Despite the predictable perversion, despite the embarrassing attempts to gain street cred amongst the millennials he used to dazzle with science experiments, despite his dangerous misinformation about gender and sexuality that is exploiting confused and sick people for political gain, despite the inexplicable conundrum of how people like this get TV shows when there are so many other more talented and deserving folks in the world, count me as one person thrilled that Bill Nye Saves the World is now airing on Netflix.
No, I couldn’t watch more than just a few short clips of the panel discussion where his experts pontificated about punishing Americans for child-bearing. And yes, Bill’s ham-handed attempt to inspire and entertain made for such a spectacle of buffoonery that it no doubt made even Nye’s most adoring fans uncomfortable. And obviously, the disgusting and awkward gyrations of some woman named Rachel Bloom singing about her “sex junk” while a DJ dressed up like a seahorse (seriously) bounced around the side of the stage was equal parts bizarre and gross.
But I am sincerely ecstatic that all this is airing for people to see and mock. Because maybe, just maybe, Bill Nye will finally lose the intellectual credibility that he has always received but never deserved.
A year ago, Weather Channel founder John Coleman fumed to the weather site Climate Depot:
“I have always been amazed that anyone would pay attention to Bill Nye, a pretend scientist in a bow tie.”
On the surface that could come off as sour grapes or petty jealousy. Calling a colleague a “pretend scientist in a bow tie” could be regarded as professionally tacky, until you realize that Bill Nye is not Coleman’s colleague. He actually is a pretend scientist who wears a bow tie.
Yes, Nye earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Yes, he worked for Boeing for a short period of time. But after that, Nye won a contest impersonating comedian Steve Martin and used that as a springboard to launch a career in comedy. Following a lackluster few years in the business, Nye landed his renowned gig as a knock-off Mr. Wizard on the PBS Kids program, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”
In other words, Bill Nye was and is a performer. He’s built a nice career as a performer, and while no one should deny him that success, neither should they confuse what he does with science. And that was Coleman’s point:
“As a man who has studied the science of meteorology for over 60 years and received the AMS (American Meteorological Society’s) ‘Meteorologist of the Year’ award, I am totally offended that Nye gets the press and media attention he does.”
You can understand his frustration. Nye consistently gets “science” wrong.
- He says that tornadoes are an indication of more severe weather coming because of the very real problem of climate change. Science proves that the frequency of violent tornadoes has decreased.
- He seemingly coined the bizarre term “Sou’wester” for West Coast weather patterns, equating it with the East Coast’s “Nor’easters.” Science rejects any notion of there being anything like a “Sou’wester.”
- He actively promotes the silencing and imprisonment of those scientists who would disagree with his position on climate. Science demands open-mindedness and a humility towards ideas, theories, and beliefs.
Nye is a cartoonish performer with dangerous tendencies towards political authoritarianism. Confusing that with being a scientist is a mistake that sane people will no longer tolerate.