Bill Nye on Philosophy

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #1

Continuing the discussion from Science and Philosophy:

Conversation on another thread brought to mind an infamous video by Bill Nye the Science Guy, where he dismisses the whole field of philosophy. This the sort of nonsense that get’s people defensive about scientists being dismissive of philosophers and philosophy in general.

One important observation. Bill Nye is not actually scientist. He is an actor that plays a scientist on TV. Do not blame scientists in general for his absurd ramblings on philosophy. I wonder if he is doing a public performance of loyalty to science, and feels the need to disparage “non-scientific” things, which leads him into this mess.

Here is a response in more detail to his ramblings:

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(Charles Edward Miller) #2

Bill Nye the history guy. Today, boys and girls, we are going to talk about Cleopatra. Dr. Joshua Swamidass, Professor of History

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #3

I don’t get the joke. Explain?

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(Charles Edward Miller) #4

I read an article that Bill Nye is not a science guy. It is said that he is an actor and Engineer. I will have to try to find the article. Perhaps I was not thinking clearly that day. I came from your blog above. I find it funning because he has been playing scientist and he isn’t. Perhaps you do not find the humor in it, but Ken Ham is a scientist, even though he is a YEC. We may not have the same sense of humor. He is a BS in Mechanical Engineering and Television Personality. There was a program in the early 1960’s called Mr, Wizard, but he did have some science knowledge. He was a Chemist.


Ken Ham is no scientist. He is a Christian huckster, con man.

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(Charles Edward Miller) #6

My friend you are right. How shall we classify? He is a Mechanical Engineer. Would you call him a scientist? Nancy and I were talking about that earlier today.

(Daniel Ang) #7

Both Ken Ham and Bill Nye only have bachelor degrees in engineering. I would normally not classify engineers, especially those who have never done a research PhD, as scientists. Generally speaking, they do different things.

Edit: OK, so I see that Ken Ham obtained a Bachelor of Applied Science with emphasis in environmental biology. Not sure how much engineering or science there is in that degree, but from reading his biography it seems that he never had much research experience, if any. Bill Nye has a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

(Daniel Deen) #8

This seems an appropriate place to mention that all you research science degree persons have a PhD, a PHILOSOPHICAL Doctorate. What does this mean to you all? Again, I’m genuinely curious. When I mention to my undergraduates that those professors professing them biology, mathematics, physics, etc… at the collegiate level have a philosophical doctorate, they tend to look at me dumbfounded. However, teaching philosophy into a sea of freshman, this is the usual response, so I ask a more enlightened cohort – what do you guys and gals make of the PH in the D?


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(Steve Schaffner) #9

It means pretty much nothing to me, i.e. I view it as a historical relic from a time when “philosophy” meant something different than it does today. Ditto for the “arts” in my BA. (And, for that matter, for “doctor” and “bachelor”).


I have a PhD in electrical engineering but never studied philosophy nor even took the obligatory Freshman course.

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