Evidence-based skepticism in the spotlight thanks to Bill Nye’s debate

It’s so very exciting to see the reverberation of the Creation-Evolution debate continuing. And I am very happy to see Skeptical Inquirer play a role in it. This current issue of SI has an exclusive piece written by Bill Nye, The Science Guy himself, discussing the behind-the-scenes goings on that took place before and during his televised debate with Ken Ham in February. Bill was the clear winner and he is still winning. Does this mean more such debates, say, about global warming?

Bill Nye says he underestimated debate’s impact.

When Nye agreed to the debate at The Creation Museum with its founder Ken Ham, he said he believed it would draw about as much attention as presentations he makes on college campuses.

But the Feb. 4 event was widely promoted by the museum, “and soon it seemed like everyone I met was talking about it,” Nye wrote in a 3,000-word letter published in the May/June issue of Skeptical Inquirer.

“I slowly realized that this was a high-pressure situation,” he said.

Nye said he strategized ahead of the debate with colleagues who were seasoned in the evolution-creationism wars. He traveled to Oakland, Calif., to meet with staff at the National Center for Science Education and had lunch with other scientists.

Skeptical Inquirer has put Nye’s piece online for viewing. Have a look. He thanks Genie Scott and others from the NCSE along with Don Prothero and Michael Shermer.

Many of you, by that I mean many of my skeptic and humanist colleagues, expressed deep concern and anger that I would be so foolish as to accept a debate with a creationist, as this would promote him and them more than it would promote me and us. As I often say and sincerely believe, “You may be right.” But, I held strongly to the view that it was an opportunity to expose the well-intending Ken Ham and the support he receives from his followers as being bad for Kentucky, bad for science education, bad for the U.S., and thereby bad for humankind—I do not feel I’m exaggerating when I express it this strongly.

Bill also notes how he was “excited” and upbeat (as you could tell), while Ham was nervous. That’s because Ham only had one story to tell, Bill had the story of nature and the universe. That is way more exciting. He’s my hero.

They would get my vote!!!

They would get my vote!!!

The event was streamed live on the Web and it was widely discussed on Facebook and Twitter, alongside the witty hashtag #HamonNye.

Hmm. I wonder…

Our past coverage:

Bill Nye to debate Ken Ham February 4 at Creation Museum

Ham on Nye: Tickets sold out in minutes (Jan 7 – AFAIK, no one had used this phrasing before. Anyone? It was just too good to pass up.)

The Great Debate: Science trumps Creationism

Is Bill Nye the captain of our national scientific debate team? (UPDATE: Another score for Nye)

Screen capture from the video where Bill Nye talks about evolution

Screen capture from the video where Bill Nye talks about evolution

  5 comments for “Evidence-based skepticism in the spotlight thanks to Bill Nye’s debate

  1. Mac
    April 16, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    On one hand I am glad that reason and common sense had a forum. And, if it opens more minds to the thought processes it takes to critically examine all kinds of woo, that’s good.

    I have not seen much buzz on the interwebs or other media about follow up skeptical discussions. (There may be plenty, I’ve just not stumbled on it.)

    There plenty who feel the debate gave Ham a forum they’d rather he didn’t get.

    It is unfortunate that it did bring an influx of cash to the Ham organization, further prolonging it’s demise.

  2. Lagaya1
    April 16, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    I used to feel this way about the cash issue, too. Then I started thinking about where that cash could be going if not thrown into worthless projects. Electing ill-informed school board members or congresspersons, maybe? I decided I prefer it go to a boondoggle ark project as the lesser of the evils. And I urge them to keep throwing their money that direction, because that money is likely going to go somewhere.

  3. April 18, 2014 at 1:03 AM

    Was this “influx of cash” actually documented, or was it just a claim by Ham?

    I gotta give it to Bill Nye, it DID turn out better than a lot of skeptics (or at least I) expected.

  4. eddi
    April 20, 2014 at 3:12 AM

    Unless they’ve actually started building the Ark that influx was probably eaten by past-due bills and legal fees.

  5. frank
    June 16, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    The debate was great. At least, I really learned a lot about the basic beliefs in creationism . I understand that even Pat Robertson was surprised.

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