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 Bill Nye, the Science Guy…
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2010 :  02:39:35  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
.... calls 'em the way he sees 'em.
Frozen water fell from the sky today, therefore thousands of scientists the world over are liars. Just go with it.

That's the narrative coming from Fox News in their coverage of the heavy snow blanketing the eastern coast of the United States this winter. Thankfully, there's Bill Nye the Science Guy, ready to explain the complexities of climate science in terms easy enough for even a child to digest.

Nye, however, jacked his assessment of meteorology into the realm of partisanship, scoffing on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show on Wednesday night that climate change deniers are "unpatriotic" in parroting simple minded, anti-science propaganda.

"[We] remind you that global warming was the first term for this phenomenon that we now call can climate change," he said. "So it‘s very reasonable that a snowstorm in Washington that‘s this severe is a result of climate change."

"There‘s more energy in the atmosphere, and this is stirring things up," Nye continued. "If you want to get serious about it, these guys claiming that the snow in Washington disproves climate change are almost unpatriotic. It's really, they're denying science."

Deny or distort science and sooner or later it will come back to haunt you.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

dglas
Skeptic Friend

Canada
397 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2010 :  10:25:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dglas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I was watching that interview and as soon as Nye said "unpatriotic" I said, "What the fuck?" and turned him off. That was the first time I'd even seen him. Might be the last, if that's the kind of crap he spews.

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- dglas (In the hell of 1000 unresolved subplots...)
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The Presupposition of Intrinsic Evil
+ A Self-Justificatory Framework
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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2010 :  11:15:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
dglas.....

I was watching that interview and as soon as Nye said "unpatriotic" I said, "What the fuck?" and turned him off. That was the first time I'd even seen him. Might be the last, if that's the kind of crap he spews.
I have to agree that Nye's use of the word "unpatriotic" seems peculiarly inappropriate in the context it was used, but why did you have such a strong reaction to his choice of words? Is there a political implication here that you see?

I guess that Nye was trying to say that if you love your country you don't want to see large portions of its geography destroyed by catastrophic weather events. There's the little ancillary that all the rest of the world's geography would be affected equally by tidal escalation and temperature changes - which makes Nye's statement look pretty parochial. Is this what is bothering you?
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dglas
Skeptic Friend

Canada
397 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2010 :  14:39:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dglas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I like to think that science, in itself, is apolitical, or at least non-partisan. Climate change is not about being this party of that party. We cannot afford that conceit.

I despise disingenuous arguments. appeals to patriotism are not to the point here.

--------------------------------------------------
- dglas (In the hell of 1000 unresolved subplots...)
--------------------------------------------------
The Presupposition of Intrinsic Evil
+ A Self-Justificatory Framework
= The "Heart of Darkness"
--------------------------------------------------
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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2010 :  15:00:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
dglas.....

I like to think that science, in itself, is apolitical, or at least non-partisan.
In your view, is patriotism necessarily political or partisan? (In fact, not in the Conservative hijacking of the concept of patriotism as a solely Republican attribute)!
I despise disingenuous arguments. appeals to patriotism are not to the point here.
I fully agree that Nye's comment was not to the point, it seems silly. Whether or not he was trying to make a political statement is unclear to me, as I posted earlier. Maybe he intended to speak to the point of climate change damaging the United States in the future.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2010 :  15:54:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by dglas

I like to think that science, in itself, is apolitical, or at least non-partisan. Climate change is not about being this party of that party. We cannot afford that conceit.

I despise disingenuous arguments. appeals to patriotism are not to the point here.
But the denial of science is necessarily political, and, in the U.S. right now, the denial of climate change science is mostly partisan, too.

The science of global climate change is, yes, apolitical. It is what it is. What to do about it is very political, and the people who want to do the least about it are trying to claim that the way-above-average snowfall in this area this winter disproves all of the science. That isn't, itself, a scientific argument. It's a political gambit.

We have mandatory education down here supposedly to create a better-informed citizenry who can therefore participate in government (through voting) with facts in hand and thus create better government. The denial of science, and especially the active propagation of anti-science arguments, is in direct opposition to such goals, and so yes, can be seen as unpatriotic.

If the deniers would take the time to become informed and offer rational, science-based arguments on why we should aim low as far as climate change mitigation strategies are concerned, then that would be in line with our country's educational goals (and we'd no longer call them "deniers"). Until then: screw 'em. The facts are against them, they know it, that's why they yell so loudly and why we have to yell even louder. Pointing out their lack of patriotism fits that goal just fine (since they like to drape themselves in the flag for all sorts of less-admirable purposes), and doesn't effect the actual science one bit.

(Note that this comes from a person whose first exposure to Bill Nye was a clip on his kids show that strongly implied that science is nothing more than a collection of facts. Some people in the skeptical community love him. My opinion is "meh." But maybe I just don't know enough about him.)

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/12/2010 :  17:12:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've only caught his act a couple of times and know him mostly by reputation. So, I looked him up. Interesting guy, Bill Nye.
[edit] The Science Guy
Main article: Bill Nye the Science Guy
Nye began his professional entertainment career as an actor on a local sketch comedy television show in Seattle, Almost Live!; Nye corrected the host of Almost Live! after the host pronounced "gigawatt" as "jigowatt", a mispronunciation made common by the film Back to the Future.[7] The character name came from the host's comment, "Who do you think you are? Bill Nye the Science Guy?" and Nye was thereafter known as such on the program. His other main recurring role on Almost Live! was as Speedwalker, a speedwalking Seattle superhero.

In 1992–1993, he appeared in the live-action educational segments of Back to the Future: The Animated Series with a non-speaking role as an assistant to Dr. Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, where he would demonstrate science with Lloyd's voice-over.

This national popularity led to Nye hosting the educational television program Bill Nye the Science Guy from 1993 to 1997. Each of the 100 episodes aimed to teach a specific topic in science to a preteen audience, yet it garnered a wide adult audience as well. The show was somewhat popular as a school resource and is still used to this day. He has written several books as The Science Guy. In addition to hosting the show, he was also a writer and producer for the series, which was filmed entirely in Seattle.

When portraying "the Science Guy", Nye wears a light blue lab coat and a bow tie and takes on the personality of an excited, jocular science educator. This popular image of Nye has been parodied by numerous sources, including the webcomic xkcd[9] and the satirical news organization The Onion.[10][11] In response to the fake headline "Crack Nearly Killed Me", Nye took the joke in good humor and sent The Onion an email thanking them for "dealing compassionately with this matter."[12]

His Science Guy persona appeared alongside Ellen DeGeneres and Alex Trebek in Ellen's Energy Adventure, an attraction that has played since 1996 at the Universe of Energy pavilion inside Epcot at Walt Disney World. He also has a voice-over at the DINOSAUR attraction in Disney's Animal Kingdom park, where he tells guests about the dinosaurs while they queue for the ride. In addition, he appears in the "Design Lab" of CyberSpace Mountain inside DisneyQuest at Walt Disney World where he refers to himself as "Bill Nye the Coaster Guy."




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 02/12/2010 17:14:18
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Zebra
Skeptic Friend

USA
354 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2010 :  11:44:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Zebra a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Should also mention that Bill Nye is a mechanical engingeer (got degree at Cornell, where Carl Sagan was reportedly one of his professors).

I too was startled to hear "unpatriotic" coming from Bill Nye, in his role as a celebrity scientist, but the interview is >4 minutes long & at the end he calls the denial of scientific evidence "inappropriate" & clarifies that when he gets worked up he almost thinks it's unpatriotic. IMO his discussion is very level-headed with the single exception of that one loaded word.

And Bill Nye's use of this term gave the world yet another opportunity to catch Glenn Beck in a lie; on Beck's radio show on 2/12, he "interviewed" Nye (& cuts him off at the 17 sec mark here, after the "unpatriotic" remark, & claims that "nobody" has said this disproves global warming):
http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201002120008

Here, at creativeloafing.com, are clips of Maddow and, below it, Colbert re snowstorm + global warming deniers. Colbert's comments, and clips from Fox "newscasters" from 2/8-2/10, runs from 2:35-3:03 (& he extrapolates comedically from there, claiming that because it's dark outside, the sun has gone out).

Side mention: IMO "Almost Live" was a fabulous show.

I think, you know, freedom means freedom for everyone* -Dick Cheney

*some restrictions may apply
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podcat
Skeptic Friend

435 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2010 :  12:11:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send podcat a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I didn't think too much of Nye's use of the word "unpatriotic" when I listened to the podcast I downloaded. In a sense, it could be considered unpatriotic in that you don't care enough about the country to find out facts about things that affect it. I'm a bit torn because I think that Nye generally presents science very well, but in this case he was trying to make an emotional appeal and wasn't successful (unless you count being patriotic to the world, maybe that's possible).

That's a shame, because I thought the segment on global warming was very good otherwise, using video of buzzer-beating full-court basketball shots (and Kent Jones reporting on Breaking News: It's snowing in February in New York) to illustrate that observing an incident does not by itself disprove generally established scientific principles and theories.
Edited by - podcat on 02/13/2010 18:40:21
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2010 :  14:22:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think he momentary got his tongue caught in his eye teeth and couldn't see what he was saying. It happens to everyone, one time or another.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2010 :  22:04:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by dglas, over here

The problem with politics is that almost everyone perceives them as being a matter of opinion, based perhaps on ideological grounds. It is simply not the case that scientific phenomena like climate change are matters of opinion or are based in ideology. Climate change, while dragged into politics by some, is not by any stretch of the imagination, a mere political phenomena. it acts independent of how we feel about it. Climate change is not just democrat; it is not just republican; it is not even just American.

This is why I find the use of "unpatriotic" unacceptable. It takes the subject matter from the realm of far-reaching importance it desperately needs to be seen as, and really represents, and turns it into a mere talking point in a speech - a campaign platform. Someone calling himself a scientist referring to denial of climate change as unpatriotic is legitimizing attempts to render it a mere political point. We cannot afford this.
As I said before, dglas, the science always is what it is, and what to do about the science is always political. For example, nuclear weapons are a scientific development, but whether to build them, use them or get rid of them (and when) is a political issue.

Similarly, climate change is a fact, and anthropogenic climate change very nearly so, but what should be done about it is a political issue. Attempts to claim they don't exist at all, or that a snowstorm disproves the science, are also entirely political. Rachael Maddow's piece was political, Bill Nye's mere presence within it was political, and his statements (all of them) were political. The whole segment existed to ridicule those who deny the science, as a political counter-move to the political machinations at Fox.

Scientists do not run the government, nor do they even set policy. Even if they did, the decisions about what to do about various issues would wind up being politicized because even if everyone agrees on the facts, not everyone will agree about how important the different issues are, in the face of limited resources. Those scientists more concerned with immediate human concerns will argue for more funding to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and educate the undereducated and for less funding for more distant concerns like climate change, even when they agree that climate change is occurring, human-induced and a very real danger.

There's no escaping the politicization of issues that affect us all.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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dglas
Skeptic Friend

Canada
397 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2010 :  14:13:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dglas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I take it, for the reasons you outline above, that you think separation of church and state is impossible and therefore not even worth attempting?

--------------------------------------------------
- dglas (In the hell of 1000 unresolved subplots...)
--------------------------------------------------
The Presupposition of Intrinsic Evil
+ A Self-Justificatory Framework
= The "Heart of Darkness"
--------------------------------------------------
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2010 :  15:29:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by dglas

I take it, for the reasons you outline above, that you think separation of church and state is impossible and therefore not even worth attempting?



You have completely lost me dglas. I was following you when you were saying that you don't like the politicization of science (not that this is avoidable, Dave_W is correct that all decisions made by governments, based on science, are political).

The decision to keep church and state separate in the US was also a political action.

I'm not sure what you fail to understand here, but it seems like you are not grasping the concept of politics.

Now, maybe, if you are just objecting to scientists making political statements, I will probably agree with you to some extent. But when there is a political opposition to taking action based on scientific evidence, and that non-action has potentially devastating consequences, then scientists need to advocate for action. They need to join the political debate.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2010 :  17:11:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by dglas

I take it, for the reasons you outline above, that you think separation of church and state is impossible and therefore not even worth attempting?
Because I can think of at least a couple different meanings for the above, in context, I'll just ask you what you meant.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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