While Stephen Colbert admitted to being a fan of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, he still took umbrage at Tyson’s remarks in June 2013 that extraterrestrials may have visited Earth — and decided not to stick around.
“Maybe the aliens aren’t interested in us for our minds, Neil,” Colbert said on Monday. “Maybe they like us for our bodies. May I remind you, they’re not sticking the probes in the noodle, okay? They’re sticking them in the caboodle. That’s why they’re called ‘ass-tronauts,’ not ‘brain-stronauts.'”
Tyson had told Business Insider that aliens may have determined that Earth suffered from a lack of intelligent life, something humans could not comprehend because “our hubris forces us to think of ourselves as intelligent,” and criticized our species’ intelligence gap relative to other life forms.
“You don’t walk by the worm on the street and say, ‘Gee, I wonder what he’s thinking,’ and somehow have deep insight,” Tyson told Business Insider. “No, you step on the worm. This is what we do as humans.”
“You hear that, folks?” Colbert asked the audience in response. “Neil deGrasse Tyson — noted astrophysicist — is a worm-stomping monster. He doesn’t go fishing for sport, he does it to torture the bait.”
Colbert then imagined a scenario where worm-like beings visited the planet, only to fall under the scientist’s “heel deGrasse Tyson” while making a peaceful gesture. He then produced a little friend, “Beatrice,” who he met in his kitchen. When his director informed him that the “worm” was actually a piece of linguini, Colbert was undeterred.
“Of course it’s a worm, Jimmy,” Colbert responded. “I found her in a bowl of spaghetti. It’s their natural camouflage. Besides, what kind of name is ‘Beatrice’ for a piece of linguini?”
Watch Colbert’s response to deGrasse Tyson’s dismissal of human intelligence, aired Monday on Comedy Central, below.