For the past couple of days, rumors have been flying around on the internet that Bill Nye would be “debating” Sarah Palin after a screening of the film Climate Hustle, the work of climate change-denier Marc Morano.
The debate, as you might have figured out, was never going to happen. Nye wasn’t even going to be on the post-screening panel, much less arguing about the subject with Palin. Nye’s appearance was limited to being shown in a clip from the movie.
But now that the rumor is spreading, Nye seems to think this would actually be a good idea, tweeting this yesterday:
That sound you hear is the collective groan of sensible people everywhere…
Let me walk you through my entire thought process after hearing Nye was interested.
1) This is a horrible idea.
There’s no need for a debate on man’s effect on climate change because 97% of scientists already accept it. It’s not a debate taking place in the scientific community. There’s consensus!
You also wouldn’t debate whether the world is flat. The other side is devoid of information. It makes no sense.
2) I said this years ago, didn’t I?
Yes. Yes I did.
I said Bill Nye shouldn’t participate in an evolution/Creationism debate against Ken Ham because there was no scientific debate to be had there, either.
Look where that got me.
3) Why would you give Sarah Palin a platform she doesn’t need or deserve?
I get why Nye might want to debate climate change. It would boost awareness of the problem, kind of like Al Gore‘s documentary. But if you’re going to debate it, why not go up against an opponent with some semblance of credibility? Why not debate one of those handful of scientists who doesn’t accept the community’s consensus on it?
Debating Sarah Palin on climate change makes as much sense as debating Todd Starnes on the Establishment Clause. Just because they stomp their feet as voices of opposition doesn’t mean they have any idea what they’re talking about.
What would this debate even look like?
NYE: Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. And here are several citations to back that up.
PALIN: [Long pause. Looks at writing on hand.] Drill, baby, drill!
4) Palin has to be loving this attention.
Given that she’s no longer providing commentary for Fox News Channel, or has a reality show anyone is watching, or has a family member on Dancing with the Stars, and is basking in the glory of Donald Trump‘s shadow, she’ll do anything to get back in the spotlight.
A debate with Bill Nye, pitting her know-nothingness against someone best known for science communication? Shit. Let’s just give her an honorary doctorate, why don’t we.
5) Palin’s going to push hard to make this debate happen.
She’s already egging him on:
“Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am,” Palin told the gathering. “He’s a kids’ show actor. He’s not a scientist.”
She’s only technically right, but, as usual, missing the bigger picture. Nye is not a scientist in that he works in a lab and produces peer-reviewed research papers. But, unlike Palin, he defers to the expertise of scientists and communicates their ideas to the masses. That’s an important distinction.
And it’s not that Nye is merely an actor. He has a degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell. He’s not an idiot. He knows what he’s talking about — and has a wonderful, viral sense of curiosity on top of that — even if he doesn’t have a Ph.D. in any particular field.
By the way, if Nye is “as much a scientist” as Palin, and Nye’s “not a scientist,” Palin’s admitting her own ignorance on scientific topics. All the more reason she doesn’t deserve to be on a debate stage with Nye.
6) This debate’s totally going to happen, isn’t it?
You know it will.
7) It won’t be that bad, right?
Oh, there will be plenty of cringing going on that night. But there is a chance that people who watch the debate may realize that Nye knows what he’s talking about. They may change their minds as a result.
That’s exactly what happened with the Ken Ham debate. I didn’t think Creationist viewers would embrace evolution, but I’ve met multiple people who told me they changed their minds after watching their conversation.
Just like that night, I don’t think Bill Nye would necessarily “win” a climate change debate, but Sarah Palin could sure as hell lose it. And that would be a net victory for the side of science.
8) What’s the worst that could happen?
Let me throw this out there: Ken Ham credited the publicity from his debate against Nye for generating the funding he needed for Ark Encounter.
In a way, the Noah’s Ark theme park is the House that Bill Nye built.
What would a climate change debate with Sarah Palin do?
I don’t know… but Donald Trump may soon be looking for a Vice Presidential candidate. Odds are he’ll want someone who, like him, can generate constant attention and buzz. It’s not like bad publicity matters — that hasn’t hurt him yet. And if he’s up against Hillary Clinton, a female running mate wouldn’t be such a bad idea…
Having Trump in the White House would be bad enough. Having Trump and Palin in there? Good luck trying to sleep tonight.
Giving Palin more of a platform right now would do far more harm than good.
Don’t say yes to a debate, Bill Nye.
Just walk away.