In the third season of Bill Nye Saves the World, scientist-turned-television personality Bill Nye continues to make the science of daily life binge-able. In the fifth episode of six, Nye takes an unsurprising stand and pronounces that the theory of evolution is a proven scientific theory. Nye uses balloons, mosquitoes, and lesser-known personalities to demonstrate how evolution works and why humans care about it!
Nye describes the human interest in evolution as a thirst to gain insight and empowerment while establishing ourselves in the universe. Because it takes so much time for evolution to occur, many humans find it hard to believe in the process that led from bacteria in the ooze to the variety of life Earth holds today but Nye supplies an excellent example of evolution on a fast track.
Guest host Derek Muller describes a unique setting for this accelerated evolution – under London, in the subway. The first subway system ever built in 1863, London’s tunnel system served as more than just a vein of travel throughout the city. During WWII when bombings were frequent and the surface was unsafe, Londoners would take shelter in there and that’s when it happened . . . .well, they happened. Mosquitoes!
Like any smart species mosquitoes went into the tunnels with their meal ticket and stayed there, causing the evolution of a separate species of mosquito from those that live on the surface, even now. Because the mosquito life span is so short their evolution in was accelerated and proof that the species has evolved is clear. Nye reminds us to take this seriously because mosquitoes are responsible for the death of more than half of all of the humans that have ever lived on this planet. Could they be planning their next attack on the human race right now . . . ?
Nye explains the difference between a “theory” and a “scientific theory,” and how scientific testing works. He and other guests suggest that religion and science do not have to be rivals and even note that Pope Pius XII said that the theory of evolution aligns with faith and that the two are inherently compatible. Despite this overwhelming Catholic endorsement, many still believe that evolution is a myth and refuse to believe that humans evolved from simpler creatures.
Before wrapping up, Nye clears up a couple of misconceptions about evolution:
Darwin gets all the credit for the theory of evolution, but he had a friend in the same field named Alfred Russel Wallace who discussed theory and exchanged notes with Darwin on a regular basis. Evidently it is common knowledge to the learned few that Wallace’s notes basically contained the theory of evolution and that Darwin published the theory shortly after. Woops!
The March of Progress (pictured below) is deeply flawed in that man did not evolve from apes. What it tries to convey is the fact that all living things evolved from the same bacteria to become what they are today, but what it really does is fuel disbelief in evolution.
Check back next week for a recap and review of episode six in which Bill Nye asks the most important question one can possibly pose to modern man and woman: “What is Your Pet Really Thinking??”