Some of the most popular promoters of scientific thought agreed that they just don’t understand the mindset of trolls.
Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” science blogger Elise Andrew, and science reporter Miles O’Brien last week on his Star Talk podcast.
After discussing the state of science journalism, Tyson asked Andrew – who runs the wildly popular “I F*cking Love Science" Facebook page – about the trolls who populate the comments to her posts.
“I think the psychology of these people is very hard to get inside,” said Andrew, whose social media page is followed by more than 19.2 million people. “I personally have never felt the need to write a thousand-word comment about why I disagree with an article or why I hate science, so it’s hard for me to get into that mindset. But it is very bizarre.”
She said her Facebook page is clearly pro-science, and she usually agrees with the scientific consensus, but she continues to be astonished by the number of readers who don’t accept scientific evidence.
"All I have to do is post about anything vaguely controversial – and that includes evolution, climate change, vaccines, GMOs, anything like that – and you’ll see comment threads that get to tens of thousands of comments long with people getting very, very vicious and very upset about it. I’ve stopped being surprised after all this time.”
Tyson suggested she make a post about the existence of gravity to see the reactions, and Andrews agreed that some readers would question its existence.
“I gained weight last week, I want to repeal the laws of gravity,” Tyson joked.
Nye recently published a book, “Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation,” that he hopes will present a convincing case supporting the theory of evolution aimed at those who believe in the biblical view of the universe’s origins.
Tyson asked him about his debate with Answers In Genesis founder Ken Ham earlier this year at the Creation Museum – an event the “Cosmos” host dubbed “Ham on Nye.”
“I’m not an expert on the Bible, this isn’t my business, but he right away goes to the New Testament, but the whole 6,000 years old thing, as I understand the Bible, was about the Old Testament,” Nye said.
Tyson said Ham, at least, based his unscientific claims on some historical document – unlike the contrarian commenters on “I F*cking Love Science,” who based their objections on political philosophy.
“I find that very strange,” said Andrew, who is British. “We don’t have such a strong divide down party lines on science that you seem to have in America, just from my observation. It seems very strange to me that people feel that have to deny climate change based on whom they’re voting for. That’s very alien to me.”
Listen to the entire program here (troll talk comes about 44:00):