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Famed astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson has some advice for those who recently criticized Tesla CEO Elon Musk for his perceived erratic behavior, including smoking marijuana and drinking whiskey last week on a live-streamed podcast: Let Elon be Elon.
People should just let the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX act how he wants, Tyson said in a pair of interviews this week. “Leave the man alone. Let him get high if he wants to get high,” Tyson said in an on-the-street interview with celebrity news website TMZ.
Calling himself a member of “Team Elon,” Tyson described Musk, who also founded the Boring Company to dig tunnels to provide high-speed mass transit, as “the best thing we’ve had since Thomas Edison.”
Speaking about Musk’s recent quirky behavior, Tyson told CNBC that the Tesla CEO “needs to comply with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). He’s got a publicly traded company; he’s got to obey, otherwise there’s consequences. Beyond that, you know, let the man be an individual.”
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With greatness can come quirks, Tyson says.
“I went to a highly, really selective college (Harvard) where people were really smart and really weird, and the weirdness became an element of their behavior that I just came to expect with people who had sort of singular abilities to think or to innovate or to project what a future might be,” Tyson told CNBC.
Tyson’s comments are timely as Musk has had a noteworthy few weeks. Last week, Musk smoked a marijuana-tobacco joint, sipped whiskey and fired off a flamethrower during a 2½ hour video podcast with comedian Joe Rogan.
That followed a tweet last month where Musk said he was considering taking Tesla private, then recanted. And reporters wrote he was driven to tears during an interview with The New York Times during which Musk called “this past year … the most difficult and painful” of his career.
To a subsequent Twitter plea from Ariana Huffington that Musk slow down and get more sleep, Musk replied: “You think this is an option. It is not.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.