Judging from my Facebook home feed, Bill Nye has (once again) said some things monumentally stupid.
As I scanned the episodes in his Netflix series “Bill Nye Saves the World,” I was reminded of Joel Achenbach’s March, 2015, National Geographic article titled, “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?” Achenbach says something very revealing about liberals:
Americans fall into two basic camps, Kahan says. Those with a more “egalitarian” and “communitarian” mind-set are generally suspicious of industry and apt to think it’s up to something dangerous that calls for government regulation; they’re likely to see the risks of climate change. In contrast, people with a “hierarchical” and “individualistic” mind-set respect leaders of industry and don’t like government interfering in their affairs; they’re apt to reject warnings about climate change, because they know what accepting them could lead to—some kind of tax or regulation to limit emissions.
Elsewhere he says what is probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever read:
Even for scientists, the scientific method is a hard discipline. Like the rest of us, they’re vulnerable to what they call confirmation bias—the tendency to look for and see only evidence that confirms what they already believe. But unlike the rest of us, they submit their ideas to formal peer review before publishing them.
To break it down: liberals are more willing to accept scientific ‘consensus’ because they are happy to contemplate government regulation, whereas conservatives oppose ‘science’ because they don’t want the government involved. But because of Achenbach’s ‘confirmation bias,’ he is unable to see that it is a very real possibility that he himself accepts certain propositions, not because they are true, or rooted in actual science, but because he himself welcomes regulation. In other words, he is unable to distinguish between liberalism and science. (And anyone who believes that ‘peer review’ somehow counteracts ‘confirmation bias’ should not be anywhere near any levers of power.)
The same is true for poor Bill Nye. What he calls ‘science’ is actually liberalism with a heavy dose of elitism. But here is the thing. I saw many attacks on Nye’s credentials as a ‘scientist.’ This is not the way to go. It’s a logical fallacy, in fact. People with credentials say stupid things every day. People without credentials can still utter truth. ‘Credentials’ are an epistemological shortcut which demonstrably has let the human race down countless times when it has relied on them. The real issue is that Bill Nye is, as near as I can tell, regurgitating, with high fidelity, what even the ‘credentialed’ scientists said, are saying, and likely will say. In other words, because of his own presuppositions, he cannot distinguish between liberalism and real science–just like thousands of other self-styled ‘scientists.’
So, if we turn our attention to the last episode (admittedly, the only one I watched in full), “Earth’s People Problem,” you are not, in fact, getting the perspective and point of view of an unqualified hack masquerading as a scientist. No, you are getting a good representation of what ‘real’ scientists have said and are saying about ‘over-population’ and what to do about it. Where do you think Bill Nye got his information and analysis? From the ‘experts,’ of course.
So, if you find that the proposals that Bill Nye is willing to contemplate to be extreme and disturbing, what you really need to do is turn your attention away from Mr. Nye to the question, “How did he come upon these viewpoints in the first place?”
The truth is, what Nye is saying represents information and viewpoints which are transmitted every day in the media and in our schools; naturally, since what he is saying is represented as ‘science.’ (Real world example: my kid once brought home a worksheet from his high school science class which echoed similar themes. I brought it to the attention of the science teacher. It had never occurred to him that what he was handing out had the goal of cultivating such viewpoints. But I knew, since I was familiar with the authors’ of the worksheet, the PRB. The fact that he was unaware of their agenda is kinda the point of this very blog entry.)
People will inevitably come to Nye’s conclusions if they are then predisposed to bringing the government into every nook and cranny of the human experience–which is actually evidence that what is in view is NOT science at all. As GE Moore famously put it, ‘you cannot get an ought from and is.’ Science is the domain of ‘is.’ ‘Ought’ is the domain of ideology. The ideology with the hallmark of being unable to tell the difference is liberalism.
The ‘naturalism fallacy’ is on full display in Nye’s panel discussion (“A panel of experts!”), where he says something which seems to have provoked a multitude. Dr. Travis Rieder has just said, “The average Nigerian emits .1 metric tons of carbon annually. How many does the average American emit?” and answers his own question with, “Sixteen metric tons!” (c. 15:00 in the video).
Ok, there is the ‘is.’ Now for the ‘ought.’
Here comes Nye: “So should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?”
Rieder: “I do think we should at least consider it.”
Nye: “‘At least consider it’ is, like do it.”
And that, my friends, is how an observation of the world (which may very well be true) enters a brain and is spat out as a statement about what we should do–and what we should do is regarded as science. One wonders: is a penalty on having children the kind of regulation that Achenbach had in mind?
Really, the funniest thing about the whole exchange is that the relationship between ‘climate change’ and ‘population control’ is presented as if it is novel. This gets to my point–if you think it is novel, you are badly mistaken. If you search this blog for search terms like “population control” and “over population” and “compulsory abortion” you will find example after example where ‘mainstream’ individuals link the environment to population control, often saying things that go well beyond what Nye said. I’ve documented so many at this point that you’re really better off just doing a search of my blog. You really can’t miss them.
At this point in the panel conversation, things got interesting. Rieder then goes on to say, “One of the things that we could do that is kind of least policy-ish, is we could encourage our culture and our norms to change…”
Rieder says this, as if it our culture and norms have not already changed. Does he not know that in the United States, is currently ‘enjoying’ its lowest fertility rate since records have been kept? ‘Replacement’ is 2.1 kids per family. As it sits, the United States is said to have a total fertility rate of 1.87. My friends, one does not get from a TFR of almost 4, 40 years ago, to below replacement, if our ‘culture and our norms’ have not changed. For the mathematically challenged, what this means is that the US population is actually set to decline in a generation or so, just by letting things ride, as is. So what else does Rieder and Nye want?
Ok, so that is interesting, but to add further intrigue, it is at this point that Rieder is interrupted. Up until this point, none of the panelists object to the line of reasoning. They accept the statements of the situation. But now that there is talk about what to do about it. Dr. Rachel Snow interjects (15:45), saying that she ‘takes issue’ with any incentivizing to having more or less children, calling for the magic word, “justice!” The other panelist, Dr. Nerys Benfield, now jumps in, highlighting the fact (and it is a fact) that the people who have been targeted for depopulation are ‘minorities,’ etc. Nye’s response, “How are they penalized?” suggests he’s never heard of this before, which is worrisome in its own right.
At this point, the women have spoken, and Rieder is silenced. You can see it on his face, really, “Here I thought we all agreed at how stark the problem is, and we can talk about real solutions, and you are pulling all this sentimentalist crap out?”
Snow and Benfield are espousing a perspective that represents, possibly, all that is conceivably good about the liberal point of view. (I do not say that sarcastically.) But again, Americans are already having fewer children than they ever had. Blacks in New York City abort more children than they bring to term. Pardon my french, but what the hell do you think is already happening?
I could explain it all to you, dear reader, but it would make for a lengthy blog post, and I’ve already traced a great deal of it elsewhere on this blog. (search: “jaffe memo”). The truth is that since 1945 or so, the ‘experts’ in America have been pursuing the Managed State, and have taken deliberate aim at reducing the world’s population, including here in America. They studied how to do it, and then they actually did it. And when they did it, they firmly believed they were acting in the name of science. (Eg, Harrison Brown, John Holdren, etc.) And they are still doing it. Ironically, Snow and Benfield are knee-deep in implementing that vision, apparently oblivious.
‘Bosworth W. Hollingsworth’ at the Federalist writes, “This whole concept and the ease with which [Nye] discusses it is so frightening and evil that I am genuinely appalled at Netflix’s decision to air it.”
I, on the other hand, am happy that Netflix aired it. Nye only popularized what the ‘experts’ have been saying quietly for decades. The last time that anyone spoke aloud as brazenly as Nye was in the 1960s and 1970s, but they never really stopped saying the same thing. Instead, they buried it into the fabric of American culture, in our curriculum, in our media, and so on. It is now so deep and intimately tied to the American way of life that Nye’s panelists alternatively call for such provisions–as if they are already not in force–or decry them–as if they are already not in force.
Benfield was quite right when she said “we’ve seen this before.” But she only referenced the tip of the iceberg. If ever there was a topic where it was imperative that we recognized the difference between an ‘ought’ and an ‘is’, it is this one. I am not here talking to liberals. I’m talking to conservatives. Trust me when I tell you that hoping that ‘credentialed’ scientists submitting their work before ‘peer review’ will spare us this evil nonsense, for what you are decrying… is already in force. Where do you think it came from in the first place?
The more people come to understand that, the better our chances that we really will not revisit the horrors of the 20th century, many of which are still on-going.