Bill Nye, Science Guy, To Perform His Most Dangerous Feat Yet
Fresh off hisnot-really-a-debate (though he won) appearance with creationist Ken Ham, Science Guy Bill Nye will take on another leading proponent of nonscience, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, in a not-really-a-debate appearance on this Sunday's Meet The Press on NBC. As we said about the Ham On Nye show, it's not really going to prove anything, and more to the point, unlike questions like "is Neil Degrasse Tyson cuter than Carl Sagan?" or "Was Alexander Hamilton a good President?"* science is simply not a matter of opinion. On the other hand, Bill Nye is super awesome and probably better at communicating about science to a popluar audience than a real climate scientist would be, and we think it will be fun to watch him take Blackburn's illogic apart. So as infotainment, it will be worth watching, even though we share most of Wonket alumnus Alex Pareene's qualms that by even holding the "debate," Meet the Press "is responsible for taking the anti-science side seriously enough to present it as a legitimate and defensible view."
But hell, that's pretty much where a lot of viewers already are. They could only benefit from hearing it from a guy who's pretty adept at explaining how science works, and it's not like refusing to engage the anti-science crowd has shown them to be illegitimate. Better to take their nonsense apart and make it clear why it's nonsense.
Sadly, there are a couple of serious differences between Nye/Blackburn and Nye/Ham. the biggest is that, serious though the teaching of evolution is to science education, the anti-evolution crowd is merely ideological and faith-based, and while there is some textbook and tuition money at stake in fights over evolution, that's nothing compared to the vast wealth of the fossil fuel industries. So in Blackburn, Nye isn't just up against someone who's pushing an anti-science agenda, he's also taking on an advocate for people with far more power and influence than a dopey Australian creationist.
The other big difference is that, either out of earnestness or by accident, the Nye/Ham exchange was pretty serious about following the outward form of a debate, with strict time limits and equal chances for both to speak. Meet The Press is more likely to go for "good television," with heightened conflict, interruptions, and both "sides" talking over each other. And David Gregory, on those few occasions when he doesn't have the blank-eyed and dimwitted mien of a lobotomized sock puppet, has the worst case of both-sides-do-it-ism since that affliction killed David Broder.** This is not really the person you want moderating a "debate" where one side is science and the other is profit-driven bullshit.
We'll watch it anyway, if only to see how many spaces on our climate denial bingo card we can fill.
*He was not a good president at all.
**To be sure, many dispute that diagnosis, and there are strong feelings on either side.
Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter. He likes the "side" that is actually factual.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.