Full Credits

Stats & Data

March 09, 2014

'Cosmos' should be commended for its impressive special effects and creativity, but a closer looks reveals that Tyson took occasional liberties when it came to the facts.


Last night, Fox premiered 'Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,' Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s remake of Carl Sagan’s beloved and groundbreaking PBS series from 1980.

While the show should be commended for its impressive special effects and remarkable creativity, a closer look at the content reveals that Tyson took occasional liberties when it came to the facts — liberties that may have gone unnoticed by many viewers.

Our team of astronomers and astrophysicists breaks down what Tyson gets wrong in episode one.

  • Tyson opens the series by estimating that there are “probably like at least a million stars in the universe.” Most astronomers estimate that there are 400 billion stars in the Milky Way alone.
  • A quick demographic analysis casts serious doubt on Tyson's prediction that by 2020 “everyone will basically be Chinese.”

  • “Epcot Center” is technically not one of the Seven Wonders of the World, despite Tyson's claim. 
  • Though it can’t be ruled out, Tyson's argument that “the universe is actually just one grain of sand on some huge beach somewhere” is supported only by the fact that he is “pretty sure that’s what my buddy Tim used to say back in college—and Tim was one of those scary smart kids.”
  • Recent studies do not give any credence to Tyson's thesis that “global warming would almost definitely go away if there were no Lebanese.”
  • Tyson's explanation of mountains as “God’s boobs” is incomplete at best.
  • While Tyson is correct that “the Milky Ways is bigger than Texas and California COMBINED!” the comparison fails to accurately illustrate the relative size of the galaxy.  
  • Radio waves are not “tiny pieces of dog fur from the olden days,” as Tyson insists.
  • There is no factual evidence to support Tyson's oft-repeated declaration that “all Mexicans smell like cheap laundry detergent because they lack moral fortitude.”

  • Tyson's theory that dinosaurs
    “willfully ceded the planet to cavemen and moved to the moon after they discovered the skull of Moses in the underwater city of Atlantis” is interesting but in sharp contrast with more widely accepted theories.
  • The scientific community universally disagrees with Tyson's assertion that “the first step to ANY scientific experiment is to build a cage out of a baby’s bones.”
  • Tyson fails to offer any rational explanation or scientific evidence to support his assessment that Saturn is “kind of a gay planet,” though most experts tend to agree with him on this point.