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It’s no joking matter when we ridicule the truth

Stephen Curry apologized, but we all should be smart before carelessly abandoning facts

“I was joking …” – Stephen Curry explaining his podcast remarks where he expressed skepticism about the nation’s moon landings.

If there is a hole in Stephen Curry’s NBA game, it’s the high-scoring guard’s penchant for unforced errors, especially throwaways.

Earlier this month, Curry, a two-time NBA MVP with the Golden State Warriors, appeared to throw away his membership card for the club of people whose opinions should be taken seriously.

Curry said he doesn’t believe the nation’s moon landings actually happened. But after the uproar his statements prompted, he’s moonwalked them back. Having been invited by NASA to tour the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Curry now promises to educate himself about NASA and its work.

Too bad he didn’t do that before he opened his mouth on a podcast.

Now, it’s possible that the United States — with the complicity of other world governments, and the national and international media — perpetrated a series of colossal frauds that began in July 1969, almost 20 years before Curry was born. But Curry offered no evidence that such a fraud took place.

Although Curry has said he does not want to start conspiracies, his podcast skepticism, however jokingly, is rooted in an old one: That fake moon landings began in 1969 and ended in 1972 and have been protected and sustained for almost 50 years by a proverbial “they.”

In the aftermath of the uproar Curry’s supposed joke prompted, he’s maintained the importance of questioning received wisdom, not believing things solely because many others do. That’s wise. But displaying skepticism without knowledge is silly. And doing so compromises the speakers’ credibility should they decide to talk about other topics.

With his views, Curry joined the Kyrie Irving Club: elite NBA guards who’ve questioned, without evidence, beliefs long embraced by scientific consensus.

Irving’s and Curry’s public skepticism exemplified a way of thinking that is much in vogue in today’s America.

After a lot of public headbanging, Irving, star guard for the Boston Celtics, has also moonwalked backward from his suggestions that the Earth might be flat.

“I’m sorry,” he’s simply said to teachers who’ve found their jobs harder in the wake of Irving’s comments.

The public ridicule that Irving and Curry have faced has reminded them of the power and responsibility that come with their popularity and celebrity. Indeed, over the weekend Curry apologized for the way his moon landing remarks ”came across.”

To my ears, the two NBA stars, ever stylish on and off the court, casually abused that power and shirked their responsibility with their glib comments.

Irving’s and Curry’s public skepticism exemplified a way of thinking that is much in vogue in today’s America. Anything someone doesn’t want to be true can be derided and dismissed as false with an argument based more on doubt and supposition than on facts and science, from the safety of vaccines for children to the threat of global climate change.

On the basketball court, Irving and Curry display killer crossover dribbles. When they want to get to the basket, they get to the basket. But when it comes to grappling with some things defended by science, they’ve found their views challenged and rejected out of hand.

That might be bad for the two guards and their credibility, at least for a while. But it’s a good thing for those championing a respect for evidence, facts and reason in American discourse.

One small step.

A graduate of Hampton University, Jeff Rivers worked for Ebony, HBO and three daily newspapers, winning multiple awards for his columns. Jeff and his wife live in New Jersey and have two children, a son Marc and a daughter Lauren.