Sometimes it’s spelled “Waco” but we all know that it should be Wacko. Yet Another Zany Thing (YAZT) has happened there which you may find amusing.

Bill Nye the Science Guy gave a talk there in which he made the claim that the Moon does not emit its own light. Rather, he said, it reflects the light of the Sun. Now, that probably wouldn’t have bothered anyone in the audience because most of them were what you might call situationally informed. In other words, they would not know a thing unless it was pointed out to them, so without any added information they would not know that a thing they knew to be true, based on belief, was being contradicted. But, in an apparent effort o be helpful, Bill Nye made the effort to point out to the good people of Wacko that the Bible says that God made two lights in the sky, a bright one and a dim one. The dim one would be the Moon. But, of course, we now know that the Moon does not actually make light, but rather, merely reflects the Sun’s light.

Now that the audience knew because Bill Nye told them both the Biblical Truth that they were to cling to, and the way in which Science disproved it, rather than just the latter, they could get all mad and storm out and shout things like “We believe in God, dammit” and so on and so forth. There is a fun writeup of the event here, which notes that the local Wacko paper had reported the event but then, apparently out of sheer embarrassment, pulled it.

This all reminds me of a story. When I was a kid, we did not have Bill Nye the Science Guy. Instead, we had Mr. Science.

“Hi kids. My name is Mr. Science. I have a Masters Degree in Science!”

Mr. Science had a TV show in which he did pretty much the same kind of thing Bill Nye the Science Guy does but with less production value. And, that is where I learned some of my childhood astronomy, there and from copies of Scientific American I used to lift from my brother’s room.

So one day I was walking down the street with my ‘friend’ Joey. I put ‘friend’ in quotes there because Joey came from a troubled background and took it out on everyone else, so being his ‘friend’ also meant being beaten up by him a couple of times a week. Anyway, we were walking along and he looked up and noticed a partial moon in the daytime sky, as sometimes happens, pointed at it, and said “Look at that.”

I said “Yeah, the Moon,” and wondered why he was pointing it out.

“That’s not the Moon, it’s the other side of the Earth,” he replied, anger in his voice, his hands starting to form fists.

“It’s the Earth,” I replied, more than a little worried about what was likely to happen next.

“My brother said it is the other side of the Earth, are you calling him a liar?”

“It’s the Moon, you can’t see the other side of the Earth. The Earth is a sphere, and the moon goes around the Earth, and …..”

WACKO … right in the nose!! As usual.

That, of course, was just Joey being an idiot, but in a way, the situations are somewhat similar. My ‘friend’ Joey was sticking to his guns, his information having been passed on to him from a higher authority, his older brother, whom as I recall to have been a total dick. I was merely stating a scientific fact. Bill Nye was merely stating as scientific fact, and his audience was sticking to their guns, their information having been passed on by a higher authority, God, also a total dick by all accounts.

I’m just glad Bill Nye did not get a bloody nose. And I wonder how long the Wackos of Waco will loll around in the 14th century.

Comments

  1. #1 MikeMa
    May 1, 2012

    Texas, tolerating and encouraging ignorance as a citizenry test criteria.

  2. #2 Artor
    May 1, 2012

    I thought it was Doctor Science with the Masters degree…in SCIENCE!!!

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    May 1, 2012

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    May 1, 2012

    BTW, I’m learning from various sources including Twin Cities own Dave Pacheco, that this Waco story actually happened a few years ago. This is totally cool because the Joey story happened a few decades ago.

    Regarding concerns that I’m being mean to a geographical group of people, have a look at this.

    Here is a recent (well, not more than three years old) bit of context: http://www.examiner.com/article/reporter-of-bill-nye-moonbat-story-speaks

  5. #5 Tenebrarius (@Tenebrarius)
    May 1, 2012
  6. #6 Jim Thomerson
    May 1, 2012

    Baylor University, a major Baptist university, is in Waco. However, a friend, a well known evolutionary biologist, taught there for a year or two on sabbatical or something. Afterwards, he told me he was more comfortable teaching a course in evolution at Baylor than at his home university, an Oklahoma state school.

  7. #7 Malacandra
    May 1, 2012

    What’s interesting to me about this story is that a) it’s old, but b) it’s cropping up all over the place today.

    I remember hearing about about a year ago in a Mother Jones article that noted that this piece was circulating… again. Nye went on Countdown on MS-NBC to talk about the incident. http://on.msnbc.com/JAZxgd

  8. #8 Dean
    May 1, 2012

    Other side of the earth? Is that some common myth or was Joey’s
    brother just being a dick to him too?

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    May 1, 2012

    Dean, there was a “logical” argument made. SInce the moon is only up at night, it can’t be the moon. Yet it is there. Therefore it must be the earth. that it is the other side of the earth would then be obvious.

    I’ve never heard anyone else say it, though. Might have just been his older brother funning with him.

  10. #10 Mark
    May 1, 2012

    He was definitely Doctor Science when I listened to him, which must have been when I lived in Colorado in 1984-1988 .

    Wikipedia helpfully notes that “In the segment’s earliest days, it was known as ‘Ask Mr. Science.'”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Science

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    May 1, 2012

    I was not watching in the 80s. I was busy being a scientist and stuff. He probably got his PhD in the late 70s!

  12. #12 Amoeba
    May 2, 2012

    I am stunned by the ignorance.

    There is so much in the Bible that is acceptable to ‘god’, but which is utterly abhorrent that it cannot be treated as a reliable source of anything. What does one expect of a bronze-age collection of myths?
    I cite: Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Judges and most of the rest of the O.T.

  13. #13 PaulG
    May 2, 2012

    I think you were thinking of Don Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard. I think I had the Mr. Wizard chemistry set as a kid.

  14. #14 cfeagans
    May 3, 2012

    Hey, when you point your finger down here to Texas, just remember there are three more pointing back at Michelle Bachman ;-)

    heh. We definitely have our fundies, but we have a lot of really cool, smart folk, too. We’re just way out-numbered it seems. Still, I doubt Nye’s reception in Waco (6 years ago!) was all that bad. The majority probably loved it.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    May 3, 2012

    I know, I know, sorry …. trying to fix that.

  16. #16 Wow
    May 4, 2012

    re: 14. Of course, if Greg has his hand out in greeting, all fingers are pointing at Texas…

    The problem is, at the moment, the dangerous wingnuts that can SCARE you into not confronting them are the right wing wingnuts.

    In the 60’s, you were more likely to get the left wing wingnuts doing it, but the availablity of coordination and publication (i.e. the internet) wasn’t available at that time to make it quite as dangerous as the wingnuttery is today.

    And the rightwingnuts are getting all the traction they can from it.

  17. #17 Jim Ramsey
    May 4, 2012

    This fun story about the BSD daemon mascot/logo has been rattling around for a while.

    http://www.erenkrantz.com/Humor/BSDDaemon.shtml

  18. #18 F
    May 4, 2012

    I recall having arguments with fellow students and in one case the teacher in grade school over the claims 1) the sun can be in front of clouds, and 2) the sun is hot but stars are cold.