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Neil deGrasse Tyson apologizes following El Paso shooting tweet backlash

Neil deGrasse Tyson attends a fan event celebrating the release Kelly Clarkson's album 'Meaning of Life' at YouTube Space New York in New York on Nov. 1, 2017.
Neil deGrasse Tyson attends a fan event celebrating the release Kelly Clarkson's album 'Meaning of Life' at YouTube Space New York in New York on Nov. 1, 2017. Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File

Neil deGrasse Tyson apologized Monday after facing backlash for one of his tweets following the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday.

The astrophysicist and author apologized for a Sunday tweet in which he noted more people died in less attention-getting ways in the same two-day period as a pair of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

WATCH: Global News coverage of the El Paso, Texas, mass shooting

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“In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings.  On average, across any 48hrs, we also lose… 500 to Medical errors, 300 to the Flu, 250 to Suicide, 200 to Car Accidents, 40 to Homicide via Handgun,” he tweeted.

READ MORE: Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘StarTalk’ pulled amid sexual harassment allegations

He concluded his tweet with: “Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data.”

The tweet trended on Twitter and prompted outrage as some believed it was tone-deaf in nature.

Many people online called Tyson insensitive for his tweet.

READ MORE: 20 dead, 26 wounded in El Paso, Texas, shooting: police

Tyson took to Facebook to post an apology after receiving backlash for the tweet.

He said he “miscalculated” how the tweet would be perceived and “genuinely believed” it would be helpful to “anyone trying to save lives in America.”

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“Yesterday, a Tweet I posted in reaction to the horrific mass shootings in America over the previous 48 hours, killing 34 people, spawned mixed and highly critical responses,” Tyson began his post.

He continued: “If you missed it, I offered a short list of largely preventable causes of death, along with their average two-day death toll in the United States. They significantly exceeded the death toll from the two days of mass shootings, including the number of people (40) who on average die from handgun homicides every two days.”

Tyson said he “then noted that we tend to react emotionally to spectacular incidents of death, with the implication that more common causes of death trigger milder responses within us.”

“My intent was to offer objectively true information that might help shape conversations and reactions to preventable ways we die,” Tyson wrote.

“What I learned from the range of reactions is that for many people, some information — my Tweet in particular — can be true but unhelpful, especially at a time when many people are either still in shock, or trying to heal — or both.”

READ MORE: ‘I can surely be more sensitive’ — Neil deGrasse Tyson denies allegations of sexual misconduct

“So if you are one of those people, I apologize for not knowing in advance what effect my Tweet could have on you. I am therefore thankful for the candor [sic] and depth of critical reactions shared in my Twitter feed. As an educator, I personally value knowing with precision and accuracy what reaction anything that I say (or write) will instill [sic] in my audience, and I got this one wrong,” the astrophysicist concluded.
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Tyson’s comments come after his return to TV following accusations of inappropriate behaviour.

The science commentator denied the claims made against him, which were first published in November by Patheos.com.

Fox and National Geographic announced they had concluded their investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct against the StarTalk host.

“The investigation is complete, and we are moving forward with both StarTalk and Cosmos,” Fox and National Geographic said in a statement. “StarTalk will return to the air with the remaining 13 episodes in April on National Geographic, and both Fox and National Geographic are committed to finding an air date for Cosmos. There will be no further comment.”

—With files from the Associated Press

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