Saturday, February 7, 2015

What do Brian Williams and Neil deGrasse Tyson have in common?

Excerpt from: "Recent history knows -- quite accurately, Mr. Williams -- other false memories" CNN

Astrophysicist and television host Neil deGrasse Tyson, a protege of the late Carl Sagan, claimed he heard President George W. Bush make a remark intended to highlight divisions between Judeo-Christian Americans and fundamentalist Muslims.
Tyson's assertion is still published on the webpage of the Hayden Planetarium, which he runs.
    "After the 9/11 attacks, when President George W. Bush, in a speech aimed at distinguishing the U.S. from the Muslim fundamentalists, said, 'Our God is the God who named the stars.' The problem is two-thirds of all the stars that have names, have Arabic names. I don't think he knew this. This would confound the point that he was making," Tyson said in a 2008 speech.
    Fact checkers found Tyson's recollection to be wrong, and The New York Times even published an opinion piece in December 2014 by two psychology professors about the Tyson incident and "Why Our Memory Fails Us."
    "In his post-9/11 speech, Mr. Bush actually said, 'The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends,' and he said nothing about the stars," wrote professors Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons.
    "Mr. Bush had indeed once said something like what Dr. Tyson remembered; in 2003 Mr. Bush said, in tribute to the astronauts lost in the Columbia space shuttle explosion, that 'the same creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today.' ''
    Tyson later published an explanation and an apology on his Facebook page. He noted how "blogosphere headlines" carried "accusations of me being a compulsive liar and a fabricator."
    "And I here publicly apologize to the President for casting his quote in the context of contrasting religions rather than as a poetic reference to the lost souls of Columbia. I have no excuse for this, other than both events -- so close to one another -- upset me greatly. In retrospect, I'm surprised I remembered any details from either of them," Tyson wrote in September 2014.