Pop Science undermines actual science

pop science
Matthew Rietveld / The Watchdog

Lately, I’ve been noticing an epidemic of mischaracterizing science. Celebrities and notable scientists are all over the place talking about political, social, and even religious issues as if they were scientific issues, and using a bastardized version of science to attempt to gain some extra credibility.
In his early years of introducing countless children – me included – to the mysteries and wonders of science, Bill Nye was doing real important work. Teaching the fun in science with interesting demos and an entertaining sense of humor, I learned a myriad of concepts.
Lately however, Bill Nye has gone off the deep end and traded science for popular science, mixing science and politics, all under the guise of legitimate science. Full of blatantly wrong facts, misrepresentations, and absurdity, Nye is somehow still an iconic hero.
Contrary to public opinion, the science is not settled on anthropogenic climate change, and there is no overall scientific consensus. There are plenty of meteorologists who do not believe climate change is occurring because of humans or that there is anything that can be done by us to stop it. This doesn’t stop Nye from advocating that those who do not adhere to theories of climate change be jailed.
Not only does Nye spout misinformation, dumbing down the public, but he holds legitimately dangerous, reprehensible views. Some of the greatest legitimate scientists throughout history have been imprisoned for their views that went against popular opinion. Not content with science alone, Nye proposes to bring back this backwards, totalitarian view.
A while ago, Steven Hawking stated that he didn’t believe in the existence of a god. Science and religion just don’t mix. There’s no science that can be done to prove or disprove the existence of a god, yet Hawking’s atheism is given tons of press time and credibility. Just because an individual happens to be knowledgeable in one very specific theoretical branch of science does not mean their views on everything else are valid.
Science isn’t about social consensus, it’s not about prevailing social beliefs, and it’s definitely not about politics. Science is nothing more than a specific set of steps that can be used in some situations to determine truth or falsehood. When the media and the public in general lose sight of that, all that science stands for is undermined.
The Mythbusters, in all their wacky glory aren’t even scientists yet are doing more for science than any actual scientists. Mythbusters demonstrate the essence of science – experimentation. When there is knowledge to be gained, experiments are designed, executed and repeated. While they may have some failures with scientific rigor, they are advancing what science actually is.
To some, science has become a religion. The be-all end-all of knowledge, something that will solve every problem under the sun, with popular scientists as priests who hold all the answers. Science isn’t all-powerful, and science cannot replace other fields of study such as history, economics and sociology. In the same way that I wouldn’t ask a plumber about theology or a software engineer about philosophy, we should not be looking to our scientists or celebrities associated with science for answers that they are not qualified to give.

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