Bill Nye on New Netflix Show’s Subject Matter: ‘Science Is Political’

Bill Nye Show
Eddy Chen/Netflix

Bill Nye has never been afraid to speak his mind. His new Netflix series, “Bill Nye Saves the World,” sees the popular scientist and performer tackle a wide range of hot-button issues, from climate change to alternative medicines.

“Science is political,” Nye told Variety. “It has always been political. Just don’t go thinking that politics is the same as partisan. What we have are laws and regulations informed and shaped by laws and facts we discover in nature. But what’s happened the last few years is people have gotten it in their heads that if you just believe something hard enough it’s as good as scientific facts or theories. In science, of course, a theory is something that allows you to make predictions.”

The series marks Nye’s long-awaited return to his own TV series since first emerging as a household name in the 1990s as the creator and star of the Emmy Award-winning syndicated television show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” which ran for five seasons and introduced millennial audiences to science and engineering.

“It’s always a good time to return to television,” he said. “I really like being on television, I like performing, and nowadays I have become an informal pundit. People ask me questions about climate change and science at large and I really enjoy that.” The series is a talk show of sorts, with Nye doing science demonstrations in front of a studio audience along with taped segments and a live panel discussion with a range of experts.

“On my way to this point, I had done a lot of television and I had done stand up comedy,” he said. “And I think deep within us as stand up comics, there is a desire to have a talk show. So when the opportunity presented itself I was really excited. It’s the coolest thing ever. And you want to use your strengths. So we have science demonstrations as part of the monologue, then the panel, then comedy pieces or video pieces that are funny, or intended to be funny. Let’s go with that: intended to be funny. But everyone involved thought this was a cool idea so we hired half comedy writers and half science writers.”

The series also includes a segment called “Bill Needs a Minute,” in which Nye goes on an impassioned, science-based rant about whatever topic is being covered in a particular episode. “That happened a few times in the writers’ meeting,” he said. “I would stop and say, ‘Look guys, this is important,’ and I would just go off on a rant. And I’m not entirely sure who but someone said, ‘Bill, you need a minute.’ And the showrunner, Michael Naidus, thought that was fabulous and so we did that.”

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  1. Joshua D Wise says:

    Science is a process of searching for knowledge. Politics is a process of forcing people to behave a certain way.

    Science is not political. That’s why political science exists. The whole point of political science is to take facts, studies, the best efforts of social and natural scientists, and then present it in a way that can be utilized in governance. Political science is a bridge between politics and facts. At its best, it should inform politicians and the people to how things are, and how things work, so decisions can be made on what to do. A politician wants the world to be X, the political scientist’s job is to show that the world is currently Z, and ways to get to X. Then political theory explores whether or not the world should be X or what the consequences should be.

    When you turn science political, you abandon the title of scientist and take on the title of pundit. Because you are abandoning the search for objective empirical truth, and instead are using facts as tools to craft the conclusions you desire. Science doesn’t craft conclusions. Period. That is politics.

    • Frank says:

      Thank you! Bill’s new show is a complete political farce. It has convinced me to finally cancel my Netflix subscription.

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