While self-styled “science guy” Bill Nye is undoubtedly the king of abandoning the scientific method to push a political agenda, it seems that his good friend and fellow science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson may be heading down the same path. In a recent appearance on the Hot Ones Youtube show, Tyson reacted harshly to the host’s questions about debunking science myths, suggesting that the government should “educate” the populace in such a way that renders the formation of divergent opinions impossible.
Things Get Heated On Hot Ones
Hot Ones is a Youtube show in which celebrities are challenged to eat hot wings with increasingly spicy hot sauces while being interviewed on hard-hitting topics. On Thursday’s episode of the First We Feast show, Neil deGrasse Tyson was faced with this formidable challenge. The episode started off fairly lighthearted, with host Sean Evans questioning the astrophysicist about Twitter selfies and his apparent interest in fine wines. But when the topic of debunking “pseudoscience” came up, things got a bit heated.
After being asked an apparently innocent question about how he would debunk flat-earth theorists, Neil deGrasse Tyson became visibly agitated and replied,
“What I don’t do is debunk crazy ideas. I spend my whole life doing that. I’m an educator. My task is not to debunk crazy ideas of adults but establish an educational system that is incapable of producing an adult that thinks that way in the first place.”
Regardless of how one feels about the flat-earth theory and its proponents, it is impossible not to be disturbed by this Orwellian statement. Instead of educating people who have an incorrect scientific view, Tyson wants to prevent such inaccuracies from occurring in the first place. But how is this possible without severely limiting freedom of thought? It is a scientist’s job to spread the truth and to open up people’s minds, not to close them. This response to an innocent question about an odd theory is both disappointing and concerning for anyone who cares about free thought. However, Tyson’s comments regarding the internet are even more shocking.
As a follow-up, Hot Ones host Sean Evans asked Tyson, “Over the last 10 years or so, have you seen an increase in the number of people who maybe think these things?” The astrophysicist stated that he felt the number of people has been constant, but have only seemed to increase due to the existence and exposure of blogs on the internet. He claimed that people are more likely to believe falsehoods these days because their strange ideas are “confirmed” on the internet. He explained that finding others who feel the same way leads to greater acceptance of an idea that previously garnered only isolation and doubt. Fair enough. But what he says about the internet is a bit disturbing:
“The internet landed in our laps without creating a curriculum that empowers you to know when someone online is full of sh*t.”
The way that a human being can tell truth from falsity is with their own critical thinking skills. What Tyson seems to be implying is that there should be some sort of government education or censorship mechanism to tell the people which ideas are true and which are false. As a scientist, Tyson should be in favor of the free flow of information and should be empowering people to figure out the truth for themselves, not chiding the internet for not being restrictive enough.
But This Is Nothing Compared To Bill Nye
Where Neil deGrasse Tyson’s rejection of scientific values is subtle, that of Bill Nye is over-the-top and grotesque. As reported in the Inquisitr, former “science guy” Bill Nye’s new show Bill Nye Saves The World is a lurid amalgamation of esoteric gender theories, perverted group-sex celebrating videos, and heavy-handed lectures on GMOs from the Executive Vice President of Monsanto. In his new show, Nye abandons his old (scientific) stance that sex is determined by chromosomes and that there are only two genders, instead embracing the idea that gender is on a “spectrum” while promoting promiscuous sex and discouraging monogamy.
In other episodes, Bill Nye attempts to tackle “pseudoscience” topics such as vaccine skepticism and natural medicine, but his approach is always from a biased, dogmatic perspective that does not give the other side a fair hearing. Instead of explaining exactly why his opponents are wrong using facts and reasoning, Nye opts to shame them for having the “wrong” idea while disseminating his “right” ideas.
Neil deGrasse Tyson Shames Those With The “Wrong” Views Instead Of Educating Them
Luckily, Neil deGrasse Tyson hasn’t released his own “Sex Junk” video, but last month he released a StarTalk clip shaming those who dare to question the safety of vaccines and genetically modified organisms and the validity of the theories of climate change and evolution. In the video, a clip is played of then-Representative Mike Pence calling on schools to “teach evolution not as fact but as theory.” Why are scientists opposed to this? The fact is, evolution is a theory. The beauty of science is that a conclusion never truly progresses from theory to “fact” because new facts can always come along to change the theory. Before Einstein, Newton’s theory of gravitation was widely accepted by the populace as fact. Then, new facts came to light, new reasoning was applied, and a new theory of gravity was formed. That’s how science works. This fact flies in the face of Tyson’s claim that “you don’t have the option” to not believe that E = mc2. With sound reasoning and new evidence, you certainly do.
In this way, Tyson echos Nye’s insistence that some issues are “settled science”and not up for debate. But a true scientist, a true seeker of knowledge, is always willing to have a debate. There is a reason why people are concerned about vaccines and GMOs. Why not address those issues head-on instead of shaming and ridiculing those who dare to question the current scientific dogma?
On climate change, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s frustration is palpable when he explains that debates on the science are “delaying the political solution that should have been established years ago.” However, shouting dissenters into submission is not the solution. The best way to combat falsehoods is to shed light on them, not bully them further into the darkness, where they will inevitably grow.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Please Honor Science And Tell Your Friend Bill Nye To Get It Together!
Neil deGrasse Tyson has not yet slipped into the deep black hole where Bill Nye has found himself. As reported by the Inquisitr, Bill Nye lost the respect of his fans after abandoning his scientific skepticism in order to toe the party line. In recent videos, such as in the Hot Ones interview and the StarTalk video, Tyson has moved increasingly in the direction of dogma and away from the long scientific tradition of open thought. If Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to keep his fans, he needs to stay unbiased and focus more on enlightening than on lecturing.
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]