On Tuesday, a leftist grassroots group calling itself 500 Women Scientists published a statement in Scientific American attacking Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” asserting that Nye “does not speak for us or for the members of the scientific community” and asking him to skip attending the State of the Union address, where he is supposed to accompany Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), President Trump’s nominee for NASA Administrator.
The women note that Nye has claimed he is attending the speech to help promote space exploration, and his attendance "should not be seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community." The women counter Nye's claim, stating that Nye’s appearance is self-aggrandizing, and that he is putting “his own personal brand over the interests of the scientific community at large.”
How so? What evil actions has Bridenstine taken, according to the women? They remark that Bridenstine won’t parrot that climate change is caused by humans, and additionally, “he’s worked to undermine civil rights, including pushing for crackdowns on immigrants, a ban on gay marriage, and abolishing the Department of Education."
The letter’s insistence on loading the scientific argument against Bridenstine by linking his positions on social issues is as nonsensical as Nye’s posturing as a scientific expert.
The letter continues, “And we cannot stand by while Nye uses his public persona as a science entertainer to support an administration that is expressly xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, ableist, and anti-science.”
Then, after noting Nye has not gained their approval, more of the same leftist ranting:
Further, from his position of privilege and public popularity, Bill Nye is acting on the scientific community’s behalf, but without our approval. No amount of funding for space exploration can undo the damage the Trump administration is causing to public health and welfare by censoring science. No number of shiny new satellites can undo the racist policies that make our Dreamer colleagues live in fear and prevent immigrants from pursuing scientific careers in the United States. And no new mission to the Moon can make our LGBTQ colleagues feel welcome at an agency run by someone who votes against their civil rights.
The letter takes Nye to task for perpetuating “the harmful stereotype that scientists are nerdy, combative white men in lab coats—a stereotype that does not comport with our lived experience as women in STEM,” as well as his debates with “non-scientist climate deniers, contributing to the false perception that researchers still disagree about basic climate science.”
The letter concludes:
Bill Nye does not speak for us or for the members of the scientific community who have to protect not only the integrity of their research, but also their basic right to do science. We stand with others who have asked Bill Nye to not attend the State of the Union. Nye’s complicity does not align him with the researchers who have a bold and progressive vision for the future of science and its role in society. At a time when our ability to do science and our ability to live freely are both under threat, our public champions and our institutions must do better.
Nye deserves to be slammed for his posturing as a scientific expert. But the women’s insistence that their perspective on political issues rings with scientific truth is just as off-base.