Bill Nye Is A Little Confused

Asking for Trouble, Creepy, and Weird, Bill Nye, Planetary Society

"Yesterday, the United States government established new laws for its "space policy."

Editor's note: Actually Bill, the White House issued the document two weeks ago - see White House Issues New Space Policy Document, posted here on 6 October, for details.

In addition to being confused about when this policy was released, Nye is confused about some other things as well.

If you read the second paragraph of this posting you will see that Bill Nye (aka "The Science Guy") is somewhat confused about what different sorts of satellites do. First he says that he skeptical that "killer satellite" technology exists (even though it has been demonstrated) - and then substantiates that claim (and confuses that issue) by citing difficulties with the means whereby remote sensing satellites and aircraft are used to determine whether North Korea conducted a nuclear test. I am not certain how the maturity of killer satellite technology affects remote sensing or vice versa.

Amidst all of his arm waving and use of terms such as "creepy" and "weird" and a statement that "This new policy brings out the worst". It is disturbing and a cause for concern", it would seem that Nye's point is that he is suspicious about the need for the U.S. to defend itself against hostile entities who might use space and space based assets to threaten us. Yes this document does a lot of chest thumping, perhaps too much, but rhetoric should not be used as a reason to dismiss a very real threat.

I guess Nye has forgotten how ballistic missiles work - and where they have to go on their way to reaching their target i.e. space. It was also recently revealed China is using ground-based lasers to monkey with our satellites. The threat is real and it cannot be ignored.

In this broad condemnation of the new space policy Nye utterly ignores the remainder of the document, which includes, among other things, a very strong statement on "developing space professionals".

In essence, Nye clearly misses the point: this document is titled as a "national space policy" not a "NASA space policy". There is a clear difference between the two. Although it is rather odd that the Vision for Space Exploration gets no mention whatsoever.

If he wants to see what Congress thinks about NASA's priorities, Nye might want to read the NASA Authorization Act of 2005. The White House signed off on this "NASA space policy" too.

Editor's note: Bill Nye writes: "To whom it may concern: Regarding the commentary regarding my blog posting on the Planetary Society site:

  • I am not skeptical that there are space-based weapons; I am skeptical that governments of countries such as China, Japan, India, or North Korea have them and therefore pose a threat to the United States.
  • I made no mention of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  • I wrote "yesterday," which was inaccurate. My comments were in response to coverage of announcements about the policy which were published the previous day."

Editor's note: Nye's comments not withstanding, I still think that Nye is confused and somewhat uninformed about the topics he addresses in his posting. Some additional research on his part would be advisable.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 20, 2006 10:00 PM.

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