Neil deGrasse Tyson's usually playful habit of pointing out stats in connection with a world event took a wrong turn Sunday.
As the nation was engaging in its sadly familiar debate over gun safety measures following mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend, Tyson noted that "the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings" in a 48-hour period, before comparing that number to other death-related statistics.
"Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data," Tyson said in the tweet, which was shared Sunday afternoon and remained live at the time of this writing.
Tyson's message was quickly condemned, with multiple people pointing out the faulty comparisons as well as the tone-deaf timing.
In an extended statement shared early Monday, Tyson clarified his intentions behind the original tweet, stating his goal was to "offer objectively true information" in the conversations surrounding preventable ways of dying.
"Where I miscalculated was that I genuinely believed the Tweet would be helpful to anyone trying to save lives in America," Tyson said, in part. "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. So if you are one of those people, I apologize for not knowing in advance what effect my Tweet could have on you."
The apology statement has since also been criticized.
Twenty people were killed at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas Saturday when a 21-year-old white man opened fire with an assault-style rifle. Sunday, nine people were killed by a gunman in Dayton, Ohio in a separate mass shooting.