We are living through strange times, where robots roam the land, monkeys are playing computer games with their minds, and renowned astrophysicists and science communicators are getting slammed by frozen pieces of beef on Twitter.
Neil deGrasse Tyson took to Twitter to proclaim in dramatic fashion that "The good thing about Science is that it’s true, whether or not you believe in it." A simple message, perhaps attempting to make a point about, for example, flat-Earthers or COVID-deniers, that their beliefs don't change the facts: The Earth is round, and COVID-19 exists (as you may have noticed).
But not everybody, including many scientists, was keen on the scientific method being reduced to this statement.
"No Neil. Truth is true, regardless of whether you believe it or not. Science is a way to get close to the truth, but it is just an imperfect process. It is not itself Truth and Scientists are not priests or gods dispensing Truth. They are just imperfect (but good) seekers," Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Molecular Genetics at the University of South Carolina, Phillip Buckhaults, wrote in reply.
"Scientists who conflate the scientific method with absolute Truth become intolerable egomaniacs and nobody invites them to dinner... true story."
Adding their voice into the argument came beef vendors. Steak-umm took issue with Tyson's tweet in much the same way as everyone else, though at first they simply wrote: "log off bro".
Soon, Steak-Umm was trending on Twitter, largely with support of the scientific community. They took the side of beef in the beef.
While the argument with Tyson may seem odd, it's pretty on-brand for the steak product, which produces threads on everything from assessing news sources to conspiracy theories and the importance of knowing the difference between anecdotes and data.
Which isn't bad for a brand that is primarily on Twitter to sell beef.
In turns you don't expect, Tyson felt the need to respond to beef. After the argument had been trending for a while, Neil clarified his thoughts, linking to a post he wrote in 2016 on the topic.
The argument within this post essentially agrees with Steak-umms.
"Science discovers objective truths. These are not established by any seated authority, nor by any single research paper," he wrote in the post. "Research can land all over the place until experiments converge in one direction or another—or in no direction, itself usually indicating no phenomenon at all."
"Once an objective truth is established by these methods, it is not later found to be false. We will not be revisiting the question of whether Earth is round; whether the sun is hot; whether humans and chimps share more than 98 percent identical DNA; or whether the air we breathe is 78 percent nitrogen."
In the post, he makes the distinction between truth (established facts) and the scientific method. So calm down, everybody. Though his tweet had people riled – and not without merit – his longer-form thoughts are well aligned with meat.