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“Pro-Science”? Bill Nye’s Censored Science Guy Episode

David Klinghoffer

We just got through citing the journal Nature and our colleague Wesley Smith on the perils of the “anti-science” slur. What do you call this, though? Bill Nye, or someone presumably acting on his instructions, erased a segment of a classic 1996 episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy, as it appears now on Netflix. Why? It’s also perilous to speculate on motive, but here the reason seems obvious.

The censored segment asserts the binary nature of sexual identity, an idea that Nye now denies in favor of gender “fluidity.”

From The Independent:

Netflix has yet to clarify the reason for the edit, but it was likely made due to Nye embracing gender fluidity on his new Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World, a position that could stand at odds with this original lesson.

You can see the censored version for yourself if you have Netflix. In the offending segment, a young woman says this about sex chromosomes:

I’m a girl. Could have just as easily been a boy, though, ‘cause the probability of becoming a girl is always 1 in 2. See, inside each of our cells are these things called chromosomes, and they control whether we become a boy or a girl.

Your mom has two X chromosomes in all of her cells, and your dad has one X and one Y chromosome in each of his cells. Before you’re born, your mom gives you one of his chromosomes, and your dad gives you one of his. Mom always gives you an X, and if dad gives you an X, too, then you become a girl. But if he gives you his Y, then you become a boy.

See, there are only two possibilities: XX, a girl, or XY, a boy. The chance of becoming either a boy or a girl is always 1 in 2, a 50-50 chance either way. It’s like flipping a coin: X you’re a girl, Y you’re a boy.

“Only two possibilities”? We all learned about this as school kids. In fact, many of us learned about it for the first time from Bill Nye. Did the science change significantly in the meantime? No, the politics did.

You can see the original episode, on “Probability,” including the censored discussion of sex chromosomes, here. (Look for the timestamp at 9:07.) The sequence of subjects on the uncensored episode goes from bell curves, to X and Y chromosomes, to how the price of auto insurance is set. As edited on Netflix, it goes straight from bell curves to car insurance.

The online outlet Vice rationalizes, “Bill Nye Didn’t ‘Censor’ Gender Science, He Updated it Because That’s How Science Works.”

Oh? Daniel Payne responds, writing today at The Federalist:

Merciful horrors! An episode of “Bill Nye the Science Guy” from the 1990s doesn’t provide a doctoral-level survey of chromosomal irregularities!

There’s Only One Reason Bill Nye Edited His Show

In cases like this you have two options. You can be an insufferable pedant, gripe about how Bill Nye mis-educated eight-year-olds on his Saturday morning children’s television show, and demand that he memory-hole the offending segment; or you can recognize that it’s acceptable to teach children fundamental scientific principles without delving into every single possible variation regarding human biological development within the confines of a 22-minute programming block.

A normal, reasonable person would choose option two. Gender ideologues, on the other hand, seem content with option one.

Airbrushing science to suit a fashionable ideological agenda. Mr. Nye’s absurd pretensions aside, that’s not what anyone with any sense would called pro-science.

Update: Netflix says they had nothing to do with excising the part about either-or genders. They obtained the program via Disney’s Buena Vista TV. From the Washington Examiner:

Disney and Netflix officials said Friday they’re not sure why references to chromosomes and gender were removed from a 21-year-old episode of “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” which is available now for online streaming.

“It sounds like it was a business-as-usual kind of clearance issue from ten years ago,” a Disney official familiar with the matter told the Washington Examiner.

Routine “clearance issue”? That makes no sense to me. We are promised further information about the mysterious editing. Should be interesting.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



anti-scienceBill NyeBill Nye the Science GuychromosomesNetflixprobabilityThe FederalistThe Independenttransgenderism