Hey Bill Nye! What If the World Were Run by Scientists and Engineers?
What if the vision wasn't just to have politicians who are science literate, but actual scientists running the joint – would it be any better than it is now?
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.
Wei: Hi Bill. My name is Wei. I'm an electronic engineer coming from China. A big fan to your show by the way. My question is hypothetically instead of politicians if the world were only run by engineers and scientists would it be a better place in your opinion? Thanks.
Bill Nye: Wei. Thank you so much for calling and thanks for being a fan of the show. You've asked a great question and categorically the world would not be a better place run by engineers. I say this all the time. I spend time with rocket scientist, a lot of time with them. From time to time I spend time with Nobel laureates. You do not want these people teaching kindergarten by way of example, they're just not qualified. When you find somebody who's interested in making deals, in compromising, in empathizing with people, in other words feeling what they're feeling and then trying to establish laws and traditions that benefit everyone, when you find someone that wants that job that to me is amazing and we need those people, those people would be politicians.
With that said, what we want are politicians who are scientifically literate, who are technically informed. Now you're in China and you have what in the U.S. people often referred to as a technocracy. You have a system of government that is run largely by engineers or scientists in what in the U.S. we would call top down fashion. People in power make decisions for everyone. And the system is workable. I mean my goodness China is this extraordinary economy and so on. But the experiment in the United States and the other Western democracies is to have representatives that work the system top down but are elected by everybody. And the idea is that this would be more fair, this would be consistent with how everybody feels. So I will say that what we want is people making decisions on behalf of all of us that are in the best interest of all of us.
And the best interest of everybody has to do with science and technology. We cannot have sewer systems and the Internet and this communication that you send in here, you couldn't have Big Think without the technology of electronics, which is enabled by mining extraordinary metals and geologist and physicists and chemists and everybody is fed through agriculture, which is another important biological aspects of biological science. We need science for everything, but what we want is our politicians to understand that and appreciate it and celebrate it and so move science forward. That is a great question but I will tell you in my opinion having a bunch of engineers, and I'm an engineer don't get me wrong man, having a bunch of engineers run things is probably not what you want because the systems are created – engineering systems are generally created from the top down and there's just a good chance you'll miss things, you'll make mistakes and they're harder to correct once they're in place. What you want, as happens in evolution in nature, is you want to the extent possible decisions to be made from the bottom up and the expression we often hear in the U.S. is organically from the bottom up.
And so good luck to both of our governments. We all have to address climate change and I'm glad that our governments were able to sign a climate change agreement last year and I'm very much hoping we can stick to it because we are going to need everybody working together to address climate change and we are especially going to need scientists and engineers to create or enable technical solutions to specific things. Renewable reliable electricity for everyone, clean water for everyone and access to global information. The Internet for everyone. Thank you Wei. Thanks for calling in
Politicians aren’t too popular, and yet we keep voting them into the top offices. Would the world be a better place if it were run by scientists and engineers? As an engineer himself, having spent his career in the company of rocket scientists and Nobel laureates, Bill Nye has a firm answer to this week’s question. Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.
Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.
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