position. "Size matters," he says, after cutting Tyson off for the zillionth time. "Excuse me, but climate change is the biggest issue of our time."

That's mostly right. 

Climate change is, in terms of the survival of the human race, an enormous issue. But just calling conservatives science-haters underreports the nonsense coming from science-denying liberals. 

GMOs

One example is the assumption that GMOs are science fiction made reality. The truth is that we've been genetically modifying flora and fauna for decades. 

"Practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food," Tyson told a French journalist in a video interview posted to YouTube in 2014. "We have systematically genetically modified all of the foods, the vegetables and animals, that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them. It's called artificial selection."

Homeopathy

In 2015, a research team from Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council debunked the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions.

"This analysis looked at existing studies that compared homeopathy to both placebo and standard treatments," Dr. David Seres, director of medical nutrition and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center's Institute of Human Nutrition, told Mic. "What this says is that it is not in your best interest to depend on homeopathic treatment when there is proven medical therapy."

The panel points out a liberal fear of big pharmaceutical companies. But they should probably fear killing their children with bad science more.

Maher eventually reiterated his point, that the issue is a black-and-white, "which-is-worse" scenario. But it's not. Bad science is bad science and needs to be taken down — even if it comes from people who share your political beliefs.

Tyson's face by the end of the segment says it all.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Max Plenke

Max Plenke is a staff writer at Mic, where he covers breaking news, climate science, health and the future. His work has appeared in Esquire, GQ and Wallpaper. Send story tips to max@mic.com.

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