You will recall that last February, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, debated Ken Ham, the Not-So-Science Guy, on the question of creationism as a viable explanation for the Earth’s history. The debate was held in Ham’s home territory, at the infamous Creation Museum in Kentucky. Nye didn’t really debate Ham. He ate him for breakfast. Form now on we shall call him Ken Bacon and Eggs.

Anyway, people, including me, who have been engaged with the “debate” between science (evolution) and not-so-science (creationism of one kind or another) were very concerned when we heard that this debate might happen. There are reasons to not engage in such a debate. We worried. But then the debate happened and we saw the debate and the debate made us glad. Word.

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Well, in May 2014, which as far as I can tell is in the future (Bill Nye has some amazing powers!) Bill Nye published an Article in the Center for Inquiry’s Skeptical Inquirer about the debate: Bill Nye’s Take on the Nye-Ham Debate. In it, Nye gives the story of how the debate came to be, what his concerns and hopes were, how he prepared, what happened during the debate, and the debate’s aftermath. I think Nye’s explanation for his decision to debate is very much worth a read and can be appreciated by anyone interested in this topic. His description of the debate itself is fascinating, as inside stories often are. Also of great interest are Nye’s comments on an aspect of this debate that concerned several people: The way in which the debate was used, or perhaps, was not used, as a means of fund raising. Nye opens up questions that he suggests may be best addressed by the community of journalists in Kentucky. Hopefully that will happen.

I strongly recommend that you read Bill Nye’s essay. It is very interesting, and I very much appreciate his writing it.

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Comments

  1. #1 dean
    April 17, 2014

    interesting indeed.
    Having zero experience with this I do have one “huh?” comment from his article.
    This

    We were, by agreement, accompanied by two of Ham’s security people.

    a) Ham has security people?
    b) Why would there be a need for them to go with Nye and his agent? Is that common?

  2. #2 Trevor
    Tokyo
    April 17, 2014

    Bill the Looser, Science Freak. I think science is great, but I can’t be the only one that hates this guy…

  3. #3 DerMyNameIsTrevorDer
    April 17, 2014

    No Trevor, you are the only one.

  4. #4 John Abramson
    United States
    April 17, 2014

    Looser? You think science is “great”. You need to finish school dude.

  5. #5 lifemare
    Portugal
    April 18, 2014

    Nope. There was no winner on this debate. And the fact that you’re trying to spin Nye’s weak stuttering performance as a victory proves it. On the other campus they’re probably sputtering the same rhetoric right now.
    Nye was the wrong person for this debate (if the right person exists). He’s Science’s stand-up comedian, he’s neither an excellent orator, nor the most knowledgeable person on the theme. His usual ice-breaking jokes found no audience (maybe because he’s been repeating them for years ad nauseam, or because they just had no sympathy for him) and just diminished his authority as an ambassador for Science. The usual bland anecdotes about his personal life, he so enjoys coloring his speeches with, were more irritating than ever because he wasn’t there to entertain (like in Storytelling of Science at ASU) but to educate – and he kept robbing himself of precious time, better put to use properly explaining the facts.
    Both of these two mistakes completely threw him off his game. He was stuttering, shooting blanks, skipping sentences and being overall horribly incongruent with his rushed and feeble attempts to connect with the audience and present what should easily have been an overwhelmingly solid case for Science. He chose such weak and random evidence to present and failed to point out so many critical flaws in Ham’s arguments on so many occasions, or even properly explain (to a scientifically-illiterate audience) the counter-arguments he did manage to come up with, it was just too painful to watch!…

    I’m not condemning him though. Short on time, faced with a difficult public, against an extremely irrational opponent – maybe no one could do much better. In fact, one can assume such an event could never have been successful in converting anyone, let alone resolving the matter – and many did warn Nye not to do it. But i guess, someone had to give it a shot – after all, you do need to test your hypotheses. I have to applaud his patience and courage! Trying to debate logically with someone who’s clearly trying to capitalize on ignorance and perpetuate obscurantism offering the bible as the only book you need to read in this day and age, is so absolutely mind-bendingly frustrating and pointless i literally can’t fathom how Nye can even hope to do it, let alone actually try it. And the fact that he pulled it off without ever losing his composure and still managing to be courteous throughout the whole event, well… that could be called a victory… i guess.

    TL;DR: Yeah… sorry about that.

  6. #6 GeauxGhoti
    April 18, 2014

    First thing you need to understand about me is that I’m a former fundamentalists evangelical/young earth creationist. I managed to dig myself out of the pit of ignorance about 20 years ago and have very much enjoyed the light of reason ever since… Also, I haven’t read the essay yet… I thought I’d comment first.

    That being said… I completely understand the concern one might have over a legitimate scientist, particularly one the caliber of Bill Nye, get into such a debate as this. I mean, Billy Nye the Science Guy vs Ken Ham the Myth Man? Seriously? Why give such thinking this level of credibility?

    Here’s why… There’s no getting through to Ken Ham or his most ardent fans/followers, but there are vast numbers of people who have no real clue about the truth, or even the possibilities (that which we call fact). When they parrot the familiar idiotic ideas (“evolution means we evolved from rocks” sound familiar?) they really do believe that’s what evolution is. If the truth can be put before them, not only will they see the sense in our argument, but they’ll see that they’ve been misinformed. This is incredibly important. That’s the golden thread that will allow so many to find their way out of ‘Plato’s Cave’.

    The human brain is a rather magnificent thing. Regardless of what we’re consciously thinking about, our brains are constantly working on other things. It’s constantly making connections and “seeking” to categorize, classify and make sense of information. The natural operation of the brain appears to make it necessary to resolve instances of cognitive dissonance. In other words, we need to keep giving them the information… Many of them will work out the problems on their own, without even realizing it.

  7. #7 Steve Stevenson
    Albany, NY
    April 18, 2014

    Sorry Christians… But you are part of a dying breed of morons, who will not be around for long. Your silly, dishonest, hypocritical bigotry and child molesting corrupt embezzlement will be a thing of the past. We are getting far too knowledgable to buy into the “Good Book” of misogynistic bias, racist law, and killing those who are unlike you.

    Good riddance!

  8. #8 Jay
    ma
    April 18, 2014

    Why is it that the evolutionist supporters all resort to name calling and dispareging comments? im guessing that most of you just vomit whatever you “think” or “feel” is the right answer to this question whithout having done any research whatsoever. But your enlightened and to prove your vast well of knowledge and intelligence you choose to call Christians hypocrites, child molestors and thiefs. Brilliant argument. You’ve won me over with your superior intelligence and proof of your position. Im a creationist. I don’t believe the universe was created out of chaos and i believe the universe is a supreme demonstration of order and funtionality that couldn’t possibly have formed by random and ferocious explosion at an unimagionable time in the past. WIth that said, thats my belief and i can’t prove it anymore than any evolutionist can prove their position either. Neither side can 100% prove their theory but there should be respect from both sides. No one is ever going to know the truth until they die.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    April 18, 2014

    “But your enlightened…”

    I think you mean “But you’re enlightened…”

  10. #10 Artor
    April 19, 2014

    Jay, before you get your panties in a bundle complaining about how we label Xians, take a look through the comments of any atheist website and read what Xians say to us on a regular basis. THEN you can try to criticize us for uncharitable language. And yes, I know you can’t prove your beliefs any more than scientists can prove evolution, because there is actually evidence to support evolution, and none to support your god. And why would we respect your side, when your side has historically murdered people for holding a different (and correct) opinion? No, we can’t “prove” any theory 100%, but 99.99% is a lot better than 0%. Which one seems more reliable?

  11. #11 rmp
    United States
    April 20, 2014

    Steve, Jay, Artor, remember logical reasoning can be applied to more than just science. Steve, you’re making a hasty generalization from anecdotal evidence. Accusing an entire group of people (falsely) of bigotry is sadly ironic. Jay, just cause someone is mean to you doesn’t mean they are wrong. Also, just because neither side can “100% prove their theory” doesn’t mean one side doesn’t have the advantage. Listen to Mitch Hedburg talk about proving he had a donut, that pretty much sums it up. Artor, just because little Jay called you a name on the proverbial playground doesn’t mean you have a right to hit him back. It doesn’t make you better or more correct. It doesn’t follow to say “I don’t respect your opinion because of something bad was done hundreds of years ago by people I associate you .” It doesn’t matter if it was done 2 seconds ago, it’s faulty logic. Last but not least, can we keep the ad hominem to a minimum, please? I think that would be a score for rational thought everywhere.
    Also, might there be some harm done from the debate? Sure. Might there also be some good? Again, sure. Condemn what you will, I am just happy someone took a stand for the cause of science.

  12. #12 Steve Stevenson
    Albany, NY
    April 21, 2014

    Jay, you are a fool, and you can’t type for shamrocks… But, that’s to be expected of a Christian… not too great on the mental skills.

  13. #13 rmp
    April 21, 2014

    Wow, so much for the ad hominem challenge. Radical generalization (or even just trolling) simply encourages ignorance, division and polar extremes; don’t you think we have enough of that already? Yay for logic, boo for prejudice.

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