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Bill Nye and Science Lies


Maybe I am being too harsh, but science writer and sometime TV star Bill Nye has a lot to answer for. When a person sets himself up as a spokesman for something abstract called "science," he should act responsibly. Imagine someone called "The Democracy Guy" or "The Medicine Guy" who rendered judgments on a subject he hadn’t fairly studied and did not accurately represent.

Star of the former PBS show Bill Nye the Science Guy, a one time engineer and comic writer, Nye now believes he has found a role in combating the politicization of science. In a hagiographic profile from Nicole Brodeur of the Seattle Times, Nye makes the kind of straw man argument that exemplifies the very thing he claims to oppose: politics posing as science.

Nye says he is confronting people in the country who "run around these congressional districts trying to change science education to fit this wrong idea" about evolution. And what is that wrong idea? That "the Earth is…10,000 years old."

1) He should name a congressional district where Young Earth Creationism (holding that the Earth is only 6-10,000 years old) is being seriously considered as a part of public education — especially a mandatory part. I don’t think he can. If he has been touring the nation’s congressional districts he must know this. But no, he is contesting a straw man.

2) The idea he actually wants to vilify is intelligent design, but that is something very different. Indeed, Stephen Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, is based on the latest scientific evidence pertaining to the Cambrian explosion of complex life forms some 530 million years ago.

Even in the case of ID, the object is not to require its instruction in schools, a notion that Discovery Institute has consistently opposed. Rather, responsible academic freedom legislation would allow students to know the scientific evidence on both sides of the debate about Darwinian evolution — not, mind you, intelligent design.

Why doesn’t Mr. Science Guy talk about real science issues instead of straw men?

Image credit: Pete Chadwell/Dynamic Arts.

Bruce Chapman

Cofounder and Chairman of the Board of Discovery Institute
Bruce Chapman has had a long career in American politics and public policy at the city, state, national, and international levels. Elected to the Seattle City Council and as Washington State's Secretary of State, he also served in several leadership posts in the Reagan administration, including ambassador. In 1991, he founded the public policy think tank Discovery Institute, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Board and director of the Chapman Center on Citizen Leadership.