Monday, August 27, 2012

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Teaching kids creationism undermines their development, and the U.S. as well

"Bill Nye the Science Guy," or William Sanford "Bill" Nye, 56, is best known for his Disney/PBS children's science show "Bill Nye the Science Guy," which ran from 1993–1998. As the 2012 Republican National Convention looms in the coming week, Nye has stepped out in a short video for Big Think.

In it, he warns parents not to teach their children creationism because, he said, it does them - and the U.S. - a disservice. It not only undermines their scientific understanding and development, but the U.S. needs "scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future" and "engineers that can build stuff, solve problems."

Nye begins his message (embedded) by saying that despite being home to many of the world's technological innovations, the U.S. is unique in its denial of evolution. That is, of course, at least in part due to the extreme right-wing Christian fundamentalists in America.

That is not the only thing that the U.S. is unique in, of course, and it falls along the same political lines. Among developed nations, the lack of universal health care in the U.S. is similarly unique.

It is, again, the right-wing that pushes against such health care, despite calling itself the "Party of God" (sometimes, "God's Own Party"). The fact that Tea Partiers at a Republican debate applauded over the idea of an uninsured man dying in the ER seems to belie their Christian beliefs.

The question of "who would Jesus insure" has been asked by many. The answer does not need saying.

Regardless of that, sans science and technology, the U.S. would no longer lead the world in things like iPhones, Android, Windows Phone, and more.

Here's the transcript what Nye said, in his video:

"Denial of evolution is unique to the United States. I mean, we're the world's most advanced technological—I mean, you could say Japan—but generally, the United States is where most of the innovations still happens. People still move to the United States. And that's largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science. When you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.

"Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It's like, it's very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. You're just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place.

"As my old professor, Carl Sagan, said, 'When you're in love you want to tell the world.' So, once in a while I get people that really — or that claim — they don't believe in evolution. And my response generally is 'Well, why not? Really, why not?' Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don't believe in evolution. I mean, here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they're at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.

"And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can — we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.

"It's just really a hard thing, it's really a hard thing. You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I'm sure, will be, it just won't exist. There's no evidence for it."

The video is, of course, receiving numerous comments from both sides of the aisle.  Chime in yourself, in the comments below. 

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