Neil deGrasse Tyson made a stark warning about the future of America to a North Carolina crowd

Science illiteracy is a threat to the nation, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson told a crowd in Greensboro, North Carolina on Tuesday night, according to a report by the Greensboro News & Record.

Tyson, the well-known Hayden Planetarium scientist and science communicator, told the crowd that the US is turning away from science, and that turning away from science leads societies to decline.

"The consequence of that is that you breed a generation of people who do not know what science is nor how and why it works," he reportedly said. "You have mortgaged the future financial security of your nation. Innovations in science and technology are the [basis] of tomorrow's economy."

Tyson compared the modern United States to 12th Century Baghdadi society in present-day Iraq, which led the world in science and mathematics before a series of cataclysms led to its decline.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson through the years
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Neil deGrasse Tyson through the years
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - MAY 8: Neil deGrasse Tyson attends TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People 2007 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 8, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by PATRICK MCMULLAN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 28: Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson poses for a portrait at The Rose Center for Earth and Space Hayden Planetarium on February 28, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Myrna Suarez/Getty Images)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: Host Neil deGrasse Tyson travels to the Earth of the Carboniferous in the 'The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth' episode airing Sunday, May 4, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, May 5, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 12: Neil deGrasse Tyson makes a few remarks at a Celebration Of Carl Sagan at The Library of Congress on November 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 13: Neil DeGrasse Tyson (L) and executive producer Seth MacFarlane speak during the FOX portion of the 2014 Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 13, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: More than three decades after Carl Sagan's groundbreaking and iconic series, 'Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,' it's time once again to set sail for the stars. Host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson sets off on the Ship of the Imagination to discover Earth's Cosmic Address and its coordinates in space and time in the 'Standing Up in the Milky Way' Series Premiere episode of COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY airing Sunday, March 9, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: Host Neil deGrasse Tyson travels to northern Italy to learn how Albert Einstein developed his famous theories of relativity in the 'A Sky Full of Ghosts' episode of airing Sunday, March 30, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, March 31, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 08: Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks onstage at the Neil DeGrasse Tyson Keynote during the 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Center on March 8, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Earl Mcgehee/Getty Images for SXSW)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: Neil deGrasse Tyson in the the 'A Sky Full of Ghosts' episode of COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY airing Sunday, March 30, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, March 31, 2014 (10:00-11:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 0015 -- Pictured: (l-r) Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Seth Reiss as Pluto during an interview with host Seth Meyers on March 14, 2014 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: Host Neil deGrasse Tyson explores the ideas of death and immortality in the cosmos in the all-new 'The Immortals' episode airing Sunday, May 18, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, May 19, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: Host Neil deGrasse Tyson in the 'Unafraid of The Dark' Season Finale episode airing Sunday, June 8, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, June 9, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 04: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ann Druyan attend the Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey: 'Unafraid Of The Dark' Final Episode Screening at The Paley Center for Media on June 4, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jenny Anderson/WireImage)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07: Neil deGrasse Tyson, author, astrophysicist, lecturer and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, speaks onstage during the National Geographic Channel Special Programming Announcement at the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on January 7, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31: Astrophysicist and host of 'COSMOS', Neil deGrasse Tyson poses with award during The 74th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Peabody Awards)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31: (L-R): Ann Druyan, Peabody Award Recipient, and Neil deGrasse Tyson speak onstage at The 74th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Peabody Awards)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson speaks during the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting on September 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
Richard Branson, chairman and founder of Virgin Group Ltd., right, speaks as Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, listens during the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. The annual CGI meetings bring together heads of state, leading CEOs, philanthropists, and members of the media to facilitate discussion and forward-thinking initiatives that challenge the way we impact the future. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 03: Neil deGrasse Tyson visits 'Sway in the Morning' with Sway Calloway on Eminem's Shade 45 at SiriusXM Studios on February 3, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Neil deGrasse Tyson visits at SiriusXM Studio on April 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson attend the 2016 Creative Arts Emmy Awards Day 2 at the Microsoft Theater on September 11, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Neil deGrasse Tyson visits at SiriusXM Studio on September 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 25: Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and educator Bill Nye attend the screening of 'The Space Between Us' hosted by STX Entertainment with The Cinema Society at Landmark's Sunshine Cinema on January 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
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(In the News & Record summary, it's reported that Tyson attributed the fall to a decision by a single cleric to reject science. The true story, of course, is a bit more complicated.)

Tyson said that during the Cold War, an excitement for American scientific achievement gripped the public. But that excitement has subsided in favor of unscientific superstition. He placed the blame specifically at the foot of states that decide not to rigorously teach established scientific ideas like evolution, and warned that they would face economic consequences as research and development moves elsewhere.

Read the full report on Tyson's talk at the News & Record.

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