Fundamental flaws

Fundamental flaws

‘Science Guy’ Bill Nye says rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated after taking on creationists in YouTube clip

By André Coleman , Kevin Uhrich 08/29/2012

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Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” who heads the Planetary Society in Pasadena, has just one thing to say to people who still do not believe in evolution:  
 
You’re hurting the species!
 
Creationism, Nye said, is neither scientifically provable nor appropriate for children to learn about. “People still move to the United States. And that’s largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science,” Nye said via YouTube on Big Think, an online knowledge forum. “When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.”
 
Monday was a big day for Nye. Not only was his YouTube talk a big hit, rumors of his death became widespread after hitting the Internet via social networking sites. The rumors turned out to be false and were put down within minutes of the appearance of those reports.
 
Nye, who would answer only emailed questions about the controversies, recently hosted the two-day Planetary Society-sponsored Planetfest at the Pasadena Convention Center, which attracted thousands of science and space enthusiasts and culminated with a live television feed from Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Aug. 5, the night Mars rover Curiosity successfully touched down on the Red Planet.
 
“Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. … 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,” Nye said.
 
Nye’s remarks coincidentally come as the Pasadena Public Library celebrates Constitution Month with a screening of the 1960 classic film, “Inherit the Wind,” starring Spencer Tracy and Frederic March. The film is a dramatization of the 1925 conviction of teacher and football coach John T. Scopes, who was prosecuted for teaching evolution in a Tennessee public high school in what came to be known variously as the Scopes Trial, the Monkey Trial and the Scopes Monkey Trial. The film screens at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Pasadena Library’s Central Branch, 285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena. (See our Get Your Own section on page 23.)
 
In the YouTube clip, Nye goes on to urge parents who don’t believe in evolution to allow their children to learn about it.
 
“And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live 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.”
 
In the Scopes case, the teacher was ultimately found guilty and ordered to pay a $100 fine. He appealed his conviction to the state Supreme Court, but the Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution, was upheld and remained on the books until 1967, when it was repealed by the state Legislature.

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