nents. Viruses can reproduce waaaay faster than Rab- bits,” he tweeted on April 6, after much of the nation had locked down to slow the pandemic’s spread. For added viral impact, he attached a photo of an adorable, perhaps appropriately scared-looking, white bunny. Tyson is a rare scientist-turned-celebrity. His appeal isn’t acting in movies or singing dance-pop anthems (if only). Rather, his life’s work is making science fun and interesting to as many people as possible through his best-selling books on astrophysics and his direc- torship of the planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. His longstanding place in popular culture is an exception, not the rule. And he believes his fellow celebrities, actors and pop music stars and internet influencers, should aid the public’s quest for accurate scientific information. And in order to do that, they must point their followers to experts and organizations who know what they’re talking about. “It could be to a website, it could be to a talk that was given. I would say that that’s where the responsibility lies if you control the interests of a million people,” he says. One example of this is Lady Gaga’s March 14 Insta- gram of herself on her couch with her three dogs with the caption, “So I talked to some doctors and scien- tists. It’s not the easiest for everyone right now but the kindest/healthiest thing we can do is self-quarantine
and not hang out with people over 65 and in large groups. I wish I could see my parents and grandmas right now but it’s much safer to not so I don’t get them sick in case I have it. I’m hanging at home with my dogs.” (All the celebrities here in this article are my references, not Tyson’s, who does not call out specific people.) Of course, not all celebrities message responsibly. Jessica Biel and Jenny McCarthy have faced scorn for public stances against vaccines. Gwyneth Paltrow and her media brand GOOP have faced backlash for promoting homeopathic treatments with no basis in science. “The New Age Movement is a cultural idea, it has nothing to do with religion, has nothing to do with politics, and it’s people who were rejecting objec- tively established science in part or in total because they have a belief system that they want to attach to it, okay? This is how you get the homeopathic remedies,” says Tyson. “That’s why science exists, so that we don’t have to base decisions on belief systems.”
Amy Odell is a journalist who writes about fashion, media, pop culture, and women’s issues, and often wonders if she should have become a biologist instead.
Neil deGrasse Tyson Wants Celebrities to Promote Scientists
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