Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Bill Nye, the so-called “Science Guy,” went round and round about the issue of climate change on Monday night. Carlson kept asking Nye basic questions about the subject and Nye kept deflecting and saying the issue was settled.
Here are nine reasons you shouldn’t listen to Bill Nye about science.
1. Nye’s background has more to do with comedy than science. National Review‘s Ian Tuttle delved into Nye’s background and very little of it involves climate science:
After all, William Sanford Nye’s scientific bona fides consists of an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell, and a stint at Boeing. But you can be anything you want on television, and in the late 1980s, hard at work pursuing a career in comedy, Nye landed a recurring bit as Bill Nye “the Science Guy” on Almost Live!, a Seattle-area sketch-comedy television show, and a role as Christopher Lloyd’s laboratory sidekick on Back to the Future: The Animated Series. Nye then leveraged that success into his namesake PBS Kids show, Bill Nye the Science Guy, which from 1993 to 1998 filmed 100 half-hour episodes, each focused on a particular topic (dinosaurs, buoyancy, germs, &c.) and accompanied by a parody soundtrack (e.g., Episode 75, on invertebrates: “Crawl Away,” by “S. Khar Go” — a parody of “Runaway” by Janet Jackson). Somehow, because of this, Nye is now the go-to authority on exoplanets and dark matter and whether we are living in a computer simulation — and, of course, environmental policy.
The only reason Nye even was able to get into the field of comedy to begin with is because he won a contest that involved impersonating Steve Martin.
In other words, Nye’s shtick about being a “Science Guy” is based on him being a performer, not someone who has done extensive studying on science.
2. For somebody who engages in moral preening about climate change, Nye gets a lot of facts wrong about the issue. Media Research Center TV’s Jeff Dunetz highlighted a column from Jason Samenow, the leftist weather editor of The Washington Post, that eviscerated Nye for spouting nonsensical psychobabble about storms:
In likening the blizzard and hurricane Sandy, Nye implies both storms originated off the coast from Africa, which is wrong. (…) Nye then draws an absurd comparison between East Coast storms and West Coast storms in an attempt to equate them.
“If you live on the West Coast … that same type of storm is called a Sou’wester,” Nye says. “If you go to the sailboat store you can get a Nor’easter hat in New England but it’s a Sou’wester hat in Seattle.”
Big problem: storms typically hit Seattle from the west not from the south. They don’t form off the Pacific coast of Los Angeles or San Francisco and charge northward. In my entire life, (until watching Nye’s comments) I had never heard the term “Sou’wester” used in reference to a West Coast storm (a Google search reveals there is an apartment complex and a lodge with such a name in the region – but I couldn’t find a meteorological reference).
There is a good meteorological reason for the lack of “Sou’westers”: Whereas the warm Gulf Stream current creates a zone of temperature contrast that allows storms to form along the East Coast and move northward, there’s no equivalent current in the Pacific to steer storms up the West Coast. I challenge a reader to find a “Sou’wester hat” for sale…
Nye then makes a convoluted comment about spin in different parts of the storm that serves as a non-sensical transition into a discussion of climate change.
In May, Nye tweeted that the tornadoes occurring were an example of “more severe weather” and showed that climate change needed to be taken “seriously.” His tweet was eviscerated by The Federalist‘s David Harsanyi, who noted “that the frequency of violent tornadoes has decreased” as have climate deaths. Additionally, the country is facing “the longest hurricane drought in U.S. history.”
Nye has also been easily destroyed in debates on climate change such as this.
3. Nye doesn’t understand the basic science surrounding the abortion debate. Nye posted a video in 2015 in which he argued that the pro-life position is false because “many, many, many, many more hundreds of eggs are fertilized than become humans,” a truly inane statement since humans are formed at fertilization. Nye also spouted out a series of absurdities that demonstrate a lack of understanding of the pro-life position, including that pro-lifers somehow believe that a life is formed after each instance of sexual intercourse and that pro-life laws would have to apply to each fertilized egg that failed to become a born baby. And of course, he used the usual left-wing tropes about pro-lifers wanting to control women’s bodies by basing their laws from the Bible, which he referred to as “a 5,000-year-old book.”
4. Nye also doesn’t understand quantum entanglement. Here is a brief explanation of the phenomenon of quantum entanglement:
One of the strangest phenomenon in quantum mechanics is called quantum entanglement, where two or more particles are “entangled” and an action performed on one effects the others. (This would be sort of like having an object on Earth and another on the moon, and if you did something to the one on earth it would instantly affect the one on the moon.) Once entangled, the two particles stay inextricably linked. Quantum entanglement is so strange, in fact, that Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance.”
It does appear to be a complicated subject, so naturally Nye’s take on it doesn’t measure up to science:
If this turns out to be a real thing, well, or if we can take advantage of it, it seems to me the first thing that will change is computing. We’ll be able to make computers that work extraordinarily fast. But it carries with it, for me, this belief that we’ll be able to go back in time; that we’ll be able to harness energy somehow from black holes and other astrophysical phenomenon that we observe in the cosmos but not so readily here on earth.
Forbes‘s Chad Orzel took Nye to task for his remarks on this, particularly the “ifs” since quantum entanglement does indeed exist and can be used for various technological purposes. There is also nothing to suggest that quantum entanglement can result in time travel or “harness energy somehow from black holes.”
5. Nye thinks that anti-Semitism can be solved by simply “getting to know your neighbors.” Seriously. In a 2015 appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher, Nye bloviated that Europe’s growing plague of anti-Semitism is a matter of people not getting to know each other.
“I think you get to know your neighbors,” Nye said. “And it’s gonna take, what, does it take a century, something like that?”
Newsbuster’s Bill Coleman mocked Nye’s moronic remark, writing, “Bill Nye wants Jews in Europe to disarm jihadists by invoking the immortal words of Mr. Rogers — would you be mine, could you be mine, won’t you be my neighbor? And yes, approaching the problem this way could very well take a century, something like that — at which point there will be no Jews left in Europe, through mass murder and emigration, and the Nazis will have belatedly gotten their way. All because Jews weren’t more darned neighborly.”
6. Nye has called for NASCAR to immediately switch to electric cars, even though it would severely limit the sport. “We could convert all of our racecars to electricity — right now — and show the public exactly what electrons can do,” Nye wrote in a blog post, arguing that a race with electric cars would be “faster, and quiet” and cause more people to purchase electric cars.
But as Tom Jensen wrote in an op-ed at Fox Sports, NASCAR simply can’t convert to electric cars at the moment because it would significantly raise costs and limit the race to the Ford Focus Electric and Chevrolet Bolt.
“Honestly, would you pay money to see a Bolt race a Focus Electric at, say, Darlington or Daytona?” Jensen wrote. “Me, neither. What excites and engages a scientist like Nye and a typical NASCAR race fan probably aren’t the same — not by a long shot.”
Jensen suggests that there may be a time in which NASCAR would be willing and able to switch to purely electric cars, but now is not that time.
7. Nye seems to be more pre-occupied with palling around with celebrities than studying the field of science. Per Tuttle:
Oddly, being America’s foremost “edutainer” is a sweet gig. When Nye is not pronouncing on all matters scientific, he pals around with pop stars and “bonds over Jay Z” with SNL actors. He does q-&-a’s with the New York Times and Esquire. He sits with Arianna Huffington at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and take selfies with rapper DJ Khaled — who, it turns out, is “concerned about climate change.” (What a coincidence!) Nerddom would seem to have come a long way from passing-period swirlies.
Except that Bill Nye is not exactly a nerd. He just plays one on TV. Whatever Bill Nye was — to be fair, it’s no small accomplishment making science hip and interesting for millions of students — he is now primarily the foremost science-side participant in the cycle of personal validation and political-agenda-pushing that has come to characterize the relationship between leftwing politics and science. Stipulate that Bill Nye is a scientist. He then proclaims that climate change is not only real, but an apocalyptic threat. Rachel Maddow and Touré and all the other people who already believed that about climate change for political reasons get a fuzzy feeling, because they have been validated by a Scientist. They tousle Bill Nye’s zany hair. Rinse and repeat. Everybody wins.
8. Nye seems to be ok with jailing those who don’t agree with him on climate change. Nye was asked by Climate Depot’s Marc Morano about Robert F. Kennedy’s suggestion of prosecuting those who don’t believe that man-made climate change will result in global catastrophe; Nye responded, “Was it appropriate to jail the guys from Enron?” and “Was it appropriate to jail people from the cigarette industry who insisted that this addictive product was not addictive, and so on?”
“In these cases, for me, as a taxpayer and voter, the introduction of this extreme doubt about climate change is affecting my quality of life as a public citizen,” Nye said. “So I can see where people are very concerned about this, and they’re pursuing criminal investigations as well as engaging in discussions like this.”
This is an authoritarian mindset, and not exactly one that is consistent with the open skepticism and dialogue that the field of science encourages.
9. The founder of the Weather Channel is rightfully angry that Nye has any sort of credibility on the issue of science. “I have always been amazed that anyone would pay attention to Bill Nye, a pretend scientist in a bow tie,” John Coleman told Climate Depot.
Coleman added, “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.”
People should listen to Coleman on science instead of Nye.
Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter @bandlersbanter.