Geeks tend to be Democrats, says DeGrasse Tyson

The "Cosmos" presenter and astrophysicist muses that Republicans are desperate to attract the nerd set.

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A right-wing publication's criticism of Tyson. LiberalAgenda22/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Is it possible that geeks are all of one persuasion?

We know that most of them think alike and would prefer that all humanity thought, acted and dressed like engineers.

However, does this also imply that geeks are natural Democrats?

Appearing on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," Cosmos presenter and astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson explained his belief about nerd politics.

Responding to Maher's suggestion that Republicans dislike him because he's both a scientist and black, Tyson said: "There appears to be some jealousy that the nerd set, the geek set, tends to vote Democrat."

He explained that he believes Republicans were desperate to get the geek vote. (Denigrating geeks might not be the best way to do it.)

Tyson added: "Right now Comic-Con is going on in San Diego. Just go there and take a show of hands. (...) It'll be overwhelmingly liberal democrat."

Why should this be? Is it because too many of the louder Republicans seem to rather against any scientific explanation of Earth's coming into existence? Or is it because too many geeks show, to some, subversive tendencies by so gleefully and quickly overturning many traditional forms of thought and behavior?

Maher suggested that one thing Republicans don't like about DeGrasse Tyson's "Cosmos" is that it suggests we humans aren't terribly significant in the context of the Universe.

"Insignificance, if that's how your mindset is going in, could depress you," said Tyson. He prefers, though, to focus on the fascination that we are "genetically connected to a tree." (I immediately think of the weeping willow, for some reason.)

Tyson prefers to focus on what's "awesome" about earthly life, rather than whether we are a big celestial power.

He also took the opportunity to insist that Earth wasn't almost struck by a solar storm in 2012.

Many have been quaking since last week, when the second anniversary of a "near-miss" solar storm that might have wiped out Earth's electronics was, well, celebrated.

It was said in NASA's own Science News that the event was "perilous." This prompted august publications such as the New York Daily Post to shriek: "Solar flare nearly destroyed Earth two years ago."

Tyson destroyed that notion: "Every time you see the Northern Lights, we have just been slammed by a plasma pie from the sun."

Of the 2012 solar storm, he offered: "People say it was a near-miss. It was not a near-miss."

It struck one-third of the way around our orbit, he explained.

"When you cross the street and a truck has just gone by, you say "gosh I just got hit by the truck.' No, the truck is over there," he said, pointing to a place beyond, rather than here.

He added that, yes, if it had been a direct hit, it likely would have altered magnetic fields in circuitry and affected GPS and other electronic systems.

Maher mused: "That's a lot scarier than dying to a lot of people."

In essence, then, there will be those who will scare us and those who will simply seek better explanations for everything.

It's funny how powerful the frighteners can be, though.

 

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