Opinion

Bill Nye Butchers the Constitution . . . Again!

Not only is Bill Nye not a scientist, but he’s also not a historian or a student of the United States Constitution. Anybody can make any written document say anything if portions of it are taken out of context. It’s done with the Bible all the time. The second most misquoted and misapplied document is the Constitution.

In a recent interview with CNN at the March for Science, Bill Nye the so-called “Science Guy” stated, “And it is interesting to note, I think, that Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution refers to the progress of science and the useful arts. . . . Useful arts in 18th Century usage would be what we call engineering or city planning or architecture.”

Nye said something similar in a 2015 interview:

“So if you’re a politician looking to derail the progress of science, I think you’re not doing your job. I want voters and taxpayers to recognize this. Do you really want to vote for somebody who doesn’t believe in the scientific method — and doesn’t believe that we defeated smallpox? Do you really want that person running your government?

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“When you have people denying this basic process, and how we all got here, it’s offensive to me intellectually. And I happen to think it’s unpatriotic. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution says the government shall ‘promote the progress of science and useful arts.’”

Wow! Nye is counting on two things: (1) the general constitutional ignorance of the American people (there’s a lot of it) and (2) that most people will not actually read Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. I’ll tell you what’s unpatriotic — misinterpreting the Constitution in order to stop people from questioning bad science.

How many times have you heard someone appeal to the constitutional doctrine of the separation of church and state even though the Constitution never uses the words “church” or “separation”? The First Amendment is about the relationship between the national government (“Congress shall make no law…”) and the various state governments that had their own constitutional provisions regarding religion.

Expenditures on many government programs have been supported by the misuse of the following: “The Legislature shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare” (Art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause 1).

“General welfare” has come to mean the welfare state, but “General welfare” has nothing to do with wealth redistribution, including funding science (or education, another word not found in the Constitution). The semicolon following the clause defines what constitutes “general welfare.” There’s an actual list defining what constitutes “general welfare.”

Bill Nye leaves out some important clarifying points from Article 1, Section 8. It would be like an atheist leaving out “the fool has said in his heart” from Psalm 14:1 and then claiming the Bible teaches atheism because it says, “there is no God.”

Here’s Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 in its entirety: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

The little word “by” is very important because it links the second clause that defines the first clause: In what way is the Constitution to promote the progress of science and useful arts?

The clause has nothing to do with how we do science or the funding of science, “rather it allows lawmakers to create a system of patents and copyrights for inventors. In fact, this part of Section 8 is referred to as the ‘Copyright Clause.’”

It’s also referred to as the:

  • Copyright and Patent Clause
  • Patent and Copyright Clause
  • Patent Clause
  • Intellectual Property Clause
  • Progress Clause

It’s never referred to as the “Scientific Method Clause” or “How to do Science Clause” or “Fund Science Clause.” Nye is as wrong about the Constitution as he is about Global Warming and evolution.

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