Sometimes, our childhood heroes don’t disappoint us.
For instance: Bill Nye, the iconic Science Guy of our youth, went on TikTok over the weekend to shut down racists using science. Yes, it was awesome, and yes, he was wearing a bow tie.
In the video, he explained in depth something a lot of us likely know but might not necessarily have the correct information to express: that difference in skin colour is simply an evolutionary response to how close we live to the equator.
It has to do with ultraviolet light and folates, and I could try to explain more, but I would almost certainly get something wrong and definitely couldn’t be as succinct as the Science Guy himself. Just watch the video.
He goes on to say that there are not biologically significant differences between different races, because all human skin tones are versions of the same thing.
“Everybody on earth is descended from people that live here, in Africa,” he said, pointing at the continent. “But we’re all one species.”
Assigning value to any of those differences, clearly, is a mistake.
“We’re not treating each other fairly,” he said. “So it’s time to change things.”
It’s a good time to get a scientific reminder of how stupid it is to discriminate based on skin colour, given that this year will be remember for the global outrage sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, and the protests that followed.
Nye, 64, started posting TikToks in late March, perhaps aware of how desperately the world needed science and reason. He started adding a kind of righteous anger to that mix earlier this month, in a series of videos demonstrating the effectiveness of face masks by trying to blow out a candle while wearing one. It can’t be done, because it blocks out air from his respiratory system too effectively!
It would be essentially impossible to be alive right now and not know this, but face masks significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19. Studies show that countries that encourage or demand that people wear masks have lower death rates from the virus.
“This is literally a matter of life and death,” he said. And you likely already know this, but he states it out loud just in case: Bill Nye is not someone who uses “literally” incorrectly.