500 Women Scientists Don’t Like Science Guy

The headline “Bill Nye Does Not Speak for Us and He Does Not Speak for Science” at the Scientific American site caught my eye, never having considered Nye particularly controversial. Its byline is “500 Women Scientists.”

Tonight, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” will accompany Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Trump’s nominee for NASA Administrator, to the State of the Union address. Nye has said that he’s accompanying the Congressman to help promote space exploration, since, he asserts, “NASA is the best brand the United States has” and that his attendance “should not be … seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community.

But by attending the SOTU as Rep. Bridenstine’s guest, Nye has tacitly endorsed those very policies, and put his own personal brand over the interests of the scientific community at large

The rest is a screed aimed at Bridenstine and, well, pretty much everyone but Bill Nye, who seems otherwise to share most of the same views as the 500 Women Scientists. Nye is, like almost all scientists of any credibility, a believer in climate change and humankind’s contribution to same. Yet, the fact that he’s willing to go on television to debate climate change deniers is part of the attack against him. As is the fact that, by being a nerdy white male, he contributes to the stereotype that scientists are all nerdy white males when, in fact, at least 500 of them—and probably many more!—are not.


FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. MarkedMan says:

    Nye’s endorsement of a Republican, any Republican, is a mistake. If Nye thinks he is only there to support NASA then he is foolishly naive. The Republican Party is anti-science and now that they are in power they are doing everything in their power to tear down fact based policies.

  2. Nye is the CEO of the Planetary Society, so it’s not surprising that he’d accept an invitation from the incoming NASA Administrator.

  3. Hal_10000 says:

    So one of their favorite advocates for science did a doubleplusungood by appearing with a person who, whatever his political views, controls a massive part of the nation’s scientific endeavors?

    This insistence on ideological purity only empowers the Trumpists.

  4. Tony W says:

    @Hal_10000: I’m sympathetic to the idological purists. We gotta stand for something, and we certainly can’t be party to normalizing the traitorous bunch that now occupies the federal government.

  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    Bill Nye is not and has never been a scientist. He was (a long time ago) an engineer, but most of his career has been as a stand up comedian who pretends to be a scientist on TV.

    Treating an actor as equivalent to actual scientist seems a self-defeating method of combating anti-intellectualism.

  6. James Pearce says:

    By attending the State of the Union with NASA administrator nominee Jim Bridenstine, the Science Guy tacitly endorses climate denial, intolerance and attacks on science

    Let me tell you how clever Bill Nye is: He’s going to endorse climate denial and intolerance and the wearing of baggy pants, not by writing an op-ed or wearing a sandwich board or actually, you know, endorsing any of that stuff.

    No, he’s going to attend a speech, which is like “tacitly” admitting that he cheats on his wife and mistreats his pets.

    Meanwhile, we’re over here writing op-eds denouncing Bill Nye the Science Guy –a task made important because we’re @#$%&* children of his stature– and pretending that we’re the ones who care most about climate change.

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    Today’s Science Lesson

    Zinc is a chemical element with symbol Zn and atomic number 30.
    It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table.
    Symbol: Zn
    Atomic mass: 65.38 u ± 0.002 u
    Atomic number: 30
    Electron configuration: [Ar] 3d104s2
    Melting point: 787.2°F (419.5°C)
    Discovered: 1746

    *Trigger Warning

  8. grumpy realist says:

    Well, speaking as a female scientist, my reaction is WHAAA?!!!

    SOMEBODY got a lot of free time on their hands…aren’t we supposed to be working on getting stuff published instead? Rather than signing petitions?

  9. Andy says:

    FFS, I’m no fan of trump, but Bill Nye is about as good a friend of science as any scientist could want and has persevered despite attacks by various anti-science movements.

    Although he’s not a scientist himself, Bill Nye is a huge advocate and spokesperson for science and he’s consistently defended science and scientists and the work they do. The authors state that “he does not speak for science” as if they are the guardians of science with the authority to determine who does and doesn’t speak for it. It doesn’t matter to them that he’s the CEO of interest group focused on space policy and therefore engagement with NASA, the Executive branch and Congress are part of his job.

    This is what happens when inquisitors must punish any act of heresy.

  10. Franklin says:

    Anybody who is in agreement these women, and who has the capabilities to do so, should volunteer to debate the deniers. Because I don’t think being smug about being right has persuaded a lot of people. Respectfully engage.

  11. Stormy Dragon says:


    I actually disagree; Nye is a terrible advocate for science.

    While he argues for scientifically correct conclusions, he generally does so via appeals to authority rather than actual scientific arguments. He teaches the public that science is something beyond their understand and so they have to just resign themselves to believing whatever the “sciencepriests” tell them is true because they’re the “sciencepriests” and the public is not.

    Not surprisingly, when the corresponding “anti-sciencepriests” come along and go “no, those guys are all wrong, believe us instead!”, the public has no basis for picking one over the other.

    The solution is to teach people to think scientifically, but Nye doesn’t really do that.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Franklin: In all fairness, people do debate the deniers. But like most conspiracy theorists, the deniers will never be convinced.

    If someone tells you that the Chicago Bears won Super Bowl 50, how much are you obligated to debate them? You show then the newspapers from the day after. “Biased Media” they say. You show them the official website fo the NFL. They show you a blog posted on CrazyBasementSportsGuy.com and say “Teach the debate and let the children decide.”

    The classic example of denier behavior is George Will. There is an obvious and dramatic chart that shows the global warming trend. But weather is weather and the chart is not a straight line. So one year the temperature happened to be not as warm as one ten years earlier, which was dramatically warmer. than the average. “There!” shouted the deniers, with George Will leading the charge, “It’s actually getting cooler.” It was pointed out that this is like saying that if there happens to be a 60 degree day in January and a 50 degree day in May, then that shows that May is colder than January. But the deniers just ignored this. Ol’ George brought this up repeatedly in his columns and his highly paid lectures to “conservative” groups. And after a few years the trend was such that the warming caught up with that anomalous year. The last 2-3 years have been warmer than that one. So the deniers conceded the point, right? Of course not. I haven’t seen anything by Will about this (Is he even still writing?) but as recently as a few months ago I saw a denier marching out this argument, leaving out the last 5 years data.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    Being a glutton for punishment, here is a 2014 article showing a chart made form NASA data. You can see that if you eyeballed the data from 2013 back to 2000, maybe you could say warming had stopped. But anyone who looked at the chart in total and said “No discernible trend” is delusional.

  14. Teve tory says:

    The things that drive global warming denial aren’t facts and figures and reasoned debates. They’re “Al Gore sucks”. And that people really, really don’t want to hear that they need to change their lifestyle.

  15. Just 'nutha... says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Boom! And thank you!!!