Monday, February 14, 2011

Bill Nye, the Science Guy

I've always liked Bill Nye. While geeks will never be cool, he probably comes pretty close to making science a cool subject. Over in Popular Mechanics he had a few choice things to say about science education. "Science Guy Bill Nye Explains Why Evolution Belongs in Science Education" Here are a few quotes I particularly liked:

"It's horrible. Science is the key to our future, and if you don't believe in
science, then you're holding everybody back. And it's fine if you as an
adult want to run around pretending or claiming that you don't believe in
evolution, but if we educate a generation of people who don't believe in
science, that's a recipe for disaster."

" . . .having raised a generation of kids who don't understand science is
bad for everyone. "

"People make flu vaccinations that stop people from getting sick. Farmers
raise crops with science; they hybridize them and make them better with every
generation. That's all evolution. Evolution is a theory, and it's a theory that
you can test. We've tested evolution in many ways. You can't present good
evidence that says evolution is not a fact. "

And in a bizarre 1984-Big Brother is watching moment, I guess Bill Nye decided to take a trip to the Creation Museum. Oh he didn't step inside, he just took a picture and headed on out. But, as reported over on PZ Myers blog 'Pharyngula' little kennie ham was watching, "Revealing Clientele" shows a certain amount of paranoia from kennie and his security troops. Do they frequently scan the security camera images for images of scientists who just want to stop by and see if the Creation 'Museum' really exists and not just a figment of a late-night pepperoni pizza?

So, since we have been recently discussing who can go to the Creation 'Museum' and who kennie ham apparently deems an undesirable. I can just imagine the press releases if Bill Nye had go inside to see kennie's carnival ride. But he didn't bother, but it was enough for kennie to comment about in his blog? I think kennie needs to spend a little more time thinking about what's he doing and less time playing his version of 'Where's Waldo' with his security recordings, don't you?

Gotta post Bill Nye's last line one more time. I just love it:
"You can't present good evidence that says evolution is not a fact."


  1. The problem with Bill Nye's comment that you like so much is that it rules out (in his mind at least) the falsifiability of evolution. At least he's honest in his blind faith I guess! Maybe evolution is more of a religion than a science for some people. And for your information, I'm not an ID proponent, I'm a biblical creationist (literal 6 days, etc). I found your blog through Alison Campell's blog which I'm interested in as a science educator.

  2. I don't believe his comment rules out falsifiability in any way. The term 'evolution' is used to describe a phenomena that has been occurring all around us for as long as their has been life on Earth. That is a fact. The same term is used to label a theory which explains the fact of evolution. In reality the 'Theory' of evolution is actually a collection of a whole bunch of theories. Any one of them can be tested for falsifiability. Nothing Bill Nye negates that. There have been lists of things ways to test evolution's falsifiability, like finding a rabbit in Pre-Cambrian geological strata. But not one of them ones devised by scientists, nor any of the actual ones dreamed up by Creationists has been discovered. That should make you think.

    I'm glad you read Alison's blog, it's a good one. I hope you learn some stuff.

  3. Phenomena are the observed facts. The theory is what puts those facts into some sort of understandable order. It is a fairly bold claim to say that evolution is a phenomena that we have observed since the beginning of life on earth. Any observations of such must come through an interpretation (theory) of the observed record of life on earth (fossils in the ground). This in turn relies largely on theories of geology.

    You can't call something an irrefutable fact when it is built upon layers of theory like this.

  4. Not particularly nice putting words in my mouth. I never said "It is a fairly bold claim to say that evolution is a phenomena that we have observed since the beginning of life on earth." What I said was "The term 'evolution' is used to describe a phenomena that has been occurring all around us for as long as their has been life on Earth."

    Evolution,as a fact, has plenty of evidenciary support. You can't seem to wrap your head around the difference between theory and a fact. What might help is if you do a little homework and try and figure out what is was that had Darwin, and others, looking for answers not contained in the Biblical stories. I'm not going to do your homework for you, but I will offer a hint. It was centuries before Darwin that the idea of life's evolution was formed. Oh they didn't use the term, it is said to have been coined by Darwin's grandfather, but the idea was around for a long time. Darwin put forth the first of a number of mechanisms by which evolution occurred. The observations of evolution have been around a long time, and the fossil record is only one of them.

    Now the observations of evolution since then are way to numerous to list and they don't rely only on the fossil record. You might also look well beyond geology theories and branch into Astronomy, Physics, and Chemistry to start.

  5. You can play around with word games all you want but if you don't face the meaning of what I'm communicating you can't then tell me that I'm wrong and I need to learn definitions, etc. Besides that, I didn't quote you, I just took the implications of what you were saying and put them in a single sentence. When people quote they normally use quotation marks.

    It's okay though, I'll be patient with you since you're evolving ;-)

    You said that evolution is a fact. This means that it must be obvious enough a phenomenon that it is beyond the need to interpret evidence or draw conclusions to show this. To be able to claim that it has been around as long as life (on an evolutionary scale of time) that means we have to have some way to directly observe that fact. I'm saying that the means to observe during this long time period doesn't exist without having to make interpretations of facts.

    Please read it carefully this time and address the issue rather than side-tracking.

  6. LOL, you implied . . . no you stated . . . that I said something that I did not. Whether you used quotes or not, you were in error. Not to worried if you can't admit it.

    I disagree that you can only establish a fact through direct observation. The evidence is there. It was the this evidence -- the evidence of comparative anatomy, geographical diversity, and fossils that started people asking the questions that lead to the Theory of Evolution. Life was not here at one time millions of years ago, it formed and has changed greatly. That's a fact. You want to call it something else, let's hear it.

    You can claim evolution isn't a fact, but to me that is like saying Continental Drift isn't a fact because it doesn't move far enough to see it directly. Why was it put forth about 60 years before the theory could be supported? Is there any evidence to show the continents haven't been drifting long before human beings existed on this planet? Maybe I should ask that as a rhetorical question when directed at a Biblical Creationist. :-)

    Is there one piece of evidence that failed to support evolution? Life is evolving, there is nothing that says it hasn't been evolving since it first formed. In fact since we are here, there is evidence life has been evolving or else the only life that would exist here might have been a set of self-replicating molecules. Every piece of evidence supports evolution, no matter how far back in the geological timescale its been dated to.

    I think you are holding evolution to a standard that you would not apply many other non-directly observed phenomena. Don't worry, it's a common problem with Biblical Creationists because you keep trying to reconcile 6 days with the actual evidence and the only way you seem to be able to do it is through the denial. Ever heard of Ken Ham? I've been to his Creation 'Museum' and it reminded me more of a carnival ride though denialism than anything resembling a museum.