By James Bouffard
The recent premiere of “Bill Nye Saves the World” on Netflix has been met with popularity. Each episode focuses on a different scientific topic, such as nutrition and climate change, while explaining its relationship to society and current events. One particular episode however, “The Sexual Spectrum,” has raised eyebrows for its cringe-worthy content and dubious claims.
It begins with an opening monologue before explaining the differences between biological sex, gender, sexual attraction and gender expression. The remainder of the show consists of vapid ranting and opinion sharing before a musical finale featuring the very funny Rachel Bloom, who performs a song with hilarious lyrics such as, “My vagina has its own voice/ Not vocal chords, a metaphorical voice,” and the by no means hypocritical line, “Get off your soap box, get off your soap box,” all of which are sung beautifully.
Nye makes sure to deliver corny jokes throughout while neglecting to mention very many scientific facts, and he never fails to treat the viewers like idiots.
However lowbrow, some of the ideas in “The Sexual Spectrum” are objectionable.
It is self-evident that human sexuality is complex and exists on a spectrum, given the diversity of preferences and behaviors people have. Nye crosses over into charlatanism when he talks about sex and gender; he explains that a very large minority of 1 in 400 people will be born with chromosomes which are not either XX or XY, but fails to point out that this alone does not make a person intersex; the real number is 1 in 2000.
His comments about gender are equally misleading. He is correct in saying that gender is now defined as how a person identifies him or herself and claiming it exists on a spectrum.
Nye neglects to mention over 99 percent of the population identifies as the gender that matches their biological sex, and among those who do not, many, if not most of them, will still identify within the gender binary as male or female.
This information does not support the idea that sex and gender are both fluid and exist on a spectrum, rather it indicates they are inherently linked and can more or less be reduced to male and female.
Of course, none of that matters to Bill Nye; he is interested in promoting his own agenda regardless of the facts. He is not a scientist. His acclaimed scientific expertise consists of a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He is an entertainer with opinions who uses the false pretense of being a scientist to express his ideas.
This is precisely why he is problematic. Nye’s public persona allows him to share unscientific ideas as being scientific, misleading people into believing them.