In conservative circles, Bill Nye’s credibility has been questioned quite a bit due to the controversial statements he makes on Netflix’s “Bill Nye Saves the World.” These criticisms aren’t anything new, but since it is a trending topic, I wanted to discuss it.
As a Catholic engineer, I find myself in a weird position because unlike other conservatives, I’m not ready to totally dismiss him as a scientist, but I do think it is valid that his credibility is questioned.
Bill Nye has a science background.
Bill Nye received a BS in mechanical engineering from Cornell. He also has several patents in his name. Though he might not actively be working in a field primarily focused on physical sciences, engineers are educated in the basics and implement knowledge from the physical sciences in their problem-solving. They may also utilize the scientific methods (or offshoots of it).
Maybe it’s my own career as an engineer that makes me want to point out that engineers use science, but I don’t think we can just say “Bill Nye just has a bachelor’s in engineering so he knows nothing about science.” We can, however, discuss his credibility in other areas.
Though Bill Nye could perhaps be considered a scientist, that doesn’t qualify him to speak on every topic related to science.
Bill Nye can be the best dang mechanical engineer to walk the earth, but that doesn’t make him qualified to discuss issues like when an individual human’s life begins* or gender. “But Kate,” one of you who follows me on social media may say “I see you making scientific claims about when an individual human’s life begins.” The difference between Bill Nye and I in this situation is that what I am saying does not contradict the majority of experts who are qualified to speak on the topic.
Bill Nye is focusing on highly politicized issues.
On one hand, we could interpret this as the fact that he wants to focus on issues that are relevant in the culture. To me, however, it seems like he is bending science to support more liberal ideas. Don’t get me wrong: he does make some valid points. However, I am more inclined to believe that this show is a play on the nostalgia of millennials. While this is something incredibly common in the media, in fact, it’s necessary to be successful, cramming science into a certain position or presenting a limited view is problematic. To be fair, this is just one blogger’s opinion, and I’m happy to have a discussion on it, but I’ll wrap this up by saying it seems skeevy.Bill Nye is a prime example of scientism. Click To Tweet
Bill Nye is a prime example of scientism.
As a Catholic, I believe that God is the source of Truth. Yes, I used a capital T because it is that big of a deal. However, as the author of all Truth, that means that all He created has truth, and that includes science. God gave us rational minds to unravel some of the mysteries of the universe through scientific processes. That’s pretty awesome!
However, in our current American culture, the respect for science has been perverted into an unhealthy obsession and over-reliance. In simple terms, scientism is the belief that science is the most authoritative source (or the only source) of truth.
Should we use science? ABSOLUTELY! It is incredible. Science, however, does not have all the answers. I love and respect science, but if that was the only source of truth, we would have no history, no philosophy, no literature, and no religion.
Science can’t tell us whether or not something is moral. It can’t tell us if something is beautiful. It can’t tell us why every one of us is incredibly valuable and full of dignity. It can’t tell us the meaning of life.
Science is incredible, and praise God it has helped us so much in our society, but it isn’t the only truth out there.Science is incredible, and praise God it has helped us so much in our society. Click To Tweet
To be fair, I have not watched his show.
These judgments are based on clips or direct quotes that I watched or read. I tried watching the first episode, and honestly, it bored me. It was cheesy and overdramatic. While the demonstration was interesting, it was because science is awesome. I stopped shortly after the demonstration because though I do think we need to do something about climate change (that’s a whole other can of worms), it simply wasn’t engaging.
I’m not the only one critiquing Bill Nye.
There are some great posts out there talking about Bill Nye. Keep in mind that these are all opinions; if you want to make scientific claims, please look at reputable sources that are based on the research and evidence provided by experts in the appropriate field.
Gender and Sexuality
Bill Nye Unweaves the Rainbow – and Undersells Science
Bill Nye, Progressive Science, and the Threat of Nature: CONTENT WARNING: the author of the blog post quotes a line from Bill Nye’s show which uses the Lord’s name in vain
What do you think?
Are people being too hard on Bill Nye, or does he deserve the criticism?
Is Bill Nye addressing important issues?
What are your thoughts on his new show?
*For the sake of this post, I’m going to stick to strictly biological terms of when a human life begins. I will, however, acknowledge that there is also a philosophical side to this argument.