Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Fall of Bill Nye

When Bill Nye the Science Guy premiered on PBS in the early 90's, I was just a little too old to be considered a member of its target audience. Personally, I felt Nye had a way to go before he could hope to hold a candle to my favorite TV "science guy," Mr. Wizard -- who, by the way, didn't need a lot of bells and whistles to be interesting and approachable. All the same, I basically enjoyed Nye's shtick; he was pretty funny in a frenetic, give-that-guy-a-tranquilizer kind of way, and the content of the show was decently educational.

Oh, how the relatively entertaining and informative have fallen!

Da fuq is this?

Da fuq is that?

The creepy content of Nye's new Netflix Original has been bouncing around the nets for a few days now. And yes: as a lifetime geek who did watch the guy's more famous children's show, I too have to air my extreme disappointment.

Let's be real: Where is the science in any of this? I happen to be related to two practicing scientists (one a climate scientist and one a geologist), and neither would present themselves or the implications of their work in such a self-satisfied, slanted way. Science, as I understand it, is a data-driven, adversarial, sober search for the truth in which no theory - or worldview - is considered sacrosanct. Yet here, Nye is stamping the imprimatur of "Science!" on an ideology whose scientific grounding is still very much in question. Where is the scientific evidence for the supposed reality of "gender fluidity"? Where is the scientific evidence that demonstrates the harmlessness of alternative sexualities? If such evidence exists, it behooves a popularizer of science to present and explain that evidence without the hectoring sketches about how awful we all are to be skeptical of these new ideas.

Additionally, if you wish to take up the mantle of "public intellectual," you have a duty to engage with any opposition in good faith. This means you must present the other side fairly before offering your response/rebuttal. As you can see, Nye doesn't do this either. In the above ice cream orgy cartoon, all the defender of traditional sexual morality can offer is "herp derp Sky Ice Cream!" and "blasphemy!" when he is challenged, which - conveniently for Nye and his ideological compatriots - completely ignores entire philosophical traditions, some substantial social science, and a lot of plain-old human experience that contradict the narrative that all sexual lifestyles are equally healthy for adults and - most especially - their children.    

The upshot? Bill Nye's new show presents us with yet another reason why regular people hate leftists and are inclined to support a brash populist like Trump. The undeserved arrogance, the bullying, and the overwhelming dishonesty are frankly repellent. Does this mean I'm dumping my Netflix subscription over this outright nonsense? No; as far as I can tell, Netflix offers its platform to all-comers without necessarily endorsing their views, which I think is a perfectly defensible position for a media company to take. However, I am going to yank Nye out of my "clueless entertainer" bin and dump him into my pit of vipers with the other execrable hacks. 

1 comment:

  1. As a homosexual man, I reject the traditionalist interpretation that it's either gotta be procreative heterosexuality OR staying celibate while your genitals gather dust and cobwebs.

    But I also reject the anarchic version of sex roles presented by Bill Nye (a straight male) and Rachel Bloom (a straight female) -- I don't think they're being friends to gays and lesbians or to "gender atypical" straight people by giving a platform to medical transitioning.