“All things truly wicked start from ignorance.” –Ernest Hemingway
A friend of mine just re-acquainted me with Bill Nye, which eventually lead me to finding this video. Poor guy.
I’ve never seen an episode of the Nightly Show, and now I never will. Within a minute of this clip, my face was already getting sore from all the cringing. Bill Nye and I don’t agree on much politically, but I have nothing but respect for science educators and popularizers. No matter what else Nye does or says, educating people on the wonders of the natural world is a noble calling.
Which is why this clip made me rage.
What the other panelists don’t (i.e. can’t) understand is the connection between blue sky scientific research and the very foundations of the Western world they’re feeding on. By exploring the questions that fascinate them and pushing into new areas, scientists make the fundamental discoveries that form the basis for later practical tech. There is no television without Maxwell and his equations, no GPS without Kepler and Newton, no GRIDS drugs without Darwin. Our current wealth and safety didn’t spring into existence one day in a puff of tolerance and love; it’s knowledge that wouldn’t exist without curiosity and a refusal to be content with not knowing.
All this is expected, of course: it’s highly likely that neither Millenial on that panel has ever had a reflective thought in their entire lives. We’ve been so coddled, so sheltered, from the realities of the human condition for so long that we don’t even recognize how historically abnormal we are. This kind of worldview is the mental equivalent of type II diabetes: a function of the endless, blinkered ad libitum feeding that’s become the American norm. Higher thoughts are big and scary, better go have another beer and watch the news till those bad feels go away. Transcendence? Childlike wonder? Curiosity? “Go away, ‘batin’!” Whatever curiosity they have probably doesn’t extend past wondering about fun new ways to crush their genitals into each other. “I don’t trust, I just do it.” Oh, I bet.
Bill Nye represents Old America. In this clip, he is the pioneers that conquered a continent and built a superpower out of nothing. He is the industrialists and tinkerers that innovated most of modern technology. He is the chain-smoking Cold Warriors that went to the Moon and back. He is every man who ever looked up at the sky in awe, everyone who ever wondered what was over the horizon.
The hipsters across the table from him represent New America. The America of high fructose corn syrup and World Star Hip-Hop, of sex-reassignment and safe spaces. They are Weimerica Incarnate: a drugged-up playpen of self-centered, entitled brats who care only about superficialities like sex tapes and their own hedonistic desires. They are steeped in their own sheltered ignorance, sealed in a mirrored vault, and proud of it. These people have no drive, no ambition, no sense of value placed on anything more spiritual than the next surge of dopamine through their withered, shitty brains. They are soulless human ticks, and they’re dragging us all down.
When it’s 2040, America is a crumbling open-air refugee camp of 500 million illiterate helots, and the Chinese are laughing at us from Mars, we’ll be able to look at this video to see where it all went wrong.
We went down the wrong path when we decided that ignorance was something to be proud of, instead of a mark of shame.