Gawker reveals reality ignorance. Film at 11.

By Phil Plait | January 27, 2009 12:45 pm

I sometimes read Gawker, a celebrity gossip site, because I enjoy the snark. They go too far sometimes (many times), but it’s usually entertaining.

And it’s a gossip site, which means you can awaken any particular writer there out of a cold sleep and they’d still be able to recite Lindsay Lohan’s daily measurements. So it’s no shock that they don’t know much about astrophysicists.

It’s an article about a crowd going to a book signing event by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, head of the Hayden Planetarium in NYC, author of many books, and frequent talk-show guest. I have no surprise that the Gawker writer didn’t know who he was, since Neil’s never hit a paparazzi, not been seen to do drugs after swearing he doesn’t do them, or hasn’t had massive plastic surgery.

Neil is, though, kind of a big deal. He’s hosted his own PBS series, been on Colbert a number of times, and was on Conan Leno recently too. Of course, readers of this particular blog are probably far more likely to know who Neil is, so we’re biased.

But in a sense, it’s cool that Neil has risen to the level of getting snarked by a gossip blog. It’s something all us astrobloggers can aspire to.

Tip o’ the autograph pen to Rebecca.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff

Comments (35)

Links to this Post

  1. Scientist makes the D-list, almost « Peculiar Velocity | January 27, 2009
  1. Quiet Desperation

    I avoid celebrity gossip like ebola. Bleah.

  2. Helioprogenus

    Wasn’t Neil Tyson on the Tonight Show with Leno? I don’t remember seeing him on Conan though.

    Hopefully, his book tour eventually brings him around to this Central Pacific rock we call the aloha paradise. Maybe it’ll even be on my birthday, since it’s on the same day as his, and we could party it up.

  3. Well, that site is blocked by CEBTAF, but for once I am thankful. Dr. Plait, I think we just found out about one of your most guilty vices. Eep! ūüėõ

  4. If it helps you out, we’d be more than happy to start a celebrity rumour about you. Any preference?

  5. I told you that at Dragon Con!! I think that a skeptic/scientist gossip site is in order.

    We could even have pretend papparazi and stalkers. I volunteer to go to Las Vegas and stalk Penn Jillette! Only pretend, of course.

  6. Randall

    Tyson also did a cameo on an episode of Stargate Atlantis, but for some reason Bill Nye (who cameoed in the same episode) stole the spotlight. Not that I have anything against Nye, but I would have preferred to see more Tyson.

  7. RL

    I guess this just shows that its a big world. What you think is important or famous may not be to others. I kind of thought that the article was cool. It may help get exposure to a larger audience and pull those people in.

  8. I think I need to take some more Vitamin O.

  9. JerWah

    They have posted an update:

    We’re reliably informed by an actual science geek that Tyson appears regularly on Discovery Channel and the channel Science as a talking head and that he hosts Science Now (a Nova spinoff) on PBS.

    Is Phil the actual science geek in question?

  10. gopher65

    Randall: If you read the blog of the writer of the episode of Stargate, it says that they wanted him to be in the whole thing (along with someone else that they couldn’t get), but that NDT is such a big shot that they couldn’t manage it. Plus, he’s not an actor, whereas Bill Nye is. Still, it was fun watching Bill Nye be a scienction, heh.

    I too wanted more Tyson in that episode though. He’s great:).

  11. Kevin

    I had the honor of attending a lecture Dr. Tyson gave at Michigan State University last week. He was excellent, and his talk – fortunately – went way over time. :)

    And, like a true science geek, I got him to autograph swag for me. And I took a bunch of photos.

  12. molzim

    That’s hilarious. If I lived there, I would have been there in the front row!

    He is one sexy scientist! :)

  13. I always thought science needs to have much more to do with sex and other possibilities for scandal.

    This just confirms it.

    Glen D

  14. Dean

    It was painful to even visit that site.

  15. Plus Jon Stewart appears to be a fan-boy. Which just proves that Jon has good taste.

  16. Yoeman

    LOL! Read the comments, one of them says “He’s the Barack Obama of the Physics world.”
    That’s great.

  17. JackC

    OK – you made me read that dreck. Now I have to go shower again. Uggh. And to think I live just upstream from those clueless.. .Oh wait – we are talking NYC here. I suppose that was redundant.


  18. Mike

    This is /almost/ as bad as asking “Who is Carl Sagan?” back in the 80s/90s. Literati my ass.. illiterati is more like it. The article even starts with “WTF” and at one point I counted four consecutive question marks.

    The stupid, it burns!

  19. [pedant]a paparazzo is the singular of paparazzi[/pedant]


  20. Tom Woolf

    Hayden Planetarium? Oh, I love her character in “Heroes”!

  21. Keith

    Dr. Tyson is one of the coolest cats out there! This guy needs to crawl out from under his rock and take notice of Dr. Tyson’s greatness!

  22. MZ

    If it helps you out, we’d be more than happy to start a celebrity rumour about you. Any preference?

    I heard Phil Plait is dating Kaley Cuoco.

  23. jrpowell

    Save the Planetarium. Save the world.

  24. Dan

    Just a quick correction Phil. But wasn’t Neil on Leno not Conan recently?

  25. Oops. It was Leno. Fixed.

  26. There’s a lot of morons on that site, and this line proves it:

    This sudden popular interest in both science and books, simultaneously, is disturbing and we’re determined to get to the bottom of it.


  27. MadScientist

    Phil, shame on you. That site (that article in particular) vilifies intelligence. I don’t know what dung heap the author of the article evolved from, but that article is a classic study of how modern tv and gossip mags can rot your brain. The author also seems to subscribe to the myth of “wikipedia research” which features in modern movies. I would never pay to see the “X-Files” movie, but it featured on a recent plane trip. I fell out of my seat laughing when I learned that Dr. Scully does her research via Google. I wonder if I could present a google-researched paper on atmospheric chemistry at the next American Geophysical Union conference … I don’t think I’d dare try.

  28. Gary Ansorge


    I was kinda hoping that was said tongue in cheek.

    Gary 7

  29. they’d still be able to recite Lindsay Lohan’s daily measurements.


    “This sudden popular interest in both science and books, simultaneously, is disturbing and we‚Äôre determined to get to the bottom of it.”

    That’s the sort of humor you get a Gawker. They were kidding. Some of the people in the comments, however, appear to be serious.

  30. Cate

    Just FYI, Neil deGrasse Tyson will be on The Daily Show, Wednesday the 28th!

  31. Winter Solstice Man

    C. P. Snow’s The Two Cultures continues.

    I am praying this quote from that Paris Hilton brain of a blog is an ironic one:

    “This sudden popular interest in both science and books, simultaneously, is disturbing and we’re determined to get to the bottom of it.”

    I see that one of the commenters had NDGT as a teacher and then begged the blog readers not to think of him (the writer) as a total douchebag.

    Now you know why Bush was elected twice and why another Village Idiot may become our President again. Obama must have been a fluke.

  32. Shouldn’t that be paparazzum? Or possibly paparazzo as it’s Italian I think.

  33. gossip girl

    So, let me get this straight: The fact that I didn’t know who Neil DeGrasse Tyson was before reading this post is worse than another commenter not knowing about Lindsay Lohan? I think that’s a little…biased. I’d venture to say it’s different sides of the same coin.

  34. Crux Australis

    Elwood: paparazzo, you beat me to it.


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