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Bill Nye and science get pegged as political

by Nicholas Mazur - Campus Talk Editor
Tue, Feb 6th 2018 05:00 pm

We all know him originally from his television show, and later from his steadfast public campaign for science: Bill Nye is often heralded as a purely positive force for good and practically incapable of any form of evil. Of course, that didn’t stop a recent article in Scientific American coming out against the man of science due to his recent activities. 

Recently the “Science Guy” himself appeared with Republican nominee for NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, at the State Of The Union Address. The article points out Bridenstine's stance of climate change denial and other scientifically potent ideas. The article says, “by attending the SOTU as Republican Bridenstine’s guest, Nye has tacitly endorsed those very policies, and put his own personal brand over the interests of the scientific community at large.”

I think that this is a certainly a valid point to bring up on the surface. In this political climate, the line between sides is thick and bold, and which side you choose to stand carries weight; however, I think making that your main claim and calling it a day is simply not enough. There is more to consider in this moment. 

I understand that there are things you say without words when you appear with certain people, things you endorse by virtue of your presence with them, but I think Nye was perfectly justified to appear. It was clear his endorsement was for NASA. In this anti-science presidency, Nye is sucking it up and pushing on. He isn’t going to waste four years complaining about political lines and games. He is going to do what he has always done, and probably will always do. He’s going to get out there and give a rousing “Hell yeah!” for science.

Yes, I think that standing with politicians can send a powerful message, no matter who you are; however, taking that principle out of context to fuel your own self-righteous way of thinking about how science ought to be conducted is idiotic and unproductive. Nye has shown, and proven, that his interests do not lie in the political, his interests lie in education and in helping people become smarter, to understand their world and the universe better.

Nye is not someone who makes moves based on politics and what is best for his party. He is someone who makes decisions based on science, and what’s best for that. I’m sure Nye isn’t perfect and I appreciate someone brave enough to come out and attack him. That may sound sarcastic, but I mean it. There are a lot of people who would surely defend him no matter what. In this day in age, that's the last thing we need. Nye would be the first person tostand up and champion for challenging something that is popular. It is part of the essence of science to question everything. However, I just don’t think this is an entirely valid criticism.

Nye wants to educate the world and that means everyone, not just liberal-minded people that already believe and trust in science. It also means ultra-conservatives and republicans who deny climate change and the people who support them. In fact, especially those people. It’s true that a lot of the ideals that fuel the Republican ideology are very anti-science. 

They’re infamous old-is-good-so-fear-the-new-and-different fundamentalism runs starkly counter to the question-everything mentality of science, which prizes original thought over group consensus, celebrates the new and overrides fear in favor of greater understanding. But isn’t that why Nye should be working with them? You can’t cut yourself off from those you oppose. That just leads to more hate and less understanding. Nye is, as we’ve seen him before, being the bigger man. He is working with backwards, idiotic politicians for the sake of science. He doesn’t deserve our critique on this, but rather our respect, and maybe some reflection. 

Bill Nye’s policy seems to be ask not what science can do for you, but what you can do for science.



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