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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bill Nye: "Saving the world" by destroying science

I got about 3 1/2 minutes into the first episode of Bill Nye Saves the World on Netflix and couldn't take any more. The "Science Guy" put some red liquid in a flask over a Bunsen burner and watched as the liquid began to expand due to the heat. He then used that illustration to claim that a slight increase in ocean temperature would cause flooding in places like Miami. Yes, heating up fluid in a glass tube proves the devastating effects of man-made global warming. You can't deny the science!

I'll be honest. When I first heard of this show, I knew it was going to be less about science and more about pushing a political agenda. Here are just a few of the episode descriptions to show you what I mean:

Episode 1: Earth Is a Hot Mess
Bill calls out climate change deniers, breaks down the science of global warming and explains how we can make the planet a cooler place to live.

Nye goes so far as to say "global warming and climate change are way worse" than all the world wars and pandemics we've had. He even has a couple quasi-celebrities in a silly skit to prove his point. He even goes off on a rant about "climate change deniers," and then wraps up the show with a panel of non-scientists who have the solution to this pressing problem. The science is settled, folks, because there's a consensus. And science ain't about questioning the consensus.

Episode 5: The Original Martian Invasion
Bill introduces the theory of panspermia, NASA scientists discuss the Mars 2020 mission, and Wil Wheaton and the panel ponder life on other planets.

The idea that the universe was designed and created by an intelligent God? Hogwash! Life evolving by chance in outer space and traveling to Earth? Totally scientifically plausible! Never mind how life began on far-off worlds, because science apparently doesn't bother with trivial things like that. (Side note: I was really disappointed to see professing Christian and food celebrity Alton Brown take part in this episode.)

Episode 9: The Sexual Spectrum
Sex is complex! Bill explores the ever-evolving science of sexuality with help from a panel of experts and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" star Rachel Bloom.

I don't even know where to begin, but this disgusting, inappropriate, NSFW clip pretty much says it all. Watch at your own risk:

Remember, this is science, and if you question it, you're a small-minded bigot.

Episode 11: Malarkey!
Chemtrails. Crop circles. Palm readers. Bill takes aim at pseudoscience and explains how confirmation bias makes us believe things that aren't true.

Is there a lot of pseudoscience out there? Absolutely. But confirmation bias isn't limited to tinfoil hat-wearing crackpots, as you'll see below.

Episode 13: Earth's People Problem
Bill and his guests talk about tackling overpopulation by empowering women. Comedian Joanna Hausmann interviews couples about male contraception.

Perhaps the most revealing moment in this episode was when Nye let slip "population c..." during a conversation. He caught himself before he finished saying the world "control," but it was clear what he meant. Now, you'd think the myth of overpopulation would have disappeared as quickly as Paul Ehrlich's credibility. In 1968, Erlich wrote a book titled The Population Bomb, in which he predicted a massive, global famine that would kill hundreds of millions of people in the 1970s. Yeah, that didn't happen, but Erlich is running around claiming that even though his timing was off, he's still right. Forget the fact that global poverty is at an all-time low. See, facts don't matter when you have a political ideology to advance, and confirmation bias only exists among those who disagree with you.

If you're looking for real science and an intelligent discussion of issues, steer clear of Bill Nye Saves the World. However, if you enjoy pseudoscience, progressive politics, wisecracks about religion, unfunny jokes, and lame entertainment, then this show might be right up your alley.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"March for Science" actually a march for politics

What's the best way for scientists to show that science isn't about politics? By staging a protest that makes science all about politics, of course:
While billing itself as nonpartisan, the March for Science movement, including rallies and marches in more than 600 communities, clearly sees the Trump administration, which has expressed skepticism about man's role in climate change and has eased regulations on coal and oil production, as a threat to science.

Of particular concern to critics is the Trump administration's budget that calls for sizable cuts in funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy's Office of Science.
OK, so this isn't so much a march for science as it is a march against policies that undermine science. If that's the case, then perhaps we will see those gathered calling for politicians to quit ignoring scientific evidence when it comes to biological sex and when human life begins. But I won't hold my breath.

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