There’s an old phrase, credited to foundational physicist Max Planck and published in Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions that “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Since then, others distilled the idea that minds don’t change so much as the times do to a much more pithy, albeit grim, science progresses one funeral at a time.
Well it seems esteemed science communicator Bill Nye made reference to the saying when asked about climate deniers in an Earth Day story about climate scientist Michael Mann. Because deniers are so “dug in,” there’s no way of convincing them of the need for climate action, so “there’s an old saying,” Nye recounts, that “science proceeds one funeral at a time. But it’s not happening fast enough” to stabilize the climate, because that older generation still holds power in key places where it can stop policy.
According to deniers, this invocation of a half-century-old scientific axiom by Bill Nye is essentially a violent call for death squads to hunt down and kill deniers. What’s more, his sponsorships should immediately be cancelled, according to Steve “bedwetting obsessed” Milloy. Once a lawyer for Big Tobacco and still a merchant of death, but now for fossil fuels instead, Milloy tweeted at Canada Goose and Bombay Gin to try and get Nye’s position as a sustainability and climate advisor with the companies cancelled.
Marc Morano, who would probably argue with you if you said second hand smoke causes cancer, and who would definitely argue with you if you asked him to put on a mask, and who in fact applauded the seditious January 6th attack on the US Capitol Building where insurrectionists literally chanted "Hang Mike Pence!" and killed multiple law enforcement officers, and called for more in every state capitol, was also quite upset about this violent rhetoric. He was apparently so mad it seemed like he might actually have been having a stroke, tweeting Nye’s quote and: “You don’t believe we face a climate. Emergency?! Then die!” (After all, everyone knows only liberal snowflakes proofread.)
Speaking of Marc’s questionable literacy/autocorrect/speech-to-text-tweeting, Joe Bastardi was also quite triggered, screenshotting the WUWT story excerpting just the quote, and comparing Nye’s observation that climate deniers are alive to claims of “how Trump incited people to violence with his rhetoric. How is this not the same thing?”
How indeed, wonders Bastardi, who interpreted Nye’s off-hand recital of a saying about scientific change as though the Science Guy was saying “if the funerals are too slow, the way to correct that is with more funerals, quicker” yet he himself described Morano’s recent “Green Fraud” anti-GND-screed as “a book you can’t refuse.”
Well Joe, were you threatening us with that? Is Marc going to put a horse head in our bed, or worse, if we don’t buy the book?
Of course not. We know that. Bastardi knows that. Everyone knows that.
But rightwing media feeds on outrage, and deniers are going to try to throw anyone talking about climate action into its hate machine.