Article by Nick Vadala, The Inquirer
Thanks to his Emmy-winning PBS children’s television show, Bill Nye is the ultimate science educator to a generation of 1990s kids. His popularity has endured since Bill Nye the Science Guy ended in 1999 — including a Netflix show that returns for a second season Dec. 29 and 5.6 million Twitter followers. Yet, little is known about this beloved personality’s personal life.
Nye, 62, is the subject of Bill Nye: Science Guy, an in-depth documentary that gives fans a larger sense of who Nye is as a man, as well as his motivations for being such a dogged proponent of science. Directed by David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg, the film opens in Philadelphia at the Ritz at the Bourse on Friday.
We recently spoke with Nye ahead of Science Guy’s Philadelphia premiere, and got his thoughts on everything from the movie to marijuana legalization.
Do you consider what you do activism?
It’s activism for science. As I say all the time, science is inherently political — we just don’t want it to be partisan. What we decide to invest in in a society — should we send a space craft to Saturn? That’s a political decision on some level. You’re deciding where to apply your intellect and treasure. But that’s not a red state, blue state thing.
Speaking of flat Earth, you’re going to focus on marijuana for an episode of Netflix’s Bill Nye Saves the World in the upcoming season.
The first episode’s about marijuana. Turn it up loud! We wanted to call it “Episode 420,” but not everyone would get it.
How did you approach investigating cannabis?
Marijuana is a Schedule I drug. That means it is presumed to be addictive and have no medical value. But many people use marijuana for medicine. Should they? No one knows, and if someone tells you they know — whether it’s a politician or a physician — they don’t. Marijuana hasn’t been studied well enough to know. That’s the premise of the show.
Those are some pretty strong words, Science Guy. Do you partake?
Speaking for myself personally, I don’t smoke marijuana. It’s not my thang. I smoked it once in college, but I’m just not a good smoker. I never learned to inhale very well. I didn’t get high. But bear in mind that while the show is an extension of the host, I did my best to look at it objectively. A lot of people really enjoy marijuana, and a lot of people use it for all kinds of medicinal reasons.
After investigating, do you think marijuana should be legalized?
Yes. I think it has to be regulated. They say that I have DDT, an insecticide that is considered carcinogenic, in my system because when I was a kid, they sprayed DDT on everything to suppress mosquitoes. Is that bad, or is it just a thing? I don’t know, man.