A physicist’s take on the March for Science

“Bill Nye, the march’s highly visible co-chairperson, is barely even a scientist.”

As a theoretical physicist, I was excited to hear about Saturday’s nationwide March for Science. But after learning who is leading it and why, I am disappointed to report it is but a brazen attempt by political activists to hijack science.

My dream of becoming a scientist started in the second grade and was my ticket out of the disadvantaged, gang-plagued neighborhoods of East Los Angeles, where I was born. I’ve spent my life teaching science in and out of classrooms to millions of people worldwide – and my efforts have been rewarded with everything from distinguished teaching awards to Emmys.

I believe the scientific method is by far our best hope for elucidating the physical universe. It’s why I feel so protective of it. I can’t bear seeing the organizers and partners of the so-called March for Science trying to politicize it.

Bill Nye, the march’s highly visible co-chairperson, is barely even a scientist. After earning an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, he worked for an airplane company, did stand-up comedy, and hosted a PBS kids show, in which he cleverly branded himself “The Science Guy.”

In science-related debates, Nye consistently defends a strident, liberal position.  (I’d also call him out if he were a strident conservative.) And he promotes a woefully benighted stereotype of a scientist – an old, nerdy white guy sporting a tweed jacket and bow tie. Given all the highly qualified, bona fide researchers out there – including Nobel Prize winners – it boggles the mind that march organizers would choose Nye to represent science and expect to be taken seriously.

The march’s flagrant political bias is also plain in its choice of partners – for instance, the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group of fiercely anti-nuke, anti-Trump lobbyists. Its president, Kenneth Kimmel, defends the march by deliberately confusing attacks on his political agenda with attacks on the scientific method: “Nowhere is the attack more ferocious than on the issue of global warming, where the Trump administration has taken a wrecking ball to the modest but important policies put in place by President Obama.”

The march’s official website isn’t reassuring either. While reading its stated principles and goals, I came across this doozy of a statement: “Political decision-making that impacts the lives of Americans and the world at large should make use of peer-reviewed evidence and scientific consensus, not personal whims and decrees.”

Like wizards uttering a magical incantation, lobbyists routinely invoke the existence of a “scientific consensus” to lend an aura of infallibility to their political stands. At a seminar years ago, Arianna Huffington explained the Huffington Post did not tolerate any debate about climate change, because Al Gore – that world renowned scientist – personally assured her the matter was “settled science,” another oft-heard political spell.

The only thing Huffington revealed that day was her scientific illiteracy. Science is never settled. As Albert Einstein once observed, “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”

Einstein knew whereof he spoke. As a young physicist in Switzerland, he confronted a stubborn scientific consensus – supported by a mountain of peer-reviewed evidence – that decreed Newtonian physics was settled science. In 1905, when Einstein dared to challenge it – to publish the special theory of relativity – the scientific establishment promptly reared up against him. Prominent Nazi physicists even accused him of promulgating disreputable “Jewish science.”

There is enormous room for improving science education in our nation’s public schools, colleges, grad schools, media, and – yes – political institutions. But the March for Science – lobbyists claiming that supporting the scientific method is equivalent to supporting their political agendas – is a very big, very public step in the wrong direction.

Michael Guillen earned his B.S. from UCLA, his M.S. and Ph.D. from Cornell University in physics, mathematics and astronomy. For 14 years he was the Emmy-award-winning science correspondent for ABC News.

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Comments (6)

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    Spurwing Plover

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    Bill Nye is just another phonie scienists that the liberal leftists news media and various other outlets use to advance their agenda these fake scienists need to be removed and so those some Hollywood wackos like Leonardo DiCaprio,Luarie David,John Travolta,Al Gore and David Suzuki and the rest of these enviromnental crack-pots

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      Arjuna02

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      An here we have another person lying about being a Physicist like me. Speaking about AGW but seemingly not knowing anything about the Stefan-Boltzmann Law, which proves that Man made CO2 warming is impossible. because CO2 is opaque to Infrared radiation (heat). Meaning it blocks out the Sun’s heat from reaching the Earth. More CO2 will , of course, block out more Sun heat and cool the earth, which the Stefan-Boltzmann Law tells us, cause the Earth to give off much less IR radiation, meaning, the Greenhouse Effect, which is powered by the heat the earth gives off, will fall with the lesser amount of heat the earth will give off with more heat blocking CO2.
      I really wish these phony scientists would stop pretending to be scientists, their lies are causing people to mistrust real scientists

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    Jim Agnew

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    Please note that there were no “NAZI scientists” in 1905. I assume you mean that NAZI scientists later branded Einstein’s work as less-than-Aryan. Otherwise, a good article.

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    William Sparling

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    Bill Nye the ANTI-Science guy. Enough said.

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    Amber

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    Bill Nye has tried his hand at comedy , mechanical engineering , acting and dancing .
    Obviously key credentials to promote the global warming industry .
    He reminds me a bit of Pee Wee Herman for some reason .

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  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    Bill Nye the Mad Scientists Guy picture him in a big labratory surrounded by monsters and creatures him and this other crack-pot(John Horner)who want to recreate dinosours by fiddling around with Bird DNA this nutcase is convinced birds evolved from dinasours him Bill Nye and David Suzuki belong in the Arkum Assilum residing with The Joker,Two-face and other of batman’s enemies

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