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9 questions for Bill Nye

The science guy on Fox News, genetically modified foods, and jumping to conclusions.

Javier Zarracina

This week, Bill Nye — TV host, science enthusiast and author of Everything All at Once answers our questions.

What’s the first piece of media you consume every day?

SN First Up by Jeff Foust of SpaceNews. I also watch CBS morning news. I like to watch the “Eye Opener — Your World in 90 Seconds," and stay tuned until they get into the health issues.

Name a writer or publication you disagree with but still read.

I disagree with virtually everything I’ve ever seen on Fox News, but I watch it anyway.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?

My father.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?

Every day I change my mind. On a bigger level, I changed my mind about genetically modified foods about a year and a half or two years ago. I used to think that genetically modified food was not provably safe for the environment, but I’ve changed my mind about it because of the speed and accuracy that we can now assay or sequence genomes of plants. It’s amazing how fast we can get genomes of plants, and it is remarkable how diligent seed companies are about their seeds. Farmers want the latest seeds; it’s a very competitive business.

What’s your worst intellectual habit?

Jumping to conclusions. We all create hypotheses in undisciplined fashion, and then you have to go back and be intellectually disciplined.

What inspires you to learn?

Everything! How can you not be inspired to learn about things? I am curious and I try to be observant, although I miss a lot of stuff. Maybe that’s my worst intellectual habit; I miss a lot of things when I’m observing.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?

I’m optimistic. If you’re not optimistic, you won’t be able to get anything done.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?

That I don’t have any views I can’t defend. I can’t defend that; I just believe it.

What book have you recommended the most?

The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White.

You can read last week’s edition of 9 questions with Lisa Randall here.