A Washington Post journalist sends this email:
I saw this posting today on Facebook — that the incident happened isn’t very surprising, but is it true that the Waco Tribune took down its story about it (mentioned at the bottom of this post)? I’d be interesting in knowing what really happened.
The emailer links to a ThinkAtheist.com piece from 2009 that’s apparently making the rounds on Facebook. It reports that Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) “managed to offend” a Waco audience “when he suggested that the moon does not emit light, but instead reflects the light of the sun.”
The post adds that “this story originally appeared in the Waco Tribune, but the newspaper has mysteriously pulled its story from the online version, presumably to avoid further embarrassment.”
Wrong! says Waco Tribune editor Donnis Baggett. He tells Romenesko readers:
The story was published on April 6, 2006, and is still posted on our paid subscription website. Therefore, it’s available only to readers who pay for access.
Additionally, for arcane reasons connected to a change in site hosting two years ago, sometimes the story is erroneously labeled as having been removed. This has apparently led some to believe we pulled it because of
pressure, when in fact we have not.
I’ve copied the story from our site and am attaching it below for your reference.
The Science Guy is entertaining and provocative at MCC lecture
Author: Tim Woods Tribune-Herald staff writer
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Waco Tribune-Herald on April 6, 2006
Audience members who expected to see Bill Nye “The Science Guy” conduct experiments and wow their children received quite a surprise Wednesday when Nye spoke at McLennan Community College./CONTINUES AFTER THE JUMP
Nye instead addressed such topics as Mars exploration, global warming and energy consumption, particularly oil and gas. He even ruffled a few religious feathers along the way.
The scientist with a background in stand-up and sketch comedy kept spectators interested, entertained and at ease with his funny, sometimes hilarious, delivery.
Speaking as part of MCC’s Distinguished Lecturer Series, Nye spoke to two audiences, one at 1:30 p.m. and the second at 7 p.m., of about 600 each. He said the first audience, though littered with young children listening to some rather adult scientific topics, “was very supportive.”
The second group also was rapt from the beginning, greeting the scientist with a raucous standing ovation upon his introduction.
“You haven’t heard the presentation yet!” Nye told them.
Opening with a discussion of Mars and his hopes for further discovery on the neighboring planet, Nye encouraged the audience to tak interest in discovery and “change the world,” a mantra he repeated throughout.
Nye indicated that the presence of water in Mars’ atmosphere – evidenced by the planet’s ability to form frost – leads him to believe that there is a strong possibility that the planet once supported life.
The Emmy-winning scientist angered a few audience members when he criticized literal interpretation of the biblical verse Genesis 1:16, which reads: “God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”
He pointed out that the sun, the “greater light,” is but one of countless stars and that the “lesser light” is the moon, which really is not a light at all, rather a reflector of light.
A number of audience members left the room at that point, visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence.
“We believe in a God!” exclaimed one woman as she left the room with three young children.
Nye also was critical of what he said was governmental agencies’ lack of action, even lack of understanding, in protecting the Earth from global warming and wasted resources.
Nye’s educational science show won 28 Emmy awards during its television run from 1992-98.
It seemed most in attendance were pleased to hear Nye speak, and some were even awed by the presence of a childhood icon.
“How cool is that, to be face to face with the man, Bill Nye?” said Jared McClure, who worked sound and video for the event. “And he’s funny, too.”