Bill Nye, "Firebrand for Science," profiled in NYT

John Schwartz has a colorful profile of Bill Nye the Science Guy in the New York Times, exploring his evolution from science-lesson-explainer for kids, to a defender of fact-based reality against pundits on TV who say climate change, evolution, and, you know, evidence-based reasoning and science in general is a bunch of hooey.


  1. Evidence-based reasoning has been abandoned in almost all areas of science. The only reasoning permitted now is agreement with whatever the gurus have already decided to accept. Here is the forum run by NASA, where discussion of alternative theories is specifically forbidden: And that is an area where the accepted theories are disproved with every observation!

    1. : “Please note that this is not a NASA site and that anything said here by anyone does not imply a statement by NASA or an endorsement from NASA.”

      Evidence-based reasoning has been abandoned in your post.

    2. I’m assuming you must know enough about almost all areas of science to apply it, like the people who made the unearthly technology you use all the time, including when you’re posting ridiculous bullshit on the internet, to be making a statement like that.

      1. I may or may not be wrong, but at least I offer evidence and reasoning instead of insults.

        1.  I don’t see any insults in the comment to which you are responding.

          And no, you didn’t offer any evidence or reasoning.  You claimed you had evidence but as someone else already pointed out your evidence is not what you claimed it was.

          A few examples to disprove your claims: since the 1970’s and on the basis of evidence scientists have accepted the existence of dark matter.  Since the 90’s and again on the basis of evidence scientists have accepted the existence of dark energy.  On the basis of evidence biologists have reengineered the venerable classification system for organisms abolishing the “kingdoms” as the top level of taxonomy (in favor of eukaryota, prokaryota, and archaea).  On the basis of evidence biologists have largely abandoned both uniformitarianism AND punctuated equilibrium and acknowledged that evolution can proceed at different paces depending on the amount of selection taking place.

          On the basis of evidence physicists are starting to abandon sypersymmetry.  On the basis of the fact that string theory doesn’t (easily) admit evidence physicists are starting to abandon string theory.

          I could go on.  Just because science moves slowly does not mean science doesn’t move at all.

    3. From Jewels’ comment history:

      It is extremely strange that so many people demand scientific proof for
      something when science has been dead wrong about so many things over
      such a long period of time. For example, science tells us that the sun
      is powered by fusion. For example, science tells us that the sun is powered by fusion. That
      means the inside should be hotter than the outside, and the reverse is

      You can see how it must be frustrating to see scientists stick to mainstream theories simply because they match real observations, and ignore the results of your secret voyage to the center of the sun.

      P.S. I know, this is probably a very confused version of the coronal temperature inversion; it still says a lot about how much he understands evidence and how it is applied.

  2. Bill Nye, the science guy.  (BILL BILL BILL BILL!). I have been watching an following him since at least the 80s.  Proud to call him one of my heroes.  :)

  3. Colourful, but it’s an uncritical look at Bill Nye’s political stance.

    Bill Nye is a border guard; a boundary-worker, who lumps the world into two categories: “the crazies” (which includes legitimately crazy people, as well as relativists, constructivists, and all manner of highly intelligent skeptics-of-science) and “the science guys” (which includes positivists, objectivists, and is the only group which he considers to be actual ‘people’, deserving the rights to ‘vote and pay taxes’).

    By targeting anti-intellectuals, Bill Nye effectively positions his own particular and subjective views on science as the only counter-balance to the lunatics who don’t think whatever-it-is-that-scientists-think-today. It’s a bit of a gimmick though, and ultimately I think that Bill is engaging in nothing more then the superficial ideological-skirmishes that will always prove to be ineffectual in the course of history.

    But damn, I love that tie. I can’t help but like the guy.

    1. So… crazies don’t have to pay taxes? And all it takes is a little woo? Hell, count me in!

  4. “Crazies” vs. “science guys”, I know which side I’m on.  It doesn’t seem like a false dichotomy to me. Unfortunately, I can see which side is winning also.

  5. Bill did influence and invigorate youth too explore science. My interest in social anthropology might well stem from Bill Nye always stimulating explanatory exposition of factual reasoning. Call me crazy. 

    Unfortunately, as a quantified observation will demonstrate, a majority of Boing readers are interested in degrading a staged “Bugfafal” at the Miss Universe pageant or other such nonsense.

  6. I thought it was a shame the piece didn’t mention his time as a cast member of the Seattle topical sketch comedy show Almost Live, which use to run right before (or was it after?) Saturday Night Live on the local NBC affiliate, and was a massive hit with college students (Nye’s appeal for college students being a theme of the article). The show is where he started his “Bill Nye The Science Guy” demonstrations on that show, before getting picked up to do his own show.

    1. I’m kind of happy, because I can feel like I have secret knowledge… If I were inclined to scream at celebrities, I’d scream, “SPEEDWALKER!” 

  7. Bill Nye stopped being a Science Guy a long time ago.  He is now one of the priests of the Anthropogenic environmental movement.  Bill has forgotten about the most simple tenant of science – proof, and theorem validation.  There is not a single model of the weather that has been accurate.   In fact, all the models predicted large increases in the temperature over the past decade, but the temp has gone the other direction.  Bill Nye is like the guy saying – the apple should fall up from the tree, when everyone sees the apple falling to the ground.  And there is not amount of environmental priests that scream consensuses will make that apple fly off the ground.   
    Bill Nye is no longer a science guy when he forgotten how science works and how we find out new knowledge.  Science is not up for debate, it is or it is not.  If I have a computer program that say the temp is going to go up, and when it goes consistently down for the past 17 years you might need to rethink the “theory”.
    Those that advocate for anthropogenic environmental change have no proof that it is occurring, and no model that has produce an accurate result.
    If I were to speak to Bill Nye, I would destroy him with simple science facts that he and many others have ignored.

  8. I lost a lot of respect for Bill Nye after the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear accident. Instead of pointing out that he’s half a world away watching events on TV, he speculated that the area would be uninhabitable for centuries, oceans would boil with radioactivity and millions of Japanese would die of cancer. We know now that none of that has come to pass, and that the actual release of radiation was only slightly above background.

    But telling the public to stay calm until the facts are known doesn’t get you invited back to CNN.

    1. You, on the other hand, supported your argument with a link to a blog post by a writer whose credential is a journalism degree, not a science degree.

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