Is Tyson Telling the Truth in his “Apology?”

Tyson ends his “apology” by patting himself on the back:

If I were to rank the top twenty things I love to do, giving public talks would not make the cut. What does? Doing scientific research. Writing books. Playing with my kids. Having a play-date with my wife. Eating homemade very-buttery popcorn while watching a movie curled up on the couch with the family. Reading antiquarian science books. Taking notes for my next book with quill and fountain pens by candlelight. Attending Broadway plays and musicals. Listening to jazz and classical music. Drinking malted milkshakes. Cooking dinners that are fancier than the day of the week deserves. Drinking a bottle of wine that is just a little more expensive than can be realistically justified. And cooking & eating waffles for breakfast. e.g.

I nonetheless continue give talks because, knowing what I know about the physical universe – and our place within it – I’d be socially irresponsible if I did not.

Does anyone out there believe this? Anyone? The longsuffering Neil deGrasse Tyson would rather be listening to jazz or drinking malted milkshakes than taking the stage to give a talk?

If you have not watched the video of Tyson telling his tall tale about George Bush, I encourage you to watch it:

That clearly looks like a man who is enjoying every moment of being the center of attention.

And the reason he sacrifices so much is because of his noble and mighty sense of social responsibility? Is that believable?

Now, we can expect the Tyson Faithful to lap this up, given they’ve shown themselves to be gullible rubes when it comes to their Idol. But those of us who value critical thinking are left with a question – Is Tyson really sacrificing or is he financially compensated for those sacrificial talks?

According to Celebrity Talent International, Tyson’s minimum fees for speaking somewhere in the USA is $30,000-$75,000.


But is this site accurate? I don’t know.

According to this guy, Tyspn’s speaking fee was $22,750. Almost 23 thousand dollars for one talk. Cha-ching.

But that person’s organization/school might have received a huge discount. Notice what someone else says in the followup comments:

Wow, that’s incredibly cheap for him. I’m curious where you got that number from? We’ve looked into booking him in the past and it was closer to 75-90k.

Again, I’m not sure how accurate any of this is. But a report from Grand Valley State University’s student paper looks pretty solid:

Tyson’s speaking fee is $40,000, and an additional $15,000 was spent to cover the rest of the cost for the event, said Maria Beelen, vice president of the Center for Inquiry.

So, it would appear his speaking fee is somewhere between $20,000 and $90,000. These numbers are believable, given that the Friendly Atheist informed us back in 2007 that Sam Harris was getting $25,000 for his talks.

So let’s incorporate this information and revisit his posturing as the longsuffering, socially-responsible Man of Science.
According to Tyson, the reason he gives his talks is because of his sense of social responsibility. He makes no mention of the money he is making.

It boils down to this – Tyson is expecting people to believe that he would rather sip a milkshake while listening to jazz than make $40,000. He’s just not all that into making $40,000 for one night’s talk about science.


Or, put it this way. Behind Door #1, there is a milkshake. Behind Door #2, there is $40,000. Tyson wants us to believe he’d choose the door with the milkshake if it wasn’t for his self-sacrificing sense of social responsibility.

Er….yeah, right.

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3 Responses to Is Tyson Telling the Truth in his “Apology?”

  1. Crude says:

    It would be socially irresponsible for Tyson to do scientific research instead of giving talks? 😀

  2. Ilíon says:

    I nonetheless continue give talks because, knowing what I know about the physical universe – and our place within it – I’d be socially irresponsible if I did not.

    This seems to me to be strongly implying that one has a moral obligation to do “socially responsible” things and avoid doing “socially irresponsible” things. Yet, isn’t also true that those who “know about the physical universe – and our place within it” in the mode of Tyson “know”, or at least constantly assert, that there is no such thing as a moral obligation?

  3. Dhay says:

    “In this brief but illuminating work, Sam Harris applies his characteristically calm and sensible logic to a subject that affects us all—the human capacity to lie. And by the book’s end, Harris compels you to lead a better life because the benefits of telling the truth far outweigh the cost of lies—to yourself, to others, and to society.”
    — Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History

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