Bill Nye’s Evolution Campaign: Good PR or Bad PR?

Bill Nye is most commonly known as “The Science Guy”, a popular children’s entertainer famous for making science (and general geekiness) cool for a generation of Americans now in their 20’s and 30’s. His Disney/PBS show ran for five years and 100 episodes, and it remains a popular in-class resource for American science teachers.

Last month, however, he decided to get political by taking a public stand on the “issue” of evolution in a short video produced by Big Think and encouraging parents not to teach creationism to their children or bring it into the classroom. The spot has gone viral with over 4 million views to date, inspiring a series of responses and online debates that continue to make headlines today as he travels the country lecturing university students on the value of scientific study and personal ambition.

Nye was quite blunt in an Associated Press interview, saying “The Earth is not 6,000 or 10,000 years old. It’s not. And if that conflicts with your beliefs, I strongly feel you should question your beliefs.”

Nye makes a very valid point at the beginning of his video: belief in Biblical creationism is far more common in the U.S. than in any other Western society, and the numbers haven’t changed too much over the past twenty years, so he surely saw the backlash coming. The whole “controversy” seems a little silly to us, but we wonder whether it will damage his brand as a completely inoffensive entertainer known for getting kids interested in things that kids aren’t supposed to care about.

The politics may hurt him somewhat, but we don’t think the responses to his video will do much to threaten his reputation as a public science advocate. Here’s the best of the bunch:

What do you think? Did Nye make the right move by entering this debate? Should he have stayed away in the interest of his career?