Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Protecting Bill Nye from De-nye-al

Yesterday's letter on Keith Kloor's Collide-a-Scape Blog was intended to illuminate inconsistency in Bill Nye's application of science.   While many critics hammered at his credentials and trashed him as a kid's entertainer, I defended him.  I respect Bill Nye and his ability to connect science to people.  It is something I wish I did better and something I am learning by watching experts like Nye.

This is why I challenged him.  I need him to survive.  I need the Bill Nye brand to be successful.  We need him to be the friendly and approachable stuff in the interface between the public and the science.

My letter to Nye was out of respect -- to help sharpen
his impacts and protect his brand. 

Right now there are many not happy with Nye, and they come from positions in climate denial and creationism.  They need Bill Nye to fail.  They seek to erode his credibility.

What better way to harm his reputation as an objective science steward than to show that he has taken a position that is not backed by data or the scientific consensus?  What better way to harm his brand than to show that it is not consistent with the world's leading scientific organizations?

Nye's Next Steps

In a perfect world Bill Nye might seek some experts out in LA to sit down and help him understand why his comments were incorrect, and maybe how they have damaging effects. Maybe he'll come out and clarify his remarks and change his position, or else succumb to exogenous semiotic entropy.

That would be the best move.  He could show the world that scientists are humans that make mistakes, stand up when challenged, and accept evidence to adjust their views.

Let's hope it goes that way.


Steven J. St. John said...

Let's hope indeed. I would hate to see such a champion of reason "disowned" by his colleagues in science, and yet I find it hard, myself, to forgive someone for employing logical fallacies he objects to in others, in other domains. In any event, your public challenge to Nye struck exactly the right tone, so I hope he's open minded enough to accept the challenge or at least to try to understand why it had to be extended.

Anonymous said...

Pure ignorance, greed, navel-gazing, and our failing education system (because of professors like yourself) are to blame for the current culture war on food.

The absolutist, saviour complex of the you and the status quo is flabbergasting.
The long-term effects of GMOs have just started to be researched. The current industry-led science ignores that we are 90% bacteria (like plants) and only 10% human cells. Big Ag research ignores this and only observes our cells reactions to Roundup/Glysophates. Well… like plants, our stomach bacteria, needed to process our nutrients, is disrupted. All the new gut (Microbiome) science that is being mapped, realizes the important pathways our flora is to our whole health.
Obvious to most… BUT... the industry and it’s huge supply chain have a lot to lose. So there are many reason for them to be employing the social engineering that has created this culture war.
The industry continue to discredit multi-disciplinarian thinkers (Taleb, Seneff, Shiva, now Nye etc.) that are looking at the broader genetics of our ecosystems and understand the most influential science in our current food system… POLITICAL.
Big Ag is spending millions paying politicians and other mouthpieces (Mark Lynas) to read a teleprompter and to change their minds about GMOs. Read these leaked documents outlining the plan (w/script) years before Mark Lynas made his public charade in the EU.http://www.theguardian.com/env...
And we need all this for what? For higher yields, profits, dirty paychecks, and papayas without spots? We have a surplus of GMOs and the much of the world does not want their economies destroyed by our smut imports?
Have we not learned from history? There have been many times in the history of science where correlation is causation. Rachel Carson’s correlation on Monsanto’s DDT in the 60s had scientists calling her a crackpot. How could Nobel prize winning science be wrong everyone asked?!?!? It takes mavericks like Taleb and Seneff that are looking at broader systems through correlation because science is not available to give us causation.
I’m going to look at our current health crisis, trust my gut, and eat organic.
Excerpt from wiki on Correlation as Scientific Evidence: “Since it may be difficult or ethically impossible to run controlled double-blind studies, correlational evidence from several different angles may be the strongest causal evidence available.[20] The combination of limited available methodologies with the dismissing correlation fallacy has on occasion been used to counter a scientific finding. For example, the tobacco industry has historically relied on a dismissal of correlational evidence to reject a link between tobacco and lung cancer.[21]”

Kanga Jen said...

I hope to hear some good follow up on this story. I expect we might. Bill Nye is a scientist, so is open to facts that challenge his opinion. I've been a fan of his in the past, and believe he'll end up on the side of science.
Anonymous above...?? blah blah blah. Whatever.