Hey Bill Nye! Does Homosexuality Make Evolutionary Sense?
An anonymous viewer asks Bill whether homosexuality makes sense from an evolutionary and genetic standpoint. Bill's response? Homosexuality exists across species and none of them are dying out anytime soon.
Bill Nye, scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor, is a man with a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life.
In Seattle Nye began to combine his love of science with his flair for comedy, when he won the Steve Martin look-alike contest and developed dual careers as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night. Nye then quit his day engineering day job and made the transition to a night job as a comedy writer and performer on Seattle’s home-grown ensemble comedy show “Almost Live.” This is where “Bill Nye the Science Guy®” was born. The show appeared before Saturday Night Live and later on Comedy Central, originating at KING-TV, Seattle’s NBC affiliate.
While working on the Science Guy show, Nye won seven national Emmy Awards for writing, performing, and producing. The show won 18 Emmys in five years. In between creating the shows, he wrote five children’s books about science, including his latest title, “Bill Nye’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs.”
Nye is the host of three currently-running television series. “The 100 Greatest Discoveries” airs on the Science Channel. “The Eyes of Nye” airs on PBS stations across the country.
Bill’s latest project is hosting a show on Planet Green called “Stuff Happens.” It’s about environmentally responsible choices that consumers can make as they go about their day and their shopping. Also, you’ll see Nye in his good-natured rivalry with his neighbor Ed Begley. They compete to see who can save the most energy and produce the smallest carbon footprint. Nye has 4,000 watts of solar power and a solar-boosted hot water system. There’s also the low water use garden and underground watering system. It’s fun for him; he’s an engineer with an energy conservation hobby.
Nye is currently the Executive Director of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest organization.
Jason Gots: Hi Bill. This is Jason Gots from Big Think. I’m reading a question that somebody submitted in written form who wished to remain anonymous. But it seemed like a question that it would be good to have you answer. "I have a question about homosexuality," he asks. "If the purpose of a species is to reproduce and survive, how would it make sense evolutionarily for humans to have same-sex preferences? Are humans the only ones who practice homosexuality? And if so does this mean that homosexuality is a product of human’s personal whim as opposed to instinct?"
Bill Nye: So when I was growing up, there was this controversial and super-bestselling book called The Naked Ape. And this guy, the author, Desmond Morris, claimed, I guess he documented that there is homosexual behavior among primates. And from what I remember — I haven’t read it in many years — was chimpanzees and Bonobo’s exhibit homosexual behavior. And the answer nowadays we give to everybody about this is it’s a spectrum. I don’t know about you, but I have known a great many gay men who are married, who have babies, who have kids. So apparently — I’m not an authority on this. I’m an observer of the human condition. Apparently there’s a spectrum. Some people are more inclined to have sex with people of their same sex than others. And I think if you just watch the news right now, you can see that for yourself. And so being somewhere on the spectrum of heterosexual with homosexual being on that it’s not genetically lethal; you still have kids anyway. And you’ll hear people talk about the feminine side. You’ll hear people talk about the masculine side. You’ll hear women use the expression, "Well she’s got a lot of balls which can’t literally be true, if we’re using balls in that conventional construction." So I would say that it’s something that happens in nature and I remember very well in this book — now I haven’t read it in a long time, but man it was a big deal. Openly talking about sex in the 1960s was a big deal that he claimed that there was more homosexuality in zoos than he observed in nature. And that may be just because we happen to capture a couple of homosexual Bonobos or whatever. In other words the sample size is way too small to extrapolate. So let’s celebrate being alive everybody. Apparently it’s just something that happens in nature and look, we’re all here.
An anonymous viewer asks Bill whether homosexuality makes sense from an evolutionary and genetic standpoint. Bill's response? Homosexuality exists across species and throughout nature. Bonobo monkeys, for example, exhibit homosexuality. And Bonobo monkeys aren't going anywhere anytime soon. In short, Bill says we should just live and let live.
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