In the theme song of the ‘90s PBS show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” a voiceover says “science rules” as host Bill Nye’s head swirls on a background of spewing lava, scientific formulas, and the primates who represent evolution.
This unabashedly nerdy embrace of science was the engine of the show. Bill expressed amazement at all experiments big and small and inspired a generation of kids to love science and pursue their curiosities.
But since then, science has grown more contentious. The US public is skeptical of GMOs, vaccines, climate change, and much more. In many cases, this skepticism is reasonable because there hasn’t been sufficient public engagement by scientists and science education throughout the country is inconsistent. In other cases, the skepticism stems from campaigns of misinformation.
In comes Bill Nye with a new Netflix show called “Bill Nye Saves the World” airing April 21st, the day before Earth Day.
Whereas the stakes of his first show weren’t all that high — getting kids to appreciate chemistry and physics — this new show is all about delving into the most controversial scientific topics of the day.
GMOs, climate change, alternative medicine, and more will be explored in the 13 episodes of the show. Bill will be joined by a gaggle of celebrity hosts as they debunk myths and simplify complicated concepts.
While Nye has always been an advocate for science education, he’s had to become more forceful in his convictions in recent years as he makes the case for climate change, evolution, and GMOs.
For example, he debated a leading creationist on the merits of evolution in 2014 in a contest that seemed to take place on completely different terms, underscoring the vast gaps in scientific understanding that exist throughout society.
Nye has also taken the stage at the Global Citizen Festival to encourage people to take environmental protection seriously.
But even if Nye has had to become more combative, he’s still guided by the same basic understanding that people will eventually come around to reason — especially if it’s served with humor.
Along with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nye is a modern day Carl Sagan — changing the public’s relationship to science.
And as US scientists prepare for four years of potential underfunding, censorship, and obstruction, a show like Bill’s could help the public remember just how important scientists are to both everyday life and the future of the world.