On the one hand, I’d like to know who Neil deGrasse Tyson plans to support in the presidential elections. But on the other? I hope he never answers that question publicly. Why? Because politics is outside of his realm of expertise. I mean, sure, there are plenty of scientific and environmental issues looming large on the political stage these days: Flint; 2015 as the warmest year in the history of recording such a thing; fracking and the increased incidence of earthquakes… But these are all single issues, though, which should be discussed and discovered separately, just like every other issue that is important to the voting populace.
Something’s been bothering me for a long time… relative to how we come to our opinions about the world. It’s been a growing irksome thing, to me, for decades. It started back when Princess Diana began visiting one impoverished area then another. Her intent was heartfelt — the way she highlighted our failings as a species was quite effective. And we all adored her using her position for the good. But in the intervening 30-odd years, that scheme has turned grossly self-serving. I never cared when Angelina Jolie went to Africa (and wherever else) to lend her celebrity to the plight of the impoverished. I always figured it was a ploy to put herself in the public eye and make a bigger name for herself. Maybe she does have a good heart, but how do I know? I don’t know the woman.
And these days it’s come to the level of downright ridiculousness. Who in their right mind would rely on someone like Jenny McCarthy to instruct their opinion about vaccinations? That’s not smart. Of course it’s not! Who would take as scientific truth that the earth is flat because some rapper is claiming it? Come on! Are we even for real? And don’t get me started about celebrity endorsements of political leaders. I could care less who some backwoods, longbearded, famous-assed redneck thinks will make a good president. And I’ll add just one more item to this list: I’m sure as hell not gonna listen to some dude (any dude) tell me what can or cannot happen inside of my uterus. Let’s just get that straight right now.
My point is, I think it’s important we respect public individuals for their personal skills, not their opinions. Good actors are famous because of their acting skills. Good business people are known for their business acumen (c’mon Zuck, you’re no baby-raising guru). Physicists know the hell out of physics, and a skilled horsewoman will train the heck out of your horse if you ask real nice. Of course, if you happen to know a person well enough to have gained respect for them. Maybe then you respect their opinions. But I mean, you know them, like IRL know them. Not reality TV know them. Or Twitter feed know them. Or you watch their vlog every day and feel like you know them, know them. None of those things are real.
Hell, I’ve known some people for years. I love them. I respect them. But we 100% disagree about almost every social and political issue coming down the pike. So you see? Right there! Even knowing a person very, very well doesn’t mean that we have to agree with their opinions. Or their opinions are worth a pound of salt. I suppose I just wish we weren’t so lazy headed when it comes to important stuff. Because that’s how Hitlers are made, isn’t it?