Bill Nye, Harry Potter, and Why Millennials Can’t Think

 

Millennials can’t think.  They get their science from Bill Nye.  Their only form of literary reference is the Harry Potter franchise.  Read another book, please! Bill Nye was fun in the 90’s to get the basics about science – law of gravity, simple machines, energy transfer.  I think the place that Bill Nye holds in the culture today is due to the nostalgia of millennials.

I’ve seen a number of the episodes of Nye’s original series, Bill Nye the Science Guy.  I remember watching the show in grade-school and junior high.  His shows and topics covered in each episode were quite superficial; they served as an entertaining introduction to whatever new topic we were beginning to learn about.  There was no depth there.  He was an entertaining figure when I was in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade; now he’s just a dolt.  Fellow millennials (and you gen-xers) please stop holding up this bad actor as a “scientist.”

I’ve read the Harry Potter franchise many times.  I’ve seen the movies multiple times.  I was six years old when the first book came out.  It was one of the first longer books that I read, not the first but one of the first.  I read each book when it came out.  When the later books came out, I remember going to the midnight releases and rushing home to read it until I was too tired to read another word.  A good series.  I enjoyed it and I still enjoy it.

With all that being said, fellow millennials please read another book!  Harry Potter is good.  It’s not great.  The first longer books that I read were Roald Dahl books.  I also loved C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and there is actually some depth with that series.  Mark Twain is fantastic.  The Little House on the Prairie series is delightful.

Why should you read another book? So that you can make a literary reference.  You can understand a reference in the newspaper.  So that you’ll know what a Bacchanal is and where it comes from.  You’ll know what big brother is.  Some are more equal than others. (I hope you all caught that last one.)

The worst part of this lack of thought is that there are countless “journalists” that always and only ever make a reference to the principal villain in Harry Potter, Voldemort, when talking about the “evil” Donald Trump.  There are many, many tweets and articles that do this (I have no desire to find them again, because whenever I see one I am usually half-tempted to throw my computer out the window).  If you think Trump is so bad, then why not compare him to Mustapha Mond?  Or maybe call him Ralph?

This ignorance to other literary references and to trusting Bill Nye as a “scientist” is due to blind nostalgia.  Harry Potter and Bill Nye remind us of our adolescence.  They remind us of a time with no responsibility.  It’s fine to have memories.  It’s problematic to use those memories as a crutch and a reason to never expand your mind.

Millennials, Screwtape would be proud of your ignorance.

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  1. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Johnnie Alum 13: Millennials, Screwtape would be proud of your ignorance.

    Ha ha! Nice end, there.

    When I was in high school, I was an avid book reader and very socially awkward. I discovered very quickly that making literary references and exercising “wit” around my peer group went over like a lead balloon.

    I’m not as gifted as I once was. When I’m done with diapers and my kids can all pour their own cereal, perhaps I’ll revisit my favorites and start adding to the collection.

    I do have a huge list of books to start reading with my 8 year old, though. Currently in The Magician’s Nephew.

    • #1
  2. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Stina (View Comment):
    I discovered very quickly that making literary references and exercising “wit” around my peer group went over like a lead balloon.

    You needed a different peer group.

    • #2
  3. Johnnie Alum 13 Member
    Johnnie Alum 13
    @JohnnieAlum13

    Stina (View Comment):
    Currently in The Magician’s Nephew.

    A solid book right there!

    • #3
  4. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Johnnie Alum 13: He was an entertaining figure when I was in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade

    I seem to recall that every so often they would use one of his shows as an alternative to class, so there’s that.

    • #4
  5. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Matt Balzer (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    I discovered very quickly that making literary references and exercising “wit” around my peer group went over like a lead balloon.

    You needed a different peer group.

    Completely agree. Only so far you can get in horse country around 16 and 17 year olds.

    • #5
  6. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Stina (View Comment):

    Matt Balzer (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    I discovered very quickly that making literary references and exercising “wit” around my peer group went over like a lead balloon.

    You needed a different peer group.

    Completely agree. Only so far you can get in horse country around 16 and 17 year olds.

    I do enjoy making references that others don’t get, but it isn’t as much fun if no one get them as if only a few people get them.

    • #6
  7. Mike LaRoche Member
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    I often have said to my students that when one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

    • #7
  8. Johnnie Alum 13 Member
    Johnnie Alum 13
    @JohnnieAlum13

    Mike LaRoche (View Comment):
    I often have said to my students that when one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

    I hope that you’re in tweed when you say that.

    • #8
  9. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Mike LaRoche (View Comment):
    I often have said to my students that when one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

    ooooh… another one for the reading list.

    • #9
  10. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    I probably shouldn’t relate this because it seems small-minded, but every time I hear of Bill Nye I think of it.

    I live all summer on my sailboat at the Ithaca Yacht club. One day a couple of years ago during reunion weekend (Ithaca is home to Cornell U.) Mr. Nye appeared as a guest on the boat next to me in the marina (Mr. Science Guy is a Cornell alum.).

    His host, my friend and dock-mate, a truly awe-inspiring and internationally known Laser sailer, was trying to get his keelboat engine started, so they could all head out on the lake for a nice afternoon.  He isn’t mechanically inclined, and so couldn’t work out his boat battery problem. Mr. Nye and he fussed and fumed for a while, were about to give up on the whole thing when I asked if I could help.

    I sorted it out for them in a minute, had a beer, waved to them as they headed out.

    But I have always wondered after that about Bill Nye.  The “Science Guy” doesn’t understand how a battery works.

    But he does know how the planet’s climate works, so we’re all safer for that!

    • #10
  11. Johnnie Alum 13 Member
    Johnnie Alum 13
    @JohnnieAlum13

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):
    I probably shouldn’t relate this because it seems small-minded, but every time I hear of Bill Nye I think of it.

    I live all summer on my sailboat at the Ithaca Yacht club. One day a couple of years ago during reunion weekend (Ithaca is home to Cornell U.) Mr. Nye appeared as a guest on the boat next to me in the marina (Mr. Science Guy is a Cornell alum.).

    His host, my friend and dock-mate, a truly awe-inspiring and internationally known Laser sailer, was trying to get his keelboat engine started, so they could all head out on the lake for a nice afternoon. He isn’t mechanically inclined, and so couldn’t work out his boat battery problem. Mr. Nye and he fussed and fumed for a while, were about to give up on the whole thing when I asked if I could help.

    I sorted it out for them in a minute, had a beer, waved to them as they headed out.

    But I have always wondered after that about Bill Nye. The “Science Guy” doesn’t understand how a battery works.

    But he does know how the planet’s climate works, so we’re all safer for that!

    That is delightful!

    • #11
  12. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    It’s funny that probably the most widely lauded “experts” on global warming are Bill Nye, Al Gore, and Prince Charles, none of whom are climatologists or scientists of any stripe.  But hey, appearing on TV (or movies) gives one credibility.  Rush Limbaugh has often pointed out the time when a trio of famous actresses testified before Congress on agricultural policy.  Their expertise?  Why, they played farm wives in movies!  I wonder if people ever ask @roblong for advice on writing legislation pertaining to establishments that serve alcohol?

    • #12
  13. I Shot The Serif Member
    I Shot The Serif
    @IShotTheSerif

    That reminds me, I mean to read Screwtape.

    • #13
  14. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @nandapanjandrum

    Johnnie, Screwtape probably *engineered* their ignorance. :-D

    • #14
  15. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @nandapanjandrum

    Johnnie Alum 13 (View Comment):

    Mike LaRoche (View Comment):
    I often have said to my students that when one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

    I hope that you’re in tweed when you say that.

    With a pipe in your hand. :-)

    • #15
  16. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    It’s funny that probably the most widely lauded “experts” on global warming are Bill Nye, Al Gore, and Prince Charles, none of whom are climatologists or scientists of any stripe. But hey, appearing on TV (or movies) gives one credibility. Rush Limbaugh has often pointed out the time when a trio of famous actresses testified before Congress on agricultural policy. Their expertise?

    The more important point is that is does not even matter what their expertise is, it does not matter what any of their expertise is. I do not care about meaningless credentials. Tell me what temperature you predict and where in one, two, three, four, five years (take your pick!) and let us see. Make a prediction, test it, report the result. Either you will be wrong or you will be right.

    If you are incapable of making a testable prediction then you are not engaging in science, you are engaged in astrology. So far climate research is failing to meet this test.

    • #16
  17. skipsul Member
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Also remember Bill Nye had his start not as “the science guy” but as part of a sketch comedy show called Almost Live.

     

    • #17
  18. Johnnie Alum 13 Member
    Johnnie Alum 13
    @JohnnieAlum13

    Roberto (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    It’s funny that probably the most widely lauded “experts” on global warming are Bill Nye, Al Gore, and Prince Charles, none of whom are climatologists or scientists of any stripe. But hey, appearing on TV (or movies) gives one credibility. Rush Limbaugh has often pointed out the time when a trio of famous actresses testified before Congress on agricultural policy. Their expertise?

    The more important point is that is does not even matter what their expertise is, it does not matter what any of their expertise is. I do not care about meaningless credentials. Tell me what temperature you predict and where in one, two, three, four, five years (take your pick!) and let us see. Make a prediction, test it, report the result. Either you will be wrong or you will be right.

    If you are incapable of making a testable prediction then you are not engaging in science, you are engaged in astrology. So far climate research is failing to meet this test.

    Whenever I hear someone say, “As a scientist…”  my first thought is “you must be quite insecure about what you’re going to say next.”

    • #18
  19. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Johnnie Alum 13:Harry Potter is good. It’s not great…

    The worst part of this lack of thought is that there are countless “journalists” that always and only ever make a reference to the principal villain in Harry Potter, Voldemort…

    Although, on the other hand, Fifty Shades of Grey is a bad book, and yet for better or worse (including much, much worse), it became a phenomenon and thereby a hilarious cultural touchstone. The sort of thing people who haven’t read it still crack jokes about, do parodies of… Allusions to Fifty Shades are ripe fodder for mockery.

    I can only imagine that comparing a living, breathing person to Voldemort is intended at some level to be funny. Rowling’s wizarding world is deliberately somewhat absurd. Why would a comparison to, say, Mustapha Mond be similarly funny?

    A comparison to Roderick Spode on the other hand… it might not fit, but, like comparing a living, breathing human being in a world where magic doesn’t exist to Voldemort, it would be a means of mockery.

    • #19
  20. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    And some Yale students had a petition demanding that they stop teaching Shakespeare because he was a white male. Maybe they can change their nickname from Eli to Eloi.

    http://reason.com/blog/2016/06/01/yale-students-tell-english-profs-to-stop

    • #20
  21. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Roberto (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    It’s funny that probably the most widely lauded “experts” on global warming are Bill Nye, Al Gore, and Prince Charles, none of whom are climatologists or scientists of any stripe. But hey, appearing on TV (or movies) gives one credibility. Rush Limbaugh has often pointed out the time when a trio of famous actresses testified before Congress on agricultural policy. Their expertise?

    The more important point is that is does not even matter what their expertise is, it does not matter what any of their expertise is. I do not care about meaningless credentials. Tell me what temperature you predict and where in one, two, three, four, five years (take your pick!) and let us see. Make a prediction, test it, report the result. Either you will be wrong or you will be right.

    If you are incapable of making a testable prediction then you are not engaging in science, you are engaged in astrology. So far climate research is failing to meet this test.

    • #21
  22. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Johnnie Alum 13 (View Comment):

    Roberto (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    It’s funny that probably the most widely lauded “experts” on global warming are Bill Nye, Al Gore, and Prince Charles, none of whom are climatologists or scientists of any stripe. But hey, appearing on TV (or movies) gives one credibility. Rush Limbaugh has often pointed out the time when a trio of famous actresses testified before Congress on agricultural policy. Their expertise?

    The more important point is that is does not even matter what their expertise is, it does not matter what any of their expertise is. I do not care about meaningless credentials. Tell me what temperature you predict and where in one, two, three, four, five years (take your pick!) and let us see. Make a prediction, test it, report the result. Either you will be wrong or you will be right.

    If you are incapable of making a testable prediction then you are not engaging in science, you are engaged in astrology. So far climate research is failing to meet this test.

    Whenever I hear someone say, “As a scientist…” my first thought is “you must be quite insecure about what you’re going to say next.”

    The general rule of thumb is “if you have to keep saying it, you probably aren’t.”

    • #22
  23. JcTPatriot Member
    JcTPatriot
    @JcTPatriot

    Hey Johnny, you are exactly the same age as my son, youngster.

    • #23
  24. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    I can only imagine that comparing a living, breathing person to Voldemort is intended at some level to be funny. Rowling’s wizarding world is deliberately somewhat absurd. Why would a comparison to, say, Mustapha Mond be similarly funny?

    I think you’re being too clever here; Voldemort is evil, Trump is evil, there’s not much more to it than that, although I probably could continue if I really wanted to. It’s similar to how people compared Dick Cheney to Darth Vader. Although I do find the part where these people are then comparing themselves to Harry Potter to be amusing.

    A comparison to Roderick Spode on the other hand… it might not fit, but, like comparing a living, breathing human being in a world where magic doesn’t exist to Voldemort, it would be a means of mockery.

    I don’t know. If you actually did think that Trump had any fascist impulses beyond “anything I dislike is fascist, I dislike Trump, therefore Trump is fascist” it would be a decent reference.

    • #24
  25. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    Roberto (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    It’s funny that probably the most widely lauded “experts” on global warming are Bill Nye, Al Gore, and Prince Charles, none of whom are climatologists or scientists of any stripe. But hey, appearing on TV (or movies) gives one credibility. Rush Limbaugh has often pointed out the time when a trio of famous actresses testified before Congress on agricultural policy. Their expertise?

    The more important point is that is does not even matter what their expertise is, it does not matter what any of their expertise is. I do not care about meaningless credentials. Tell me what temperature you predict and where in one, two, three, four, five years (take your pick!) and let us see. Make a prediction, test it, report the result. Either you will be wrong or you will be right.

    If you are incapable of making a testable prediction then you are not engaging in science, you are engaged in astrology. So far climate research is failing to meet this test.

    Dr Feynman died my junior year of high school, and that is the main reason I didn’t attend Caltech. (And, yes, I got in.)

    Though I watched the Mechanical Universe guy, I never really clicked with him, even when I was in the lecture hall with him, visiting a high school friend who chose to go to Pasadena.

    OT, I used to see Bill Nye a lot when I lived in Seattle. He shot a lot of “The Science Guy” around Seattle Center, and he must have lived near there, because he shopped at the same grocery and drug stores I did. Never talked to him, though.

    • #25
  26. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    skipsul (View Comment):
    Also remember Bill Nye had his start not as “the science guy” but as part of a sketch comedy show called Almost Live.

    Was that the show that the NBC affiliate in Seattle delayed SNL for? Seattle is a weird place. When I lived there, they tape-delayed Monday Night Football, too.

    • #26
  27. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Johnnie Alum 13 (View Comment):

    Mike LaRoche (View Comment):
    I often have said to my students that when one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

    I hope that you’re in tweed when you say that.

    With a pipe in your hand. ?

    And cocaine in your veins?

    • #27
  28. Umbra Fractus Member
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Johnnie Alum 13: He was an entertaining figure when I was in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade

    Beakman was cooler.

     

    • #28
  29. Umbra Fractus Member
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    But he does know how the planet’s climate works, so we’re all safer for that!

    Bill Nye illustrates the reason the 97% statistic is hipposcat. Alarmists like to ask, “Are you saying 97% of scientists are part of a conspiracy to take over the economy?”

    Me: “No, probably only 1 or 2% are in on the conspiracy. The rest are just too blinded by credentialism to question their peers.”

    • #29
  30. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Matt Balzer (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    I can only imagine that comparing a living, breathing person to Voldemort is intended at some level to be funny. Rowling’s wizarding world is deliberately somewhat absurd. Why would a comparison to, say, Mustapha Mond be similarly funny?

    I think you’re being too clever here; Voldemort is evil, Trump is evil, there’s not much more to it than that, although I probably could continue if I really wanted to. It’s similar to how people compared Dick Cheney to Darth Vader. Although I do find the part where these people are then comparing themselves to Harry Potter to be amusing.

    Well, Vader is evil. So why isn’t Trump called Vader? Johnny says it’s always Voldemort, though.

    I think you’re underestimating the degree to which Millennial writers try to be funny and clever (try is not the same as succeed, of course). Many Millennials seem to overthink pop-culture references, which is arguably a huge waste of time (in which case the world is a better place if the references are unthinking), but being a geek like that is part of the Millennial image.

    A comparison to Roderick Spode on the other hand… it might not fit, but, like comparing a living, breathing human being in a world where magic doesn’t exist to Voldemort, it would be a means of mockery.

    I don’t know. If you actually did think that Trump had any fascist impulses beyond “anything I dislike is fascist, I dislike Trump, therefore Trump is fascist” it would be a decent reference.

    A comparison to Spode would have made more sense before Trump won the election, at least if you assumed Trump wouldn’t win. Spode was not a very successful would-be dictator, after all. I agree Spode is still one of the better references.

    Voldemort’s antics are more absurd than Spode’s, but because Voldemort is actually successful, the absurdity isn’t played for laughs. When a guy who seems like a bad joke to you is then frighteningly successful at acquiring serious world power… yeah, I can see why Voldemort would spring to mind. You’d agree that that’s how many folks most upset by Trump see him, right?

    • #30

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