First, a disclaimer. Growing up, I loved Bill Nye. I remember watching his show, I even remember the theme song. This was long before I knew that I wanted to have a career in science. When he popped up a couple years ago as this scientific force that didn’t take any shit from science-deniers, I was excited to say the least. I believe that people like Bill Nye are a part of the (unfortunately) necessary process of changing peoples opinions on facts (see the problem?). Having said that, he’s going about it the wrong way.
A couple weeks ago, Bill Nye debated Ken Ham, a young-Earth Creationist who is the president of the Creation Museum. Many advocates of evolution were absolutely ecstatic to have such a high-profile scientist debate a creationist who is obviously an idiot with no scientific evidence to back up his claims. And while I completely agree with this sentiment, this was not the way to do it. The problem lies with this idea of a debate. In order to debate someone, there is some admission on both sides that there is the possibility that either side could be wrong on some points. This is not the case with evolution. It happened, it is happening. Thus, by debating Ham, Nye allowed for naysayers to put apart his argument, an argument that doesn’t exist because the side of Nye is based in scientific fact. Many individuals and organizations have come out with similar arguments as to the merit (or lack-thereof) of Nye’s arguments (e.g., here, here, and here), so if you’re looking for more convincing rhetoric.
Since so much was made of the “debate”, it wasn’t really on my radar to discuss in a post. That was until I learned that Nye was asked on to Meet the Press (MTP) this morning as an “expert” on climate change to debate Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN [TN represent!]). So, there are a few things wrong with that previous sentence:
1) Bill Nye is not a climate change expert (nor was he one on evolution). Nye’s actual degree is in mechanical engineering, not biology or environmental science. That’s not to say that he doesn’t know his stuff, just that perhaps he’s not the best person to represent us as a whole (ignoring the validity of the argument(s)).
2) Seriously MTP? I’ve tried, really really hard, to get into MTP. Being a bit of a political junkie, MTP is the weekend political talk show. Unfortunately, since the untimely death of Tim Russert and and takeover by David Gregory, the show just hasn’t been the same. Independent of that, their acknowledgement that a “debate” about climate change can actually occur is shameful. You should know better MTP, I don’t care if it’s just the rhetoric.
3) Human-induced climate change is a real thing. Done.
While I appreciate the efforts of individuals like Bill Nye, I believe that we need to be smarter about the ways in which we have these conversations. When it comes to issues such as evolution and climate change, everyone has basically chosen a side. At the end of the day we are on the side of facts.