Quips and Quotes: Bill Nye

Author: Sarah Cahalan '14

There are actually people actually running around in the 21st century who [have] not been shown that the world is round. Do you have any idea the profundity of this dingbatitude? 

When beloved TV scientist Bill Nye came to campus for an April 11 lecture during IDEA Week, he proffered many quotable insights. But his coining of the term “dingbatitude” may have been the most memorable. 


The star of Bill Nye the Science Guy offered this particular quip during the Q&A, when one anonymous audience member asked via mobile app what scientists think of “globeheads” who “think the earth is round.” Nye began by assuming — correctly, one would hope — that this was a joke question, but took the opportunity nonetheless to discuss the disturbing trend of people who believe our planet is flat. 


Correcting flat-earthers was among several of Nye’s lessons throughout the evening. He also described a few of his favorite experiments, discussed the black hole image recently produced by NASA and explained his three-step process for bettering the world. “Clean water, renewable electricity and access to the internet for everybody in the world,” he said. “If we were working to those three things, we would — dare I say it — change the world.”


In his hour-long discussion with moderator and science-entrepreneurship graduate student Susie Lira-Gonzalez, Nye also discussed his famous collection of bow ties. He admitted that he owns around 500 of his signature accessory, and, by the end of the night, the number had risen to 501 — IDEA Center head and ND vice president for innovation Bryan Ritchie closed the lecture by presenting the Science Guy with a bow tie printed with the monogram.


Sarah Cahalan is an associate editor of this magazine.