Bill Nye Fails Baloney Detector
In a video clip seen by over 3 million, Bill Nye the Science Guy slammed creationism with a series of logical fallacies.
The 2.5-minute video, “Creationism is not appropriate for children,” was posted on YouTube on August 23. It was reported by CNN Belief Blog and The Examiner among other news media sites. On Live Science, Stephanie Pappas gave an uncritical write-up, but at least distinguished between creationism and intelligent design, unlike Bill Nye. Transcript and analysis is provided here in the commentary below. See also the critical analyses on Darwin’s God and Evolution News & Views.
Bill Nye the Scientism Guy does not know what he is talking about. If he ever learned philosophy of science or even elemental logic, he forgot it in this simplistic screed. He should stick to cute children’s experiments that are observable, testable, and repeatable, where his TV programs shine. (Note: we mean “Bill Nye fails baloney detector” in the sense of failing a drug test—lots of baloney was detected!) Here’s what he said about creationism, with fallacies flying like rotten baloney in all directions:
“Denial of evolution is unique to the United States.” Big Lie. Bandwagon. People around the world doubt evolution. South Korea has a strong anti-evolution movement. There are Darwin skeptics in England, Spain and other parts of Europe. One of the largest creation organizations is in Australia. Nye is sadly misinformed. He states no facts about Russia, the Middle East, Africa, or South America, but expects readers to just accept his sweeping Generality. Even if it were true, would he really want America to imitate the rest of the world? Lots of things about the United States are unique – thank God!
“I mean, we are the world’s most advanced technological… I mean you could say Japan, but generally the United States is where most of the innovation still happens.” Non-sequitur. How does this support Nye’s contention? If anything logical can be inferred, it’s a correlation between technological innovation and denial of evolution. The rest of the world should follow the USA’s example!
“People still move to the United States. And that’s largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science.” Non-sequitur. And his point is? If the USA already has the best intellectual capital that is the envy of the world, what’s the problem? Could it be that people move to the United States because they are running away from the Darwin totalitarianism in their home countries?
“When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in it, it holds everybody back; really.” Big Lie, Non-sequitur. This sentence is a Sidestep wrapped in a Generality, seasoned with Equivocation and Fear-mongering. What does “it” refer to? He has apparently just shifted the topic from denial of evolution to denial of science. Is Nye unaware that creationist leaders have PhD’s in a wide field of scientific disciplines? Denial of evolution has nothing to do with denial of science. Creationists love science! If anyone is holding anyone back, it is the Darwin Party holding back academic freedom.
“Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology…” Big Lie. Saying something doesn’t make it so. Cell theory, genetics, or even intelligent design could easily qualify for the most fundamental idea – intelligent design, because biology is focused on genetic and epigenetic codes, functional information, and functional design, as evidenced in the biomimetics revolution. Darwinists add their just-so stories as a narrative gloss to the observations of biology, as often shown in these pages. Wherever evolution is treated as a fundamental idea or heuristic, it fails. The “tree of life” is a good example. Biologists now consider it a network, not a branching tree as Darwin envisaged; Darwin’s imaginary tree misled biologists for over a century. Other examples: junk DNA, vestigial organs, evolutionary psychology, social Darwinism.
“…analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. ….” Argument from Analogy. Creationists believe in tectonic plates. Tectonic plate theory, not involving life and reproduction, is not comparable to evolutionary theory.
“You’re just not going to get the right answer. Your world is just going to be a mystery, rather than an exciting place.” Non-sequitur, Sidestep, Big Lie. Being “exciting” may have a role in sociology of science, but is not a necessary or sufficient condition for doing science itself. Nye’s sophomoric statement also presumes that science is capable of getting one and only one “right” answer, a philosophically vexed notion. Science provides tentative explanations that seem to work for the present; if even Newtonian physics succumbed to Einstein’s relativity, no scientific theory is beyond criticism. Nye also assumes that Darwinism has produced a “right answer” – name one! This is a claim so lame it mandates penance. Re-reading every evolution story in our pages for the last 12 years is a start.
“As my old professor Carl Sagan said, ‘When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.'” Argument from Authority. Nye reveals his philosophical roots here: the materialist, positivist, Darwin-saturated world of the world’s most famous atheist, with whom he is in love. Are you surprised he wants to attack creation? He should listen to his mentor’s advice about Baloney Detecting, and his idol’s advice about academic freedom.
“Once in awhile I get people that really… that claim they don’t believe in evolution.” Ridicule, Straw Man. Nye’s sneering demeanor here contributes to his emotional effect of portraying Darwin skeptics as stupid, misguided bigots. Rhetorically, nothing prevents a person of equal status turning that statement right back at him: “Once in awhile I get people who claim they don’t believe in creation” or “who claim they believe in evolution.” Sneer and shake your head for added effect.
“Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution.” Half truth, Non-Sequitur. The world just is fantastically complicated by every biologist’s account, evolutionist or not. Read one week’s worth of biochemistry papers for proof. One thing Nye gets right: everything is so much simpler when you just throw up your hands like Darwin and say, “Stuff Happens” (9/22/2009, 9/15/2008). Now the whole world makes sense! No more need to buckle down and explain the complexity of life. Just say, “It evolved!” and make up a just-so story.
“Here are these ancient dinosaur bones, or fossils…” Circular Reasoning, Card Stacking. First in his list of items too complicated for creationists to deal with, Nye embeds his beliefs into the language by calling the bones “ancient.” Let’s get him to explain how blood cells and proteins in dinosaur bone pulled up from the ground survived for over 65 million Darwin Years. Does Nye really think that creationists ignore dinosaur bones? Good grief, the creation sites are filled with discussions about dinosaurs. And they don’t fret over how complicated it makes creationism; on the contrary, they show that the evolutionists are the ones challenged to explain these large, complex, diverse beings by an unguided process. As for other fossils, has Nye ever heard of the Cambrian explosion? Let’s get him to watch Darwin’s Dilemma to learn not to state misrepresentations on YouTube.
“Here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like ours but at different states in their life cycles….” Sidestep, Non-Sequitur, Card Stacking. What on earth do these have to do with the evolution as a “fundamental idea of biology”? If he is trying to attack young-earth creationism, then he is displaying his ignorance of PhD-level creationist literature on radioactivity (e.g., the RATE books), and on cosmology. He is also completely ignoring the many and deep difficulties in evolutionary cosmology, not the least of which is getting everything out of nothing. Search the Cosmology links for many examples.
“… the idea of this deep time, of billions of years explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your worldview just becomes crazy – it becomes, uh, untenable; it’s self-inconsistent.” Big Lie, Ridicule, Sidestep. Creation scientists do not “ignore” questions of time. There are creationist cosmologies that allow for billions of years (example). Certainly intelligent design theory is disinterested about deep time. What is Nye ridiculing? Deep time has nothing to do with biological evolution, except as a convenient closet in which to stuff their skeletons. We’ll grant evolutionists ten or hundred times the billions of years they believe in: the mathematical probability will still rule evolution “untenable” (see online book). Nye tosses out the adjectives “untenable” and “self-inconsistent” as unargued conclusions, offering no support. Who is calling whose worldview “crazy”? Just the facts, Nye.
“And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution, and live in your [waves hands around] world that is inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine.” Generality, Big Lie, Ridicule. Such folly is not worthy of repetition, let alone refutation.
“But don’t make your kids do it, because we need them.” Non-Sequitur, Bandwagon. Who is “we”? The scientific oligarchy? The Darwin Party? The mandarins and elitists of Darwin indoctrination? Or does Nye have a frog in his pocket? Bill Nye, kids belong to their parents, not you.
“We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that, uh– we need engineers! People who can build stuff, solve problems.” Non-Sequitur, Bandwagon. It just gets worse. Nye has now equated belief in evolution with engineering! This is funny. Is he that clueless? Some of the hottest jobs in science right now involve biomimetics, the imitation of nature’s designs. As we have reported for years, Darwinism has nothing to do with the cutting-edge sciences of biochemistry and biomimetics. Did the Curiosity rover land on Mars by evolution? Has it found evidence of evolution? Neither. Engineers build things using intelligent design. Nye is right about one thing: we need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future, so that they can kick the Darwin Party usurpers out and end the totalitarian reign of the Emperor with No Clothes.
“It’s just really a hard thing. It’s a hard thing.” Non-Sequitur. Nye can’t think of anything intelligent to say, so he just gestures and fills up time with irrelevant emotional expressions.
“You know, in another couple of centuries, that worldview will be [shakes head] just won’t exist. I mean, it’s [shrugs] … there’s no evidence for it.” Big Lie, Sidestep, Ridicule, Argument from Authority. More vacuous emotional opinions. How can he know what the next two centuries will bring? He could well find his peers digging through the garbage heap of discarded ideas for their long-lost statue of Darwin.
This is why Bill Nye is not called the Logic Guy or Bill Nye the Philosopher. Chances are good (since he lives and breathes scientism) that he could not even define science in a way that could keep evolution in and creation out.
Bill Nye’s 2.5-minute emotional rant, unfortunately, shows the power of an authority figure who can garner over a million viewers to listen to his empty rhetoric and influence the culture. Two minutes of lies and distortions, spoken off the cuff with no support, take paragraphs to refute. Don’t despair: if one boy calling out “The Emperor is naked!” can turn the tide, a few of us with our heads still screwed on, not influenced by the aura of the elitist Bandwagon, can make a difference. Get your megaphone and shout the truth.