Bill Nye has become the de facto spokesman for science. He and his trademark bow tie were featured in last month’s March for Science, and he has become a perennial presence on American television, speaking on a wide variety of scientific issues (despite the fact that he is trained as an engineer).
One of the themes of the March was the threat of the politicization of science. But, as Daniel Payne at The Federalist points out, Nye's own views on gender appear to have been dramatically influenced by political ideology.
“[I]n a recent episode of his new Netflix series, ‘Bill Nye Saves the World,’ Nye claims that the ‘male and female’ binary is ‘more like a kaleidoscope.’ Instead of the simple XX and XY combinations, Nye asserts that ‘we see more combinations than that in real life.’
‘What makes someone male or female,’ Nye says, ‘isn’t so clear-cut.’”
In promoting these ideas about gender, Nye's comments are not so different from those we are beginning to hear from academics who seem to have abandoned the scientific standards they once observed in the interest of fashionable ideologies.
Promoting this view—that there are no “gender binaries,” but a whole gender spectrum—has become all the rage over the past five years or so, and so the fact that Nye is toeing the party line is not terribly surprising.
But what is interesting is that he was saying something completely different in 1996:
In an episode of his show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” circa 1996, the message is loud and clear: biology says chromosomes determine if people are male or female.
Here’s a quote from the 1996 show:
“‘Inside each of our cells are these things called chromosomes, and they control whether we become a boy or a girl,’ a teenage narrator explains. ‘There are only two possibilities: ‘XX,’ a girl, or ‘XY,’ a boy.’”
Darn those pesky old tapes.
Of course, people commonly change their minds on issues, as Nye appears to have done. But, as The Federalist also reports, someone appears to have gone back and tried to cover up what Nye said in the earlier episode:
“On Netflix’s collection of episodes of ‘Bill Nye,’ the 23rd episode, entitled ‘Probability,’ is identical to that which originally aired in 1996—except that the segment on sex and chromosomes has been excised completely. The episode offers no explanation whatsoever.”
One wonders what scientific evidence caused Nye to change his mind, or whether he changed it because of how the ideological winds are blowing.
Martin Cothran is the editor of Classical Teacher magazine, published by Memoria Press, and the director of the Classical Latin School Association.