On Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Bill Maher Remarks

Typically, I would not remark on a single series of comments but this one regarded nuclear weapons by a renowned scientist and was so profoundly wrong that my inner-Asperger’s nerd had to scream. Neil Degreasse Tyson said on Bill Maher’s show that modern nuclear weapons don’t produce radiation. He was correct in saying that fusion does not produce ionizing radiation but he was insanely wrong in his conception that a bomb using fusion would not produce ionizing radiation. Principally, because a fusion bomb is ignited by a fission explosion and a fission explosion as big as a normal-sized nuke. It is deeply concerning when an expert says something wrong because people trust them. Neil Degrasse Tyson, however, is an astrophysicist and trades primarily in relativity and gravity in his expertise; not the microscopic parts of physics. Neil also demonstrated a lack of knowledge of what a tactical nuke is. A tactical nuclear weapon is not a fusion device but a purely fission device because the only way to keep the explosion relatively small is to make it fission.

Neil also said that the media blows the danger of nukes out of proportion since the firebombings of Tokyo and Dresden were worse. They were worse in terms of death toll and property damage but the firebombing of Tokyo took 325 bombers while Hiroshima only used a single bomber. Also, to call his moral calulus flawed would be an understatement. It’s insane and beyond moral logic to say since an event that killed 100,000 people happened that another event which killed 80,000 was not a big deal. These were all full human lives with feelings, memories, childhoods, friends, and more and he is thinking about them like they were points in a video game since that is one of the very few contexts in which one episode scoring 100,000 makes an episode scoring 80,000 not a big deal. Now, what Hiroshima and Nagasaki should be compared to is the potential death toll of a ground invasion of the Japanese main islands which would have been far, far, higher, including in civilian deaths. That is why I believe they were justified.

The lack of empathy was shocking. What it seemed Neil was attempting was to be contrarian out of the arrogance he gets from having the reputation of being the smartest guy in the room. He was correcting people to look smarter than them. If anything, this proves why STEM needs the humanities. Watching Neil talk about nukes on Bill Maher’s show was like watching him on the Western Front in The Great War and having a nerdgasm over the chemistry of Mustard Gas and doing it with a jaded, pretensiousness, and oafish sense of geeky fun. It was a nihilistic version of Mythbusters tailored for fifth graders featuring a jumpy and colorful Adam Savage utterly and completely devoid of humanity. Now, when I say the hummanities I don’t mean all of the humanities. Like, Left likes including the edgy arts but shit like Marco Evarsetti blending goldfish or some avant-agrde piece like Perfume: The Story of a Murderer or Ezra Pound and Salvidore Dali (being fascists) don’t count as humanities because they have no humanity. But like Hugo, Dickens, Steinbeck, Apocolypse Now, and the Shawshank Redemption. That way one doesn’t emerge from Verdun and think “The Somme had a higher body count so this isn’t a big deal”

Most of Neil’s fans are unaware that Verdun ever happened. Hell, most of them couldn’t name a single lake on Titan. When the demograpphic of his fans, which include a lot of a my fellow Aspies, do dive into history it is things like Vikings and RPG fantasy. Dreams of being a Viking are of the easy life of stealing from and raping peasants and not the hard life of being a peasant including being raped and stolen from. There is no humanity in the Vikings series or much in Norse mythology, especially the Norse mythology translated by Wagner and then made consumerist candy for seven-year-olds as superhero franchises. Marvel did worse things to Odin to make him less badass than Stephanie Meyer did to vampires in the same direction and that is saying a considerable amount. I have to admit that a large portion of my fellow Aspies don’t have much use for poetry or much of a soul for it. It is one of the principal differences between the Westies and the Weebs on the spectrum, which rouhgly translate to the romantics and the geeks. I am a Westie (romantic). And a humanistic romantic, something my community needs more of.

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