Sarah Palin delivers a sick burn, she thinks

Ooh, ouch.

Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am.

Actually, though, she’s almost right. Bill Nye is not a scientist, he’s a science guy, which is something different. He was trained and worked as an engineer, was a science educator and popular TV show host, and is currently the CEO of the Planetary Society, an institution dedicated to promoting science. But strictly speaking, he’s not doing any of the things scientists traditionally do, which seems to be mainly writing grants and tearing our hair out in frustration at the science illiteracy of our nation. He’s just trying to do all the things that might help make scientist’s jobs a little easier.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is a babbling ignoramus who despises basic research and evolution, and is campaigning against actions to reduce climate change. She’s actively anti-science.

So, no, sorry Ms Palin, but Bill Nye is about a billion times the scientist you are.


  1. Friendly says

    Wait, wait, we’re looking at this the wrong way. Sarah Palin just admitted that she isn’t much of a scientist. So she’s gonna stop making pronouncements that she’s unqualified to make about evolution and climate change and stuff, right? Right??

  2. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    non, no no. a billion times zero is still zero, and Nye is more then “zero scientist” while Palin is actually “negative scientist”. So a billion times her is even more negative. Nye is positive, not negative.
    ugh too much Nyepologia.

  3. whywhywhy says

    #2 The answer is no but I admire your search for a silver lining in a statement by Palin.

    Unfortunately, your post is logical and doomed in the world of Palin.

  4. Amphiox says

    By Palin’s definition, Isaac Newton wasn’t a scientist, he was a Mint Warden, and Albert Einstein wasn’t a scientist, he was a patent clerk, and Charles Darwin wasn’t a scientist, he was a ex-minister gentleman of leisure….

    A scientist is anyone who uses the scientific method, regardless of occupation or education.

  5. gmacs says

    Saw him speak last night, and the program referred to him as a scientist. I think he’s done great things for science literacy, but I did not like that they referred to an engineer as a scientist.

    Yes, some engineers are also scientists, but he is not.

  6. azpaul3 says

    Isn’t science a method of knowing, a philosophy of thought? Isn’t this philosophy what one takes into life with them and not just the lab? Cannot a CPA be a scientist? A plumber?

    Nye most certainly is a scientist.

  7. dout says

    I agree with #5 and #7. “Scientist” is not simply an occupation, but rather anyone practicing the scientific method to solve an issue. Including mundane things that aren’t necessarily work-related.

  8. Nick Gotts says

    Charles Darwin wasn’t a scientist, he was a ex-minister – Amphiox@5

    Darwin was never a minister.

  9. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    I must object to the title of this post. I see no evidence that Sarah Palin thinks.

  10. James McCusker says

    Anyone who solves problems using the scientific method is a scientist.

    A monkey in a cage sees a banana hanging from the roof on a string . It is just out of reach. He has observed the problem.
    He walks over and reaches up. He just did an experiment. He concludes that he can’t reach the banana. So, he jumps. He just did a second experiment. Conclusion? Banana or no banana. If no banana…He drags a chair over, stands on it, and gets the banana.

    A second monkey comes into the cage and a second banana is dangled. The first monkey drags the chair over and communicates his results. The monkey is a scientist!

    So, Sarah Palin is in a cage, there is a banana on a string. She starves to death.

  11. Menyambal says

    I have a Bachelor of Science degree, and a Master of Science degree. Does that make me two scientists?

  12. blf says

    Distinguishing Sarah Palin from Bill Nye: A Spotter’s Guide

    ● A stuck clock is correct more often: Palin.
    ● A stuck clock is more useful: Palin.
    ● Quits: Either Palin or a stuck clock.
    ● Less articulate than a ticking clock: Palin.
    ● Drones: Either Palin or a ticking clock.
    ● Claims to speak “American”: Palin.
    ● Knows the language spoken: Nye. Or a speaking clock.
    ● Can probably pronounce El Niño: Nye.
    ● Likely to claim El Niño is a form of Ebola: Palin.
    ● Likely to think Ebola infects all of Africa: Palin.
    ● Can find Africa on an unlabeled globe: Nye.
    ● Probably cannot find Alaska on a labeled globe: Palin.
    ● Knows where Curiosity is: Nye.
    ● Incurious: Palin.
    ● Please go away and never come back: Palin.

  13. chris says

    gmacs: “Yes, some engineers are also scientists, but he is not.”

    He also readily admits that, often explaining he is an engineer. He is a science communicator. Carl Zimmer is also not a scientist, but he communicates science topics. Adam Savage is also not a scientist, but does science communication.

    All three are not scientists, but they know much more science than Sarah Palin. They also have a quality that Palin lacks: they will admit mistakes (Adam Savage was quickly corrected on how he pronounced “Euler” on his podcast, to be fair he had been reading about Euler and had never taken any of the advanced math courses where he could have heard it spoken).

    Menyambal: “I have a Bachelor of Science degree, and a Master of Science degree. Does that make me two scientists?”

    I have a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering (BSAA). I am not a scientist, I am an engineer. I am also a grad school dropout, twice. :-)

  14. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Friendly @2,

    Unfortunately, Republican politicians have a way of prefacing their scientifically ignorant statements with “I am not a scientist but…”.

  15. laurentweppe says

    Actually, though, she’s almost right. Bill Nye is not a scientist, he’s a science guy, which is something different. He was trained and worked as an engineer, was a science educator and popular TV show host, and is currently the CEO of the Planetary Society, an institution dedicated to promoting science.

    Then again, Palin’s got a bachelor degree in journalism… Which means that somewhere she’s got the skills to be a competent science vulgarizer if she bothered to, she just deliberately chose to never use them to anything remotely useful.

  16. says

    Technically, Bill Nye IS “as much a scientist” as Sarah Palin. In fact, he’s much more of a scientist than she is. Now if she had said “I am as much a scientist as Bill Nye”, she’d clearly be wrong.

    So yeah, Bill Nye is as much a scientist as Sarah Palin, but so is my dog. And that rock over there…

  17. Ichthyic says

    Sarah Palin tore into Bill Nye’s scientific qualifications on Thursday, saying he has no authority to say climate-change skeptics are wrong.

    When speaking to authoritarians… which are the primary intended audience of nearly everything Palin says in public…

    the use of the word “authority” has triple the meaning it would have to any other kind of person.

    know your enemy.

  18. Ichthyic says

    Anyone who solves problems using the scientific method is a scientist.


    do you say you are a dentist when you brush your teeth?

    do you say you are an auto mechanic when you change your spark plugs?


    the scientific method is a tool we can all use. scientists are those people who are qualified to get PAID to use those skills to actually publish research.

    I have both a BS and a Masters in scientific fields.

    I have published papers in my primary field, and gotten a lot of grant money in the past to do research, but I don’t NOW, and haven’t for some time.

    i do not consider myself a scientist. Just a person familiar with how to use the scientific method from experience.

    to me, it would be an insult to working scientists to call myself one, or Bill Nye, or Richard Dawkins, for that matter.

    none of us actually publish science.

  19. says

    @Ichthyic, If you need to, you distinguish between “professional scientist” and “amateur scientist”. While the term ‘amateur’ sometimes carries a negative connotation, it means “someone who does a thing because they love it.”

    Bill Nye is a (professionally licensed) engineer, a professional science communicator, and an avocational scientist.

  20. says

    I wish Sarah Palin were reading this thread. I’d tell her that even if Bill Nye is a turnip, he is a science-communicating turnip, and she hasn’t answered the science.

  21. blf says

    The Grauniad snarks in, Climate change denier Sarah Palin: Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am:

    Ex-Alaska governor promotes Climate Hustle film and calls for intervention to stop the ‘peer pressure’ as world leaders agree global warming is a serious threat

    Of all the causes Sarah Palin has embraced in her varied career as hockey mom, Alaska governor, Republican vice-presidential nominee, Fox television commentator and Donald Trump supporter, none perhaps may be as bold or — as she still likes to say, rogue — as trying to take down a much-beloved children’s television personality: Bill Nye the Science Guy.

    But that was where hardcore climate change denial landed Palin on Thursday: a wood-panelled committee room in Congress where she disputed the credentials of a hugely popular science educator who has designed devices for Nasa and been awarded several honorary degrees.

    Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am, Palin told the gathering. He’s a kids’ show actor. He’s not a scientist.

    And that was not even the low point of the event.

    The occasion was the premiere for the Climate Hustle, a film that dismisses global warming as an excuse for government takeover and makes the outrageously false claim that rising carbon emissions are beneficial.

    But the real mission for Palin and the makers of the movie — in addition to airing various conspiracy theories — was to register the continued existence of a small but still powerful fringe, even as the rest of the world accelerates its efforts to fight climate change.


    The event in Congress was hosted by Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who chairs the House committee on science, space and technology. He did not appear but his prepared remarks accused government scientific agencies of fiddling with climate data.

    Outside Republicans in Congress and the Republican presidential race, the world is moving on. A record number of Americans see climate change as a serious threat.

    Palin and other speakers made plain they felt increasingly isolated, complaining of group think and peer pressure, and warning of government takeovers, energy police confiscating microwaves and plasma TVs, and brainwashing school children.

    Is it possible for these dweebs to think without projecting?

    [Palin] admitted she did not believe scientists about anything any more — and appealed to presidential contenders to intervene, somehow.


    To Palin’s mind, efforts by government, business leaders, campaigners — and yes, scientists like Nye — to fight climate change were a mere smokescreen for a huge power grab. She did not say by whom.

    Nye’s efforts to educate the public about climate change — and counter the disinformation campaigns funded by corporations and conservative groups — has become a target of Palin and others who claim “extreme doubt” about climate change.


    There is a predetermined agenda definitely of those who I think are controlling the narrative right now on changes in the weather, Palin said. There is definitely a political agenda behind all of this and as you suggested people who are involved in this issue they are not stupid. They have studied this stuff. They have studied the data that they are erroneously delivering to the public to make us think that we can somehow change the weather and how they do that is to grow government and allow the government to have more control over us, our homes, our businesses, our families, our lives, and it’s quite unfortunate because these people must be purposely doing this, right? Because they are smart enough to know better.

    Parents should be vigilant against attempts at mind control, Palin said. We need to keep in mind how important it is for parents to understand this issue and to understand the political agenda behind global warming. It is being used as a fundraiser, it is being used as a partisan issue unfortunately so that parents can be first and foremost in their child’s life and influence them to trust science and believe in science and not leave it to the teachers.

    With proper training — of the sort Palin said she received growing up at home with a schoolteacher for a father — children could then go on to take on figures such as Nye. Just like she did.

  22. James McCusker says

    @ Ichthyic
    I certainly do not intend to pick a fight, but to get butthurt over what amounts to semantics (“real scientists” would be offended by “amateur scientists” claiming to be “scientists”) puts you firmly in doucheville. Also, listing credentials about what degrees you have is dogshit. We all have them.
    Now, I teach high school kids and have always told them and will continue to do so, that doing science makes you a scientist.

    Your post seems to be very elitist and entitled. Are you suggesting that a “non scientist” has never contributed to the furthering of science? The old white guy club of we are better than you sneering at anyone that doesn’t have the credentials to matter? I know high school students that don’t yet have a high school degree that have published papers and a few who have made national headlines through making a scientific discovery that none of the existing “real scientists” had insight into.

    And, thinking/speaking for Dawkins or Nye is a total strawman. If they were, in fact insulted by someone you’ve pigeonholed as less than you (them) I’d think very lowly of them. A man is as big as the things that offends them. Your quickness to offense, strawman set up, elitist attitude, and setting yourself up as an authority is extraordinarily similar to what Palin herself and the rest of her overly religious cohort do all the time. It is reprehensible when they do it. You?