Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Tesla’s Elon Musk Will Transform Civilization

NOV 25 2018 BY EVANNEX 53


Elon Musk remains a frequent target in the media. Clickbait journalists clack away at their keyboards and smear the Tesla and SpaceX CEO on a regular basis. Sometimes an outside perspective is needed — especially from someone who really knows science and space. To that end, CNBC sat down with renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to get his take on Elon Musk.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson (Image: Interesting Engineering)

Considering the role that people like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk play in our everyday lives, CNBC asks which of this generation’s biggest tech luminaries will ultimately be remembered for having the greatest lasting effect on the world?

“As important as Steve Jobs was, no doubt about it — [and] you have to add him to Bill Gates, because they birthed the personal computing revolution kind of together — here’s the difference: Elon Musk is trying to invent a future, not by providing the next app,” deGrasse Tyson says.

“What Elon Musk is doing is not simply giving us the next app that will be awesome on our smartphone,” deGrasse Tyson continues. “No, he is thinking about society, culture, how we interact, what forces need to be in play to take civilization into the next century.”

Above: Neil deGrasse Tyson weighs in on Elon Musk (Youtube: CNBC Make It.)

“People who own Teslas love their Tesla …” deGrasse Tyson says. “Anyone who knows and cares about space exploration knows and cares about Elon Musk.”

It’s understandable deGrasse Tyson would have a soft spot for Musk’s intergalactic ambitions. After all, the astrophysicist is also director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium and host of “StarTalk” on the National Geographic Channel. When it comes to Musk, deGrasse Tyson predicts, “[H]e will transform civilization as we know it.”

“Because there’s unlimited resources in space; resources that, on Earth, we fight wars over,” deGrasse Tyson tells CNBC. “In space, you don’t need to fight a war, just go to another asteroid and get your resources. A whole category of war has the potential of evaporating entirely with the exploitation of space resources, which includes the unlimited access to energy as well.”

Above: Neil deGrasse Tyson tackles the brainteaser interview question that Elon Musk has used to screen potential employees (Youtube: CNBC Make It.)

“[W]e’re on the frontier of the future of civilization, and no I don’t think he gets his full due from all sectors of society,” says deGrasse Tyson, “but ultimately he will when the sectors that he is pioneering transform the lives of those who currently have no clue that their life is about to change.”


Source: CNBC

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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53 Comments on "Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Tesla’s Elon Musk Will Transform Civilization"

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What an amazing hypocrit!! The guy was the first one to talk trash on Musk…

I can tell you first hand, scientists love to be proving wrong. It’s not being hypocrite. It’s being able to be converted through evidence, not hype. Neil has seen the effects of Tesla and Spacex

Neil just hopes for Musk to eventually build a rocket powerful enough to carry a high power nuclear bomb to destroy Pluto and end the whole debate.

Is it accurate to call Neil a scientist? Tyson sure didn’t like it when Sean Davis proved him wrong. There’s a series of columns in the Washington Post about that debacle. Google: Neil deGrasse Tyson Jonathan Adler George Bush

For those too lazy or biased to Google, here’s one article:

It does confirm that Mr Tyson does like to tell some tall tales or make up fibs, and then refuses to admit that he made a mistake or outright lied. ☹️

Only the fools never change their mind.

Neil was wrong. He realised and admitted that publicly. Something a hypocrit would never do.

To change your mind about something is a skill most of the people out there lack severly.

I agree with deGrasse-Tyson. I think the view of Musk falls into 1 of 2 camps: 1) Those who look at his body of work, vision, and where he’s aiming, and 2) Those who focus on his eccentricities. Without giving him a free pass on his foibles, I personally choose to focus on the good he’s done. It’s easier to find negativity in this world vice positives, the media loves bad stories way more successful ones, Musk isn’t immune to this.

Sure, with a name like de Grass, puffing on a little spleef, is no problem.
Seriously though Neil makes valid points concerning Musk and his impact.

DeGrasse Tyson has a point; although men will most likely continue to wage wars in space just like they’ve done on Earth for millennia, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Now, if we let *women* take control of matters… it might be different 🙂

As to Dear Elon, it will definitely help if he stops saying “interesting” things like he’s planning to move to Mars in 7 years.

To quote the great Mike Baxter, if women ruled the world there would be no wars “Because there’d be nothing worth fighting over!” 😁

That’s not how I read his remarks. He said there is a 70% chance he will go to Mars in his lifetime. He also said sending people to Mars could be possible in seven years. I don’t think he meant to imply that he’d go on the first one himself?…

Why would anyone care what a media personality has to say? This guy is more of an actor than a scientist.

There are millions of scientists around the world. But there aren’t that many who who understand science deeply but are also both charismatic and good communicators who are able to explain complex scientific concepts to the average person. Thank goodness Neil deGrass Tyson is exercising his talents in that area!

And what have you done to help get people interested in science, and actually get some of them excited about it, Clarity?

Most of us disagree with Clarity, but Clarity doesn’t have to get people excited about science – not everyone can do that. No need to take a shot at him.

Nothing more than an instructor at a junior college. We conflate science with entertainment. Each has their place. I really like several actors but I do not look for their opinions that they are not qualified to give. Might want to look at guys like Nye and Tyson as entertainers. When they throw your dissertation in the trash, you might not be qualifed for a doctorite. Just an opinion though.

“Nothing more than an instructor at a junior college.”

“When they throw your dissertation in the trash, you might not be qualifed for a doctorite. Just an opinion though.”

Yeah that’s not an opinion, that’s hate-fueled lies wrapped in a gross helping of academic elitism. Elon Musk spent 2 days as a doctoral student before dropping out so it’s ridiculous to attack someone who actually received a Ph.D and did a postdoc as being academically unqualified to simply state an opinion on Elon Musk and have that opinion get carried by this website. What exactly is the minimum academic requirement for that? Is he wrong in some fundamental way that would be obvious to anyone who got their doctorate from somewhere more rigorous than Columbia University?

The thing is, your comment is more disqualifying than anything Neil has said publicly and yet you still think that the world should hear your opinion on this site. Funny that huh?

Ok calm down. Let me make it very simple for you. I am not saying I know more than Tyson or Nye. I most certainly do not. My work has nothing to do with science. But, they are not publishing an article quoting my thoughts on science and the future. I am commenting that these guys are not authorities. You can quit arguing with me and read their qualifications. Good day sir…. Slap slap….

Um, you said Neil was an instructor at a junior college and that “they” threw his dissertation in a garbage. Maybe, like, don’t lie? Also it’s hilarious that your academic standard for having an article about your thoughts in a casual EV blog is somewhere more than a postdoctorate. Did you confuse this website with Nature?

Oh wait:

I guess their editors thought he was qualified enough to be the subject of a blog too. Maybe you should hop in their comment section and tell them what’s what!

Umm no. I was asked what I had done to teach people. For two years I was an instructor at a JC. I was agreeing with the comment that Tyson had done more. But doing more than I have done does make you an expert. Anyway, I surrender. Keep your hero.

That’s interesting. I had intended to come into the comments to share my not-so-great personal experience with the man, but you comments were so extreme that I was forced to re-evaluate my preconceptions of expertise and being an authority on the subject. I came to the conclusion that Neil isn’t asked to speak because he’s an astronomer or a good teacher. There are plenty of astronomer teachers, great ones even. He was asked his opinion because he has spent his entire career mastering the notion of the intersectionality between science and culture and he actually is one of the world’s leading experts in that topic. It’s interesting that you would qualify a man with a Ph.d in physics as a non scientist, but with no degrees or formal training in acting as an actor. The reason he’s so entwined in the conversation is because he’s very good at reading the public’s pulse. The skill you refer to as acting is actually a mastery of that. I would say that I cannot easily name a single living physicist or astronomer who exceeds him at this. Adam Riess for example, by comparison, doesn’t even come close despite his Nobel and he’s a… Read more »

Clarity I bet you think climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

Let’s not jump to conclusions here…he is an ev driver still.

EV driver that voted for trump 🤪

I drive aTM3 and I voted for Trump. So what? Is my opinion less worthy because of my conservatism?

I see from your comment below that you were referring to yourself, and not Tyson, as “Nothing more than an instructor at a junior college”. That wasn’t clear when I first read your comment.

* * * * *

Neil deGrasse Tyson was willing to put his reputation on the line about “demoting” Pluto from a major planet to a minor one, quite some time before astronomers came to a consensus on that. To dismiss Tyson as a mere entertainer isn’t merely a questionable opinion, it’s factually incorrect.

Must be ultra conservative @Clarity

Exactly. Bill Nye and Carl Sagan were great communicators that made complex theory understandable to the masses

Exactly. Carl Sagan and his “billions and billions” of universes (according to Johnny Carson), entertained and educated. Bill Nye, the Science Guy entertains and educates both children and adults. Now when our attention spans are shorter than ever and the need to be entertained is almost constant we have Neil deGrasse Tyson. We need these scientists/teachers/entertainers to catch the attention and spur the interest particularly of young people who will be those that keep us alive on this world, or some other, in the not too distant future. Heaven knows our government sure isn’t supporting or spurring interest in science or space exploration or anything else, except oil. Elon Musk is our current visionary that early on has shown what can be done with imagination, vision, effort and money.

“But there aren’t that many who who understand science deeply but are also both charismatic and good communicators”

While Neil is charismatic I wouldn’t say he has a deep understanding of science. Most of his pop science routine is stuff people should have learned in high school. And Neil even gets a lot of that basic math and science wrong.

Google: fact checking Neil deGrasse Tyson.

That said, I sometimes agree with him. I share his admiration for Musk.

Neil deGrass Tyson: Another of my heroes! He does a fantastic job of making science fun and exciting, even for Joe Average and others who are not deeply “into” science.

Great to see one visionary supporting another. The world needs more positive messages like this!

Go Neil! Go Elon!
🙂 🙂 🙂



He’s your hero? Neil deGrass Tyson is a freakin’ bully.


Given your history of trollish posts on this forum, IO, I’m glad you strongly disagree with me.

Judge a man by the reputation of his enemies. –Arabian proverb

Pu-Pu, you OBVIOUSLY didn’t click on the link in my comment and watch the short video clip.

If you would have watched the video, you wouldn’t have gotten your panties in a bunch for no good reason.

Neil is a source of misinformation. He routinely botches basic math and physics. Worse, he uses bad history to support his political talking points. Google: fact checking Neil deGrasse Tyson

I share Neil’s admiration for Musk, though.

I also share Neil’s opinion that ‘Murica is sliding down hill when it comes to science literacy and critical thinking skills. If we had a clue we wouldn’t be putting this incompetent on a pedestal.

Musk for president

Wasn’t born in the US or it’s territories

He’s got more important stuff to do 😛

A true humanitarian and a selfless hero.

Wars over resources will still occur. If someone finds a resource needed and they determine is financially and practically more sound to “take it from them”… you now have a fight. Get countries involved and suddenly it’s become a war.

Once again to stake our claim,
We watch our shiny rockets flame,
and blaze with purpose into an endless ocean.
And beyond that lies a golden beach,
And cresting just beyond our reach,
An escapade of laser blades in motion!

The Bobble-heads say every day,
That we’ll get there and we’ll want to stay,
In hopes that Einstein someday will retire.
And All we have to do is try,
And as a mighty group we’ll fly
Into the land of brimstone and fire.


The truth it sometimes gets it wrong,
You see, Hell is up and Heaven Down
We always seem to be lookin’ in the wrong direction.
Its beneath the waves we’ll find our fate,
The only place to see the gate,
And bosom felt we’ll make the right connection,

Lucy’s lies, they still hold strong,
Its the rotten fruit that chokes our song,
We were never really banished from The Garden,
So strike a mighty righteous chord,
A joyous noise unto The Lord
And in the murky deep we’ll find our pardon.


Looks qualified to me: Research publications Twarog, Bruce A.; Tyson, Neil D. (1985). “UVBY Photometry of Blue Stragglers in NGC 7789”. Astronomical Journal 90: 1247. doi:10.1086/113833. Tyson, Neil D.; Scalo, John M. (1988). “Bursting Dwarf Galaxies: Implications for Luminosity Function, Space Density, and Cosmological Mass Density”. Astrophysical Journal 329: 618. doi:10.1086/166408. Tyson, Neil D. (1988). “On the possibility of Gas-Rich Dwarf Galaxies in the Lyman-alpha Forest”. Astrophysical Journal (Letters) 329: L57. doi:10.1086/185176. Tyson, Neil D.; Rich, Michael (1991). “Radial Velocity Distribution and Line Strengths of 33 Carbon Stars in the Galactic Bulge”. Astrophysical Journal 367: 547. doi:10.1086/169651. Tyson, Neil D.; Gal, Roy R. (1993). “An Exposure Guide for Taking Twilight Flatfields with Large Format CCDs”. Astronomical Journal 105: 1206. doi:10.1086/116505. Tyson, Neil D.; Richmond, Michael W.; Woodhams, Michael; Ciotti, Luca (1993). “On the Possibility of a Major Impact on Uranus in the Past Century”. Astronomy & Astrophysics (Research Notes) 275: 630. Schmidt, B. P., et al. (1994). “The Expanding Photosphere Method Applied to SN1992am at cz = 14600 km/s”. Astronomical Journal 107: 1444. Wells, L. A. et al. (1994). “The Type Ia Supernova 1989B in NGC3627 (M66)”. Astronomical Journal 108: 2233. doi:10.1086/117236. Hamuy, M. et al. (1996). “BVRI Light Curves… Read more »

Tyson was a lecturer in astronomy at the University of Maryland from 1986 to 1987 and in 1988, he was accepted into the astronomy graduate program at Columbia University, where he earned an MPhil degree in astrophysics in 1989, and a PhD degree in astrophysics in 1991[23] under the supervision of Professor R. Michael Rich.

R. Michael Rich should be deeply embarrassed. Neil has repeatedly demonstrated incompetence in basic physics. The way he mangles history is excruciating. Google: fact checking Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Tyson’s doctorate demonstrates style and charisma will get you far. Even in academia. Especially in academia.

Tyson’s been the lead author of a handful of forgettable astrophysics papers in the early 90s. He flunked out of his first attempt at a doctorate and at that time his advisors advised him to pursue a different career.

And Tyson followed their advice. Since then his thing has been pop science. And it’s often wrong. Google: fact checking Neil deGrasse Tyson

Didn’t they say the same thing about Dean Kamen?

Tyson is often the go-to science guy for news outlets. Which shows a lack of due diligence on the part of their journalists.

Neil will frequently botch basic math and physics. Worse, he will use his poor memory and strong confirmation bias to invent histories. And then use his bad history to support his political talking points. Google: fact checking Neil deGrasse Tyson.

That said, I share Tyson’s admiration for Musk. Although I believe Bezos will do more to open the frontier of space. I believe Blue Origin vs SpaceX will be a Tortoise vs Hare race.