Tucker Carlson told Bill Nye he didn’t know what he was talking about during a Fox News interview. Nye has claimed that climate change deniers are suffering from cognitive dissonance.
Carlson, and other right-wingers have seized on a past interview with Nye to claim that Nye is a fascist intent on jailing climate-change deniers. This will no doubt be a recurring example used to discredit Nye. Nye’s actual words don’t go so far as to ask for jailing anybody. He asked if it seemed appropriate by making comparisons. For example, he compared it to the question of jailing those in the cigarette industry who knew cigarettes were causing cancer, yet failed to act accordingly to protect lives. See the quick interview below:
Regardless of the intent, Carlson seemed intent on discrediting Nye’s views rather than be open-minded to expert scientific consensus, ironically claiming himself to be the one who was being open-minded. This seems to be more in line with the definition of projection, though the argument of cognitive dissonance certainly remains on the table.
From Wikipedia: cognitive dissonance is the mental stress (discomfort) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values, when performing an action that contradicts those beliefs, ideas, and values; or when confronted with new information that contradicts existing beliefs, ideas, and values.
Carlson incredulously asked why Nye had ventured from science into what seems to him like psychotherapy.
“Cognitive dissonance is not a delusion. It’s a feature, responded Nye. “It’s human nature. So we in the science community are looking for an explanation why climate-change deniers or extreme skeptics do not accept the overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change. And the most reasonable explanation is, you have a worldview, and then you have evidence, and the evidence disagrees with your worldview, so you deny the evidence, and then along with that, you deny the authorities that are providing the evidence,” Nye stated.
Carlson then attempts to school Nye on the essence of science. Let that sink in…
“[…] People do come to every debate with preconceptions, and you’re right about that, of course, but the essence of science is extreme skepticism,” said Carlson.
Nye countered that the evidence for climate change is overwhelming, as he previously stated clearly.
Carlson then projects that Nye will attempt to use name-calling and end the conversation if asked “what exactly do you mean?” He asks Nye to ask what he considers the “core question” of “why the change?”
“Is it part of the endless cycle of climate change, or is human activity causing it?,” asks Carlson “That seems to be the debate to me, and it seems an open question to me, not a settled question – to what degree human activity is causing that?”
Nye responds that it is not an open question, but a settled one. We have already established the “overwhelming evidence” previously. Yet Carlson demands to know exactly the degree to which humans are causing climate change. A specific number, given the enormous range of data, would be nearly impossible to state, unless Nye is expected to be a supercomputer from the future himself, yet without this exact number, Carlson claims there is unsatisfactory evidence that it is a “settled point.”
“So the word ‘degree’ is a word that you chose, but the speed that climate change is happening is caused by humans,” said Nye. “Instead of happening on timescales of millions of years, or let’s say 15,000 years, it’s happening on the timescale of decades, and now – years.”
Carlson still demands to know exactly the rate climate change would have happened without human activity, as if an exact percentage would validate everything for him. Nye explains that it is the rate of change that is the problem, not the exact percentage. We’re talking millions of years vs. a decade. Does an exact percentage matter? Are we really to believe that Carlson would accept an exact number?
Expecting exact numbers belies the fact that Carlson is A) Not a scientist and B) Misunderstands the scope of climate change studies, which are vast.
Carlson then asks “What would the climate look like, right now, without human activity?” Another obviously unknowable question, unless Nye really could travel through time and create alternate realities??
Nye makes the mistake of attempting to appease Carlson with suggestions for this question, but it’s a trap! The predictions he offers are informed by factual information, but we can’t leap into an alternate reality to confirm climate change for Carlson. Nye gives some possibilities anyway, given that Carlson has been claiming he is not answering his questions.
“You’re using the language of politics! Look! You’re not a scientist, as you know. You’re a popularizer! ” Carlson responds to Nye’s good-natured suggestions. Carlson then states, “You don’t actually know, because it’s unknowable,” thereby giving away that he had just set Nye up for this reaction. Yet he then says, “Why aren’t you open to questions?”
Carlson sits with a baffled look on his face and continues to show frustration with Nye, who continues to talk about possible answers for the questions that Carlson asks when he: A) Knew that Nye wouldn’t have exact answers because it would be impossible to know that specifically and, B) He still claims that Nye isn’t open to questions. Impossible questions at that.
“So much of this you don’t know. You pretend that you know, but you don’t know,” Carlson is almost shouting now, while making incredulous facial expressions.
“I’m open-minded. You are not!,” shouts Carlson.
Classic projection, plus just rude and obnoxious…
In the remaining minute of the interview, Nye gets in a statement that he knows why there are leaks in the mainstream media.
“You guys are the mainstream media, and I can tell you why there are leaks, because the president has created two factions in his administration. They don’t like each other so they leak. It’s not from the outside, it’s from the inside.”
We can expect that one faction will continue to try to discredit and invalidate scientists who have warned us for years that human activity has caused an alarmingly fast change in climate, born out by data that some in the EPA are probably trying to prevent Trump’s administration from destroying right this very second.
Do we need an exact percentage or magic number to care enough to conserve our environment? If you’re a “conservative,” apparently you do.
Until scientists and politicians are able to more effectively combat constant assaults on scientific findings, research, and facts thanks to Trump, our only hope of getting through to conservatives may ultimately be climate disaster the world of mankind has never seen before. Will they require an exact percentage for how it impacts them personally?
See the interview between Tucker Carlson and Bill Nye below:
For a complete change of climate, see the recent conversation Nye had with Bernie Sanders below: