It Really Doesn’t Matter That the Viral Image of Bill Nye Talking About Gender Is Fake

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You may have heard that Bill Nye (the science guy) has a new show out on Netflix called Bill Nye Saves the World. You might have heard that it’s either entertaining or disappointing, depending on who you tend to listen to. You might also have heard that Bill Nye is now an “SJW” (if you tend to listen to terrible people), and that garbage needs to stop.

As we’ve come to expect from people who are personally affronted by the idea that they should treat others with human decency, there are complaints flying about the episode in which Bill Nye takes on gender and sexuality. Because it’s 2017, the episode reflects the modern understanding that things are not as binary as, say, a science infotainment show for children in the ’90s may have depicted. That doesn’t sit well with those spreading around a fake image from Bill Nye’s old show to seemingly mock the idea of nuanced understanding and learning new things.

Here’s what’s been going around:

(image: Buena Vista Television, a bullshit caption, & Netflix)

(image: Buena Vista Television, a bullshit caption, & Netflix)

These are usually presented with captions about how us crazy “leftists” have gotten to Bill Nye, or how this exposes him as a politically motivated fraud. However, as has been pointed out by Gizmodo, the screenshot on the left is captioned inaccurately to put words in his mouth. What Nye really said was, “Our genes are stored in parts of our cells called chromosomes. They look like this. Chromosomes contain all of the genetic information, all of the instructions you need to make a person. Now humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46. It’s like the instruction are stored in 46 books.”

That hasn’t stopped people from spreading it around, but the truly amazing thing is that anyone might take this as more than a callous conservative “joke.” Even if Nye had given a basic overview of how DNA works back in the mid-’90s by explaining how gender is generally assigned at birth (while leaving out complicating factors as one often does when introducing a concept in education), that doesn’t at all equate to some kind of “flip flop” as scientific study continues, even if it had actually been the case, rather than this being a fake image.

Making it seem like this would have been some kind of betrayal of ideology by Nye just reveals the ignorance of anyone who thinks the logic of the comparison is actually sound beyond having a quick laugh at the expense of others. Science is all about building on knowledge and continuing to refine our understanding, and reducing things to a grade school-level comprehension of genetics and insisting that’s the objective “truth”—rather than a foundation for further appreciation of the subject and its nuances—is asinine.

Mythbusters’ Adam Savage summed this up very eloquently in a recent tweet:

(featured image: The Planetary Society)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.